The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Working Class Party, Working Class Politics

Nov 6, 2016

For 95 years, almost a century, the working class has not had its own political party. And we have all paid a price.

Of course, if working people had found the way to build a party, this doesn’t mean we would necessarily find ourselves running the country today. Nor does it even mean we could have prevented many of the attacks launched against us. You can’t rewrite history – just to make it go where you want it to go.

Nothing is guaranteed to us. But a party could let us begin to act as a single class – a class that has interests and aims in common, different than what motivates the capitalist class, which runs society today. A working class party could open an arena in which we could talk to each other, come to understand each other, learn to solve problems together, test out our forces, overcome some of our divisions, discover how much more we could do when we are organized together. A party could let us become a force.

Eighty years ago, workers in this country began to do that. Working to organize the unions, they had to fight, and they had to do it collectively. They had to depend on each other and bring their forces together. Or they never could have built even one union.

Those fights only went so far – far enough to get us some unions, far enough so workers could contest the rule of the capitalists inside workplaces.

But the working class never organized politically, never contested with the capitalist class over who would run the whole society.

This is still what the working class has to do: contest over who will run society, which class will set the aims and the goals for how all of us will be able to live.

We know what the capitalist class wants to do. Its goal is to make as much profit as possible, and it aims to do that using whatever means will let it put its foul hands on more profit. Capitalism uses up human beings, then throws them away.

The goal of the working class is different. Our goal is the full flowering of every member of every generation. Our aim is to let everyone work, let everyone contribute to society – use the wealth that is produced to let everyone enjoy leisure, feed their curiosity and their own creativity.

So what does all this mean, in this election year, a “political year”?

We have to get rid of this poisonous idea that we will throw our vote away if we don’t vote for a party that can “win.” Those who voted for either Democrat or Republican in 2016 threw their votes away – once again – because they voted for politicians who defend the class enemy of the working class.

We don’t have to turn our backs on politics just because the capitalist class dominates political life through its two big parties.

We do have to find a way to express ourselves, to say what we think: not only that we are fed up, but that we want to see the working class lead society.

Some of us did that – when we voted for candidates or organizations that declared their aim is to have the working class organize politically.

It was possible in some states to vote for working class candidates. In Michigan, we could vote Working Class Party; in Maryland, we could vote for working class candidates; in New Jersey and Utah we could vote either Socialist Workers Party or Workers World Party; in Louisiana, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee or Washington, Socialist Workers Party; in Wisconsin, Workers World Party.

These candidates may not have won. But a vote for them was NOT throwing our vote away. It was a way to say what most of us know to be true: that the working class has to organize politically. It was a way to show that part of the working class is conscious of the power we could have if we organize together politically as one class.

Maybe today, only some tens of thousands expressed that idea, but those thousands can be the spark that sets our world afire tomorrow.