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.
One of Comrade Sam’s most important messages to us as revolutionaries in Workers World Party, and in the overall U.S. communist movement, was and is still to turn our face to the working class. While this has always been the mission of WWP, we have redoubled our efforts over the past several years. This current economic period makes it more necessary than ever for us to ground ourselves in the working class, to join and support working-class organizing efforts and to win over the most progressive elements of our class to our Party.
I would like to draw your attention to several articles by Comrade Larry Holmes on this unfolding crisis and our revolutionary response. Larry, in the best tradition of Marcyism, said that we need a “classwide” response to this crisis. Here are two of his articles from our website:
Honestly, I had a very difficult time trying to figure out what to say today. I spent several hours immersing myself in Sam’s writings and videos. In his article: “Karl Marx, Thinker and Fighter,” March 9, 1995, Sam wrote:
“Lenin taught, of Marx and Engels, that, above all, they were revolutionists. It is impossible to be a revolutionist in contemporary society without being actively engaged in the struggle of the working class against the capitalist class, with the aim of abolishing capitalist exploitation and imperialist oppression.”
Comrades, as revolutionaries we are always involved in struggle. And in the interest of furthering the working-class struggle, it is often necessary to take a lone, principled stand. That to me is one of the most important lessons of Marcyism. Every political problem must be analyzed thoroughly, and as material conditions change, so must our political perspective. We must be fluid in our tactics.
Solidarity with Amazon, Starbucks workers
Within the working-class struggle, this flexibility of action is very important. When the first public organizing of an Amazon union in Bessemer, Alabama, started, Workers World Party immediately jumped in to build a solidarity movement to support it. We involved the Mass Work Committee within the Party to address these issues. At that time, no other organizations on the left were looking at this struggle.
We didn’t involve ourselves because it was a “popular” movement, but because it was necessary. That initial organizing both by the Bessemer Amazon workers and the workers at the Staten Island Amazon plant struck a chord in the rank-and-file labor movement and in the left. While our first solidarity efforts were modest but widespread, WWP organized solidarity demonstrations during the pandemic over a two-month period in over 60 cities each month. Our initial solidarity work helped build the solidarity movement that exists today.
Since that time, Starbucks workers have unleashed an amazing organizing drive. And, of course, many organizations on the left have jumped in to help. It’s a different playing field now. What remains missing is any widespread support from organized labor. Our job now has to be to demand that support wherever and whenever we can.
Sam Marcy would point out that organized labor could be organizing solidarity strikes to support the efforts of Amazon, Starbucks, REI, Chipotle and other workers to organize a union. Not only funds but workers, organized and unorganized, on the picket lines can make a difference.
From Striketober to Revolutiontober
Here in the Bay Area, we have the inspirational example of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, who, over the years, has conducted many solidarity work stoppages to demand everything from “Free Mumia Abu-Jamal,” to stopping the Israeli bombing of Gaza, to stopping the closures of Oakland public schools. Sam would have applauded these actions and urged us to support them in whatever way we can. ILWU Local 10 representatives just returned from an international labor conference in South Africa.
We have also supported solidarity strikes by health care workers during the pandemic. Several of the health care unions went out on limited solidarity strikes. Imagine what would happen if the larger unions did this — it would be an incredible advance for the entire working class.
As Comrade Larry Holmes said, Sam Marcy had incredible optimism for the success of our class in the struggle for socialist revolution. Sam’s teachings about the importance of being internationalists guide us today. Workers in France are in motion against their capitalist government. The working class and oppressed of Haiti, the Philippines and many other places are rising up against U.S. imposed austerity, poverty and occupation. We are all part of the same global class camp, and their class war is our class war.
We have seen many strikes and worker actions over the past two years, and more will follow. But comrades, our job as revolutionaries is to work with others to turn Striketober into Revolutiontober, where our class brings down the U.S. ruling class once and for all and ushers in a long-awaited socialist future.