SWP statement

In struggle, workers advance unity, class consciousness

February 8, 2021

Statement by Willie Cotton, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York City public advocate, released Jan 27.

Socialist Workers Party candidates here in New York and across the country offer the only campaigns that are part of and champion struggles by workers for jobs, better wages, for increasing workers control of production and safety, and by farmers defending their livelihoods. Joining strike picket lines, protests against cop brutality, actions to defend a woman’s right to choose abortion, and other battles by working people, SWP candidates set an example of what workers can do together to defend ourselves and present a program that offers a way forward.

Driven by the crisis of their capitalist system, bosses are cutting jobs, speeding up production lines and cramming workers into confined spaces, where coronavirus spreads, to try and boost sagging profits. Under capitalist rule production is organized with no concern for our lives or limbs; for the safety of those who live near factories, refineries and other workplaces; or the soil, air and water, which is being contaminated.

Changing administrations in Washington, D.C., has done nothing to halt this. The Democrats and Republicans are both parties of the capitalist rulers committed to protecting the bosses’ profits at the expense of workers and farmers, regardless of the consequences to the world we live in.

All work can be performed safely. No worker has to die on the job. But for that to become a reality workers must organize together to take control of production from the bosses.

Our labor produces all wealth and we are the only force capable of organizing work safely. Fighting for this is the road to end the bosses’ production of goods that self-destruct, often with catastrophic consequences, like Boeing’s 737 Max, and their waste of precious resources. By taking control of all aspects of production, we can use the full potential of our labor to make food, shelter, vaccines and many other things humanity needs. And we can do so safely.

Under capitalism, moves to confront the COVID-19 pandemic are left to Big Pharma and other medical industry bosses. Their goal is to make profits, not make people healthy. Workers taking control over production and distribution would have sharply different priorities.

Previous working-class struggles show what we are capable of. In the late 1960s coal miners transformed the United Mine Workers union and led a social movement, including strikes and protests, to push back the scourge of black lung, an incurable and often fatal disease. Their determined struggle led to establishing community health clinics throughout mining areas and union safety committees with the power to shut down production in the mine over health and safety issues. Black lung cases plummeted.

These gains were intolerable to the coal bosses, who shifted production to the mostly nonunion Powder River Basin in the West, and the UMW weakened. But the fight miners waged remains a powerful example of what our class can and must do today.

As workers deepen our struggles and take increasing control over production, we begin to see our real capacities, to learn our worth. And we become class conscious. The capitalists try to pound into us the idea we aren’t smart enough to do anything important, leave the big questions to them. But the fact is they increasingly fear us. Working people can take control and run the entire economy.

That’s what working people of Cuba did when they made a revolution in 1959 and have defended it against Washington’s ceaseless attacks for 62 years. It’s an example to study and emulate.

We need to build a fighting union movement of millions and a leadership capable of charting a course to overturn the rule of the exploiting capitalist class and bring to power a workers and farmers government.

Join the SWP campaign to further this course. Help us get on the ballot. This is a life truly worth living.