TO Weekly 5 (July 28, 2020)
IN THIS ISSUE:
• The Meaning of the Deployment of Federal Paramilitary Units to Portland
• S.O.’s Assessment of the Movement for a People’s Party
• Demand Safe Schools Coalition Calls for Aug. 3 National Day of Resistance
• Editorial Notes of New Issue of The Internationale, Theoretical Review of the OCRFI
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The Meaning of the Deployment of Federal Paramilitary Forces to Portland
Statement by Socialist Organizer
President Trump’s use of paramilitary forces against Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters in Portland, Oregon, marks an ominous acceleration in the slide toward authoritarian rule in this country.
Violating Constitutional rights reflected in existing law, and in opposition to state and local governments, unidentified camouflaged units have been kidnapping peaceful protesters, blindfolding them, forcing them into unmarked cars, and then holding them for hours without formal arrest or charges. These shock troops have been drawn primarily from border patrol agencies, including the elite BORTAC, an extreme SWAT-type team supposedly created for use against violent drug smugglers. Trump and Attorney General William Barr have vowed to do the same in other major cities across the country, including Chicago, which is suing the administration for this threat, Baltimore, Oakland, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New York City, among others. These paramilitary forces already have been deployed in Seattle.
The designation of future cities reveals yet another aspect of Trump’s campaign strategy as his support numbers plummet as a consequence of his disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most targeted cities have large Black and Brown populations and Democratic Party mayors, and have defied federal immigration policy by becoming sanctuary cities.
Using crime statistics unrelated to the BLM protests, Trump claims that the mayors of these cities are refusing to combat violent crime because they are beholden to a “radical left” agenda designed to destroy the police, and that the federal government has to step in, ostensibly to “maintain law and order and protect federal property.” Thus, Trump seeks to provoke violent incidents to justify his actions, mobilize his base, and intimidate all who might vote or campaign against him. Trump has asserted repeatedly that Article 2 of the Constitution allows him to do whatever he wants.
In city after city, it’s local police along with white supremacist thugs – and now federal paramilitary – who have attacked protesters exercising their legal right to assemble. In Portland, a protester almost died after being shot in the head with a “less lethal” projectile; a peaceful veteran was beaten up, suffering broken bones from a savage attack after he attempted to talk to police. In Austin, a man was shot and killed last week by a counter-protester. In addition to “less lethal” projectiles, grenades, and clubs that often maim and sometimes kill, police routinely use tear gas and pepper spray against demonstrators. These painful respiratory irritants can cause lasting lung damage and are especially dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic.
Outrage Across the Country
Trump’s intervention has led to massive outrage across the country as activists, and people in general, recognize that the use of tactics typical of authoritarian regimes is a major threat not just to the activists themselves, but also to basic democratic functioning.
Such tactics are nothing new in a country built on slavery and genocide. They are not new to tens of thousands of Black and Latino youth who are rounded up routinely and fed to the prison-industrial complex. What is different about Portland is the open and brazen character of the attack by the federal government upon the very institutional fabric of bourgeois democracy enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Combined with massive voter suppression already underway and Trump’s threat that he may not honor the election results if he loses, there is widespread fear of a descent into fascism and even an openly fascist-type coup. To date, the mainstream military hierarchy has distanced itself from Trump, but that could change if he is able to provoke a major violent incident or false-flag event.
That’s why we must mobilize in huge numbers to demand: Hands Off the Black Lives Matter Protesters; Stop Police Terror and End Systemic Racism!
A Fundamental Difference?
The Democratic governor of Oregon and the mayor of Portland have decried the paramilitary invasion. Not surprisingly, Democratic Party politicians across the country are stating that the way to stop what just occurred in Portland is to vote for Joe Biden. Even many activists who ordinarily are committed to political independence from the Democrats are rationalizing support for Biden, a “neoliberal” warmonger, on the ground that defeating Trump is essential to prevent the rise of fascism. A Biden victory, they insist, will make it “easier” to fight racism and build independent working class movements and parties in the future.
