ATLANTA — “The Socialist Workers Party met the test of the capitalist crisis and pandemic over the past 15 months — in program and action,” SWP National Committee member Steve Clark told 50 people at a Militant Labor Forum here June 26. “We kept going more broadly among working people with our program, our election campaigns and solidarity with the working-class struggles today. And we’re continuing to do so.”
Participants in the forum came from Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and elsewhere. It was held in conjunction with a leadership meeting of SWP supporters, who produce books used in party activity and help raise funds for the work of the party.
The event was chaired by Atlanta SWP mayoral candidate Rachele Fruit, who introduced her running mate, Sam Manuel, SWP candidate for Atlanta City Council president. The forum opened with remarks by Anthony Dutrow, SWP mayoral candidate from Miami. Dutrow described how the catastrophic building collapse in Florida two days earlier was a product of the capitalist system that puts profits above human safety and well-being.
Clark noted important labor fights taking place today, including the United Mine Workers strike at Warrior Met Coal in Alabama, Teamsters fighting a company lockout at Marathon Petroleum in Minnesota, United Auto Workers on strike at Volvo Truck in Virginia, Steelworkers on the picket line at several ATI plants, and more.
“Through keeping our fire on the bosses and mobilizing union and working-class solidarity, we can begin scoring some victories and rebuild and strengthen our unions as fighting instruments,” Clark said.
Socialist Workers Party campaigns
Clark called attention to political lessons of the Cuban Revolution for the SWP 2021 election campaigns. The national ticket of SWP candidates will be on the ballot in seven states and are running in five other cities.
Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others, Clark said, led workers and farmers in Cuba to take power, deepen inroads against capitalist exploitation and property, and recognize both the socialist character of the revolution they were making and the Marxist politics of those leading that revolution.
“That revolutionary working-class course is what our SWP election campaigns are about,” Clark said. “We popularize our program and build solidarity with workers’ struggles today. Most importantly we point to the working-class struggle for a socialist revolution that’s needed here and the Marxist leadership necessary to lead workers and our allies in such a revolution.”
He urged participants to join SWP candidates and supporters to campaign in workers’ neighborhoods, on picket lines and elsewhere to see for themselves how these discussions unfold.
Unconditional recognition of Israel
Clark also addressed the fight against Jew-hatred and the SWP’s call for unconditional recognition of Israel. “The state of Israel is a product of the Holocaust and slaughter of some 6 million Jews,” he said, “as well as the treachery of the world Stalinist movement and parties in blocking extension of the socialist revolution in France, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere in the 1930s and after World War II.” Both before and after the imperialist carnage, Washington and London rejected opening their doors to Jewish refugees.
Clark pointed to Cuban President Fidel Castro’s unequivocal defense of Israel’s right to exist in a 2010 interview with U.S. journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in Atlantic magazine. “There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust,” Fidel said, calling on political figures in the Middle East to acknowledge “the ‘unique’ history of anti-Semitism and trying to understand why Israelis fear for their existence.”
Clark noted the rise in Jew-hating violence and vandalism the world over. So-called Free Palestine demonstrations across the country aren’t ones the working-class movement should join. “We don’t belong there,” he said. They have nothing to do with freedom or national liberation of any kind.
“Hamas’ slogan, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ means free of Jews. The founding document of Hamas says, ‘Kill the Jews,’ and that Israel has no right to exist. The Israeli government will take defensive military action when its civilian areas are targeted by thousands of missiles launched by Hamas. Jews in Israel are determined, correctly so, that there will never be a second ‘Final Solution.’”
The aim of the Israeli government and Israel Defense Forces is not to kill civilians in Gaza. Israeli airstrikes weren’t aimed at civilian targets, Clark said. But what was exposed during the recent fighting was Hamas’ massive network of tunnels and rocket launchers under schools and in neighborhoods.
“Now let’s imagine that I were Netanyahu,” Castro told Goldberg in the 2010 interview. “I would remember that 6 million Jewish men and women, of all ages were exterminated in the concentration camps.”
Clark urged everyone to read Abram Leon’s book The Jewish Question, published by Pathfinder. It describes the social and economic place of Jews from antiquity through the Middle Ages and into the 20th century. And how, with the rise of capitalism, the propertied ruling classes, at times of deepening crisis, twist that history to single out Jews as scapegoats to divert hatred away from themselves for the conditions ruined middle classes and layers of toilers face due to the rule of capital.
“Communist parties don’t tolerate Jew-hatred in any form as we help lead the working class to fight for state power against the imperialist rulers here or anywhere,” Clark said. SWP candidates explain that only the extension of the world socialist revolution opens the door to the fight to end Jew-hatred and all forms of capitalist oppression and exploitation once and for all.
Clark addressed a number of other themes in his talk and the lively discussion afterwards. These included the blows to working-class unity and clarity dealt by rising “wokery” promoted by privileged meritocratic class layers of all skin colors and radicals and the left who follow their political lead; the place of Malcolm X as a revolutionary leader of the working class; and the course of the SWP campaign in defending political rights crucial for workers to organize and act independent of the imperialist state and the bosses’ Democratic and Republican parties.
That’s why, Clark said, the Socialist Workers Party is boldly taking its program and campaigns to working people, joining in today’s fights, and recruiting to the party.
Some $2,000 was raised in a fund appeal for the work of the 2021 SWP election campaigns and to ensure a place on the ballot for Sam Manuel, the SWP’s candidate for Atlanta City Council president.