Written by La Voz de los Trabajadores – US
The independent mobilization that is unfolding today across the US is the product of a process of reflection and growth in the consciousness of sectors of the population that are tired of waiting for solutions for their problems from the Obama government. It is a response from the popular sectors to the Obama government’s solution to the economic crisis – austerity measures and attacks on labor and civil rights (carried out on behalf of the big capitalists).
Bush and the Republican Party’s major defeat in the 2008 elections to Obama and the Democratic Party was for the masses an expression of their anger and discontent with the chaotic economic and political situation that Bush had led the country into.
A young, black President with some vague ties to the Left from the past, Obama’s promises were blatant efforts to appease the desires of the working class and oppressed masses while giving the bourgeoisie the necessary time to prepare and arm itself to respond with a plan of attack for the economic crisis that had just broken out.
Instead of enacting his promises for stronger unionization rights, an immigration reform, health care for all, a fight against racism, an end to the war, the closure of the prison at Guantanamo, increased rights for women, etc., the first measures he took as President were to hand over billions of dollars to the big banks and corporations, the same ones responsible for the crisis, using money from taxes on the working class.
The masses were once again deceived with the argument that the priority should be saving the financial system and protecting corporate capital from bankruptcy and total chaos. The Democratic Party thought that, much like in past economic crises, the shock measures they applied would create the conditions for a rapid recovery that would allow workers to return to work – if not all the laid off workers, at least the majority – and in this way recovery stability.
But reality served a wake-up call to the government and the entire bourgeoisie. Unable to hide the severity of the crisis, Obama had no other option but to continue attacking the rights of the working class and its allies, one after another in order to keep afloat the profits of the big capitalists.
Many workers don’t understand why politicians like Obama dare to deceive the people who threw their support behind him so he could become President. The reason for this is that behind all of his words lie the interests of the class he defends. Obama is not a loose wheel in the capitalist system. He is the highest representative of the Democratic Party, a Party that, along with the Republicans, has for decades dedicated itself to manipulating, repressing, and exploiting the masses in order to get out of them the maximum profits for the bosses. The three and a half years of the Obama administration have been the same game of faking Left and swerving Right.
Sectors of The Masses Wake Up & Begin Fighting Back
After so many attacks, sectors of the working class, immigrants, students, the black community, etc., have run out of patience and have taken to the streets in struggle. In 2009, the students in California began fighting to stop the process of privatization of public education. This struggle, despite all the obstacles it has faced, has been a school for consciousness and organization for large sectors of the youth, who have taken into their own hands the securing of their hopes using the force of their own mobilization.
So too have sectors of the workers, above all the most exploited and oppressed who have come out in defense of their rights using their own strength. This is what we saw above all in Wisconsin, where a true workers’ uprising occurred when thousands and thousands of workers fought for weeks in the streets to defeat the Governor’s measures to end collective bargaining.
Immigrants have not abandoned their protests either, even though they do not have the same massive and organized force they had in 2006, defending themselves from both the racist attacks at the state level and from the Obama administration that had transformed into its worst enemy, with a record of more than a million deportations and thousands of workplace raids using the E-Verify program.
The black community, the sector that gave Obama the most support, has suffered an intensification of racist attacks to which they have responded with great mass actions like those against the police murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, the execution of Troy Davis in Atlanta, and most recently the racially-motivated murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida in which charges are only now being pressed.
The struggles for rights for the LGBTQ community, especially the trans-gendered, and women are confronting a reactionary offensive to rescind rights won through past struggles. The same with environmentalists fighting the big oil companies that disregard the significant ecological and human damage they cause.
This entire panorama of struggles made a major advance at the end of last year with the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, with it clear and conscious message to the big capitalists that they are the ones responsible for the crisis.
There has emerged within the Occupy movement a discussion about where to go from here. This discussion hinges on the question of reform or revolution in which the position the movement takes towards the Obama government is key. Is it possible to combat the policies of the 1% and support Obama? Our experience has shown us that only the independent mobilization of the masses allows us to defend and advance in winning the rights of the exploited. In this strategy, we cannot have illusions about giving support to bourgeois governments. The Democrat administration of Obama is the agent of the interests of the big bourgeoisie and, as a result, is the number one enemy of the proletariat.
In the electoral period, the task of revolutionary socialists is to call on the masses to resist and combat any illusions in parliamentary reformism, which seek to turn the mass struggle into a horse race like what the union bureaucracy is trying to do. The bureaucratic caste entrenched within the unions has been the weapon the big capitalists use to keep the workers movement under tight control.
