Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Wrong Line On “Carter” Offensive

Reject Revisionism in Unemployed Work

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 6, March 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.

Editors Note: This article was written by some comrades active in the Party’s work among the unemployed and in the Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee. It examines the influence of the line of the revisionist headquarters formerly existing in the RCP regarding the struggle of the unemployed.

As the Programme of the RCP states, “A crucial question for the working class in both its immediate battles and long term struggles is the question of unemployment and uniting the employed and unemployed workers. Unemployment is built into the capitalist system and is an open sore revealing the fundamental sickness of the system... The RCP builds the struggle around unemployment as a major battle of the whole working class, a decisive part of the struggle not only to keep from being crushed under capitalism, but to finally overthrow it and in doing so end the cause of unemployment.” This line has in the main guided the work of the Party and that of the Revolutionary Union before it around the question of unemployment–in fact, since the founding of the Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee in the Bay Area in 1971. Since then hundreds of battles have been fought, big and small, nationwide and locally, in the streets and in the unemployment offices and plants, guided by this overall line of mobilizing the workers against the misery and special conditions arising from unemployment and at the same time taking every opportunity to expose the “criminal absurdity of the capitalist system... [that] the very class that produces the profit on which the system is based finds millions of its members out of work because they cannot be employed profitably.”

This line has not won out spontaneously, but has been developed and deepened only in the course of sharp struggle within the ranks of the Party and the RU before it. How important is the struggle of the unemployed? Is there struggle only against being pressed down, or is there a revolutionary potential in the struggle around unemployment? What is the target of the struggle: the government, industry, the capitalist system itself? These and other questions have had to be struggled out to make the advances possible. Over the past nine months, the revisionist headquarters that had existed in the Party built up its influence to the point of dominating the work of the Party among the unemployed on the national level and in some local areas, creating the grave danger of turning UWOC into nothing more than another bourgeois “pressure” group on the government, useless and actually harmful to the working class struggle for emancipation.

Struggling to uncover and sum up this line is necessary to ensure that UWOC continues to be an organization dedicated to fighting the capitalists around unemployment, and to make sure that the Party’s work overall around unemployment sticks to the revolutionary road.

Emergency UWOC Meeting

On February 4 the Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee held an emergency national meeting, focusing on summing up UWOC’s work in the campaign to “Fight Carter’s Unemployment Offensive” leading up to the demonstrations planned for January 21. (The main one, scheduled for Washington D.C., was cancelled by the blizzard.) This meeting summed up that UWOC had been led in the direction of becoming just another reform organization or pressure group misleading the unemployed and the working class as a whole.

The campaign UWOC summed up at this meeting had been adopted at the national UWOC conference last June. It was put forward in the Party, under the influence of this headquarters, as a campaign “against the government’s policy of cutting back unemployment benefits and forcing workers into slave labor jobs.” UWOC put forward the demands: “Stop the Attacks on Our Unemployment Benefits;” “Union Jobs at Union Wages;” and “Smash Carter’s Workfare.” In October, the slogan “Fight Carter’s Unemployment Offensive” was concocted as the overall slogan of the campaign. It was supposed to be the biggest slogan (literally–in the largest type on the leaflets) in UWOC’s work leading up to the January 21 demonstration.

The meeting summed up that the line developed over the course of the campaign, as crystallized in this main slogan, was a lie. Instead of bringing out the “invisible hand,” the laws of capitalism operating behind people’s backs (its drive for profit and the crisis and the anarchistic dislocations it produces) that force the capitalists to lay workers off, cut off unemployment benefits and try to lower wages, it was a line that more and more attributed these attacks principally to the will of the government and the politicians. And as the campaign developed they tended to even narrow this down to a line that said that the main cause of attacks on the unemployed was the evil genius of Jimmy Carter.

