Oct 6, 2018
For more than a century, the working class has not had its own political party. We haven’t even had someone like Eugene Debs who went throughout the country, speaking to and for the working class about its own needs and interests. Nor have we had militants like those in the IWW who tried, within the framework of a single union, to bring the whole working class together.
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.
Nothing is guaranteed. But a party could let us begin to act as a single class – a class that has interests and aims in common, different than the aims of the capitalist class that runs society today. A working class party would open an arena where we could talk to each other, learn to solve problems together, test out our forces, come to understand each other, overcome what divides us, discover how much more we could do when we are organized together. Fighting to build that party could turn the working class into a force.
Eighty some years ago, workers did fight in order to build their own organizations: the industrial unions. Doing so, they turned themselves into a force. That’s what built unions – that force.
But those fights went only so far – far enough to organize some unions, far enough so workers challenged the rule of the capitalists inside the workplaces, if only for awhile.
But the working class never organized politically, never contended with the capitalist class over who would run the whole society. They let the capitalists come back and impose themselves even over the unions the workers themselves had built.
The working class has to fight against the capitalist class 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. 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 exactly the opposite. Our goal is the full flowering of every person in every generation. Our aim is to let everyone work, let everyone contribute to society – use the wealth we produce to let everyone enjoy leisure, feed their curiosity and their own creativity.
So what does this mean in 2018, another election year?
It means, first, we should look reality in the face. Look at this disgusting, worn-out political system for what it is – a trap.
We have to get rid of the poisonous idea that we throw our vote away when we don’t vote for a party that can “win.” In 2016, some workers voted Democrat, some voted Republican – just as workers have been doing for over 150 years. And how did this turn out for us?
We don’t have to turn our back on politics just because the capitalist class has dominated 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.
That’s why it’s important when candidates are on the ballot who call for the construction of a working class party. In Michigan this year, there are such candidates: the eleven candidates of the Working Class Party. In Maryland, there are people working to put a working class party on the ballot. In Chicago and Los Angeles, candidates who declared their goal was a working class party ran in earlier years as so-called “independents” because state law makes it almost impossible to put a working class party on the ballot.
It’s important for workers not to leave the elections only in the hands of the capitalist class. But it’s more important to remember there are 365 days in the year – all of which are days for the working class to organize its forces and fight.