Date: Fri, 24 Oct 97 11:03:00 CDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peoples Weekly World)
Subject: Working class unity in the U.S. today
Organization: Scott Marshall
Working class unity in the U.S. today
By Gus Hall, National Chair, Communist Party USA,
in People's Weekly World
11 October 1997
Working class unity is not a spontaneous process. It does
not come automatically, simply because one is a worker. A
worker is not inherently or naturally class conscious or
even instinctively for unity in struggle with his/her co-
The process of becoming class conscious and understanding
the absolute necessity for working class - Black, Brown,
white - unity is a many-sided struggle for workers.
The historic path to a united, integrated working class has
been marked by many obstacles, many setbacks and advances.
Such a process is slow because it is fundamentally a
process of development of a class ideology and a class
outlook. Ideology is the result of experience built upon
Levels of unity
There are three basic levels and qualities of working class
Unity around economic struggles like jobs, wages and
working conditions is the first level of unity. No strike
can be won without this most basic level of unity. The
ruling class cleverly - and with every weapon at its
command - uses any splits in the ranks of the strikers to
break a strike, to break the union and to keep workers
divided. In a sharp class struggle like a strike, workers
know who the enemy is. There is no room for neutrals or
sitting on the sidelines out of the battle zone.
The next level of working class unity is political unity.
It is a higher form and requires more understanding of the
fact that everything in our society is political and that
no real overall change, like pro-labor laws, can be
achieved without participation in the political process.
Carrying on struggles in the political arena means, first
and foremost, that workers and their unions have to
participate in the electoral system. This should include
workers - rank-and-filers as well as trade union leaders -
running for public office.
A still deeper, higher level of unity is ideological unity.
This includes workers who see and understand the role of
socialism as a logical solution to the evils of capitalism.
The most advanced workers, including Communist and other
class conscious workers who are for total unity of the
whole class on all levels, have to be aware that not all
workers will join in all struggles.
The appeal for working-class unity based on economic
struggles is an appeal to all workers, to the whole class.
It is an appeal for class and racial, multinational, Black-
In the struggle for class unity, there is nothing more
important than the understanding that the greatest ruling
class weapon in its drive to split the working class is
racism. While racially and nationally oppressed workers are
the main victims of racism, the disunity it creates weakens
the fighting ability of the whole class, permitting the
intensified exploitation of both Black and white.
Wherever capitalism is able to split the class there is a
general deterioration in living standards. Wherever the
multiracial, multinational, male-female work force is able
to unite around issues against corporate power, as in the
UPS strike, victory is almost always around the corner.
Class consciousness is the most potent antidote to the
poison of racism, prejudice and bigotry. Lenin said:
"The national question must be clearly considered and
solved by all class conscious workers."
On class unity, he said:
"The capitalists want, at all costs, to keep the workers of
different nations apart while the powers that be live
splendidly together as shareholders in profitable concerns
involving millions ... Class conscious workers stand for
full unity among workers of all nations ..."
Today, however, while most workers will join in unity based
on economic struggles, not all will agree with the more
advanced ideological concepts, including socialism. This
advanced level means that workers are convinced that their
rights can never be assured under capitalism, that not even
their hard-won trade union gains, not even their unions,
are safe under capitalist rule.
Fighting for unity
In spite of some differences, the appeal for all-sided
class unity should be made to all workers. Anything that
places obstacles to unity must be fought against. One such
major stumbling block to unity has been the anti-communist
clauses in many trade union contracts. Like the Smith Act,
the Taft-Hartley Law, the Landrum Griffin Act and the anti-
communist hysteria of the McCarthy period, the acceptance
of loyalty and non-communist oaths did great damage to the
cause of all labor.
The unanimously-passed resolution at the recent AFL-CIO
Convention that eliminated the 40-year-old anti-communist
clause in the federation's constitution begins the process
of putting an end to one ruling class weapon of divide-and-
It is a great victory, a tremendous step toward greater
working class unity. I am confident that it is the
beginning of a process that will remove all anti-communist
clauses that still exist in too many trade union
Acceptance and recognition of the Communist Party's
participation and contributions to the labor movement is
laying the foundation for left-center unity, which is so
crucial for uniting the trade union movement and the
working class as a whole.
As our party celebrates its 78th anniversary, we hail the
elimination of this long-standing stumbling block to class
unity. It opens the door for workers to gain a full
understanding, a true knowledge of their proud fighting
history in this country, including the Communists. And the
past has always helped point the way to the future.
In order to face the new challenges, to deal with the
tremendous problems faced by the working class, there needs
to be even more militancy and class struggle policies, even
greater working class - Black, Brown, white - unity and a
much bigger and more influential Communist Party USA.
Read the Peoples
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