A real California tour without Hollywood stars
Published Nov 23, 2010 9:52 PM
WW photo: Alan Pollock
Following are excerpts from a Nov. 13 talk at the Workers World Party
national conference by John Parker, a leader of the Los Angeles WW branch and a
coordinator of the West Coast International Action Center.
Are you ready for your tour of sunny California? We could start by talking about
the stars on Hollywood Boulevard. If not, we’ll have to discuss how
California leads the nation with 941 charter schools targeting public education
and unionized teachers. As Marx exposed long ago, capitalism’s
increasingly more technologically advanced production methods need fewer and
fewer educated workers.
The real unemployment rate in California is more than 22 percent once you
factor back in the underemployed and discouraged workers. Over the past 30
years layoffs have become a way of life for the vast majority of workers.
Instead of implementing real solutions to unemployment, the profit-by-any-means
capitalist system only allows the option of pitting worker against worker.
California is next to the apartheid state of Arizona, whose racist legislators
try to justify SB 1070 using the unemployment crisis. But the unemployment
results from the total reorganization of production by giant monopolies. This
started with the destruction and offshoring of manufacturing plants in the
1970s. It’s not the fault of immigrant workers, nor would denying jobs to
every immigrant worker in this country change one iota the dynamic of
globalization’s effects on workers here.
The strength in our demands for jobs correlates with the strength of our unity
and solidarity with immigrant workers. That solidarity cannot be sacrificed,
and this is uncompromisingly nonnegotiable.
There is a growing movement of militant immigration activists, many of whom are
in the Southern California Immigration Coalition of which we are a part. They
say that any Schumer-like plans criminalizing immigrants attempt to justify the
increasing numbers of immigrants killed at the border between Mexico and
California, which has hit record numbers this year.
Los Angeles is the homeless capital of the nation. This housing crisis resulted
from the desperate need of financial capitalists to increase their profits cut
by the fundamental and inevitable crisis of capitalism: overproduction.
California has the highest real number of foreclosures. Empty homes and the
homeless sit in torturous view of each other.
As of September, one in eight homes is currently in foreclosure in California.
Latino/a and Black people have a foreclosure rate between 1.9 and 2.3 times
higher than non-Latinos/as and whites.
Instead of blaming immigrant workers, non-immigrant workers in the U.S. should
build unity and expose how bailouts for the banks and imperialist war deny us
real government-sponsored jobs programs, like the Works Progress Administration
during the Depression.
The drive to maintain profits during this economic crisis creates a new reality
for working and poor people, especially Black and Latino/a youth in California
who suffer a 40 percent unemployment rate. And we already know the repression
and the incarceration rate for Black and Latino/a peoples continues to
The transit cop Johannes Mehserle, who was videotaped killing Oscar Grant in
Oakland, will likely spend only seven months in jail. Manuel Jamines, a
Guatemalan immigrant and day laborer, was killed by a cop in downtown Los
Angeles. James Davis, an 18-year-old Black youth from Watts, was shot in the
back while on his knees with hands raised. The cops denied him medical care by
a nurse on the scene. Davis died.
The cops’ role is to enforce capitalism’s attempt to maintain
injustice, obedience and order while it increasingly and systematically takes
away the necessities of life from working and poor people.
On our tour, we did not get to rub elbows with Hollywood stars. But there are
some even greater stars, perhaps not from Hollywood, but from South Central and
East LA who are today some of the most important forces helping to unify and
activate our movement, some of whom spoke at our regional Workers World
conference in Los Angeles. These are activists from Union del Barrio, trade
unionists, Central America activists from CISPES, people from BAYAN and
It is in the interest of all progressive organizations and individuals to set
the example for the movement of building nonsectarian alliances with all who
have an interest in abolishing capitalism.
We need to recruit and build our branches, while at the same time being engaged
in the defensive struggles of our class. We should understand that it’s
the movements of the most oppressed hit the hardest by the ruling class today
that will lead our class into revolution.
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