Workers Vanguard No. 969
19 November 2010
Democrats, Republicans: Parties of Exploitation, Oppression and War
Labor Must Defend Black and Immigrant Rights!
For a Workers Party to Fight for a Workers Government!
With the backdrop of an economic crisis that has thrown millions out of their jobs and homes, the midterm elections emitted an odor that was rancid even by the usual standards of American bourgeois politics. The Tea Party stoked the fires of racism and anti-immigrant bigotry to “energize” the Republicans’ base and win over some disaffected whites who voted for Barack Obama in 2008. For its part, the Obama White House continued its assault on “illegal” immigrants, having deported an all-time high of 387,790 in 2009, while Democratic candidates tried to appeal to workers fearful of more job losses by spewing crude protectionist venom against the Chinese deformed workers state.
The Republicans now control the House (although not the Senate, where some Tea Party candidates proved to be too whacked-out for many Republican voters to stomach) and eleven more governorships. Their heads in their hands, reformist “socialists” echo liberal pundits in moaning how the Democrats have “blown” the opportunity they were given with Obama’s election in 2008 by catering to big business. “Obama and the Democrats failed to take decisive action to alleviate the crushing pressure of widespread unemployment, rampant home foreclosures and devastating budget cuts,” the International Socialist Organization (ISO) editorialized in the November Socialist Worker. Similarly for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the big factor in the elections was “unemployment, foreclosures, loss of health and pension benefits—and what the administration and the Democrats did and, more importantly, didn’t do about it” (PSLweb.org, 9 November).
Obama made clear from the beginning what he would “do about it,” declaring to a mammoth Chicago crowd cheering his 2008 election the need for “a new spirit of sacrifice.” This sermonizing was not, of course, directed at Wall Street, whose operatives Obama would prominently place in his administration, the better to bail out failing banks and, with the complicity of the craven UAW union tops, the auto companies. Abetted by the labor tops and the reformists, the Democratic Party postures as the “friend” of labor, blacks and the poor, making the Democrats more effective than the Republicans in demanding sacrifice from working people and launching imperialist adventures abroad. Where the Republicans openly attack workers and minorities, the Democrats lie and do the same thing.
As chief executive of U.S. imperialism, Obama has done his job. He has tripled U.S. forces in the murderous occupation of Afghanistan, where the purported withdrawal date is 2014. What such “withdrawal” might mean can be seen in Iraq, where 50,000 U.S. troops remain along with thousands of U.S.-paid mercenaries. In competition against America’s imperialist rivals, the Federal Reserve is releasing $600 billion, which will serve to depreciate the value of the dollar, thus boosting U.S. exports, and to encourage further investment bubbles. Meanwhile, with the number of long-term unemployed in the U.S. at a record level, extended unemployment benefits are due to expire at the end of this month.
The essence of capitalist “democracy” is, as Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin put it in The State and Revolution (1917), that “the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representative of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament!” No sooner had he acknowledged the Democrats’ “shellacking” at the polls than Obama declared his intention to seek “compromise” with the Republicans to extend the tax cuts for the rich that were enacted by George W. Bush. Nicholas Kristof noted in a New York Times (6 November) column titled “Our Banana Republic” that “both parties agree on extending tax cuts on the first $250,000 of incomes, even for billionaires.”
The CEOs of the largest U.S. companies, who earned on average 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, made 531 times as much in 2001. As of 2007, the top 1 percent of American income earners took in almost 24 percent of the country’s pretax income, up from less than 9 percent in 1976. The massive increase in the gap between that tiny handful and the rest of the populace has been overseen by both the Democratic and Republican parties of capital, beginning with the Democratic Carter administration in the late 1970s. This has been due in no small part to a continual assault on labor and has gone along with the massive incarceration of blacks, as well as Latinos.
