Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers’ Viewpoint

Excerpts from WVO Speech at TUEL Founding Convention

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 3, No. 11, November 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

A year ago Jimmy Carter, newest political face of the U.S. bourgeoisie, was at the beginning of the end of his honeymoon period–still making a lot of promises, looking good in words because he hadn’t tackled the real problem yet–the U.S. economy in crisis and decay. Carter, elected with the help of the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers, came into office vowing to stop inflation and unemployment. He promised:

1) non-intervention in labor disputes
2) minimum wage legislation to start at $3.00
3) passage of Common Situs Picketing (allowing workers from one union or contractor to shut down the whole site)
4) repeal of section 14b of the Taft-Hartley Act–the “right-to-work” law
5) union recognition based on getting cards from 55% of the workers, with no election necessary.

Today’s Situation: Carter’s Record and Effects Felt by Workers

But today we see things have gotten worse for the working people. Today, 7 million people are still unemployed–and this is the figure the capitalists themselves admit. The official inflation rate is still over 10%. And the price of food, utilities, and housing is skyrocketing 15%.

And what is Carter’s record?

1) By March of this year Carter had done exactly what he said he would never do–the U.S. government intervened in the coal miners’ strike, hitting them with the Taft-Hartley Act, to try to force them back to work under threat of the National Guard. This was followed in quick succession by intervention in the paper and pulp workers’ contract on the West Coast to force the wages down. Then came a federal court injunction against the postal workers’ right to have a union strike vote. And recently, Carter invoked the National Railway Act against striking railroad workers, forcing them back to work with a “cooling off period.” In these acts alone, 700,000 U.S. workers have been directly attacked by U.S. government intervention.
2) The new minimum wage was passed 35 cents short of Carter’s measly promise.
3) Common, Situs Picketing was defeated.
4) Points 4 and 5 of Carter’s promises were first watered down into the Labor Law Reform Bill, which was then filibustered to death in Congress.

But Carter’s record in nothing new. In fact this record has nothing to do with Carter the personality or individual. Johnson had the same problem, so did Nixon and Ford–that’s why Kennedy and Johnson had to start a war to solve this problem. That’s why Nixon had to impose mandatory wage-price controls in ’74. Just in the last few years, people can see that a change of face in the White House doesn’t mean much. Democratic Party, Republican Party–they all carry on problems of the capitalist class.

Rising inflation along with rising recession; exploiting the masses to benefit the few, while at the same time trying to make the masses believe they have equality–these contradictions cannot be solved by the capitalists. They can only play catch-up. This is the permanent crisis of capitalism.

Capitalist System is the Real Cause of Inflation and Unemployment

Both inflation and unemployment are permanent features of the crisis of capitalism today. And what the capitalists are especially careful not to point out is the real cause of inflation. They say workers cause inflation. Not only the capitalists, but also the politicians that supposedly represent us say that. Nothing is further from the truth. Calling workers responsible for inflation is like blaming a holdup victim for the crime.

The real cause lies deep within the system of capitalism itself. Imagine a junkie, emaciated, physically wasted and decaying, frantically shooting himself up with heroin to get a temporary high. Each shot of heroin only increases his addiction, only delays the inevitable crash. This is U.S. capitalism in decay, constantly shooting itself up with massive government spending, especially in the military budget, to prevent the down of depression. And who pays for the billions of dollars in reckless deficit spending and waste? You and me. At least one-fourth of the entire federal and local budgets squeezed out of our taxes is earmarked to pay off just the interest on these massive debts. Stop-gap measures can barely pay interest on this debt: the government prints more money (making it more worthless), manipulates the dollar in the money markets, and issues more bonds to pay off other bonds, etc., etc., which only furthers the crisis.

And instead of investing in socially useful industries, like steel, railroads, and public transportation, these capitalist parasites frantically speculate on the money market, feverishly trade in city bonds, and so on. But in the end, because it feeds the tidal wave of inflation, it is the workers who pay.

Capitalism develops a seemingly funny situation where on the one hand, cattle are slaughtered to be buried, thousands of tons of milk are dumped into the ocean, our factories are laying idle, at average operating at a 60% capacity, warehouses are overflowing with goods. On the other hand, the beef prices are the highest ever. And we cannot afford to buy the plentiful goods piled up rotting in the warehouses. This is what we call the crisis of overproduction, caused fundamentally by capitalists shifting the crisis onto our backs, by attacking our standard of living through inflation.

Besides that, no money is going into useful industries because now everything’s done on credit, whatever useful industries are around, tend to go under real fast, like steel and the railroads. That is because our economy is real vulnerable. It is like a big giant sitting on a hot cushion of air. The slightest changes will lead to the collapse of the whole thing. The bankruptcy of one major industry will lead to the bankruptcy of the bank behind it. And in turn, the bankruptcy of the bank will lead to the bankruptcy of many industries that depend on its credit.