When the RCP was founded many of us studied and tried to take to heart Lenin’s statement that, “The Party’s task is not to concoct some fashionable means of helping the workers, but to join up with the workers movement, to bring light into it, to assist the workers in the struggle they themselves have already begun to wage. The Party’s task is to uphold the interests of the workers and to represent those of the entire working class movement.” (CW, Vol. 2, p. 112, emphasis added.)

But to these revisionists the campaign to “Fight Carter’s Unemployment Offensive” was exactly such a “fashionable means,” a gimmick. They concocted the idea of a “big” campaign against the government, focused on Carter, culminating in a big demonstration in Washington on January 21.

To them what made the campaign “fashionable”, i.e. something that might “spin,” as UWOC members at the February 4 meeting summed up, was the success of the demonstration called by UWOC in Washington, D.C., on March 5 of last year. The March 5 demonstration was called as part of fighting the cutoff of 26 weeks of federal unemployment benefits which was then going through Congress as a bill. It was correctly aimed at the government that was carrying out this attack, and drew its strength from the real need of unemployed workers for jobs and the money they must have to live. The attacks were brought out as a result of the crisis of capitalism. The demonstration and the whole fight against the cuts forced the government to concede 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for six months longer than the original proposed cutoff date. Unity of employed and unemployed workers was advanced through this fight. The march of 1000 employed and unemployed workers through Washington D.C. demanding Jobs or Income, No Cuts in Benefits was a real advance and an inspiration to everyone who was part of it, or followed it in the unemployment lines across the country.

But what the revisionists got out of all this was that big demonstrations in Washington really “spin.” Although in the course of building the fight against the “Carter Offensive” they said many times, “This campaign won’t be a repeat of March 5,” their underlying outlook was, “it worked once, let’s do it again.” The fact that specific attacks confronting the workers had changed since then mattered little to these people whose outlook led them to try to twist the world to fit their idea of “how to do a campaign.”

This outlook and the whole concocting of the “Carter Offensive” campaign was all the more criminal because the unemployed and the working class were and are facing real attacks. Within the last year unemployment benefits have been slashed from 65 to 26 weeks in most states. Millions of workers are without work, and more and more of those who are pounding the pavements looking are finding only part-time, temporary, or minimum-wage jobs available.

Hand in hand with cutting the number of weeks unemployed can receive benefits have been state and federal laws placing new restrictions on eligibility for benefits. Many of these reactionary rules and regulations require unemployed workers to accept any job offered to them barely above minimum wage.

And at the same time these attacks on the unemployment system have been coming down. Carter announced his “workfare” proposal which would force welfare recipients to work in private or government jobs just to receive their meagre welfare checks.

Laws of Capitalism or Carter’s Will?

But within the Party and within UWOC, the revisionist headquarters pushed a reformist line that sidestepped these questions and instead came up with a simple solution. They packaged all the attacks on the unemployed into one single policy, variously called “the government policy,” “a one-two punch,” “Carter’s Offensive,” or “Carter’s Unemployment Offensive.” As the Oct.-Nov. issue of the Unemployed Organizer put it, “These are not random attacks [referring to the cuts in federal unemployment benefits, state by state cuts in benefits, drop in the bucket job programs, two-bit jobs and workfare], but reflect a systematic national policy pursued by the government in the interests of big money and big business.”

And just so there are no doubts as to who is the source of this “systematic national policy” the article continues without missing a beat, “and the government, with Jimmy Carter at the helm, is hell-bent on this policy, a one-two punch of ripping away our unemployment insurance and driving us into slave-wage jobs.”

UWOC was called upon to wage a campaign against a fantasy, this “systematic government policy.” Since this one big policy was the problem, the solution was to end it: “Think of the strength and power of workers, organized and united, not only demanding jobs, but an end to this government policy of setting us up for the kill,” we’re told in the Oct.-Nov. issue of UWOC’s newsletter. (And the way they portray the fight for jobs here, as something to slide over, and not nearly as exciting as trying to end this government policy, is revealing too–to them “demanding jobs” didn’t seem nearly as “fashionable,” as catchy, and certainly not as easy as fighting this imaginary master scheme by the federal government, but more on that later.)

