The Spark

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

Issue no. 1027 — February 6 - 20, 2017

Trump’s Travel Ban:
Imposed by the Real Terrorists

Feb 6, 2017

President Trump’s immigration ban of refugees and immigrants from seven countries created chaos in the skies and airports, as tens of thousands of people were stranded around the world. Those who made it to this country were treated like criminals by the U.S. immigration authorities, with most forced to return to homes they no longer had, or face the very deadly conditions they were trying to flee.

President Trump claims that among these travelers, refugees and immigrants are “many bad and dangerous people,” who are out to create “death and destruction.”

Why? Because they’re refugees, or they were born in the “wrong” country?

What racist lies!

So far, no refugee has ever carried out a terrorist attack in this country. And neither have the immigrants from the seven countries named by Trump. In reality, Trump is barring the door to immigrants and refugees who are simply fleeing the violence, destruction and devastated economies inflicted on their countries by the U.S. wars.

But even if a refugee or immigrant did carry out a terrorist act, the question would still be why? Whatever attacks could happen, they would only be the by-product of all the wars that the U.S. military is carrying out for the benefit and profit of U.S. oil companies, banks and military contractors. It is these very wars that are spreading terrorism and violence all over the world. It is these wars that reinforce the cycle of violence, further stoke the flames of hatred, further encourage vengeful terrorist attacks.

Trump’s travel ban is aimed at cementing support in this country behind the repressive forces of the U.S. police and military authorities, the biggest terrorists in the world.

Trump says that he is putting “America First.” What does that mean? Trump is himself a billionaire whose business ventures span the globe in countless countries. Just like other “America First” capitalists, Trump himself profits from the exploitation of workers in many, many countries.

The real meaning of “America First” is the American capitalist class’s self-proclaimed right to wrap its tentacles around the world. It means American capitalists paying workers in other countries starvation wages, and plundering all their resources. “America First” means the U.S. military and government installing puppet governments, military dictatorships, the rule of religious fundamentalists, and terrorist gangs to control the workers and the poor in countries all over the world.

“America First” means that when the violence from local authorities isn’t enough to satisfy the interests of the American capitalists, the U.S. government goes to war. The U.S. military machine has carried out dozens and dozens and dozens of wars, open and covert, from Korea and Viet Nam to the Dominican Republic and Central America, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

The capitalists demand that the American working class pay for these wars, with our tax money, our lives and our children’s lives. That’s what Trump’s “America First” boils down to: the American working class sacrificing and dying in the same old wars for the same old American capitalist class.

If workers accept this way of thinking, we won’t ever see the reality of what this capitalist class does, its exploitation of workers everywhere. And we won’t see all the wars that the U.S. military machine, by far the largest in history, has carried out, killing more people, destroying more countries than any other in history. And we won’t see what the capitalist class is doing against working people right here.

If we accept the crap that Trump is peddling, we blind ourselves. And if we do that, we won’t ever be able to stand up for ourselves in any way that matters.

Pages 2-3

Quebec City, Canada:
Racism Kills

Feb 6, 2017

Six people were killed, eight others wounded in the January 29th terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City. The victims were all Canadian citizens who had come from other countries: Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Guinea.

Immediately after the attack, Fox News claimed that one of the shooters was a Moroccan national, heard yelling, “Allahu akbar!” Donald Trump’s press secretary jumped in, using the attack to justify Trump’s ban on Muslim immigrants.

In fact, the killer was neither Muslim, nor Moroccan, but rather a white French Canadian, Alexandre Bissonnette, a rabid anti-immigrant and anti-feminist nationalist – at least according to postings he had put on his own Facebook page. He also had declared himself a fan of Donald Trump, repeating some of Trump’s virulent comments about immigrants.

The mosque had already been the target of hate attacks. During Ramadan in 2016, the severed head of a pig was left at the mosque. Violently racist letters followed.

Those acts – like all terrorist actions – were aimed at creating a climate of fear, in this case among Muslims in Quebec. In the midst of increasingly fanatical nationalism, they led to murder.

