Workers' Voice mailing list
Jan. 15, 2108
RE: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Detroit Workers' Voice #125, Jan. 15, 2018, has three articles:
This year's celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday are being held in the midst of a storm of attacks on every value the civil rights movement ever fought for. The very lives and livelihood of black people, workers and poor of all backgrounds and all justice-loving people are at risk. We need to honor the anti-racist movement of the past by building a new movement today. We need mass struggle in the streets, workplaces, and schools, but we also need to study and debate the orientation for this movement.
For years one president after another pretended to be on the people's side, while in fact helping the rich get richer. Now Donald Trump is the open face of the rich, sneering at working people and especially minorities. He has gone on a binge of deportations, breaking up families, and placing millions of people under a reign of terror. He has closed his eyes to the plight of the Puerto Rican people after the hurricanes; he has thrown them paper towels in lieu of helping them restore power, schools, jobs, and infrastructure. He has denounced immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa as coming from supposed "shithole countries". He is intensifying the danger of a horrifying nuclear war through criminal brinkmanship in Korea and Iran. He is cutting back on health care programs, eliminating environmental protections, denying the danger of climate change, backing sexual harassers like Roy Moore, stealing from the poor to give tax breaks to the rich, and more. But first and foremost, he makes sure to display his racism and bigotry.
Trump is not going to show the people mercy. His presidency shows how deeply embedded racism is among the business class and the millionaires of this country. But the civil rights movement showed that when the masses of people take matters into their own hands, change is possible. And today we see the emergence of a broad mass struggle in the streets, from Black Lives Matter, to the women's movement, to the struggle in defense of immigrants, etc. Just as the Iranian working people came out onto the streets with over a week of demonstrations against the oppression there, we need to take part in the militant protest movements here.
But both in Iran and here, we are faced with the question of orientation - how not only to have large protests, but a solid movement that won't die out. In Iran, over the last few years the movement has changed so that the "moderate" section of the clergy is being denounced as well as the hardliners. Here in the US similar issues exist. The Democratic Party leaders have dragged their feet in the struggle against Trump, because they represent the same capitalist class as the Republicans do, and they play up to millionaire backers. The Democratic Party establishment won't even allow the rank-and-file to choose candidates, and it keeps looking for bipartisan cooperation with Trump.
So we need to build a new movement, not just repeat the past. As we enter 2018, the second year of the Trump presidency, we see that we are going to suffer for a long time from the judges appointed by Trump, and the agenda pushed by Trump. The large demonstrations of the first year were important, but it's clear that we need organization for a protracted struggle. So let's increase the level of political discussion among our friends and at school and work. Let's draw out the class issues involved in the dramatic political events of the day, and show that Trump's ignorance and bigotry is the ignorance and bigotry of his rich and privileged capitalist backers. Let's stress the need to unify the working class to fight back. Let's continue to participate in all the mass protests, like the anti-racist marches on MLK Day, and seek to unite with like-minded people to build a working-class movement.
By doing these things, we'll be helping to build the kind of independent political movement needed to fight today's poverty and racism. And we will be taking a step towards overthrowing the capitalist rule of the rich over the working majority. <>
The Islamic Republic may appear stable, but it has been decaying
the surface, and it has been shaken by one mass upsurge after another.
There was the "Green Movement" in 2009 against the stealing of the
presidential election by the hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And for
years now there has been a persistent series of labor protests, taken
despite the lack of legal channels, the ban on independent unions, and
the brutal punishments. Indeed it is notable that the recent mass
protests have been composed largely of workers and the poor while the
Green Movement of 2009 had been largely based on the middle-class. ...
The mass protests show a radicalization of the working people, many of whom are opposing not just this or that faction of the theocratic ruling class of the Islamic Republic, but the regime as a whole. The country has changed since the protests of 2009 when large numbers of people took to the streets to demand that the moderate fundamentalist Mir-Hossein Mousavi be president instead of the hardliner Ahmadinejad. Today there are slogans against both hardliner Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and against moderate president Hassan Rouhani.
(The full article in the leaflet is a condensed version of an article from the Jan. 2, 2018 issue of the D/SWV list, which can be read at www.communistvoice.org/DSWV-180102.html.)
The Russian revolution couldn't have taken place without a struggle lasting years against those who wanted to reconcile with capitalism. These were those who advocated a mutilated or revised form of Marxism or socialism that left out the revolution.
But a new form of revisionism later arose within the communist movement itself. This was Stalinism, but also Trotskyism - despite their fierce fight against each other, Stalinism and Trotskyism resemble each other in many ways. Both Stalinists and most Trotskyists regard many oppressive regimes as socialist or workers' regimes, albeit perhaps ugly or "deformed" workers' regimes. This has created a situation in which many on the left have opposed the uprising against the Assad dictatorship in Syria or prettify the ugly Kim Jong Un regime in North Korea. The sad truth is that neither Stalinism, Trotskyism, anarchism, nor left communism takes serious account of the major changes in the world situation; these trends have ossified into sterile rigidity; they think the world will come to them and their catchphrases, rather then the left having to adjust to the world.
We in Detroit Workers' Voice come from a different trend of activists, one that originated in the mass upsurge of the 1960s. The clearest activists from that time knew that something was wrong with the supposed communism of the Soviet Union and the pro-Soviet parties, but differed on what should be built in its place. The turbulent 1960s and 70s saw in the US such things as the struggle against the Vietnam war; the solidarity movement with the national liberation struggles in Africa and elsewhere; the great anti-racist movement; workers' strikes; the growth of the women's movement; etc.
This was not just a time of mass actions, but of the search for a proper revolutionary theory. ... We began to oppose the false communists as "revisionists", who had distorted Marxism in order to justify betrayal of the working class struggle.
This anti-revisionist wave was eventually defeated, and only fragments still exist. As a result, today the Stalinists and Trotskyists dominate what is regarded as the communist movement. In this situation, it has become fashionable to ridicule the anti-revisionist movement of the past, and the way it crumbled into pieces. But at its best, the anti-revisionist movement, or new communist movement as it was sometimes called, brought forward theoretical issues of vital importance; it gained support at many workplaces among workers fed up with the liberals and the labor bureaucrats; and it gave immense support to liberation struggles of many sorts.
(The full article in the leaflet is a condensed version of an article from the Dec. 8, 2017 issue of the D/SWV list, which can be read at www.communistvoice.org/DSWV-171208.html.)
The full pdf version of DWV #125 can be found at www.communistvoice.org/DWV125.pdf. <>
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