We can expect new rounds of attacks on workers, blacks and immigrants, on abortion and gay rights. An early signal is the attack on Social Security proposed by a bipartisan deficit reduction commission appointed by Obama. Republicans are already saying they will try to further clamp down on union organizing. As for the Democrats, newly elected New York governor Andrew Cuomo and California’s Jerry Brown have made clear that they’re gunning for public employees unions and their pension benefits to rescue state budgets.
While the elections marked a victory for the right wing of the American bourgeois political spectrum, bourgeois elections offer only a distorted reflection of what is going on in society, where there is enormous anger at the base. The question is how to fight the attacks on workers’ livelihoods, on civil liberties and the rights of the oppressed.
The “answer” provided by the social democrats of the ISO is: Hail to the Chief. Lance Selfa writes in Socialist Worker (November 2010) that “a Republican majority in one or both houses of Congress can do plenty of damage. But as long as the Democrats hold the presidency, the damage can be limited.” The ISO makes starkly clear its faith in the top executive office of the blood-soaked capitalist-imperialist state power, as administered by the Democrats.
We have a different answer. As we wrote in “Electoral Circuses, No Bread: For a Class-Struggle Workers Party!” (WV No. 967, 22 October): “There is a desperate need for class struggle, placing a revived labor movement at the head of the ghetto and barrio masses in a fight against the common capitalist class enemy. Such struggle needs a political expression: a workers party organized independently of, and in opposition to, the Democratic and Republican parties of capital.” This was the theme of a presentation by Joe Sol at an October 9 New York Spartacist League forum, which we print below, edited for publication.
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The capitalist system is based on the brutal exploitation of all labor, with the ruling class inflaming racial and ethnic hostilities to keep the working class divided and thus ensure a greater extraction of profit. Just as immigrant workers are brought in during economic boom times to provide a pool of low-wage labor, the current rise in anti-immigrant attacks worldwide is exacerbated by the global economic crisis and its attendant soaring unemployment.
The legacy of slavery means that black people have been forcibly segregated to the bottom of this deeply racist capitalist society. The question of black freedom is key to the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist order, which cannot survive without its fundamental prop: the brutal, racist oppression of blacks. Black, white, immigrant and other minority workers need a multiracial revolutionary workers party, not just for defense against the rapacious capitalists but for class struggle whose aim is the destruction of the capitalist system of exploitation, poverty and war through socialist revolution here as part of the fight for socialist revolution internationally. Crucial to the building of such a party in the U.S. is the understanding of the unbreakable connection between the fight for labor’s emancipation, the defense of immigrant rights and the key cause which must be the axis of a revolution in the U.S., the fight for black freedom.
The pro-capitalist trade-union leadership and its reformist leftist hangers-on stand opposed to the fight for socialist revolution. Through words and deeds, they seek to turn the inevitable struggles of workers forced to defend their very existence back into support for the capitalist system through the agency of the Democratic Party—a party of racism and war in which the trade-union bureaucrats play an integral role. The Democratic Party is a party of and for the capitalist masters that cannot be pressured to represent the interests of the class it seeks to oppress, the working class.
Exploitation and Anti-Immigrant Repression
It was a hot summer in Europe. There has been a wave of huge demonstrations and one-day general strikes, defensive struggles against attempts by the capitalist governments in the midst of the world economic crisis to slash the wages of public sector workers, gut pensions and jack up sales and other taxes. The latest round of European strikes and demonstrations took place on September 29, with protests of hundreds of thousands of workers and strikes across 13 countries. But these struggles are used by the workers’ social-democratic leaderships to blow off steam. What is necessary is a fight for workers power.
And just as is happening here, in Europe the bourgeoisies push anti-immigrant reaction and scapegoat and throw out immigrants. Roma, better known as Gypsies, are suffering a torrent of racist abuse in France, while in Italy African immigrants are being targeted by the racist cops for beatings and expulsion. All this anti-immigrant bigotry is not just a particular expression of backwardness but serves a purpose for the various national bourgeoisies—the exploiting class. It enhances their ability to divide and rule over the working class.
