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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 97 11:03:00 CDT
From: scott@rednet.org (Peoples Weekly World)
Subject: Working class unity in the U.S. today
Organization: Scott Marshall
Article: 20450

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- workers.

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 experience.

Levels of unity

There are three basic levels and qualities of working class unity.

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- Brown-white unity.

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- rule.

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 constitutions.

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.

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