Class struggle in the USA

marxismandtheusa500There exists a kind of senseless anti-Americanism in some left circles. Marxists are internationalists and do not take up a negative stance in relation to the people of any country. We stand for the unity of all working people against oppression and exploitation. What we oppose is not Americans, but American capitalism and American imperialism.

The American people and above all the American working class have a great revolutionary tradition. On the basis of great historical events they are destined to rediscover these traditions and to stand once more in the front line of the world revolution, as they did in 1776 and 1860. The future of the entire world depends ultimately on this perspective. And although today it may seem very far off, it is not so incredible as one might think. Let us recall that before 1917 tsarist Russia was the bastion of world reaction, as the U.S.A. is today. Many people were convinced that the idea of socialist revolution in Russia was a crazy delusion on the part of Lenin and Trotsky. Yes, they were completely convinced, and completely wrong.

The rapacious greed of the big corporations and the ambitions of the ruling elite of “the Empire” are dragging the U.S.A. into one adventure after another. New nightmares can flow from such adventures.

– From Introduction to Marxism and the USA

From May to August of 1934, Minneapolis was rocked by a strike that would forever change the course of U.S. labour history. This was the strike of Teamsters Local 574, a union led by Trotskyists. Many of the best techniques used by organised labour today find their origins in the Minneapolis Strike, in particular the flying picket. However, the strike's greatest conquest was in laying the foundations for industrial unionism in North America, leading to the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the following years. Above all, the Minneapolis Strike demonstrated the role played by the young forces of American Trotskyism in obtaining gains for workers.

On 20 October 2018, the White House published a document, entitled ‘The Opportunity Costs of Socialism’, which recognises the rising popularity of socialism in the United States (particularly amongst the young) and attempts to provide a scientific rebuttal in favour of capitalism. Alan Woods replies to this document’s slanders, and investigates why socialist ideas are gaining ground in the United States of America.

Tom Trottier examines the rise and fall of the Labor Party, which was founded by an alliance of unionists in 1996 and won some support, but rapidly declined in the late-90s and early-2000s. Tom explains why the Labor Party failed and why Marxists must draw lessons from the past to start laying the foundations and framework for a future mass, working-class, socialist party in the United States.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement clearly shows that, despite the civil rights struggles of the past, inequality and racism are still thriving in America. Many young people in particular are looking for answers and a way to solve the problems facing society. As Marxists we stand on the front lines in the struggle against discrimination in all its forms. We believe that to be successful, this must be combined with the united working class’s struggle against capitalism and for socialism. We take this opportunity to look back at and learn from the successes and failures of one of the most inspiring experiences of our

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Nearly twice a week in the USA, a black person is killed by a white cop. In Ferguson, Missouri, the death of yet another young black man at the hands of the police was one too many. Necessity expressed itself through accident, and the murder of Mike Brown unleashed a wave of pent-up outrage and indignation across the country. The daily protests and nightly confrontations with the police, state troopers, and National Guard flooded the media with scenes reminiscent of modern day Gaza, Iraq—or the US in the 1950s and 1960s.

For millions of people around the world, the United States represents the ultimate citadel of reaction: Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, the CIA, imperialism, sanctions, war, drones, anti-communism, discrimination, and exploitation. The American people are alleged to be a homogeneous bloc of ignorant, indifferent racists who blindly and enthusiastically back the reactionary economic and military policies of their government. Many people—even on the left— imagine that the US is immune from class conflict, and that life for the majority in the “belly of the beast” is prosperous and peaceful. However, while there may be an element of truth in some of this, the reality is far

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The following interview, conducted in October 2012 by journalist Arash Azizi, was originally published in the Farsi-language journal Mehrnameh, the leading journal of humanities in Iran. In it, John Peterson gives a basic overview of the history of political parties and class interests in the United States, which shows that the U.S. political spectrum has not always been "the same," and that things can and do change, often dramatically.

