Jan 18, 2016
Children in Flint are being poisoned by the water they drink – the result of conscious choices made by an “Emergency Financial Manager” appointed to run the city of Flint by Michigan’s Republican governor.
Children in Detroit are having their minds poisoned by a school system deprived of money – the result of conscious choices made by Emergency Financial Managers appointed first by a Democratic governor, then a Republican, to run the Detroit schools.
Working class children in Chicago – and how many other cities – face a political establishment that consciously chooses to starve the schools of money, while lavishly bestowing it on big moneyed interests: the banks, the developers and the big corporations.
Ten thousand people in the Porter Ranch section of L.A. have been driven from their homes by a leaking natural gas well. That leak was not an accident; it was the result of conscious choices made by the Southern California Gas Company to deprive its gas wells of a simple safety cut-off valve – a decision agreed to by the California state apparatus, under Democratic Party control – letting SoCalGas pay out bigger dividends to its stockholders.
Children in large sections of North Carolina are at risk of being poisoned by the water they drink, as Duke Energy Company dumps coal ash into water supplies – agreed to by the State of North Carolina under a Republican governor and legislature – benefitting the large stockholders of Duke Energy and the banks tied to it.
We could go on and on. People’s lives are disrupted, children are put at risk – because the two big parties work to divert all government resources to benefit the capitalist class; the two parties stand as guardians making sure that the road is clear for the capitalists to go on pursuing profit.
These two parties come every four years to ask for our votes – to smile at us, shake our hands, pat us on the shoulder and laugh at us behind our backs.
And then – what? They go back to doing what they have been doing. On every important question, and on a multitude of seemingly tiny ones, they make decisions designed to serve the interests of the capitalist class, the same capitalist class that exploits us every day on our jobs.
The capitalist class has two parties working for it: the Republicans and the Democrats. There are differences between them, of course. They speak a different language, build up different voting bases. But, “the differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties involve no issue, no principle in which the working class have any interest.” Eugene Debs, who called on the working class to build its own party, said that in 1900. We could say exactly the same thing today.
The capitalist class has two parties, the working class has none, no party that speaks for it, no party that represents its interests. It is an enormous lack in this country, a historic lack that leaves working people isolated and exceedingly vulnerable when they try to defend themselves even on immediate issues.
Today, people in Flint are fighting against the poisoning of their children. Teachers in Detroit and Chicago are fighting against the draining of money from the schools. People in California and North Carolina try to oppose themselves to giant corporations, backed by the capitalists’ two big parties. And all of these fights are isolated from each other.
The working class needs its own organization. We need our own party, a party whose goal would be to stand for the interests of all working people, a party that would join the fights that working people make. It would try to link those fights, reinforcing them.
Reinforced, we could wrench what we need away from a capitalist class that today has no reason to cede even an inch.
In this election year, it makes no sense for working people to go on hoping that one of these parties will change. Haven’t we learned by now?
We will begin to change our situation when we decide to start building a working class party.