Whether this was the act of a single deranged individual or a planned terrorist attack, it shows that the words of a racist demagogue can lead to murder.

Riots against Gas Price Hikes

Feb 6, 2017

The increase in gas prices by 20 percent and the price of diesel by 16.5 percent on January 1 provoked an angry reaction by the population in two thirds of the thirty-two Mexican states.

Almost a thousand stores were looted. There were many confrontations with the police, 1500 arrests and five deaths. Tens of thousands more stores closed out of fear of riots. One Mexican state tried to calm the looting by distributing gift cards paid for out of its own funds. But the anger did not subside; the demonstrations multiplied.

In this country, a big producer of oil but an importer of gasoline, the rise in prices came from a law passed in 2013 by the government of President Peña Nieto that ended price subsidies at the beginning of 2017. The goal was deregulation of gas and diesel prices.

In an attempt to calm the anger, the president of Mexico said that the increase in the price of gas didn’t come from this law, but from the increase in gas prices on the world market. He also said that gas price increases were a necessary sacrifice to preserve social programs. And at the same time he announced a ten percent reduction in the wages of the lowest paid government workers.

These arguments didn’t convince anyone, not the population, not the unions, not the students, not the bosses, not the clergy, nor even the politicians. These same politicians voted a number of times to raise taxes on gas which now represent 36 percent of the price!

All these institutions demand that the government roll back these price increases. In effect, if these prices are kept, they will lead to an increase in the basic price of goods. In one week, the price of a kilo of tortillas, the main food staple in Mexico, went up by 3 to 6 percent depending on the regions in the country.

The population’s reaction against this policy, which the government did not anticipate, has produced a political crisis. The party in power, the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) accuses the opposition party, the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), and its main leader, Manuel Lopez Obrador, of wanting to exacerbate the anger.

For the PRI, it looks bad. The election of Peña Nieto provoked massive demonstrations because people doubted the results. Then there were the scandalous deaths of 43 students in Iguala, massacred by a drug gang at the orders of a local politician. Now there are these continuing riots. One year out from the presidential election, the PRI has reason to fear.

Ivory Coast:
Growing Anger

Feb 6, 2017

In Ivory Coast, at the beginning of January, the army mutinied in many regions. At the same time, government functionaries went on strike. On Monday, January 23, the fire fighters demonstrated before they were dispersed by force. Comrades of the African Union of Communist Workers described the social struggles that are taking place in their paper, Le Pouvoir aux Travailleurs (Power to the Workers).

The Mutinies

Like a lit trail of gunpowder flowing from the city of Bouaké, the soldiers of different garrisons in the Ivory Coast rallied to the movement of the soldiers. On Saturday, January 7, the soldiers of the biggest military base in Abidjan also mutinied. They fired off gunshots inside the barracks. At Bouaké, the city was under the control of the mutineers who paraded in vehicles taken from the police.

The mutineers demanded the payment of a bonus called “Ecomog.” They demanded a raise in their wages, a reduction in the time it takes to get to higher pay grades, and housing for each one of them. “In the army, we don’t have unions, this is the only way we have to express ourselves. We don’t wish harm to anyone, but the president must hear us.” And the president seems to have heard.

The Ivorian population faces a contradictory situation. On the one hand, there are grand words from the government about economic development and public works. On the other hand, there is the daily misery of the majority of Ivorians. To look at the factories, the roads and other new construction all over the country, the cars that more and more clog the towns, it is clear that there is a growth in business, without any benefit to the ordinary people. On the contrary, rent, the prices of transport and basic necessities have continuously increased. The population’s discontent is palpable.

The rank and file soldiers who largely come from the ordinary population are expressing this general discontent. There aren’t more than 10,000 mutineers, but because they know how to speak with gunpowder, the authorities have to bend an attentive ear.

The Strike of Functionaries

Soon after the mutiny, a week-long strike of government workers (officially 200,000 people) arrived. And the country’s leaders got increasingly uneasy.

This strike movement started in response to an attack by the government on pensions and included health workers, government workers, and teachers.

