Key to the class struggle
Reality has demolished the myth that classes and class struggle don’t exist in the United States. Never true, lately it’s obvious that the very rich have waged a one-sided class war against the poor and indeed against all of us have to sell our labor to live.
The particular history of U.S. capitalism includes the genocide of the Indigenous population; theft of their land and much of Mexico; the superexploitation of enslaved people kidnapped from the African continent and more recently of immigrant labor from the global “South.” This class war relies on racism to cheapen labor costs and divide the working class – all to satisfy the profit-greedy, multimillionaire and billionaire class.
Recently, poor and working people – employed and unemployed – have been fighting back, defending themselves against this relentless attack.
To survive, the workers must breathe fire into their defensive struggles and develop maximum unity to win. Battling racism must be put on the front burner. It is also vital to combat attacks on women’s rights and all forms of discrimination, from that against lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer people to that of workers with various abilities.
Putting first and foremost the need for unity of all the different struggles, we invite those reading this statement to join those who have begun to fight back.
Two of the most recent insidious assaults expose the illusion related to the historic election of an African-American president that the U.S. is a “post-racial society.” First, the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act, which, combined with state laws imposing obstacles to voting and allowing gerrymandering of election districts, has virtually dismantled the democratic right to vote in many states. Second, allowing the killer of young Trayvon Martin to escape punishment has extended the already free hand given to killer cops and vigilantes against young people of color.
This decision freeing George Zimmerman aroused a mass response across the country, including that by the Dream Defenders in Tallahassee, Fla. – those courageous and determined youths of color who occupied the State Capitol for more than a month. It’s a sign of the potential of this movement that a federal court ruled that New York City’s racist stop-and-frisk actions were illegal profiling. Challenges to voting rights restrictions (and many other undemocratic laws) in North Carolina aroused thousands to join “Moral Mondays” demonstrations, risking and taking arrests.
Reaction to these racist crimes has turned the 50th anniversary Civil Rights gathering in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 24 from a commemorative event to an impulse to renew the movement and defend what’s left of the rights won in the 1960s and 1970s. With the “Redeem the Dream” theme, unions and Civil Rights organizations can open a new round of struggle that will brings tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people to the capital.
On Aug. 28, the actual day of the 1963 march, the People’s Power Assembly movement – inspired by the splendid example of mobilizations based in Baltimore – has called for demonstrations and protests in cities around the U.S. to win justice for Trayvon Martin and for the other mostly youths of color like Ramarley Graham, Shaaliver Douse, Kimani Gray, Shantel Davis, Alan Bluefield, Oscar Grant, Darius Simmons and countless others.
Fighting for a living wage
Workers in low-wage, non-union jobs have also opened up organizing drives sprinkled with one-day job actions. Fast-food workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other chains held one-day strikes in the spring and summer. The demands for a $15 minimum wage have begun to attract support around the country. They target Walmart, with its 1.3 million workers in the U.S. alone, mostly in low-paid jobs, with work schedules set at the whim of the bosses. These deplorable conditions add even greater importance to the upcoming workers’ assembly being hosted by the Baltimore Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Baltimore People’s Power Assembly on Sept. 1.
The struggles against racism and for a living wage have impacted the AFL-CIO, whose leadership, desperate to stem the loss of union members, now speaks of organizing workers in low-wage jobs and seeks participation from community groups at the confederation’s Sept. 8-11 convention in Los Angeles. This opening to the workers most in need cannot be ignored.
Added to these struggles are those of 700,000 postal workers who are defending their jobs and the services of the U.S. Post Office for rural and urban people alike.
Then there is Detroit, whose recent bankruptcy places it at the epicenter of the confrontation between the financial capitalists – the bankers – and the workers and Black and Brown populations of U.S. inner cities. The pretext of a need for austerity puts the pensions owed Detroit’s working class at risk and with it those of millions of public and private sector workers around the country. The Coalition for an International People’s Assembly Against the Banks and Against Austerity has called for a national and international action on Oct. 5-6 in Detroit to stop the banks’ grab at workers’ pensions and the racist and undemocratic takeover of elected city governments.
Combining these class struggles with others to save the schools and the fight for jobs – and always being aware of the need to stop imperialist wars and for international solidarity of all the oppressed – is not just simple addition. It requires the attention of all those who want to devote their lives to a united class struggle. Join these actions as they happen, discuss the next steps and political analysis, then come to the national conference of Workers World Party scheduled for New York City on the weekend of Nov. 16-17.