Social consequences of neoliberal capitalism • John Bellamy Foster, “The Paradox of Wealth: Capitalism and Ecological Destruction” • Alan Sears, "Queer in a Lean World" • Kevin Pyle and Craig Gilmore, “Prison Town: Paying the Price” • Michael Zweig, “Six Points on Class” • David Bacon, “The Political Economy of Migration” 1b. October 10, 2010: Understanding capitalist exploitation & crisis • Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, and Greg Albo, “Capitalist Crisis, Radical Renewal?” [2010] • Ernest Mandel, "General approach and influence to Marx’s Economic Theory" [1970s] • Ernest Mandel, "Marx’s Labour Theory of Value" [1970s] • Ernest Mandel, "The Laws of Motion of the Capitalist Mode of Production" [1970s] • Charlie Post, "Exploring the Roots of the Crisis" [2008] 2. October 24, 2010: What kind of socialism do we want? • Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s” [1984] • David McNally, Johanna Brenner, “Socialism From Below” [2000s] • Robin Kelley, “‘The Negro Question’- Red Dreams of Black Liberation" [2003] • Nancy Holmstrom, “The Socialist Feminist Project” [2003] 3. November 7, 2010: Reform and revolution, dynamics of social change

Peter Camejo, "How to Make a Revolution in the United States" [1970] 2. Robert Brenner, “The Problem of Reformism” [1991] 3. Sol Dollinger, chapters Not Automatic: Women and the Left in the Forging of the Autoworkers Union [2000] 4. Dianne Feeley, “Labor’s Disaster at American Axle” [2008]

4. November 21, 2010: Socialist activism and organization • Solidarity, "Regroupment and Renewal of a US Left" [2008] • Solidarity, excerpts from "Founding Statement" [1986] • Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “Unity Statement” [1992] • Jo Freeman, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” [1970] • David Finkel, “Then and Now: Another Look at ‘What is to be Done?’” [1982] 5. December 5, 2010: The Democratic and Republican parties and independent political action. • Joanna Misnik, excerpts from "The Rainbow and the Democratic Party: New Politics Or Old?" [1988] • Bill Fletcher and Danny Glover, "Visualizing a Neo-Rainbow" [2004] • Peter Camejo, "The Avocado Declaration" [2004] • Mike Davis, excerpts from "Obama at Manassas" [2008] 6a. December 19, 2010: Race, national oppression, and self-determination • Cynthia Kaufman, “Theorizing and Fighting Racism” [2003]

• Jeff Corntassel, “To Be Ungovernable” [2006] • Glen Ford, "The Black Struggle Under Obama" [2009] • Robert Allen, “The Social Context of Black Power” [1969] • Adolph Reed, “Tokens of the White Left” [2000] 6b. January 2, 2010: Race, national oppression, and self-determination • Betsy Esch and David Roediger, “One Symptom of Originality: Race and the Management of Labour in the History of the United States” [2009] • Bob Wing, "Crossing Race and Nationality: The Racial Formation of Asian Americans 1852-1965" [2005] • Mike Davis, “Buscando America” [2000] • Elizabeth Martinez, “Seeing more than Black and White” [1994] • Kim Moody, "Harvest of Empire, Immigrant Workers in the US" [2007] 7. January 16, 2010: Challenges for the labor movement • Mark Brenner, “After a Year of Disappointment and Defeats, Where are the Pitchforks?” [2010] • Lee Sustar, "US Labor in the Crisis: Resistance or Retreat?" [2009] • Erin Small, “Feminism At Work” [2007] • Steve Downs, “Book Review: Solidarity Divided” [2009] • Jane Slaughter and Mark Brenner, "The Lay of the Land for Labor" [2008] • Dianne Feeley, "Labor's Disaster at American Axle" [2008] 8a. January 30, 2010: Feminism, identity, and women’s self-organization. • bell hooks, “Sisterhood: Practical Solidarity Among Women" [1984] • bell hooks, “Men: Comrades in Struggle” [1984] • Sheila Rowbotham, "What do Women Want?" [1993] • Sheila Rowbotham, "Women, Power, and Politics" [1993] • Sheila Rowbotham, "Origins of Women's Liberation in Many Countries" [1993] 8b. February 13, 2010: Feminism, identity, and women’s self-organization. • Sheila Rowbotham, "Personal Politics: Changing Politics Through Action" [1993] • Sheila Rowbotham, "Knots: Theoretical Debates" [1993] • Sheila Rowbotham, "The Protests Without a Name: Women in Collective Action" [1993] • Combahee River Collective, “The Combahee River Collective Statement” [1977] 9. February 27, 2010: Gender oppression and sexual liberation, LGBTQ identity and social movement. • Chloe Tribich, "Gay Marriage: End of the World?" [2010] • Peter Drucker, "The New Sexual Radicalism" [2010] • 15th World Congress of the Fourth International, "On Lesbian/Gay Liberation" [2003] • Donna Cartwright: "Transgender Activism After Falls City" [2000] • Daisy Hernandez: "Becoming a Black Man" [2008] 10. March 13, 2010: Imperialism, and internationalism • Ellen Meiksins Wood, chapters from "Empire of Capital" [2005]

Isaac Deutscher, "Internationals and Internationalism" [1971] Salvatore Cannavo, “The International Becomes a Perspective” [2010] • John Bellamy Foster, foreword to “Latin America & Twenty-First Century Socialism: Inventing to Avoid Mistakes” [2010] • Olivier Bonfond, Eric Toussaint, “Will Capitalism Absorb the World Social Forum?" [2010] 11. March 27, 2010: 21st century socialism • Joanna Misnik, “The Future of Socialism: Under Construction” [1991] • David McNally “Building Toward the Next New Left” [2008] • Marta Harnecker, "Programmatic Crisis & the Crisis of Credibility" [2007] • Marta Harnecker, "The Organic Crisis" [2007] • Marta Harnecker, "The Theory Underlying this Concept of Party" [2007] • Marta Harnecker, "Politics as the Art of Making the Impossible Possible" [2007] • Marta Harnecker, "Why We Need a Political Organization” [2007]

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Peter Camejo, “Liberalism, Ultraleftism or Mass Action”
The purpose of this meeting is to have a discussion about the present political conjuncture in this country following the May events, how we have to relate to what is happening, and what we have to do to build the antiwar movement and the revolutionary movement. The main questions I want to deal with are some of the arguments being raised within the radical movement against the orientation projected by the Socialist Workers Party and the Young Socialist Alliance. I want to try to deal with these arguments in a theoretical way. That is, deal with what is basically behind the differences that now exist in the radical movement and what they represent in terms of the problems before the left in the United States. I want to start by talking about Cambodia. If you read the newspapers of the last few days you will notice that there’s a very interesting thing happening in Cambodia. The papers say that the guerrillas are winning ground. Now, you have to be very careful whenever the American papers say that the communists are winning, because sometimes that is done simply to justify sending more troops or more arms. But when the papers start saying it every day, over and over again, and then they start telling you what areas the communists have conquered, after a while you begin to suspect that it’s true. And I’m really getting very suspicious that the people in Cambodia are starting to win. But, there’s more to it than just that. There’s something else happening. The United States is not sending in any troops to stop their advance. Well, you may say: “obviously, we all know about that.” Nixon says the US isn’t sending any more troops. The troops are supposed to be withdrawn from Cambodia by the end of June. But Nixon is pulling them out just when the United States is losing in Cambodia! Now, that’s very unusual. We have to stop and think: what’s stopping the United States from sending hundreds of thousands of troops into Cambodia right now, to take over the capital and secure all those little towns and cities and roads and everything else they claim they’re losing? They certainly don’t want to lose Cambodia. Nixon has the airplanes, he has the ships. What’s stopping him? Russian troops? Chinese troops? Who’s in the way?

If you can’t answer that question, you can’t understand either what is happening in this country or what has to be done. Because if you want to deal with politics, you have to understand that there’s some real force stopping the war-makers. It’s not just some psychological quirk of Nixon. And it’s not because of some resolution that’s being debated by the Senate. The power of a class, like the American ruling class, is not determined by some kind of legal paper. It’s determined by a relationship of certain forces. In other words, there’s a certain power that is stopping them from going full steam ahead with the war. What is that power? Many of the so-called radicals, or people who call themselves radicals, can’t answer this question. Some of them used to say that the reason the United States is not doing more in Vietnam, and is actually starting to withdraw some troops, is because the US has lost the war. Remember that explanation? These radicals used to keep announcing that the NLF had won. I’ve always asked them to notify the NLF about this, since the NLF undoubtedly isn’t aware of it. You don’t say you’ve won a war when there are still 500,000 enemy troops occupying all your major cities. The fact is, the United States has not lost the war militarily. The United States could put millions more soldiers into Vietnam from a military standpoint. The US had an army of 15 million in the Second World War, with a population then of some 140 million. With the present population of 220 million, the US could put an army of 22 to 24 million in the field now if it wanted to mobilize on the scale it did for World War II. Which means it could put 10 million into Vietnam. And it would be economically possible too, if the government was willing to pay the price, in terms of the standard of living of the American people, that it paid in the Second World War. That is, there is nothing militarily stopping them from escalating. The national liberation forces of Indochina couldn’t physically stop them from landing two, three, or five million soldiers. It’s true that one thing the US has to consider in deciding whether or not to send more troops is how China and the USSR would respond to such an escalation. That is a real consideration, because China and the Soviet Union represent real powers. Up until now, however, all the Chinese have done when the US staged major escalations is issue their 1829th “final warning”, saying that

they take it very seriously and that the US will have to be responsible for the consequences. The Russians have also put out their “warnings”, different only in their wording. So the restraint on the US government is not mainly due to a direct or immediate fear of China and Russia. That’s one consideration based on real power, but it is not the decisive consideration at this moment because the US has already had a higher number of troops in Vietnam than they have right now. And they’ve bombed further and more intensively than they are right now. What’s stopping them from moving right now into Cambodia? Another explanation advanced by some is that the ruling class is reforming itself, changing its mind about how imperialist to be. But that’s not what is happening at all. The American ruling class from McGovern and Kennedy right on down to Nixon would love to have a free hand, a situation where it would be acceptable to send however many soldiers would be necessary to take control of Cambodia and “secure” Vietnam. The war makers haven’t had any change of heart. The real explanation is that the masses of people in this country have become a force that enters into the balance on a world scale. There is a change taking place in the consciousness of the people of the United States, and this change is altering the relationship of forces. An understanding of this fact is crucial for deciding our strategy and tactics. You can’t work out tactics for how to affect the course of the war unless you understand what is affecting it at this very moment. Failure to understand this leads to all types of dreams, schemes and fantasies which I’m going to discuss. But first let’s consider why this is true. Why is it that the antiwar consciousness of the masses of people can be such a powerful force affecting what the government can do? The reason is very simply this: contrary to what many people in the radical movement say, the masses of people have different interests than the ruling class and they have independent power. The ruling class can, of course, influence the working class — through the leadership of the trade unions for instance. But the potential power of the working class, that independent power which was concretely reflected in the postal workers strike and the GE [General Electric] strike, is a power which is so strong that the ruling class has to seriously reckon with it in figuring out its strategy.

