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Workers Vanguard No. 1082

29 January 2016
The closing date for news in this issue is 26 January.

Workers Vanguard

Capitalists Poison Flint

The majority-black, historically working-class city of Flint, Michigan, and an entire generation of its children have been poisoned by the capitalist rulers through the contaminated public water supply. As one woman told the Wall Street Journal (21 January), “We’re nothing but the walking dead in Flint.” Labor must protest this racist atrocity!

In April 2014, under an “emergency manager” appointed by Republican governor Rick Snyder, it was decreed that to save money, Flint would stop buying its water from Detroit and use water from the industrially polluted Flint River. Immediately, residents began to complain about the discolored, stinking water and how it was causing illness including rashes, nausea, hair loss and headaches. In October 2014, a General Motors plant in Flint stopped using water from the municipal supply because it was corroding engine parts. But the government at all levels exhibited less concern for the people of Flint than GM showed for its engine parts. A year-long campaign of lies denying that the water was dangerous to health was followed by a massive cover-up, involving unusual interagency collaboration and bipartisan cooperation. Once the cover-up collapsed, “investigations” were announced and the falling out among thieves began.

Three weeks ago, with the story making national headlines, Governor Snyder declared a state of emergency and later mobilized the National Guard supposedly to distribute bottled water. But make no mistake, the real role of the National Guard is not to distribute water—United Auto Workers (UAW) volunteers and others had already been doing that. The Guard’s purpose is to help maintain racist law and order and to clamp down on any unrest by the population. Uniformed guardsmen and state police have been asking for ID before giving out bottled water, which is intimidating, particularly for undocumented immigrants. Remember what the National Guard did in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: they hampered aid and prevented desperate residents from fleeing the flooded city. It is in the interests of workers and the oppressed to oppose the presence of the National Guard in Flint and demand its withdrawal.

Today, capitalist politicians from Snyder to Hillary Clinton pretend to be shocked, shocked, about Flint’s contaminated water. But the simple fact is that neither the union-busting governor nor city officials nor the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) nor the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave a damn about the health of the citizens of Flint. For the capitalists, working people only have value when there are profits to be made out of exploiting their labor, and as for black people, we know how little their lives matter to the ruling class. In Flint, unemployment is high and more than 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. These people had become expendable. (read on)

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About the ICL

V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek, Korean and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!