This “systematic national policy” was the constant refrain in UWOC–in leaflets, articles, and discussions. The source of the attacks the unemployed face is portrayed in Kautskyite fashion–that is as a “policy,” i.e. the will of individuals or groups of individuals (the government. Carter, capitalists) rather than the workings of the system and its fundamental laws. This was the seed of their whole revisionist line.

So for them it wasn’t enough to continue the fight against the unemployment benefit cuts and against the various ways workers were increasingly being forced into slave-labor jobs, and in the course of these fights showing the real links of these attacks to the profit-driving system they reflected. The actual government policy of cutting back unemployment benefits kind of got lost in the shuffle. While “Stop the Attacks on our Unemployment Insurance System” was one of the demands of the campaign, it was as they said a matter of exposure, and UWOC was not led to put forward the general demand for “unemployment insurance to cover our costs of living for all periods of unemployment.” No leadership was given to building and summing up the fight for “Union Jobs at Union Wages” under the different conditions workers face around the country. Instead, the key was to show the “links” to a “systematic national policy” and then fight to end this policy.

Carrying out this line, as people summed up at the February 4 UWOC meeting, led to ignoring some real attacks and questions facing the unemployed, (such as fighting to make CETA jobs union jobs at union wages) because they didn’t come under the “Carter Offensive” campaign. And on the other hand people summed up that they had found themselves in the unemployment offices trying to run down a whole grocery list of attacks to unemployed workers and explain how these were ail part of this “Carter Offensive” we had to fight.

There are real links between the cuts in unemployment benefits and unemployed workers being forced into minimum wage jobs–but not the “links” the revisionists claimed to have discovered to a master plan of Carter. Fundamentally, the two are linked to the fundamental laws of the capitalist system which exist independently of the will of the capitalists or their politicians.

The growth of non-union, starvation pay jobs and the general worsening of the standard of living of the working class results from the general deepening of the crisis of capitalism, including the growth of unemployment, the reserve army of labor, which increases competition for jobs. This situation does not result primarily from government programs like “workfare” or CETA jobs. Yes, the cut in benefits and the regulations requiring workers to accept any job does accelerate this tendency. But so do many other factors, especially the intensified competition among the capitalists themselves forcing them to attack the living standards of the workers ever more viciously.

Similarly, the cuts in benefits themselves are not fundamentally a conscious attempt by the capitalists to increase the desperation of the reserve army of labor–though they do have that effect. The falling rate of profit, the need of the capitalists for massive amounts of capital to retool whole industries, inflation and monetary troubles and so on are all forcing the monopoly capitalist class to cut back on social services and many other expenditures which they don’t profit from–veterans’ benefits and social security, for example, as well as unemployment benefits. (Many of the restrictions on benefits, including the “take any job” provision, are partly simple attempts to drive people off the unemployment roles–a fact rather obvious to the unemployed, but which seems to have escaped the revisionists.)

Naturally, the capitalists and their representatives are able, in a very restricted and upside down way, to perceive some of the laws of their system in operation and on this basis come up with certain policies they believe will serve their interests. The rantings of Arthur Burns (former head of the Federal Reserve System) calling for cutting back drastically on the unemployment system and forcing the unemployed into lower paid jobs is certainly a reflection of this. But these types of conscious plans pale in comparison to the basic workings of capitalism itself, its anarchy, dislocations and crises. And furthermore, the plans and policies of the capitalists are but reflections of the underlying laws of capitalism at work.

A correct understanding of the relationship of the various attacks coming down on the unemployed and employed workers and their roots in the crisis of capitalism is an important basis for the Party to carry out its work among the unemployed in a revolutionary way and clarify that the enemy is the whole capitalist class and their profit system. But the vulgar, narrow approach of the revisionists led away from doing this.

