An Action Program for the Working Class in the US
by Workers Power US, March 2020
1. In 2008 global capitalism was shaken to its very foundations by the biggest failure of the once untouchable system by what came to be known as the Great Recession. Millions in the United States lost their jobs and an estimated nine million then lost their homes in the wake of cascading failures all along the chain of profit that underpinned credit fueled home sales. Backed by low cost, and often, no cost and even fraudulent mortgage loans, these risky mortgages were spread out into the wider financial markets by “bundling” potential bad loans into financial instruments sold on the credit markets as high reward packages. When this house of cards collapsed it undermined home values and turned millions more homes “upside down” in relation to value versus what was owed on their loans. The failures of the mortgage industry dealt a serious blow to the credit system and affected banks and other purveyors of fictitious capital bringing lending and borrowing to a standstill. This shock to US home market had world wide implications in the global economy as it spread like a wildfire throughout the interconnected “free market” economy built up from the Reagan administration on. The pneumonia that struck down the US economy nearly killed the economy of the rest of the world. It also shook the faith of the international working class in a system that had been touted as the highest expression of freedom and societal development, the “end of history.” Instead the “Washington Consensus” of both US political parties, began by Republican Ronald Reagan and sealed by Democrat Bill Clinton, that made the entire world a free market haven for financial speculation in fictitious capital and made capital international, also made the economic contagion of one country a problem for the world. And thus was born the Great Recession.
2. But capitalism had to be saved and the government of the ruling class led by George W. Bush launched the “Troubled Assets Relief Program” (TARP) that pledged $700 billion to support banks and companies that were hit by the global financial crisis. America’s first black President Barack Obama, elected on a slogan of “change you can believe in,” changed nothing and continued the huge federal bailout of banks and industrial giants like General Motors. The relief granted to people losing their homes was scarcely one tenth of that expended on saving the banks. Interest rates on short term loans from the Federal Reserve, loans only made available to the banks and the bankers and not to the average US worker, were slashed nearly to zero in a desperate attempt to get the capitalist economy restarted through borrowing and lending again. Of course, the savings granted to banks with low interest loans were not granted to the rest of us as interest rates on unsecured credit stayed high. It quickly became clear that “saving capitalism” didn’t do much to “save” the rest of us.
3. Twelve years after the Great Recession, we have settled into a pattern of slow growth and economic stagnation. Annual growth after the GR is half or less than was before and most of that growth is in the service and, once again, the fictitious sector of the economy. It’s not in the productive sectors that provide most of the economic gains for average Americans. And the cheap money the Fed “made it rain” on the banks didn’t, for the most part, go into loans in the productive sectors of the economy, but instead went into stock buybacks that kept their stock prices artificially high. And of course, led to huge bonuses for their CEOs and huge value for the biggest shareholders. Once again, most of the federal largesse that “saved” capitalism only saved capitalists and not us. Income inequality is at the highest level in, at least, a century and, depending on the measures used, possibly as high as it was during the reign of the infamous King Louis XI and Queen Marie Antoinette in France just prior to the French Revolution. Studies have shown that fully 40% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense without borrowing the money. And that’s not even counting a real emergency like a serious health crisis or natural disaster. As a stark reminder of this inequality, the federal minimum wage is not enough for a full time worker to rent a house anywhere in the US.
4. Capitalism is stumbling along with no end in sight to the crisis of stagnation, aka The Long Depression. And what’s potentially worse for the system is that another crisis is inevitable. In spite of almost daily records set in stock market averages, those prices are way out of line with the true value of the goods and services produced. When this bubble bursts with another “Minsky moment” and prices crash down to the level of true value, the stock market will be shown to be another house of cards like the mortgage industry was prior to 2008. In addition, the tools that were used to “fix” the crisis in 2008 will not be available for the next one. It’s difficult to slash short term interest rates much lower than they are now. Zero rates from the Fed are just a short step today unlike the situation in 2008. And even going to negative rates won’t be enough to fix a frozen credit system at this point. And, without credit, capitalism grinds to a halt. And grinds the working class into economic sausage when it does. Then factor in that many companies are now effectively “zombies,” so leveraged in debt that all they can do is pay the interest payments on their loans and the makings for another serious “Greater Recession” for the wider economy is a frightening scenario to contemplate.
5. So capitalism in the throes of crisis did what capitalism always does and blamed anything and everything else for its own problems. Blaming immigrants, women, “lazy” minorities, “unfair” trade deals, and, of course, the organized working class in unions. Playing to the worst of stereotypes and most blatant appeals to racism, misogyny, and hysteria, Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Backed by the most reactionary segment of the bourgeoisie, he found just enough dissatisfaction among the white working class to swing several mid-western states by narrow margins into his column and win the Presidency in the racist and antidemocratic Electoral College. This despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.
6. But defeat in one arena of struggle, as in the electoral, was not and will not be the end of the matter. If Trump’s victory was the US example of the rise of the vicious racist right, as seen in the mid-2010s in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, it in turn provoked a fight back of growing proportions.
7. In truth, it should be noted that the fightback did not begin with the election of Donald Trump. This is perhaps the Democratic Party version of events, but the more overt class war waged against us and brought on by the Great Recession and the Long Depression began in 2011 when Barack Obama was president. Within a couple of years from the “recovery” from the GR, it became clear that the “recovery” didn’t include the rest of us. Although Trump’s election might have accelerated the process of fighting back, it began in Wisconsin in 2011.
8. From February 14 to early March 2011, a wide range of public sector workers in Wisconsin and the Mid West mobilized against legislation that intended to strip public-sector workers of collective-bargaining rights, effectively abolishing union representation. Unionists supported by students occupied the rotunda of the state Capitol in Madison. Over one hundred thousand people demonstrated in Madison in support of the struggle against Governor Walker and the Tea-Party faction of the Republicans. Sections of workers across almost the entire mid-West rose in resistance to austerity.
9. While the movement scored some successes, most notably the repeal of SB5 in Ohio: in the end the magnificent movement was led to defeat by a union bureaucracy and the illusions it fostered in the Democrats as political saviors – channeling the movement into a referendum campaign. The failure to drive Walker from power, to strike when the iron was hot, undermined the potential for a countrywide battle but showed that to defeat the bosses’ offensive the struggle against austerity had to become a struggle for power and for socialism. The end result was terrible for union membership in Wisconsin. Once a bastion of US labor, union population in-state declined from 15% in 2008 to 8.1% in 2018, below the national average.
10. If socialists were dismayed by the outcome in Wisconsin and the mid-West, their spirits were raised again by the tidal wave of spontaneous rebellion that started as a small protest in New York City. Inspired by Egypt’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, Zucotti Park was renamed Liberty Plaza and saw nine weeks of condemnation of the effects of capitalism (usually without using the term) and the tiny class of billionaires. Occupy Wall Street proclaimed “We are the 99 per cent.” It was copied in many US cities, most militantly in Oakland where harsh policing by a Democratic Party mayor provoked a major fight back.
11. There was tremendous potential in the movement. Thousands upon thousands rallied behind its call for struggle against the super-rich, super-powerful and their politicians. Occupations and their general assemblies sprang up in New York City, Minneapolis, Chicago, Oakland, Nashville and Longview, etc. “Prefigurative” expressions of direct democracy took place in the assemblies that ran the occupations and issued flaming left populist declarations.
12. Unfortunately, the full potential of the movement was not realized, and this led to an agonizingly slow disintegration in the face of ruling class intransigence and violence. However, in contrast to Wisconsin, it was not union bureaucracy or the Democratic Party whose misleadership led the movement to defeat, but the absence of a recognized and answerable leadership with a strategy for victory, covered by a post-structuralist anarchistic ethos which believed the “leaderless” and “demand free” assemblies were “prefigurative” of an alternative society that would somehow replace the 1% with the 99%.
