Letters to the Editor
Gregg Shotwell did all the right things as a class struggle militant leader in the UAW. But he and his co-thinkers are up against UAW Bureaucrats that lead a majority of autoworkers who have been brainwashed into accepting the rules laid down by the capitalists. That is, if plants are not making a profit, the automaker has the right to shut them down. This is why workers in the auto and the airline industries have been willing to swallow the nastiest and excessively brutal monetary concessions imposed upon them by the bosses. A worker’s job is his/hers’ only means of survival. Without it comes ruin. There is no time for heroism or pie in the sky ideas. No, only survival and self-preservation by giving back wages since there is no other alternative in our real world where everything is run for profit and not for gratis and welfare.
The UAW Bureaucrats hold only a 60-40 majority. As socialists and class struggle militants, we now have to accept that our role now is to educate our cowed brethren about the nature of capitalism and how, though it is a dangerous road, our only way out of the morass of concessions contracts and job losses is through class struggle. Most importantly, economic collapse will have to occur to where it becomes crystal clear that not to fight militantly for your job is tantamount to suicide. Right now, militancy is tantamount to a suicidal stand that will gain no ground for anyone.
Unfortunately, it will take awhile for worker’s illusions to be dispelled that there is another job to find if after all the concessions are made you lose the one you have anyway. With the housing crisis, people are allowing themselves to be foreclosed on because they believe that it’s a matter of finding another place to live. As we forecast, these options will eventually run out for the workers.
Understanding objective reality at this time and having a deep understanding as to why workers in the U.S. will accept grizzly concessions and home foreclosures at this time will help us to write and agitate with greater clarity for a class struggle policy requiring militancy and sacrifice. We have to sanely bide our time.
Yes, the bureaucrats are in bed with the boss and see their interests more in line with the corporate heads. Indeed, the present trade union movement has been co-opted as brokering tools on behalf of capital in the epoch of imperialism. But it’s not so simple as a bunch of bureaucrats selling out the workers. Our U.S. working-class can only realize the need to fight when the option of retreat has disappeared completely, or else some sector of the class somewhere has come out ahead by adopting class struggle. Presenting class struggle alternatives as a more sensible option than retreat, while addressing working class concerns about their ineffectual sell-out leadership, along with the potential police and judicial violence that will be wielded against them, poses a creative challenge for socialists and trade union militants during the unfavorable present objective reality.
Yours for the revolution,
The other day on TV they showed a U.S. army picture of a new fort built on the border of Iraq and Iran. My memory was prodded and I thought, “I have seen this before, years and years ago!” Yes I had. Over fifty years ago I had seen an army fort just like this one on TV. As a child, I would go to the Saturday afternoon moving picture shows; they were mostly cowboy and Indian adventures. Some, however, were about the French Foreign Legion. Their plot was the same as the cowboy and Indian pictures except the French Foreign Legion played the part of the cowboys and the Arabs that of the Indians. Also, different was rather than Western sagebrush, it was all sand. Sand just like around the U.S.-built fort on TV.
All this reminded me of Dien Bien Phu. It, however, was not a small under-defended fort with sand around it. Dien Bien Phu was large, extremely well built, with thirteen battalions of experienced troops within it. The French fort had a large subterranean outfit, large 105mm guns, complete control of the highway, was only 125 miles from a coastal city, complete air control, etc., etc.
Its size and strength wasn’t superior to the U.S. fort but its basic nature was the same; it was there to control a people as in the U.S. fort.
The basic nature shows itself. I remember reading in the newspaper of the period that the heroic General Commander, when the fort was being torn apart by the people, ordered the good French wine to be opened and then, taking out his personal gun, shooting his two mistresses and then himself, leaving it to his second in command to surrender.
At the time I wondered when did the French build such forts that would need to be supplied and would be certain to be destroyed.
During World War II, the U.S. mineworkers union went out on strike. The government sent in troops. The mineworkers union said, “You can’t dig coal with tanks, bombers and marching troops!” They won their strike!
These forts cannot be supplied with tanks, bombers or marching troops. They need trucks to transport the large amount of supplies these forts must have.
Trucks can be stopped. This was proved in the 1934 Minneapolis strike. And, in the 1960s, in the strike of the National Farmers Organization (N.F.O.), I saw the big trucks of the scab meat industry stopped. A union militant, showed me how he stopped the biggest trucker as a farm member of the N.F.O. with just a heavy iron pipe and a small 22 squirrel-hunting long gun.
Bush did not invent mercenary troops, neither did the French. Ruling groups have, like the Democratic Party, need to make certain their mercenaries got paid all thorough out class history.
Contractors, Pinkertons, Scabs, Foreign Legiontheir names change but their basic nature does not.
With warmest comradely greetings to a great magazine,
Joe Johnson, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, October 10, 2007