The Spark

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

SPARK ‘End of Winter’ Dinner

Mar 31, 2008

In the middle of March, workers from Ford Rouge, Ford Saline, Ford Sterling Heights, the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Mental Health, Blue Cross, the Post Office, Chrysler Warren Truck, Chrysler Trenton Engine, several General Motors plants, General Motors retirees, small auto parts plants and repair shops, the Detroit Department of Transportation, Taco Bell, CVS Drugstore, and teachers from various public school systems, among others, gathered in Detroit to share a meal with the SPARK.

It was the first barbecue of this long, cold and snowy winter, chasing the winter blues away with ribs and chicken, plus fresh green beans, creamed corn, mac & cheese, as well as salads and casseroles, plus those divine desserts everyone comes back for.

We laughed at ourselves in “Creature Comforts,” the Claymation talking animal series, by the same people who made Wallace & Grommit films. We gathered around to see Sparky the robot, a robot which let us understand a little more about what robots can do, as well as what they can’t do – and how they are misused today. We listened to and watched the video made during a concert by Grammy award winner Herbie Hancock, and we laughed as the SPARK Sunday Night Comedy Troupe gave us their version of the current election campaign. But the highlight of the meeting was “The State of the Working Class” address.

We reprint excerpts of the speech below, for all our friends and supporters who were not able to make it.

Let’s talk about the situation of the working class. Only one way to describe it – it’s an outrage!

We are entering the sixth year of the war in Iraq and we are in the seventh year of the war in Afghanistan – with no end in sight. The only war longer was the Viet Nam war, and these two wars threaten to break that deadly record.

And why? Why are we in these wars? Only so big oil companies can control the oil of the whole Middle East. While companies like Halliburton make out like the bandits they are, Iraqis continue to be killed, by the hundreds of thousands. The lives of Afghan people are being driven back to the days of the Middle Ages. And U.S. troops continue to be killed – almost 4,500 in the two wars – or suffer permanent injuries to their bodies and to their minds....

Working people pay the price for these wars – and not just in lives lost, but in hundreds of billion of dollars spent on war that could have been used to address the problems we have here at home.

And we have plenty of problems.

Jobs, for example – we’re losing them – a half a million people left the work force last month, most because they were laid off and couldn’t find a job....

But even when we keep our jobs, we don’t keep our wages and benefits....

Our wages go down – but do prices? NO! Gasoline, gas and electric for our homes, bread, milk, meat, fruit and vegetables – you name it and the price went up.

Why? Because of shortages? NO! The oil companies even admit there is no shortage today. Prices are going up because speculators – including the oil companies themselves – are buying and selling and buying again and selling again, driving prices up with each sale.

The big money people did it to housing yesterday. Today, they are doing it to oil, wheat, corn, soybeans – and we pay the price at the pump or the grocery store or in homes lost to the fraud perpetrated by the banks and mortgage companies.

The capitalists’ system is in crisis today. And the capitalists even admit it. They say that some of the biggest banks could collapse. And yet they don’t stop doing what they’ve been doing. They continue to speculate, creating the possibility of an even bigger mess.

They can’t stop themselves.

As far as we’re concerned, it’s time that working people stepped up to stop them.

For that, we have to feel our common interests to support each other when someone is attacked; to join each other when some of us fight, like the workers at American Axle today.

We have the right to benefit from the fruits or our labor. But it will take the fight of all of us standing together.