Based on a talk given at the Feb. 5 webinar “Global Class War: Lessons from Sam Marcy for workers struggles today.” Go to youtu.be/5Arb33Q8SN0 to view the webinar.
Comrades and friends, the working class in this country hails from all nationalities, all races, colors, gender and sexual identities, ages and abilities.
Who are we? Hairdressers, truck drivers, freight rail engineers and conductors, electricians, cable installers, cooks, waitpersons, coders, painters, plumbers, dock workers, air traffic controllers, pilots, flight attendants, baggage workers, farmworkers, meat packers, bartenders, janitors, building maintenance, librarians, press operators, film crews, mechanics, forestry workers, grocers, warehouse workers — this list could go on and on, as workers make everything in society run — everything.
The ruling class does no labor; it just reaps profits. Marx and Engels called the working class the only class that can be the gravediggers of capitalism. Only the working class has the capacity to shut down capital and empire.
In Cuba, historically, in 1959 the workers in Havana occupied the banks and factories after the new revolutionary government passed a law to nationalize Cuban resources. The revolutionaries called for it, and the workers made it happen. (CTC Secretariat leader Joaquin Bernal Camero April 26, 1992, presentation to U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange)
More recently, on the 35th day of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, 800,000 federal workers, including air traffic controllers, were not being paid or had been furloughed. The largest pilots’ and flight attendants’ unions declared it was no longer safe to fly without proper air traffic control staffing, so they would start shutting down the airports, starting with LaGuardia. A few hours later, the Trump government backed down and announced a deal was reached to end the shutdown. (tinyurl.com/2a7d9cvn) And the CWA flight attendants planned a general strike for Feb. 16, 2019, if Trump had forced another shutdown.
Now the ruling class has kept class consciousness lower in this country from the beginning, using divide and conquer, divide and rule, by the racist legacies of slavery and settler colonialism, to keep our class from action.
Yet class consciousness ebbs and flows like the tides. There are times when conditions are so hard that working people snap to class consciousness; the growth of class consciousness is dialectical. Like an earthquake, pressure builds on fault lines till a moment when the faults move, hard and fast.
Today there is a corporate push to force working people back to 19th century conditions, piecework, “gig work,” to be paid by the job not for their time — and not just the youth — all ages of working people are under that gun.
So, our job as communists is to help build class consciousness by building solidarity among and for other working people, whether by joining picket lines, raising awareness of conditions, and just urging respect for each other as workers on the job and off, in every way possible.
Today, the working class must build solidarity with the Palestinians facing genocidal Zionist apartheid in their homelands.
We must build solidarity for all working people around the world who face the same enemy as we do: Wall Street, the banks, the corporations and the imperialist war drives, as the ruling class ever increases exploitation worldwide.
Sam Marcy wrote that “there has been a global war on ever since Korea. The bourgeoisie has long been aware of this …” In his prior work, he had explained “It is not a war between the nations but a war between the classes. In this war the geographical boundaries are social boundaries; the battle formations are class formations, and the world line of demarcation is the line rigidly drawn by the socialist interests of the world proletariat.”
As capital attacks the Earth itself with global warming, the Sixth Extinction and unchecked use of extractivism and fossil fuels — what will be the breaking point, when workers rise up to shut down capital and move to create a new system?
Comrades and friends, global working-class solidarity is the only way we will stop capitalism’s war on the peoples, on nature and save our Earth and the very biosphere.
Stephanie Hedgecoke is a 40-year member of Workers World, a lifelong union activist and a CWA member.
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