Capitalism was progressive in the past in the sense that it stimulated production. It forcefully pushed forward the modernization of society. But today, as we talked about earlier, capitalism leads into the idling of the plants. It has created a situation where investment in useful industries is discouraged. It destroys goods, because of the crisis of overproduction. It pigeonholes the new inventions in science, because it costs new investments to realize these new inventions. So in short, capitalism today not only does not push the society forward, but in fact is holding it back. It’s stifling the potential of all those who work. That’s why we call capitalism today imperialism, that is the last and highest stage of capitalism. It is the parasitic, decaying, and moribund capitalism. That is to say, capitalism faces an inevitable collapse. It is doomed.

Originally, man produced for the interests of man. Capitalism has turned this around. Under capitalism, man produces for profit. It is profit, capital, that counts, and not the man. That’s why we say capitalism has stood the world on its head. And we must turn this world upside down, to turn it right side up again. And this turning upside down is what we call revolution. And not any revolution, but the revolution that would benefit man. That revolution would be called socialist revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat. We’re not interested in destroying for destruction’s sake. That’s anarchism.

We’re responsible men and responsible women, interested in destroying the old in order to build a new society, that would truly tap the great potential of the great people in this country. And today we consider all our work as part of the preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat. This preparation goes on in the course of our day to day work, fighting the bosses, fighting the bourgeoisie, fighting against all manifestations of the evils of capitalism. That’s how we’ll learn to overthrow the capitalist system and to lead the new society we want to build.

In Response to the Growing Crisis & Increasing Attacks, Workers’ Resistance Rises

Because of the deepening economic crisis and increasing attacks and political exposures, workers more and more have no choice but to fight back. In recent months, strikes have been more frequent and longer–strikes lasted an average of 21 days the first part of this year as compared to 11 days last year. Workers have stayed out longer–from the supermarket strike in the Bay Area which is going on its 12th week, to the West Coast paper and pulp workers who have been striking all summer and fall, from the Schemer nursing home workers’ strike in New York City lasting nine weeks so far, to the 110 day coal miners’ strike. Even the craft unions, weakened by their own narrowness, exclusiveness, and lack of big industrial unions are uniting. The bourgeoisie is taking advantage of their weak positions to try to bust them. But instead the New York City pressmen have united with all the other newspaper workers’ unions for close to 60 days, and the media czars’ alliance broke before the pressmen did. The railroad workers’ strike is another example–as 14 craft unions have stuck together, Carter had to intervene because the national economy was literally crippled by the spreading strike.

Old-Line Hacks Becoming Exposed–New Wave of Rank and File Resistance

The growing rank and file movement across the country is in sharp contrast to the do nothing policies of the trade union bureaucrats. The clearest example was the sellout of the postal workers. The years of disorganization created by bureaucrats like Meany are showing in the declining membership of AFL-CIO unions and in campaigns like the J J. Stevens drive which has been going on for almost 15 years now without a major breakthrough. There are many smaller examples like the takebacks against Philadelphia city workers, the sellout of the 1199 contract in New York City. In Baltimore, nursing home owners are trying to bust the union in their homes–the latest casualty was the Federal Hill Nursing Home.

As the crisis deepens, more and more active workers are emerging from the struggles. Meanwhile the misleader-ship of the old-line union bureaucrats, whose inaction has held back trade union struggles for years, is becoming exposed. Their positions, unchallenged for 20 years, are being shaken by a new wave of dissidents, new rank and file activists. As they feel their pedestals trembling, these old-line hacks are only full of bluster about the “reactionary right wing”–this they call the main enemy. But this is only a way to sound angry without hitting Carter, a more liberal, more advanced representative of the bourgeoisie. It serves to cover up for the Democratic Party, to try to keep the unions under the wing of the capitalist system.

But this does not satisfy the working class. While the bureaucrats are wavering, the rank and file has decided to move. They will not allow their unions to be busted. The union rank and file has played a fresh role leading several recent struggles. This spring, after United Mine Workers president Miller and the bargaining Council gave in to a contract offering more take-backs, rank and file miners tightened their belts and turned it down. Their determination and organization led to a successful milestone strike. Both the railway strike and the postal workers’ contract struggle were started off by wildcat strikes, which eventually moved the whole union. Among West Coast supermarket workers, a maverick local is carrying through the strike against speedup. And among steelworkers, the rank and file and progressive union officials have been organizing over many months to build the movement for rank and file right to ratify the contract. While President McBride turned their convention last month into a platform for Carter to make a speech, and very few rank and file steelworkers were delegates, the rank and file is serving notice–the real movement is for Right to Ratify.

It is in the midst of these struggles that the role of conscious leadership is most necessary in order to build on the successes and to minimize our losses. This is where the TUEL comes in. Though we are a small part of the trade union movement today, by boldly picking up the day to day fights of the workers, providing consistent leadership through the twists and turns, and by raising the political consciousness of the workers, the TUEL represents the future leadership of the trade union movement.