The working class in this country, if it so chose, could physically end the war in Vietnam. That’s a pretty fantastic power. Students cannot end it by themselves. Soldiers could conceivably end it, but you can’t consider the GIs in isolation from the rest of society. There’s a general shift taking place in which masses of workers are becoming more and more sympathetic to appeals to stop the war. Now people say: “What do you mean? There’s no sign of that. How many workers have gone on strike against the war? How many workers have thrown their bodies in the way of tanks? How many workers have burnt their draft cards, or even joined a demonstration?” Such arguments are used to “prove” that mass antiwar sentiment obviously can’t be the power restraining the war-makers. But if you look at it this way you’re forgetting how this society functions. You see, if you walk into a store that’s selling refrigerators, there’s nobody in that store to stop you from wheeling out a refrigerator. How many guards do they have at the door? Probably zero. They have some salesman who walks up to you. It wouldn’t take much to get him out of the way. You could wheel out four or five of them. Now, the reason you don’t go wheeling refrigerators out of stores every day of the week is because there’s a certain power ensuring that that refrigerator stays inside the store unless they get money for it. There are things like the police, the courts, and jails behind it. But this power isn’t apparent when you look at the refrigerator and at the little salesman saying: “You’d better not take that.” In a similar way, when a union bureaucrat gets up at a rally and says, “You’d better stop the war”, it isn’t some helpless little guy on the street talking. There’s a lot of power behind that plea. If you don’t understand the relationships which exist in this society, because they’re not apparent at first sight, you can make some tragic errors. The working class and the oppressed nationalities are mass social layers, and they can only realize their potential power when they organize as a massive social force. The ruling class can deal with any one individual or any small group; it’s only masses that can stand in their way. So the potential power of the working class to stop the war is a big threat. Now, the people who run this country are not stupid. They are not going to continue blindly along a course when they know there are

dangers ahead. No one has to go up to Nixon or Kennedy and say: “If the mood that exists among students were to spread to the workers, and instead of a general student strike there was a general strike of the working class, well, then you would lose more than Vietnam and Cambodia.” No one has to tell them that. They know that. And that’s why they don’t just keep pushing ahead, saying to hell with the students and workers, send in another million soldiers and invade Cambodia. Send troops into Cuba, send them into Indonesia and into China. Drop the bomb on China. They know better than to just keep pushing ahead. What they have to do is get rid of that danger, the danger that actions will bring a response from the masses who actually have power to stop them. They’re not so stupid as to just go blindly forward. Because where there’s real power, and real stakes, people don’t play games. You see, you can take 200 or 300, or even a few thousand people and fight in the streets, throwing rocks at windows, and putting on a big show. You can play revolution, not make revolution. But when you’re talking about 15 million workers who control basic industry in this country, you don’t play games. Because they don’t run around throwing things at windows. They do things like stop production, period. The postmen, for instance — all they had to do to tie up the economy was to go home. That’s all. Just go home. That’s power. A question that’s very important in this relationship of forces I’ve been speaking of is the question of who’s got the majority, Nixon or the antiwar movement. The polls are going wild trying to establish this or that, and there are demonstrations and claims and counterclaims back and forth. But what the liberals and the ultra lefts don’t understand is that what the majority thinks can be decisive. Such things as where the troops can be sent and whether bullets can be fired or not, can be determined by what the mass of the people think. Because their ability to resist, and the potential, the danger of their resistance, is dependent on what they think. The May events Now in May we witnessed the general student strike. We should look carefully at what the government’s policy, the ruling class’s policy, was

toward this upsurge because it’s instructive. The answer to the antiwar upswing in the fall was Nixon’s claim to have a “silent majority” behind him. That was the gist of the propaganda campaign by the ruling class to try to minimize the impact of the demonstrations on October 15 and November 15. Then came the general student strike of May, and the massive increase in conscious hostility towards the war in Vietnam, and the invasion of Cambodia. This strike swept the United States like an ocean wave. It was clear that this time the student-based protest reflected the thinking of millions and millions of Americans, including huge sections of the working class. This time when the students came out, they all came out. When virtually 98% of the student body is striking in many schools and three-quarters of them are showing up for the mass strike meetings, you know that the movement reflects moods prevalent in the entire population. They are being expressed visually by the student layer. What was the response to this upsurge by the ruling class? The number one point which they understood perfectly was that decisive power does not lie within the student movement, but that the student movement is a direct danger because it can act as a catalyst, spreading ideas and setting other forces into motion. If you were to look at the students in isolation, you would say they don’t have any real power. But put the students into the actual network of society — the interrelationship with their parents, the interrelationship with society as a whole, the interrelationship between each university and other universities and schools and the community around it — and the ruling class can see an immediate threat. The goal of the ruling class was to prevent this strike — this infection, as they saw it — from spreading beyond the campus throughout the population as a whole. They saw the student strike taking place, and they didn’t want it to spread because they saw that the student strike was starting to weaken the fibers of this class society, and that if workers got involved in this movement and it began to spread, this whole society might be torn apart. So they were consciously trying to save their system, which they think is the most wonderful thing of all creation. What did they say in the newspapers? “It’s terrible. America is divided. We have to come back together.” And then they started saying: “It’s

too bad that our children are this way.” You see, it’s just the kiddies. It’s the generation gap. On television they say to the workers: “You’re older, and this strike isn’t for you. It’s just our kids, and we’ve got to try to understand them.” Or: “It’s a white strike. It has nothing to do with black people. And it certainly has nothing to do with unions or workers!” That’s the general campaign they put on. This campaign was expressed, for instance, by Roy Wilkins, who made his famous statement about how the student strike has nothing to do with black people. And also in the way the papers played up the May 20 pro-war demonstration in New York organized by the trade union bureaucrats and the bosses. The May 20 demonstration I want to say a few things about that demonstration. There are very few demonstrations that take place in the United States where people are paid to show up. Well, these demonstrators were paid to come out. They got a day’s pay only if they turned up. So this was a demonstration financed by the bosses and organized by the trade union bureaucracy for the purpose of trying to pose the working class against the antiwar forces. They wanted to make a dichotomy between the two because they understood the danger. Of course, they had to pick a section of the working class from the aristocracy of labor, among the most highly paid and conservative. But I will make a prediction here that the trade union bureaucrats and the ruling class will live to regret the day they called that demonstration. Because those construction workers and other workers in New York City realized something important in the course of that demonstration. That is, they saw their own power. Now, it’s a basic rule that you shouldn’t show people their own power when you’re trying to rule them. But the ruling class was so desperate that they had to do this. The reason I say they’re going to regret that demonstration is that as this inflation continues and real wages start dropping for construction workers some are bound to get up in a union meeting and say: “Hey, remember what we did a year ago? We all went out on that big demonstration and threatened everybody in the world. Why don’t we do that again demanding better pay? Why don’t we go down and beat the hell out of the mayor?” If you’re a ruling class, it’s a very dangerous thing to play with masses in motion. In fact, we saw the response to this pro-war demonstration the very next day, when trade unions organized their first antiwar

demonstration. What was new in May was not pro-war attitudes among the trade unions but a split in the union movement with unions breaking from Meany and declaring against the war. It’s very dangerous for the ruling class to encourage any kind of mass mobilizations of workers, because when they see how they can exert their power through demonstrations they will begin demonstrating in their own interests. The general policy of the ruling class is to divide the movement, divide the students from the workers and the blacks, and conquer it that way. Keep it divided. Keep it from spreading until the spontaneous upsurge and the student strike eventually cool off. The ‘responsive’ image Now, while the ruling class was trying to prevent the movement from spreading, they launched a gigantic campaign to convince the students that the government was listening to them, that the government was responsive. This was a very important aspect. They told the students over and over again: “We are listening, we’re listening, we hear you, we hear you.” More and more of the politicians announced that they were against the war. Nixon said he’d get the troops out by the end of June. He even got up at 5 am on May 9 to speak to the students, remember? Meanwhile they were campaigning to tell all the young people: “Get back into the system! This system works! Look, we’re listening.” They launched a gigantic campaign to co-opt this movement, saying: “Come back into the fold. Thank you so much for striking. Thank you, but now we’re past that stage. We’re past demonstrating and striking. We’re now at the stage for knocking at doors and getting votes for me, and I’ve just discovered that I’m against the war. We’re all Americans; we’re going to pull our country back together. Our system is very responsive; it will correct itself.” That was the position they took. Now, keeping this whole framework of the relationship of forces in mind, let’s look at the various orientations that are being presented to us for what to do next. There are basically three of them. One is what I call liberalism. Another one is ultraleftism. The third one is what I call independent mass action. Orientation number one First the liberal approach. Liberals reject the concept that there is a relationship of forces between classes. They can’t understand it. If you walk up to a liberal and say, “Right now the working class is protecting

your civil liberties”, he would break out laughing. He’d roll over on the floor, saying: “What are you talking about? Meany’s for the war; the unions never do anything!” They don’t understand the fact that the American working class believes in its civil liberties. If the ruling class tried suddenly to take all civil liberties away, the American people could physically stop them. So then you ask the liberal who is protecting his civil liberties? He will say: “Well, it’s because our system allows it. Our system works to a certain degree.” Since they have confidence that the system basically works, the only problem is to find members of the ruling class who are responsive and will help protect civil liberties, and get them in power. They continuously look for a more liberal wing within the ruling class to support. They don’t at all see that the way to change society or affect the course of events is to go to the masses. On the contrary, they accept the general bourgeois ideology of deep cynicism toward the masses. The average person in the street according to them is stupid. He can be easily manipulated. “Look, the average person in the street believes the politicians are corrupt, yet he votes for them every year. Isn’t that true? Haw, haw, haw”, he says. And all the liberal “intellectuals” read the New York Times, and they say: “Look at what the masses read, the Daily News! How can you possibly expect anybody who reads that paper to be an effective force for social change?” So the liberals don’t look to the masses. They look directly to the ruling class and try to affect the course of events by relating to any differences within the ruling class. This ideology of liberalism, finding a politician who’s responsive, represents the ideology of the overwhelming majority of the student movement. Most students on the campus are suspicious because of the war in Vietnam and because of the radicalization that’s affected them. Nevertheless, they’re still willing to give the politicians — the McGoverns, the McCarthys and the Kennedys — another chance. Orientation number two There’s another point of view, and that is ultraleftism. This represents a small section of the student movement, but a much larger proportion of those who call themselves radicals or socialists. Now basically an ultraleft is a liberal that has gone through an evolution. What happens is this. They start out as liberals, and suddenly the war in Vietnam comes along. Now, what does a liberal

