Working class needs
to take political power
Socialist candidate speaks to N.Y. students
Dan Fein (left), Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York governor, speaks with students at Borough of Manhattan Community College October 8.
BY DAN FEIN
NEW YORKAs Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of New York I recently had the pleasure, together with Ruth Robinett, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate, to discuss politics with students at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. The exchange between us, and among the students themselves, reflected an interest among youth in a revolutionary working-class perspective to confront the deepening crisis of capitalism.
We spoke at two writing classes October 8 on the invitation of professor John Bredin, who saw this as an opportunity to give students a chance to hear a viewpoint they probably never heard before. In his introduction to the 25 students at the first class, Bredin said, The Socialist Workers Party candidates deserve a broader audience at BMCC. Other instructors who heard I was having socialists speak in my class were envious.
The school enrolls some 32,000 students, the majority of whom are Black or Latino. In recent years, socialists have gotten a good response campaigning on campus, owing to its largely working-class composition.
I began my presentation by elaborating on the SWP campaign platform outlined in a leaflet handed out to the students. The most important thing to understand is that the source of the unfolding economic and social crisis is the capitalist system and we live under the dictatorship of capital. In order to begin solving the many social problems reproduced by this rotten system, working people need to break with the ruling parties, the Democrats and Republicans, and fight for a labor party. We need to make a revolution to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers and replace it with rule by working people.
Most students in the class work as well as go to school. In the discussion period, many spoke about the low minimum wage and abusive bosses.
What do you think of NAFTA and the loss of American jobs? asked Candace Morris.
NAFTA is a trade pact designed to increase the profits of the bosses and deepen imperialist exploitation of Latin America, I explained. At the same time the slogan Save American jobs is a trap for workers, and can only serve to strengthen the hand of U.S. capitalists, a common enemy of our class on both sides of the border. There are no American jobs, as capitalists always exploit our class wherever they can make a profit. What we need is international working-class solidarity.
If an unemployed worker collects unemployment until they find work why would anyone look for a job? asked Tiana Cortes, referring to a demand on the campaign flyer.
Im unemployed, but Im dying to work, responded Lakisha Daves. I like school, but out there they want low wages and long hours. I need time to find a good job.
I agree with your ideas, but how do we go about implementing them? Sonya Alexander asked. How do you get it started?
Road to workers power
I pointed to the history of working-class and revolutionary struggle in the United States including the Civil War, which was the second American Revolution, up to today. I encouraged students to read a new book that deals with this question: Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the SWP.
Experience in the U.S. class struggle and knowledge of our class history has given me unshakable confidence in the capacities of working people, the inevitability of revolutionary struggle, and the real possibility of a third American Revolution, this time against the capitalist system, I said. Robinett and I invited students to campaign with us and participate together in political activities.
Shaeida Eckly asked me what I thought about President Barack Obama. Responding positively to my explanation about the capitalist class interests he serves, she said, There was all this hype when Obama was elected, but I have seen no change at all.
In the afternoon class Robinett explained the worldwide capitalist economic depression is only just beginning. The capitalists and their political parties are making the working class pay for the crisis of their system, she said. Pointing to the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Robinett noted that more wars and economic depression is the future capitalism has in store for us.
Brian Lora was the first to raise his hand. I agree with everything she said. Im an anarchist and dont believe in government. Later in the discussion he said, Im not going to vote.
The capitalists are only interested in their profits, said Corane Scott. Its been that way for a long time. We are the majority, but we dont control things. We need to find unity. When we dowatch out! I notice all your candidates are workers. I like that. We dont need millionaire lawyers.
Giselle Abreu joined the discussion. Obama is not making any changes. I work for $7.25 per hour and the metro card is going up to $2.50 per ride. Obama is destroying this city and this country.
Its not easy for Obama to make radical changes. The Republicans block him, said Jahmall in disagreement with what Abreu and I had said.
Raymond Paulino said cops are one of the biggest problems in the Bronx and gave some examples. Robinett agreed and added that cops terrorize working-class neighborhoods because their role in the capitalist system is to protect the property of the rich.
In the middle of the class Bredin assigned students to take five minutes to write about their reactions to the campaign.
Everyone is talking about unity, wrote Solmarie Huertas. How can there be unity when people are scared? I agree that we do need unity, but as Dan Fein said, We need the unity of the working class to go against the capitalists, the bosses, etc. How can this happen without the working class stepping up? Are we scared? Not aware? Or do we not know what to do? How about we get together and figure it out. That will work.
At the end of the class, Bredin invited the SWP candidates and the students to be on his cable TV show Public Voice Salon. Thirty-six out of 48 students from both classes signed to be on the Socialist Workers campaign mailing list.
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