13. So one mass movement was betrayed by the union leadership in thrall to the Democratic Party and the next was betrayed by the lack of a program and the lack of a leadership to carry out that program. We can only hope that we all learn the lessons of the failed potential of these two expressions of resistance from early in the fight. We can’t rely on the Democratic Party, but neither can we rely on an amorphous mass movement that is without strategy, a clear goal, and a responsible vanguard to lead toward the fulfillment of those goals.
14. However, it can be truthfully said that the election of Donald Trump has not only accelerated the process of resistance, but it has also widened it. The outrageous character of Trumps racism and sexism and his roughhousing of even respectable bourgeois opponents, such as Hilary Clinton, has meant a wide spectrum of opposition from conservative House Democrats like Nancy Pelosi to real street movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. It’s no accident that the massive “Women’s March” held nationally and worldwide within a week of his inauguration (and annually every year since his election) saw the largest demonstrations since the anti-war demonstrations against US engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The majority of people were not and are still not happy with the way things are in the US today.
15. Following on from Bernie Sanders campaign in the 2015-16 Democratic primaries, a number of “democratic socialists” have gained office. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib were elected to the US House of Representatives and Julia Salazar, to the New York Senate. All have links to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) which itself has increased in tenfold size since Trump’s accession, with 60,000+ members. This is in addition to dozens and dozens of DSA members elected in local elections in cities across the country.
16. Regardless of the conditions of its current state, the working class remains the revolutionary agent of change, but it cannot liberate society from the yoke of decaying capitalism if it becomes subsumed under the political leadership of other classes, their ideologies and parties. It has to stand up independently, with its own program for power, and win leadership of struggles away from bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces. It also cannot be subsumed under the seductive appeal of electoral politics as the only means of struggle. Elections are only a part, and a small part at that, of an overall strategy for overthrowing capitalism for the rest of us. History teaches that electoral and legislative remedies only follow militant street action, it doesn’t precede it.
17. And make no mistake the US working class has shown a will to fight. Forty years of blatant class war waged against us has finally come together into a wave of strikes in both the public sector and the private that hasn’t been seen since 1986, over 30 years ago. From countrywide teacher strikes in the public sector, often without the sanction of their own union leadership, much less the boards of education, to the recent UAW strike against GM, the workers in the US have begun to flex their long disused strike muscle in an attempt to claw back what we have lost over the decades. But the fightback has been segmented by sector, by public and private, unionized and non-unionized and thus, not as effective as it could have been had we all worked together around a common program with common strategies, tactics, and goals.
18. What follows is our view of what such a program of action should be like. Developed by the Workers Power group and the League for A Fifth International it is intended to serve these tasks. Its starting point is an analysis of the objective conditions of social, political, and economic life. From this, we have developed a series of strategic and tactical measures that if fought for and won, will, at the same time, meet the immediate needs of the masses and represent a revolutionary encroachment on the bourgeois economic and social order, paving the way for the resolution of the contradictions of capitalism by means of revolution.
19. Our hope is that working-class militants find its proposals both useful in their daily struggles, and at the same time it will serve to facilitate further debate and discussion on the nature and role of a Marxist program for today’s class struggles amongst the increasing number who regard themselves on a Left, working for a transition from capitalism to socialism. Our aim is to work to build a rallying point for the construction of a revolutionary party in the United States as part of Fifth International- a new world party of socialist revolution.
20. We welcome constructive criticism and suggestions for how to improve upon our efforts from individuals and political organizations. If you agree with overall contents of our program, and are willing to fight for it in the struggles.
An Action Program for Workers Power in the United States
A. The Enemies We Face
1. A specter is haunting the United States – after a long absence – the specter of socialism linked to class struggle. We are witnessing the birth of newly militant labor movement. Alongside this is another apparition, equally frightening to the ruling class, a feminism of the 99%, a movement that says black lives matter and challenges impunity for killer cops, a youth rebellion against climate catastrophe. But these movements are a response to the rise of a malignant and powerful populist right, rooted amongst the middles classes. The long unchallenged dominance of the center ground, the élite politicians and ideologues of globalization and neo-liberalism, finds itself under attack from both the radical right and the left.
2. With Trump’s election the new right (the Alt right, continuing the work of the Tea Party) scored the first victory over the forces of globalization. But this has shaken both the main parties to their foundations- the Democrats by movement around Senator Bernie Sanders, and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. But Democrats top leaders have remained true to neo-liberalism and the unions for the most part loyal to the Democrats. The project of winning the second party of the United States’ bourgeoisie for Democratic Socialism is doomed to failure but it remains to be seen if the “neo-socialist” forces can break free of the swamp that has dragged down so many radicals since the Second World war.
3. Donald Trump was elected thanks to the votes of the Electoral College, but won only a minority of the popular vote. Hilary Clinton won 2.87 million more votes than Trump. But as the preferred candidate of Wall Street, neo-liberalism and globalization, she counterposed to his Make America Great Again, the statement “America is Great.” After a decade of recession falling wages and repo men taking their cars and houses, millions of Americans did not feel great and failed to turn out for the Democrats, even if they did not vote for the man who was plainly a racist, misogynist, and big time liar.
4. Despite Trump’s demagogy about protecting American workers and the middle class against the privileged Wall St and Washington elites, in fact he has initiated tax cuts for the rich, aimed to reach $1.9 trillion over 10 years, meanwhile cutting food stamps for the poor and continuing with the attempt to rob them of what little healthcare they got under Obama and his predecessors. The restoration of US industries with high paying jobs, rebuilding the country’s decaying infrastructure, everything that he promised workers in swing states, has of course failed to materialize.
5. But in three years of his presidency Trump has done all he could to wage the war on immigrants he promised; creating detention camps, which separate parents and children. In 2016 he promised his “big beautiful wall”, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico would end all unauthorized immigration, that increased forces of ICE agents would round up all the undocumented people and deport them. The wall, actually begun under Obama, is still far from completion but the doors of America would largely be shut to non-white immigrants, as he said, revealing his poisonous racism: ”Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries here? We should have more people from places like Norway.”
6. On the world stage – against a background of extreme weather events- prolonged droughts and wildfires, flooding, unprecedented numbers of hurricanes, Trump the climate change denier, has announced US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement to limit carbon emissions and pledged to step up reliance on fossil fuels, coal oil, gas. He has been ripping up treaties, trade deals and alliances and threatening states with blockades and even nuclear holocaust, whilst flattering dictatorial strongmen. Having insulted and provoked long-term allies and flattered supposed enemies, the State Department, the armed forces command, and the security establishment is in chaos.
7. As the world’s premier imperialism with the largest GDP in the world at $19.4 trillion, twice that of China in real terms, its giant global corporations dominate production chains around the globe, especially in the new generation of communications technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Economic power both enables and requires the US to spend $649 billion per year on military hardware and personnel, more than the next seven largest powers combined. Despite Trump’s withdrawals in the Middle East the US maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries.
8. However the political somersaults are not the result either of Trump’s megalomania nor simply a misconceived strategy – forcing “great deals” (for the US) on foreign leaders by threatening or imposing economic (and even military) sanctions. The rise in trade wars, in spending on armaments, in interfering in sovereign states elections, in destabilizing governments which have allied themselves with the USA’s rivals, all signal a new period of struggle between the major imperialist power blocks for the natural resources, markets, cheap labor forces, needed by their huge corporations.
9. The issue of immigration bridges domestic and foreign policy. This can be seen most clearly in the case of the US-Mexican border where Trump’s threats to turn loose troops on against migrants does little to halt the flow of those whom America’s corporate exploitation of these states drives to seek a better life in a country that once boasted it was a nation of immigrants. It was only able to build the world’s greatest capitalist economy -on a truly continental scale- thanks to huge waves of European immigrants, Irish, Germans. Italians, Italians, Jews, in the process effecting near-genocide of its indigenous inhabitants, stealing their lands, and using the forced labor of African slaves and Chinese indentured laborers.
