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From a thread on the ICC discussion forum
‘How to intervene in the class struggle’?
Soyonstout, an ICC sympathiser from the USA, on the experience of distributing a leaflet to workers involved in the strike at the Verizon communications company
“…If I was a non-communist worker on strike for the first time and my union had pretty much given me a narrative that they were under attack along with me and my pension, and some people came to our demonstration talking about how no union under any circumstances actually fights for its members and signed something saying they were communists--I would not really have any experience or information to go on, other than the fact that I’d heard the union say that the bosses and republicans want to destroy the unions, which is what these communists want too. I don’t think I’m babying the working class in saying this because I think the working class in struggle needs specific ideas just as much as they need general ones. I don’t think anyone is suggesting tricking the workers into deserting the union or self organizing, or hiding our views of the unions, but rather that what is relevant about our views on the unions to workers on strike is precisely what they mean for how to go forward and fight better in the future.
The reason marxism has delineated itself from idealism and from utopian socialism is because it claims that the real concrete material interests of the working class go against of the logic of capitalism and compel the working class to struggle against capitalism in order to protect their real concrete material interests--if we can’t present our ideas in a way that is relevant to their struggle and their concrete material interests, if we cannot make the general specific, then we fail in our tasks as a vanguard for the workers’ struggle. What I mean to say is--if what we say about the unions is simple denunciation it doesn’t speak to the struggle except abstractly and it doesn’t connect to the specific ways in which the union’s plan hinders solidarity and give specific examples of what would build solidarity and spread the struggle if the union’s plan was abandoned. My personal opinion is that the leaflet did do this, but occasionally got into some abstract denunciation that may not have had much connection to workers’ experience in the last 20 years (which is a long time), and that denunciations of false friends are better done after determining and enumerating the goals and perspectives for the struggle, what is at stake, and the extent to which what is being done can force the bosses to back off.
I think the question would be entirely different in a struggle in which the workers had begun self-organizing or attempted to break out of the union but were being drawn back in or losing steam and the union was taking it over again--at that point I think we could be much more forceful, but since this strike seems to have been rather top down in its beginnings and the prospects for self-organization and extension were small, we wondered what the most positive things that could be gained from the experience would be. If we were leafleting a demo, or a wildcat, assembly, etc. it would have been different I think than leafleting a fenced-in picket. I think we did good but I think our reflection was productive too and we can maybe do even better in the future…”