The revisionists accuse others of being “idealists,” but they are the real idealists, throwing out the window any attempt to analyze the actual objective laws and coming up with simple, easy, and concocted explanations for the conditions workers face. In the course of the campaign there was much discussion, in UWOC and in the Party, of why the campaign didn’t catch on among the unemployed. But instead of reevaluating and trying to make a Marxist analysis, the revisionists went on more and more twisting the world to try and fit the campaign they had come up with–focusing in on Carter, for example, in the hopes that workers’ disillusionment with him would make the campaign “spin” and result in a big demonstration in Washington on the 21st.

This whole line of coming up with a gimmick to try and lead the struggle led more and more to a reformist outlook and approach. Since, according to them. Carter and the politicians were the source of this systematic national policy, since they were the ones doing it, “hellbent on this policy,” then obviously the way to change it, especially if you want quick results, is to put “pressure” on the politicians, just like they teach us in high school. Of course it is absolutely correct to expose the government as the agent of the capitalist class and lead struggles directed against it. But this must be done on the basis of analyzing the real nature of the attacks coming down and the laws of capitalism behind them, and certainly not presenting the politicians as the source of everything evil, and by implication, capable of setting everything straight if only the “will of the people” is heard.

Headed Toward Lobbying Group

People at the February 4 meeting summed up that if this conclusion hadn’t been put so clearly in words, this is exactly where UWOC had been headed. The line leading UWOC ”boiled down to seeing ourselves in UWOC as nothing more than a lobbying group for the unemployed, restricting our activities to pressuring Congressmen and Presidents to change their policies.” At the meeting, UWOC members brought out example after example to show this. People said they had found themselves telling workers, “If you want to fight this then you’ve got to go to Washington.” One city reported that earlier in the fall they had been confused and unable to figure out a way to fight the Carter Offensive because all the local politicians were away in Washington. People said that they had found themselves spending more and more time investigating the political views of different politicians and the details of bills, than on investigating the actual situation and the thinking of their fellow unemployed workers. “We knew the details of every bill that was coming down,” one worker summed up at the meeting, “but we weren’t out there in the neighborhoods and the unemployment offices organizing our fellow workers in the same way we used to.”

The spirit of the February 4 UWOC meeting was one of militant repudiation of this line that would have led UWOC to just reinforce the lies workers hear every day already. Don’t people hear every day that whether things get better or worse, it’s Carter’s fault? And if things don’t get better we can get a new batch of politicians in the next election.

The revisionist line went against the whole spirit of the statement in the RCP Programme which reads, “The working class has no interest in helping the capitalists figure out how to make an unworkable system ’work’ for its every working is based on the misery and exploitation of the working class.” These revisionists are but a step away from the CPUSA’s long time approach of drawing up a “model bill” and making agitation around it the key to their work.

No doubt our revisionists would protest that they haven’t (yet) sunk this far. But more, they would remind us that this is what the masses think, not they themselves, oh no! They understand about the role of the state. But since the masses have faith in these politicians and don’t see clearly what class they serve, it is our duty as communists to unite with the masses and “lead” them in confronting these politicians, so the workers can learn in whose interests these guys serve. But how can they learn this when everything we do “teaches” them the opposite? This is one of the reasons, for example, why they said the “Proclamation to President Carter” (that blamed everything on him but did say that he worked for the “rich owners”) was such a key tool for uniting with the masses and leading the struggle.

Unfortunately for their version of “uniting with the masses,” workers in UWOC and the masses at the unemployment offices were not generally clamoring to go see their politicians. Our experience as communists in UWOC has shown that it is only by discussing and struggling with people over what’s really going on, and trying to bring light, that we have been able to lead things forward. For example, fast year Detroit UWOC was building a fight against a bill cutting benefits for those who quit or are fired from a Job and called a demonstration at the state capitol building in Lansing. Before the demonstration lively discussion and debate went on at a UWOC meeting around what we should expect in Lansing, what the line of the politicians would be, how we could break through their lies and excuses for the bill with the truth about why these moves were going down. Armed with a stronger line about why we were demonstrating and confronting the politicians, not just leaving it at “let’s go to Lansing because that’s how you change things,” or “Let’s go to Lansing because the politicians there are attacking us and serving the rich,” UWOC carried out a sharp and Clear demonstration that generated controversy and deeper discussion among the masses and laid the basis for strong mass participation in UWOC in building the campaign against the cuts in the federal extended benefits.