This is seen as well in the recent swell of anti-Muslim bigotry, which is underpinned by the capitalist rulers’ continual “war on terror.” Like the “war on drugs” and “war on crime,” this phony “war” serves to intensify racist capitalist state repression. It also provides a pretext for imperialist marauding in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. From the mass murder of imperialist war to economic devastation on a world scale, the capitalist rulers have nothing to offer the workers and oppressed of the world but calls for further sacrifice.
The destruction of the Soviet degenerated workers state in 1991-92 represented a world-historic defeat for the international proletariat, resulting in a general retrogression of working-class consciousness. The proletariat today does not view its struggles through the prism of the fight for socialism. But it is an imperialist triumphalist lie that the capitalist system of exploitation is the only economic system possible in the modern world. The October Revolution of 1917, a proletarian revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party, translated Marxism into deeds. It showed that the working class can take power and wield it through democratically elected workers soviets. The internationalist early Soviet Union became a beacon to the working class and oppressed worldwide.
As Marxists, we in the International Communist League know that the capitalist system creates its own gravediggers, the proletariat—the working class that produces the wealth of society with its own hands and has the power to shut down capitalist production. The capitalist class—the bourgeoisie—expropriates the wealth of society through its ownership, as private property, of the means of production. In a competition of each against all, individual capitalists must constantly seek to maximize their profit simply to stay afloat. They must drive up the rate of exploitation of the workers through speedup, wage cuts, slashing benefits, what have you. Of course, the worker wants the opposite: better pay, more free time, safety, health benefits, retirement, etc. The interests of the worker and the interests of the capitalist are directly counterposed.
The capitalists profit by paying the workers only a fraction of the total value of the product they create, so the workers in any given country can only afford to buy a fraction of what they produce. The capitalists of the advanced industrial countries must constantly look for new markets internationally to exploit. Thus you have imperialism, marked by the export of capital, and its continual crises of overproduction in the midst of generalized poverty. Lenin identified imperialism as “the highest stage of capitalism,” which, in its death agony, is defined by a handful of imperialist powers, armed to the teeth, locked in a never-ending struggle for the redivision and control of the world’s markets, natural resources and labor to exploit.
The contradictions inherent in the capitalist system point directly to the need for workers rule of society and the elimination of private property in production—for the smashing of the capitalist state and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The vital tool needed for that task is the revolutionary workers party. A revolutionary must be, as Lenin explained in What Is To Be Done?, “the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalize all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.”
Here in the U.S., there is now a great deal of disillusionment among workers and other oppressed sectors of society with Democrat Barack Obama, the first black president, largely because illusions were so high after eight years of the Bush administration. Skin color notwithstanding, Obama simply is what he is: the overseer of the most deadly and exploitative imperialist power on the planet.
Obama now plans to deploy 1,200 National Guardsmen to the Mexican border, add 1,000 Border Patrol agents to the 20,000 already there, increase the border security budget by $500 million and deploy more drone aircraft. No less than the Republicans, the Democratic Party is a party of and for the capitalist class, with the difference that the Democrats cynically pose as “friends” of labor, blacks and immigrants and shed crocodile tears over the consequences of the anti-working-class measures that they themselves impose.
Immigrant workers, especially from Mexico and Central America, often bring militant traditions of class struggle to the U.S. They are not only a catalyst for class and other social struggle but also a human bridge linking the struggles of working people on both sides of the border. The Spartacist League demands full citizenship rights for all immigrants. We stand for full equality of all languages in all spheres of public life and defend bilingual education against “English only” bigots. We stand unalterably opposed to the bourgeoisie’s anti-immigrant laws and regulations.