In the recent period, the so-called Tea Party movement has laid claim to the legacy of the American Revolution. With their tri-corner hats and abstract appeals to patriotism and freedom, they have seized headlines, aided by generous coverage by the corporate media. This has led to tremendous confusion when it comes to the real class roots of this world-shaking event. Unfortunately, for many Americans, the Revolution has been reduced to a summer barbecue on the 4th of July, flag-waving, fireworks, and images of George Washington heroically crossing the Delaware River.

The Occupy movement has many people looking to past movements to see what we can learn from them that can help us in today’s struggles.  The period of the 1960s and early 1970s was one of upheaval around the world: May 1968, the Tet Offensive, the revolution in Pakistan, etc. The USA was not exempt from these powerful social movements. In the 1950s, the movement to end Jim Crow segregation helped to spur on movements against the U.S. imperialist war on Vietnam, large strike movements by the working class, and the movements for equal rights for women and the LGBT community.

In January of 1917, a meeting was held in New York City to begin organizing the left-wing of the Socialist Party of America. They wanted to publish a regular Marxist paper, which would be a tool to win over the rank and file of the SP to a Marxist program. There were approximately 20 people at this meeting, one of whom was Leon Trotsky. Trotsky was new to New York and the USA. Soon after the meeting, he would leave the U.S. and go back to Russia and play the role of co-leader of the first successful workers’ revolution, while the SP left-wing would go forward and eventually become the Communist Party.

As part of our ongoing series on the early Left in the United States, we turn next to the Socialist Labor Party and its central figure, Daniel De Leon. Given the continued influence of De Leon and his ideas on some people on the Left, our aim is to draw a balanced appraisal. With the benefit of hindsight, we examine the rise and fall of the SLP as a relevant force in the socialist and workers' movement in order to draw the lessons for today.

On January 27th, 2010, the working class and the oppressed of the United States lost one of our greatest historians. For many of us on the left, our introduction to political life was reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which presents a comprehensive history of this country from the “bottom-up.” Zinn made it his life goal to speak for those whose voices had been silenced in the traditional telling of this nation’s history, and to make this history as accessible as possible, so that it did not remain isolated in the ghetto of academia, but was taught in high schools and colleges across the US.

The American Revolution shook up the entire world. In the name of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” the thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America, fought and won against the most powerful imperial power on the planet. The War for Independence was led by self-styled aristocrats like George Washington, but the actual fighting was done by small farmers, craftsmen and artisans, whites, blacks and Native Americans, freedmen and slaves alike.

Marxism and the USA was written at a time when George W. Bush was president, a time when many around the world – including many on the left – considered the U.S. to be one reactionary bloc, devoid of class struggle or revolutionary potential. Alan Woods' aim was to dispel these misconceptions, draw on the marvelous traditions of struggle throughout U.S. history, and inspire those new to the ideas of Marxism to learn more – and get involved. Providing one example after another, he showed how the ideas of socialism and communism are not recent, "foreign" importations, but have deep roots in the American tradition itself.

In this article, the conditions for socialist revolution to develop are analyzed. The experiences of the Socialist Party of America and other left groups are analyzed as well, for those that are interested in building a Marxist leadership need to learn from past left and labor movements to avoid making the same mistakes past socialists have made.

Every year, workers across the United States celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September. It is seen as a marker of the end of Summer, the start of football season, and the return to school for millions of students. But what is the origin of this holiday? What is its relation to the internationally celebrated Labor Day on May 1st?

The 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis, led by the Trotskyists of the Communist League of America (the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party), was a decisive moment in the US labor and socialist movements. During the years preceding the strike, few would have expected the upsurge that took place in 1934.

For decades, the mantra “Capitalism = good” and “Socialism = bad” was driven into our heads. But even the most sophisticated apparatus for influencing public opinion – the mainstream media – cannot mold opinion as powerfully as experience itself. From the dizzying heights of the boom to the economic implosion of the last 10 months, dramatic events are shaking up and transforming the way Americans look at the world around them.