The Spark

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

Sam Johnson:
When We Stand Together, We Are a Force

Aug 16, 2021

I know people will fight. I saw it. In 1965 and ‘67, I saw all those workers come together in the street. I saw it then. People would fight. In California in 1965, there were black people out in the streets, but you had Mexicans and poor whites out there too. In 1967 in Detroit, the same thing. In Detroit, I guess those poor whites were as tired of the way things were just like we were. We were all out there in the street. There were three young whites in a building near me, I guess they saw blacks fighting and decided, why not us?

My last job before I left California, I started trying to bring us together. I already was getting the bigger picture, seeing where I fit in, where we all fit in. When I came to Detroit and worked in Chrysler plants, I saw what the problems are and who’s causing them. I saw that we produce everything that we need, we do it, we produce it all, but we do it for that capitalist class. We do it for them, for what they want, not for what we want.

But we can shut it down. We can be a force. We can get what we want. I already saw that in California, in Detroit. But fighting’s not enough. But we got to understand this capitalist system, understand everything about it.

The capitalists divide us in order to make their profit go up. They pay one worker less, then they pay the rest of us less. Because of the riot and ‘67, some of us got jobs, some got decent wages. Maybe a few of us still have good wages. But what about our family, our kids, our grandkids? Why should they have less than we do? All of us ought to have a better life.

But it’s going to take us to be the force to make that happen.

Today, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s fighting. But even a few people, when they get the bigger picture, they can talk to their family and friends, then more people will understand what it is they have to do. We all have family and friends.

It’s going to take us to do that. If we can make things run in this country, then we can make them run for us. We got the force to do that. I worked in a Chrysler plant, with workers from different countries. Some of us were black, some were Polish, some came from Yugoslavia and Yemen. When we wrote a leaflet, some of them wrote down what we wrote in Arabic and Yugoslav. And they were all part of passing them out at the gate. Then everyone could read it. That’s the working class. When we stood together, we could back the company off some. We can do much more.

When we see something ain’t right for us, we don’t have to accept it, we can stop it, we got the forces to do it. We do all the work. If we do all the work, we should do it for us. If it’s not for us, then we need to stop it. We can stop it and take over the whole thing. We can run it for us.

Why not? Who are the forces the capitalists use against us? The army and the police and the National Guard. Look at the army, that’s your brother and sister and cousins. That’s part of the working class. The capitalists use us against us to enforce their policy.

Those workers in the police and army and National Guard need to think about who’s running everything, who’s controlling everything. They can understand they are being used against their own family and friends. They can see they are being used against people just like them in other places, other countries even. Once their family is doing something and talking to them, asking them, what are you doing, they can get the bigger picture too.

Working people need to know, it’ll take us to change it. The bigger the number is who understand this, the closer we’ll be to build the world we want. We need to talk about the international level. There are workers all over the world. We need to stand together with working people in other countries. The capitalist class, they’re the number one problem all around the world. But we live all around the world, and we can be a bigger force than them—when we understand the force we have.