This is part 3 of Alan Woods' 4 part article on Marxism and the United
States. In the USA in the nineteenth century there was an unprecedented
development of the productive forces and this brought into being a mighty
working class with its labour organisations, starting with the Knights of Labor
in 1869. The list of working class martyrs of American Labor is endless, the
most celebrated being the Chicago martyrs of 1886 - as a result of which the
American working class gave May Day to the rest of the world. This was followed
by the IWW, the AFL and later the CIO. There is a rich history of working class
struggles in the United States that we can draw lessons from.
This is the final part of Alan Woods' 4 part article on Marxism and the United States where he looks at the situation in the USA today, with immense polarisation of wealth between the extremely rich and the extremely poor. The years of boom have come to an end. Unemployment is rising. In spite of its immense power US capitalism has entered a phase of terminal decline, together with the rest of the world. And this is reflected in a questioning on the part of many ordinary working Americans of the society they live in. Marxism can explain why all this is and also offer a way out to the American workers.
After the ILWU dockworkers' struggle in the USA, we now have the struggle of
the New York transit workers to improve their conditions of life. This is only
the latest in a series of important battles which have been fought on the trade
union front in recent months. It highlights the real situation facing American
workers and also exposes the real nature of the so-called "democratic"
state. John Peterson provides an overview of the Marxist theory of the state
starting from the class interests in this and other labour conflicts.
On January 18, Washington DC resounded with protestors. Along with San Francisco and other cities, an estimated half a million Americans pledged their solidarity with protestors the world over, rallying under the slogan: No to the War on Iraq! Other slogans included, "Regime Change Begins At Home", "Axis of Evil - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld", and "Dissent is Patriotic". John Peterson looks at the developing antiwar movement in the United States.
The words of George Bush’s annual state-of-the-union address were full of lofty sentiments. But the President aims were more prosaic. There is growing opposition at home to his war plans. And half way through his first term of office, his popularity ratings are falling. He is worried that he may not get re-elected in two years’ time.
Opposition to a war in Iraq is growing steadily, week by week and even day by day within American society. Up until recently, this had been the strongest amongst the youth and students. But there are clear signs that the working class, and trade union members especially, are increasingly joining the ranks of those opposed to war in the Middle East. The same weekend of the massive January 18 anti-war demonstrations in Washington D.C. and San Francisco also saw a conference of 110 trade union officers and shop stewards firmly declare itself against any war on Iraq. This is a big step forward, and increasingly, events like this are on the agenda, which will involve ever wider layers of workers in the United States.