In effect, the government wanted to apply a reform to the retirement system enacted in 2012. It wanted to lower the pensions of government workers to the level of the private sector, and to raise the level of their contributions. And in the case of death, the surviving spouse must wait five more years to receive the pension.

Government workers have many other demands as well. Among them is the hiring of temp workers as regular government workers. The teachers, on their side, are owed back pay. In general, the demands are for a raise in wages and an improvement in working conditions. But the government is deaf to their demands as long as the strike doesn’t affect them otherwise.

For months, the government has been afraid that this strike movement would spread. But its leaders have not proposed any policies that might spread it to the private sector, to the industrial workers, construction, or the port. Strike leaders don’t propose to spread it to the teachers in private schools or to private health clinics, etc. All of these workers have problems of pay and of conditions of work and might rally to this strike movement, radically changing the balance of forces.

Trump’s Seven-Country Travel Ban Is Not about Terrorism

Feb 6, 2017

A week after taking office, Trump issued an executive order banning travel into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions program for 120 days and indefinitely stopping entry by Syrian refugees. Trump called his order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

Trump’s list of seven banned countries includes Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. But if his order were really about preventing terrorism, these are not the countries he would have chosen.

Trump specifically mentioned the 9/11 attacks as a reason for the ban. The 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, and Egypt, countries not on the list. Saudi Arabia admits to aiding terrorists as a matter of foreign policy. The majority of funding for 9/11 went through the UAE. Qatar is not listed, yet provides massive funding to jihadists fighting in Syria. These are countries with which U.S. imperialism has friendly ties and which it has used in order to create terrorist gangs used through the Middle East to carry out U.S. policy in the region; policy directed to insure the control of the region’s oil.

Trump’s list has little to do with stopping terrorism and everything to do with continuing America’s war policy and economic domination in the region – all while convincing Americans he is acting in their best interests.

A Wall to Divide the Working Class

Feb 6, 2017

Donald Trump promises to build a “great, great wall on our southern border” to keep out undocumented immigrants coming from Mexico.

Trump wants workers in this country to blame immigrants for the loss of better paying jobs. But the immigrants are not the reason those jobs have disappeared – the bosses like Trump are. They’re the ones speeding workers up, contracting out jobs at half the pay, and using new technologies to get us to do more and more for less pay.

The Obama administration already built a huge wall along much of the border, vastly increased the border patrol, and deported 2.5 million people – the most of any president, ever. But this did not help workers born here – just the opposite.

Because they don’t have a legal status, the undocumented immigrants are forced to accept low wages and terrible working conditions. This is what allows the bosses to use these immigrant workers to lower the standard of living of the entire working class. That’s why it’s in every worker’s interest for everyone in this country to have full legal rights.

Keeping immigrants out or deporting them will not help workers born in this country. It will take a fight of the working class, including immigrant workers, against our real enemies, the bosses, to improve our situation.

Pages 4-5

80 Years Ago:
Flint Workers Occupy GM, and Turn the Tide

Feb 6, 2017

On February 11, 1937, workers marched out of GM factories in Flint, victorious after 44 days occupying those plants. The Flint “Sit-down” was the turning point of the social movement of the 1930s, the workers’ self defense against the bosses’ Great Depression.

Following the stock market crash of 1929, the big capitalists were determined to preserve their profits. In auto, the bosses drove down the average weekly wage from $33 a week to $20. And they pushed a vicious speed-up, leading to continuous layoffs.

Three and a half years after the stock market crash, the working class began to gather its forces. There were almost 1700 strikes nationwide in 1933. That was almost three times the number of strikes seen in all of 1932.

Despite defeats, the strike movement increased: in 1934, there were almost 1900 strikes nationwide; in 1935, more than 2000; and in 1936, more than 2200. Workers had come to understand that a fight was not only necessary, but possible.

Communist and Socialist Leadership

Communist or socialist militants were at the head of most of the important strikes of this period, including the four most significant mass strikes in 1934. In the Toledo Auto-Lite strike, militants of A.J. Muste’s American Workers’ Party led the way; in the San Francisco longshore and general strikes and in the Southern Textile Strikes it was Communist Party militants; and, in the resounding victory of the Minneapolis Teamsters strikes, militants of the Communist League, the Trotskyist forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party, carried the torch.

