Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

San Diego Organizing Committee (Marxist-Leninist)

May Day Speech 1976

First Published: May 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The May Day Committee has pointed out the general crisis of imperialism. Working people throughout the United States are experiencing deteriorating conditions both at work and in our society in general. In other imperialist countries and in all countries controlled by the imperialists, workers are experiencing the same deteriorating conditions. The imperialist system which dominates our lives is dying.

What is this domination based on? It is based on the fact that the means of production – the mines, the buildings, the machines, and the vast majority of land – is the private property of the small but powerful capitalist class. Workers do not own the means of production. Therefore workers are forced to sell their labor-power to capitalists in order to survive.

We all know that the capitalists do not pay us for the amount of work we do. They are only willing to pay us wages for part of the value we produce, only the wages which are absolutely necessary to maintain ourselves and our families. The rest of the value we produce, the surplus value, gets converted into their profits when they sell the products, the goods and services, we produce for them. This process is the exploitation of labor .... where a portion of our labor becomes their only source of profit!

Is this a crime? Yes, it is! What’s more, it is the most legal crime! It is the law itself that upholds the rights of private property, especially their right to rip off part of the value of our labor. It is the law itself which upholds the oppressive authority of the bosses over us in our work. And it is the force of the police, the courts, the prisons, and the armed forces that are used against us when we resist. The entire government is a tool of the capitalist class.

But the history of the exploitation and oppressive character of capitalism is also a history of the revolutionary workers’ struggles to abolish capitalism and build socialism. History has shown that ownership of the means of production is decisive in determining who has power in any society. Putting that control in the hands of those who produce the wealth, the working class, is the first step in creating the basis for real equality among all people.

The history of capitalism is also the history of workers spontaneous militant resistance. At first individually and then collectively in unions, workers have struggled for a greater share of the wealth they produce. The wages and benefits we enjoy above subsistence are largely the result of militant struggle by the working class. The economic struggle has had to take on the government – police attacks, court injunctions, spies in the unions, government troops. Concessions have been wrenched from the capitalist class – the right to form unions, the right to strike, protective legislation. But concessions are never permanent. Just like good union contracts, we see them being chipped away.

Why are we losing some of what the class has won in the past? For part of the answer we must look at our leadership in the trade unions. The current attacks on unions shows that the capitalist class knows what we know – that the strength of the working class lies in its organized will to fight. Confronting them are the mass organizations of the working class, the unions. But the unions are not united!

A reformist trade union bureaucracy has split the unions. It dominates the union rank-and-file. The reformist bureaucrats tell us that we can resolve our differences with the capitalists through legal reforms in the government. They spread illusions of class peace .... that the working class can and does live in harmony with the capitalist class. But our daily experience in production is one of struggle, not peace! Furthermore, our understanding of capitalism shows that the interests of the propertied capitalist class are opposite those of the property-less working class. Greater profits and wealth for them means lower wages and deteriorating living conditions for working people.

At the higher levels trade union bureaucrats are materially bribed with high salaries, privileges, and a life style more in keeping with the capitalist class than the working class they are supposed to serve. The source of these material bribes is the super-profits gained from U.S. imperialism’s super-exploitation of workers of other nationalities, both here and abroad.

At the local levels we find the petty union bureaucrats, those who, although they may not enjoy as great material benefits, show in their actions their alliance with their superiors. In practice the petty bureaucrats display their lack of faith in the masses of workers who want to resist the companies’ attacks on the unions. They show their fear of the rank-and-file workers’ initiative and revolutionary potential. Look at the recent strike experience in San Diego and the sell-out leadership shown by local bureaucrats in IAM Locals 685 and 389. In effect they are serving the interests of the companies and not the workers they are supposed to represent.

We will find some good leaders at the local trade union level. But their ability to do a good job is hampered by the great majority of petty bureaucrats. We must evaluate all union officials based on their practice.

The bureaucrats, especially at the local level, will try to win our support with fighting words and talk of good intentions. But words and intentions are not enough! The working class, in judging its leadership, looks not to good intentions, but good deeds – leadership in the interest of the class. Those leaders who do not lead, but who hold back the workers’ struggle are in fact allies of the capitalist class. They must be exposed and removed by the democratic will of the rank-and-file. Only by exposing and replacing sold-out bureaucrats and their reformist ideology can we build militant, democratic unions and stop union busting.

But our mass struggles through the trade unions are only part of a much larger struggle. As long as imperialism exists we will continue to suffer the exploitation of our labor, oppressive living conditions, and imperialist wars. These wars bring profits to the imperialists. They bring death and destruction to the broad masses of working people in all nations.

It is the propaganda of the imperialists and their allies in the working class that promotes national chauvinism, the idea that people of one nation are superior to the people of other nations. This is the same national chauvinism that, along with male chauvinism, is used to promote divisions among workers in this country. It is national chauvinism, a false patriotism, that in effect advocates that workers from the various nations should destroy each other for the sake of profits ... profits that go to the very people who exploit all workers! We oppose those ideas that seek to divide the peoples of the nations! We oppose imperialist war! But only when we abolish private ownership of the means of production, only when we abolish imperialism itself, will we abolish the conditions it creates, including war.

The worldwide struggle for socialism is also a worldwide struggle to end all imperialist wars. The trade unions alone can not lead the working class in its struggle for socialism. For that we need a higher form of organization, a new Marxist-Leninist communist party. The CP(USA) long ago abandoned its revolutionary role as the vanguard party of the working class.

The party that provides real leadership for the working class must be highly centralized, highly disciplined, yet democratic internally – an organization capable of applying the science of Marxism-Leninism to conditions in the U.S. and developing a program for socialist revolution in this country. It must recognize the leading role of China and Albania in the worldwide proletarian struggle against all forms of imperialism and for socialism. Such a party must contain the best elements of the multi-national working class, their experience, their revolutionary spirit, their selfless devotion to the cause of the working class. Such a party must prove capable of winning the confidence of the masses of working people through its day-to-day political work in the struggles of the working class. Such a party, through its conscious leadership of the class struggle, must represent the interests of the whole working class. Only such a party can lead the working class and all oppressed people through all the twists and turns of our revolutionary struggle for socialism.

The agenda is full of tasks. We must expose the trade union bureaucrats and build militant, democratic unions. We must defeat all forms of chauvinism that seek to divide us and the peoples of the world. We must oppose imperialist war. Throughout the country, Marxist-Leninists, politically advanced workers, and the politically advanced from other classes, are taking up the building of the new communist party as our central task at this time. The San Diego Organizing Committee urges all advanced forces to take up the task of party building in all our political work.

When the workers and oppressed people of this country have state power, this day, May Day, will be an official holiday. And we will join those nations of people who are fulfilling the historic mission of taking control of their lives and their future!