believe? He believes that the ruling class is basically responsive to his needs. So he demonstrates. You know, in the beginning when the antiwar movement first started there were very few ultraleftists. Most of the ultraleftist leaders of today were people who were organizing legal, peaceful demonstrations back around 1965. But after they called a few demonstrations against the war, they noticed something was wrong. The ruling class was not being responsive. Not only that, they understood for the first time that the US was literally massacring the Vietnamese people. This frightened them. It was as if you all of a sudden found out that your father was really the Boston Strangler. That’s what it was like for these people. They were liberals, who believed that Johnson was better than Goldwater, who had worked and voted for him only to find out that he was the Boston Strangler. Now, since they had no confidence in the masses as an independent force that could stop the ruling class, since they had no confidence that the stupid worker was actually a force protecting their civil liberties, they said: “Wait a minute. If the government is being run by wild maniacs and butchers, what is stopping them from killing me tomorrow?” Then you started hearing them all talk about imminent fascism. The underground papers discovered that there were concentration camp sites in this country, and that some of them were being cleaned up and gotten ready. They would say to each other: “See you next year in the concentration camps.” This was a very common attitude, because they couldn’t see any force around that was protecting their civil liberties. Then what they began to develop was the thesis that civil liberties, elections, courts, all bourgeois democratic forms are a gigantic put-on, a fantastic manipulation. That it is all a ruling class trick. So, these people concluded that the elections and civil liberties are unreal, and the people who run the country could call them off tomorrow. Elections and civil liberties, they said, “have nothing to do with reality”. Then came the instant fascism theory. We are about to have fascism any moment now. But this is a very confusing theory. Somehow the rallies and demonstrations continue year after year. They don’t put us in the concentration camps. This theory is actually a mixture of deep cynicism, thinking that the ruling class is all-powerful, but it always is combined with a last hope that maybe they aren’t completely bad. Maybe there is still someone

who will listen. Sometimes a liberal becomes frustrated not getting the ear of the ruling class, and he concludes that he’s been using the wrong tactics. So he adopts a lot of radical rhetoric. He says this ruling class is apparently so thick headed that what we’ve got to do is really let loose a temper tantrum to get its attention. The politicians won’t listen to peaceful things, but if we go out and break windows then Kennedy will say: “Oh, I guess there is a problem in this society. I didn’t realize it when they were just demonstrating peacefully. I thought everything was OK because they were in the system, but now they’re going outside the system, they’re breaking windows, so we’ve got to hold back.” These liberal-ultraleftists think that’s what moves the ruling class. Actually they come close to a correct theory when they say that if people start leaving the system the ruling class will respond. But they don’t believe that the masses can be won. They think it is enough for them to leave the system themselves, small groups of people carrying out direct confrontations. For example, let me quote a thing from the New York Times that illustrates how this type of idea develops. A girl from Kent [State University], after the killings there, was asked what she thought could be done about Cambodia and what she thought about the use of violence. This was a person who is just radicalizing, a liberal, just beginning to oppose the war. She says: “I’m really dead set against violence. That’s also a cop out. But it’s the only way to get the government’s attention. What you’re doing is drawing their attention to you, by using the same methods they use. I’m really against that. It’s horrible that the only way you can get people to listen is to have four kids killed. There was really no blow-up over Cambodia until four kids were killed. You can have all the peace marches that were peaceful and quiet, and everyone would pat you on the back and say ‘good little kids’, but nobody would do anything.” Now, what’s in her mind? She doesn’t see any independent, mass force that’s standing in the way of the ruling class. She’s looking at the ruling class and asking: “Are we affecting them or not? Are they being responsive?” And if not, maybe the way to get them to pay attention is to go out and break some windows and use violence. It’s a very natural conclusion when you don’t understand that there’s a class struggle, a class relationship of forces.

Having given up on the masses, the ultraleft super-revolutionaries are really trying to influence the ruling class. A classical example of this unity between the liberal and the ultraleft approach was the Chicago demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Party convention. The leaders of the demonstration came from the National Mobilization Committee. They were revolutionary. Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Dave Dellinger and Rennie Davis were on hand, and their rhetoric was as radical as you can get. But while the “militant” demonstrations were in process, Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis were apparently closeted with McCarthy’s supporters working out an agreement to help McCarthy. According to an article in the Jan. 22, 1970 Washington Post: “[Sam] Brown [Vietnam Moratorium Coordinator] said [Tom] Hayden suggested … that if McCarthy appeared to have a good chance by Monday or Tuesday — and if that chance might be hampered by public activity [demonstrations] — then we could meet to decide whether to go ahead with the public activity.” Hayden has never denied this account. Another example of this type of ultraleftism was a full-page ad which appeared in the New York Times June 7. It was placed by the New Mobe and signed by guess who? Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, et al. This ad announces in big letters at the top of the page: “It’s 11:59.” 11:59 to what? It’s 11:59 to 1984. Fascism is due in one minute. This is another thing that these ultraleft-upside-down-liberals have: the panic button. Since they don’t see any countervailing force, they think at any moment the whole country could just go BANG! At any moment the ruling class can make a move to the right, and they don’t see any way to stop it, so they throw in the towel, they just panic. The ad says: “If you’re reading this — don’t kid yourself any longer. Big brother is making his list. And you’re on it. Can we stop 1984? It’s 11:59 pm now. The clock is ticking loudly. What in hell are we going to do about it?” Well, what solution do these ultralefts have? What do they project should be done to stop imminent fascism? In this ad they have a five point program. Number one, sit in at your congressman’s office. With just one minute until 1984! Really effective! I guess their reasoning is that if you’re in your congressman’s office when 1984 arrives at least maybe they’ll be a little more lenient with you! The second point is you should sit in at your draft board and turn in your draft card.

Number three is a standard paragraph that you find in all the leaflets put out by ultraleftists, which simply says: “Do something quick.” “Organize antiwar actions where you work, each week. Interrupt the work day for peace. Wear black armbands. Wear peace buttons. Hold a discussion or teach-in. Have a work stoppage, a campus strike!” Anything! Just do something, everybody! For Christ’s sake! Point four, they announce a demonstration is going to be held on June 19 by the Black Panther Party. And in point five they tell you about a conference in Milwaukee, but they assure you it won’t be thousands of people; just several hundred community activists will meet to plan future actions. I suppose this future action will take place under fascism, unless they think two sitins, a conference and a rally will stop fascism. Anyway, that’s their program of action and their analysis of what to do, because they believe the invasion of Cambodia isn’t a tactical move, limited by a relationship of forces, but a deliberate and final plan. A final solution has begun. Now, you can see very clearly that there’s nothing very different about this; it’s just classical stuff like Martin Luther King did: have a sit-in or some sort of civil disobedience confrontation to try to affect the moral conscience of the ruling class. We’re not opposed to sit-ins per se; many of us in the SWP and YSA have participated in sit-ins, such as during the early stages of the civil rights movement. We’re not opposed to any specific tactic. But we look at the whole political context, the relationship of forces, what is possible, what potential exists for mass action, and we decide on that basis what tactics we should use at the moment. Orientation number three Let me go on to the third choice: independent mass action. What I mean here is a general strategy of trying to build movements which reach out and bring masses into motion on issues where they are willing to struggle against policies of the ruling class, and through their involvement in action, deepen their understanding of those issues. This is the fundamental strategy we’re after. We’re not interested in moving 20 or 200 or several hundred community organizers to engage in some sort of civil disobedience, window trashing, or whatever. We say that is a dead end, because it doesn’t relate to the power that can stop the war — the masses. You

can’t ask the 15 million trade unionists to sit in at a congressman’s office. There just isn’t enough room. Of course, the ultralefts know that 15 million workers aren’t going to do that, so that call is clearly not aimed at involving workers. This is the key thing to understand about the ultraleftists. The actions they propose are not aimed at the American people; they’re aimed at those who have already radicalized. They know beforehand that masses of people won’t respond to the tactics they propose. They have not only given up on the masses but really have contempt for them. Because on top of all this do you know what else the ultralefts propose? They call for a general strike! They get up and say, “General Strike”. Only they don’t have the slightest hope whatsoever that it will come off. Every last one of them who raises his hand to vote for a general strike knows it’s not going to happen. So what the hell do they raise their hands for? Because it’s part of the game. They play games, they play revolution, because they have no hope. Just during the month of May the New Mobe called not one but two general strikes. One for GIs and one for workers. That is the big difference between the perspective of the ultralefts and our perspective, because we DO want a general strike. We DO want a real strike. We do believe you can win the workers, so therefore we don’t just raise our hands in games, we raise our hands for what really can be done, for what can begin to move masses of people. The independent mass action concept does not just mean demonstrations against the war. It’s a general strategy with many aspects to it. One aspect is to build a mass independent black political party. It also means, for instance, organizing to mobilize masses of women against the institutions, social norms and practices that are used to oppress them. It’s a strategy that calls for doing things like building the Chicano Raza Unida Party, which is growing in the Southwest. This is the concept of getting people into motion, into action. Not talking down to them, but organizing actions which are able to give expression to the mass opposition to the policies of the ruling class, at the level of understanding that people have reached about what’s happening in this society. It’s the concept of bringing masses into motion, but at all times keeping the movement independent of the ruling class.

Now, what is the best way we can implement this orientation at this point? We follow a general organizational type strategy which is simply this. You get the issues around which people are moving against the government and create a unified movement around them, in order to maximize the numbers that will come into motion. This is the same strategy which is used by a union when it carries out a strike. When a union calls a strike, it calls it on certain demands. Higher pay, better working conditions, whatever the demands happen to be for that struggle. If a majority of the workers agree, they take a vote, and then everybody strikes together, and they put a very heavy emphasis on keeping it together. The workers don’t say: “Why don’t we also take a stand on the Arab Israeli conflict? Or on housing, or on the last bill passed in Congress?” as a prerequisite to participate in the strike. You’ve got to deal with people where they’re at. When a woman comes along and says, “I’m against the abortion laws; I want to see them abolished”, and she wants to join a demonstration for free abortions on demand, but she still has illusions about the war in Vietnam, still supports Nixon, what is our attitude? Do we say: “You’re an imperialist pig! Don’t you know what’s happening in Vietnam? You can’t go on this demonstration. Keep away from us. We understand these things — we’re the elite. We don’t want to taint ourselves by letting someone who’s for the war in Vietnam join this demonstration.” The way people radicalize Our concept is to unite people in action around the issues on which they’re moving. Not because we’re single-issue fetishists. Our aim, in fact, is to move people around broader and broader issues, but we’ve got to deal with reality, not with abstractions. We advocate many things, but we try to put into practice those things the masses are prepared for. We advocate general strikes, but we don’t call them, because we’re not fools. We know there cannot be a general strike, on any issue right now, given the present level of consciousness. And you won’t get to the point where there can be general strikes unless you put people in motion, precisely because when they start to move on any one issue, whether women’s liberation, the war or racial oppression, people begin to question the whole society, and to see the interrelationship between the different issues. In fact, it is the way people radicalize.