Plan Ahead Line

But wait, our revisionists would yell, didn’t we talk about the economy, about the rich owners backing the politicians? Yes, somewhat and in passing you did. But, to the extent that these revisionists put out any analysis of the class relations involved in the campaign, it was wrong–they put out the same Kautskyite view of the bourgeoisie and the workings of capitalism as they did on the relationship between the capitalists and the state. The capitalists were behind the government’s one-two punch policy, they said, because they are consciously preparing now for the next, worse recession they see coming. The Unemployed Organizer, put out under their leadership, explained that “They [the corporate giants] expect it to be worse, and it’s this they are preparing for, trying to make sure that this time the unemployed will be sufficiently desperate to scab, to take a job at any wage, to go for anything that keeps body and soul together.” (Oct.-Nov. ’77 and Dec-Jan. front page stories).

Of course as the capitalists cut unemployment benefits they will make the most of it, to take advantage of the increased competition for jobs and the general desperation of the unemployed. But its not as if the “corporate giants” are doing fine today, with no worries except how to plan attacks to weaken the working class when the crisis comes.

This “plan ahead” line on the capitalists, as the UWOC national meeting summed up, is “a view that sees the politicians, the government, the rich class as all powerful and sees the masses of people as helpless before ail this power. According to this kind of thinking, the powers-that-be have complete control of everything, plan the economy or at least plan out how to control the people. They don’t just cut the federal extensions, they develop an overall plan, a “Carter Offensive” on how to handle unemployment. They sit down and conspire against us and plan it all out. In looking back over the last few newsletters, (the Unemployed Organizer), especially the articles about this last campaign, people said that this is the picture that came across.

Jobs or Income Main Demand

Their lack of understanding of the laws of the system, coupled with their whole get rich quick mentality, led them to a line that it was wrong for the working class to raise and fight for the demand for Jobs or Income.

It is wrong, these revisionists said, because this plays into the hands of the bourgeoisie. As they put it in a Party document, the essence of their line was, “The bourgeoisie is exactly using the masses’ demand for jobs to promote their overall policy [i.e. benefit cuts and slave labor jobs] and attack the masses.”

In the internal newsletters of UWOC and the NUWO they put the line out straight up in criticizing the CP (ML) demonstration because it “only demands ’Jobs or Income’. In this way it does not create a dividing line between the working class and the employing class.” It was correct to criticize the CP(ML) for only raising Jobs or Income. This is because Carter is mouthing this phrase to cover and promote his work-fare plan, and the capitalists do try to get over the line that if people want jobs they should take any job at any wage.

But does this mean, as these revisionists made it mean, that in making sure not to lead people into an “ambush,” we should just throw out and forget the demand that, as the RCP Programme says, is the main demand of the working class around unemployment? (Which is exactly the reason why the bourgeoisie and the opportunists are mouthing this demand.) The content of this has been made clear in the slogan raised time and again in UWOC’s earlier work: “Jobs or Income! –union jobs at union wages or enough unemployment insurance to cover the cost of living for all periods of unemployment.” Doesn’t this bring out a “dividing line” between the needs of the working class and the attacks of the capitalists?