Against the capitalists’ attempts to use undocumented, low-wage immigrant workers as a club against the trade unions, we seek to mobilize the labor movement to fight deportations and immigration raids through class-struggle means and to organize such workers into the unions with full rights and protections. It is particularly important to combat anti-immigrant chauvinism in the working class and especially among black workers, while the immigrant-derived proletariat must grasp that anti-black racism remains the bedrock of American capitalism.
José Osvaldo Sucuzhañay, a 31-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant and father of two, was walking with his brother Rómel through the streets of Bushwick in Brooklyn. As they walked arm in arm, four black men pulled up alongside of them, got out of their SUV and hurled anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets at the brothers before launching a murderous attack. Rómel managed to escape, but they surrounded José, beat him and crushed his skull with a baseball bat. He died six days later in the hospital. Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was fatally stabbed near the Patchogue, Long Island, train station by a gang of racist teens who reportedly drove around searching for a Latino to attack. One of the teens was Puerto Rican. There has also been a spate of attacks mostly by young black men against Mexican immigrants in the Port Richmond section of Staten Island, which has seen the number of Mexican residents climb sharply over the past two decades.
You cannot struggle to change this hideous reality if you deny its existence. In the 19th century, railroad baron Jay Gould once boasted: “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” So these incidents are not an aberration but are a brutal expression of the murderous logic of racial divisions in society. And historically, the ultimate victims of racist violence in America have always been blacks.
Many black workers feel resentment toward Latinos, seeing yet another immigrant group which, in a generation or two, manages to climb the ladder and “pass over” them, so to speak, while they remain at the bottom. It is important to recognize that there is a lot of truth in this statement. Being a white Hispanic and a U.S. citizen in this racist and chauvinist country opens up a lot of possibilities that one’s immigrant parents, as well as blacks and black Latinos, just do not have. On the other side of the issue, anti-black racism among layers of workers in the U.S. is real, it’s a fact. Anti-black racism among immigrant Latinos is a contradiction that goes completely against their own historical interests as oppressed and exploited workers, in the same way that anti-immigrant chauvinism runs completely counter to the historical interests of black and white workers.
It is in the vital interest of all workers to unite in common struggle. It is necessary to combat the false consciousness that the black and Latino petty-bourgeois misleadership peddles—that the other worker is the enemy; that blacks will never fight for immigrant rights; that immigrants are nothing but scabs who want to steal black workers’ jobs. Combating such false consciousness is an important task of a revolutionary workers party whose goal is to seize power from the capitalists with the active support of the majority of the working class.
The Republic Windows sit-down strike in Chicago in December 2008 was a modest example of black and immigrant workers unified in struggle against the bosses. The factory occupation began after the Republic bosses gave three days’ notice that the plant would be shut down, throwing its 260 union employees out of work. The union exposed the fact that Republic’s owners were moving the plant’s equipment and setting up a non-union shop in Iowa. A Mexican woman worker was key in sparking the sit-down strike.
After a courageous six-day plant sit-in that captured the attention of the nation, these largely immigrant and black workers won their demands, forcing the bosses and their bankers to fork over $1.75 million in severance pay and benefits. However, the workers’ small victory was largely attenuated by the United Electrical (UE) workers union bureaucrats, who not only mobilized the UE ranks to hustle votes for Obama but also embraced one Democrat after another during the sit-in, pushing the lie that the Democrats are friends of labor and completely gutting the understanding of the need for independent class struggle.
While standing atop organizations whose purpose is the defense of the workers’ economic interests, the union bureaucrats act as the political police over the working class in the interests of the racist bosses. Their bankrupt, class-collaborationist program means the acceptance of the right of the filthy rich capitalists to exploit the workers as wage slaves. Presiding over givebacks and defeats, they have demoralized and demobilized the American working class, preaching the lie that the Democrats, the government and the courts are on the side of workers. In fact, the union tops spent a whopping $450 million of union members’ dues money on the 2008 bourgeois elections.
