The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Labor Day: SWP: ‘Working class needs to take political power in US’

SWP: ‘Working class needs to take political power in US’

WATERVLIET, N.Y. — “I’m registered as a Democrat, but it really doesn’t matter. They’re both awful,” Mary Whitney told Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy at her doorstep Aug. 22. Whitney is a member of the United Steelworkers union working at Saint Gobain’s nearby abrasive materials plant.

“The media and liberals are frantic saying Trump has to be stopped, you have to vote for the lesser evil,” Kennedy said. “But both Trump and Clinton, the Democrats and Republicans, represent the capitalist class. Their economic system, capitalism, is in crisis and cannot meet the needs of the majority.”

Whitney told Kennedy and SWP campaigner Dean Hazlewood about what workers at her plant and others in the area face — speedup, layoffs and decades of attacks by the bosses.

“The Honeywell workers locked out in Green Island know me on the picket line, I bring them donuts,” she said. Kennedy joined United Auto Workers Local 1508 members on the Honeywell picket line later that day.

“My boss at Saint Gobain wants to get rid of me,” said Whitney. “I’m always fighting for the rights of younger workers. But they don’t know the importance of fighting.”

“Because the bosses have no answer for their problems, the deepening capitalist economic crisis will continue to bear down on the working class. Young workers, all workers, will explode into battles to defend ourselves and our class,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m confident this will happen.

“At a certain point during the Great Depression in the 1930s, workers couldn’t take it any more and launched massive strikes and organizing struggles,” she said. “The Teamsters union in the Midwest, whose leadership included members of my party, led in a way that maximized the workers’ power and won popular support from farmers, the unemployed and others, resulting in gains for the working class.”

As part of advancing these battles, Teamster leaders pointed to the political course workers needed as a class, from opposing the rulers’ war preparations to the battle for equal rights for Blacks to the need for workers to build their own party and take power, Kennedy said.

Kennedy showed Whitney the new bookAre They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege and Learning Under Capitalism by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes. “No, they’re rich because of us,” Whitney said, laughing as she read the title.

Whitney got the book to go with a Militantsubscription. She joked that had she met the SWP earlier, she would have been even more of a thorn in the bosses’ side. She said she would show the party’s literature around on the job.

— Jacob Perasso 

FRESNO, Calif. — “It was probably more than 500 people who responded,” Justice Medina told Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for vice-president, here Aug. 18. In July Medina helped organize a large and lively action to protest the June 25 Fresno cop killing of Dylan Noble, a 19-year-old unarmed roofer.

“It was my first step for activism in Fresno,” said Medina, who is 20. He called the action “because I don’t like violence and I hate abuse of authority.”

“Fresno cops arrested me right after the protest,” he said. “I was charged with organizing an event without a permit and with obstruction of the sidewalk.” Medina has an Oct. 13 court date.

Ever since, “police cars sit in front of my house and cops stop me and my relatives for no reason,” he said.

“The police are set up to ‘protect and serve’ the tiny minority of capitalists,” Hart said. “They’re not reformable. But our protests are very important. They build confidence and solidarity and can push back against the cops, getting some of them charged with a crime or fired. To end cop brutality, working people need to take political power out of the hands of the ruling rich.”

Hart said workers and farmers in Cuba overthrew capitalism and U.S. domination in 1959, transforming themselves as they gained political consciousness and a sense of their own self-worth.

They reorganized society from top to bottom to meet the needs of working people, he said. The former regime’s police, brutal guardians of the interests of the bosses under capitalism, were dismantled and replaced by revolutionary-minded workers.

“When I was in Cuba a few months ago,” Hart said, “I saw a traffic stop in Havana where the driver got into a heated discussion with the officer. There was no violent attack or abuse, unlike what a cop here or in Philadelphia, where I live, would likely have done.”

“Working people create all the wealth,” Hart said.

“Yes, and it’s stolen from us,” Medina responded. “Let’s keep in touch.”

— Joel Britton 

QUEENS, N.Y. — “We are here to bring solidarity and join you in opposing attacks on Muslims and mosques,” SWP presidential candidate Kennedy told Bazlur Rahman of the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque here Aug. 21.

The mosque’s imam, Maulama Akonjee, and his assistant Thara Uddin were murdered in broad daylight Aug. 13. Kennedy was joined by a delegation from the party in New York, including Norton Sandler and Jacob Perasso, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate.

“This is important for the working class,” Kennedy said. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

— Jacob Perasso

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