Role of Party

In addition to their dropping the demand for Jobs or Income, another one of the hallmarks of the revisionists in UWOC was their negation of an independent role for the Party. Usually when these “leaders” ever raised the necessity for an independent role for the Party, it was as an excuse for their attempts to gut UWOC of any political analysis. They would say that UWOC couldn’t really expose capitalism as the source of the problem, that was for the Party to do. But when it came time to actually figure out how the Party should carry out its independent role–that discussion was always left for another day. Even at major demonstrations like March 5th, there wasn’t anyone who spoke in the name of the Party to present a broader view of the situation.

Fortunately, in keeping with the overall line of the Party and central guidance based on this, independent communist work was actually done by many comrades. Worker newspaper forums and a Worker reprint pamphlet on unemployment were developed and helped to give many workers around the country a deeper view of what they were really up against in the unemployment struggle. In Detroit, to cite only one example, the Worker forum on unemployment presented a scientific Marxist view that put the lie to the capitalists’ line that “What’s good for the companies is good for the workers” (especially meaning more jobs) and then related that to the current battles around unemployment. It was very well received by the workers who attended.

Pragmatism and Eclecticism

Behind the reformist line lay the same philosophical outlook of pragmatism and eclecticism that generally characterized the revisionist headquarters that existed in the Party.

Pragmatism is the reactionary bourgeois philosophy which separates theory from practice, leaving it groping in the dark. For pragmatists decisions about what to do from day to day need not be guided by an overall analysis, instead their guide for action becomes “if it works, do it; if it doesn’t work, try something else.” And, of course, the measuring stick for determining what works is nothing but the most narrow and immediate results.

We have shown how this whole approach of judging everything by whether it would “spin” led the revisionist headquarters to misdirect UWOC especially after the March 5th demonstration, frantically grasping for straws to justify another big demonstration in D.C.

To them what made the demonstration a success was that “we led a lot of people,” and that Carter and the government had been forced to really take note of UWOC–”they admitted so to a reporter.” But while it was certainly an accomplishment for UWOC to organize such an impressive outpouring of the unemployed, this is not the only or even the primary reason why the March 5th demonstration was indeed a step forward for UWOC and the Party’s work among the unemployed.

Closely linked with their pragmatism, and often used as an excuse for it, was their constant narrowing of the scope of things. The sharpest way this came out was in the revisionists’ distortion of the truth that the “general resides in the particular,” which they tried to make into a big slogan and a campaign within the Party, especially to sabotage the process of taking up and understanding the real meaning of the 1976 Central Committee Report on Revolutionary Work in a Non-Revolutionary Situation (see Revolution, July and August 1976). They used this “general resides in the particular” campaign to the point of throwing the whole “general”–the laws of capitalism and the larger picture of class society–out the window and just focusing attention on the particular attacks, bills or government moves in front of our noses.

Speeches that tried to show why the capitalist system causes unemployment would be criticized as “too general.” They made a big deal of “drawing out the living contradiction,” meaning the most immediate, specific contradiction existing at the moment. What was “living” for them was the live politicians in front of our faces!

Their one-sided emphasis on “exposing Carter” flows from this outlook. In the view of these muddle-heads, we suppose, they were exposing the state “in general” by running at the mouth about Carter in particular.

The narrow tactical outlook of seeing and fighting each particular attack in isolation from the real laws of capitalism “robs the workers of our potential strength, makes us short sighted and narrow minded. It leads us to get bogged down in what the government is doing in every detail, to hand the initiative over to them, and pin all our activities on their maneuverings.” (from the internal UWOC newsletter summing up the Feb. 4 meeting)

If one relies on this pragmatic and empiricist method of “analysis,” instead of analyzing differing phenomena, such as the capitalists’ attacks, and their relationship to each other based on Marxism, one will inevitably fall back on eclecticism. As Lenin put it, “on the one hand, and on the other...that is eclecticism. Dialectics requires an all-round consideration of relationships in their concrete development, but not a patchwork of bits and pieces.” (“Once Again on the Trade Unions” in Collected Works, Vol. 32, p. 91)