These labor traitors accept the government’s campaign against undocumented immigrants, seeking only to tinker with its methods of repression. Embracing national chauvinism, the union tops sacrifice the union membership on the altar of the bosses’ profitability versus their foreign competitors. A glaring example was the October 2 AFL-CIO/NAACP-organized “One Nation” demo in Washington, D.C., whose purpose was to hustle votes for the Democrats while promoting “national unity” with the racist bosses. The United Auto Workers just made a deal in one plant slashing new-hire wages to the bone in order to allow GM to compete with foreign makers of subcompact cars, dividing the workers against themselves.
The protectionist poison pushed by the bureaucrats amounts to blaming the loss of jobs in the U.S. on our class brothers and sisters abroad rather than the American capitalists. Trade protectionism is anathema to the international working-class solidarity that is needed to advance the struggle against the bosses in each country, including the U.S.
A particular target of the United Steelworkers tops’ protectionism is the Chinese deformed workers state. They have been recently on a campaign to get the Obama administration to implement trade sanctions against the growing Chinese green manufacturing sector. The anti-Communist Steelworkers union leadership serves the counterrevolutionary interests of the U.S. imperialist rulers.
While capitalist property has made huge inroads over the last three decades of “market reforms,” nationalized property remains the core of the Chinese economy. The imperialists seek nothing less than the restoration of capitalist rule in China. It is vital for the international proletariat to stand for the unconditional military defense of China and the other remaining deformed workers states—Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam—against imperialism and domestic counterrevolution. It is the task of the proletariat of those countries to carry out a political revolution to sweep out their nationalist Stalinist misrulers, who preach accommodation to the world capitalist order, and establish regimes based on workers democracy and revolutionary internationalism.
Black Oppression and American Capitalism
During the current wave of anti-immigrant reaction, some politicians have posed the repeal of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment granted citizenship to freed black slaves and to all children born in the States, including the children of immigrants, thereby pegging the question of citizenship to birth on U.S. soil. It took a Civil War, with 200,000 black troops helping to turn the tide for the Union, for black slaves to win freedom and citizenship. While the American ruling class has always used ethnic and racial divisions to keep working people and the oppressed divided, the truth has never been clearer that immigrant rights and black freedom either go forward hand in hand or they fall back separately.
From slavery to convict labor, from the chain gang to the assembly line, American capitalism has been built upon the lash-scarred backs of black labor. Any organization that claims a revolutionary perspective for the United States must confront the special oppression of black people—their forced segregation at the bottom of capitalist society as a race-color caste and the poisonous racism that divides the working class and cripples its struggles. With the mass migration of blacks from the South to the Northern cities, particularly beginning in the early 20th century, the earlier nativist hostilities against immigrant workers were supplanted by anti-black racism. The color bar, a fundamental dividing line in American capitalist society, is a key prop for obscuring the irreconcilable class divide between labor and capital.
Counterposed to liberal integrationism, which holds that black equality can be achieved within the capitalist system of ruthless labor exploitation and racial subjugation, we advocate revolutionary integrationism: the understanding that black freedom requires smashing the capitalist system and constructing an egalitarian socialist society. This perspective is also counterposed to petty-bourgeois black nationalism, an ideology of defeatism that would deny blacks their birthright: the wealth and culture their labor has played a decisive role in creating. As Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky told his American supporters in 1939: “We must say to the conscious elements of the Negroes that they are convoked by the historic development to become a vanguard of the working class.”
Our program is counterposed to “people of color” politics, which views race as the primary dividing line in capitalist society as opposed to the class division between the capitalists and the workers. There is an implicit presumption that all non-white people have common interests against all whites. White workers and bosses are supposedly united in “white skin privilege.” Obviously, the heads of some white workers are filled with the racist rulers’ lies of white superiority and black inferiority. This has considerably weakened the whole working class to the extent that the U.S. is the only industrialized society that does not have a mass party that even in a deformed way represents the interests of the working class.
