The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

United States:
The Working Class Needs Its Own Party

Jul 31, 2016

One candidate for president, Donald Trump, launched vicious attacks on immigrants, stoked racial animosities, fed the flames of xenophobic fearmongering about Muslims and “foreigners,” played on deeply imbedded disdain for women—and then dared to present himself as a friend, a fighter for “people who cannot defend themselves.” He’s no friend, this multibillionaire who accumulated wealth by exploiting working people wherever he went.

The other candidate, Hillary Clinton, dared to present herself as the one who will “bring us all together,” claiming she will work to create jobs and raise wages. Why would anyone believe someone who has worked for decades carrying out policies favoring the big multinational banks, someone who helped direct U.S. wars that drained money from U.S. cities and from education and devastated other countries? Does the tiger change its stripes when hunting for its prey?

It’s a disgusting spectacle to watch these two compete for the presidency, with both pretending to be on the side of ordinary people.

No, they aren’t. They are the representatives of the wealthy classes. They work directly to move more wealth into the accounts of the big banks, the big industries, big real estate, big agribusiness, and those scummy Wall Street speculators.

Their two parties don’t represent working people. No party does today. And that is exactly the problem: while the capitalist class has two parties speaking for it, pushing its interests, the working class has none.

Those of us who work everyday for our living—no one represents us. We have no party that speaks for us, no party that tells this basic truth, that we are one class, a class that when it is united can have power, a class that when it is divided, loses much of its strength.

The two big parties, Democrat and Republican, seek to divide us, set us one against the other. And this is perhaps the biggest service that both of these candidates perform for the capitalist class: they speak, act and maneuver to weaken the working class.

But we are one class—black, white, latino and everyone else who must work everyday just to live—men, women and children. We are one class, we have one set of interests, and they are distinct and separate from those of other classes.

We need our own party. And it doesn’t exist. That is the key problem facing us, and it has been the big problem for a long time. The working class needs its own party, a party filled with hundreds of thousands of people, ready to make a fight.

We will get that party, a real party, in exactly the same way workers once built mass unions for themselves, unions the capitalist class fought hard to prevent and even made illegal. Whatever those unions have become, we need to remember how those who came before us got them. More than 80 years ago, workers fought to increase their wages, fought against hunger, fought against police who attacked picket lines and arrested or killed militants.

In fighting, those workers built up their own organizations.

We will build a party of the working class in the same way. A serious working class party will come into existence through the struggles of working people, in which the working class mobilizes to impose its own solutions to society’s problems.

Today, the working class is not fighting—at least not fighting at the level it would need to be fighting in order to take control of its fate. But there ARE people fighting in one place or another, people who sometimes even try to extend their fight to other workers.

And there ARE people who tried to break through into the political arena—at least in Michigan.

In 2014, five people ran as independent candidates, asking people to vote for them to show their agreement with the idea that workers had to be organized independently. They said, then, that the working class can defend itself only by making a collective fight.

There were only five candidates, in only one state, but they got a result—about 17,000 people expressed agreement with them through their vote. That 2014 campaign broke ground that needs to be broken.

Those five candidates, and the people organized around their 2014 campaign, have been trying to build on it in 2016. They have done the work required to put a political party on the ballot that can appear all through the state of Michigan. They got signatures from more than 50,000 people, most of whom signed in order to express agreement with the main idea of this campaign, that is, that working people need their own party, a party of their own class.

To make it clear on what class basis this electoral party stands, the organizers called it Working Class Party.

Fifty-thousand signatures should be more than enough, but nothing is guaranteed. The state apparently hasn’t ruled, and there can be legal twists and turns in the road. But whatever happens something important has already been done: a campaign was carried out in working class neighborhoods, shopping areas, workplaces, parks and festivals. At least 50,000 people (and probably more) discussed this very problem, that the workers need their own party.

If Working Class Party does get on the ballot, this doesn’t mean the workers will have built a real party. But its name on the ballot is a way to plant a flag, to say that a working class party is needed.

Every person who agrees with the need for that party can say so by giving a vote to candidates listed for the Working Class Party, just as some tens of thousands already expressed agreement by signing their name on the petition for the new party.

In November, workers in Michigan should be able to say with their vote what they really want: a party of their own class.