The Organizer Weekly — Issue No. 12 — Oct. 16, 2020
IN THIS ISSUE:
• The Coup Threat Continues – What Is to Be Done? — Statement by Socialist Organizer (October 16, 2020)
• How Trump and Co. Are Working to Steal the Election — by Millie Phillips
• Report on the October 10, 2020 Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0, the Wall of Shame and the Migration Pact (Part 1 of 2 Parts)
• Opening Presentation by Alan Benjamin to the October 10 Binational Conference
• Greetings from IWC Co-Coordinators to October 10 Binational Conference
• Presentation on New Series in The Organizer Weekly titled “Our Revolutionary Heritage”
• The Communist Manifesto Is More Relevant Than Ever! — by Daniel Gluckstein
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The Coup Threat Continues – What Is to Be Done : Statement by Socialist Organizer
(October 16, 2020)
Today, as we write this statement, there is growing discussion among rank-and-file union members and community activists about preparing a vast fightback against the determined effort by Donald Trump and a sector of the ruling class to steal the presidential election in what only can be described as a planned coup d’etat. They have launched a concerted campaign of voter suppression across the country and have initiated hundreds of lawsuits to prevent ballot access and to tie up the election results in a judicial system that has been packed already with their minions. [See accompanying article by Millie Phillips on “How Trump and Co. Are Working to Steal the Election.”]
So what is to be done?
“The labor movement, the only organized expression of the working class as a class,” we wrote in our last editorial in The Organizer Weekly, “must take the lead in fighting against the coup that Trump is preparing, round the clock. Fundamental democratic rights are on the line. The stakes are huge.
“What is needed,” we asserted, “are mass peaceful demonstrations and mass strikes — even a continuous general strike — should Trump refuse to step down, as he has warned repeatedly, if he loses the election.”
It is not so long ago that the effectiveness of even just the call for a general strike was in evidence in the United States. Let’s recall the impact of the call for a general strike issued by Sara Nelson, president of the flight attendants union, in ending the government shutdown in January 2019. Her call showed the potential strength of the labor movement. “But,” we noted in our editorial, “a call from one union will not be enough this time.”
Lessons from the Florida 2000 Election
Socialist Organizer called upon our readers, particularly those in the trade union movement, to start raising these issues in their union locals and labor councils. “It is up to us,” we insisted, “rank-and-file unionists and leaders, to get the ball rolling in our unions. We cannot sit back and remain spectators of another demobilization such as occurred in 2000, when the Democratic National Committee, with Al Gore’s approval, told Black leaders and activists to get off the streets and go home.”
And it wasn’t just Al Gore who called on labor and community activists to stand down in the interest of preserving the political institutions of capitalist rule. The AFL-CIO leadership, because of its subordination to the Democratic Party, was equally complicit.
Labor organizer and strategist Jane McAlevy reported in her 2014 memoir, reprinted in the October 13, 2020 issue of Jacobin magazine, that, “Gore thought that if he played nice, the democratic system would award him the election.” That, of course, did not happen.
McAlevy, who was on the AFL-CIO national staff, recounts that the labor movement could have supported the Jesse Jackson-called march, or it could have organized something in its own name — and didn’t. “Gore and company were the Democratic Party,” McAlevy insisted. “We were organized labor. We didn’t represent the candidate. We represented thousands of union workers. We knew how to mobilize, and we had the resources to do it.”
McAlevy continued: “We could have put 30,000 labor people in the streets in two days, but we were prohibited from mobilizing or even from showing up in other marches in any union-identified clothing.”
McAlevy concluded, “People were willing to leave their daily grind and step into history to defend their democracy on a scale that could be called massive, without exaggeration. … [Instead], the Democratic Party and AFL-CIO leadership smothered the movement moment, snuffed it right out.”
McAlevy’s admonition that labor must remain labor, affirming its political independence from the twin parties of capital, is of utmost relevance today. The Gore campaign didn’t want to rock the boat. As McAlevey wrote, “They didn’t want to seem like they didn’t have faith in the legal system.” Today, it is likely that we will hear such language from the Biden campaign should Trump carry forth in his effort to steal the election. Like Gore, Biden has been working feverishly to win over centrist voters.
