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

A Working Class Policy, a Working Class Fight

Mar 17, 2014

The following two articles come from a presentation made at a Spark Public Meeting in February in Detroit. It explains why we have decided to present candidates in the 2014 elections.

For 40 years this country has been mired in an economic crisis. One recession has followed another—in almost all the cases, each one was worse than the one before, each one came faster than the one before. We know what it means to live through these crises. But some people have done well for themselves. The capitalist class and their bankers have been able to protect themselves from this crisis they created; but at the expense of the population, driving down our standard of living in order to increase their profits.

The banks have robbed people of their homes. Corporations have eliminated jobs, cut wages and benefits. Governments have eliminated jobs, cut pensions and health care, gutted social programs, and given away the store in the form of tax breaks to big corporations and bank bailouts. All in the name of getting the economy going again. But the economy isn’t going again.

Moreover, it is obvious that everything the bosses did made the impact of the crisis worse on us. And it’s made the real economy worse. When jobs are cut, people don’t have money to spend. When people can’t buy anything, this cuts other jobs as well. All these cuts don’t overcome the crisis—they aggravate the situation. The only thing they actually do is increase the profits of the corporations and the banks.

That is the whole point of what the capitalist class has done over the last 40 years—to enrich themselves at the expense of most people living today.

The capitalist class has no way to get us out of this crisis. No way, that is, but what they did to get out of the crisis of the 1930s at the time of the Great Depression. To get out of it, they went to war. For all the talk of the New Deal, in fact, it was World War II that got the capitalists out of the economic crisis they created. That war killed almost 50 million people, destroyed an enormous amount of cities and factories in Europe and Japan and other parts of the world. The capitalist economy revived, but only for a few decades.

Today, we’re in another crisis, like that of the 1930s. It’s why we say that until the working class fights on a massive scale and puts forward its own solutions, there is no way out of the crisis, not only for the working class but for the whole population.

But everyone knows that the working class isn’t fighting, and hasn’t been on the massive scale needed. We’re mired in a dead end.

How Do We Get out of this Dead End?

There is no magic answer. But one thing is sure: Someone has to say the truth—that the only solution out of this crisis is for the working class to fight—and to say it as broadly as possible, to as many people as possible. One way to do that is to carry out an election campaign based on this reality.

This country may today have technical marvels—computers, smartphones, internet, exploration of space—but socially, this country is behind where it was 94 years ago when Eugene Debs, sitting in prison, amassed a million votes. The laws have become more backward and restrictive since then, so backward that it’s difficult for anyone other than the two rich man’s parties to be heard.

We have to try to break the hold on who has the right to discuss political ideas in this country. It shouldn’t just be the rich that have that right. It shouldn’t just be groups like the Tea Party....

It’s why we have decided, without pinning down at this moment the particulars of who will run in what candidacies, we have decided at the size we are, to the extent we are able, to organize an election campaign.

We will use it to put forth a program in the interests of the working people. Our candidates will stand for a working class policy, for a working class fight. They will insist on this necessity: the workers should not pay for the bosses’ crisis.

No, we won’t have the media behind us, like the twin capitalist parties, the Democrats and Republicans, do. No, we won’t have their Political Action Committee funds of millions or even billions of dollars. On that level we can’t compete. Our goal is to get out there and raise the working class banner in these elections. On the level of ideas, we can compete.

Certainly we won’t have what Eugene V. Debs had when he ran: a large Socialist party rooted in the working class and farming population. But someone has to start breaking the hold as to who has the right to discuss political ideas in this country.

In different cities, and even in this city, different socialist or communist organizations have put up socialist candidates or working class candidates. We ourselves ran an election campaign, Workers Against Concessions, in 1988. All of those campaigns were a start. But a voice for the interests of the working class needs to be heard regularly.

Republicans and Democrats campaign in order to get a post for themselves, to get lucrative contacts. We want to campaign to let a working class policy be heard. We already do that with our newspaper, our workplace newsletters, at the markets, and in our political meetings. This year we want to add an election campaign that will allow us to be heard by people who otherwise don’t know us.

For a Working Class Policy

Working people should not pay for the crisis created by the corporations and the banks.

That means, everyone who wants to work should have a job. No company making a profit should be allowed to lay off a single worker. If companies don’t want to create more jobs, then force them to divide up the work, with no loss of pay to anyone. Everyone could have a job, everyone could work fewer hours AND workers’ weekly wages would not have to go down.

In fact, most wages need to go up. We should all be able to live comfortably, with adequate wages for all of us, wages that are indexed so that as soon as prices go up, our wages go up too, keeping pace with inflation.

This is a necessity. And there is no reason a program like this could not be implemented immediately. There is more than enough wealth to pay for it! The big corporations today are sitting on at least three trillion dollars, hoarding it or speculating with it. The big Wall Street banks are sitting on how many trillion more? No one knows for sure, which is why the working class, when it begins to fight for aims like this, also will have to fight to impose its control over the bookkeeping, all the secret records the corporations never reveal.

For a Working Class Fight

What it all boils down to is that the working class has to fight to impose its needs.

The working class has never fought on demand, because somebody wanted it to fight. But throughout the history of capitalist society, sooner or later workers reached their boiling point—they no longer accepted the conditions that the capitalists expected them to live under.

So we know that at one point or another, the same thing will happen in our time—the working class will erupt, moving to fight for what it needs. When that happens, it’s important that the working class have its own goals to fight for—not the ones the bosses and their media put out in front of us, not the ones that trade-union leaders pushing co-operation advocate. When workers do begin to fight, it’s vital that they not settle for “reasonable” gains, that is, for the crumbs, while leaving capitalist exploitation in place. It will be vital that workers fight to transform society in their own image.

That’s why it’s important now for there to be a voice for a working class policy, a working class fight.