Given the political void created by the labor officialdom’s continued refusal to break with the Democrats and run independent labor candidates for office, it is understandable why millions of voters will support Biden. And, with the pandemic risk and voter intimidation, many no doubt will be discouraged from voting at all. Given Biden’s record, others still will refuse to vote for either Trump or Biden, or they will cast a protest vote for the Green Party nominee or other third-party candidates.
Clearly, for many people there appears to be a significant difference between Biden and Trump. And while there are differences, the issue is how did we get to the point where we are now faced with a choice between someone who is creating the threat of descent into outright authoritarian rule and someone who supports, and helped create, the existing racist, anti-worker policies supported by both Democrats and Republicans — policies that led to Trump’s rise and electoral college “victory” in 2016?
There is nothing new about this false choice. What is new is the depth of the political crisis in this country stemming from the overall crisis of global capitalism, enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the existential threat of climate change. The open incursion of fascist tactics is new, but will electing Biden stop this crisis? No.
We are at a point where the pandemic has opened the floodgates to a new Depression. In the name of addressing the pandemic crisis, capitalists and their loyal minions in both major parties are already demanding that state budgets slash education, healthcare, transportation, and other public services. They are demanding that the trade unions, with the green light from the Democrats, join in partnerships with the bosses to enact the layoffs and budget cuts. These “jointism” and “round-table” schemes are the very hallmark of “corporatism” — a key component of fascist rule.
The Democrats call for bailing out both Wall Street and Main Street. To the unwary, this may sound good. But working people have seen time and again that the needs of Wall Street are always prioritized, with only crumbs left for Main Street. Just look at the vote last week for a record-breaking Pentagon budget. Even a very modest effort to reduce the war budget by 10% and redirect the savings toward needed pandemic and other relief failed to pass. Most Democrats voted to approve, as proposed, a budget devoted to killing people and destroying the environment globally so that military contractors can continue to reap astronomical profits.
That’s why we must demand: Bail Out Main Street, NOT Wall Street!
The Democratic Party actively co-opts the leaders of trade unions and movements of the oppressed. Our misleaders in the labor movement and among these communities tell us that we are beholden to the Democratic Party for what gains we still have. They say: “Don’t rock the boat, Don’t play into the hands of the Republicans!” In short, accept the cuts, just try to make them less draconian! This is why we say that the Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements.
So, we can’t expect a respite, whichever of the two capitalist candidates wins the November election. Millions will hold their nose and vote for Biden, hoping against hope that something will change. But the capitalist onslaught will only deepen unless we build a genuine political alternative — beginning today. We must not be placed in this situation yet again; the lesser of two evils is still evil. Time is running out.
Pointing the Way to Independent Working Class Politics
As the Depression grows, so will mass unemployment and poverty, pitting workers against each other and fomenting even greater racism and xenophobia. Workers and oppressed peoples must continue to take to the streets in massive numbers, supporting each other’s struggles, and we must organize within the labor movement to mobilize for strike action, if we are to have any chance of protecting or expanding our rights and benefits. We applaud the ILWU for leading the way with its strike on Juneteenth. We agree with the organizers of that effort, the leaders of ILWU Local 10, that we must lay the groundwork for the creation of a new and effective independent, working class political party that breaks with the twin parties of Capital once and for all.
Some ask, don’t we already have third parties? Aren’t others trying to build new ones? What about the Green Party or the Movement for a Peoples Party (MPP)?
The MPP supports the California Progressive Alliance (CPA), which has an explicitly inside-outside strategy toward the Democratic Party and has Green Party members on its board. The MPP is already building alliances with CPA endorsed candidates, such as Shahid Buttar, who is running against Nancy Pelosi with the support of the a “left wing” of the Democratic Party. Perhaps the 2024 campaign candidate they’re talking about could be a “progressive” Democrat running with MPP endorsement.
The MPP opposes making demands on “progressive” Democrats, for example Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has taken some valiant votes against war, but is still a member and leader of a party of the capitalist class. Neither the MPP nor the Greens see a difference between a party built by and for the working class and oppressed communities and one that brings voters together around a loose, class-denying ideology of “progressive populism.” [See article on the MPP in this issue of The Organizer Weekly Newsletter.]
