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Socialist Worker turns 25

April 12, 2002 | Pages 6 and 7

Below are excerpts of articles from the last 25 years of Socialist Worker.

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April 1977
"It's like a war here"
STEARNS, Ky.--"It's like a war here," according to Joe Perry, the McCreary County sheriff. He was describing the picket lines at the Stearns Justus mine.

In early March, the 200 strikers were told by Frank C. Thomas, president of Stearns Mining Co., that unless they returned to work, replacements would be hired. The following Saturday, Stearns security guards were escorted through the picket lines by state troopers in riot gear.

It was after this that the real shooting started. One of the strikers said he was a target: "I was sitting right there on the picket line yesterday around noon, when suddenly they cut loose. It was just like a turkey shoot for 15 to 20 minutes. If you put your head up above the sandbags, you were fair game."

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January 1979
Iran explodes
The Shah of Iran is hanging by a thread. The new government--led by "moderate" Shahpur Bakhtiar--is his last desperate gamble to hold on to power.

Will it work? Today the Shah survives only because of the savage repression of the military--and the army of SAVAK killers. Thousands of people have been shot.

Yet the general strike is still on. Oil production is negligible. There is still another wave of street demonstrations--and more reports of disloyal soldiers.

Solidarity with Iranian workers is not an act of charity. Support for those who fight the same enemy is a blow struck for our future, for the future of our daughters and sons, for the future of the working class throughout the world.

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September 1981
PATCO strikers appeal:
"Don't let us down"
The PATCO strikers are appealing for support. They deserve it. Here is why--in the words of striking air traffic controller, Gregory Pardio, the president of PATCO Local 238 in Newark, N.J.:

"The vast majority of the people have to understand what's going on here--union-busting tactics being used against 12,000 highly skilled workers. If they don't, it sounds the death knell for unionism. I mean, what's being done right now will be the precedent for all labor-management struggles. We need bodies on our picket lines. Wherever there is a PATCO picket line, I'm sure they can use picketing help."

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January 1982
Solidarnosc forever
Poland's Solidarity--one of the finest unions that has ever existed.

Now its leaders are imprisoned by the thousands, and there are reports each day of new savage sentences issued to workers who continue to defy Jaruzelski's martial law. Work goes on in the factories, the mines, the shipyards--but passively, often at gunpoint.

How was the movement that seemed invincible 18 months ago crushed--apparently with little difficulty? This issue of Socialist Worker is dedicated to the Polish workers and the hope that Solidarity, while defeated for now, has not been destroyed.

Solidarity with Solidarity!

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July 1982
Holocaust in the Lebanon
Ten thousand to 20,000 killed. Half a million homeless. Whole cities obliterated. Hospitals destroyed.

Menachem Begin and the Israeli army embarked upon nothing less than genocide when they set out in June to drive Palestinian fighters out of Lebanon. They invaded "to stamp out the terrorists," but the war clearly shows that they are the terrorists. They are the ones who make no distinctions--men, women, children slaughtered if they are Palestinians.

The Israelis and their army--built and paid for by the American government--must be stopped. Long live Palestine!

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March 1983
One hundred years since Karl Marx
Marxism is about freedom. It is also about constraint--about the circumstances and conditions that prevent working men and women, the actual producers of all wealth, from controlling the conditions of their own lives and work.

And it is about how these circumstances can be changed--and how working men and women, Black and white, can create a truly free society in which all contribute according to their ability and receive according to their needs, a society free from exploitation, free from oppression, free from racism, from unemployment, from war, from poverty and inequality.

Is all this pie in the sky? Marx showed how it could be got in this world and not by a supernatural savior, but by the collective efforts of working people themselves.

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June 1985
The power to break apartheid
So great is the crisis in South Africa today that the once seemingly invincible apartheid regime is being forced to make, in its own terms, major concessions. But central to this strategy is a reliance on the stick--as well as the carrot.