10. In fact capitalism always has an always will require immigrant labor. Sure it will use it to exert downward pressure on wages but for generation after generation these workers have organized themselves, fought back and integrated into the labor forces. The American working class is far more diverse than 40 years ago, 35 percent non-white – Black, Latinx, Asian – up from 16 percent in 1980 – and 45 percent female. Most are on low wages and prone to in-work poverty. They constitute a higher than average proportion of union members. All attempts to build walls to stop new workers coming into the US are reactionary and against the interests of the workers whatever their origins already in the US. The same is true of tariff walls. They will only increase the cost of living for US workers. They will not “bring back” jobs that capitalists have relocated to low wage areas.
11. All Trump’s right wing populist measures are aimed at fueling national antagonisms and outright racism against our class sisters and brothers abroad, whom our bosses have for so long cruelly exploited and robbed. They are aimed to at increasing antagonism between the newly arrived workers and those descended from previous immigrants. They hold the specter before the eyes of the people of white northern European ancestry, of becoming a minority, of losing their privileges, real and imagined. The purpose is obvious – divide and rule- or better divide and profit. Unity of the long-settled working population, black, white and Latinx with the more recent arrivals benefits all of us. Blaming the latest immigrants for your troubles is a fool’s game. The rich are laughing all the way to their banks.
12. In his first term Trump has not been able to pass many new laws but he has repealed those of previous presidents, often by using his own executive orders. These include greatly weakening the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency and putting figures from Dow Chemical and Monsanto in charge of it, reducing the size of the national park areas and thus opening up new fields for the plunder of raw materials, the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Treaty, and the “reform” of NAFTA, enforced on Canada and Mexico. These are all measures that benefit rapacious sectors of US capital. Here it also becomes clear why the American bourgeoisie does not see him as an insuperable problem, but rather is divided and fluctuates in its attitude towards the president.
13. When one considers the more or less open support for racist actions such as calling the Alt Right and fascist demonstrators in Charlottesville “good people,” and his equation of “leftist” and “rightist” violence, then it is clear that Trump cares more about his right-wing voter and supporter base than taking lessons from the liberal or even the traditional conservative establishment. He knows in the end they will support him against any serious challenge from below, any fight back from the exploited an oppressed
B. A Recovery Leading to a Crash
1. Trump regularly claims the credit for the fact that that the US economy has indeed recovered since the financial crisis and the depths of the recession, producing a relatively stable trend in job growth. And, indeed, there are as many people employed now as before the financial crisis. But these developments started under Obama and are of a cyclical character, not the historic recovery of American greatness Trump claims.
2. Since the beginning of 2014, employment figures have continued to trend upward. However, despite the increased figures in labor-force participation, the overall majority of new jobs created have been in the low-wage, insecure, many times “temporary,” service sector.
3. This throws into the mix an explosive element to an already contradictory situation: generating jobs – a generally recognized source of stability for bourgeois society- also means, in this case, exacerbating exploitation and the increasing both the misery and indignation of the working class. The fledgling trade-union movements organizing in major fast-food distributors and global merchandise retailers are reflections of this dialectical process.
4. Unemployment and underemployment amongst the young- individuals aged 16 to 24- has remained high, especially among black and latinx people. The reserve army of labor remains large at 7.6 per cent. This figure includes “discouraged workers” who do not register and temporary or part-time workers. according to the U-6 rate and will start to rise again as the next recession approaches.
5. What the proletarian vanguard faces is ultimately a two-fold task. First, it must attempt intervene around, and to help organize, the oppressed layers of the proletariat now seemingly confident enough in the aftermath of the crisis to raise its head, place demands on the capitalists, and attempt to build new trade unions in previously unorganized sectors: “Alternative Labor Organizations” and “workers’ centers.”
6. Secondly, it must commit to work – particularly around the youth – among the unemployed and underemployed. This fight can easily become one to consciously set the goal of replacing a decadent capitalism. The word socialism no longer inspires fear. Calls for the nationalization under workers’ control of the banks and finance house, higher taxes on the rich, the material expropriation of the billionaires, and the implementation of a public-works’ program to enable millions to work socially valuable tasks will prove more and more popular.
C. Rebuilding the Unions
1. According to the Pew Research Center union membership, that in 1954 represented 35% of all US workers, in 2018 stood at 10.5%, or 14.7 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Yet the US working class is 157 million strong. Nearly 12.9 million Americans still worked in manufacturing. 107.8 million people worked in private service industries. The largest number was in trade, transportation and utilities (27.8 million workers), then in education and health services (24.3 million), professional and business services (21.5 million) and leisure and hospitality (16.7 million). Outside of the private sector service industry, about 22.5 million Americans worked in government in July, nearly two-thirds at local level.
2. Despite the decline in union levels Pew found that 55% of Americans looked favorably on unions. Large majorities supported the right to organize in a wide variety of sectors; manufacturing and factory workers (82%), public transportation workers (74%), and public school teachers (71%).
3. The teachers strikes of 2018-19, the 60-day strike by GM workers, the 2018 figures for workers on strike – the highest since the 1980s – show that there is a growing mood for a change among active, militant layers of the trade union rank and file. This mood can lead to challenging the role played by the bureaucrats as front-line defenders against any encroachments on the bourgeois order.
4. An example of the grotesque incomes of top officials is evidenced by United Auto Workers President Gary Jones, whose salary was reported to be $200,700 per year. Not it seems content with this he is now accused by the union of misusing union funds for personal expenses. The Aegean stables of the union officialdom need to be cleansed if there is to be any hope of the big unions engaging in the class struggle of the next crisis, plus the huge technological changes employers will use to decimate the workforce.
5. All this points to the possibility as well as the necessity of building a rank-and-file movement to replace the hardened, corrupt and conservative bureaucrats, and to commit the workers’ organizations to class struggle, a strategy that could be very successful given the nature of the situation. But as far as organizing is concerned we still have a mountain to climb. In 2018 the unions were just 10.5% of American workers, down from over 20% in the early 1980s and 30% in the 1950s. Today just 6.4% in the private sector are unionized, compared with 16.8% in 1983. Government employees now form the bastion of the unions, like those for teachers and postal workers, experiencing a much smaller decline- from 37% of the workforce in 1983 to 34% in 2018.
6. The reasons are several- the once highly organized sector, skilled jobs in manufacturing, has been in steep decline for a decades. In addition right to work legislation in 27 states which requires unions to represent non-members who do not pay union dues or take industrial action when the union members do. These states are the states of the old Confederacy plus the mid- and south-west. It was the move of industries away from the so-called rust belt to the South with anti-labor administrations that also sped the decline of the unions. Winning recognition ballots there has proved very difficult. At the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, workers voted it down by a 51% majority, repeating a similar result from 2014. It was the State that attracted VW to Tennessee, with generous grants from the taxpayer. Its only condition that VW do all it can to keep the plant non-union.
7. Building trade unions in the traditionally unorganized private service sector will require, especially given the economic conditions, a bitter struggle, not only against the employers but the local politicians. The latter will do everything in their power, including harnessing the repressive resources of the state, to defeat organizing drives, as we have witnessed in the cases of Wal-Mart, Target, McDonalds, and others. Powerful alliances of labor at rank and file as well as official level will be necessary to achieve victory. Wildcat strikes, mass community support, and support from parties like the Democratic Socialists of America, offer the only chances for success.
8. Due to the precarious nature of the work, the limited availability to volunteer time to the cause, and the lack of essential funds to maintain a consistent campaign, the trade unions should utilize the available resources at their disposal to assist fellow workers. Democratically determined union funds should be made available to the workers and their organizations without preconditions set by the labor bureaucracy. Rank-and-file activists within the unions should demand that the leadership take up the fight seriously, for the benefit of all workers.
9. Within the burgeoning movement, workers have to get organized at the workplace level, for starters. Workplace committees, democratically elected by the employees, should be charged with leading the struggle. They should link up with each other nationally and, whenever possible, internationally. A national leadership committee could be elected to organize the campaign, discern problems and weaknesses, and act as a single voice for when united action is most in need. Joint committees of action between the workers and the labor organizations could strengthen the movement further.
