Support the Million Worker March
Two hundred ten endorsers, including national unions, citywide AFL-CIO Labor Councils, national and regional civil rights and civil liberties organizations, as well as national and local antiwar coalitions — representing over a million workers — have endorsed the Million Worker March (MWM). The March is scheduled to take place in the nation’s capitol on October 17.
The “Mission Statement” of the Million Worker March, begins with this short paragraph:
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The initiative for this potentially historic event in Washington D.C. this month came from a group of rank-and-file members of ILWU Local 10 (SF Bay Area dock workers). Initially endorsed by the leaders and members of Local 10, the idea of masses of workers marching on Washington in their own name and in their own class interests caught the imagination of thousands of militant trade union and left-wing political activists across the country. They picked up the ball set rolling by the small San Francisco dockworkers local union. And despite the opposition of the AFL-CIO top officialdom—which has repeatedly warned its affiliates against supporting or attending the MWM—March organizers managed to work the small miracle of mobilizing significant trade union support.
One of the crucial steps taken by the initial leaders of the Million Workers March, which had the effect of indelibly stamping the class character of the MWM as a workers’ movement independent of the capitalist class was to pledge that there would be no politicians on the speakers’ stand in Washington on October 17.
This pledge, to be sure, was not meant by its advocates to be a blind rejection of politics and all politicians. After all, there is every reason for working people to take political, as well as economic action to stop and reverse the decades-long assault on their living standards by corporate America and its bipartisan capitalist government. The MWM organizers knew, however, that a mass workers’ march on the nation’s capital—barely two weeks before the election would inevitably prompt vote-hungry “pro-labor” capitalist politicians to try to give substance to their pretence of being “friends” of the workers by appearing on the MWM speaker’s platform.
But real “friends of labor” do not pass one anti-worker law after another. “Friends of labor” do not consistently slash taxes on the rich and super-rich and make up for the budget shortfall by consistently raising taxes on workers. “Friends of labor” do not slash Social Security retirement benefits and increase the SS tax exclusively on workers at the same time. The litany of anti-worker, anti-poor people laws passed by the capitalist parties goes on endlessly.
In other words, the clearly stated intention of those who introduced and supported the motion to exclude politicians was directed at capitalist politicians. And that is an indispensable requirement of a principled workers’ movement.
The importance of class independence cannot be exaggerated. It is the principle upon which the labor movement was founded. It’s why all genuine unions, including the AFL-CIO, exclude capitalists from holding membership in their class organizations. The historic slogan of the labor movement, “An injury to one is an injury to all!” refers exclusively to workers and other victims of capitalist social, economic and political injustice—not to those who are source of their injuries!
Reneging on its pledge?
However, that pledge appears to have been broken with the announcement by MWM organizers that leading Democratic Party politician Jesse Jackson has been invited to speak at the rally on October 17. As could be expected, there has been an outcry against it by many supporters of the MWM who understand that Jackson’s appearance on the platform would be a big mistake.
The rationalization, of course, for including this capitalist politician on the MWM platform is that it will attract more people to the March. But with the presidential election barely two weeks later, Jackson’s presence would not only imply that he supports the demands of the March, but that a vote for his candidate—John Kerry—would help workers realize their demands!
At the moment this is being written it was reported that the March organizers, faced with an outcry from many of the movement’s supporters and threats by some to boycott the March in protest, have felt obliged to demand that Jackson sign a pledge that he will not refer to his support for his party’s candidate for U.S. president, John Kerry.
But even if he signed such a pledge, his presence on the MWM speakers’ stand on October 17 would speak far louder than words and dilute the movement’s commitment to working-class independent political action. All he would have to do would be to sharply denounce President Bush while not saying a word for Kerry. Jackson’s message would be crystal clear: “Vote for Kerry!”
Why MWM still deserves all-out, unqualified support
It would be a mistake, however, for class-conscious workers to boycott this attempt to mobilize masses of workers around the principle of working class independent political action. We still strongly urge working people to support and attend the MWM action in Washington on the 17th. There are four main reasons why this is absolutely necessary:
First and most importantly, there is a chance that ongoing pressure by MWM supporters will force the organizers to withdraw their invitation to Jackson or any other capitalist politician.
Second, it is to be hoped that most of the speakers on the MWM platform will surely be those who will faithfully advance the aims and purposes of its program of action and its list of demands—and denounce both Democrats and Republicans for their pro-war, pro-capitalist, racist, sexist, xenophobic record.