Rochester Labor Council Points the Way Forward
Today organized labor as never before is confronted with the necessity to prepare for a nationwide general strike. As we in Socialist Organizer and others carry on these discussions with rank-and-file activists and union leaders, resolutions are circulating already, foremost among them the October 8 resolution of the Rochester, N.Y., Labor Council titled, “Defending American Democracy and Opposing Authoritarian Rule.” It reads in part:
“Whereas, the Labor Movement and trade unions have played a proud and vital role in protecting democracy and opposing authoritarianism in many nations throughout the world;
“Whereas, the extreme risk currently posed to the historic institutions of democracy in our nation may require more widespread and vigorous resistance than at any time in recent history;
“Whereas, the most powerful tool of the Labor Movement in our history has been the power of the General Strike;
“Whereas, united working people refusing to work across the nation have a greater power than any political machinations of aspiring despots;
“Therefore, now be it resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO stands firmly in opposition to any effort to subvert, distort, misrepresent or disregard the final outcome of the 2020 Presidential elections;
“Therefore, be it finally resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO calls on the National AFL-CIO, all of its affiliate unions and all other labor organizations in the United States of America to prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 Presidential Elections.” [emphasis added]
Soon afterwards, the South Central Wisconsin Labor Council, AFL-CIO adopted a similar resolution, and other councils across the country are preparing to do the same. Sentiment to take to the streets in mass protests and to organize labor actions to stop the coup is growing by the day, with community-based organizations, such as People’s Strike, mobilizing their affiliates nationwide.
As we wrote in our last editorial, “A call from one union will not be enough this time. To be most effective, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other top officials of the labor movement should issue such a call.” As the resolutions from the Labor Councils gain momentum, union members will look to their union internationals to jump on board.
In his September 25 statement, Trumka declared, “The labor movement will not allow any breach of the U.S. Constitution or other effort to deny the will of the people.” These are powerful words. But Trumka is well known for issuing fighting statements, then doing little to nothing to back them up with concrete actions. The labor movement, in fact the American people as a whole, deserve better than empty proclamations.
Labor must remain labor, as Jane McAlevy warned. It must break its ties of subordination to the Democratic Party, which is bound hand and foot to the very same ruling-class political institutions as Trump and the Republicans. The labor movement must not allow any effort to deny the will of the people, and that means preparing today the mass mobilizations and strikes to defend the democratic rights gained through bitter struggles by workers and the oppressed.
There is not a second to lose.
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How Trump and Co. Are Working to Steal the Election
By Millie Phillips
The Trump campaign and the Republican Party are making a full-out assault on voting rights, aided by the elimination in 2018 of a 1982 consent decree requiring Republicans to avoid such attacks. Here are just some of their tactics:
– Insisting that the Democratic Party is engaging in a vast conspiracy to “steal” the election from Trump, undermining trust in the integrity of the voting process; which discourages people from voting and riles up his base to attack those who do.
– Claiming that mail-in ballots are subject to massive fraud, for which there is no evidence whatsoever. Many states already vote entirely by mail. Throughout the country, the Trump administration is filing scores of lawsuits to overturn mail-in voting, to make it more difficult, or to retain current restrictive measures in certain states such as requiring witnesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many voters will not risk their lives by voting in person. Others will not risk voting by mail for fear their vote won’t be counted.
– Attempting to destroy the U.S. Postal Service so that mail-in ballots cannot be processed in a timely manner. Politicians of both parties have long salivated over the prospect of privatizing the post office and busting its unions, and the current attack serves that goal as well.
– Recruiting tens of thousands of volunteer poll watchers, AKA racist thugs, to intimidate those voting in person, especially voters of color in cities with Democratic administrations. This is already happening in Pennsylvania. The 1982 consent decree was implemented precisely to prevent such abuses after armed Republican poll watchers pretending to be police stalked voters, threatening them with arrest for fraud if they tried to exercise their right to vote. In a later incident in 2008, Republicans were caught in a “doxxing” scheme, investigating Latino voters ostensibly to find non-existent evidence of voter fraud by non-citizen immigrants, and then publicly releasing personal information, including Social Security numbers and home addresses, and subjecting voters to potential identity theft and vigilante violence.