People don’t suddenly understand everything at once. Think about your own political development. There’s always one issue or another, depending on the objective conditions, which tends to wake a person up. As we’ve said over and over again, at the present stage the most effective weapon to stop the ruling class from moving to the right is to get masses of people in motion. The most effective way to do this, at this stage especially, is mass, peaceful, legal demonstrations in the streets. Now, if we want to build a movement against the Vietnam war, it can not, by definition, be multi-issue. That’s like saying we want a single issue movement that’s multi-issue. The “multi-issue” antiwar movement is the trick which is the key to how the liberals and the ultraleftists can get together organizationally, politically, socially, etc. — get married, and live happily ever after. The trick is to make the issues non-issues. Make them so nebulous that they have nothing to do with concrete realities. Instead of demonstrating to bring the troops home from Vietnam now, which is very concrete, they call for “Stop imperialism”. Nothing like an abstraction. Even Nixon can say: “I’m against imperialism too — that’s what Britain and France and Holland did in the 18th and 19th centuries.” But Nixon can’t say: “Bring all the troops home now.” Or they say we should raise the demand “End racism”. Isn’t Nixon willing to say “End racism”? Don’t black Democratic politicians say “End racism”? So they make a real multi-issue program: end racism, end repression, end imperialism, end male chauvinism. What we want is to call for concrete demands and mobilize people to win them. Demands like Get Out of Vietnam, or Black Control of the Black Schools, or concrete campaigns around specific cases of repression. But that’s not what the liberal-ultralefts do. What they call a multi-issue program is a list of abstract reforms. Slogans like end racism and end male chauvinism are not only abstract in their political meaning, they are also abstract because the antiwar movement cannot organize the struggle to win them. The antiwar movement cannot replace or substitute for an independent black liberation movement, or an independent women’s liberation movement, for instance. Black people and women — not the antiwar movement — must decide which concrete demands will best further their struggle and how best to organize around them. Many students may agree with the slogan End Racism, but how many of them understand the right of black people to self-determination, the need for an independent black political party, and the demand for

black control of the black community? PL-SDS, for instance, screams “smash racism” — I mean screams — while they oppose black nationalism, an independent black party, black studies programs, black control of the black community, open admissions, etc. The fact that many radicals do not understand black nationalism is evident in the expectation that if the antiwar movement adopts the slogan End Racism, then blacks will immediately begin to join the movement. Blacks are going to be drawn to black organizations, building a black leadership and formulating a program for their liberation struggle. If you have a program of a lot of reforms and abstractions, it means that you can go right back to the liberal wing of the ruling class, because that is just what their program is also. You can go right back to Senator Kennedy, who can get up, as he did in his speech accepting the Democratic Party nomination for Massachusetts senator, and come out against racism, repression, poverty and many other things. This is precisely the orientation of the Communist Party. Get the antiwar movement to approve an abstract program which will be just like the programs of the “peace politicians. Then there will be no problem in getting the antiwar movement to support those good Democrats. If you look back to 1966 and 1968, you’ll notice that every election year the antiwar coalitions split. Multi-issue groups were formed that ended up supporting the Democrats, and the demonstrations got smaller. Now we’re going through the same process once again, but within a different context. The great difference is that the depth of the antiwar movement is qualitatively greater than it was in ’66 or ’68. Deep mass antiwar sentiment exists, and it offers the possibility, even during an election period, of building mass independent actions against the war, and therefore actually holding back the war effort. What’s happening right now is that the involvement of people in mass actions is radicalizing them on other issues as well. The antiwar movement, for example, has helped lay the basis for the tremendous growth of the women’s liberation movement and it has created a greater responsiveness to certain aspects of the black struggle. The black struggle itself helped to inspire the antiwar movement. A good example of this process was during the May strike movement. Many students who helped build the antiwar universities became really

aware for the first time of the repression against the Black Panthers and raised concrete demands to free the jailed Panthers. At the University of California at Berkeley during the strike, a mass meeting of 12,000 voted to set up a child-care centre on campus and to institute a women’s studies program. Many campuses adopted and attempted to institute concrete demands raised by the black students. All types of radicalization took place within the context of the strikes. Just think of a strike situation. When there is a strike for higher wages where a big struggle takes place, masses come into motion and people begin to question all types of things. What’s the response among the workers, after a single-issue strike, to someone who says: “Look, none of the Democrats and Republicans supported our strike. Yet we voted for them last year.” Obviously in the context of struggle many possibilities for radicalization open up, and who is going to the masses with a concrete program of action around all these issues? The YSA and SWP. Who’s pushing an independent mass black political party? Who’s helping build a Chicano party? Who’s building the women’s liberation movement? What other organization is working in all these fields with the aim of mobilizing masses in struggle against the ruling class? Our Socialist Workers Party election campaigns are going to be very much a part of this whole radicalization and especially of the antiwar movement. The alternatives we create through our socialist election campaigns are going to be a part of the antiwar movement, a part of the whole context in which the antiwar struggle is taking place. So we have to launch an offensive. The Socialist Workers Party candidates are going to get a bigger hearing than ever before, because there are now tens of thousands of young people who are looking for antiwar candidates. Many of them, it’s true, will support “peace” candidates from the Democratic or Republican Party, but with a certain fear and suspicion. Many young people will start out supporting a Democratic Party candidate, and when their candidate makes one slip and takes a bad position they’ll quit the campaign and be ready to turn to socialist candidates. In our election campaigns we’ve got to emphasize that it’s not the individual candidate that is decisive but his or her party and which social layer the party serves. That is the real question: which social layer, which class, rules? And the Socialist Workers Party campaigns will be saying clearly: “Don’t vote for the parties of war! We in the SWP, our program — not the Democrats’ — represents the interests of

the masses of people.” Our campaigns speak for the full program necessary to mobilize people in struggle to do away with war, poverty, racial oppression and the oppression of women. They point the way to the goal of our struggle: socialism. But at the same time we will unite on any issue around which people are willing to struggle against the ruling class, no matter what their level of understanding of this society. This is the way to move masses in this country, to build a revolutionary party, and not only play but make a revolution.

Bob Brenner: The Problem of Reformism
I WAS ASKED to talk about the historical lessons of revolution in the twentieth century. But since we are primarily interested in historical lessons that are likely to be relevant to the twenty-first century, I think it would be more to the point to consider the experience of reform and reformism. Reformism is always with us, but it rarely announces its presence and usually introduces itself by another name and in a friendly fashion. Still, it is our main political competitor and we had better understand it. To begin with, it should be clear that reformism does not distinguish itself by a concern for reforms. Both revolutionaries and reformists try to win reforms. Indeed as socialists, we see the fight for reforms as our main business. But reformists are also interested in winning reforms. In fact, to a very large extent, reformists share our program, at least in words. They are for higher wages, full employment, a better welfare state, stronger trade unions, even a third party. The inescapable fact is that, if we want to attract people to a revolutionary socialist banner and away from reformism, it will not generally be through outbidding reformists in terms of program. It will be through our theory-our understanding of the world -and, most important, through our method, our practice. What distinguishes reformism on a day-to-day basis is its political method and its theory, not its program. Schematically speaking, reformists argue that although, left on its own, the capitalist economy tends to crisis, state intervention can enable capitalism to achieve long-term stability and growth. They argue, at the same time, that the state is an instrument that can be used by any group, including the working class, in its own interests. Reformism's basic political method or strategy follows directly from these premises. Working people and the oppressed can and should devote themselves primarily to winning elections so as to gain control of the state and thereby secure legislation to regulate capitalism and, on that basis, to improve their working conditions and living standards.

The Paradox of Reformism
Marxists have, of course, always counterposed their own theories and strategies to those of reformists. But, probably of equal importance in combating reformism, revolutionaries have argued that both reformist theory and reformist practice are best understood in terms of the distinctive social forces on which reformism has historically based itself-in particular, as rationalizations of the needs and interests of trade union officials and parliamentary politicos, as well as middle-

class leaders of the movements of the oppressed. Reformism's distinctive social basis is not simply of sociological interest. It is the key to the central paradox that has defined, and dogged, reformism since its origins as a self-defined movement within the social democratic parties (evolutionary socialism) around 1900. That is, the social forces at the heart of reformism and their organizations are committed to political methods (as well as theories to justify them) that end up preventing them from securing their own reform goals-especially the electoral-legislative road and stateregulated labor relations. As a result, the achievement of major reforms throughout the twentieth century has generally required not only breaking with, but systematically struggling against, organized reformism, its chief leaders and their organizations. This is because the winning of such reforms has, in virtually every instance, required strategies and tactics of which organized reformism did not approve because these threatened their social position and interests-high levels of militant mass action, large-scale defiance of the law, and the forging of increasingly class-wide ties of active solidarity-between unionized and un-unionized, employed and unemployed, and the like.

The Reformist View
The core proposition of the reformist world view is that, though prone to crisis, the capitalist economy is, in the end subject to state regulation. Reformists have argued-in various ways-that what makes for crisis is unregulated class struggle. They have thus often contended that capitalist crisis can arise from the "too great" exploitation of workers by capitalists in the interests of increased profitability. This causes problems for the system as a whole because it leads to inadequate purchasing power on the part of working people, who cannot buy back enough of what they produce. Insufficient demand makes for “a crisis of underconsumption" - for example (according to reformist theorists), the Great Depression of the 1930s. Reformists have also argued that capitalist crisis can arise, on the other hand, from "too strong" resistance by workers to capitalist oppression on the shop floor. By blocking the introduction of innovative technology or refusing to work harder, workers reduce productivity growth (output/worker). This, in turn, means a slower growing pie, reduced profitability, reduced investment, and ultimately a "supplyside crisis" -for example (according to reformist theorists), the current economic downturn beginning at the end of the 1960s. It follows from this approach that, because crises are the unintended

result of unregulated class struggle, the state can secure economic stability and growth precisely by intervening to regulate both the distribution of income and capital labor relations on the shop floor. The implication is that class struggle is not really necessary, for it is in the long term interest of neither the capitalist class nor the working class, if they can be made to coordinate their actions.

The State as Neutral Apparatus
The reformist theory of the state fits very well with its political economy. In this view, the state is an autonomous apparatus of power, in principle neutral, capable of being used by anyone. It follows that workers and the oppressed should try to gain control of it for the purpose of regulating the economy so as to secure economic stability and growth and, on that basis, win reforms in their own material interests. Reformism's political strategy flows logically from its view of the economy and the state. Workers and the oppressed should concentrate on electing reformist politicos to office. Because state intervention by a reformist government can secure long-term stability and growth in the interests of capital, as well as labor, there is no reason to believe that employers will stubbornly oppose a reformist government. Such a government can prevent crises of underconsumption by implementing redistributive tax policies and prevent supply-side crises by establishing state regulated worker-management commissions in the interest of raising productivity. On the basis of a growing, increasingly productive economy, the state can continually raise spending on state services, while regulating collective bargaining so as to insure fairness to all parties. Reformists would maintain that workers need to remain organized and vigilant–especially in their unions—and prepared to move against rogue capitalists who won't be disciplined in the common interest: ready to take strike action against employers who refuse to accept mediation at the level of the firm or, in the worst ease, to rise en masse against groups of reactionary capitalists who can't abide giving over governmental power to the great majority and seek to subvert the democratic order. But presumably such battles would remain subordinate to the main electoral/legislative struggle and become progressively less common since reformist state policy would proceed in the interest not only of workers and the oppressed, but of the employers, even if the latter did not at first realize it.