Third, those who participate in the action on the 17th will no doubt voice their sentiments in response to the clearest and most consistent champions of class independence and give Jackson the reception he truly deserves—boos, not cheers.
And fourth, because the very act of making a serious effort to mobilize a million workers in their own name, for their own class interests, even if not fully achieved on October 17, will serve as a small but important step toward the movement’s declared goal. Even if the turnout only numbers in the thousands, it would be a significant step toward constructing a fighting workers’ movement—a class struggle left wing of the American labor movement.
Let’s take a look at the list of MWM demands, which a significant number of local and national unions have helped popularize and legitimatize, by endorsing the October 17 March on Washington:
Demands of the Million Worker March
We Seek to Secure:
- Universal single-care health care from cradle to grave that ends the stranglehold of greedy insurance companies and secures health care as a right of all people in America.
- A national living wage that lifts people permanently out of poverty.
- Protection and enhancement of Social Security immune to privatization.
- Guaranteed pensions that sustain a decent life for all working people.
- The cancellation of all corporate “free” trade agreements, including NAFTA, MAI and FTAA.
- An end to privatization, contracting out, deregulation and the pitting of workers against each other across national boundaries in a mad race to the bottom.
- For workers’ right to organize and for a repeal of Taft-Hartley and all anti-labor legislation.
- Funding public education in a crash program to restore our decaying and abandoned schools with state of the art school facilities in every community.
- Funding a vast army of teachers to end functional illiteracy in America and unleash the talent and potential of our abandoned children and adults.
- Launching a national training program in skills and capacities that will enlist our people in rebuilding our country and putting an end to both the criminalization of poverty and the prison-industrial complex.
- Rebuilding our decaying inner cities with clean, modern and affordable housing and eliminating homelessness in America with guaranteed housing and jobs for all.
- Progressive taxation that increases taxation on corporations and the rich while providing relief for the working class and poor.
- An end to the poisoning of the atmosphere, soil, water and food supply with a national emergency program to restore the environment, end global warming and preserve our endangered eco-system.
- Creating efficient, modern and free mass transit in every city and town.
- Repeal of the Patriot Act, Anti-Terrorism Act and all such repressive legislation.
- Slash the military budget and recover the trillions of dollars stolen from our labor to enrich the corporations that profit from war.
- Open the books on the secret budgets of the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies in the service of corporations and banks and the pursuit of imperial war on the poor everywhere.
- Extend democracy to our economic structure so that all decisions affecting the lives of our citizens are made by working people who produce all value through their labor.
- An aggressive enforcement of all civil rights and a national education campaign and mobilization against all racist and discriminatory acts in the work place and in our communities.
- Amnesty for all undocumented workers
- Increase in federal funding for the Arts in public schools
- For a democratic media that allow labor and all voices to be heard and oppose monopolization and union busting of media workers.
It seems to us that these demands around which the Million Worker March is organized are enough to justify the call for the largest mobilization of working people and their natural allies possible in Washington DC on October 17.
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How Many More Wars For Oil Ahead?
This edition of Socialist Viewpoint includes two very important reports—“Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet” and “The End of Easy Oil.” They paint a graphic picture of the central role that is now being played by oil (also known as “Black Gold”) in world politics. This fact has been grasped by tens of millions of the world’s peoples and was made manifest by the popular slogan embraced by millions of antiwar demonstrators before and during the invasion and occupation of Iraq—“No Blood for Oil!”
No one understands this new reality better than the Iraqi people and other inhabitants of the oil-rich nations of the world. They are the real target of the so-called War on Terrorism.
These two reports provide convincing evidence for the popular belief that the main reason for the U.S. imperialist predatory war on Iraq is its thirst for oil. It’s why both major parties and their presidential candidates have made crystal clear that they have supported the war from the outset—Democratic Party double-speak notwithstanding. It’s why Kerry and Bush, in the first of their three scheduled debates, were in agreement on attacking Iraq and “staying the course” there to the bitter end.
Kerry’s alibi that Bush lied is pure hogwash. In fact, the New York Times admitted a few months ago that its editorial policy had played a major role in withholding the plethora of evidence countering the myth that Iraq possessed chemical, biological and—were well on their way toward the construction of—atomic weapons of mass destruction. (The same can be said about the rest of the capitalist mass media monopoly, although the Times, which is known as the nation’s “Newspaper of Record,” and whose mast head contains the motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” has a special responsibility for honoring truth in reporting. And half the truth is a lie!)
