He always took the workers’ side in the global struggle

By Deirdre Griswold

Sam Marcy understood better than others how much the world situation affects the struggle of the workers and oppressed here.

The Russian Revolution fired up a whole generation of communists, especially after the capitalist world fell off the cliff into the depression of the 1930s. Those communists played a very big role in building the CIO, in fighting racism, in organizing the poor.

After World War II, it was largely the colonial world’s struggle for liberation that spurred on the nationally oppres sed Black, Latino and Native move ments here.

When he was in Buffalo, N.Y., giving tactical advice to labor leaders fighting the bosses in steel, auto and other manufacturing industries, Sam avidly followed the news on the revolutions in China and Korea, and on their magnificent resistance to U.S. aggression during the Korean War.

In 1950 Sam developed a thesis on the world situation called The Global Class War. A bloc of socialist countries had emerged with an affinity to one another—not necessarily because of geography, or history, or a common language or culture, but because they had all gone through a struggle to break up the state of the old ruling class, had confiscated capitalist property, and had begun a planned economy. These socialist countries became allies of the oppressed nations fighting to break free of colonialism and imperialism.

Sam explained that it was in the interests of the working class everywhere to defend this bloc of socialist countries and oppressed nations. They represented our side in the developing class war.

On the other side were the imperialist states and the oppressing classes—led by U.S. finance capital. In other words, the same class of super-rich parasites that fought workers here over every nickel and dime, the same class that kept Black, Latino, Native and Asian people shackled by racism.

Sam wrote that imperialism and the socialist countries were in an irreconcilable struggle. It had already led to war in Korea and could spread at any time to a worldwide class war.

This global class war has come to be known as the Cold War, but that really doesn’t tell the story. It included a hundred hot wars within it.

Sam taught the Party not to be bystanders, or mere sympathizers in this global struggle. This was our struggle, it affected our camp, the camp of the workers and oppressed. A victory like that in Cuba at Playa Giron, or in Vietnam when the last U.S. helicopter took off—that was a victory for the working class, for the oppressed peoples inside the United States.

But there is more to the worldwide struggle for socialism than our victories. We can’t close our eyes to the problems, the reverses.

In the depths of the anti-communist period of the 1950s, there were several revolts—in East Germany, in Poland and in Hungary. But they weren’t all the same. In the GDR and Poland, these were basically worker uprisings against severe economic conditions, made worse by bureaucratic mistakes.

But in Hungary, what seemed to start out in the same way turned quickly into a counter-revolutionary assault on the workers’ state, cheered on by imperialism. All the most reactionary, even fascist elements came to the fore. Finally, the Soviet Union intervened militarily to crush the counter-revolution—a move Sam supported.

After we formed Workers World Party, Sam wrote hundreds of articles for our newspaper about the problems facing the socialist countries. It was a subject that couldn’t be avoided. A great rift had opened up in what had been for a time a strong, anti-imperialist camp.

U.S. imperialism did all it could to widen that rift, to poison the relations between the socialist countries by first seeming to favor one, then another, trying to draw them into treaties and arrangements that would undercut their solidarity with one another.

We live and fight inside the United States, the center of world reaction. So whatever we say and do of a critical nature, we must first make crystal clear that any socialist country, no matter how far the leadership may have degenerated, is better for the workers than counter-revolution.

Hasn’t history proven this point in the most terrible way? Look at the former Soviet Union today. It is overrun with the scum of the capitalist earth—corporate executives flying over to get the oil, the gold, the diamonds—while the workers are literally dying from lack of food, heat, medicine.

China might have gone the same way. But it refused to "open up" to bourgeois counter-revolution—the real issue behind the Tiananmen Square struggle. There is a growing class divide inside China because of the growth of private property in various forms. But the Chinese socialist state, the product of a great and prolonged revolutionary struggle, has not been overthrown. Imperialism cannot just walk in and tell China what to do.

We commend our comrades in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and in Cuba for holding on to socialism even in this most difficult period. Sometimes it can be very hard, especially when the capitalist world seems to be rising to dizzying heights. But even a painfully slow pace of development, when it’s for the well-being of the masses, is a thousand times better than a mad rush after profits that ends in ruination for the workers and much of the middle class. That’s what is happening in capitalist Asia right now.

Sam prepared our Party for the great setbacks that took others by surprise. But he also drummed into us that we must be prepared for a different kind of surprise: the upsurge of the masses against their intolerable conditions.

That will come as day follows night, and it, too, can come when it is least expected.

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