Responding to Reformism
Revolutionaries have classically rejected the reformists' political method of relying on the electoral/legislative process and stateregulated collective bargaining for the simple reason that it can't work. So long as capitalist property relations continue to prevail, the state cannot be autonomous. This is not because the state is always directly controlled by capitalists (social democratic and labor party governments, for example, often are not). It is because whoever controls the state is brutally limited in what they can do by the needs of capitalist profitability ... and because, over any extended period, the needs of capitalist profitability are very difficult to reconcile with reforms in the interest of working people. In a capitalist society, you can't get economic growth unless you can get investment, and you can't get capitalists to invest unless they can make what they judge to be an adequate rate of profit. Since high levels of employment and increasing state services in the interest of the working class (dependent upon taxation) are predicated upon economic growth, even governments that want to further the interests of the exploited and the oppressed-for example social democratic or labor party governments-must make capitalist profitability in the interest of economic growth their first priority. The old saying that "What's good for General Motors is good for everyone," unfortunately contains an important grain of truth, so long as capitalist property relations continue in force. This is not of course to deny that capitalist governments will ever make reforms. Especially in periods of boom, when profitability is high, capital and the state are often quite willing to grant improvements to working people and the oppressed in the interests of uninterrupted production and social order. But in periods of downturn, when profitability is reduced and competition intensifies, the cost of paying (via taxation) for such reforms can endanger the very survival of firms and they are rarely granted without very major struggles in the workplaces and in the streets. Equally to the point, in such periods, governments of every sort-whether representative of capital or labor--so long as they are committed to capitalist property relationships, will end up attempting to restore profitability by seeing to it that wages and social spending are cut, that capitalists receive tax breaks, and so forth.

The Centrality of Crisis Theory
It should be evident why, for revolutionaries, so much is riding on their

contention that extended periods of crisis are built into capitalism. From this standpoint, crises arise from capitalism's inherently anarchic nature, which makes for a path of capital accumulation that is eventually self-contradictory or self-undermining. Because by nature a capitalist economy operates in an unplanned way, governments cannot prevent crises. This is not the place for an extended discussion of debates over crisis theory. But one can at least point out that capitalist history has vindicated an anti-reformist viewpoint. Since the later nineteenth century, if not before, whatever type of governments have been in power, long periods of capitalist boom (1850s-1870s, 1890s-1913, late 1940s-c.1970) have always been succeeded by long periods of capitalist depression (1870s-1890s, 1919-1939,c.1970 to the present). One of Ernest Mandel's fundamental contributions in recent years has been to emphasize this pattern of capitalist development through long waves of boom and downturn. During the first two decades of the postwar period, it seemed that reformism had finally vindicated its political worldview. There was unprecedented boom, accompanied by-and seemingly caused by-the application of Keynesian measures to subsidize demand, as well as the growing government expenditures associated with the welfare state. Every advanced capitalist economy experienced not only fast-rising wages, but a significant expansion of social services in the interest of the working class and the oppressed. In the late '60s or early '70s, it thus appeared to many that the way to insure continually improved conditions for working people was to pursue "class struggle inside the state”-the electoral/legislative victories of social democratic and labor parties (the Democratic party in the United States). But the next two decades entirely falsified this perspective. Declining profitability brought a long-term crisis of growth and investment. Under these conditions, one after another reformist government in power-the Labor Party in the late '70s, the French and Spanish Socialist Parties in the '80s, and the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the '80s-found itself unable to restore prosperity through the usual methods of subsidizing demand and concluded that it had little choice but to increase profitability as the only way to increase investment and restore growth. As a result, virtually without exception, the reformist parties in power not only failed to defend workers' wages or living standards against employers' attack, but unleashed powerful austerity drives designed to raise the rate of profit by cutting the welfare state and reducing the

power of the unions. There could be no more definitive disproof of reformist economic theories and the notion of the autonomy of the state. Precisely because the state could not prevent capitalist crisis, it could not but reveal itself as supinely dependent upon capital.

Why Reformism Doesn't Reform
It remains to be asked why the reformist parties in power continued to respect capitalist property rights and sought to restore capitalist profits. Why didn't they instead seek to defend working class living and working standards, if necessary by class struggle? In the event that that approach led capitalists to abstain from investing or to capital flight, why could they not then have nationalized industries and moved toward socialism? We are back to the paradox of reformism. The key is to be found in the peculiar social forces that dominate reformist politics, above all the trade union officialdom and the social democratic party politicos. What distinguishes these forces is that, while they are dependent for their very existence on organizations built out of the working class, they are not themselves part of the working class. Above all, they are off the shop floor. They find their material base, their livelihood, in the trade union or party organization itself. It's not just that they get their salaries from the trade union or political party, although this is very important. The trade union or party defines their whole way of life-what they do, whom they meet--as well as their career trajectory. As a result, the key to their survival, to the fluctuations in their material and social position, is their place within the trade union or party organization itself. So long as the organization is viable, they can have a viable form of life and a reasonable career. The gulf between the form of life of the rank and file worker and even the low level paid official is thus enormous. The economic positionwages, benefits, working conditions-of ordinary workers depends directly on the course of the class struggle at the workplace and within the industry. Successful class struggle is the only way for them to defend their living standards. The trade union official, in contrast, can generally do quite well even if one defeat follows another in the class struggle, so long as the trade union organization survives. It is true that in the very long run the very survival of the trade union organization is dependent upon the class struggle, but this is rarely a relevant factor. More to the point is the fact that, in the short run, especially in periods of profitability crisis, class struggle is probably the main threat to the viability of the

organization. Since militant resistance to capital can provoke a response from capital and the state that threaten the financial condition or the very existence of the organization, the trade union officials generally seek studiously to avoid it. The trade unions and reformist parties have thus, historically, sought to ward off capital by coming to terms with it. They have assured capital that they accept the capitalist property system and the priority of profitability in the operation of the firm. They have at the same time sought to make sure that workers, inside or outside their organizations, do not adopt militant, illegal, and classwide forms of action that might appear too threatening to capital and call forth a violent response. Above all, with implacable class struggle ruled out as a means to win reforms, trade union officials and parliamentary politicians have seen the electoral/legislative road as the fundamental political strategy left to them. Through the passive mobilization of an election campaign, these forces thus hope to create the conditions for winning reforms, while avoiding too much offending capital in the process. This is not to adopt the absurd view that workers are generally chomping at the bit to struggle and are only being back by their misleaders. In fact, workers often are as conservative as their leaders, or more so. The point is that, unlike the trade union or party officials, rank and file workers cannot, over time, defend their interests without class struggle. Moreover, at those moments when workers do decide to take matters into their own hands and attack the employers, the trade union officials can be expected to constitute a barrier to their struggle, to seek to detour or derail it. Of course, trade union leaders and party officials are not in every case averse to class struggle, and sometimes they even initiate it. The point is simply that, because of their social position, they cannot be counted on to resist. Therefore, no matter how radical the leaders' rhetoric, no strategy should be based on the assumption that they will resist. It is the fact that trade union officials and social democratic politicians cannot be counted on to fight the class struggle because they have major material interests that are endangered by confrontations with the employers that provides the central justification for our strategy of building rank and file organizations that are independent of the officials (although they may work with them), as well as independent working class parties.

Reformism Today and Regroupment
Understanding reformism is no mere academic exercise. It affects just about every political initiative we take. This can be seen particularly clearly with respect both to today's strategic tasks of bringing together anti-reformist forces within a common organization (regroupment) and that of creating a break from the Democratic Party. Today, as for many years, Solidarity's best hope for regrouping with organized (however loosely) left forces comes from those individuals and groups which see themselves as opposed from the left to official reformism. The fact remains that many of these leftists, explicitly or implicitly, still identify with an approach to politics that may be roughly termed "popular frontism." Despite the fact that it was framed entirely outside the camp of organized social democracy, popular frontism takes reformism to the level of a system. The Communist International first promulgated the idea of the popular front in 1935 to complement the Soviet Union's foreign policy of seeking an alliance with the "liberal" capitalist powers to defend against Nazi expansionism (“collective security"). In this context, the Communists internationally put forward the idea that it was possible for the working class to forge a very broad alliance across classes, not only with middle class liberals, but with an enlightened section of the capitalist class, in the interest of democracy, civil liberties, and reform. The conceptual basis for this view was that an enlightened section of the capitalist class preferred a constitutional order to an authoritarian one. In addition, enlightened capitalists were willing to countenance greater government intervention and egalitarianism in order to create the conditions for liberalism, as well as to insure social stability. Like other reformist doctrines, the popular front based itself, in economic terms, on an underconsumptionist theory of crisis. Underconsumptionism was in fact receiving a wide hearing in liberal, as well as radical-socialist, circles during the 1930s, receiving a particularly strong boost with the promulgation and popularization of Keynes' ideas. In the United States, the implication of the popular front was to enter the Democratic Party. The Roosevelt administration, containing as it did certain relatively progressive establishment types, was seen as an archetypical representative of capitalism's enlightened wing. And the imperative of working with the Democrats was very much increased with the sudden rise of the labor movement as a power in the land. The Communists had originally been in the lead in organizing the CIO,

and had, in fact, spectacularly succeeded in auto largely by virtue of their adoption, for a very brief but decisive period (1935-early 1937), of a rank-and-file strategy much like that of Solidarity today. This strategy had, at the start, found its parallel in Communist refusal to support Roosevelt. But by 1937, soon after the adoption of the popular front with its implied imperative not to alienate the Roosevelt administration, the CP had come to oppose labor militancy (sitdown strikes, wildcats) in the interest of the classically social democratic policy of allying with the “left" wing of the trade union officials. The implication of this policy was to reject the notion that the labor officialdom represented a distinct social layer that could be expected to put the interests of its organizations ahead of the interests of the rank and file-a notion that had been at the core of the politics of the left-wing of pre-World War I social democracy (Luxemburg, Trotsky, etc.) and of the Third International since the days of Lenin. Instead, trade union officials ceased to be differentiated in social terms from the rank and file and came to be distinguished (from one another) by their political line alone (left, center, right). This approach fit very well with the Communists' strategic objective of getting the newly-emergent industrial unions to enter the Democratic Party. Of course, much of the trade union officialdom was only too happy to emphasize its political role inside the emergent reform wing of the Democratic Party, especially in comparison with its much more dangerous -economic role of organizing the membership to fight the employers. The dual policy of allying with the "left" officials inside the trade union movement and working for reform through electoral/legislative means within the Democratic Party (hopefully alongside the progressive trade union leaders) has remained to this day powerfully attractive to much of the left.