The working class found in its own ranks such militants, people determined to see the working class organize itself, to mobilize all its possible forces. Usually only a handful of such militants were present, sometimes only one in a factory. But that small nucleus of militants made all the difference in the world.

Sit-down Victories Open the Way to Flint

The victory which led directly to Flint came in Akron, Ohio, where the workers sat down inside their factories.

The first quick sit-down victory in January of 1936 led to a 6-week-long shutdown that forced Goodyear to recognize the union. The next months saw the workers enforce their demands with a rapid-fire series of sit-downs. There were more than 180 recorded in a 10-month period in Akron’s tire plants, including Firestone and U.S. Rubber, as well as Goodyear.

The sit-down wave quickly spread from Akron to Detroit. In the months of November and December alone, Midland Steel, Gordon Baking, Alcoa Aluminum, National Automotive Fibers, Bohn Aluminum, and Kelsey Hayes were all occupied.

Plant occupations were illegal, and were attacked by the capitalists with every means at their command. But workers everywhere saw something more important: those workers were winning.

Flint in 1936: From Fear to Confidence

In June 1936, Wyndham Mortimer, a militant of the Communist Party, active at White Motor Company in Cleveland, came to Flint. He met with communist and socialist militants already active in the plants.

Those courageous workers had been campaigning secretly. Risking discharge and vicious beatings if discovered, they pasted union stickers to car bodies rolling down the line. They quietly discussed with other workers. They discretely interfered with the push for more production. Small spontaneous job actions began. In one week, at Fisher Body #1, there were seven brief work stoppages against speed-up and firing of workers.

Mortimer, who was not employed by GM, could be more open. He set up a union office. Soon, the workers felt strong enough to organize a public meeting at the union hall, where Mortimer spoke. It was filled to overflowing. Membership grew from 150 in October to 1500 in November, and to 4500 in December.

For the first time, union members wore their union buttons openly in the plants, and GM didn’t dare fire them.

GM Is Shut Down

Workers in the Chevrolet plant in Cleveland sat down on December 28, when GM management postponed a grievance discussion. The aggrieved workers sat down in their department; other departments followed. The whole plant was quickly occupied.

When the news spread to Flint, the unionists decided that they couldn’t wait any longer. Several of the key plants at Flint were occupied two days later.

The strike spread to the rest of GM outside of Flint. Atlanta and Kansas City had already been on strike for over a month. On the 31st of December, Guide Lamp in Anderson, Indiana and Fisher Body and Chevrolet plants in Norwood, Ohio were occupied. On the 4th of January, Toledo Chevrolet joined the movement; on the 5th, Detroit Ternstedt and Janesville Fisher Body and Chevrolet; on the 8th, Detroit Cadillac; finally, on the 12th, Detroit Fleetwood and St. Louis. GM was forced to close most of its remaining plants.

Flint was the center of GM’s empire. The longest sit-down, 44 days, and the toughest fights were engaged there. Still, the Flint workers did not fight alone. The strike extended throughout GM’s plants.

The Workers Realize Their Own Strength

Everything required to make that 44-day occupation possible depended on the workers’ own organization. Workers built up barricades, organized patrols inside the plants, secured the entrances, and sometimes mobilized to battle cops. The most famous fight, known as the Battle of Bulls Run, occurred early in the strike. On the 7th of January, the cops attacked with tear gas and guns, attempting to drive the strikers out. The strikers responded, throwing the tear gas grenades back at the cops, soaking the cops to the skin with icy water from the plant’s fire protection hoses, and pelting them with two-pound door handles. The “bulls” were run off!

Before it was over, there would be a number of skirmishes, each time provoked by the police or National Guard. Workers used both their control of the plant, as well as their supporters outside, to defend their positions. When the heat or electricity was cut off, workers threatened to set bonfires. That was enough to have GM turn the power back on. When food supplies were interrupted, the strikers who remained outside dealt with the National Guard, either diverting them, so food could be brought in, or persuading them to let the food go through.

