The Spark

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

To Fix the Problems, to Find the Jobs...

Jan 29, 2017

On Friday, January 20, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. His inaugural remarks pointed up the hardships endured by working and poor people, and referenced “rusted out factories” and the joblessness and hardships that millions of U.S. workers face. And he promised to fix these problems as he has many times throughout his electoral campaign. He promised jobs.

His message strikes a chord, reflecting the anger and the frustration workers are feeling. Here we are, eight years out from the economic crisis of 2008, and the working class is still waiting for relief.

By virtually every measure, the quality of life for the working class has taken a nose-dive. Total costs for workers have spiraled, from education to clothing to housing. Millions who considered themselves middle class have been falling back, scrambling to make ends meet.

So workers who voted for Trump, and others who were not for him, are watching to see what the new president will do.

There should be no reason that Trump can’t deliver on his promises. After all, Republicans control both the House and the Senate on the federal and most state levels. Why couldn’t they bring relief to the workers – and bring it quickly?

Too good to be true?

Most would agree that, left to his own devices, Donald Trump will deliver little. He has chosen a cabinet of millionaires and billionaires – with CEOs from Wall Street, from Goldman Sachs and Exxon – loaded with enemies of the working class and its children. Already his promise to “drain the swamp” of Wall Street billionaire influence on Washington D.C. has flown out of the window.

Whatever he does next, workers have every reason to organize, prepare to fight back the minute a promise gets broken; set their own deadline, and pull together to act now.

But the working class will not be successful if wide sections of it continue to accept the divisive policies that Trump includes in his program.

Trump has been a master at exploiting the fears and prejudices that part of the population holds. He convinces sections of the population to blame other sections. He appeals to the racism of white workers and promises to keep jobs away from Latino workers or what he labels “foreign” workers. He encourages black workers to blame workers from other places in the world for the institutional racism inherent in capitalism that deprives them of jobs today. And of course, he encourages the attacks on women’s rights as if it will benefit men in the working class.

These promises and these policies of division must be rejected. Divided, turned in upon itself, the working class has little chance to go forward. In the end, it is only the action of the working class that will make real change possible.

Certainly the size and number of recent demonstrations gives a proof that there are millions of people ready to take action to confront attacks on women’s rights and gay rights, and to oppose the biases that the Trump group has tried to impose.

Can this impatience for action be picked up by workers in the plants and neighborhoods? Can workers – who confront continued plant closings and benefit cuts – organize, down tools, walk out and impose on the bosses that they deliver on Trump’s promises for jobs?

Of course they can.

The very benefits the working class is losing today were gained by a fighting working class that made it too expensive for bosses to discard and disrespect workers – a working class that had to overcome illusions and prejudices in earlier time periods in order to win something.

Donald Trump would load us down with prejudices today, while pretending to be our friend.

Other workers are not our enemies, and politicians like Trump are not our allies. The working class can fight and impose what we all need – but only if based on the real strength a unified working class can have.