A Rank-and-File Perspective
In the trade unions during the 1970s, representatives of tendencies that eventually ended up inside Solidarity were obliged to counterpose the idea of the rank-and-file movement independent of the trade union officials to the popular front idea of many leftists of supporting the extant "progressive" leadership. This meant, in the first place, countering the idea that the progressive trade union officials would be obliged to move to the left and oppose the employers, if only to defend their own organizations.

Revolutionaries contended that, on the contrary, precisely because of the viciousness of the employers' offensive, trade union officials would for the most part, be willing to make concessions in the interest of avoiding confrontation with the employers. They would thereby allow the bit-by-bit chipping away of the labor movement virtually indefinitely. The latter perspective has been more than borne out, as officials have by and large sat on their hands as the concessions movement has reached gale proportions and the proportion of workers in trade unions dropped from 25-30% in the '60s to 10-15% today. Equally to the point, revolutionaries in the trade union movement had to counter the popular front idea that the trade union leaders were "to the left of the rank and file." If you talked with many leftists in that period, sooner or later you'd get the argument that the rank and file were politically backward. After all, many "progressive" trade union leaders opposed U.S. intervention in Central America (and elsewhere) more firmly than did the membership, stood much more clearly than did the membership for extensions of the welfare state, and, even, in a number of cases, came out for a labor party. Our response to this argument was to contrast what "progressive" trade union leaders are willing to do verbally, "politically,” where relatively little is at stake, with what they are willing to do to fight the bosses, where virtually everything may be at risk. It cost the wellknown head of the IAM William Winpisinger virtually nothing to be a member of DSA and promulgate a virtually perfect social democratic world view on such questions as the reconversion of the economy, national health care, and the like. But when it came to class struggle, we pointed out, Winpisinger not only came out clearly against Teamsters for a Democratic Union, but sent his machinists across the picket line in the crucial PATCO (air controllers) strike. Over the past decade or so, many leftists have broken with the Soviet Union or China and become open to re examining their entire political world view. But this does not mean that they automatically move in our direction. For their popular front political strategy corresponds in central ways with a still (relatively) powerful and coherent political trend – i.e. social democratic reformism. If we are to win over these comrades, we will have to demonstrate to them, systematically and in detail, that their traditional popular front strategy of working with the trade union "lefts" and penetrating the

Democratic Party is in fact self-defeating.

Independent Political Action
At various points in the election campaign, important elements within the leaderships of the Black movement, the women's movement, and even the labor movement proclaimed that they would like to see a viable political alternative to the Democratic Party. Their statements of intent seemed to make the IPA project suddenly much more real. These people are indispensable, at this point, for any practical third party effort for the simple reason that the great majority of Black, women, and labor activists look to them, and no one else, for political leadership. But are they serious about IPA? In one sense, it is obvious that all these forces need independent political action. The Democratic Party has long been seeking to do ever more to improve capitalist profitability and progressively less in the interest of workers, women, and oppressed minorities. It has therefore been of decreasing use to the established leaderships of the union, Black, and women's movements who, after all, work inside the party primarily so that they can win something for their constituents. The official leaderships of the movements would thus no doubt love to have in existence a viable third party. But it is the paradox of their social stratum and their reformist politics that they are unable to do what is necessary to create the conditions in which such a party could come into being. It is difficult to see how these conditions could be achieved except through the revitalization of the social movements, above all the labor movement the growth of fighting militancy and fighting unity within the union movement and beyond. Newly-dynamized mass movements could provide the material base, so to speak, for the transformation of political consciousness that could bring into being an electorally successful third party. But such movements are just what the established leaderships are afraid to create. On the other hand, in the absence of a massive break in the activity and consciousness of the mass movements, it makes absolutely no sense to the established leaderships to break with the Democrats. These elements take the electoral road extremely seriously; for it is the main means for them to secure gains for their constituencies. And the sine qua non for gains through the electoral road is all too self-evident: it is electoral victory. Without electoral victory, nothing is possible. The problem is that, for the foreseeable future, no third party would have a chance to win. The political consciousness is not yet there. Moreover, third parties are especially disadvantaged here by the

winner take all electoral system. In this situation, the established leaderships of the trade union, Black, and women's movement are in a double bind: they cannot break from the Democrats until the conditions are present that can promise electoral victory for a third party; but they cannot create the conditions for a third party without forsaking, probably for a substantial period, their established methods of winning gains via the electoral road. It is, unfortunately, not at all surprising that the most serious supporters of a break toward a third party within the established leaderships of the movements-to be found within the women's movement-showed themselves much less interested in "their own" Twenty-first Century Party than with the Democratic Party candidacies of Carole Moseley Braun, Barbara Boxer, and even Dianne Feinstein. Just as any revival of the labor movement, the social movements, and of the left will have to depend on a break from-and confrontation withthe social and political forces that underpin reformism, so will the project of building a new party to the left of the Democrats.

The Toledo Auto-Lite Strike, 1934
Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep have fallen on you— Ye are many—they are few. Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy By 1934, the worst Depression in United States history had entered its fourth year. It was a period of tremendous hardship for working people. Record unemployment and the resulting economic deprivation had produced suffering and social dislocation on a scale hitherto unimagined. The conditions for successful strike action in the automobile industry could not have been less auspicious. Nevertheless, against all the odds, in the spring of that year the workers at the Electric Auto-Lite factory in Toledo, Ohio, won a historic partial victory over the company, following a bruising six-day struggle that involved hand-to-hand combat with the Ohio National Guard. The ferocity of this struggle was a warning that the auto empire would not surrender control without great sacrifice by the union workers. The auto industrialists could rely on strong financial reserves, police forces, private detective agencies, and the undisguised support of government courts and committees, This formidable combination confronted the newly organized Toledo auto union, which had emerged when small groups of workers from City Auto Stamping, Bingham Stamping, Dura, Spicer, and Logan Gear received a charter for federal Local No. 18384 from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The local was at the forefront of historic strikes in 1934 that led to the founding of the International Auto Workers Union (IAWU). The auto industry had experienced sporadic labor conflicts throughout the Depression, attended by wage reductions and speed-ups, the notorious system introduced by Frederick Winslow Taylor. Speed-ups were a stopwatch timing method that increased productivity without new mechanical processes, simply by increasing the assembly-line speed with incremental adjustments. Attempts to organize had occurred in six different states. In 1933, Briggs, Motor Products, Murray Body, and Hudson had plant shutdowns in Detroit; Fisher Body was struck in Flint; Nash and Seaman Body in Wisconsin; General Motors in New York, Ohio, and California. The immediate cause of the strikes was employees' resistance to the efforts of the corporations to increase productivity beyond endurance. The previous four years of the Depression had seen autoworkers' wages severely reduced. Unfortunately the auto workers had no

experience of dealing with great corporate institutions: they lacked direction, basic resources for sustaining pickets, knowledge of public relations to counter hostile company propaganda, and awareness of elementary procedures of negotiation.

The Lessons of the 1933 Briggs Strike
The Briggs strike of 1933 had exemplified these problems. As in most of the strikes in that year of labor discontent, spontaneous action arose when the corporation attempted to cut the wages of the hourly and piece-rate workers. Six thousand workers marched out of the plant. An inexperienced committee-which included members of the Socialist Party (SP), the Proletarian Party, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and the Communist Party (CP)-found it necessary to seek help from the Automobile Workers Union (AWU), asking Phil Raymond, the secretary, who had previous strike experience, to provide direction. With the assistance of the AWU, Raymond directed the establishment of the Briggs strike committees. The strikers demanded union recognition, the restoration of the previous wage scale, and a more tolerable line speed. The company's response was to withdraw the wage, cuts but also to launch an attack on the Communist leaders of the strike. Briggs had an easy target, linking the AWU with the Trade Union Unity League (TUUL), which the Communist Party had established in 1929 to help build unions in industries independent of the AFL. Under unrelenting attack, the strike committee of twenty-five requested the removal of Raymond and his CP assistants. After two months the dispirited Briggs workers trickled back to work. Briggs workers learned that accepting aid from the AWU cut them off from the mainstream of the union movement in the United States, which still flowed through the AFL, the country's major union. The AFL’s strength resided in the craft unions, a fact that weakened their appeal to the large concentration of autoworkers in factories where skilled craft workers were only a small part of the workforce. In the few instances where the auto workers established local unions-as they did in Cleveland, Ohio; South Bend, Indiana; and Kenosha, Wisconsin, local union leaders opposed AFL efforts to split the skilled workers into the various crafts. The AWU leadership stood for industrial unionism and counterposed their program to that of the AFL, but the superiority of a program could not overcome the prejudice of workers toward the leftwing leaders. The average worker chose a union to deal with basic shop problems of wages and working conditions. Redbaiting was a divisive attack by the corporations that successfully divided the union ranks. Workers sought a trusted, untainted political leadership. Some turned to company-

dominated unions, influenced by Father Charles E. Coughlin. The AWU and the company unions remained paper organizations. In the period following the 1929 stock-market crash, the record of periodic rebellions reveals that labor did not accept the pain of wage cuts, intensified speed-ups, and short hours in the industrial plants without resistance. At this time, millions of workers wandered the country in search of jobs. Their experiences on the road broadened their political horizon so that many lost faith in the capitalist system. In the subsequent period of the New Deal, the upturn in employment and the policies of a reform government-introduced by political representatives who feared the possible destruction of the capitalist system and a redress of the balance between capital and laborinspired workers to seek change in the workplace itself. Some of the strikes took place because the strikers incorrectly thought the government had provided a legal basis in the National Recovery Act (NRA) for workers to join unions of their own choice without interference from industry employers. These autoworkers sought out the AFL, even though AFL strength was in craft unionism and its leadership under William Green was conservative. Although Green spoke from a national pulpit for labor, in most of the country the AFL had been reduced in size and influence; it nevertheless represented a starting point for organization. As things developed, however, in Detroit and other centers of the auto empire the Green representatives led the auto industry to repeated defeats. The half-hearted assignment of organizers by the AFL, failure to mobilize strike support, and the policy of relying on government boards in union organization, were all factors disarming the incipient movement to unionism in Detroit.

