‘A revolutionary party makes us effective’
Published Dec 23, 2010 7:00 PM
WW photo: G. Dunkel
Following are excerpts from a Nov. 14 talk given by David Sole at the
Workers World Party national conference held in New York City Nov.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of WWP’s Detroit branch’s
founding. The branch began during a period of revolutionary upsurge. The Civil
Rights and the Black liberation struggles had swept the country. The Vietnamese
national liberation fight was hammering 500,000 U.S. troops, resulting in a
mass anti-war movement here. Communists led most of the liberation movements
We led the Ann Arbor Students for a Democratic Society and were active in all
the battles then. We read left-wing publications like the Guardian and Workers
World. We devoured Marx and Lenin, trying to understand tumultuous world
events. We argued about the working class with the Weathermen at their Flint
“SDS War Council” in December 1969. Two months later, they went
underground, having written off the U.S. working class. In May 1970, we quit
the University of Michigan campus to work for the revolution in working-class
That summer we issued the first edition of our newspaper, Red Times. We sent
two delegates to attend the WW national conference. Two weeks later, we joined
the party. The oldest of us was 22. Other revolutionary youth collectives
around the country joined the party then. The party tripled in size.
Detroit Youth Against War & Fascism promoted anti-imperialism,
self-determination and working-class solidarity. Our first demonstration was in
solidarity with the Palestinian people when Jordan massacred thousands of
Palestinians in 1970.
We demonstrated in support of the Irish Republican Army and the Quebec
Liberation Front. We fought the Ku Klux Klan in a pitched battle in Pontiac
when busing for integration of public schools began there. We picketed Jackson
Prison in rural Michigan to support the striking Prisoners’ Labor Union,
and we supported the Attica prison rebellion.
Some of us entered the auto and steel factories to begin the struggle to
transform the labor movement. We worked in the movements for women’s,
LGBTQ and Native American rights. We opened our branch headquarters in 1971 and
then another office in a union hall for the party’s mass labor
organization, the Center for United Labor Action. By 1973, we ended
ing Red Times to push WW newspaper.
Activism alone cannot sustain a revolutionary struggle. One needs to understand
economic, social and political developments. Without Marxist economics and
historical materialism, no individual or group can withstand bourgeois
Twists and turns, victories and defeats can disorient revolutionaries who
don’t have the tools to figure out what’s happening. We found that
critical element every time we opened our party newspaper. We benefited from
consulting experienced party leaders, including Sam Marcy, Dorothy Ballan,
Vince Copeland and Milt Neidenberg.
Each member who was engaged in a union or community struggle brought that
struggle to the whole party for discussion and analysis. Today economic
conditions are drawing many African-American, Latino/a and white activists
toward our branch. They are eagerly deepening their activism by attending
classes where we study Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.
Being part of a revolutionary party makes it possible for us to become an
effective force. Our party gathers together the best fighters from many
generations and struggles. It creates a tradition of militancy, a body of
literature, a coherent ideology and a training ground for new cadres.
Our many interventions in the workers’ struggles have brought a
revolutionary perspective through transitional demands. We organized the Oil
Belongs to the People and Food Is a Right campaigns, the Job is a Right
Campaign, which challenged GM’s plant closings, and the recent struggle
for a moratorium on foreclosures.
The economic collapse has emboldened the capitalists to ruthlessly drive down
workers’ wages and attack social services and benefits won in decades of
struggle. This is a key difference from 1970 when workers’ average
standard of living was still rising, as it had from the late 1940s.
Unemployment, wage cuts, foreclosures, racism, oppression and war are forcing
the working class to ask questions. We must bring the message that socialism is
the only answer to the crisis. The ideological setbacks the communist movement
suffered with the Soviet Union’s collapse have made this imperative.
Our party’s ideology has been tested in decades of battle. The party has
lost none of its fiery, revolutionary fighting spirit. We are determined to
find a way into every mass arena to bring the message of anti-racism,
anti-imperialism, self-determination and communism. Now is a great time to
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