Defend political rights won in blood!

December 6, 2021

Under capitalist rule, the bosses use their courts, cops and control of state power to advance and defend their drive to extract maximum profits from the labor of working people at home and abroad.

Bosses got compliant judges to issue restraining orders attacking strikes by miners at Warrior Met Coal in Alabama and Kellogg’s bakery workers in Omaha, Nebraska. The rulings hamstring these unionists’ ability to picket effectively, a crucial weapon in the fight to improve wages and working conditions. Getting out the word and winning widespread solidarity from fellow workers and the labor movement is sorely needed to strengthen the workers in the face of these attacks.

As workers organize to defend ourselves, every right we have conquered through centuries of hard-fought struggle is precious.

Capitalist rule in the U.S. emerged out of two great social revolutions — the revolutionary war to overthrow colonial subjugation by the British crown and the Civil War that eradicated chattel slavery a century later. Through these mighty class battles, rights were won that are written into the Constitution, including the Reconstruction era 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. They protect working people from government interference and unequal treatment, and have been used by working people to discuss, organize and act in our class interests, building unions, overthrowing Jim Crow segregation, and fighting to wrest back from the capitalist rulers the wealth our labor produces.

Millions of workers caught up in the capitalist “justice” system have experienced firsthand how cops, prosecutors and judges act on the assumption we are criminals. We have a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof lies with the state. We have a right to a trial, by a jury of our peers.

The capitalists continually try to erode these rights as they fight to maintain their crisis-ridden system. During the mass struggles that built the industrial unions in the 1930s, the Black-led movement that smashed Jim Crow, and struggles against the imperialist rulers’ wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, working-class fighters were targeted by the FBI and cops, forced to defend themselves from entrapment, frame-ups and victimization.

Working people have a crucial stake in defending these rights, no matter who is in the defendant’s chair. We need to act on the fact that at some time we will find ourselves there. Our unions must speak out against every injustice perpetrated by the cops and courts.

The facts presented in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse clearly showed he was not guilty of murder in the killing of two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and that he acted in self-defense. The jury voted unanimously after lengthy deliberation. But it did not stop liberals, from the president on down, and middle-class radicals from disregarding the evidence, vilifying Rittenhouse as a “white supremacist,” denouncing the verdict as racist, and, in some cities, visiting destruction in working-class neighborhoods. They trampled on rights working people and our unions need.

Defending our fundamental political rights, is critical for the working class and our struggles — today and in bigger battles to come.