Base-Building and Resilience
Patience is the most important characteristic I have learned since joining Progressive Labor Party. Within the current conditions facing the working class, patience will protect us from reactionary ideas and actions.
I work at a bottling distribution company in Texas. The ideas of my fellow workers, like most, are controlled by capitalist ideology. Racism, nationalism, sexism and reliance on the bosses have been persistent. Initially, it was difficult to maintain anti-capitalist conversations. But with patience, I have been able to develop some friendships and trust through constantly taking a pro-worker, anti-profit stance.
We face many struggles on the job. When I began work at the company, free water was provided. But in September, the company began charging us. I explained to the workers how it was wrong to steal our wages during a time of low profits for the company. I exposed how the plant’s bosses got free water, but the workers who produced the plant’s profits—and the bosses’ salaries—did not.
Everyone agreed and many were angry, but there was no agreement on a plan of action. One worker suggested alerting the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). I took charge and called, which allowed me to link capitalism and the government when OSHA told us the company’s action was completely legal.
With this step forward in class consciousness, we took two steps backwards through defeatism. Most of the workers insisted there was no point in speaking out since no one had our back. I asserted that this was why we had to take things into our own hands. We must stand together, since water is the most vital component of human life. No one took up my proposal, but trying to organize a strike after two months on the job is a difficult mountain to climb. We haven’t built that endurance yet.
At a recent human resources meeting, I brought up the common concern for higher wages. The head of human resources, a department most of the guys thought was for us, told us we get exactly what we deserved—a measly $10.40 an hour. Later, when we got together on break, I discussed how what we do is the foundation of this company. But the company thinks we don’t deserve to live like those who own it.
Through small but persistent steps, I have been able to discuss a lot. Sometimes we even joke about going on strike, but no one is as serious as I am, yet. The potential is there, and I will continue the struggle. Two workers were invited to a forum we had on PLP’s trip to Ferguson. Neither showed up, but I’m still a new organizer and can break that barrier through constant struggle.
Tomorrow may not bring the revolution, but with every day that passes we get one day closer. With patience but persistence, my struggle will strengthen. and with the 2016 elections coming up and the realities of fascism exposing its unfettered free fall presses on urgency on me, and other I hope. I will continue to work on my CHALLENGE distribution, and recently I was able to pass out my first CHALLENGEs to four workers. I have been given the honor of organizing the workers’ club, so I must strive for better results. Hopefully this criticism of my success and failures help you all know we are not alone in these difficult times organizing the people. But we must have confidence in our class, for the potential is there. Here’s to the struggle of the international communist revolution!
Inspired by Comrades in Haiti
I recently had the opportunity to visit our comrades in Haiti. In a few days, I was more inspired than ever to fight against this capitalist system. Before and during the trip I read a book, Red & Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957 by Matthew J. Smith. I was reminded of some important lessons regarding Black nationalism and committing to protracted struggle that might be helpful for others.
Haiti is the best example of capitalism’s failure, with workers here living under the poorest conditions in the Western hemisphere. Most are unemployed and utilities like water and electricity are things the poorest workers in Haiti could only dream of. Many eat only once a day, and many others once every few days. When elections were coming up, bosses and their 54 presidential candidates gave people small sums of money, food and drinks in exchange for votes.
Ever since the slaves emancipated themselves from the French bosses in 1804, the working class in Haiti has been an inspiration. This revolution was not the end tof he fight for freedom. In 1946, a communist student-led general strike brought the whole country to a halt. During my trip, one student asked me, “How can young people change the world?” Luckily for her, students there have already set a great precedent, including our Party’s activity on campuses, in the outer towns, and in the streets.
The old communist movement in Haiti was involved in many sharp struggles. The Haitian ruling class used violence, intimidation and expulsion to try to silence them. The bosses also spread anti-communist propaganda through their media, and used noirisme—Black nationalism—to confuse workers and mount an ideological attack against communists in the Popular Socialist Party. The noiriste and staunch anticommunist François (“Papa Doc”) Duvalier, backed by U.S. imperialism, ruled a fascist state through terrorism, rape, and murder from 1957 to 1971, when he was succeeded by his fascist son.
But Communists have continued to find ways to reemerge and unite with the masses of Haiti. History shows that communism belongs to the international working class; the two successful revolutions were in Russia and China, and workers from regions ranging from the Indian subcontinent to Africa to Latin America took up red ideas en masse. Many in PLP know that communism is far from a “white people’s ideological tool.” Our comrades in Haiti know this, too.
Communists worldwide need to expose the lie that communism is an intellectual movement of white people. This is especially important at a time when Black Lives Matter would allow Black racist Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson to attend one of their conferences while white workers who fight racism are banned.
Only a PLP-led communist system can put the working class — from Haiti to Syria — in power. On the first night, while sharing our stories of fightback, one comrade acknowledged that our Party’s fight is very difficult but also very important, and that it will take a long-term commitment to smash this system. He is willing to make that commitment. Before leaving, I told him that meeting committed comrades like him make fighting for communism a little bit easier. I look forward to working even harder to make a communist world a reality.