We are publishing a contribution from a comrade in the USA which takes a very critical stance on the recent ‘fast food strikes’. We invite comments, especially from other comrades in the USA, in order to help place these developments in the broader context of the class struggle in the USA and internationally.
Whatever the final verdict on George Zimmerman, "justice" is not to be found in the bourgeois courts. Prosecuting one man, regardless of how distasteful we may find his character and actions, cannot solve the deep rooted historical scars that produce racial stereotyping and prejudice as persistent social problems in the United States (and many other countries); nor can it compensate for the galloping social decomposition that produced the ideological and social conditions that are ultimately responsible for the tragic and fatal events of that day in February of last year.
In bourgeois mythology the first settlers to America were free men and women who built a democratic and egalitarian society from scratch in the New World. The reality is that the American proletariat was born into bondage and slave labour, faced barbaric punishment if it resisted, and was forced to struggle for its basic rights against a brutal capitalist regime that most resembled a prison without walls.
The massacre of innocent lives at Sandy Hook elementary school is a horrific reminder that short of a thorough revolutionary transformation of society the spread and depth of decomposing capitalism can only find expression in ever more barbaric, senseless, and violent acts. There is absolutely nothing in the capitalist system that is capable of offering a meaningful understanding of why such an act could even be conceived, let alone a viable proposal for change.
It is often said that the history of the class struggle in America for the last four decades, that is, since the late 1960’s, is the history of an almost uninterrupted wave of defeats and rollback.Is it then correct to conclude that the working class has lost its battle against capitalism? Should we accept that we are at the point where the reversal of the balance of forces in favor of the working class is no longer possible? Are the struggles that the working class still engages in a sign of its waning, a reflection of a slow, but irreversible process toward all-out defeat? Does all of this mean that the working class is no longer the social force in society that has the potential and historic mission to destroy capitalist relations of exploitation and give birth to a communist world?
All around the world people have seen the images of coastal towns’ destruction and the desolation of the hundreds of thousands left homeless –40,000 in New York City alone. They evoke the recent memories of last year’s tornado in Joplin, Missouri; of last year’s hurricane Irene; of 2005’s hurricane Katrina, to name only a few, and only the ones that struck the US. Each time the same questions are raised...
On Monday, September 10th 2012, 26,000 teachers in Chicago struck for the first time in 25 years and after years of suffering attacks on their benefits, wage freezes, and ever more appalling and degrading working conditions. The ICC have produced this leaflet in response.
The main factions of the U.S. bourgeoisie have been slapping themselves on the back in raucous celebration the past two weeks after the Supreme Court dealt it two key victories in its vicious faction fight with the insurgent right-wing factions in the Republican Party. First, the Court threw out just about about every provision of Arizona’s contentious anti-immigrant law (SB 1070). Later the same week, the Court upheld President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement—his plan to reform the nation’s health care system that has become known as “Obamacare.”
The winter months have now placed some distance between us in the here and now and the days when the Occupy Movement created a wave of occupations that seemed unstoppable across the U.S. Was this movement an ephemeral whim of the masses’ imagination, an accident of history, or rather part and parcel of the general and wider struggles put forth by the working class and other non-exploiting strata of society against capitalist oppression?
More than forty years of union’s negotiations with the bosses, while guaranteeing high wages, benefits, and job security also allowed for attrition of jobs as workers retired and automation in the context of the ongoing economic crisis made the hiring of new workers superfluous. This has created the conditions of isolation the longshoremen find themselves in today and the opportunity to create divisions among groups of workers at the port, where the truckers are by far the lowest paid but also the most numerous workers at the port.
In this two-part series of articles about the employed and unemployed workers’ struggle of the 1930’s we have looked at what seem to us to have been the strengths and weaknesses of that movement. We think that this kind of assessment is important in the context of the present economic crisis and the struggles that it has given birth to, especially regarding the development of protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street. In this first part we will look at the present attacks against the working class, and especially the unemployed. Then we will start the examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the movement of the 1930’s. In the next article, we will focus more in detail on its weaknesses and broach the question of what lessons to draw for the present and future struggles of the class.
