The LRP distributed the following statement at the October 2, 2010 “One Nation Working Together” rally in Washington, DC. It appears in Proletarian Revolution No. 83 (Fall 2010).
Working-class lives are being devastated. Whole sections of once-great cities like Detroit and New Orleans lie abandoned – they changed the culture of the world but now show the rot we workers have to live in. Millions everywhere cannot find jobs, and neighborhoods are gutted by foreclosures. The American dream that the next generation will be better off has been destroyed by the “Great Recession” – which is still upon us, despite the official claim that it ended over a year ago.
Workers are mad as hell – that’s why we march today. But those who want to see the beginnings of a mass movement of workers and poor people against the capitalist assault must understand why there has been so little fightback so far. It’s because our so-called leaders – the top officials of unions, the NAACP, immigrant rights’ organizations, and on down the line – work together with the capitalists and the Democratic and Republican politicians against workers’ interests.
The capitalists’ profits have been stagnating for decades. So they and the governments they control must squeeze the workers ever harder. “One Nation Working Together” means tying workers to our class enemies. It means working harder for less, when we can find work. It means increased police attacks on Blacks and other people of color, to keep us all in line. It means mass deportations of undocumented immigrant workers.
Meanwhile the politicians, both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, shoveled trillions in bailouts to the capitalists. Wall Street’s barons are still collecting multi-million dollar bonuses while workers get thrown onto the streets. Workers are enraged at this treatment, and many feel the need to start fighting back against this rotten system.
Only the anti-working class, right-wing Tea Party seems to be organized and mobilized. They rest on the racism and national chauvinism of this country’s history. But they are in the lead because the union, Black and immigrant organization leaders defend this capitalist system and have successfully derailed workers’ fightbacks.
This statement is issued by the working-class revolutionaries of the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP). We believe that the only real solution to the growing nightmare of life under capitalism is to overthrow that system by way of working-class socialist revolution. Workers who are not yet convinced of this revolutionary view can nevertheless already see the need for a struggle to defend all our living and working conditions. Even that immediate struggle is being stifled by the pro-capitalist outlook of the union leaders and their ties to the Democratic Party.
The union leaders’ defense of the capitalist system and the Democratic Party requires them to subordinate the working class’s interests. For example, the United Auto Workers leadership once presided over some of the world’s strongest union gains. Since the 1970’s, U.S.-based auto companies have suffered major losses, and the UAW leaders responded by handing back their members’ past gains in wages and benefits. It didn’t work. Now they preside with the bosses and government over the slashing of jobs, wages, pensions and benefits for their members. They prevented or squelched local strikes in the process. And the leaders of both AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions have all done similarly.
So have the leaders of the National Council of La Raza, the NAACP, etc. For example, the May 2006 immigrants’ mobilization was a massive working-class mobilization. Immigrant workers and their supporters came out to oppose the viciously anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner Bill. They won: the bill died in Congress. In some parts of the country the protestors shut down ports, factories and whole towns. But their leaders corralled the movement into the Democratic Party, the graveyard of mass struggle. The Democrats swept the 2006 midterm elections, yet even after Barack Obama’s victory two years later, what did immigrants get? Increased deportations and SB 1070 in Arizona.
The leaders of the unions derive their pay and privileges from their social position as brokers between their mass base and the powers-that-be. They win some concessions through mass mobilizations when times are good, keeping a sizeable cut for themselves. When profits are low, the pro-capitalist union leaders give back past gains and block struggles.
Given their record, why did they even call this demonstration? It’s an election year, and the Democrats look to be in trouble – deservedly, for they squandered their nearly two years in office doing next to nothing for the working class. The bureaucrats still support the Democrats, so the big goal of this rally is to steer workers’ anger into voting Democratic in November. They aim to show the Democrats that they still have a mass base worth worrying about. Some actually believe that reminding Democrats of workers’ voting power will convince them to do right by us. It won’t work.
The one thing the union leaders will not try to do is fight the capitalist class and the capitalist government. This rally is called for “ Jobs, Peace and Justice” – and that is a total lie.
A united, mass, militant workers’ struggle to stop the attacks would be a beacon of hope for workers and oppressed people everywhere who are looking for an alternative to ever more sacrifice and suffering in this economic crisis. The LRP has often advocated the idea of a general strike against the capitalist attacks as the most powerful way to build a defense of the interests of workers and poor people. However, we also fight to seize the opportunities presented by other partial struggles, like struggles to defend immigrants and Muslim people, the struggles to stop layoffs and shutdowns in particular cities and industries, fights for union contracts, and the like. At a time when the working class has been suffering defeat after defeat, revolutionaries have to work to strengthen every struggle in order to prove that victories are possible.
From layoffs to racist police brutality and the vicious scapegoating of immigrants and Muslims, all these attacks are part of the nature of the capitalist system, not just of a few greedy bosses or faulty laws. The interests of the capitalists and the workers are opposed: a gain for one is a loss for the other. So while the world’s workers could together produce more than enough for all, private ownership and private profit leave factories idle and workers jobless. We don’t need the bosses, they need us. But they control the cops, the media and the army, while our own leaders keep us divided and tell us to accept the system.
If the union leaders don’t defend their own members, it’s unlikely they’ll defend other workers or others under capitalist attack. Yet workers united in struggle can win gains. We need pickets, marches that shut down the streets and, importantly, strike action, not photo-ops and glad-handing. A huge step forward would be mass protests not to beg the Democrats but to demand what workers need: a Massive Program of Public Works to provide Jobs for All.
Workers across Europe are demonstrating the potential power of the working class. They are fighting the same attacks we face with one-day general strikes. The 24-hour limit shows that European workers’ leaders are pulling their punches – they also fear the power of the working class. An all-out general strike could knock the ruling class back and halt their offensive. It would raise the confidence and fighting spirit of the working class – general strikes show that workers make society run, and we can make it stop. The general strike raises the question: who is to rule, the workers or the capitalists?
In the end – in Europe, the U.S., and everywhere – the only solution is for the workers and oppressed to overthrow the capitalist state that defends the profit system and build our own state to direct the economy – this is socialist revolution. A workers’ state would take over the banks and productive enterprises, putting people to work to produce what we need: houses, school, better mass transit ... and the list goes on.
To get there, workers, youth and oppressed people who see the need for socialist revolution must work together today to start building the working-class party of revolution. Guided by Marxist theory, that party can show the way forward in today’s struggles. Our revolutionary approach looks to the power of the workers and oppressed united in action to change the world.
We need a leadership that fights for the interests of all workers and oppressed and has a plan to confront the challenges of a world in crisis. What is most important today is that revolutionary-minded workers build a revolutionary party that can offer leadership to its fellow workers in their immediate struggles against the capitalists’ attacks, while pointing to the only solution to the crisis: workers’ socialist revolution. The League for the Revolutionary Party is dedicated to the task of organizing and educating the revolutionary-minded workers, oppressed peoples and youth as political leaders of our class. We urge all those interested to contact us and discuss these issues more as we fight together for a better life.