What is needed is a clean break with the twin parties of capitalism. What is needed is for the labor movement to implement the two resolutions adopted by the 2017 National Convention of the AFL-CIO that call for building an independent Labor-Based Political Party. It is time for labor to break its ties of subordination to the Democratic Party. Again, time is running out!
Helping to get the ball rolling toward these goals is why Socialist Organizer (which publishes The Organizer newspaper) has joined up with the Ujima Peoples Progress Party in Baltimore, the Labor Fightback Network, and many others, to build Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) (https://lcipcampaign.org/).
LCIP is committed to building: (1) local coalitions between unions and groups representing Black and other oppressed communities that will develop independent candidates accountable to the coalitions’ platforms, and (2) to build in our unions a wing to gain support for such coalitions; both with the goal of building up to a national independent working class party. LCIP is also committed to the effort to build independent Black political parties.
We invite you, our readers and supporters, to attend LCIP’s online conference this September 19 and 20. For more information about the conference and to register, go to the LCIP webiste or contact conference co-convener Nnamdi Lumumba at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
— July 28, 2020
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Question from Our Readers: What Is Our Assessment of the Movement for a People’s Party?
[Over the past month, a number of our readers have written to ask for our assessment of the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP), a political formation that is getting considerable publicity of late. Here is our reply.]
In December 2017, The Organizer newspaper published an editorial that underscored the political importance of the newly formed Movement for a People’s Party (MPP), which had resulted from a break with the Democratic Party by a significant wing of Bernie supporters. At the same time, the editorial pointed to serious political weaknesses in the MPP’s orientation, which, if left unchecked, could potentially derail this very promising development.
The editorial pointed to two questions that had to be addressed if there were to be any real motion toward building an independent party of and for the working-class majority: (1) the need for a clean and complete break with the Democrats, and (2) the need for a working class party rooted in the unions and communities of the oppressed, a party that is linked, moreover, to the struggle of the Black liberation movement to forge its own independent Black working class political party.
On the first point we were concerned about postings on the MPP’s website that embraced an “inside-outside” approach toward the Democratic Party, such as this:
“Historically, a successful inside-outside strategy involves pressure from within an establishment party and pressure from a major independent party. Together, those from within and those from without work as a team to either force an establishment party to represent working people or replace it with a party that does.”
On the second point, we took issue with the very concept of a people’s party, explaining how this differs from a working-class party in that such people’s parties historically — and worldwide — see the struggle not in class terms (workers vs. capitalists) but rather as people of all social classes vs. the oligarchy (the financial elites).
We took particular exception to MPP national director Nick Brana’s repeated reference to self-described “left populist” parties in Europe as models of “successful” people’s parties to be emulated. Brana pointed to three “examples of success” in forging “coalitions of progressive groups” — Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, and France Unbowed in France.
“These are not examples of independent politics,” we wrote. “They are not rooted in the working class and its organizations. They all have bowed, to one degree or another, to the dictates of the European Union, that is, to the dictates of global capitalism.”
An Agreement Soon Abandoned by the MPP
The December 2017 editorial initiated a fruitful dialogue over the following nine months between the MPP and the editorial board of The Organizer that led us in early September 2018 to launch the Labor-Community Campaign for an Independent Party (LCCIP) around a compromise agreement focused on two intertwined objectives:
“Our first objective is to promote running independent labor-community candidates beginning in 2019 at a local and state level around a platform that embraces workers’ and communities’ pressing demands. The explicit aim is to advance the effort to build a mass party for working people rooted in unions, youth, and communities of the oppressed. The platforms of these independent candidates need to be discussed and approved by labor-community assemblies, and the candidates must be answerable to these assemblies and to the coalitions formed for this purpose.
