Working people need our own political party, a labor party, that we can use to defend our interests, independent from and politically opposed to the Democrats and Republicans, the twin parties of the capitalist rulers.
Alternating in office for decades, whoever is “out” claims to be the party of “change.” Each exists to protect the interests of the exploiting ruling families against those of workers and farmers. Neither of them can be turned into a political force for working-class interests.
It is indispensable for workers to build our own party — not one that runs for office every few years, but a party that organizes and champions our struggles for jobs, higher wages, union rights and safer working conditions, 365 days a year. One that builds working-class solidarity and points to the interests workers across the world hold in common. A party that fights against the bosses’ efforts to turn our youth into cannon fodder for their imperialist wars abroad.
Such a party would attract all those outraged by the devastating impact of the unfolding crisis, repulsed by the indifference of the capitalist rulers to the conditions workers face, and attracted to finding ways to stand up to and push back the bosses’ assaults.
The Socialist Workers Party 2020 candidates offered an example of what a labor party would do. They told the truth about the crisis the capitalist rulers have wrought and the brutal conditions workers face. They advanced an action program of resolute working-class struggle to change them. They joined picket lines of striking fruit packers, protests by truck drivers, strikes by shipbuilders in Maine, demonstrations against cop brutality and many other actions, on and off the job, and built solidarity with those battles in the interests of the working class.
The SWP campaign said workers need to organize to fight growing employer attacks today on our jobs, wages, working conditions and our health. On this course we can build and use union power on our own behalf, and for all workers, farmers and others suffering blows from the employing class.
Millions need jobs today! We need to fight for a government-funded public works program to put millions to work at union scale, building hospitals, housing, schools and other things workers and farmers need.
Our unions need to fight for a sliding scale of hours and wages to stop any further layoffs and the effects of runaway prices. Cut the workweek with no cut in pay! For cost-of-living clauses in every contract that raise pay and retirement benefits to offset every rise in prices. Demand immediate federal unemployment benefits at union scale for all those thrown out of work.
SWP campaigners joined other workers finding ways to stand up to bosses’ moves to force workers to work in unsafe conditions. They explained that to protect our health and safety, workers need to wrest more and more control of production out of the bosses’ hands.
As workers exercise increasing control of production we’ll learn more about our capacities and come to recognize that it is possible for our class to run the entire economy in the interests of the great majority.
Through these struggles we will gain self-confidence and increasing class consciousness. We’ll become, as Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara put it, new men and women, capable of taking our destiny into our hands.
These battles are the road to building and using a labor party to chart a course to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers and establish a workers and farmers government.
Doing so would open the door to a different class alliance holding power, one that would use the power of its own state to make cradle-to-grave health care for all a reality.
It would place the protection of the natural environment in the hands of those whose labor produces all wealth, not those who live by the plunder of resources and the exploitation of others. It would give working people the most powerful weapon possible to lead forward the struggle to eradicate racism, the subjugation of women and all other oppressive relations inherited from class society, once and for all.
Changing administrations in Washington will not halt the debilitating effect of mass unemployment, nor the deadly effects of a for-profit, class-divided health industry. But united, disciplined and determined action by workers and farmers — something the bosses and their two parties always tell us is impossible — can do so.
That’s what we need to fight for.