[Documents menu] Documents menu

‘Anti-Terrorist’ Measures Aimed At Working Class

By James Harris and Laura Garza, Socialist Workers Party candidates for U.S. president and vice-president, The Militant, Vol.60 no.29, 19 August 1996

The following statement was issued July 31 by Socialist Workers Party candidates for U.S. president and vice-president, James Harris and Laura Garza.

Capitalizing on the explosion of Trans World Airlines flight 800 with the loss of all 230 passengers and crew, and the pipe bomb in Atlanta, the administration of William Clinton is spearheading a campaign to curtail democratic rights and push back the right to privacy. The government is targeting immigrant workers and has increased pressure against countries such as Cuba and Iran that attempt to defend their national sovereignty. Each of these moves must be energetically opposed by the labor movement and young people involved in social protest action.

The harsher measures are being put in place for one reason: to protect the interests of the wealthy minority that rules the United States. These billionaire families more and more fear working people. That fear comes from the fact that we are resisting-and will wage more widespread struggles against in the future-their drive to make working people pay for the crisis of their system of exploitation and oppression, that of capitalism.

The U.S. government and the wealthy families it serves recognize that a sharper class struggle is developing. They are preparing for bigger battles ahead in which tens of millions will organize a revolutionary movement for a government of workers and farmers.

From just moments after the explosion the government has downplayed the notion that the crash could be the result of a catastrophic mechanical failure. Similarly after the recent ValuJet crash in Florida, the Federal Aviation Administration backed the airline's safety record until it could no longer cover up the government's complicity in gross safety violations, the inevitable result of the airlines' profit drive.

The labor movement can take this opportunity to step up demands for strict safety measures in the airline industry and the reversal of the speed-up and cost-cutting measures that increase profits at the expense of workers' lives.

Steps being rapidly prepared under the guidance of the Clinton administration will allow the government to expand wiretapping, eavesdropping, and other unconstitutional intrusions into the activity of individuals or organizations.

Under the press of nationalist propaganda, the bipartisan gang in Washington is also speeding legislation through Congress to deny an entire section of the working class-immigrants who are legally residing in the United States-access to welfare, Social Security, and other such programs. Legal immigrants are now subject to arrest and deportation without constitutional guarantees or due process, a measure approved under recent anti-terrorist legislation.

None of this legislation has anything to do with protecting the rights or defending the lives of working people: it is aimed at taking away our rights and reinforcing government control over our lives. It seeks to undercut the notion that an injury to one is an injury to all, and instead to instill the idea that the very government that defends the exploiters and oppressors should be allowed curtail the rights of any individual.

Washington considers terrorist anyone or organization that threatens the social and economic interests of U.S. imperialism around the world or the banks, industrial giants, and giant owners of land here at home.

In the recent past this has included the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela when they were banned under the South African apartheid regime, as well as Irish and Palestinian fighters for self-determination.

In recent decades the U.S. president and Congress maintained subversive lists of individuals and organizations that opposed Washington's wars abroad, such as in Vietnam; that sought to overturn racist segregation in the North and South; that fought to support liberation struggles around the world; and that organized to win unions around the country. This history has been well documented in Washington's 50-year Domestic Contra Operation by Larry Seigle, published in New International no. 6, as well as in Cointelpro: The FBI's Secret War on Political Freedom and other Pathfinder books.

Our nation is under siege, many government officials and writers in the big-business media report. But nothing could be further from the truth. America is class divided-now more than ever. Working people here and abroad have faced a common assault in the last 20 years by those who own the banks, factories, mines, and mills. We, working people around the world, have no common interests with them, the ruling rich.

Defending democratic and political rights becomes a pressing issue for the labor movement today and in the years ahead. Identifying with those fighting injustice around the world is a basic precondition to waging effective struggle here at home. Opposing the whole anti-terrorist drive, and not giving an inch to the right of the government to restrict democratic liberties, can be a step in the labor movement championing the interests of the entire working class and the oppressed.

Stop the assault on democratic rights! Equal rights for immigrants! Enforce airline safety!