Federal Local No. 18384
Toledo, the center of an auto parts and glass industry, depended on the larger auto companies for its prosperity. When the large companies sneezed, the auto parts companies caught pneumonia. The largest manufacturing company in Toledo, Willys-Overland, had employed 28,000 workers before the stock-market crash. In 1932 it closed its doors. This in turn forced the closure of the Ohio Bond and Security Bank: thousands of depositors lost their life savings. The manager of the Ohio Bonds and Security Bank was one Clem Miniger. It later emerged that before the default, key depositors from the parts industry had shifted their funds to secure repositories. The citizens of Toledo would subsequently vent their wrath on Miniger. The violent middle-class reaction against the rich financier, an admired figure before the Depression, illustrated the precipitous decline in the

reputation of the capitalist class nationwide. For decades the public had believed that the prosperity of the country had been produced by the captains of industry, and unlimited praise was heaped on the Mellons, Duponts, Morgans, and Rockefellers. Following the credit default and economic collapse, the rich—the mighty industrialists, the millionaires, America’s sixty families—were seen as damaged goods. Clem Miniger was also the head of the Electric Auto-Lite Company, which, under his leadership, had become a major force in the parts sector. The plant manufactured ignition, lighting, and electrical parts systems for the auto industry and supplied Chrysler, Ford, Willys, Packard, and Nash. It employed 1,800 men and women, with 400 in the stamping division. A relation of interlocking ownership existed between Auto-Lite, Bingham Tool and Stamping, and Logan Gear. High unemployment in Ohio, at a record 37 percent, and in Toledo, at 80 percent, did not deter workers at the Electric Auto-Lite Company from attempting to organize the company. To this end, they sought help from the Central Labor Union (CLU) of the AFL, which represented twenty-three different crafts. The action was initiated by Charles Rigby, who was to play a central role in the strike, and several others working in the punch press stamping department. Rigby and his committee were told that Auto-Lite workers came under the jurisdiction of Federal Labor Union No. 18384. (The AFL had chartered auto locals throughout the country in federal locals to avoid conflict with the craft unions.) The Toledo auto union charter covered Willys and five plants in the parts industry. Charles Rigby's father had idolized Eugene Victor Debs and brought his son up to share his own socialist philosophy. Rigby joined the Industrial Workers of the World when he worked on the Northwest railroad, and gained an understanding of unionism. When he returned from his travels around the country, Rigby went to work at Auto-Lite. He convinced the union officers of Local No. 18384 that his committee in the punch press stamping department occupied a strategic position at Auto-Lite. A walkout of the four hundred press-stamping workers would shut down the rest of the plant, which was dependent on his department for parts. The officers of the local accepted his analysis and during the next few months planned to shut four auto parts plants. From August until the first strike, many secret meetings were held as the insurgent group of unionists expanded their influence. Nearing the moment of decision for strike action, they held public meetings that attracted several hundred workers from the parts industry. Rigby, the elected shop committee chairman, requested a meeting with the management of Auto-Lite. He informed the company that the union committee was requesting a meeting under the provisions of

Section 7(A) of the NRA, which guaranteed them the right of collective bargaining. The committee presented management with the following demands: union recognition, a 10 percent wage increase, seniority, and the establishment of a regular bargaining procedure. The company rejected the demands outright and informed the committee it had a million-dollar fund to fight any attempt at unionization. On February 23 the union stopped work at Auto-Lite, Bingham, Logan, and Spicer, affecting four thousand workers. The strike was effective at Bingham and Logan, but at Auto-Lite, in spite of a small picket line, production continued without interruption. The union declared that there would be no settlement at any of the plants until all of the strikers were protected. Federal mediators entered the dispute, proposing a 5 percent wage increase. Auto-Lite, Bingham, Logan, and Spicer accepted the proposal but refused to grant union recognition or seniority. In further negotiations the mediators suggested holding the remaining issues in abeyance for future negotiation. The union agreed to accept the mediators' recommendation to return to work and negotiate the outstanding issues on April 1, the understanding of the strike committee being that the companies had agreed to adjudication on the outstanding matters. The terms of the strike settlement, as reported to the members, expressly included further negotiations on substantive matters at a later date. The proposal to end the strike was submitted by Thomas Ramsey, the local union business agent, to the membership meeting. The union voted to return to work.

Bloody Confrontation
The record does not indicate whether the mediator actively misled the strike committee. The fact is, nevertheless, that the inexperienced union negotiators failed to get concrete agreement from the company for more talks. The auto parts companies subsequently made it quite clear they had no intention of bargaining further. Instead, they prepared for another strike by hiring replacement workers and purchasing a supply of tear gas. Local No. 18384 used the 35-day period to enroll members. They were convinced they had won a victory in the February strike. When the two sides met, the company ruled out negotiations. In response, strike votes were carried at Bingham, AutoLite, and Logan. Bingham struck on April 12, with an almost complete shutdown of the plant. Auto-Lite struck the following day and several hundred workers walked out, primarily the stamping department; nevertheless the strike failed to close the factory, which kept working with hired replacement workers. Logan walked out on April 17, with less than a majority supporting the picket line.

The Auto-Lite strikers, reinforced by members in the parts industry, and with support from the Unemployed League and the CP-led Unemployed Councils, maintained picket lines around the plant. From the beginning, the police attempted to prevent the pickets from keeping scabs out of the factory. On May 3 Auto-Lite asked the Lucas County Court for an injunction, which was granted by the Common Pleas Judge, Roy R. Stuart. Stuart's injunction restricted the number of pickets at Auto-Lite to twenty-five, and the same at Bingham. The injunction also barred members of the Socialist Party, the Unemployed League, and specific strikers and sympathizers from the picket line. Sheriff David Krieger, a political ally of Auto-Lite boss Miniger, was assigned to enforce the injunction. Both men were active in the Republican Party. Furthermore, Miniger had given financial support for the sheriff in his campaign for office. Auto-Lite authorized Krieger to hire extra deputies, and the company advanced money for their wages. These vigilante deputies, dressed in street clothes, wore armbands and badges. James Roland, a member of the Unemployed League, gave the following account: We, in Toledo, at least a small group of us, felt that unless the Auto-Lite strike was a winning strike the labor movement would be set back for quite a few years in Toledo. There was this strike being conducted by Tom Ramsey for quite some time. A group of us felt that it was a lost strike. So we decided to do something about it. There were five of us who assumed leadership. I do not say that we were elected, although there were probably about 25 or 30 people at a small meeting which we had to decide on what we can do to change the situation at Auto-Lite regarding the strike. It was decided at that small meeting, excluding Tom Ramsey, of course, that five of us that would more or less volunteer and we were acceptable to the small group there that we would try to do something about violating the injunction which was granted and which was killing the strike. So these five people were Earl Stucker, from the Auto-Lite, Sam Poleck [sic— Sam Pollock] and Ted Seamyer [sic—Ted Selander] at that time were from the Unemployed League in Toledo, and I was from Chevrolet. The five of us were trying to direct the strike and the first thing we did was to violate the injunction. On May 5, Sam Pollock, secretary of the Lucas County Unemployed League, wrote to Judge Roy R. Stuart: Honorable Judge Stuart, On Monday morning May 7, at the Auto-Lite plant, the Lucas

County Unemployed League, in protest of the injunction issued by your court, will deliberately and specifically violate the injunction enjoining us from sympathetically picketing peacefully in support of the striking Auto Workers Federal Union. We sincerely believe that this court intervention, preventing us from picketing, is an abrogation of our constitutional liberties and contravenes the spirit and the letter of Section 7a of the NRA. Further, we believe that the spirit and intent of this arbitrary injunction is another specific example of an organized movement to curtail the rights of all workers to organize, strike and picket peacefully. Therefore, with full knowledge of the principles involved and the possible consequences, we openly and publicly violate an injunction which, in our opinion, is a suppressive act against all workers. Sincerely yours, Lucas County Unemployed League Anti-Injunction Committee Sam Pollock, Sec'y Thus, the day after the injunction, Louis Budenz, executive secretary of the American Workers Party, Ted Selander, an officer of the Toledo Unemployed League, and forty-six of the Auto-Lite strikers appeared on the picket lines, calling for the resumption of mass picketing. They were duly arrested for contempt of the injunction. They were defended by Arthur Garfield Hayes of the American Civil Liberties Union of New York and Edward Lamb, a prominent attorney from Toledo. Members of the Unemployed League jammed the courtroom. Judge Stuart released the defendants without a sentence and they returned to the picket line. News broadcast on the radio that the union was fighting the injunction traveled through the city. Thousands joined the pickets. Each day the lines grew larger, from one thousand to ten thousand, as Louis Budenz and A. J. Muste, founder and chairman of the American Workers Party, addressed the pickets in front of the factory gates. Auto-Lite exerted pressure on the sheriff to prevent the strikers from harassing those crossing the picket line, Again, Budenz was arrested along with many others. The court singled out Budenz, Selander, Pollock, Rigby, Roland, and several others, Before sentence was passed, the workers in the courtroom rose and told the judge: "We all are guilty of the same offense," This action of solidarity by the union members persuaded the judge to release the defendants, The court was unable to handle mass arrests and in any case hesitant to inflame further the growing strike movement.

On May 23, at the urging of the company to stop the harassing of replacement workers, the ranks of deputies, scabs, and police tried again to smash through the lines. The company police fired tear gas from the roof of the four-story brick Auto-Lite plant and tossed down metal generator brackets, which injured pickets. Clashes between pickets and scabs grew more violent. Strikers invaded the parking lot and overturned cars belonging to strikebreakers. Fights broke out inside the plant in the early hours of the morning when the pickets entered and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The strikers broke windows of the plant and threw the tear gas canisters back into the plant. A picket line ten thousand strong ringed the plant and refused to allow the scabs to leave. Office workers, management, and plant police were also kept inside the plant until daybreak. The New York Times filed the following report on these violent scenes witnessed by its reporter: The crowd had been assembling in territory adjacent to the factory since noon. Piles of bricks and stones were assembled at strategic places and a wagon load of bricks was trundled to a point near the factory to provide further ammunition for the strikers. Suddenly a barrage of tear gas bombs was hurled from upper factory windows. At the same time company employees armed with iron bars and clubs dragged a fire hose into the street and played water on the crowd. On the evening of May 23, the sheriff made frantic calls to the governor to have the National Guard rescue the imprisoned nonstrikers and the security men, who were by then isolated on the fourth floor. Shortly thereafter, the National Guard arrived at the plant, where they set up gun emplacements and planned the release of the 1,500 trapped men and women. The sheriff had advised the governor that Guardsmen living in nearby counties should not be deployed. Thus, young recruits from counties distant from Toledo made up the National Guard that night. Many strikers were veterans of the First World War and had no fear of the young men with rifles. The Guard tried to disperse the huge crowds on Champlain and Chestnut streets. After each of the several charges the pickets regrouped and advanced down Chestnut. Some National Guard units wearing gas masks shot tear gas into the ranks of the strikers, who immediately picked up the canisters and threw them back. A filmed scene shows members of the Guard corps in a Kafkaesque rockthrowing contest with the strikers. The battle lasted for two full days. The Guard commander asked in due course for reinforcements: eight

rifle companies, three machine-gun units, and a medical unit. Reinforced with his additional troops, he instructed the Guardsmen to fix bayonets. The strikers and some ten thousand sympathetic supporters gathered again. Orders to fire at the strikers were issued following a two-hour barrage of tear gas. The commander later claimed that he had issued instructions to fire over the heads of, and not into, the crowd. Nevertheless, two strike sympathizers were killed and thirty-five wounded. Later that afternoon the Guards again fired on the strikers wounding many more.