But eclectic maneuvering is exactly what happened at the UWOC national conference in June of last year, where the line of fighting the government policy, the “one-two punch,” was put forward. The bits and pieces of analysis of what the government was doing–cutting back benefits and developing programs that would drive the unemployed into slave labor jobs–were expressed in different resolutions that chapters brought to the conference. Instead of struggling over what was the real relationship between the two attacks, the proposals were combined to define one government policy that UWOC should fight. And further, the very real questions that arose at the conference on how to fight the attacks, whether it should be mainly on a local and state by state basis (which was how these particular attacks were mainly coming down), or mainly by hitting at the federal government and Carter, was not struggled out to determine what should be principal. Although some struggle broke out over this, under the influence of the revisionist line the problem was neatly “solved” by saying, we’ve got to fight it both locally and nationally. This was typical of the revisionists’ concept of a “third line” that “broke through the middle.”

By the second day of the conference all this was combined into one resolution packaging all this together.

As time went on the “light” these revisionists shed on was the reformist lie of the “Carter offensive.” After the conference when some members of UWOC expressed confusion about this campaign, they were admonished to “study the resolution some more” as if going over this eclectic hodgepodge would shed some light on the matter.

UWOC: Weapon for Working Class

In the course of discussion at the February national UWOC meeting, many people brought out the principles UWOC was founded and built on. People spoke of what they had learned from Comrade Gert Alexander, a member of the RCP and a veteran fighter who led UWOC from its beginning until her death in April 1976. As the internal UWOC newsletter summing up this meeting said, “UWOC was built on the understanding that Gert always fought for, that we working people are not some helpless pawns but the backbone of the whole set-up, and the only ones who can change things.

“People said that UWOC has always brought out that working people create all the wealth of this country, that our labor has made it rich, that our brains and muscle make it run. UWOC’s stand has always been that we won’t compromise an inch with the capitalists and their profit system that throws us out of work and leads to crisis after crisis–as the Jobs or Income petition said from the start, ’This is a rich country and our labor made it that. We demand jobs–we will not be without!’ The strength of UWOC has been that our words and actions have brought out the real needs, the strength, and the potential power of the workers, and called out every lie, every phony promise, every contradiction that the bosses are caught in–it’s their crisis and our fight.”

At the UWOC meeting people resolved to reaffirm the basic principles of UWOC, and everyone felt confident that on this basis UWOC can be built on an even stronger basis as a real weapon in the hands of the workers. People from one area, who had already begun to criticize the line of the campaign before the meeting, said that throwing the line and slogan of Fight Carter’s Unemployment Offensive overboard had been a liberating experience, like dumping a load of heavy baggage off their backs. When the unemployment benefits were cut from 39 to 26 weeks in many states at the end of January, due to a so-called “drop” in unemployment, instead of agonizing for days over a long ponderous leaflet trying to prove how this latest cut was part of the Carter Offensive, they were able to write a short and clear leaflet linking these cuts to the overall crisis and get out to the unemployment office pretty quickly.

“The bosses say it’s getting better,” the leaflet said, “but in fact they are driving us down.” It brought out the police shooting of a worker in their city, summing up that the capitalists are saying that working people have only two choices:“live like slaves–or die like dogs.”

But, the leaflet said, we have another choice, to organize and fight for what we need to live on and against the system that can’t provide us with a decent life. They called for a demonstration at the unemployment office against the cuts. Workers read through this leaflet carefully, they said, instead of looking at the first paragraph and putting it down like people used to do with the Carter Offensive leaflets. People supported the idea of the demonstration and came up to talk to UWOC about the cuts and the whole situation.

The spirit of what UWOC was trying to say and do struck a chord in the hearts of the workers, spoke to the truth of their own lives and experience and drew people forward. This wasn’t a magical gimmick that brought hundreds of unemployed workers into motion–the demonstration at the unemployment office was small. But UWOC members thought that a TV reporter who covered the action summed it up correctly when she said on TV that night, “It is only a small handful today–but its potential is millions.”