– Making it difficult for people of color to register and vote by challenging their credentials, such as demanding unnecessary forms of ID, especially in swing states, and distributing misinformation designed to disqualify them.
– Purging voter rolls by removing people who may have moved, were victims of foreclosure, or merely failed to respond to mailings.
– Requiring those whose voting rights were restored after incarceration to pay money they may owe the state before being allowed to vote, disenfranchising them once again.
– Stepping up ballot invalidation, such as claiming that signatures on ballots don’t match exactly those on the voter’s original registration.
– Reducing the number of polling places and drop-in ballot boxes, aggravated by a drastic decline in the number of poll-workers, many of whom are elderly volunteers especially vulnerable to COVID 19. Where early voting is already starting, voters have reported standing in line all day while risking COVID exposure. In Texas, drop boxes have been reduced to one per county, even though one county has only 169 residents and another has 4.5 million!
– Trying to rush through a Supreme Court nominee who is likely to rule in favor of Trump in any legal actions challenging his behavior, not to mention leaving a lasting right-wing legacy that will destroy what few rights we have left and prevent progressive policies from being implemented for the foreseeable future.
All these tactics disproportionately impact people of color, immigrants, young adults, LGBTQ voters, and low-income voters, all of whom are more likely not to support Republicans.
Trump is also depending on the undemocratic Electoral College to ensure his re-election. By preventing or invalidating as many opposing votes as possible, he hopes to win the popular vote outright, thus ensuring enough Electoral College delegates in his favor. However, as losing the popular vote becomes increasingly likely, and by a margin that does not guarantee him enough delegates, he is turning up the heat on efforts to prevent mail-in ballots from being counted. Beyond that, legal challenges already in the works intend to stall the count long enough to allow states to appoint electors in his favor or, if there is no conclusion by the December 8 elector deadline, to force Congress to appoint electors.
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REPORT ON THE OCTOBER 10, 2020 Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0, the Wall of Shame and the Migration Pact
(Part 1 of 2 Parts)
The Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0, the Wall of Shame and the Migration Pact was held on October 10. The conference was slated to be held in the border city of Tecate, Baja California, but due to the COVID-19 measures restricting mobility, the meeting was held in a hybrid format, with a majority of participants linked through video conferencing and with union hubs in six cities in Mexico, including Tecate. One-hundred-and-thirty-two people from 43 organizations in Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Argentina participated in the conference.
Greetings were sent by Nambiath Vasudevan and Daniel Gluckstein, the coordinators of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation (IWC), and by Paul Nkunzimana, an IWC activist in Canada. These were read at the beginning of the conference.
Participants from Mexico included leaders and/or rank-and-file members from the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), the New Workers Central (NCT), teachers from the CNTE, agricultural workers from SINDJA, oil workers, autoworkers from Generando Movimiento at GM, and maquiladora workers. Members of the Organization of Workers and People (OPT) and of movements in defense of natural resources and migrant workers also participated.
From the United States, participants included leaders and/or grassroots activists from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA, AFL-CIO) in Sacramento and San Diego, the California Teachers Association (CFA), the San Francisco Labor Council, the Teamsters union in Ohio, the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), Rideshare Drivers United (RDU) in San Diego, as well as committees in defense of migrants, and Socialist Organizer, among others.
Conference participants focused on the devastating effects of “free trade” agreements on workers’ rights on both sides of the border and how these treaties, particularly the new USMCA (more aptly called NAFTA 2.0), undermine the sovereignty of oppressed peoples and nations by allowing U.S. imperialism to plunder their resources and super-exploit their labor forces.
Two simultaneous conference breakout sessions were held, one devoted to “national sovereignty, migration and defense of resources” and the other to the “defense of labor rights.”