10. Against the “arguments” of management that it cannot afford to pay higher wages, make conditions better, provide quality healthcare, or accept unions with collective-bargaining agreements, we counterpose the demand for the opening up of the account books to workers’ inspection. Specially elected investigation committees should be tasked with determining the given financial and material connections with the banks and other enterprises.
11. Compelling management to recognize any union and collective-bargaining rights will require radical actions. Walkouts and strikes will be crucial, hitting the bosses right in their wallets and pocketbooks. Workplace sit-downs and occupations will pose the question point blank: who has power in the workplace, workers or owners? The surest way to force recognition of any union is to fight for control over the workplace, over and against the plans of management. Militant solidarity from the labor movement, from community allies and groups, and all progressive forces can and must be built.
D. Fighting Unemployment and Underemployment
1. In every major crisis there is a sudden increase in what Marx named the “reserve army of labor” masses of workers whose presence holds down wages by intimidating those still in work workers into accepting whatever the bosses offer or demand. We have seen this in previous crises where the unions negotiated the infamous give –backs “to save jobs”. The workers’ movement will always have the knife to its throat and be unsuccessful if it does not incorporate the masses of people cast aside by capitalism to eke out a miserable existence on the margins of society. The unions must help to organize the unemployed to fight for work, for employment.
2. In order to put millions back to work doing useful labor for the benefit of society, the banks should be nationalized and brought under workers’ control. The billionaires should have their stolen wealth re-appropriated for the benefit of all; the rich should be made to pay progressively higher graduated income taxes. This would provide the funds possible to develop and implement a national public works’ and training program that would provide good paying, stable, and permanent jobs for all.
3. All cuts to, and suspensions of, unemployment benefits should be immediately reversed. Instead, weekly allowances should be substantially increased retroactively to both bring millions up from out of destitution and suffering under the hardships wrought by capitalist instability and keep them safe from the deceptions of certain bourgeois demagogues seeking to mobilize the unemployed to make war against the working-class movement on the former’s behalf. The labor movement, in conjunction with the unemployed, should democratically decide how much allowances should rise to meet dignified standards of living.
4. More people could be put back to work for the benefit of society if we changed the way in which we organized production. For instance, it does not make any sense for one individual to work forty hours a week or longer while another is unable to find any work at all. The length of the workweek should be reduced to a number democratically agreed to by the labor movement without loss of pay or benefits to those currently employed so that more people can acquire jobs.
5. Trade-union assistance will be needed to help get the unemployed organized to wage its struggle against the system, hand in hand with the working class. Union funds as democratically mandated by the rank and file could help create a national organization of the unemployed, one linked up with the trade unions, and enjoying full representation inside, without bureaucratically expecting to dominate the movement.
6. Mass demonstrations, protests, strikes, and workplace occupations bringing together the workers and the unemployed against the bosses and their governments will all be necessary to implement these measures. Should the capitalists and their politicians refuse – of which it is almost certain that they will outside of the application of extraordinary political and social pressure – then they should prepare to make way for a government that will make the imposition of such measures a priority from day one.
E. The Blight of Racism
1. Immigrants are not responsible for unemployment, low wages, or the “degradation” of society: they are the greatest victims of these. They did not cause the economic crisis, nor are they responsible for “creating” any other problems in our society. The problems in our present society and most recently, the economic crisis were not caused by too many people but by capitalism. Instead of closing the borders or searching for some “non racist” immigration control mechanism, we defend the democratic right of movement for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin. Open the borders! We fight for equal pay for immigrants and African Americans.
2. The workers’ movement must fight for a massive public employment program, which offers decent and sustainable jobs to those in the African American and immigrant communities where unemployment is disproportionately high relative to the rest of the country. Defend and extend Affirmative Action programs! We fight for full democratic rights for all immigrants regardless of their citizenship. This includes the right to vote, hold office, and to have access to all social and health services. In the struggle for the rights of immigrants and African Americans, an active and leading role of both is essential. Only by giving the directly affected a strong voice in the movement can we ensure that our demands as a whole address the immediate problems and needs of the oppressed themselves.
3. The indigenous peoples of America, repeatedly massacred and robbed of their lands, including the great forced deportation under Andrew Jackson – a president admired by Trump – still suffer the effects of their marginalization. These communities must be compensated, with jobs and educational opportunities, promotion of their languages, their cultures respected and given full resources for development.
4. Equality must also be practiced with regard to the use of language: we call for the right of immigrants to use their mother language. Schools and universities must provide instruction and paperwork in requested languages to meet the needs of the vast array of different linguistic groups living throughout the country. Public services must provide written and verbal instruction in requested languages. For the “illegal” immigrants already here, we call for amnesty and their right to remain for as long as they like with full citizenship.
5. That means removing the National Guard from the border area and tearing down the wall that obstructs the free movement of people. The proto-fascist militia groups that harass migrants must be fought against whenever and wherever they rear their ugly heads. That is why we fight for a policy of no platform for fascists and seek to drive organized fascists out of the workers’ movement by banning them from joining or participating politically within the unions. Wherever there is the threat of violence perpetrated by fascists against workers or minority groups, we fight for the creation of community self defense organizations that can resist and drive them out, along with the cops who ultimately take their side against workers, youth, women, and all those oppressed by capitalism.
6. Police and vigilante terror against black people is a horrific version of the movie “Groundhog Day.” The murders of Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile are only a few of the cases that have led to mass protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. Cop killings of unarmed men, women and children have occurred in their own homes as well as on the streets or in playgrounds. Studies show that black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. For black women, too the rate is 1.4 times more likely. Black Lives Matter demonstrations usually end with heavily armed police facing off against unarmed and peaceful protesters.
7. Our answer is to disarm the police and indeed abolish them. They are the protectors of the right to own society’s wealth as private property (the right to exploit others). They are not the solution to crime. By beating up demonstrators and repressing strikes, they only help create the poverty that is the root cause of crime. Self-defense groups accountable to and controlled by the community can defend our picket lines and demonstrations from police and fascist attacks. These groups can become the embryo of a genuine workers’ defense guard.
8. Until these measures are undertaken and put into place, we call for the formation of “Peoples’ Tribunals” as an alternative to the current “Injustice” system. When police take an action that is in opposition to the good of the community as a whole (ex., Stop and Frisk as instituted by Michael Bloomberg when he was mayor of NYC) or when they murder innocent and unarmed citizens, a Peoples’ Tribunal should be formed made up of citizens of the affected communities and charged with putting these policies and people on “trial” for their crimes. If found guilty, the Tribunal should recommend a punishment that any ordinary citizen would get for the same offense. If a regular citizen murders anyone unarmed and innocent of wrongdoing, then they would be subject to the death penalty in most states in the US. The police, until they are disbanded, should be held to the same standard.
F. End Mass Incarceration, and the Death Penalty
1. The American criminal justice system holds 2.2 million people, in its federal and state prisons jails, youth detention and deportation centers. With roughly 5 percent of the world’s total population but 25 percent of the world’s total prison population, the United States incarcerates the highest number of people in the world in both absolute and relative terms. The reasons include the massive criminalization of drug use since the 1980s – the so-called war on drugs. This has created a huge illegal trade for the criminal underworld and condemned large numbers of addicts to prison rather than to medical treatment.
2. But another huge factor for the gigantic prison system is racism, with the police “war on drugs” disproportionately waged against black small-scale users. They are incarcerated at a rate of 1,408 per 100,000 whereas whites are incarcerated at a rate of 275 per 100,000 – a rate that is 5.1 times that of whites. In many states, discharged felons are barred from voting and discrimination against them in jobs, housing and welfare entitlements is legal. Michelle Alexander’s powerfully analyzed this in her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness (2010), noting this system of voter suppression was flourishing under the first black President.