Over the past few decades, white workers along with black, Latino and Asian workers have lost jobs and hard-earned benefits. Thus, white workers do not benefit from the oppression of minorities. White workers have no material stake in the perpetuation of this incredibly unequal society, whose white ruling class enjoys unparalleled riches coming at all workers’ expense. We fight to win the multiracial working class to a program and perspective of class independence from and class struggle against a common enemy, the capitalist exploiters—i.e., to the struggle for socialist revolution to abolish capitalism.
Obama Takes Aim at Immigrants
In the 16 years since NAFTA was signed, the Mexican countryside has been devastated, including through the removal of protection against U.S.-produced corn and beans, the mainstays of the diet of the poor and the key staples grown by poor peasants. Thus, the mass immigration over the Mexican border that has occurred is a direct consequence of U.S. imperialism’s free-trade rape of Mexico.
The anti-immigrant hysteria of the bourgeois parties is sharply rising as actual immigration is falling. Fewer workers are now undertaking the dangerous passage across the border because there are many fewer jobs. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of undocumented immigrants dropped by nearly a million. Mass deportations and the scapegoating of immigrants by the Democratic Party Obama administration in the current economic crisis have also had their devastating effect. Today, the latest figures released show that the Obama administration has broken records, deporting some 390,000 in 2009. They have at least tripled the rate of deportations of the Bush years.
The Obama administration pushes employers to fire workers whose Social Security numbers do not match government records. To force the issue, Obama expanded many of the anti-immigrant programs of the Bush White House, such as the E-Verify database and I-9 audits of employer records. Mass terminations of immigrant workers have followed the audits at one industrial plant after another, from 254 workers, mostly women, at food processor Overhill Farms in May 2009 to about 1,500 at clothing maker American Apparel last September, both in the Los Angeles area. We demand: No deportations! Down with the raids!
The Democrats’ so-called “immigration reform” plans include the institution of a national biometric identity card for everyone in the United States. This will increase the police-state powers and repressive apparatus of the capitalist state in the context of the so-called “war on terror.” The Obama administration has also vastly expanded a program called in Orwellian language the “Secure Communities” initiative, whose purpose is to help local police forces throughout the country identify and deport so-called “criminal immigrants.” The program, which has been responsible for the deportation of nearly 47,000 immigrants over the past year and a half, slanderously tars immigrants as criminals, while in fact the vast majority of immigrants identified and deported under this program committed no crimes.
So Obama and the Democrats scold racist pigs like Republican governor Jan Brewer for passing the Arizona apartheid-style anti-immigrant pass law SB1070, while in essence doing the same thing and more effectively, using the racist cops to harass anyone who doesn’t look “American” and to sweep up immigrant workers, break up families and deport immigrants en masse.
There have been some immigrant student protests in support of the “Dream Act,” which is supposed to provide a conditional path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrant youth who complete two years of college or a tour of duty in the military. Of the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrant youth who graduate from high school each year but do not have the money or other resources to go to college, a large majority would then end up in the military. We oppose the Dream Act, which would be a boon for military recruiters, roping immigrants in as cannon fodder for U.S. imperialism.
Capitalists Make Workers Pay
To build a revolutionary party we have to politically defeat the opportunist currents within the labor movement. Reformist “socialist” organizations that seek to pressure the Democrats are an obstacle to the independent mobilization of the working class in its own interest.
For example, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in an August 2 Socialist Worker article, “Standing Up to a Racist Law,” reports that “the administration has refused to take tougher measures to make sure the racial profiling law is defeated.” Later on they gleefully report that “protesters called on the president to end the criminalization of migrant communities with ‘the stroke of a pen’.” Similarly the last line in a statement released by the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) this summer was, “Instead of mass deportations, the Obama administration should support comprehensive immigration reform that gives millions of super-exploited immigrant workers full legal rights.” No, that is not going to happen! The ISO and the PSL, through their words and especially their actions, peddle illusions that the Democrats can lead a kinder and gentler capitalism.