As the Republican primary elections dominate the media, the battle for the White House next fall is finally beginning to take shape. It’s pretty clear that the main factions of the U.S. ruling class are pushing for an Obama vs. Romney presidential election contest. After months of a chaotic Republican primary contest in which a series of conservative and Tea Party inspired candidates dominated the polls only to fall to one of their many rivals in short order, the field of candidates has finally narrowed.
It appears that the main factions of the U.S. bourgeoisie will likely get the presidential election match-up they want.
We are publishing here the calls from the Occupy Oakland General Assembly for a general strike on 2 November. This is a significant development in the ‘Occupy’ movement in the US, which while generally critical of ‘capitalism’ has also been hampered by a very confused view of what capitalism is, and in particular about the only way to oppose it: through the class struggle. But this appeal, coming after a number of very bitter experiences of police repression, marks a real step forward in that it is a direct call to the local working class to support the movement through striking.
Readers have undoubtedly been following the events surrounding the OCCUPY WALL STREET (OWS) movement. Since mid-September, thousands of protestors have occupied Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, just blocks from Wall Street. Protests have now spread to hundreds of cities around North America. Tens of thousands have taken part in occupations, demonstrations and general assemblies that have shown levels of self-organization and direct participation in political activity unseen in the US for many decades.
Here we are publishing an exchange that occurred between the comrades who were engaged in the intervention toward the striking Verizon workers, some of them ICC militants, some of them sympathizers. They worked in close collaboration from the early tossing around of ideas about what to write in the leaflet that was to be distributed, to the actual distribution of the leaflet and several discussions held with the striking workers, and to the post-intervention reflection, which is what is published here. We cannot stress enough the importance of the collective nature of this work. It is important for the sympathizers as they get a ‘hands-on’ experience of actually intervening in the class struggle with a collective framework that is the product of open discussions. It is important for the ICC as it continues to listen to and learn from the insights of the young –and not so young—generation of elements and groups in search of a political direction new and creative ways of approaching different issues.
The strike at Verizon in August, involving 45,000 workers at one of the largest companies in the US in the industrial Northeast, is the largest of its kind since the 2008 financial crash, and follows on the heels of a long development of class struggle in the U.S. For all its difficulties, the US working class is returning to the class struggle and will continue to do so as the crisis deepens.
In The Independent of 3/9/11 there appeared an article based on secret files that the paper had unearthed. We are reprinting here substantial extracts from that article. The Independent says that they “reveal the astonishingly close links that existed between British and American governments and Muammar Gaddafi.”
While homeowners are left to their own devices as to how to repair damage or relocate altogether as they discover that their insurance does not cover flood damage, they, and the rest of the population, are treated to a shameless display of political exploitation and disregard for human suffering by our exploiters. Whether to the right or the left or at the center of the capitalist state’s political apparatus, the politicians are trying to reap political benefits from the devastation.
For the first time in 11 years, 45,000 Verizon workers across the Mid-Atlantic region have returned to the class struggle, courageously refusing to submit to the bosses’ logic of making the working class pay for the deepening economic crisis of capitalism! Our exploiters say we should sacrifice to help the economy get going again, or to support the profitability of a company in order to safeguard jobs. But the latest draconian assault on pension benefits is proof that the more workers give in, the longer they delay their response to the boss’s attacks, the more emboldened and brutal the next round of attacks will be.
Throughout the month of July and into the early days of August, the bourgeois media inundated us with discussion and analysis of a veritable existential crisis for the entire global capitalist system, should the U.S. political class fail to resolve its differences and agree to an extension of the legal limit the U.S. government is allowed to borrow.
