What's Happening? Why?

Recently, we've seen an amazing flurry of new local, state, national, and international activities. The AFL-CIO called a week of action for the first week in November, then they called one for the first week of October. Jobs with Justice is calling for activities around the Verizon contract fight, the Walmart organizing drive, and the threat of the Super Congress (Joint Deficit Reduction Committee). Unions are on the move at their greatest pace since 1947. The postal workers had hundreds of local actions last week, and virtually all public employees are hitting the bricks to try to save their jobs. Immigrants rights organizations need help. Seniors are on the march. Young people are holding a summit. The Autoworkers are launching another organizing drive. The Transport Workers are fighting for contracts and trying to bring aircraft repair work back to the United States. Election work is gearing up. www.moveon.org has been calling public actions every few days. No activist can turn on a computer without being bombarded with "donate to this," "attend that," and "click here for freedom!"

It's maddening, but it's a good problem to have!

More and more, people are calling out for coordination of progressive activities. As if some one person could just stand up and say, "I'm your new leader and I'll tell you how to sort out the priorities." It doesn't work that way. The progressive movement is in an organic growth process. During the flurry of activities, good leadership emerges and bad leadership gets discredited. People come together and coordinate activities, not because they are commanded to do so but because of their own growing desires for it.

A Broad General View

We are each located in a certain part of geography and history. Our historical studies show that capitalism has reached a time of great crisis. Unlike the ordinary ups and downs of the business cycle, the crisis today is worldwide. Unemployment and deprivation are rampant in all the capitalist countries. If it is less so in China and India, it is only to the extent that they are less capitalist, but they are nevertheless affected by the world crisis. During this period, the capitalists of their respective countries are responding to their crisis in similar ways:

  1. they are trying to find ways to take advantage of each other, just as they always do, and
  2. they are trying to find ways to intensify the exploitation of their own working class through rising unemployment and attacks on wages and benefits. When U.S. reporters are talking about some other country, they call it "austerity programs." They pretend that U.S. capitalists are doing something different, but they aren't.

The working class in this period of history is beginning to fight back. That's why there's such a flurry of uncoordinated activities. The capitalists are not likely to stop doing what they are doing and we are not likely to stop what we are doing. For our part, we will get better at it.

While the historical situation determines the degree of activity, our geographic setting has more to do with the nature of individual actions. In one city, the public workers may be leading the fight. In another it may be the communications workers or the transit workers, the peace movement, the civil rights movement, or others.

Good Leadership in This or Any Period

The definition of good leadership is knowing what to do next. That's why I encourage everyone to participate in actions, study Marxism, study history, study local developments, and join the Communist Party. We may not know what to do all the time, and we may make mistakes, but we are constantly studying the situation and making the best recommendations we can. More importantly, Marxists have a broad general view of what is happening and what to do about it, thanks to historical materialism. The ups and downs, ebbs and rises may continue for some time, but, ultimately, the capitalists cannot resolve their crisis. Only the workers can.

--Jim Lane in Dallas