Revolutionary struggle in the United States:
possible and inevitable
(In Review column)
Is Socialist Revolution in the U.S. Possible? by Mary-Alice Waters. Pathfinder Press, 2008, $5.
BY SAM MANUEL
"Is socialist revolution in the U.S. possible?" That question is answered "yes!" without hesitation in this new pamphlet by Pathfinder Press. Its feature article is the opening presentation by Mary-Alice Waters at a five-day rolling forum at the 2007 Venezuela International Book Fair held in Caracas last November. Waters is a member of the Socialist Workers Party National Committee and president of Pathfinder.
The pamphlet, which takes the question as its title, also includes two articles by Militanteditor Olympia Newton, who reported on the forum's rich debate and the sometimes sharply counterposed views of the panelists. An introduction by Norton Sandler, a longtime leader of the SWP's trade union work, summarizes the main political issues addressed.
Twelve pages of photos help to illustrate the pamphlet's main points, from the impact of the deepening financial crisis on toilers worldwide, to the growing resistance by working people in mines and mills, the spreading imperialist wars, and the revolutionary legacy of the U.S. working class, from the Civil War to labor battles today.
English and Spanish editions of the pamphlet will be available April 26 for the week leading up to marches and rallies for immigrant rights marking this year's May Day. That "historic working-class holiday is fighting to be reborn in the United States as a day of struggle," Waters says in her opening remarks at the Caracas forum. Over the past two years, millions of workers, led by immigrants, have taken to the streets across the United States to demand: "Stop the Raids! Legalization Now!"
"A fighting vanguard of the working class has emerged in action," Waters explains. It is a working-class vanguard, not just a vanguard of immigrants.
"[T]he battle to win the vast majority of the working class and the entire labor movement to support the legalization of undocumented immigrants is the single most important 'domestic' political question in the United States," she continues, "and the largest current battle on the road to independent working-class political action, to a labor party based on a militant, fighting union movement."
Workers, farmers, independent truckers, and other working people being squeezed by the economic crisis will read this pamphlet with great interest. Far from the conditions of relative prosperity in the nearly half-century following World War II, Waters says, "What is coming are years that will bring increasingly conscious and organized resistance by a growing vanguard of working people pushed to the wall by the bosses' drive to cut wages and increase what they call productivity."
The unprecedented scope and internationalization of labor resulting from the current immigration to the United States makes it more difficult for the rulers to divide working people along lines of race and national origin, as was done earlier in history, the pamphlet explains.
"We learn from the tradition of struggle coming together from all parts of the world," Waters emphasizes. "As we fight shoulder to shoulder, it becomes harder for the bosses to pit 'us' against 'them.' It becomes more possible to see that our class interests are not the same as those of 'our' bosses, 'our' government, or 'our' two parties."
The pamphlet is noteworthy for taking head-on the dangers of Jew-baiting and agent-baiting within the workers movement. The toxins of Jew-hatred, a means by which the rulers historically have tried to deflect responsibility for the capitalist crisis, and of agent-baiting were introduced into the forum discussion and effectively answered by Waters and others.
Waters also explains that one enormous obstacle to a revolutionary course, represented by a powerful bureaucratic social caste in the Soviet Union camouflaging itself as communist, no longer exists. As class battles deepen today, workers will seek out previous historical experiences like the Bolshevik-led Russian Revolution and the Communist International under Lenin.
"Yes, revolution is possible in the United States," Waters concludes. "Socialist revolution. To put it in class terms, a proletarian revolution—the broadest, most inclusive social upheaval of the oppressed and exploited imaginable, and the reorganization of society in their interests… .
"What is not inevitable, however, is the outcome of these coming revolutionary struggles. That is where political clarity, organization, discipline, and the caliber of proletarian leadership become decisive."