In the first breakout session participants slammed the Migration Pact between the U.S. and Mexican governments and the construction of the Wall of Shame on the border. Immigrant rights activists lashed out against the migrant detention centers in the United States, which have become death camps in this period of pandemic.
The looting by large transnational corporations, which have taken over Mexico’s natural resources such as water, was highlighted. Special attention was paid to the theft of vital water resources by Constellation Brands (Corona beer) in the greater Mexicali (Baja California) region, and Coca Cola in Chiapas.
Conference participants also exposed the role of Mexico’s billionaires who are buying up lands that have belonged for centuries to indigenous communities for private, for-profit mega-projects, such as the TrenMaya (Maya fast train) and the “economic development” transoceanic corridor in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Speakers also reported that the new NAFTA 2.0 treaty retains the original NAFTA Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause that explicitly prevents the Mexican government from halting or reversing the privatization drive of Mexico’s oil and energy industries by foreign multinational corporations. If the Mexican government were to undertake such measures, Mexico under NAFTA 2.0 would be subject to heavy sanctions and tariffs on its exports — a modern-day form of extortion!
It should be recalled that one of the election pledges of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was to repeal the privatizing “Energy Reform” enacted in 2014 by then-president Peña Nieto. AMLO, however, turned his back on this pledge when he supported the new NAFTA 2.0 treaty — which bans him from taking any action against the destructive Peña Nieto reform. A central pillar of Mexico’s economy and sovereignty has been its oil and energy industries.
The second breakout session was devoted to the defense of labor rights on both sides of the border. Participants examined the Labor Chapter (number 23) in the new treaty. It was noted that this chapter was included under pressure from the Democratic Party in the United States and the leadership of the AFL CIO union federation as a means of getting wider approval for this fundamentally anti-worker treaty. The Labor Chapter, in fact, is nothing more than sugarcoating on the poison pill that workers are meant to swallow; it lacks the enforcement mechanisms necessary to protect labor rights.
The horrific effects of COVID 19 pandemic on the working class were also discussed: thousands of layoffs, forced work under risk of infection and death, new forms of labor exploitation such as teleworking, which increases the workday, makes labor relations more precarious, and generates double and triple exploitation, especially of women.
Participants also exposed and denounced the new “business schemes” that reject classifying workers as members of a collective entity with labor and other rights, transforming them instead into individual contractors, atomized and without minimum wages or pensions. Proposition 22, on the ballot in California, was taken to task for its offensive against the entire working class, not just against Uber or Lyft drivers.
After hearing the reports from the breakout groups, participants in the plenary session agreed to issue a final statement, to be distributed to the labor movements in Mexico and the United States and also to the press and to authorities in both countries.
The statement will register our unswerving opposition to NAFTA 2.0 and will insist that all the demands brought forward during the course of the Binational Conference must be met. To that end, it was agreed to promote broad-based labor solidarity campaigns with all the unions and popular organizations in struggle – with special attention placed on the campaign to defend the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) from the intervention into its internal affairs and the violation of its union autonomy by the Mexican government.
In order to promote these campaigns, it was decided to provide a framework for ongoing discussion, exchange, and action by establishing a Binational Conference Continuations Committee, one of whose tasks will include reaching out to Canadian workers and unions, so that the next conference against NAFTA 2.0 can be a Trinational Conference.
It also was agreed to participate in the International Workers Conference Against War and Exploitation, organized by the IWC in 2021.
— report submitted by Alan Benjamin (United States) and Juan Carlos Vargas Reyes (Mexico)
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Opening Presentation by Alan Benjamin to the October 10 Binational Conference
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The original NAFTA treaty, signed almost 30 years ago by the US, Mexico and Canada, has been a disaster for workers in all three signatory countries — with massive job losses, deregulation, privatizations galore, and loss of sovereignty for Mexico, in particular.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), in his joint press conference in Washington with Donald Trump, explained that the new ‘free trade’ agreement — known officially as US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, but more aptly called NAFTA 2.0 — represented a ‘significant improvement’ over its predecessor. AMLO highlighted the new treaty’s Labor Rights Chapter 23, and especially its Section 10, which, he said, ‘stipulates that there are tribunals where any worker with a complaint can come before the body and demand enforcement of ILO Convention 89.’