It was often the working class women of Flint, organized in the Emergency Brigade, who stood up to the cops or National Guard, shaming them, making it difficult for them to attack the workers inside the plant.

The Flint strike gained national importance, watched by workers all over the country. Many came to Flint to make sure the Flint workers did not have to face the power of the state apparatus alone. On the days when the threat was the most serious, between fifteen and twenty thousand workers from all over a three-state area were massed outside the two plants which the National Guard stood ready to invade. The battle at Flint belonged to the whole working class.

Living a Collective Life

Inside the occupied plants, the necessities of daily life had to be organized. Meals were prepared. The factories were cleaned up, living areas were constructed, safety was monitored, bedding was found, problems were solved. Work was carried out collectively and coordinated by the strike committees inside the plants.

Inside in the factory, the workers discovered among themselves the basis of a rich social life. Many of their memoirs speak fondly of the singing, the discussions, the debates, the plays, the games of chess or checkers or cards, the caricatures drawn by someone who never before realized his ability.

The union headquarters became the center for the strikers outside, for the families, for other workers who came to help.

They spread the news about the strike, distributing the strike newspaper, going door-to-door in working class neighborhoods, recruiting for the union. And they organized the defense of the strike.

Workers had daily meetings, both inside the plants and in the union headquarters near the plants. Workers were deciding things for themselves, and then acting upon decisions right away. When the strike was over, this habit of the workers caused many problems for GM. The workers who had come through 44 days of self-organization were not ready to let the company make arbitrary decisions, nor order them around as before.

Neither were they ready to wait for their grievances to be settled by someone else. In the four months after the strike was settled, there were, according to GM’s own figures, 170 quickie sit-downs, organized by the workers on the spot in order to get immediate satisfaction of their demands.

The Victory at Flint: A Victory of the Working Class

The ground-breaking victory at Flint demonstrated something that, ordinarily, American workers have not perceived; that is, the workers at Flint were part of one class, a large class with immense power when it acts together. When the workers finally left the Flint plants after 44 days, their power had forced GM to recognize a union that GM had sworn never to recognize. Almost the whole working class of Flint celebrated, alongside all those workers from throughout the Middle West who had made the Flint sit-down their own.

Within 20 days of the original settlement at the 17 affected GM plants, 18 more GM plants were occupied. Chrysler plants were occupied for 17 days. Nationwide, beyond the auto industry, there were more than 700 major sit-downs by the end of 1937. In February and March in Detroit alone, 100 factories, stores and offices were occupied by sit-downers for some period of time. Even salesclerks at the Detroit Woolworth lunch counter sat down!

Nothing was handed to those workers eighty years ago. As late as 1941, it was necessary for auto workers to shut down the massive Ford Rouge plant in order to crack Henry Ford’s resolve never to allow a union on his property.

One Class, One Interest, One Fight

The workers of 1937 effectively were acting as one single class, with one set of interests, with one fight to make. That was the essential key that gained the victory at Flint in February of 1937, and gained victories in the massive wave of sit-downs and union organizing that would follow.

But workers weren’t conscious of the fact that the only way to secure what they had done was to expand their fight to take on the whole capitalist class, to contest with that class for the power to run things. At least, there weren’t enough who were conscious of that necessity.

The capitalist class, through various intermediaries, carefully moved to divert the struggles into the safe terrain of delegates who would administer things for the workers. Those intermediaries are the same ones we still face today: Democratic Party politicians, as well as some Republicans; union officials who view their job as being a bridge between the bosses and the workers.

Of course, there were many problems to confront in that time period: the growth of fascism, the coming of World War II, the divisions inside the working class itself, the role played by Stalinism to divert the struggles once the unions were built.

But the biggest problem was the fact that the working class had stood poised at the doorway leading to revolution, a revolution in which workers could have used their collective power to organize a socialist society, run in the interests of every person. The working class came up to that door, but didn’t open it. Didn’t go through it. And so, ultimately the working class was pushed backwards from its victory, and continues to be pushed backwards today.