3. States and municipalities have turned to private contractors to provide the facilities and services once held under public ownership. When prisons operate for profit, abuses multiply. Inmates are paid tiny ‘wages’ or not paid at all, perpetuating a modern day slavery. Socialists must work to dismantle this system of exploitation, dehumanization and subjugation. We see that the true goal of the carceral state is not to rehabilitate or protect, but to deny humanity and further the rancid institution of wage slavery that undergirds this country in the name of profit.
4. Inmate-on-inmate physical and sexual violence is rampant within the prison system. Such infractions are viewed by administrators and guards as being simply part of “prison culture” and the inmates left to “settle” disputes themselves. But prisoners have fought back. In 2018 inmates at the Lee Correctional Center in South Carolina took strike action in protest at the brutal conditions in the prison. As if to prove their point, seven men died as a result of the authorities’ actions to break the strike. Yet it spread to a series of institutions with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), linked to the IWW playing a role in publicizing and organizing. This shows that prisoners are not just victims of the system but fighters against it.
5. Laws should exist to serve the public good, not create profits for a select few at the expense of the many. Workers Power’ calls for the immediate repeal of all such parasitic and abusive laws that put money in the hands of capitalists and state bureaucrats pushing for privatization. All persons imprisoned in and place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.
6. Anyone might think that institutions working under the aegis of a “Department of Corrections” might strive to do just that, through the application of job training and social counseling. Not so. The process of incarceration robs the individual of not only his or her freedom, but most chances of future success as well. The United States Prison system is primarily an instrument of terror against communities of color and the poorest sections of the working class. Many are sentenced to long years for crimes they did not commit, or which are driven by economic hardship, while rich Americans can buy their way out of nearly every offense given an appropriate law firm retainer. It must be abolished by a coalition of organized inmates and the revolutionary movement.
7. The death penalty is a barbaric institution and nothing can justify any act of state sanctioned murder. It must be abolished immediately and unconditionally.
G. Rivalry Between the Imperialist Powers Leads to War
1. Many of the political developments of recent years and the rise of Trump itself cannot be understood without looking at the economic and geo-strategic background. These are above all the rise of Chinese imperialism in relation to the US position on the world market and the associated inter-imperialist conflicts. But Trump’s policies are in many cases continuations of policies began under Obama and Bush – such as the “pivot to Asia” of US military deployments.
2. True, Trump has proved more aggressive in Latin America, accusing his two predecessors of “losing” the southern continent to “socialism.” His push back includes the support of the right-wing Juan Guaido opposition in Venezuela by imposing sanctions on the Chavista government of Nicolas Maduro. It included and support for Michel Temer’s “constitutional coup” which ousted the Workers Party president Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and led to the election of semi-fascist Jair Bolsonaro. Trump has reversed the policy of détente with Cuba. And, most recently, with his support of the “soft coup” that took place in Bolivia that ousted the left populist president Evo Morales. This indicates that the US will be more likely to intervene in America’s “backyard” in the future in order to recapture ground that had been “lost” to left populism in the Bush and Obama years.
3. This clearly speaks against any genuine “retreat” or isolationist course such as the country pursued at the beginning of the 20th century. But it is true that under Trump, the US is saying goodbye to an imperial system of hegemony based on a whole series of multilateral treaties and agreements such as WTO, TTIP/TPP, IMF/ World Bank, etc. The break-up of the TTIP negotiations indicate that the “costs” of this dominance now appear too high for the US, that they should be replaced by bilateral agreements where the strength of US imperialism vis-à-vis other isolated states is expected to reap rewards. Of course, what will happen is that this will merely stimulate the creation of alliances and economic blocks to counter it.
4. All these economic and political changes are linked to the decline of US world hegemony and brought to the point by Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” This decline was illustrated, for example, by the inability of the Obama administration to develop a position on the Syrian revolution and civil war. The fact that Bashar al-Assad and his allies emerged victorious from it and Russian imperialism was strengthened also describes this descent. It is even clearer that Xi Jinping announces a new global role for China. All this also increases the leeway that long-standing US allies such as Turkey are trying to make use of – even in partial contrast to the dominant superpower. Trump’s Presidency will further accelerate these developments and intensify the fight about the redistribution of the world.
5. In the previous deep and prolonged crisis of the first globalization, which occupied the first four decades of the twentieth century, this rivalry led to two world wars which made all previous conflicts look like tea parties. Trumps open threats to use nuclear weapons if US dominance is threatened or even as pressure on a “rogue states” like North Korea or Iran to abandon research on their own “deterrent.”
6. Against the Threat of a Third World War and against and ever more catastrophic regional wars and interventions, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, we fight for an end to the presence of US forces and those of its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, the pulling out of USAF and naval forces from their bases in Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and Africa. An end to all US aid to Israel and Saudi Arabia and an end to the sanctions, blockades and threats of force against Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. We demand the dissolution of NATO.
7. In a reactionary imperialist war, the main enemy of the working class is at home – our own capitalists and our own generals. Whenever they wage war we are for their defeat and for the victory of non-imperialist countries that they attack, regardless of the nature of the political regimes in these countries. Western democracy is sustainable in large measure because only because of the systematic plunder of the rest of the world. All blows against this weaken our main enemy at home.
8. Meanwhile we say not a penny or a person for the military budget. The armed forces do not defend the right of the people but the profits of their rulers. But socialists cannot be pacifists as long as a class state and class inequality continues to exist. We must be able defend ourselves and therefore we call for service in a locally based militia, with military training for all under the control of the workers’ movement.
9. Socialists are not enemies of rank and file service personnel. In today’s army we call for full civil rights for soldiers, sailors, and aircrews. And since most of today’s US military personnel are victims of a de facto “poverty draft,” we call for full civil rights for soldiers, sailors, and aircrews. We call for them to elect their own committees of delegates and to build unions. We call for them to have the right to elect and replace their own officers. Courageous whistle-blowers, like Chelsea Manning must not be subject to cruel and imprisonment and degrading treatment. An essential feature of every socialist revolution is the winning over of the armed forces to the side of the working people- their refusal to open fire on their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers.
H. Liberation for Women and All Oppressed Because of Gender
1. The victory of Trump – a misogynist who bragged about his serial sexual assaults on women, and against whom 60 have lodged complaints –sounded the alarm bells so that it was women who played a vanguard role in the resistance from the day of his Inauguration. Hundreds of thousands marched down Pennsylvania Avenue during the first Women’s March in Washington on Jan. 21, 2017. His supporters and Republicans more generally will continue to erode and undermine the women’s movement’s limited achievements in past decades (Roe versus Wade 1973). Trump’s appointment as Supreme Court judges Justices of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch could lead to another major series of attacks progressing from states like Louisiana and Texas where abortion service providers are under attack. Already in many states women have to travel enormous distances or stay in medical centers at their own expense. The aim is to deprive women of control over their own bodies. They years ahead will be marked by struggles over reproductive control, sexual violence, continued wage inequality an unpaid domestic labor,
2. Women’s oppression is as old as class society and has passed through many changes. Under capitalism, it is rooted in the family, where women take primary responsibility for bringing up children, performing unpaid housework and caring for the elderly, sick and disabled. This social arrangement is reinforced by a sexist gender ideology, which proclaims this natural. This ideology permeates everything from advertising to education but also breeds horrible acts of violence, physical and sexual, in the home and in the streets. It is the source of oppression for people with a gay or lesbian sexual orientation, transgender people, and all whose consciousness of their gender does not conform to the officially sanctioned binary roles of masculinity and femininity. People of all sexualities and gender identities must be free to live, love and behave in public as they please, providing this does not harm or injure others.
3. For all of us, including men, patriarchy is an oppressive burden. Despite undeniable male privilege, male workers are injured by it both in their family lives and relationships. Likewise the needed unity in the struggle against the bosses is weakened by the effects of unequal pay and job opportunities. Sexual harassment at work is an expression of this “toxic masculinity.” Male privilege and sexist ideology must be fought and defeated, with women of course leading the way, but men need to be open and vocal in combating every manifestation of it, too.