Despite the repression, Black workers are more central to the protest movement than ever. One of its leaders said last month, after the murder of union activist Andries Raditsela, "Everyone is becoming involved in political issues outside the workplace."

Building on that workplace organization and workers' action itself is the key to the undoing of apartheid.

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March 1986
War in Austin
AUSTIN, Minn.--Five thousand trade unionists, socialists and supporters gathered here February 15 to support the six-month-old strike of workers at the George A. Hormel Co. The rally was the largest show of support yet for the Hormel strike, which has become, to date, the most important battle for labor in the 1980s.

At stake in Austin are the issues that have become characteristic of the bosses' offensive in the recent past--an attack by the Hormel company on workers' wages and conditions, the collusion of government in breaking strikes (both Democrats and Republicans), and the treachery of trade union officials who have worked from the beginning to sabotage the strike.

On the other side, the varying tactics employed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local P-9 have given practical expression to all the strategies being proposed to turn the employers' offensive around.

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December 1986
Reagan's Watergate
They were Reagan's real-life Rambos--right-wing military men hell-bent on destroying Nicaragua's revolution. And like all "good soldiers," these national security cowboys got their orders from the top.

The furor over the National Security Council's illegal transfer of $30 million in arms sales' profits from Iran to the right-wing Contra rebels in Nicaragua has shattered Reagan's popularity.

There is no question about it. The White House was in on this bungled cloak-and-dagger operation from the beginning.

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May 1989
Build the fight for abortion rights
The April 9 demonstration for abortion rights held in Washington, D.C., broke the record as the biggest demonstration ever held for women's rights in the U.S.--and was certainly one of the biggest demonstrations over any issue in many years.

It was organized in response to the possibility that the Supreme Court may overturn legal abortion this spring. March organizers estimated the crowd at 600,000.

Many of the marchers were older, veterans of the 1960s women's movement angry that they are being forced to re-fight a battle they thought was won long ago. But still greater were the numbers of young people, many of whom were demonstrating in Washington for the very first time.

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January 1990
Eastern Europe: A revolution begins
There are moments in history when whole populations suddenly turn against corrupt and despotic regimes. Hope replaces despair. The streets are filled with ecstatic crowds, smiling, cheering, embracing each other as an exultant solidarity breaks down old social barriers and dissolves old enmities.

The defenders of hierarchy and the apostles of order are thrown completely onto the defensive, unable to rely any longer even on the riot shields and machine guns of their hired thugs.

But the first flush of revolution is not just a time of great hopes and great accomplishments. It is also a time of great illusions, which can threaten to throw the whole process into reverse.

People rejoice as governments fall and ruling parties fall apart, forgetting that these governments and those parties served the interests of exploiting classes that survive them.

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March 1991
Whose new world order?
"We have a unique responsibility to do the hard work of freedom. Among the nations of the world, only the United States has both the moral standing and the means to back it up."

This was how George Bush described his New World Order last month. As he spoke, U.S. planes were bombing Iraq's towns and cities into an age before electricity, telecommunications, running water or sewage systems.

That--and the slaughter of Iraqi soldiers in headlong retreat--is the price of Bush's order. It is a system where the U.S. is top dog, a system with an uninterrupted flow of wealth from poor to rich, a system where freedom and democracy are tolerated only if they pose no threat to imperialist interests.

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May 1992
Interview with Mike Davis:
"A generation found that it can fight back"
Rodney King was a lightning rod for the accumulated grievances of youth on the streets in LA who've only known a constant regime of brutality from the LAPD. Rodney King is the link in the consciousness of millions of people between the conditions in Los Angeles and the kind of crisis felt by African Americans everywhere in the United States.

All unorganized rebellions tend to have their negative or contradictory elements. But the overwhelming thrust of this, which has been enormously positive, has been that a generation has found that it can fight back.

The whole effort to turn American big cities into criminalized Third World nations--people are resisting that.

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May 1993
Clinton: A trail of broken promises
The Clinton administration stumbled into its fifth month, leaving a trail of broken campaign promises behind it.

