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December 8, 2006 | Page 8

Standing up to the right
Wrong on recruitment?
The Democrats in charge?
"A voice for so many"

What's next in Oaxaca?

AVERY WEAR is correct to point out the importance of the People's Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO), not merely as a protest movement, but as an example of the power of organized workers in one of the most impoverished states of Mexico ("Power in Oaxaca," November 17).

However, comparing the situation in Oaxaca to the Paris Commune or to the Petrograd Soviet in 1917 is misleading. Despite APPO's impressive strength on the streets, and the involvement of many different sectors of the population in the struggle, including important transportation unions, only the teachers have used workers' most potent weapon, namely, the strike.

There are other important differences, too. First, both the Paris Commune and the Petrograd Soviet succeeded in breaking the ruling class' monopoly of armed power. Unfortunately, today, this is all too clearly not the case in Oaxaca.

Second, both Paris and Petrograd were the economic and political nerve centers of their respective countries. Workers' power in both cities posed a real and present danger to capitalism on a national level. Certainly it is not a criticism of APPO to point out that Oaxaca stands in a different relation to Mexican capitalism.

Finally, in both Paris and Petrograd, there were conscious and organized political currents or parties who fought to link the immediate struggles they waged to the goal of abolishing capitalism. It is not at all clear what degree of strength, if any, similar forces have within APPO.

Socialists should learn the lessons of Oaxaca and organize concrete solidarity for the struggle, but we must also, to paraphrase Trotsky, not mistake the first month of pregnancy for the ninth. To argue that the struggle in Oaxaca is "a real 21st century socialist revolution," as Avery does, is to forget that real workers' power in Mexico can only be achieved when the tens of millions of industrial, transportation, extractive, service and state workers in the great metropolises move into action in their own interests and take the lead in fighting for the just demands of all the oppressed and exploited.

While pointing to all the positive lessons APPO has to teach the international working class, it is important to point out that, despite heroic and militant struggle, the Mexican working class still lacks even the rudimentary organization of a nationwide revolutionary socialist party. Certainly the conditions exist to change this, but wishful thinking will not help overcome the very real political obstacles on the Mexican left today.
Todd Chretien, Oakland, Calif.

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Standing up to the right

ON NOVEMBER 6, several members of the Washington, D.C., branch of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) witnessed firsthand the audacity of racists in the current mainstream acceptance of hate.

During a sale of Socialist Worker at the University of Maryland, a sign reading "From Iraq to Palestine, occupation is a crime" came under ridicule. A student took out a giant Israeli flag (which he happened to be carrying with him) and began protesting our sale. Within minutes, many others joined him.

Though the sale was intended to address the issues surrounding the election, it soon was turned into a concerted attack by the crowd of Zionists and right wingers.

The debate not only displayed an open disregard for Palestinian rights and people, but a malicious racist ideology towards Arabs and Muslims. One person proclaimed, "You can't trust Georgetown, it's like 80 percent Arab." A Jewish member of the ISO was attacked for "not being Jewish enough" because he supported Palestinian rights, and another person said, "All Arabs are terrorists."

Not intimidated, we stood our ground despite being greatly outnumbered, and called the bigots out. Several students approached us during the course of the discussion and thanked us for standing up against hate.

And we wouldn't let the struggle end there. What happened clarified to us the necessity for an immediate and vocal declaration that there were students on campus who would not be afraid to stand up for Palestinian rights, and to fight Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

Within a week, we organized a rally to raise campus consciousness about these issues. We worked with the Muslim Student Association and the campus antiwar group, and with their help, the rally was a rousing success. More than 50 students came out, silencing the bigots who had so arrogantly proclaimed hate the week before.

One ISO member gave an inspiring speech, referencing the recent Israeli attacks on Beit Hanoun, and urged all those present to stand in solidarity and struggle against the forces of hate and imperialism.

The power of solidarity was ultimately demonstrated by the various elements of the left that had come together, establishing a precedent which will hopefully continue in the future. We should celebrate this success, and make sure that we will continue to be there on the front lines, fighting the good fight.
Tim Burt, Washington, D.C.

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Wrong on recruitment?

I AM a military recruiter. I don't disagree with everything I have read in your paper, but some of this stuff is incorrect. I think that you are being misled and misinformed on some things.

First of all, we don't go after just the poor--that would be stupid. There are always people in upper middle-class schools that want to join. I have gotten several young men that come from upper-class families.

Second, college money is an absolute. The Montgomery G.I. Bill gives $42,000 in college money to recruits. This money can be used for 10 years after you leave the military. Yes, you pay $100 a month for 18 months into the G.I. Bill--but that's how the military gets the funds to pay for college. I think $1,800 is quite small compared to what you get back. Also, there are many non-combatant jobs in the military.

We are a business just like any other business. We decided who we want, not you! If you would support us rather then resist us than maybe our jobs would not have to be so difficult.

So it comes down to this: If you are going to talk about military recruitment, then get all of your facts straight. The military must stay strong, and we can do it one of two ways: one, allow people to volunteer, or two, the draft. Which would you rather have?
Christopher Treichel, from the Internet

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The Democrats in charge?

NOW THAT the Democrats will control Congress, they can stop appeasing the Bush war administration. There might even be separation of powers, and checks and balances in the federal government.

But if the Democratic Party really wants to change course, then it should stand against torture, extraordinary renditions, executions, secret trials and domestic spying of innocent Americans. We need a government that supports human rights and civil liberties.

We might get change, or we might get the same old politics as usual.
Chuck Mann, Greensboro, N.C.

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"A voice for so many"

I WANT to say thank you for the fact that you continue to cover the outrageously unjust treatment of Dr. Sami Al-Arian and attorney Lynne Stewart. Please keep doing so, or really, who else will?

Your paper is the voice for so many. Continue with your important work. So many political prisoners like the above mentioned need everyone they can to speak out for them. So once again, thank you.
Todd Graczykowski, Manitowoc, Wis.

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