In less than a month at the time of writing, a second border clash left at least 14 dead and scores of wounded as Israeli troops opened fire on a crowd of Palestinian protesters trying to break into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights from Syria. Barely one month before, hundreds of people broke through a border fence and clashed with thousands of Israeli troops mobilized in anticipation of possible unrest as Palestinians prepared to protest the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Mideast war. This is just a ‘skirmish’ compared to the history of violence and bloodletting that stains the region...
Since March 19th, there has been no let- up in the military intervention in Libya under the dual banner of the UN and NATO. But we needn’t worry: the last G8 summit has reaffirmed that the members of the coalition, putting their differences to one side, are 'determined to finish the job', having called on the Libyan leader to relinquish power because he has 'lost all legitimacy'.
In the midst of the barbarity of capitalism, it is the international class struggle that has emerged as the beacon for an alternative. Even though the death agony of capitalism presents it with incredibly daunting difficulties, the working class world-wide has not been a passive by-stander. Its challenge to the capitalist order and its refusal to keep silent and submit to the attacks raining on it are an inspiration for millions of people world-wide, and for the future struggles to come. They are irrefutable proof that, notwithstanding the ebbs and flows of its struggle and the tortuous way in which it develops its class consciousness, it is the working class that is the historic subject of the communist revolution, only alternative to capitalism.
We think that the recent mobilization in Wisconsin represent a further step forward in the development of the struggles that we saw starting around 2003. We think it is therefore necessary to develop a frame for understanding these recent developments. We will look at the struggles that started in 2003, paying attention in particular to the NYC Transit strike of 2005, and ask the question about how or whether the events in Wisconsin are any different. We hope this will give a better idea of the period we have entered and the perspectives for the future struggles.
On March 17, 2011 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution which declared a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized the “international community” to take whatever additional measures necessary to “…protect the country’s population” (UN Security Council Resolution 1973) short of sending ground troops. Ever since, the “international community” has displayed an utter inability to come to any agreement on the next steps to take. The divisions and hesitations on what approach to take to the chaos in Libya run deep even at home, among the US ruling class itself.
Tens of thousands of public sector workers and students have taken to the streets and are occupying the state capitol in Wisconsin to protest proposed changes to collective bargaining agreements between the state government and its public employee unions. The state’s rookie governor, Tea Party backed Republican Scott Walker, has proposed a bill removing collective bargaining rights for the majority of the state's 175,000 public employees, effectively prohibiting them from negotiating pension and health care contributions, leaving only the right to bargain over salaries.
This contribution is based largely on the book The Politics of Heroin (CIA Complicity in the Global Drugs Trade) by Alfred W. McCoy. It deals with the period around World War II, the US state’s use of the Mafia domestically, its use in the invasion of Italy and the subsequent explosion of heroin production up to the late 1950s.
Part of the media campaign surrounding the mid-term election results in the US has been a revisiting of the theme of the supposed “conservatism” of the working class in the US. According to many bourgeois analysts of the left, the Republican victories in the Mid-Term elections were largely the result of white working class voters deserting the Democrats in droves and voting for Republicans and the Tea Party.
After the Second World War, the US lived through an important upsurge in class struggle that often moved outside of the union stranglehold and asserted itself as a class with its own interests separate from those of the state. One such experience was the miners’ strike movement of 1949-1950.
The 2010 Mid-Term Elections have come and gone with disastrous results for the Democratic Party. The Republicans won a strong majority in the House of Representatives, giving them the ability to obstruct any legislation that must pass both houses of Congress. For the bourgeois media, these elections were nothing sort of a sea-change event putting the Republicans in the driver’s seat to defeat Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election. President Obama himself admitted to taking a “shellacking” in the elections and promised to do his best to work with the Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, “progressive” Democrats sang a different tune, arguing that the election results were best explained by the collapse of the President’s electoral coalition due to his fecklessness in the face of Republican obstructionism, his sell-out on national healthcare and his pro-Wall Street agenda.