4. For women of the working poor, women of color, special attention should be given to their demands and solidarity with their struggles. Austerity and capitalist instability has and will undoubtedly make their situations near intolerable. It is an exasperated, exhausted and, as yet, untapped reserve of social forces eager to resist but presently disorganized to such an extent that coherent, consistent struggle seems difficult or impossible.
5. Women still earn far less on average than men; they make 80 percent of what men typically earn. The workers’ answer is obvious: equal pay must mean raising women’s wages. This is the basis for real equality and liberation. If we leave it up to the capitalists, their answer will always be to cut men’s pay to the level of women. We need to bring forward all equal pay claims and level up women’s pay through strike action across the public and private sector, linking women’s demands for justice to the overall fight against job losses and pay cuts.
6. Women are not just exploited at work. Women workers experience a double burden. The women’s liberation movement of the 1970s raised awareness of women’s oppression in the home, but they still do most of the housework and are still treated as sex objects by men, subjected to belittling images, sexual harassment and routine violence. Rape remains terrifyingly common, and conviction rates for rapists are startlingly low. The right of women to control their bodies is still not established by law; the right to abortion is limited and under constant scrutiny and attack. In the struggle against their oppression and in their fight for liberation, women themselves must come to the forefront of the movement. Their victory can be assured, however, only when working class women shape the movement through their own conscious leadership. This means, of course, that they play to an ever increasing degree a leading role within the highest levels in the struggle against the exploiters, i.e., within the unions, community organizations, and the workers’ movement as a whole. We need to build a working class, socialist women’ movement to fight for a program of these demands
7. The liberation of women from discrimination and oppression is in the interest of the whole working class. The more the capitalists can divide us on pay, the lower they can hold down wages the more unpaid work at home they can foist upon women, the cheaper it is to pay for our labor the more they can divide men from women, the more they can prevent us fighting as a united class.
8. We need to fight for the socialization of housework by the provision of, 24-hour crèche facilities, laundry and cleaning services, free at the point of delivery. We demand free abortion on demand: A woman’s right to choose. End the state restriction on abortion clinics and make them freely available in all a districts. Harassment of those using them must be illegal. Zero tolerance must be shown for rape, domestic violence and workplace harassment: with automatic prosecution of those accused, likewise the humiliation of complainants by the police or the courts must end.
9. To promote these policies and organize straggles for them, women-only caucuses should exist in all mixed workplaces and in the labor, social movements, and political organizations with rights to publicize complaints of discrimination and harassment not dealt with satisfactorily by management or movement leaders. The number of rape crisis and domestic violence refuge centers must be greatly increased, at public expense and under the management of those who use and work in them.
I. LGBTQI+ Liberation
1. A result of patriarchy – and integral to its preservation – is the imposition of bipolar or heteronormative sexuality and gender roles. Many religions brutally punish anyone who violates these falsely named “laws of nature.” Today in 72 countries gay and bisexual people are harshly punished under laws against “Sodomy,” ”unnatural acts” or “debauchery.” In seven states it can be punished by death- Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and northern Nigeria. In addition violence against gay people, both from the police and by right wing gangs remain common. On top of this others like Russia have have laws punishing “propaganda for homosexuality” and Pride events are regularly subjected to violent assaults. The attack on the a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, saw 49 people murdered and 53 wounded.
2. In the United States anti-sodomy laws, despite being ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court as late as 2003, remain on the statute books of 13 states, and police occasionally still use them. This despite the fact that the USA has since Stonewall in 1969 witnessed a powerful Lesbian and Gay Movement, which has won important legal and social rights and shifted popular attitudes. However, a 2014 survey showed that a majority of Americans still believe gay sex is morally unacceptable. Nevertheless fundamentalist Christians have led a prolonged homophobic campaign of opposition to “gay marriage,” i.e., equal rights for LGBTQI+ couples.
3. In the last couple of decades the issue of people who do not accept their medically and socially assigned gender and who wish to transition to the one they feel themselves to be or to reject polarized gender identity altogether has become a movement in its own right, calling for the state to recognize the legal sex/gender.
4. Trans women and men in our society suffer systemic exclusion from housing and work, the threat of sexual violence, and physical aggression in the household and on the street, which often leads to murders. We support the right of trans people to live and be treated socially and by the state as the gender they identify themselves as and to receive public medical assistance in transitioning. It is obscene that the law tries to enforce sexual or gender roles, that religious bodies foment hate campaigns against people because of their gender identity. We defend the right to legal gender self-ID and for trans women to have access to women’s caucuses, shortlists and reserved places.
5. Discrimination against LGBTQI+ people must be banned and punished in the same way as that based on racism and women’s oppression. Socialists must confront all expressions of homophobia, transphobia and the bullying, physical and mental violence and hate crime against lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender people they lead to. We advocate their right to self defense against state of right wing harassment , including terroristic attacks on social venues. We call on the labor movement to support this self defines. Liberation for gay, lesbian, and trans people is absolutely integral to women’s liberation from the patriarchal family whose “naturalness” all reactionary forces, religious and political, try to enforce in every way they can. Together they are a central part of the emancipation of the working class
J. Freedom for the Young
1. Around the world young people are in the forefront of the struggles against climate change, poverty, dictatorship, racism, sexism and national oppression. Whoever wins the youth – will win the struggles of tomorrow. That is why revolutionaries must attempt to link up with the youth, help them to organize and adopt effective revolutionary tactics and strategy. Any genuine socialist party must help in the building an independent socialist youth organization to enable the youth to discuss and debate its tasks and goals, to organize and coordinate struggles, and thus provide an inspiration to the whole workers’ movement to militantly challenge the capitalists and their governments, including fighting for a political break with the Democrats and the formation of a workers’ party.
2. As a result of the economic crisis, young people have suffered above average unemployment and below average wages. Those seeking higher education are saddled with hikes in tuition costs and crippling debts. The youth are thrown out onto the streets by the closure of youth clubs and the selling off of playing fields. They are bored to death with dead end jobs in retail or call centers. While social deprivation drives some young people to crime, to gang culture that can end in serious injuries and tragic deaths, the responsibility lies with the rulers in our society, not primarily with “dysfunctional families,” much less anti social youth.
3. We are for a massive investment in services for young people: free sports clubs and gyms, art, and music studios, where young people can bring out their full creativity and have fun in safety. We are for a massive reduction in the price for cultural activity: file sharing must be legal so everybody can access free music, books, and art. Young people need to be involved in deciding what services they require and then running them democratically for themselves. Youth services and rights, decent jobs, and a real future are the real antidote to anti social behavior, not more police controls and media headlines. We fight for the right to vote at the age of 16 and for the right of the youth to access government services without parental control.
4. Students in higher education should not be burdened with years of post graduate debt. All debt must be abolished along with all tuition fees and replaced with grants on which they can live. In short, we are for fully funded, free state education up to and including university and college for all.
K. Fight Climate Change!
1. The destruction of the environment is growing every year. The emission of greenhouses gases, for example, through the burning of fossil fuels in industry as well as through the massive expansion of reliance on private cars poses a serious threat to our environment. The over-consumption of energy and resources, as well as the careless dumping of toxic and other nuclear waste has reached a level in which it is no longer possible to ignore. We have to fight for sustainable energy production and the careful use of the world’s resources before it is too late. We fight for the nationalization of the energy companies under workers’ control without compensation, combining them in order to draw up a renewable energy plan.
2. There should be no expansion and reliance on any forms of environmentally damaging power. Instead, we should demand the redeployment of workers in environmentally sustainable production, on equal pay and conditions, and under the direction of the labor unions. In addition, there should be a massive expansion of jobs in alternative energy, in building flood defenses and affordable homes, and in clean up programs to repair the damage caused by corporate polluters.
