Class struggle is our very essence

Based on a talk given at the Feb. 5 webinar “Global Class War: Lessons from Sam Marcy for workers struggles today.” 

“Struggle is the very essence of a revolutionary party.” So true. 

When Sam wrote those words in 1972, it was at a critical juncture for our Party. Our young revolutionary cadre, recruited to a large extent from the anti-Vietnam War movement, were going into the working class, including the organized working class, when unions represented a larger section of the workforce. And these documents that Sam wrote that summer, leading up to our annual conference, were to orient us. “Face to the masses!” was our calling. 

We had to be Leninists, understanding the class character of a union, despite its bourgeois ideology, its class collaborationism and its ties to the Democratic Party. A union is an organ of class power. We are for working inside unions; that’s where the workers are. But the changing character of the working class, as described in “High Tech, Low Pay,” has led to other forms of class organization. 

So we’re in solidarity with groups like the Laundry Workers Center and with independent unions like the Amazon Labor Union. It’s them vs. the boss. 

Which side are you on? Ask that question through the lens of the global class war. Ask it in the microcosm of a particular labor struggle, and ask it in the macrocosm of the global struggle against imperialist hegemony.

Even if we are fighting for an individual worker’s grievance, we don’t go into a meeting with a view toward “hearing the other side while we represent our side.” This would suggest both sides, representing two antagonistic classes, have equal merit. No! We shed all pretense of class neutrality. 

We are partisan to our class, especially the most oppressed. We are tethered to the global working class. And we bring that understanding into our unions. We don’t view our politics and our union activism as two separate entities. 

Marcyism means being principled. That word is used a lot, but what does it mean? There are many examples, but it includes not shying away from difficult issues. 

Often that means confronting racism on and off the job. But it might mean coming out against anti-LGBTQ2S+ bigotry at work — sometimes, for some of us, that means coming out of the closet. And being principled means being consistently anti-imperialist, even when we must take an unpopular position.

On class struggle and the law, Sam had a law degree. Today, we see the limitations of the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] and fighting on the legal front. Sam understood how progressive labor laws are won and how they are enforced. To paraphrase a comment he once made at a meeting, “The class struggle writes the signature on the law.”

Sam’s understanding of the global class war was all-encompassing. From building working-class opposition to imperialist war halfway around the world, to now supporting the union drive at Starbucks and Amazon, we prosecute the class struggle in the Marcyist tradition.

Struggle is our very essence. Class struggle was the essence of Sam Marcy.

Down with capitalism! Victory to the workers and oppressed! We will win the global class war.

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