I recently had the honor of participating in a forum sponsored by the New Trade Union Central of Mexico, or NCT. One of the speakers was prominent labor organizer Hector de la Cueva, who explained that the future of Mexico is being compromised by NAFTA 2.0. “It is presented as a panacea for the country’s economic development,” he said, “when in fact it represents a huge obstacle to Mexico’s economic development.” Brother de la Cueva then went on to characterize the Labor Rights chapter as “a beautiful mole on a monstrous body.”
I agree. NAFTA 2.0 is a monstrous body, but I would prefer to say that the Labor Chapter is more like the sugar-coating on a poison pill that we, workers and oppressed peoples, are supposed to swallow.
The Labor chapter sounds very good, but the reality is quite different. The examples of major labor rights violations today, more than two years after Mexico’s Labor Law Reform was enacted, are countless. You know them in your own flesh and blood.
All this is no accident. By its very nature NAFTA 2.0 is a corporate agreement that seeks to lower wages, benefits, and the level of unionization. It’s an agreement that seeks to remove any and all ‘barriers to free trade,’ such as state-owned industries and public services.
In the United States, we have taken particular issue with the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) clause in the new treaty, which was held over from the original NAFTA agreement. ISDS protects U.S. oil corporations. This is the backbone of Mexico’s economy; its affirmation of national sovereignty.
If Mexico were to decide to re-regulate or renationalize its oil extraction and processing, for instance, the investors’ complaint would be taken to an international tribunal and the renationalization would be reversed through the ISDS clause, which has been given primacy over all other clauses in the treaty and over the signatory nations’ own labor laws. The treaty has been written in such a way that any and all challenges to the U.S.-owned transnational oil corporations will be defeated. The ISDS clause is a central pillar of the new treaty.
NAFTA 2.0 will not make it easier to organize independent trade unions, notwithstanding all claims by its supporters that the new labor provisions are a step forward.
It’s only the struggle for labor rights and independent unionism across borders by labor and its allies that will secure our rights and enable us to make new gains. So what do we do? We say NO to NAFTA 2.0. We mobilize, build broad-based cross-border alliances — and we prepare the ground to repeal NAFTA 2.0 and tear down the Wall of Shame.
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Greetings from IWC Co-Coordinators to October 10 Binational Conference
Dear participants in the October 10, 2020 Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0 and the Wall of Shame, For Labor Rights for All:
In our capacity as co-coordinators of the International Workers Committee Against War, Exploitation and Precarious Labor, For a Workers’ International (IWC), we send you greetings and wish you a very productive and successful conference. The IWC was constituted in November 2016 when 350 delegates from 28 countries met in Mumbai, India, and drafted a Manifesto, which affirms that, “the class struggle remains the driving force of history. We affirm that the progress of human civilization, of peace and democracy, depends first and foremost on the ability of the exploited and the oppressed throughout the world to preserve the independence of their organizations.”
Your conference is of great significance far beyond your borders in North America.
As a result of so-called “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA 2.0, tens of millions of men, women and children are being thrown onto the roads to exile. This is true in your continent, and it is true worldwide. At the same time, pension and social welfare systems are being dismantled, while millions more languish without access to healthcare and mass unemployment is growing in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having said that workers and oppressed peoples the world over are rising up in huge demonstrations and mass strikes to say enough is enough — enough of the unjust wars, exploitation and barbarism that the capitalist system has in store for humanity. Enough of the concessions demanded by the bosses! Enough of the wage and job cuts!
Your conference is proof-positive of the resistance of the working class to all these destructive policies. Your conference is proof-positive that workers and activists are taking action in the very course of their class struggle to defend the organizations they have built and to build new ones, in order to be able to organize themselves in the forms that they decide freely.
We look forward to receiving a report back from your conference, with your proposals and campaigns. We publish a weekly multi-language newsletter and would very much like to publish the account of your gathering for our correspondents in 52 countries. We are also planning an International Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International in 2021, to which your unions and organizations are cordially invited to participate.
