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

Culture Corner:
20 Days in Mariupol & Labor’s Giant Step

Apr 22, 2024

Film: 20 Days in Mariupol, directed by Mstyslav Chernov, 2023, streaming on

This Oscar winning Frontline documentary presents first-hand footage of twenty days of the battle for Mariupol in Ukraine. At incredible risk, the journalists stayed to document these events. You see more than anything the cost of the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. You see ordinary people asking why is this happening? You see their anger and pain. As war spreads around the globe, these are questions worth asking.

Book: Labor’s Giant Step: The First Twenty Years of the CIO: 1936–55 by Art Preis, 1964

This book details in stark relief the battles workers had to fight to win better working conditions and unions that they, not the company, controlled. The author was a participant and/or an avid observer of these events as they enfolded, a Trotskyist and a communist, and the book reflects his excitement and conveys the power of the events. Particularly telling is the first third of the book, where he describes how workers were up against union bureaucrats who preached labor peace in the face of horrible conditions and wages eaten up by inflation. Three strikes led by these communist workers turned the tide. The first, the Toledo Auto-Lite strike, was fought in 1934 in the midst of stupefying hardship, and it opened the door. Due to solidarity between the workers and the unemployed, masses of workers were united, ready to fight for a better life. Nothing would deter them, not company goons, police, national guardsmen, legal injunctions, or union bureaucrats. Also in 1934, there then came the Teamster truckers’ strike in Minneapolis with its use of “flying squadrons”, and the San Francisco general strike. The stage was set: workers now knew their power in spite of everything.