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Vol. 81/No. 45      December 4, 2017

(lead article)

SWP: Deepen the party’s work in the working class

NEW YORK — “There is an election for U.S. Senate, for governor or Congress — and sometimes all three — in 2018, every place where the Socialist Workers Party has a branch, and we plan to take advantage of this to deepen the party’s work in the working class,” John Studer, organizer of the SWP national campaign committee, said at the Militant Labor Forum here Nov. 18.

“The SWP explains why workers need to see every political question from a working-class point of view,” he said, “and why workers can organize to fight against the attacks the propertied rulers bring down on us because of the crisis of their capitalist system.”

“For decades, labor’s share of gross domestic product has shrunk,” Studer said, quoting the Wall Street Journal, “while the share that goes to capital like profits, interest and rent, has risen.”

Studer was joined on the platform by Margaret Trowe and Osborne Hart, the SWP candidates for mayor of Albany and New York, and by Paul Landry on behalf of the Communist League in Montreal, which ran Philippe Tessier for mayor this year. They encouraged participants to join in the parties’ 2018 campaigns, to present a revolutionary course for workers to take power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers.

Studer said the axis of the work of the SWP today is knocking on workers’ doors to discuss the origins of the capitalist crisis and how workers can organize independently of the bosses and their parties to move forward.

He drew attention to how record-low official unemployment rates actually mask the fact that the size of the active working class in the U.S. has been shrinking. In Tennessee, where large numbers of workers face a deep social crisis, the government reports the unemployment rate is a historic low of 3 percent. But the percentage of the population participating in the workforce has continued to fall.

The reason? The best explanation, the Journal says, is “the opioid epidemic and educational attainment.” They think workers are just too stupid and prone to addiction.

The speakers described how the two SWP branches and Communist League in Montreal used their 2017 campaigns in widespread discussions among workers on the crisis they face, and found many interested in learning more about the program and activities of a party that speaks uncompromisingly for the working class.

Workers in stronger position today

Workers are in a stronger position today to confront the bosses’ efforts to intensify competition among us, Studer said. This is a result of important victories won in the Black-led working-class fight that overthrew Jim Crow segregation, the fight for women’s emancipation , and the fact that workers who are native-born and immigrant have confronted the same depression conditions together for years. The party advances proposals to combat the bosses’ efforts to pit workers against one another, as workers seek to build unions to defend themselves in the struggles ahead.

“Many of our 2018 campaigns will challenge prominent capitalist political figures — like Andrew Cuomo in New York and U.S. senators Ted Cruz in Texas and Dianne Feinstein in California,” Studer said. These races give the SWP the opportunity to sharply counterpose our working-class course to their proposals to try and shore up capitalist exploitation, oppression and war.

“The explosive revelations in Hollywood and Washington over allegations of sexual harassment partly come out of advances made in the fight for women’s rights,” Trowe explained. “Women’s oppression grew out of the development of class society and when workers take power from the capitalist class we’ll have the tool we need — a government of our own — to wage a fight to eliminate it.”

At the same time, she said, “the rulers are using charges of sexual harassment to justify chipping away at rights workers need, including the presumption of innocence and the statute of limitations.”

The party’s door-to-door campaigning will be advanced by the work of members of its trade union fractions, Studer said, as they meet with co-workers, their families and friends, introduce them to the party, and work with them to campaign in areas near where they live and work.

Osborne Hart described how party members and campaign supporters as they go door to door meet GIs, veterans, or those with a relative or neighbor in the army who want to discuss the SWP’s explanation that Washington’s imperialist wars are not in workers’ interests. From Iraq to Afghanistan, the boss class uses workers as cannon fodder in their wars against competitors for markets and investments, and then throws them aside when they’re finished.

More ‘independents,’ ‘socialists’

“More election candidates will claim to be ‘independent’ of the Democrats and Republicans — or even ‘socialist,’ because millions of workers are disgusted with the Democrats and Republicans,” Trowe said, pointing to the election of an “independent” candidate as mayor of Syracuse, New York. But these candidates, like Bernie Sanders, aim to drag workers back into the politics of capitalist reforms.

Real politics, she said, is decided in the streets, not annual trips to the ballot box.

In the lively discussion period, Landry was asked whether health care for working people in Canada was better than the health insurance available in the U.S. He described how more and more workers in Montreal wait hours in emergency department lobbies before they’re seen, and months to get an appointment with a specialist.

“Everything under capitalism is a commodity, including health care,” he said. “The only way to have health care that starts from human need and not profit is for workers to take power.”

Trowe encouraged meeting participants to join the international May Day brigade to Cuba in 2018, describing her experiences on similar brigades this year.

“The leadership of the Cuban Revolution knew what was needed to overthrow the Batista dictatorship and had confidence that working people could go on to overturn capitalist rule,” she said. “As we campaign we explain that the Cuban Revolution — and the way Cuban working people were transformed in the process — are an example to emulate here and around
the world.”
Related articles:
‘Workers need our own party to back all our struggles’
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