There will be new struggles. If the working class has militants within its ranks, conscious of the need to take these struggles all the way to their end, we can see the working class go from being a class oppressed into being a class able to build and direct a new collectively organized society.

Pages 6-7

Movie Review:
Hidden Figures

Feb 6, 2017

Before electronic computers, and multifunctioning calculators, there were human computers. Black and white women mathematicians were tasked with turning numbers into meaningful data for NASA. Their calculations made possible many ground-breaking missions. These calculations, done by hand, with pencil and paper, often took more than a week to complete, filling six to eight notebooks with data and formulas.

Hidden Figures follows three black women “computers”: Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – and their work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia in the ‘60s.

All three of these women were brilliant mathematicians living and working in segregated and sexist Virginia. The film gives a sense of the indignities and humiliations these women endured. At one point Katherine Johnson is sent to a new department to calculate the trajectories for Alan Shepard’s space flight. The men – all white – were not warm and welcoming toward her in the least.

In another scene she has to explain to her boss, in front of the whole department, why she is gone from her desk 40 minutes every day. She had been running over half a mile to use the “Colored Only” bathroom. He ends that nonsense in dramatic fashion. In the middle of losing the space race to the Russians at every turn, there was simply no time for this kind of racism.

While the film puts in some historical context with the Civil Rights movement running in the background, it does not deal with the white women computers – except to show that they are segregated from the black women computers. While the white women did not have to deal with racism, they were also underpaid and disrespected. Later, when men entered the field of computer programming, pay and prestige skyrocketed despite the fact that most programmers today could not perform the calculations by hand that these women were doing.

This film is interesting on so many levels, social, historical, and political. But, also for young girls, this film shows the big, fat lie that girls are not as smart as boys, that girls can’t do math. In fact, without these brilliant black female minds, Alan Shepard wouldn’t have gotten off the ground, John Glenn wouldn’t have orbited earth and Apollo 13 might not have made it back to earth safely.

Homelessness Is Destroying Children’s Lives

Feb 6, 2017

Daejanae Marshall’s baby daughter Zah’Nyah was 3½ months old when she died in her sleep on November 27, 2012. The medical examiner ruled the death Sudden Unexplained Infant Death, and said that “co-sleeping” contributed to this tragedy.

Daejanae Marshall was aware of the dangers of having a baby sleep in a regular bed with her. But the homeless shelter the young mother and her baby were staying at did not have cribs, and it did not allow residents to bring their own furniture either. So the mother and daughter were sleeping in the same bed.

Baby Zah’Nyah is one of the eight homeless infants who are known to have died from sleeping in “unsuitable conditions” in L.A. County since 2010. The victims’ families did not have the means to provide better sleeping conditions.

Homelessness caused these deaths, which could easily be prevented. And the number of homeless children has been growing rapidly.

Homelessness would have devastating effects on any person, but its effects on children are especially horrifying. Children who experience homelessness are more likely to have chronic health problems, which they often carry into adulthood. They are also more likely to fall behind in school – their high-school graduating rates are, in fact, below 20 per cent.

It’s simply criminal for a society to allow so many of its children to languish. And it’s totally unnecessary and avoidable – considering the amount of wealth that exists in this country.

Homelessness is a result of unemployment, low wages and high housing costs – all of which, in turn, are caused by the capitalists’ drive to increase profit. That’s why the problem of homelessness can’t be solved within the normal workings of capitalism.

State of Michigan Proposes School Closures
– Again

Feb 6, 2017

Michigan’s “School Reform Office” has announced that up to 38 schools in poor neighborhoods could be closed because of “poor performance.”

Many of the schools slated for closure have been under state control for years. The Detroit Public Schools (DPS) has been under state control for 14 of the past 18 years. The state shut down numerous schools in that time. Now the state wants to close 16 more.

The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) is a collection of schools that were ripped out of the DPS and run by a state-appointed chancellor. The state wants to close 8 of those 13 schools. Schools are on the chopping block in other cities: Muskegon Heights; Benton Harbor; Pontiac; Saginaw – the pattern is the same.

All over Michigan, state officials have handed millions of dollars of public school money to private interests as neighborhood schools in working class communities have been gutted.