Nambiath Vasudevan and Daniel Gluckstein,
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PRESENTATION on New Series in The Organizer Weekly titled “Our Revolutionary Heritage”
The article below, the first in our new series, has been excerpted and adapted from Chapter 1 of Daniel Gluckstein’s 589-page book on “Class Struggle and Globalization: Does Capitalism Have a New Lease on Life.” It was written in 1998, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but its analysis and message are as current as when the book was written.
Indeed, the pandemic — which is threatening the lives of millions of men, women and children around the world — has exposed the extent to which the failed capitalist system and the governments that serve its interests are incapable of meeting human needs; all are guilty and responsible for the spread of the coronavirus pandemic!
The conditions that have allowed and continue to allow the pandemic to take on catastrophic proportions, are well known by the workers and peoples of the whole world. This is because they are the result of all the political decisions implemented for decades by the governments subservient to the big multinational corporations, the big banks, the big arms manufacturers, and the big speculators. These are political decisions that flow from subordinating the whole of human civilization to the law of capitalist profit.
Of this there can be no doubt: Every day that goes by, humankind is being dragged further toward barbarism. More than ever, the future of humanity lies on the side of the labor movement fighting, on behalf of all the oppressed — for its emancipation, fighting to put an end to the system of exploitation rooted in the private ownership of the means of production; that is, fighting for socialism.
The choice before us, as Rosa Luxemburg taught us, is “Socialism or Barbarism!”
Hence, the need to study Our Revolutionary Heritage, beginning with an article on the Communist Manifesto.
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The Communist Manifesto Is More Relevant Than Ever!
By DANIEL GLUCKSTEIN
What many financial analysts and media pundits call “globalization” does not represent a new stage in the development of the capitalist system. On the contrary, it corresponds to its phase of extreme decay. The question at hand is about the regime based on the private ownership of the means of production, and — more specifically — the fact that such a regime has survived more than a century beyond the epoch where it was capable of being a factor in social, human, and economic progress. This survival has fueled all the phenomena of decay and destruction that we see today.
The recent breakdowns of the world economy momentarily destabilized the theoreticians of all stripes who had, over many years, painted glossy pictures hailing this new globalization. But the crisis has not caused them to abandon their basic script.
What is involved here is not a theoretical question, but a social question. Those who have tied their fate to the preservation of the system based on the private ownership of the means of production cannot look at this reality and give a sincere description. To do so would be to undermine their own parasitic roles in the system.
To be sure, one can hear many pundits ask how the excesses of globalization can best be moderated, or how small touches of regulation can best be introduced into the process of world deregulation. It is now a matter of curbing the excesses of a misnamed “neo-liberalism.” But such questioning has been purely for show.
This goes for all those who — from their seats in government — have devoted their energies to dismantling existing regulations over the past 40-plus years. It goes for all those in the financial, fiscal, and banking domains who have dismantled all the existing regulations in order to open the doors even further to speculative activity, derivatives, and short-term markets, which have literally absorbed major sectors of the world economy.
It goes for all those who, in their own countries, are organizing social deregulation, dismantling labor codes and collective bargaining agreements, public service statutes, systems of social protection, and public education systems. It goes for all those who, at the political level, have deregulated the institutions that constitute the nation such that they have delivered their people to the diktats of the supranational institutions. It goes for all those who have gone forward with an unbending policy of deregulation, and who continue today to expand privatizations and counter-reforms. None of them have the will, the intention, nor the means to introduce even a “teaspoonful” of regulation into the mad dash toward global deregulation.
“Re-regulation” and “re-nationalization” of previously privatized public enterprises and public services — what the Mexican workers are demanding when they cry out, “Our Nation Must Be Defended; Pemex is Not For Sale!” — can be imposed only as a result of the class struggle — that is, through the independent action of millions of workers and their organizations, who are resisting the policies of deregulation and destruction imposed on a world scale. This class struggle can be independent only to the extent that is not subordinated to the policies of globalization that are dictated by world imperialism and its institutions.
