Saturday, March 31, 2012

Report on U.S. SWP National Committee Plenum of 11 March 2012

The Leninist strategy of party-building in action:

....Today's historic crisis of capital accumulation worldwide, Barnes pointed out at the Saturday meeting, is like nothing virtually any working person has experienced in their adult lives. The crisis is rooted not in money, banking, and leveraged financial speculation. That's where it initially exploded in 2008. But its foundations lie in the long-term tendency of the capitalists' profit rates to fall—a crisis of production and intensifying competition for markets.

The capitalist rulers react to their crisis pragmatically. They pile up highly leveraged debt instruments of all kinds—from unheard-of levels of consumer and business loans, to derivatives and "swaps," packaged mortgage-backed securities, and sovereign (government) debt—in an effort to postpone the day of reckoning and push off stepped-up struggles by working people.

Among the major imperialist powers, the United States was the hardest hit by initial symptoms of the crisis. But now capitalist "Europe" is being torn apart at the seams. The consequences of the crisis for working people the world over were addressed by participants in the SWP leadership meetings from Canada, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Iran, Australia, and New Zealand.

What SWP members explain to fellow workers is that the only way the bosses can solve their crisis is by attacking our living standards, our job conditions and hours of work, our unions, and our basic human dignity. And that's what they have been doing.

The workings of capitalism are increasing the ranks of the long-term jobless. A prominent display at the March 10 event showed that record numbers are dropping out of the labor force, pushing it below 64 percent of those of working age. Nearly 10 percent of the jobless have been out of work a year or more, the highest in half a century.

The exploiters use an expanding reserve army of unemployed workers to drive down not just real wages but the value of workers' labor power—the living standards that have been fought for and won by workers and are seen as "normal" historically—in the United States and other imperialist countries.

The heightened competition over jobs and wages results not only from the growing ranks of the unemployed but above all from the massive increase in immigrant labor in recent decades and U.S. employers' expanding exploitation of workers in China, India and other semicolonial countries.

This is a reminder of the pressing need for workers to organize to defend and advance the interests of our class as a whole, on a world scale, in order to stand up to the assaults by capital. And the default in facing this challenge and acting on it is testimony to the continuing historic betrayal of the membership by the official misleaders of labor.


Halt war threats on Iran!
It's a mistake for opponents of imperialist war threats against Iran to assume that Tel Aviv can't launch a massive air assault without Washington's go-ahead, Barnes said. The Israeli rulers will never allow their defense to be dependent on another power, including U.S. imperialism.

The Israeli regime would prefer the bloody job in Iran get done by Washington's substantially greater military power, but if not, they're ready to initiate the effort themselves.

The best thing that could happen for working people in Iran and the Mideast, Barnes said, would be for Tehran to make a convincing case to world opinion that it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons—not the wink-of-the-eye denials the bourgeois rulers make today.

If not reversed, Tehran's game of bourgeois bluff becomes a death trap for the Iranian people. It is an obstacle to working people in Israel mobilizing to take power from the bourgeoisie and put an end to the nuclear weapons stockpile there once and for all.

The revolutionary government of Cuba unconditionally opposes military assaults on Iran and defends its right to develop nuclear and other energy sources. At the same time, Cuba rejects Washington's provocative lie that it is helping Iran develop nuclear arms.

As for Cuba itself, "We have never considered producing nuclear weapons because we don't need them," Fidel Castro told an audience at the University of Havana in 2005. He continued, "We possess a weapon as powerful as nuclear ones and it is the magnitude of the justice we are fighting for." Cuba's communist leadership relies on the revolutionary political consciousness and military readiness of workers and farmers there.

Revolutionary continuity
The March 10 event and SWP leadership meetings emphasized the political continuity of the party's course with lessons of the revolutionary working-class struggle for power over the past 165 years.

That record, both Barnes and Waters emphasized, opens with political conclusions drawn by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels from battles in the 19th century—from the revolutions of 1848-49 in Europe, to the 1870 Paris Commune. Marx and Engels drew those lessons as participants and central leaders of the communist workers movement of the day.

That continuity extends through lessons from the history of forging the Bolshevik leadership of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, guided by V.I. Lenin, as well as organized efforts by revolutionary-minded workers to extend that conquest of working-class power to other countries the world over.

The most recent experience, the proletarian revolution that lives and fights today, is the Cuban Revolution and the leadership that began to be built by Fidel Castro and others in the Rebel Army in the 1950s. Decisive chapters of that effort are detailed in the new book, The Making of a Revolution Within the Revolution (see coverage of its launching at the recent Havana International Book Fair in the March 5 issue of the Militant).

The decades-long struggle to build a proletarian party in the United States draws its strength and political clarity from this unbroken revolutionary legacy.

Join the campaigning!
The SWP's weekly efforts to systematically sell the socialist press and books on revolutionary politics in working-class neighborhoods—and the readership the Militant newspaper is winning among fighters in labor struggles and the battle for Black freedom—are essential to building a political vanguard of working people in the United States.

No other organization even claiming to be a workers party today any longer produces a weekly newspaper its members use to reach out to militants from the streets of Sanford, Fla., to the docks in Longview, Wash. None sell their press at mines, factories, and other workplaces. At no place other than meetings of the Militant Labor Forum in cities across the U.S. can working people come, week in and week out, for debate, discussion and clarification of pressing political questions facing our class.

And between now and the November elections, Socialist Workers Party candidates and their supporters will be campaigning with the Militant, with Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, and with other literature to present their fighting working-class course in opposition to the assaults on workers and farmers in the U.S. and abroad by the Democrats, Republicans and other capitalist parties.

We urge workers and youth who follow the Militant to join us in these campaigning efforts.