Even now, the mass media goes as far as they think they can get away with to conceal from the public convincing evidence that Washington’s rationalizations for U.S. foreign policy are based on outright lies.
Both Bush and Kerry are liars
The fact that President Bush has seized on his Democratic Party challenger’s shifting stance on Iraq should not lead those who see Bush as the so-called “greater evil” to blind themselves to the fact that Kerry voted to give carte-blanche support to Bush to launch an invasion on Iraq. Moreover, he made crystal clear in the first debate with Bush that he continues to support the war as well as its aims and purposes.
To be sure, he sought to differentiate himself from Bush by giving lip-service to antiwar sentiment. But at the same time he reaffirmed the fact of his vote for the wars on both Afghanistan and Iraq—albeit with “amendments” like demanding a role in these wars for America’s imperialist allies and their front organization, the United Nations. But that’s also Bush’s position. He is certainly in favor of getting all the support he can get—politically, financially as well as militarily for the U.S. War on Iraq!
And to top that off, Kerry has voted for and continues to give unqualified support to Bush’s War on “Terrorism,” that is just imperialist double-speak for a war against all the world’s captive nations who dare to resist imperialism’s ruthless policy of super-exploitation and oppression of the neocolonial world.
Who is really for and against the War on Terrorism?
But what about the resistance offered by China, France, and Russia, which decisively blocked the UN from sanctioning the War on Iraq? (Germany and many other nations not represented on the Security Council also opposed sanctioning the U.S., but have no vote on the UN Security Council—where it counts. Does that mean that they were opposed to the War on Iraq?
Not at all. But its on this question that the following two reports on the predominant role of oil in world politics are most relevant and most revealing. Not only do they serve to reinforce the thesis embraced by the great majority of the peoples of the world that the War on Iraq is really about trading “Blood for Oil,” but they provide a clear picture of how the U.S. has followed a policy designed to block their allies from sharing in the plunder of Iraq’s vast oil deposits—providing, of course, they can suppress Iraqi resistance.
But that’s where their best-laid plans for a quick victory and re-stabilization of a defeated Iraq went awry and the cost in U.S. lives promises to approach levels suffered in the Vietnam War. It appears that there are only two ways that American imperialism can successfully carry out its plans to a satisfactory conclusion:
1. The way things are going around the world, the U.S. ruling class cannot afford to reassign U.S. military forces to Iraq from its 6000 bases in the U.S. and its territories and the more than half a million troops and civilian military personnel girdling the globe. Already signals are being sent that Washington intends a reinstitution of the draft. And if anyone thinks that’s going to be easy, they got another think coming.
2. The only other option the U.S. government has is to negotiate an acceptable deal with its reluctant imperialist allies. That will require the U.S. to grant them a share of the plunder in exchange for their military aid in suppressing the Iraqi insurgency. They will also have to come to terms on sharing a portion of the costs of the war. But they won’t get the help they need without guaranteeing their allies their “fair share” of the loot, and permanent access to Middle East oil.
The facts reported in the two reports that follow this editorial also help explain the real nature of the oil crisis that has resulted in an unpredictable long-term rise in the price of oil and other sources of energy. That is, while there may well be enough oil to supply world needs for the foreseeable future, the easily accessible oil fields have already been seriously diminished.
That means that cheap and plentiful oil is steadily being used up, and wells must be dug deeper on land and sea causing the average price of energy to rise to unacceptable levels. That is, the source of the deepening economic crisis boils down to the contradiction between the steadily increasing productivity of modern industry, the need for fewer workers to keep the economy going, and the resulting decline in mass purchasing power.
(That’s why there has been an unrelenting and accelerating attack by all capitalist governments on the living standards of the workers. The less paid to workers, the higher are capitalist profits—and vice versa, the more paid workers, the lower are profits.)
But the cost of raw materials and other costs of production also figure in the determination of the average rate of profit. And it is an iron law of capitalist production that capitalists cannot afford to continue the given rate of production if the rate of profit falls below an acceptable level.
Thus the experts are warning that the price of oil, which has reached 50 dollars for a barrel of crude, threatens to go higher with one predicting the likelihood of 60 or more dollars a barrel if the already rebellious peoples in oil-rich countries like Nigeria break out of the control of their repressive dictatorial governments. All of these governments are dependent on one or another of the world’s major imperialist powers.
An increase in the price of oil will contribute to the forces leading to a major global crisis of overproduction that promises to be far more destructive than was the Great Depression.
That’s what the War on Terrorism is really all about!
End the War on Terrorism, End the Occupation, Withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq and everywhere else in the world!