The state itself has admitted that after years of school closings, the result is poorer education for those least fortunate, not better.

But their solution ... is to do more of the same.

If the state finds these schools are sub-par, this is an indictment of what the state itself has done to these schools and these districts!

The Working Class can put a stop to this attack. We can insist that all working class schools are kept open; fully funded; expanded; flooded with the resources, teachers, and equipment. Our children need to succeed.

The money is there. The working class created the wealth and should benefit from it!

Page 8

A Boss Pretending to Be a Friend

Feb 6, 2017

The following is part of a speech made by Gary Walkowicz, one of the candidates of the Working Class Party.

When we started the campaign to put the Working Class Party on the ballot, we said that the bosses have two parties and that the working class has none. We said that the working class needs its own party.

A Boss Pretending to Be a Friend

When the working class has no party, no voice in elections, it opens the door for a demagogue like Donald Trump to portray himself as someone who will fight to make things better for workers.

Nothing could be, or will be, further from the truth. Donald Trump is a ruthless real estate speculator, who was born rich and got even richer by exploiting workers, cheating students from working families and ripping off small businesses.

As president, Trump is going to serve the interests of the exploiting class that he is part of, as we can already see by the people that Trump has named to his cabinet, millionaires and billionaires all.

Trump won a close election by getting the votes of many workers, mostly, but not only, white workers who in the past must have voted for the Democratic Party, or not voted at all.

Why did they vote for Trump? For the past eight years or so, coming out of the Great Recession, we have been told every week that the economy is recovering, that things are getting better. But the problem is, things got better only for the rich, not for the working class. For the working class, our standard of living has gone down.

We were told every month that there are more jobs. But for the working class, all the “new jobs” are part-time jobs, temporary jobs, low-wage jobs.

The working class vote for Trump was, first of all, a vote of people who were angry, people who were voting against the party who held the White House, people who were voting for “change.”

Hollow Promises to Create Jobs

While Clinton and the Democrats talked about continuing the “progress” that has been made under Obama, Trump constantly talked about the loss of jobs, blaming it on trade treaties and promising to create twenty-five million new jobs.

Working people who are looking for the new jobs and the improved standard of living that Trump promised are going to find out that Trump made promises that he will not keep.

Divide and Rule

For the working class, Trump could be more dangerous than just another lying politician. The ideas that Trump puts forth divide the working class. Trump tolerated and encouraged the violent racism of this society against black people, accepting the support of racist white nationalist organizations. Trump attacked immigrants from Mexico, fraudulently blaming them for jobs lost and crime. Trump demonized Muslims, proposing to keep people out of the country based on their religion.

Certainly some workers voted for Trump because they agreed with him on these racist ideas.

But there were probably more white workers who voted for Trump, not because of his racist lies, but instead they thought they could ignore his racism; that it didn’t concern them; that it didn’t affect them. But it does.

Trump’s message about jobs is dangerous because he would have us believe that the reason we have lost jobs in this country is because the jobs are being taken by workers in other countries. That is the core of the message that Trump pushes when he blames trade treaties, like NAFTA, for the millions of manufacturing jobs that have been lost in this country over the past couple decades.

And it was not just Trump. Politicians from both parties, including Bernie Sanders, and also union leaders, have pushed the same ideas.

Disarming the Working Class

Today, factories in the U.S. are putting out twice as much production as they did 30 years ago, but with many fewer workers, because the corporate bosses have imposed a vicious speed-up, with one worker doing the jobs of two or three people. That’s why millions of jobs have been lost. The bosses use automation, not to make our jobs easier, but to eliminate jobs.

The danger is that if workers believe Trump and his like, then we are disarming ourselves, we are not seeing who the real enemy is – our very own bosses here in this country.

The working class needs its own party to tell the truth and expose the lies of Trump and his capitalist friends. The working class needs its own party, one that would fight against the divisions in the working class. The working class needs its own party to stand alongside those workers who are ready to make a fight.

The working class has the power to take the wealth we have produced and use it to provide all working people with a decent standard of living. But we won’t be able to do this if we are divided.