“Our second objective is to promote widely in the trade union movement a committee that advocates for a Labor-Based Political Party. A resolution adopted by the October 2017 national convention of the AFL-CIO affirmed that, ‘whether the candidates are elected from the Republican or Democratic Party, the interests of Wall Street have been protected and advanced, while the interests of labor and working people have generally been set back.’ A second convention resolution concluded that, ‘the time has passed when we can passively settle for lesser of two evils politics.’ The committee’s goal will be to promote the discussion inside the labor movement about the need to break with ‘lesser of two evils politics’ and to create a ‘Labor-Based Political Party’ — a reference to the title of a forum organized by key labor officials at the October 2017 AFL-CIO convention. In order to create such a mass party for working people, we will organize to raise awareness in the unions of the need to break with the Democratic Party.”
The compromise agreement did not erase the political disagreements between The Organizer’s editorial board and the MPP. For example, the MPP steering committee refused to accept the term “working class” in the two-point agreement, considering it an “outdated concept.” The compromise, however, enabled us to move forward together toward building a labor- and community-based independent party. Key to this agreement was the understanding that we were not setting out jointly to build a people’s party. For the editorial board of The Organizer that was simply out of the question; we could never agree to support an effort aimed at building a multi-class people’s party.
For the next six months, the LCCIP grew and flourished; we gathered close to 1,000 endorsements of the two points of unity in the space of a few months. But this soon fell apart when the MPP leadership insisted that we had to jettison our initial compromise agreement and accept a new name that included the term “People’s Party.” This was presented to us as an ultimatum. We were shocked.
The editorial board of The Organizer replied that this proposal was unacceptable on two counts:
(1) Self-proclaiming ourselves as a new party — which is what the change of name to People’s Party amounted to — was not just premature, it would alienate all our labor supporters, who understand, as we do in The Organizer, that we are just at the beginning stages of forming an Organizing Committee to promote the AFL-CIO resolutions. We are just beginning the process of organizing independent labor-community assemblies that are involved in critical labor and community struggles; that run candidates on a local level who are mandated by, and are answerable to, these assemblies; and that are the building blocks for a new mass-based independent working class party.
(2) Calling the independent labor- and community-based party that we seek to build (on the basis of the AFL-CIO resolutions) a People’s Party is not an option for us. We had made our objection to this name crystal clear to our MPP partners from Day One.
We explained to our MPP partners that we in The Organizer remain fully attached to the slogan coined by Tony Mazzocchi and the Labor Party of the 1990s: “The bosses have two parties, we [workers] need one of our own.” We reminded our MPP partners that when we formed the LCCIP in September 2018 we had come up with a compromise formulation — “for an independent party of and for working people, youth and communities of the oppressed” — that left the designation of the name and character of the new independent party to be decided at some point in the future after the patient work laying the groundwork for the new party.
There was another point that was very important to us: the question of a “clean break” with the Democratic Party.
When we formed the LCCIP together with the MPP, we agreed that the labor-community candidates running on a local level who were promoted by the LCCIP would be “clean-break” candidates. Understanding that many local races would be non-partisan races (that is, with candidates not required to list party affiliation), we agreed that the LCCIP-supported candidates would not call for supporting Democrats for other public offices and would advocate for a new independent party of and for working people, youth, and the communities of the oppressed. This stance was the very definition of “independent.”
So the agreement collapsed. We could not accept having the LCCIP placed on the track of building the People’s Party, as the MPP proposed. The political split was consummated over very clear programmatic questions. The MPP went ahead with its effort to launch a People’s Party in 2020 (with a founding convention in 2021 and a presidential candidate, no less, in 2024), and we on the editorial board of The Organizer newspaper joined forces with the overwhelming majority of the LCCIP Organizing Committee to establish LCIP (its new abridged name) on the basis of the coalition’s two original points of unity — with one amendment: the term “working class” was restored in the new text to underscore the class character of the party that we seek to build.
Our Concerns Are Confirmed
No sooner had the compromise agreement fallen through than The Organizer‘s editorial board learned that the MPP had joined the California Progressive Alliance (CPA) as an “organizational ally.” The CPA is a coalition that works both inside and outside the Democratic Party. It endorses “progressive Democrats” running for office in local, state and federal elections. Joining the CPA no longer surprised us; after all, the MPP website still included a FAQ affirming that, “the missing ingredient in our progressive movement today [is] pressure from outside the Democratic Party [that] will cause it to change or be replaced.”
