The working class and socialism
9 February 2019
On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump capped his State of the Union speech by declaring, “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country… Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
Just three days after Trump’s anti-socialist outburst, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report showing just what is motivating the fear of socialism: the growth of the class struggle. According to the BLS, the number of workers who went on strike last year was the highest since 1986—more than three decades. Last year, more than half a million US workers went on strike, a 20-fold increase over 2017.
The largest work stoppage was last April’s strike by 81,000 Arizona teachers and staff, resulting in 486,000 lost man-days. The strike by 20,000 Oklahoma teachers that same month resulted in 405,000 lost man-days. The BLS added, “Statewide major work stoppages in educational services also occurred in West Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, and North Carolina.”
This wave of struggles has intensified in the New Year—in the United States, throughout North America, and all over the world. In Los Angeles, tens of thousands of teachers went on strike last month. Seventy thousand workers in auto plants in Matamoros, Mexico launched a major strike that is already disrupting auto production in the United States, and which is spreading to other sections of the working class.
And this is only the beginning.
Since the crushing of the PATCO strike in 1981, the American ruling class has presided over decades of deindustrialization, mass layoffs, and pay and benefit concessions. The trade unions have collaborated in implementing all these measures, selling out every…