“The Socialist Workers Party campaign presents a road forward for working-class struggle to advance the self-confidence, fighting capacities and class consciousness of working people,” Alyson Kennedy, SWP candidate for president in 2020, told the Militant. The party announced Jan. 29 that she and Malcolm Jarrett, the party’s vice presidential candidate, were heading its 2020 national ticket.
“What our campaign explains is that working people have the capacities to fight for better wages, working conditions and defend our rights, and will transform ourselves in the course of our struggles in the years ahead, becoming capable of running society ourselves,” Kennedy added. She and Jarrett spoke to the Militant by phone.
By joining workers’ battles and speaking out in defense of all the oppressed and exploited, workers can unite and strengthen ourselves for bigger battles to come, she said. Struggles in which the only class capable of bringing an end to the class dictatorship of the capitalist rulers — the working class — will have an opportunity to do so.
“Establishing our own party, a labor party, and fighting for a workers and farmers government,” Jarrett pointed out, “creates the best conditions possible for workers and our allies to deepen the struggle to eradicate all exploitation and oppression.”
That is the only realistic and optimistic alternative to the crisis-wracked capitalist system and the rulers’ parties that defend it today, the Democrats and Republicans, and any others that emerge in the future, he added.
Kennedy invited all those interested in this perspective to join with SWP campaigners as they discuss this with workers on their doorsteps in cities, towns and rural areas, at strike picket lines and at other protests.
Both candidates have decades of experience as part of hard-fought union battles, fights against racist discrimination, for women’s rights and against the wars the U.S. rulers wage around the world.
Some workers are finding ways to resist, from copper workers in their strike against Asarco in Arizona and Texas to coal miners in Kentucky who blocked rail tracks to win pay owed them from their bosses. Kennedy has joined Asarco strikers on their picket line in Amarillo, Texas, and calls for more solidarity.
Workers control over production
Kennedy and Jarrett will be speaking around the country and abroad to discuss what working people can do together and to win others to campaign alongside them. They will be joined by SWP candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress and other offices.
As they do so they will explain how the bosses are seeking a way out of the deepening crisis of their capitalist system by attacking workers and farmers to make us pay for it. They are throwing workers on the street, speeding up production and putting more on the backs of those left, creating increasingly dangerous conditions for working people.
“When I got hired in the coal mines in 1981, miners had already fought and won the right to shut down production if conditions were dangerous, as a result of organizing a powerful fighting movement,” Kennedy told the Militant.
Those gains have been largely eroded today, she explained, and — for now — there are fewer struggles. “But workers are looking for ways to fight for safer working conditions.” She pointed to the support rail workers in Canada won from fellow workers and farmers when they organized a strike for safety last fall after Canadian National bosses tried to cut crew sizes and reduce rest periods last November.
“Most workers don’t have a union, but they’re not keeping quiet,” she said, describing how workers at a Chicago Walmart refused to work in hazardous waste recently, despite bosses insisting they do so, after several sewage spills in the tire and lube department.
The SWP urges a fight to extend workers control over production “so that workers can look out for themselves and those in the communities that surround the places where we work,” Kennedy said. “We need to see ourselves as the stewards of the environment against a destructive dog-eat-dog social system that organizes production solely for profits.”
The fight for workers control on the job is the seed of broader struggles — a step towards reorganizing all society and placing planning and direction of the economy under the control of the working class. “To do that will take a social revolution,” Kennedy explains. “Working people throughout history have demonstrated over and over our capacities to wage struggles in our interests.” She pointed to the working-class-led movement that mobilized millions to tear down Jim Crow segregation, changing the attitudes of millions forever.
Cuban Revolution an example
Jarrett will join a team of SWP members from the United States to participate in the Havana International Book Fair in February. “The Cuban Revolution shows that life-changing revolutionary struggle by working people can triumph and that by forging the leadership we need workers and our allies can win,” Jarrett said.
Kennedy discussed the example of Cuba’s revolutionary leadership Jan. 24 when she and other SWP members campaigned in an area of northwest Dallas that was struck by a tornado last October.
“There was no alarm to warn us about the tornado,” Rogelio Rodríguez told Kennedy. More than four months later many buildings, homes and schools in the area have not been repaired.
Kennedy had visited Cuba shortly after Hurricane Irma hit the island in 2017. The revolutionary government, she told Rodríguez, “mobilized construction, electrical and other working people to begin reconstruction and restoring electrical power immediately.”
And the same working-class solidarity guides the Cuban Revolution’s internationalist foreign policy, she said, pointing to the decisive role of Cuban medical volunteers in eradicating Ebola in West Africa.
Rodríguez was sympathetic, but said his concern was that “nobody can take power from the rich.”
“The history of working-class struggles gives the SWP confidence we can build a different kind of society that truly represents humanity, if we organize and fight,” Kennedy replied.
Capitalism has no concern for workers’ welfare or our future, only for whatever can make them money off our backs. The SWP candidates explain how through the fight for a workers and farmers government — like the Cuban Revolution established — we will be able to deal with whatever we confront.
Working people in power and united to build a world based on human need, not profits, will step forward to use the unlimited power of our labor, and harness science and culture. There are no challenges facing humanity that can’t be confronted and solved — from the capitalists’ despoliation of our environment to expanding the safe use of nuclear power to preparing and meeting the destructive force of hurricanes, wildfires or earthquakes — with this revolutionary perspective.
Fight to unify working people
“We join every fight that helps cut across the divisions the capitalist rulers try to impose to weaken our class and cut us off from our natural allies,” Jarrett told the Militant. “We fight against racist discrimination, for the rights of women, and for amnesty for all immigrants here. We speak out against the poison of Jew-hatred.”
“President Trump says he is the ‘peace and prosperity’ candidate, while millions of workers are still living paycheck-to-paycheck, and the U.S. rulers maintain tens of thousands of troops around the world to defend their imperialist interests,” Kennedy said.
“He says he’ll establish peace by making Washington’s war machine ever more menacing, but the ‘peace’ he promotes relies on the threat of U.S. military might to ensure the rulers can plunder the world.”
The Democratic challengers are no different. Most modern U.S. wars were launched by Democratic administrations — from Kennedy in Vietnam to the overthrow of the Libyan government under Barack Obama in 2011. And for over 60 years, under Democrats and Republicans alike, the U.S. rulers have ruthlessly tried to strangle the Cuban Revolution.
Workers need our own foreign policy
The working class needs its own foreign policy, Kennedy said, one that explains that when Washington says its war moves are to defend all “our” interests, it’s a lie. Workers and the bosses have diametrically opposed interests, both at home and abroad. Washington’s trade conflicts; its punishing sanctions against the peoples of Korea and Iran; the military assaults it unleashes, are all aimed at defending the capitalist rulers’ interests, not those of working people.
“My party’s campaign says bring all U.S. troops home from the Middle East,” Kennedy said. “And it urges solidarity with working people in Iran and Iraq who are protesting in the streets against their governments’ repression at home and Tehran’s reactionary interference in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.
“Endorse the campaign, organize house meetings where your friends, neighbors and co-workers can hear the SWP program and join us as we campaign across the country,” Jarrett said.
“This is something truly worthwhile.”
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