WHAT YOU DO COUNTS
(This article was first published in 1986)
Table of Contents
- WHAT? ANOTHER HILL?
- THE WAR IS ON
- BUILDING THE PARTY HURTS THE RULERS AND HELPS THE WORKERS
- WORKERS NEED PLP
- WHAT WE DO AND DID MAKES A DIFFERENCE
- OUR INACTION CREATES PASSIVITY--OUR ACTION LEADS TO STRUGGLE
Italy is a mountainous and hilly country. Most of Italy looks like one
long string of peaks. During World War II, the U.S. and British armies invaded
Italy. The allied armies numbered each hill in the country. You know, the Army
does everything "by numbers."
The Nazis sat on top of each hill with their deadly 88mm rifles aimed directly
at anyone going up the hill. After a hill was taken, the U.S. Army would
announce that Hill 123 was captured. Then they would say that the next
objective was Hill 124. The hills and the numbers attached to the hills seemed
endless. After a while, when the orders would come out to take Hill 199, the
GIs would say, "What? Another hill?"
You couldn't win the war in Italy unless you took all the hills the Germans
occupied. But what seemed an impossible task was finally accomplished. Of
course, the U.S. Army got a big assist from the Italian red-led Partisan
movement. So, Italians and Americans finally took all the hills.
It was hard for the soldiers to understand the importance of any hill. But all
the hills together represented the largest part of the German fortifications.
To those of us who didn't have an overview of the fighting, there seemed to be
a level of futility in each particular battle over the hill. "What difference
can it make if we capture the hill?" The GIs often felt their efforts were
useless and squandered. There was much justification for this cynicism. The
U.S. Army brass was less than competent. But in order to win a war, you have to
kill many of the enemy, regardless of the competency of the leaders.
Our Party is at war now. The war is between the ruling class and the working
class. This is class war! Our war is far more difficult and long-range than any
other war in history . In order to win this war, we have to win an endless
string of battles. We have to overcome limitless obstacles. Many of our "hills"
are located in our heads. Like all soldiers, we often do not see the connection
between the tiniest battle to the over-all war. We often get tired, frustrated,
defeatist, and so on. In any war there are casualties. There are numerous job
firings. There are endless arrests, and other harassment. And there will be
(sooner or later) many wounds and deaths. But there is a good side to this. (A
good side, you say? You must be kidding.) Casualties inflicted on us by the
enemy means we are hurting them. Often we do not realize this. We do hurt the
enemy! They don't like us! They have never given us flowers!
Every time we sell a paper, have a rally, hold a school, attack the KKK, fight
against imperialist wars, attack racism on every front, support or organize
strikes, build the Party and InCAR, we are hurting the enemy. Tell us what boss
and his flunkies like any of the above. If they do like these actions, there
are places for them in the bug house.
Like the soldiers in Italy, we often hear one another say, or indicate in one
way or another: "What? Another demo? Another Party school? Another paper sale?
Big deal, we recruited another person." Well, if a thousand of us each sold one
more paper, our circulation would be up one thousand. If each of us brought one
more worker to May Day, May Day would be considerable larger. We need every
little, and big, effort from all of us so we can overcome the hills imposed on
us by the rulers and ourselves.
Earlier in our history, the Party had organized the first major support for the
embattled coal miners in Hazard County, Kentucky. This wildcat strike was
front-page news. It was an armed battle against the coal bosses and the
National Guard. We organized tons of every single thing the miners needed the
most. We had a rally in sub-freezing temperatures in NYC to support the miners.
Over one thousand people turned out. The leader of the miners, Berman Gibson,
gave a pretty good talk about the need for armed struggle.
In the fifties, the bosses crowed about the "silent generation." Students in
the period were described in much the same way as today: passive and
career-oriented. The bosses gloated about how the students were no longer open
to communism. In the early sixties, PL organized the first anti-imperialist
activity of that period. We organized a student trip to Cuba. We wanted to
break the travel ban and to raise the anti-imperialist consciousness of the
students and others. The first attempt failed because of FBI intervention. The
second attempt worked. We figured out how to overcome FBI harassment. We
overcame a hill. Our trip was organized more openly than ever. We announced the
date, the time, the jump-off place. However, we had another set of plans that
we didn't announce. The FBI bit on our announced plans. We left from some other
Sixty-nine students went to Cuba and broke the travel ban. I happened to tell a
long-time communist about the 69 students going to Cuba. His response was that,
"You can get 69 students to do anything." Every distortion has in it a germ of
truth. The trips to Cuba got enormous publicity. Open defiance of the bosses
was rare. But the two trips to Cuba proved that the U.S. bosses weren't
invincible. It proved that students were looking for leadership. It proved
many, many things. Most important, it helped build our movement.
The Cuba trip was the forerunner of the mass anti-Vietnam War movement. As the
U.S. escalated the war in Vietnam there seemed to be a hopelessness about what
could be done. But experiences that had started to unfold during the Korean War
pointed in a different direction. While passivity to the war seemed dominant,
anti-war sentiment was just beneath the surface.
The first anti-war demonstration was called by our Party in Times Square, NYC
At the time, Times Square was off-limits to demonstrations. We broke the ban.
There were arrests and fights, but we came out of it stronger. Most
importantly, we showed that you could fight the foreign policy of the bosses.
In 1964 there was the anti-racist Harlem rebellion. C-D
[Challenge-Desafio] and our poster, "Gilligan the Cop--Wanted
for Murder," were the flags of the rebellion. All the fake left and liberal
organizations told the masses to "cool it" and go home. We said, "March!" The
FBI attacked us publicly. Good! That was part of our reward.
Lately, we led the mass violent struggles against the KKK terrorists all over
the country; we had the only mass activities in support of the recent Chrysler
strike. We could go on and on. It's not boasting. It is describing briefly what
a few people can accomplish when what they do conforms to the mood of the
masses . Yes, for the moment things have quieted down. But as in the past that
is only on the surface. Underneath, storms are brewing that will make past
actions seem like tea parties. The masses will not take it forever. And if it
takes a long time for the mood of the masses to change, we will persevere.
Nobody ever said it would be easy. But what we do or don't do now has a direct
bearing on what the mood of the masses will be.
Things don't happen by themselves. Spontaneous actions may appear and quickly
die out if there is no revolutionary leadership. There won't be communist
leadership unless our Party grows and grows. During WW II in Italy, the
Italians used to say that: "Mussolini killed and killed communists, until there
were two million of them." Yes, every paper you sell counts for something.
Every march you go to shows someone that you can fight back. Every recruit to
PLP and InCAR shows the world that workers and others can be won to antiracism
and communism. We are proving that the hundreds of billions that the bosses
have spent against communism is going down the drain. Dollars only work for so
long. The rulers will tire first of going up "yet another hill." Commitment to
revolution and communism can give us the power to fight and fight, and fight
some more. There aren't too many hills for us to climb.
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