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Task of a Party: Building class solidarity

Published Nov 24, 2009 10:01 PM

Workers World Party held its 50th anniversary Workers World Party National Conference, Nov. 14-15, in New York City. Excerpts of plenary talks are being printed in upcoming WW issues. The following excerpts are from a talk given by WWP Secretariat member, Monica Moorehead.

When I was first introduced to Workers World Party in the early 1970s in Norfolk, Va., it was in the aftermath of the assassination of political prisoner George Jackson, the Attica rebellion and the COINTELPRO genocidal war on the Black Panther Party.

Third Plenary Session: Putting revolutionary theory into practice. Speaker: Monica Moorehead.

While my involvement with the Norfolk Party branch was educational and rewarding, especially where the struggle against racism was concerned, there was something holding me back from taking a leap forward in becoming a Party member.

Then came along a life-altering moment that forced me to look at Workers World Party in a whole different light. That moment was the 1974 March Against Racism in Boston, because I began to understand why a revolutionary party is needed.

The Party saw Boston as an important battleground in the ongoing struggle against racism within U.S. capitalist society. And therefore, the Party understood the necessity of mounting a political struggle against the forces of racist reaction not only in South Boston but throughout the country. The Party wanted to send a clear message with this mobilization that wherever racism rears its ugly head, it will be militantly opposed.

Workers World Party understood that in order to go against this growing tide of racism, where buses filled with Black school children were being stoned by white racists, where Black men were being beaten in broad daylight in the streets, that it would take a broad multinational united effort to turn this situation around. This involved a national campaign to show that the Black community of Boston and its allies were not isolated and alone.

Workers World Party did not let its modest numbers of cadre or lack of resources stop it from doing what was necessary to not only fight against racism just because it was the right thing to do, which of course it is. Fighting racism also means building class solidarity in order to advance the struggle for real economic justice and eventually class emancipation.

Activists put aside any political differences under the banner of “Say No to Racism” and defending the right of Black people to go to any school they want without fear of racist attack. The Party had taken these political demands and put into practice the Leninist conception of defending the right of self-determination of an oppressed nation.

The Boston march was the defining moment for me that helped me to take a gigantic leap forward to join the Party in 1975. The Boston march and countless other examples go to the heart of what a revolutionary, working-class party should be all about—doing everything that is necessary to unite and hold our class together even if it means going against the tide of political reaction; even if it means going it alone in certain situations. This is the acid test of a revolutionary party.

Our founding members who are no longer with us—Sam Marcy, Vince Copeland and Dorothy Ballan—left this powerful legacy of doing everything in our power to show by example what it takes to build and maintain a revolutionary party with all the ebbs and flows of development. It was never a question of picking which legitimate struggle to defend or support when it involved the struggles of workers and the oppressed in this country or around the world. It was never a question of whether the leaders of these struggles shared a common world view or not with us or other like-minded formations. It was about and remains today primarily about which side you are on—is it the side of the bosses and bankers, who view the world as their private domain to make profits at the expense of human needs, or is it on the side of those fighting for their democratic rights, for their national liberation, for sovereignty and even for socialism.

Other examples of class solidarity

Fighting for working-class solidarity is the antithesis of racism, national oppression, women’s oppression and lesbian, gay, bi and trans oppression—all of which are dangers to building solidarity within our class. And for a Marxist-Leninist party to abandon this principle of fighting for class solidarity, especially the right to self-determination of oppressed nations, is tantamount to falling prey to opportunism, class collaboration, sectarianism and demoralization.

Our Party has avoided these dangerous traps throughout our 50-year existence, like organizing a defense committee in support of Black activists Robert Williams and Mae Mallory, who defended their right to armed self-defense against the KKK in North Carolina back in the early 1960s.

Our Party was the first left tendency in the U.S. to hold a solidarity demonstration for Palestine during the June 1967 war against Arab countries launched by the Zionist state of Israel backed by U.S. imperialism. This demonstration, which was viciously attacked by pro-Zionists, was held in virtual isolation when anti-war movement forces refused to support a call for unity initiated by our Party chairperson, Sam Marcy, to support Palestine’s right to self-determination.

And it is Workers World Party that can both defend an African-American president against racist and neofascist attacks and, at the same time, not let this historic moment for the Black masses stop us from calling for all the U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and at the same time defend colonized peoples fighting by any means necessary to get imperialism off their backs.

There is another important aspect to building class solidarity and that is without dedicated, class-conscious revolutionaries, there would be no party. But revolutionaries are first and foremost human beings living under a class society and are subject to all kinds of prejudices, contradictions and backwardness similar to our class. But just because revolutionaries are not perfect, does it mean that they can’t make a contribution to the class struggle within a party? Many people join a workers’ party, including myself, not because we have read all of the writings of Marx or Lenin or because we can speak with great confidence or because we understand every important development.

The main criteria for joining a party is not solely because of our hatred for the capitalist and imperialist system and everything that is rotten about it but because we want to fight tooth and nail against this barbaric system, not as individuals but as one, until this system is finally overthrown by the workers of all nationalities and in its place will be a humane system of socialism where every human need will be met in the absence of racism, war and poverty.

Being a comrade in Workers World Party means not taking our relationships for granted but rather being sensitive to each other’s special oppressions and challenges and to find positive ways to build and strengthen class solidarity from within. Sam, Vince and Dotty were exemplary examples of what it takes to build a fighting workers’ party inside the most powerful imperialist country in the world, which ain’t easy. Many others gallantly have tried and failed.

We are about taking the lessons we have learned from those before us and using them to push today’s struggles forward as we face the biggest political crisis ever, which rests upon the biggest capitalist depression since the 1930s. Our Party can’t carry out this challenge alone, just as the movement can’t do it alone. It will take an historic upsurge of the working class to turn around the mood of pessimism and reaction. But the workers cannot carry out their historic mission of seizing power in a spontaneous way. They will need a workers’ party with class conscious leadership, and political and organizational tools to help lead the way.