I went to the Our Revolution in our neighborhood last week and I’m glad that someone is working on the down-ticket races – but that’s not for me. Electoral politics is only half the struggle, if that. The real struggle is at our work-places, in our schools, and in our communities.
For all the talk about the 99%, it’s really the working class we’re talking about (which includes the middle class), those of us who work for a living. The only real power we have is in our labor, in the threat of withholding our labor. Michael Moore says the middle class was created in Flint, Michigan with the sit-down strikes in the auto industry in the 1930s. Struggles that organized the UAW and the CIO. Both of which were heavily influenced by the Communist Party USA, one of the most effective reform organizations ever. Think about that. The Communists created the middle class. Makes you say hmmm.
Yes, the Communist Party and movement had its problems, primarily a lack of serious democracy.
So if I may have permission to play eminence grise to the young people leading our revolution (lower case), I’d like to suggest that you look into a career of organizing the working class, revitalizing the union movement. We had a recent glimpse of how effective organizing this segment in the Fight for 15, and most of those fast-food workers weren’t even unionized.
If any of you are anything like my 21-year-old son, you don’t know what you want to do. Try this: get a union job and organize a rank-and-file caucus to change the union leadership, or get a non-union job (Walmart, Whole Foods, Costco, Home Depot, etc.) and organize a union. You’ll probably get fired a lot. Since Reagan, the laws protecting union organizing have been emasculated. But it can be done.
One of the most successful models is the teachers’ union in Chicago and LA. Here rank and file slates have defeated the corrupt slate. In Chicago in particular, the union is leading the fight for police accountability and against the neoliberal policies of Raum Emmanuel.
Which brings up the possibility of becoming a teacher in the public schools. I never thought I would become a teacher until 45 years ago, one of my leftist friends suggested that we needed to build a parent-teacher alliance in the schools to challenge the racist school system and develop a revolutionary movement.
Leftist teachers are in a unique position to bridge the racial gap that divides all of our movements. The politics have changed, but 45 years later, I’m still building a parent-teacher alliance.
If you try either of these strategies, you’ll get the shit beat out of you, but as we used to say, an attack by the enemy is a good thing: it means you’re being effective.