Joining the CPA as an “organizational ally,” in our view, meant legitimizing CPA’s “inside-outside” strategy in relation to the Democrats. It meant legitimizing a vote for Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic primary, a vote that was taken by the CPA at its January 2020 convention.
Joining the CPA as an “organizational ally” meant legitimizing a vote for CPA-endorsed “progressive Democrat” Shahid Buttar, who is running against Nancy Pelosi. The MPP, in fact, sponsored a people’s budget mobilization jointly with the Buttar for Congress campaign in San Francisco in mid-July. It was fundamentally a Buttar campaign rally.
The editorial board of The Organizer opposes this political orientation. Building a new party of the type we seek is not a short-term effort; it’s a long, careful, and sustained process that has to involve the direct participation and leadership by organizations representing labor unions and communities of the oppressed. Key stakeholders in such a party cannot be mere endorsers subordinate to a process in which their input is not central. We have only just begun to identify which organizations are likely to commit to this process, let alone bring them fully on board.
We on the editorial board of The Organizer are committed firmly to the orientation expressed by the two prongs in the LCIP’s Statement of Purpose. This is the orientation required to build a truly independent labor-and community-based political party. There are no short-cuts; in fact, the quest for short-cuts can only create new obstacles in the fight for independent working-class political action.
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Demand Safe Schools Coalition Calls for Aug. 3 National Day of Resistance
[Introductory note: As we put this issue of the Socialist Organizer Weekly Newsletter to bed on July 29, we learned that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced publicly that it will back members who go on strike because of unsafe conditions in schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AFT President Randi Weingarten said that strike action should be a “last resort.” Weingarten went on to list the safeguards required to make schools safe, many of which echo the safeguards put forward below by the Demand Safe Schools Coalition. — The Editors of the S.O. Weekly Newsletter]
The Demand Safe Schools Coalition — which brings together unions and organizations such as the Chicago Teachers Union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and Journey For Justice — has called for a “National Day of Resistance” on August 3.
The mobilization is not only fighting premature reopenings and demanding more nurses and counselors, personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning, and virus testing services to keep students and staff safe once they are back in the classroom, but it has also raised demands on behalf of community members, including police-free schools, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and direct cash assistance to those unemployed or unable to work.
Please find below the list of coalition demands and coalition members. For more information, go to http://www.demandsafeschools.org.
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- No reopening until the scientific data supports it
- Police-free schools
- All schools must be supported to function as community schools with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses and community/parent outreach workers
- Safe conditions including lower class sizes, PPE, cleaning, testing, and other key protocols
- Equitable access to online learning
* Support for our communities and families, including moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs
- Moratorium on new charter or voucher programs and standardized testing
- Adequate and equitable funding, through federal stimulus
- Massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing billionaires and Wall Street!
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ABOUT THE COALITION
In this movement moment, our organizations have come together to unite students, educators, parents and community to advance a racial justice agenda in public education, in particular by organizing for police-free schools. We’re working to galvanize a strong and growing student/educator/parent/community voice; a voice that says the government must go much further to provide the resources to ensure a safe and equitable school reopening and must provide for our communities and working families through transformational Common Good demands.
The list of unions endorsing the coalition includes:
Chicago Teachers Union
Boston Teachers Union
United Teachers Los Angeles
Massachusetts Teachers Association
Journey For Justice
Center for Popular Democracy
St. Paul Federation of Educators
Milwaukee Teachers Education Association
National Educators United
Racine Educators United
Little Rock Education Association
Oakland Education Association
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Editorial Notes of New Issue of The Internationale, Theoretical Magazine of the OCRFI
(July 2020, Issue No. 18-19; to order full issue, send $6 via paypal at socialistorganizer.org)
“Tell our friends that I am sure of the victory of the Fourth International!”
These were the last words of Leon Trotsky, in the early hours of August 21, 1940, before succumbing to the wounds inflicted by his murderer, the Stalinist agent Ramon Mercader.