One can see that the survival of the regime of private ownership of the means of production is leading the immense majority of the people of this planet toward a hopeless degradation. That is a fact that even institutions that do not share our conclusions are compelled to recognize.
The “Communist Manifesto” is more relevant than ever. Several elements speak particularly to this relevance.
– Class antagonisms have never been as sharp as they are today. Never before has the gap been so large between the rich, who grow wealthier and wealthier, and the immense army of increasingly impoverished masses. Never before has the chasm between antagonistic interests been so deep. On one side stands the capitalist class, which — to preserve its profits (based on the extortion of surplus value produced through the process of capitalist exploitation), is dashing headlong into an offensive to destroy the productive forces, combined with spiraling speculation, and bringing with it waves of restructurings and the destruction of companies and jobs. On the other side stand the workers, the immense majority, who seek to preserve their right to a job and a living wage so that they can maintain their capacity to live under decent conditions.
– This moment of “globalization” in which we live is not some new era in the history of humanity. It is but another link in the long chain of human history, which is the history of class struggle.
In 1938, at the founding of the Fourth International, one of the first lines of its program was the recognition that “the economic prerequisite for the proletarian revolution has already in general achieved the highest point of fruition that can be reached under capitalism.” From this recognition, the Transitional Program draws the conclusion that “the present crisis in human culture is the crisis in the proletarian leadership.”
Decades after these lines were written, the “crisis in the proletarian leadership” has yet to be resolved. The processes of the class struggle on an international scale have deepened.
On the one hand, the apparatuses that have emerged from the decomposition of the organizations historically constituted by the working class — those of the Second International as well as the ex-apparatus of dislocated Stalinism — are playing their role more and more completely. This means they take a direct part in the implementation of the policy of plunder and disintegration required by imperialism. This political factor plays an increasingly essential role in the survival of the rotting system based on the private ownership of the means of production.
On the other hand, there are the same processes of working-class resistance to capitalism that have marked the recent period. Today, the offensive to destroy all the social conquests and progressive reforms wrested in earlier stages of the class struggle nourishes the resistance of the workers and the oppressed masses on every continent and in every country. There is direct resistance to capitalist exploitation. And there is resistance that takes the particular form of the will to defend the independence of working-class organizations, and hence of the democracy upon which they depend. Thus far, capitalism has not managed to break this resistance within the “traditional” framework. And because it finds itself seized by the throat by the crisis of decomposition of its very system of production, the capitalist class has brought out the weapon of globalization — with which to impose its destructive plans, no matter what the cost.
It is on this terrain of working-class resistance on an international scale that — with all the difficulties confronting the workers and the peoples — we find the elements for a regroupment, a reorganization, and a reorientation of the workers’ movement on a worldwide scale (to which, more often than not, the apparatuses are opposed). It is in the service of this recomposition of the workers’ movement on an international scale that it is necessary to establish clearly the analysis of what moment this situation puts us in. Humanity will be able to find a way out only with an agenda that includes taking the means of production into the hands of the producers themselves. Only that will make it possible to reorganize the entire economy and society on a global scale with the objective of making the satisfaction of social needs the starting point and goal of all human activity — not the over-gratified appetites of a handful of speculators, bankers, and capitalists.
What was written 150 years ago in The Communist Manifesto is absolutely relevant today: the workers of the entire world “cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation.” At the same time, the assertion is made that the working class constitutes a movement “of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.”
Marx and Engels explain that “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private ownership of the means of production.” This cannot be dissociated from the organization of the working class as a class, and hence from the independence of its organizations.
We ask no one to endorse this point of view as some sort of revealed truth, or even worse, as some sort of imposed truism. For our part, we simply draw the conclusion — based on facts and facts alone — that the stage capitalism has reached today puts on the agenda, as an absolute necessity for humanity, the struggle for the proletarian revolution.
(excerpted and adapted from Chapter 1 of “Class Struggle and Globalization: Does Capitalism Have a New Lease on Life,” a 598-page book by Daniel Gluckstein, available in pdf format upon request)