Think of the power you have as a worker!
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.
Greetings, comrades, and thank you so much for sticking with us during this program today. My name is Teddie Kelly. I am on Workers World Party’s Executive Committee. I’m also co-chair of the Prisoner Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party, along with Mirinda Chrissman in Houston, Texas. This final session for today is about turning our face to the working class. And that’s why we just watched that short clip of Sam Marcy talking about proletarian internationalism.
I joined Workers World Party in 2017. I was a very different person when I joined the party. I’ve learned so much. It was part of having a party, a revolutionary communist party, that prioritizes the condition of specially oppressed workers. — This is why I was comfortable and finally had a space to come out as a transgender lesbian. I felt so lucky to be met with nothing but hundreds of communists supporting me in that decision.
I want to turn our focus now to who is the working class, when we talk about the working class globally. I want us to think about the role we play in society.
A worker is someone who, despite whatever commodities and comforts they may have accumulated, is only a few paychecks away from hunger and houselessness. Even the most prestigious tech workers are one email away from being an unemployed worker. We’ve seen this happen to tens of thousands of people just in the last few months.
The difference between a gig worker and an incarcerated worker is sometimes no more than a traffic stop.
Ask yourself, who gains from our oppression? Who gains from our sickness, and who gains from our poverty — from the impoverishment of workers? And the corollary: Who stands to benefit from the destruction of capitalism?
Our power as workers
Think of it in these terms: If you don’t show up to work tomorrow, what’s going to happen? You might lose your pay, right? You might even lose your job. If you work in a coffee shop, think about it. I want you to picture it. Your boss is going to be desperately calling and texting people looking for coverage. And if they don’t get it, there’s going to be a line out the door of customers trying to get their coffee.
If you’re a delivery driver and you don’t show up, people aren’t going to get what they bought. Commerce is going to grind to a halt. If you’re working on a farm and you don’t show up, then food will not get harvested that day. The produce will rot on the vine. And if you’re a transit worker — if you drive Uber, if you drive a bus — and you don’t show up to work, then other people aren’t going to show up to work, either.
When we do something as simple as not showing up to work, somebody in a position of power is going to be stressed. Think of the power you have as a worker! If you do nothing, it will disrupt everything. If three of us don’t show up, it’s not just our boss who’s stressed. It’s our boss’s boss who’s stressed. If the store’s whole workforce doesn’t show up, Howard Schultz is going to find out and be stressed. Just the threat of withholding our labor wields enormous power.
But as revolutionary communists, we’re not just talking about work stoppages. We’re not even just talking about a general strike. We’re talking about what comes next. Think of all the tools, all the skills, all the time and expertise that we all have as workers. I want you to imagine what it would look like if we were building what we want to build. If we were researching what we want to discover. If we were producing for our needs, not the needs of shareholders. If we were serving each other, not our bosses.
Think of the accomplishments that have been achieved by the Cuban people, the advancements in medicine and immunology. Think of the accomplishments of the Chinese people, hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty, millions and millions of hectares of forests that have been planted just in the last decade.
Every day, I want us to think about our power as workers. And I want you to imagine what a global society with workers in command might look like. Not just tomorrow when we go to work — but 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 100 years from now.
Imagine a workers’ world. Now let’s build it.