It is 80 years since the assassination of the founder of the Fourth International. Eighty years that have seen the confirmation of Lenin’s characterization of imperialism as “reaction all down the line” and as “the epoch of wars and revolutions.” It is a period during which the revolutionary resistance of the masses has encountered – especially in the last 30 years – the sharpest blows delivered against the workers, their gains and their independent organizations.
These 80 years have witnessed the deepening of the appalling crisis of the international labor movement — a crisis from which the Fourth International has not escaped.
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, there will certainly be no lack of demoralized and sceptical individuals who will lectureus on the fact that Trotsky was wrong, and that the Fourth International, founded in 1938 to ensure the thread of continuity of the three previous Internationals, has not achieved the victories that were expected. Often, delivering such a judgment has more to do with justifying one’s own abandonment of the struggle for socialism.
Drawing such a conclusion would mean stopping at the superficial aspect of things, giving in to the trend of the moment and the pressures coming from the dominant ideology.
By stating his confidence in the victory of the Fourth International at the very moment when humankind was sinking into the horrors of the Second Imperialist World War, at the very moment when triumphant Stalinism was becoming the gravedigger – in the true sense of the word – of the best fighters of October 1917, Trotsky was stating his confidence in the capacity of the working class to save humankind from barbarism. And that capacity was premised on the help that could be given to the working class by a solid vanguard, based on the Program of the Fourth International.
This program affirms that “without a socialist revolution in the next historical period, the whole culture of humankind faces disaster.”
Of course, the historical period has shown itself to be infinitely longer that anyone could have imagined in 1940.Nevertheless, does that affirmation not have the greatest relevance today in terms of the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic (in reality due to the ransacking of public research and the destruction of healthcare and welfare systems by every capitalist government), following the first waves of mass lay-offs that have thrown tens of millions of workers into unemployment around the world?
In this July 2020 double issue of The Internationale, our readers will find the report on the Marxist Conference organized on May 23 in France (as a video conference, due to the lockdown measures) by the Internationalist Communist Tendency (TCI) of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID), French section of the Fourth International and a member of the Organising Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI).
In that conference, we demonstrated with supporting facts the dead-end into which the survival of the system based on private ownership of the means of production leads, in the midst of its utter dislocation. Hence, we demonstrated the relevance today of the struggle for socialism, for the reorganization of the whole of society on the basis of the socialization of the means of production.
“The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat,” is the very first affirmation of the Program of the Fourth International. Here again, we invite our readers to examine this affirmation in light of the events we are living through. Is it an exaggeration on our part to say that in every part of the world, at a time when the capitalist system has entered a new phase in its crisis, we have all seen the leaderships of the main political parties that claim to represent the workers – directly or indirectly – rush to give their support for plans to bail out Capital and the banks?
In France, the Socialist Party, Communist Party and France Unbowed members of the National Assembly joined in the unanimous vote on March 19, 2020, in support of the program proposed by Macron that offered 343 billion euros (subsequently increased to 400 billion and then 500 billion!) to the banks and the capitalists.
In Britain, not only did the Labour Party’s members of parliament (including its “left wing”) approve the same kind of bailout plan, the Labour Party leadership (together with the leadership of the national trade union confederation, the TUC) also proposed to the Conservative government to form a “National Recovery Council” that would chain the trade unions to the employers and the government.
In Belgium, the Socialist Party leaders voted to grant “special powers” to the bourgeois government. In Germany, the SPD leadership has long since been bogged down in a “grand coalition” with the bourgeois parties, while in the Spanish State, the “socialist” PSOE government together with Podemos and the remnants of the Communist Party are directly following the orders of the State to save the capitalists at the workers’ expense. The same is true in Portugal, under the leadership of a Socialist Party government that has just banned strikes in the name of the fight against the pandemic. And what can we say about the vote in Brazil by the members of parliament of the Workers Party (PT), the Communist Party and the Party of Socialism and Liberty (PSOL) in support of the Bolsonaro-Mourao government’s measures, which include a wage freeze for civil servants, wage cuts in the private sector and the gifting of 1,200 billion reais (equivalent to 200 billion euros or US$227 billion) to the banks and the capitalists! And we could give many other examples.