Supported by the labor aristocracy – a layer of the working class that’s privileged and racist – the bureaucratic union leadership guarantees for the bourgeoisie the division and atomization of the working class into different sectors and pits one against another. The strongest weapon the capitalists use to break the consciousness of the fighting class is that of relinquishing certain privileges. These privileges become more dangerous & shaky the more the economic crisis worsens.
The mobilization of sectors of the proletariat and of the masses to stop the severe attacks from the bosses and the Obama government is putting pressure on the union leadership so, while the bulk of the union bureaucracy are ignoring these struggles and are complicit in the Government’s imposition of the austerity plans, there are still some bureaucrats, above all those who represent in their unions the sectors of the working class that are the hardest hit, like SEIU International, that are taking some positions in support of the struggles while at the same time calling on the workers to vote for Obama.
We Must Organize & Break With The Government & The Union Leadership
Now with the intensified attacks, the need to organize has become a matter of life or death for our ability to defend and strengthen workers’ rights. The government’s repression of the protests, the passivity and indifference of the union leadership towards the struggles – and in many cases their opposition to them, and the electoral period we are now in all represent major obstacles that our struggle will have to confront.
Despite its ups and downs, the 3 year old process of mass struggle has borne fruit. In many unions, not only have sectors of opposition to the bureaucracy emerged but also some are directly calling for a break with the Democrats. Even though this phenomenon is still in embryonic form, it is emerging within very fertile terrain that is characterized by a mass discontent which increases with the deepening of the economic crisis.
For revolutionaries, our fundamental task is to encourage the continuity of the mobilization process as well as advance the processes of formation of anti-bureaucratic opposition within the unions and the break that has formed between the best activists and Obama and the Democrats.
This struggle is one that we need to make not only in the terrain of direct mobilization but also in the electoral terrain, by putting forward a policy of class independence for the elections. Despite the fact that there is no workers’ candidate running on a program to confront the plans of the government and to democratize the unions in this election, we need to explain to working class fighters the relationship between permanent mass mobilization and the need for a workers’ government and a break with the capitalists as a definite solution for our problems.
Supporting the Struggles of the Most Exploited & Oppressed Sectors: The Immigrant’s Fight Against the Raids, Deportations, & In the Unions
Creating revolutionary leadership for the struggles means a commitment to stand in struggle with the most exploited and oppressed sectors – the fight of immigrant workers, along with that of black workers, the fights for proletarian women’s rights and those of the trans-gender community.
In the case of immigrant workers we must continue supporting all their efforts to defeat persecution and criminalization, all while calling for full recognition of their civil rights without conditions. In this fight, we must denounce the Obama government that, guided by racist and oppressive motives, is the main one responsible for the deportations, criminalization, and loss of life.
This struggle must link itself to a campaign in which the attacks against immigrant workers are seen as an attack on the interests of the entire American working class. We must call on the most conscious workers from all the races that make up the American proletariat to come out in defense of immigrant workers. We must call on the entire proletariat to fight for these rights as part of our own struggle for the liberation of our class, directing our fight against the racist and exploitative government.
In this struggle, the unions representing organized immigrant workers play a key role. In California, United Service Workers West (USWW) SEIU is the union that brings together the best fighters for the rights of the working class and the immigrants. These sectors of the workers, who have such an extensive history of struggle both against the bosses and against the bureaucracy are being called to play a vanguard role in the revolutionary process that is in an incubatory stage in this country. Building solidarity for these struggles, and with it, support from the unions for the movement for immigrants’ rights, is a strategic problem for advancing the struggle of the entire American working class.
Unfortunately, its leadership is completely undemocratic even though they have played in some moments a progressive role, including pushing to unionize this sector. This bureaucratic leadership’s presence within the union has not prevented the development of an important fight to democratize the union led by a sector of opposition working to defeat the union bureaucracy and put leadership of the union into the hands of the workers themselves for their own benefit under a program of class independence. It is our task to intervene into the process of formation and consolidation of the opposition and democratization movements underway.
Today, the janitors are leading an important struggle for their Master Contract that we should give unconditional support. Using a tactic of unity in action and by distinguishing ourselves from the union leadership and through calling all the while for full union democracy, the opposition can not only advance the mobilization for unconditional defense of its rights but also explain the need to break the dependence of the union on the Democratic Party. This would help to create the conditions for strengthening the opposition so it can intervene in the upcoming union elections to fight the union leadership.
Viva the struggle of the proletariat!!
Viva the struggle of the immigrants!!
Viva the fight to end exploitation and oppression!!
For salary increases and defense of our medical benefits!!
Viva the fight for the janitors’ Master Contract!!