3. But “saving” the environment through logic of the free market will not work. Obama openly favored the market friendly policy, “cap and trade.” Born out of academia, the policy provides factories and corporations with a specific amount of emissions certificates stating how much carbon emissions they are allowed to produce. These certificates can be traded between companies that produce more emissions and companies that produce less. Firstly, since the certificates are based on the current production of emissions, it is clear that developing countries are highly disadvantaged. Secondly, it is less than clear whether the prices for these certificates will remain at their starting value. Very likely, through lobbying, the emission limits will be set so high that the prices for certificates plummet, therefore making the whole idea a futile undertaking. The Energy Department is reviewing 19 applications for new nuclear power plants. From the $787 billion of the recovery plan, $50 billion is set aside for nuclear power; however, nuclear power is not as “clean” as is often proclaimed.
4. Massive amounts of nuclear waste have to be dumped and the safety of nuclear reactors is anything but comforting. The Obama administration, for instance, has blocked the dumping of nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain but even this action begs the question of what to do with all the highly radioactive waste. Nuclear power, as a means of energy production, must be phased out in favor of environmentally friendly and sustainable methods of energy production like wind, wave, and solar power all at the cost of the multi national corporate polluters who are responsible for the current degradation of the global ecosystem in the first place. Only the workers of a nuclear facility, not private managers or government bureaucrats, can decide if a site is environmentally safe or not. In the event that it is not, the workers must have the authority to close it immediately before a disaster of unimaginable proportions is allowed to manifest.
5. Talk of “clean coal” mining and use is a delusion. Extraction of coal leaves huge devastated areas behind, and it changes the level of ground water. Secondly, the pollutants in coal, specifically mercury, do not vanish they can either blown into the atmosphere, remain in the water that was used to wash the coal, or they can combine with the remains of the burned coal. In all of these cases, burning any sort of coal, whether regular or “clean,” will result in the even heavier pollution of our environment. What we need right now is a complete and irrevocable move away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
6. We demand that the fossil fuel companies with their scientific research departments open their books and computer records to inspections by workers and independent environmental scientists. We demand an end to business secrecy in all matters relating to climate change and the destruction and pollution of the globe.
7. We need to develop the technologies for efficient use of renewable energies and we need to re adjust our consumption of energy. Furthermore, we call for international agreements to limit emissions without barring developing countries from achieving economic and infrastructural growth. Only a globally planned economy under democratic workers’ control can ensure such an outcome. Without planning and the rationalization of energy consumption, the planet will inevitably be destroyed through the multi national corporations’ drive to enhance their own profit margins all at the immediate expense and survival of peoples of South East Asia and the Oceanic regions. A globally planned economy directed at social justice and a sustainable environment can meet our needs. Nothing short of this will do.
8. Finally, we demand that the fossil fuel companies with their scientific research departments open their books and computer records to inspection by workers and independent environmental scientists. We demand an end to business secrecy in all matters relating to climate change and the destruction and pollution of of the globe.
L. For a Planned Economy to Meet the Needs of the Many, Not the Profit of the Few
1. We need a radical new vision of how our society can and should run: one where the people who work in and use industry make the decisions. We need a democratic plan of society, but we do not have to wait until we take control of the entire State and the economy to start the struggle for it. We can fight now for measures that systematically remove the market and replace it with rational and comprehensive planning. This way we can remove corporate greed and begin to run society for human need. We must fight for the nationalization of transport, gas, electricity, telecommunications, TV, Internet companies, and other key industries all run democratically, under workers’ control. We must nationalize under workers’ control all the energy and the oil companies without compensation to the former private owners or shareholders. The re appropriation of their profits along with the expropriation of the super rich will go back into society to pay for services, pensions, amenities, and public infrastructure.
2. Nationalize all hospitals, drug companies, and medical suppliers under heath workers’ control, paying particular attention to the advice of industry specific workers; pay nothing in terms of compensation to the former owners or major shareholders.
3. Take action to remove control of all major banks and financial institutions from the financiers, and put them under strict workers’ control to direct investment into socially useful public works and services that benefit all the currently exploited in society.
4. The banks should be nationalized without compensation and merged into a single, State Bank that channels investment where the working class can use it best. This State Bank would be an instrument for a rational organization of society; its central task would involve connecting wants to needs according to a democratic plan.
M. The Crisis of Working Class Leadership
1. It will take planning and organization to beat the bosses’ attacks on our living standards. We need a strategy to not only beat off the capitalist offensive but also to win a decisive victory over the profiteers. We need to get them off our backs for good! This means three things: First, we have to begin organizing ourselves at every level local, state, and federal to deliver powerful, working class solidarity action. For this labor councils which unite delegates from private and public sector, from locals of the largest to the smallest unions. Second, we have to organize during disputes to take democratic control via strike committees and then a national coordination of them so that the weak kneed union leaders cannot block effective action and negotiate contemptible deals with the bosses behind our backs. Lastly, it means breaking our unions away from the Democratic Party to form a new workers’ party won to a program of social revolution.
2. As a first step, however, we need to restore the infrastructure of resistance starting in our workplaces and local communities. We must rebuild the system of workplace representatives or “shop stewards,” so that every sizable workplace has a committee or council of such representatives. We need to rebuild local representative bodies, build new labor movement assemblies, or committees of action. These bodies must be capable of mobilizing action in solidarity with any section of workers that decides to take on the struggle, debating the immediate concerns and other practical and political matters we face on the road to defeating the bosses’ plans.
3. The rank and file workers must put current and future union officials under their control, paying them the average wage of the people they represent. Genuine expenses can be covered and audited by independent representatives. All officials must be subject to regular election and recall by the members whenever they decide. A rank and file movement fighting for these policies could transform our unions into democratic, fighting organizations, ridding them permanently of the class collaborationist bureaucrats, and making sure that leaders reflect the status of being servants of, not masters over, their constituents.
4. In this way, we not only strengthen our struggles from below, we start to build up an alternative center of power in society: real centers of working class planning and organization. In this fight, we will find at best halfhearted leadership from the union presidents of the mega unions and their federations, i.e., the AFL CIO and Change to Win. At worst, we will get what we have witnessed far too often in past decades and today: humiliating give backs. In this way, the labor union leaders dissipate the anger, disappoint the hopes, and spread demoralization until they can win a ballot for a paltry offer. Where there is strike action, we should campaign to escalate it, up to, and including, an all out strike not a strike fixed for just one day, but which demonstrates our unwillingness to go back to work until the employers meet our demands.
5. We call for the coordination of strike action across sectors whenever unions are working without a contract. There’s no reason not to take joint action when, as in the past, the ILWU and the USW are both working without a contract. If they call a strike together, it’s more likely that their combined actions will pressure the owners of both corporate entities into a more beneficial settlement.
6. We can start this fight right now, building a movement that can start recruiting the millions of unorganized workers, particularly in the service sector, including immigrants, young people, and women. The unionization of service jobs creates possibilities for solidarity strikes, e.g., between the production and distribution sector, which could create a powerful bulwark of resistance to the attacks by the bosses. This will set the foundation for the sort of militant actions we need: strikes, occupations of workplaces, mass demonstrations, and solidarity action. We need to take up the practices of social movement and community unionism where the entire community where the workplace is located is drawn into sustaining the strikers and taking mass action on the streets in their support.
7. Such a mass labor movement can overcome the barriers to help to creating a new working class political party fighting to get rid of the capitalist system altogether and replace it with a socialist system under our control. We have to support every section of workers, every action of local communities that says we will not bear the burden of the recessions, war, and racism. There should be a legal right to strike, to picket, and to take solidarity action in support of other workers whenever we think it is necessary to fight for our common interests.
8. We need mass pickets and strikes. Furthermore, we need organized workers’ defense guards in order to stave off any attack from the police and the military. The abolition of the anti union laws, e.g., the Taft Hartley Act of 1947, is an urgent task. The most effective way to force the capitalists off our backs is for millions to defy them in a huge all out strike against job cuts and poverty pay.
N. A Workers’ Government
1. Today the judges, the top government officials, generals, and security chiefs arbitrate partially between the workers and the employers, favoring the bosses. The State with all the force of the courts, the police and, if need be, the army protects the status quo, the property and rule of the capitalists. The question is how to replace this capitalist state with a State that does defend the interests of the working people against a tiny parasitic minority.