Contrary to the movement of the apparatuses – that is, the top echelons of the left parties and trade unions — and “very much to the right” in an attempt to save the decaying capitalist system, in recent months we have seen every kind of resistance by the working class, despite the blows it is receiving: the renewed strike wave in China following the pandemic, the wave of wildcat strikes in the United States and in Italy, the workers’ protests in India and Bangladesh, the demonstration by more than 100,000 hospital workers in France, and the growing demand in Brazil to drive Bolsonaro from power.
It is in this context that we must understand the importance of the movement that exploded in the United States on May 25, following the murder of George Floyd by the police. This movement of unprecedented power by millions of youth and workers falls within the class struggle; beyond the legitimate protests against the murder of Black people by the police, it has shaken the institutions of the world’s most powerful imperialist State, founded on racism and 400 years of oppressing the Black population.
We publish in the issue the report on the Marxist Conference held jointly on June 12 by representatives of: the TCI, French section of the Fourth International; Socialist Organizer, the organization that in the United States champions the positions of the OCRFI; and an activist of the Ujima People’s Progress Party, the Black working-class organization in Baltimore. This was an opportunity to examine the dialectical relationships between the struggle by Black people for self-determination and self-organization in the United States, and the struggle for the political independence of the U.S. working class, i.e., for the labor movement to break with the Democratic Party and found a Labor Party based on the trade unions.
This is a particular illustration of the struggle for political independence by the working class, which is at the heart of the Program of the Fourth International. Having said this, those of us who came together in the OCRFI around five years ago, and who are preparing our next OCRFI International Conference in November 2020, do not make agreement with that program a precondition for joint action. Especially for joint action by all those who – amidst the crisis of the labor movement – deem it necessary to reorganize the labor movement on a new axis, the axis of independence, of the “class against class” struggle that exclusively has the workers’ class interests as its starting-point.
This is why we are committed to both preparing the OCRFI’s International Conference and helping to ensure the success of the World Conference convened by the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (IWC).
We fully support the comments by comrade Nambiath Vasudevan, trade union representative in Mumbai (India) and one of the IWC’s two co-conveners, together with Daniel Gluckstein, during the online international workers’ rally on May Day, organized by the IWC (1). He stated:
“What is the way out? People’s power alone can reverse the tragedy. For this to become a reality, in India as elsewhere in the world, the working class must identify as a class for itself, and what is more, rise above divisive values in order to reconstruct a solid organization nationally and internationally.
Comrades, on this May Day, let us resolve to work in this direction. Covid-19 should not be allowed to be used as a means to get additional dividends for the perpetrators of exploitation! … To avoid a future epidemic like Covid-19, people must have proper jobs with decent wages, houses, hospitals, schools and healthcare in place. Profit-greedy capitalism, except for offering sympathy and nothing else, has failed to take any concrete measures in the larger interests of the people.
“The public interest must rise above selfish private motives. The world’s working class has a role to play. That is what has brought us to this rally. Hence, on this May Day, we say with one voice: Down with capitalism! Down with exploitation and war! Long live socialism!”
This double issue of The Internationale also includes two contributions which we offer up to our readers for reflection. The first is the report on the Marxist Conference organized in Paris on January 31, 2020,on “The double oppression of women: How do we end it?” The second is both a tribute to our comrade Pierre Lambert, who was born on June 9, 1920, and died on January 16, 2008, and a political contribution on “The Fourth International and the trade union question.”
These documents, like all the materials published in this double issue, are a first political contribution to the preparation of the OCRFI’s International Conference to be held in November 2020, and an invitation to all those who share the positions contained in them to join the ranks of the member organizations of the OCRFI without delay.
— The editorial team
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(1) The rally, in which labor activists of all political tendencies from 45 countries spoke, can still be viewed online on the IWC’s website in English, French, Spanish and Turkish, at https://coiiwc.org.