“Hundreds of millions of workers and farmers around the world have carved out political space to discuss and debate political questions, as well as to begin organizing to defend their interests,” said Forrestal. “Nowhere has the working class been driven out of politics by crushing defeats. And, as the bosses are driven by the capitalist crisis to go after our wages and working conditions, as they seek to chip away at our rights and weaken our unions, they also confront real limits on how far and fast they can go.”
The SWP has launched campaigns for governor in Minnesota and other states across the country to help broaden the reach of socialist propaganda and advocate a fighting, working-class course to confront the crisis of capitalism and need for workers to take political power.
Socialist gubernatorial candidates — Forrestal, Ellie García in California, Naomi Craine in Florida, John Studer in New York, David Rosenfeld in Iowa and more to come — will back workers in struggle wherever they are, campaign to free the Cuban Five, and raise fighting demands that can help advance the unity and combativity of the working class. Many questions that concern working people, Forrestal said, fall under the purview of governors’ offices. These include the fight for extending unemployment compensation; universal health care; an end to the criminal “justice” frame-up system and brutal prison conditions; women’s right to abortion; and workers’ control on the job to defend their safety, as well as those of other working people.
“Ukraine is an example of what is open to the working class,” said Forrestal, who was part of a March 16-April 2 Militant reporting and solidarity trip to Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in face of popular mobilizations.
“As a consequence of the worldwide capitalist economic crisis, there will be decades of working-class struggles and rebellions ahead,” he said. “Over time, workers will see their own independent class interests in Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and elsewhere in the capitalist world.”
U.S. imperialism lost the Cold War“The Ukrainian struggle is the biggest working-class upsurge since the 1989-90 collapse of the Stalinist governments,” Forrestal said.
Political developments there and around the world today, Forrestal said, are marked by the fact that the imperialist powers led by Washington lost the Cold War because they failed to impose crushing defeats on the working class in the countries of the former Soviet Union. The collapse of Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe a quarter century ago registered both this failure of imperialism as well as the failure of the privileged bureaucratic layer that had dominated the governments and Communist parties in those countries to keep workers out of politics.
“This has created more favorable conditions for working people to be able to defend themselves, including here in the U.S.,” he said.
“What is the relation between President Vladimir Putin and the capitalists in Russia?” asked one participant.
“The Russian government acts for the capitalist class there and oversees a vulnerable economy,” said Forrestal. “The Russian capitalists are interested above all in protecting their profits and they have sharp disagreements over military intervention in Ukraine.
“The Russian government’s course is also limited by the attitudes and actions of working people there, who remember the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the recent Russian wars in Chechnya and Georgia. Last week 10,000 marched in Moscow to oppose Russian intervention in Ukraine.
“U.S. imperialism also faces similar limitations on war moves in Ukraine or anywhere else today,” Forrestal said.
Cuba is the only country in the world, Forrestal said, that has a government that defends the interests of working people. The difference between Havana’s proletarian internationalist course and the anti-working-class character of the government of the former Soviet Union, he said, can be seen in their different responses to the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine.
While Moscow refused to evacuate and protect people in affected areas, Cuba responded with a long-term program of medical aid with no strings attached, he said. “Some 25,000 victims, mostly children, have received treatment on the island. The program continues to this day, because, as Fidel Castro said in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union, ‘It’s an ethical and moral question.’”
“Communist workers must be bold in response to openings in world politics today,” said Forrestal in his concluding remarks. “And we have to be bold using the Militant and books on revolutionary working-class politics to engage in discussions with working people from big cities to small towns across the U.S.
“My campaign will champion the efforts of workers to speak out, organize and resist. And we will be bold.”
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