2. If we want a workers’ government, we will have to create it ourselves from our own mass actions and with our own democracy. It will not come by quietly voting once every couple of years for uncontrollable representatives in Congress and an executive in the White House. The American government has proven itself repeatedly a farcical mockery of “the rule of the people” once elected, the government does what the capitalist class wants it to, even in the face of mass opposition to its policies. Look at the war in Iraq for proof of how democratic our government is!
3. In the end, they do what the oil companies and the military machine want. Of course, as long as capitalism exists the working class should demand more democracy within the system. We should always fight for more rights, even though the capitalists will resist every step of the way. Members of Congress should be answerable to local mass meetings of their constituents and should be instantly recallable.
4. A real workers’ government, however, will not come about through a process of democratic reforms from above; it can only arise out of mass workers’ struggles. Only workers’ struggles will pose the power question in a direct and progressive way. This is where workers’ councils become central. In all periods of generalized class struggle, as we see in a period of recession, the creation of local assemblies by workers, the unemployed and young people must be a priority.
5. Initially, they may start out simply as support committees around particular campaigns and political issues. However, in many ways, they represent a real way to change society by creating democratic forums that allow people to directly discuss and decide the running of society. At high points, they can become councils of action, with delegates from every workplace and community. The key feature of such an arrangement will be that delegates will be subject to recall, so if they fail to do what the people who voted for them want, they can be repealed at a moment’s notice.
6. Workers’ councils arise in revolutionary situations, e.g., in Russia during 1905 and 1917 and embryonically in movements of resistance today where the masses fight for control of society. These councils are set up at times when the level of class struggle rises, posing the question of achieving working class political power point blank. Thus, links often develop to the creation of defense squads of the workers’ movement against repression by the capitalists. The need of the citizens to defend themselves always arises when the State resorts to force to break them. Neither workers’ defense squads nor workers’ councils can be conjured out of thin air as a “good idea”; their embryonic form, however, arises in the course of struggle.
7. Their development into institutions of working class power, thus, requires conscious development by the vanguard of the revolutionary class. A workers’ government has its basis in the councils of the workers, small farmers, and soldiers, along with their reinforcement by a workers’ defense guard. It would systematically take over the key levers of the economy and establish a socialist plan of production. Our goal must be the running of the economy for need, not private greed. Every laborsaving device could reduce the working day and raise productivity.
8. By renouncing all the capitalists’ imperialist claims to foreign countries’ markets and resources, by handing ownership of multi national companies’ operations in these countries over to the workers and peasants of said countries, by canceling the debt owed by the developing world to banks, and by publishing the secret treaties and deals of our military establishment with their allies and other regimes, we can make allies of the hundreds of millions of working people across the globe. We can work to spread the workers’ revolution and socialism, aiming for the creation of a global socialist federation of working class states, eventually arriving at a classless, Stateless, communist future for the peoples of the world
O. We Need a Socialist Revolution!
1. Why do we need a revolution? We need it because the rich and the powerful will not allow us to implement even one of our major demands without a struggle. They will resort to violence first; we must be ready to counter that violence with mass force. That is the only way we can enforce the seizure of the capitalists’ property and the destruction of their apparatus of repression, which, taken together, would mean the end of the capitalist system. In the end, the American government is only one part of the power of the capitalist class. It is a democratic facade for a hidden dictatorship.
2. The general staffs of the army, in the boardrooms of the multi nationals, the private networks of the rich and powerful, this is where all the real decisions affecting our society stem. The police, those who serve the interests of the authorities, must be disbanded and replaced with a workers’ defense guard. Failure to do this is what destroyed progressive movements and well intentioned governments in the past: for instance, in Spain in 1936 or Chile in 1973.
3. The question of the army which our rulers would certainly have recourse to when the decisive moment arrives is a practical issue the working class movement must resolve if it is to achieve its own form of class power. The road to revolution must draw in the soldiers: ordinary soldiers in the army need rights and we must fight for them. They need the right to organize, to practice democracy, to elect their officers, and refuse to follow orders directed against the interests of the mass of the people. Ultimately, we are for the dissolution of the standing army in favor of an armed workers’ defense guard that protects working people against counter-revolution and violence by reactionary elements.
P. Our Burning Need – an Independent Party of Labor
1. The trade-union bureaucracy is, in general, far too defeated and spineless after suffering numerous, not inconsequential, defeats over the past several years to even consider the idea. Also, for its part, the labor rank and file, in its great mass, while frustrated and angry with the Democrats, harbors no conception of a genuine alternative, still resigned generally as it is to the option of the “lesser of two evils.”
2. #Occupy, while it provided an outlet for those struggling to convince people of the need for a workers’ party, never formally resolved the question of organization. The possibility and perspective that #Occupy could manage to play a progressive role in the formation of such a party is by now completely exhausted. Once one takes into account these all-important, determining factors, it is impossible to conclude that an independent party of the working class could arise nationally in the course of the immediate future. But important steps can be taken now in preparation.
3. Prospects are favorable for work among the militants of socialist organizations and trade unions, which tend to openly voice their support for, and attempt to make practical contributions toward, forming a workers’ party. Preparatory measures can be taken to challenge socialist organizations to actively work together towards building the type of party they claim, with only a few exceptions, is needed.
4. In that sense, it is not a question of developing currently campaigns within the workers’ movement for the building of a party but of organizing the multifarious socialist organizations and independent cadres to make this eventually realizable through a variety of discussion and debate, joint effort when the need arises, and producing political arguments and targeted polemics against reformist, syndicalist, and centrist tendencies/currents.
Q. Tactics and Strategy
1. Due in large consequence to the defeats of the working class over the past several years and the uneasy, though somewhat stabilizing, economic conditions of US capitalism, the practical efforts have to adjust accordingly. Revolutionary action cannot be reduced to the status of a fixed formula. It has to adjust and adapt in accordance with the changes taking place in the world.
2. During the high points of the economic crisis and recession, it was paramount to organize the struggle for power around combating massive job losses, deflation, rampantly developing homelessness, worsening impoverishment on a tremendous scale, etc. Today, matters are slightly different. The priority now is to start from the conditions of a weak capitalist recovery – which still harbors elements of the situational problems associated with the crisis – and chart a path towards seizing political power.
3. The achievement of all these things is impossible without the creation of a new working class party, one that is prepared to struggle for power. Workers and young people must organize to build this party from the bottom up. This new party must be rooted in the unions, in workplaces, in schools and universities, and in working class communities. Mass meetings and discussions must take place to agree on three things: Firstly, on its program; secondly, on its goals; lastly, on the method to apply in order to achieve those goals. All socialists, all revolutionaries, should argue for a revolutionary program that links our ongoing daily struggles to measures which challenge the profit motive and the market madness of capitalism: A program that directs struggles for workers’ control in the factories and offices into a general struggle for working class power and for a revolutionary workers’ government. Around the world, workers are discovering that the old socialist and communist parties have given up the fight for the working class.
4. For years, internationally these parties claimed that there was no alternative to the market, slashing welfare and workers’ rights while favoring big business. Now they are bailing out the capitalists in making workers pay for the crisis. In response, the formation of left wing splits and new parties are manifesting all across the globe. The rallying of these forces to the fight for workers’ revolution and a program to win it is crucial in the coming months and years. Together we could form a new International, a Fifth International, a new world party of workers.
5. That way we can fight the multi-national capitalists, stop them dividing us, oppose their bloody wars, and set out a vision of a different world based on cooperation not the madness of the market. This is what the Workers Power group and the League for the Fifth International is fighting for, shoulder to shoulder with their sister organizations in Great Britain, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Sweden. We appeal to all workers and youth who support and agree with what we are saying to join us.
We Won’t Pay for Their Crisis!
Break From the Democrats and Form a Workers’ Party!
Fight for Socialism!
Unite in the Struggle for a New, Fifth International!