‘Put millions to work
building what we need’
He was responding to a question from William Dobbins, a student who asked whether the Federal Reserve’s moves to “prime” the economy by manipulation of interests rates and money supply could make a difference. The meeting was part of the candidate’s four-day tour of Georgia and North Carolina.
“We say workers need to fight for a massive, government-funded jobs program to put millions of people to work building the things we need—schools, hospitals, housing, parks, roads—everything that has been either destroyed or fallen into neglect under capitalism,” Harris said.
“What can be done about the dominance of corporate agriculture in food production and how do you propose to support small farmers?” asked one student.
“Workers have the same interests as working farmers and should reach out to them and support their fights,” responded Harris. Exploited producers on the land are squeezed by the same capitalist class that exploits workers through wage labor, he said.
Harris said we can learn from the revolution in Cuba, which “not only broke up the large plantations owned and dominated by U.S. corporations like the United Fruit Company, it also guaranteed that farmers could never lose their land.”
For the agribusiness capitalists food is a commodity from which they reap massive profits at the expense of workers and farmers, hitting toilers in the semicolonial world particularly hard, Harris explained.
“The Democratic and Republican parties represent the interests of the propertied rulers. The working class needs a clear and independent voice in this election. That’s what our campaign represents,” Harris said.
Peter Masters, a student who works at Walmart, described the conditions workers face there. He wanted to know what can be done to make unions stronger.
“Workers are willing to fight,” Harris said, noting that employees at several Walmart stores across the country have held protests and walked off the job. “But for decades the union officialdom has argued against fighting, saying we should try to get along with the bosses, that we have some common ground, that we should support one of their parties. So many workers do not see the unions as a powerful fighting instrument they can use.”
The socialist candidate pointed to the strikes by miners in South Africa as an example that demonstrates how workers are the union and can wield union power.
“We grow and learn as the result of fighting and struggle,” said Harris.
Samir Hazboun, a junior at the college who organized for Harris to come and chaired the meeting, told the Militant that several students signed up to form a socialist club on the campus.
Militant Labor Forum in AtlantaHarris was joined by David Ferguson, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Congress in Georgia’s 3rd District, at the Militant Labor Forum in Atlanta Oct. 14.
“Getting out the truth about the arrest and unjust imprisonment in U.S. jails for 14 years of five Cuban revolutionaries is a central part of the campaign,” Ferguson explained. Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González were arrested in 1998 and convicted in a 2001 trial on frame-up charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage.
The defense of the Cuban Five, who were reporting to the Cuban government on the activities of Florida-based counterrevolutionary groups that have a record of carrying out deadly attacks on Cuba from U.S. territory, is part of defending the Cuban Revolution itself, Ferguson said. It is also a fight against the U.S. frame-up “justice” system, which incarcerates at a higher rate than any other country in the world—something more and more working people can identify with as the capitalist rulers’ assaults deepen along with the crisis of their system.
Ferguson described how the Cuban Revolution overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, opening the door for workers and farmers to mobilize to transform the country and themselves in their own interests. The Cuban people’s refusal to bow to Washington and determination to maintain their revolutionary gains stands as an example for workers worldwide—and a thorn in the side of the imperialist exploiters who remain as determined as ever to punish them.
Ferguson also spoke about campaigning among workers in the southern Alabama fishing town of Bayou LaBatre. He said the local government received millions of dollars to build “affordable” housing for those who lost their homes following Hurricane Katrina.
“Now the city government has jacked up the prices and put the homes back on the market. These workers have held rallies to fight this,” Ferguson said. “We went there to give support to their efforts.”
“I want to thank James Harris for bringing the politics of the workers and for his experience in national and international politics,” Balthasar Moreno, who was introduced to the SWP when he got a subscription to the Militant at a demonstration in support of immigrant rights last year, said in a message to the meeting. “We will continue spreading the newspaper and will unite to support it. I have two or three others in mind who should subscribe. It is my pleasure to support the Socialist Workers Party.”
“Thank you all so much for coming. It is great to meet people who have the same thought pattern as I do,” Nichele Fulmore, a Teamster UPS truck driver in Lumberton, wrote to the forum. Harris met with Fulmore there during the tour. “We must educate others to help them understand that the only way our situation is going to change is if we change it. Stop waiting on a politician who is controlled by a capitalist to do it for you,” Fulmore wrote.
‘Either will do what rulers tell them in foreign policy’: SWP vice pres. candidate speaks on Biden-Ryan debate
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home