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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wisconsin Movement Union Party Derailed

Political parties, unions score in “cynical, reactionary maneuver to demobilize working class, dissipate opposition to the attacks on social programs and worker rights”
Editing by Carolyn Bennett
From today’s World Socialist Web Site article by Patrick Martin, “The lessons of Wisconsin”

“The economic convulsions and social tensions that produced the upheaval in Wisconsin have not been resolved,” Patrick Martin writes. “On the contrary, they have intensified enormously.
“The working class in the United States and throughout the world is being driven into struggle by the crisis of capitalism and by the determination of the ruling class to defend its wealth through a ruthless attack on jobs, wages, education, health care and basic democratic rights.”

Cause demands new blood, new ideas, ceaseless struggle

“This struggle requires a new political perspective and new organizations of struggle. No confidence can be placed in the trade unions, which serve as the policemen for big business inside the working class.

The working class must build new organizations independent of the trade unions—rank and file committees to unite public sector and private sector workers as well as youth in the workplaces, schools and neighborhoods.
 “The militant defense of jobs, living standards and social services must become a political struggle against the profit system and the two corporate-controlled parties that defend it.

The working class can take a step forward only when workers break with the Democratic Party and take up the fight to build an independent party based on a struggle for workers’ power and socialism.…

“The central lesson of Wisconsin is the need to build a new leadership in the working class—the Socialist Equality Party—to arm the coming social struggles with a revolutionary program and perspective.

Toward June 5
Capitol rotunda

The February-March 2011 response to newly elected Governor Scott Walker’s surprise introduction of a measure to virtually eliminate bargaining rights for public employees and slash billions from workers’ benefits and social programs was tens of thousands of workers in demonstrations and occupation of the Capitol rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin.

After the Republican-controlled state legislature ignored the protests and passed the anti-worker legislation, movement grew for a general strike. The Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site took up an aggressive campaign for general strike action, issued statements and distributed thousands of them at anti-Walker rallies.

Movement aborted becomes campaign to recall

Union obstruction
Union leaders shut down the anti-Walker movement and diverted it into a series of recall campaigns aimed at replacing Republican politicians with Democrats, beginning with the recall of state senators during the summer and culminating in the petition drive that gathered nearly a million signatures and forced the June 5 recall election.

Leaders of the major unions—the AFL-CIO, the state workers union (AFSCME), and the teachers union (WEAC)—adamantly opposed any wider struggle against the anti-worker law.

These union leaders offered to implement all the cuts demanded by Walker, provided he maintained the automatic dues check-off, the source of their own salaries, and preserved a role for them in negotiating the reductions in the income and benefits of their members.
Democratic Party, pseudo-Left obstruction
Democrats stressed their support for Walker’s attacks on public workers’ benefits and social services, opposing only the measures aimed at undermining the position of the trade union bureaucracy, which remains a significant part of the Democrats’ base of support.

Pseudo-left groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) played a key role in torpedoing the struggle in Wisconsin, building up the authority of the unions and advancing a perspective that mass protest could force the Democratic Party to oppose the anti-worker policies of the Republicans. They deliberately concealed the class identity of the Democratic Party, which, no less than the Republicans, is a party of corporate America.

Movement watered down becomes fiasco

The recall campaign was a cynical and reactionary maneuver aimed at demobilizing the working class, dissipating the opposition to the attacks on social programs and workers’ rights, and channeling the struggle against Walker into support for the Democratic Party.  

Derailed can be
put back on track
The June 5 debacle was thus “the predictable culmination of the intervention by the unions and the Democratic Party,” Patrick Martin concludes, to suppress mass workers’ protests and strikes that erupted in Wisconsin last year against the anti-worker, budget-cutting legislation pushed through by Walker.”

Sources and notes
“The lessons of Wisconsin” (Patrick Martin), June 7, 2012
World Socialist Web Site, wsws.org, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/pers-j07.shtml
The author also recommends:  “The Wisconsin protests and the re-emergence of the American working class,” February 18, 2011

Workers unite,
Solidarity, Charity implies a power and privilege differential.
Migrant Worker Solidarity Caravan-First Stop: Niagara!
Madison, general strike now, May 2011
Workers's rights are human rights, TWU Regional Summits in Houston and Columbus Fight Back Against ... workersrights.twu.org


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