The most well-known of these are Clinton's pledges to lift the ban on gays in the military and to grant Haitian refugees political asylum. But the Clinton administration reversed itself on dozens of other issues.

After only a few months, millions of Americans who voted for Clinton are realizing that his campaign rhetoric was just that--rhetoric.

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March 1995
Haiti: What lies ahead?
The military intervention in Haiti is being touted as a shining success by the Clinton administration and much of the media. But "Operation Restore Democracy" has not--and was never intended--to bring democracy to Haiti.

For more and more Haitians, while Jean-Bertrand Aristide may be back in office, little else seems to have changed. There are no jobs for the population, rising prices and only a few hours of electricity every day.

But a visit to Haiti also clearly shows a side not often mentioned in the press. In the slums of the cities and in the towns of the countryside, political organizing has begun in earnest.

Haiti is a country of massive contrasts. It has seen the most astounding levels of barbarity and repression--but also a history of heroism and resistance.

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December 1996
The Flint sit-down strike of 1936-37
"It was a revolutionary, apocalyptic time," wrote two historians of the great labor upsurge of the 1930s. "What generations had battled in vain to accomplish was accomplished now in a matter of weeks or days…All of a sudden, or so it seemed, labor could not lose."

The "Gettysburg" of this great upsurge was the Flint sit-down strike of 1936-37 against General Motors (GM). In taking on GM, the sit-down strikers faced the combined might of the company, its hired thugs, the police, the National Guard, local and state government and the press.

That they won against these odds is a tribute to their courage and ingenious tactics.

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June 1998
Indonesia: The revolt that toppled a tyrant
"Despite the ongoing deterioration in economic conditions, Suharto's power looks as secure as ever." So wrote the Economist Intelligence Unit--one of the bosses' most respected sources of information and analysis--at the end of April.

One month later, President Suharto of Indonesia was history. He was toppled by a massive rebellion--by millions of Indonesians who Suharto and his rich pals thought good for nothing more than sweatshop labor.

The revolt in Indonesia was a testament to the power of mass action--and a ringing answer to the argument that ordinary people can't change society.

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December 1999
Battle in Seattle: Anger turns to action
Like a volcano, pent-up anger at the bosses' arrogance and greed erupted on the streets of Seattle outside the World Trade Organization conference. The battle in Seattle shattered the smugness of all the CEOs, politicians and pundits who think they hold the world in the palms of their hands.

For years, they told us that we're living in the best economy in a generation--and that everyone was getting rich off Wall Street.

Most ordinary people--locked into a system that makes them work harder for less--didn't buy it. But they didn't have the confidence to express themselves. Until now.

"This is the first time I've protested," said Doug Noeldner, as he sat in the King County jail, the victim of a police ambush during a labor march. "This has opened my eyes to the failure of the legal system."

"But I'd do it again if I had to," added Eamon Martin, "at the drop of a hat."

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December 2000
Denied the right to vote in Florida
When Florida Gov. Jeb Bush vowed that Florida would go to his brother on Election Day, his statement had an ominous ring. After all, Al Gore led George W. Bush in most state polls.

But Jeb Bush just oozed confidence. Many had to wonder: Was the fix in? And now we know.

"There are just so many shenanigans going on," says Stan McKnight of June Beach, a town in Palm Beach County in southern Florida. "This is the county that's home to Rush Limbaugh, and I don't put anything past these people."

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September 2001
No to war! No to racism!
George W. Bush wants to turn your grief into a blank check for war. Bush all but promised military action against Afghanistan in retaliation for the air attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

Washington has a message for everyone--in Afghanistan, in the U.S. and around the globe: What we say goes.

But people around the U.S. have stood up to send a message to Washington: Not in our name. People like Judy Keane, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center attack. She organized a vigil of 5,000 people outside her home in Waterfield, Conn., to call for peace.

Washington's war makers don't speak for us. Join the fight to stop Washington from turning tragedy into war!

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