They imply that the bourgeois state, which in our Marxist view is an instrument for the suppression of the working class in the interests of the capitalist class, can somehow be reformed to serve our interests. No, it can’t. Composed at its core of armed bodies of men—cops, la migra, the army, courts and prisons—the capitalist state must be smashed by the revolutionary workers, and a workers state established.
In opposition to the capitalists and their reformist agents, Trotsky argued in the Transitional Program (1938): “If capitalism is incapable of satisfying the demands inevitably arising from the calamities generated by itself, then let it perish.” Over the past three and a half decades, the rich have fabulously increased their wealth, mainly by slashing benefits and driving down wages. Pay for production and other non-supervisory workers—80 percent of the private workforce—is today 9 percent lower in real terms than it was in 1973. During that same period, output per worker increased by more than 80 percent.
So, the American capitalists have enormously ratcheted up the rate of exploitation by extracting increased output from employed workers, including through forced overtime. Also, there have been mass layoffs that have vastly increased the numbers of unemployed and underemployed. Marx called them the “industrial reserve army,” whose existence serves to restrain what he ironically referred to as workers’ “pretensions” to demand higher wages.
Alongside growing unemployment, large numbers of black and Latino youth are condemned by the racist capitalist state to rising rates of incarceration and murderous police repression. Of the 2.3 million men, women and children behind bars, 70 percent are black or Latino. The recent killing by NY police thugs of Luis Soto and attempted killing of Angel Alvarez in a hail of 50 police bullets are by no means an aberration. In Los Angeles a few weeks ago, Manuel Jamines, a Mayan from Guatemala, was killed in the street by the vicious LAPD. We should not forget Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, as well as the countless other victims of police terror. These killings are part of the systematic police violence against the black and Latino populations under racist American capitalism.
In spite of the trade-union tops’ class collaborationism, there have been multiracial labor struggles in this country that point the way forward. Divisions among black, white and immigrant workers break down in the course of class struggle. The potential to fight and win was shown in the campaign for union recognition by the workers at Smithfield’s Tar Heel, North Carolina, pork processing plant. When the Smithfield bosses tried to fire 75 “no match” workers in November 2006, a two-day walkout that included black and white workers as well as Latinos forced the company to rehire everyone. However, by the time workers won their union in late 2008, workplace raids by immigration agents had driven out a significant number of immigrant workers. The battle at Smithfield underlines the need for a mass, militant union organizing drive throughout the country and particularly in the open shop South.
The situation we face underlines the need to throw out the pro-capitalist sellouts and replace them with a class-struggle leadership of labor as part of the fight to build a revolutionary workers party. Labor needs a leadership standing on the principle of class independence which would fight not only for immediate economic demands but on broader social issues, a leadership which seeks to mobilize the power of workers independent of the bosses’ parties and the capitalist state. Defense of immigrant rights against the government’s “war on terror,” defense of black and Latino youth against racist cop terror, opposition to the “war on drugs” and the murderous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan—these are some of the causes that a class-struggle union leadership would take up, putting the massive power of the working class on the side of all the oppressed.
It is the task of the revolutionary party as the tribune of the people to mobilize labor and the oppressed in struggle against all forms of capitalist oppression. Our model remains that of the Bolshevik Party which led the 1917 Russian October Revolution. The rule of the capitalists and landowners was replaced by that of the working class, which inspired workers and oppressed peoples internationally. In spite of Stalinist degeneration, which in the end threw open the doors to capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92, the Soviet Union demonstrated the capacity of a collectivized, planned economy to provide work, education, health care and decent conditions of life for all.
We carry forward the battle for the emancipating principles of the Bolshevik Revolution. The proletariat must struggle—for the survival of humanity—to take power in its own name under the banner of the revolutionary party. Through international socialist revolution and the establishment of an internationally planned socialist society, the slogan “Asian, Latino, black and white, workers of the world unite” will become a permanent reality.