The Threat of a General Strike
That night the Central Labor Union met to consider two issues: the abrupt shift in the course of the Auto-Lite strike, and the refusal of Toledo Edison Electric to bargain with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), who were threatening a strike for union recognition and a 20 percent wage increase. The IBEW was a craft union and normally would not have considered acting in solidarity with the Federal Workers Union. However, the strike at Auto-Lite, engaging thousands of workers and the unemployed, had escalated to the point where the face of unionism had changed in Toledo. Meanwhile, on the bosses' side, the Merchants and Manufacturers Association and the automobile industry leaders informed Miniger that he had their full support in resisting unionization of the parts industry. The issue came to a head when the twenty-three craft unions in the CLU, perceiving an open-shop threat in Toledo, represented by the Auto-Lite strike, reacted by voting for a general strike. A strike by the electrical workers alone would bring the city to a standstill. The employers' intransigence had escalated the strike to a dangerous and unanticipated level of confrontation. The same evening the CLU proposed to intervene in the strike, Charles Taft, son of the former U.S. president, met with the Auto-Lite workers. Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, had sent Taft to mediate. Taft proposed that the disputed issues be sent to the Auto Labor Board in Detroit for mediation. This proposal was rejected by a meeting of the union, a defeat that Taft blamed on the influence of Rigby and his committee. The union countered with a request for the National Guard's removal and the shutdown of the plants. The Guard had arrested Louis Budenz early in the week and Ted Selander on the Saturday. Selander was held incommunicado; Muste's efforts to obtain his release were refused. The government negotiators wanted the two AWP leaders removed from the strike arena so that Taft and other government mediators could advance new proposals to the less experienced local union leaders. Taft told A. J. Muste, syndicated columnist Heywood Broun, and E. R.

Lamb, attorney for Ted Selander, that the "strike should never have been called” and claimed that it was the work of "outside agitators." Similar sentiments appeared in the Toledo Bee, a Scripps-Howard paper. The response of Muste and Lamb was to wire Roosevelt, demanding the removal of Taft. Writing in the New Republic after the strike, Muste underlined the bias of the special mediator selected by Perkins: "Taft called all the newspapermen into his room, and in the presence of Lamb and Muste, demanded that they suppress any information about his antiunion statements. Heywood Broun refused to be gagged." Auto-Lite company negotiators grudgingly agreed to submit the dispute to binding arbitration, but the idea was rejected by the union. Too much blood had been spilled to make this a viable proposal. Instead, in response to the growing pressure, the CLU voted for a general strike, with representatives of 93 of the 103 unions present; of these, 88 were in favor of the strike. The mediators, for their part, were working around the clock to prevent such action, and Taft succeeded in negotiating a temporary postponement. The picket line was quiet on Friday, but on Saturday clashes again broke out. The National Guard commander ordered all of the plants shut.

A Hard-won Victory
Throughout the strike, including the six-day period when the action resembled a riot, the American Workers Party, led by Louis Budenz and A. J. Muste, was passing out handbills to the strikers on the picket lines and making speeches. The independent posture of the AWP enabled the backers of Muste to find support in the Auto-Lite local, which had like-thinking supporters in Charles Rigby and his committee. Obviously, many others in the local were influenced by the political direction of the AWP. Even the more conservative or nonpolitical leaders preferred the radical ideas of the AWP to those of the Communist Party. The Auto Workers Union opposition to the AFL compelled the leaders of the Federal Workers Union to shun their offer of aid. However, members of the Unemployed League were joined on the picket line by the CPdominated Unemployed Council, who were welcomed gratefully. The strikers accepted the handbills passed out by the Muste supporters but rejected those of the CP, although the messages of the two leftwing organizations had a similar political content. The Muste/AWP pamphlets make common ground with AFL Teamster strikes in Minneapolis. On to the general strike! There must be no delay! Every minute that action is delayed is a golden minute for

Miniger, the bank robber, for the Toledo Edison, for the Merchants and Manufacturers Association ... On to the general strike! ... The workers of Toledo realize, as their brothers in Minneapolis realized, that there is strength for them only with their own class. Even the president of the United States cannot or will not help ... Man the picket lines at Bingham and Logan Gear Plants. The militia must go! Call the general strike! No compromise settlement in the Auto-Lite strike! Auto-Lite, Toledo Edison, all employers must recognize the right of workers to organize. Another handbill alerted the union to the dangers of mediation by the Automobile Union Board, established in March by Roosevelt when William Green of the AFL threatened a nationwide strike of the auto industry. The two deaths and the wounding of pickets was seized upon by the Muste forces to drive a wedge between the AFL and Roosevelt, and to protest his appointment of the Auto Labor Board (ALB) to resolve disputes between labor and the auto industry. The threat by William Green of a general strike in auto expressed the unions' dissatisfaction with the· procedures of the ALB in arranging votes that included representatives of company unions. The threat by Green evaporated after Roosevelt met with him to resolve the dispute. No new procedures emerged from the meeting in Washington. Muste drew the lesson for the autoworkers with a new handbill: Firmness in dealing with the employers will not come from the president or anyone else. Firmness must come from our own ranks. The Detroit Labor Board and like agencies only let the workers down. With the plants closed, negotiations held off the threat of a general strike. Meanwhile, Toledo Edison referred the recommended contract proposals to City Service power system, which had a controlling interest in Toledo Electric. They eventually conceded, granting union recognition and a 20 percent wage increase. With the settlement of the Edison strike, the threat of a general strike was removed. The mediator moved swiftly to draft an Auto-Lite contract with Local No. 18384, which called for the union to agree that the local and the company union Auto Council share the benefits of the settlement. This union compromise was then put to the union in Auto-Lite; it was subsequently put to Toledo Chevrolet in 1935, and to Flint General Motors in 1937. However, the auto industry refused to accept the principle that majority rule in a strike meant the exclusion of company union minority groups from the bargaining process. The recall of

workers applied first to all employees hired before the strike; the strike replacement workers were called back after all the strikers had been recalled. The fact that all the strikers were recalled without penalties was vindication of the union's declaration of victory. The 5 percent wage increase applied to all workers.

The Toledo Chevrolet Transmission Strike, 1935
Let no one underrate his own power, or imagine that one more or less makes no difference. No one not even the weakest can be dispensed with for furthering the advance of humanity. A continual dropping hollows out the hardest stone. And many drops make the brook and brooks make the stream, and streams the great river whose majestic course can be stopped by no object in nature! August Bebel, Women under Socialism Following the 1934 Auto-Lite strike, the Central Labor Union sought the aid of the Unemployed League in two strikes. The combined force duly achieved signed contracts at Armour and Swift and Larrowe Milling. In February 1935, a committee representing the Buildings Trades Council, Unemployed League, and the Workers Alliance embarked on mass picketing of building-trades projects. The "March of Labor,” a concept of Sam Pollock, brought the projects to a standstill and soon resulted in victory for the building trades locals. Organization of the eighteen auto parts plants had meanwhile brought about structural and political change in the leadership of Local No. 18384. The enlarged executive committee of the local union expanded to reflect the growth in membership. Future events would reveal the committee to be more conservative than the founding group that directed it in the Auto-Lite strike. Following the success in making Toledo a union town, the remaining obstacle was the Chevrolet Transmission Plant. It was recognized that a victory at the Transmission Plant would require a herculean effort. With its deep pockets, General Motors (GM) was one of the most powerful corporations in the world, employing 191,000 in 1934 and handling a payroll of $191 million. Local union leaders had tracked the 1934 Cleveland Fisher Body Strike against General Motors. The plant employed over eight thousand. This strike precipitated similar actions at other GM plants; a few were led by independent unions, but most were charted by the AFL. Workers from Flint, Atlanta, Baltimore, Janesville, Tarrytown, and Kansas GM plants walked off the job. Cleveland Fisher Body, with over 4,500 on the picket line, attracted the most attention. AFL director William Collins and his small staff, who represented locals in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin

and Michigan, were overstretched by the responsibility for auto corporation plants spread over so many states. Logic therefore dictated that Collins appeal to the Auto Labor Board (ALB) for aid in arranging a central site for negotiations with GM. General Motors accepted the proposal put forward by the Board. Automobile production had increased substantially in 1934 and the corporation was obviously anxious to end the strike. Nevertheless, William Knudsen, president of Chevrolet, set conditions before negotiations began, insisting that the striking workers return to work before discussions started. He also informed the ALB that GM's policy against the "closed shop" was inviolate; therefore negotiations had to include all employee organizations, including the company-sponsored unions. Furthermore, the unions were required to furnish a list of all members so that the company could determine proportional representation. Union leaders derided the idea of company unions sitting at the bargaining table with legitimate unions. The AFL insisted that this would stack the table against the AFL because the company union representative would side with the corporation. Knudsen set additional ground rules: each plant had to meet with local management to settle that plant's problems. The ALB sided with Knudsen. Collins capitulated to the GM conditions and ordered the Cleveland workers back. Collins's action dealt a body blow to the AFL union: the returning workers tore up their union cards.

Elections and Strike Plans
To overcome the problem of company union representation at the bargaining table the ALB ordered elections, with the plant divided into districts. Workers had to run without a union designation. Since the company arranged the elections in the plant, the use of foremen and supervisors to influence balloting was a foregone conclusion. The AFL denounced the ballot procedure and asked union supporters to boycott the vote. In more than half of the elections held between December 1934 and April the following year, 200,000 ballots were cast. A total of 85 percent of these voted without listing an organizational affiliation-fewer than 4 percent listed the AFL or company union. Analysis of the vote pointed to despair on the part of the workers. Notwithstanding the inordinate degree of pressure by the corporation to support the puppet company union, the vote represented a defeat of company-sponsored organization. Nevertheless, prospects were also bleak for the AFL, who had boycotted the election.

At the request of the Toledo Chevrolet Transmission Plant management, the ALB scheduled an election for April 9, 1935. General Motors sought to capitalize on the union setback in the elections by promoting the company union. Toledo Local No. 18384 voted to contest the scheduled ALB election, a decision contrary to AFL policy. In contrast to the disarray of the AFL in Detroit, the Toledo union movement was riding a rising crest of union organization. Indeed, within a year the AFL had consolidated its organization in the auto parts industry and had also expanded significantly in the traditional craft industries. The local had a well-organized committee in Chevrolet, headed by 23year-old James Roland, a charter member of the local, holder of union card no. 5 and a trustee of Local No. 18384 from its inception in 1933. Roland had been a participant in the struggle to defeat the injunction brought against the Auto-Lite strikers. He had in fact been fired before the strike and appealed his discharge to the Automobile Labor Board. His reputation soared following a brave and daring act described by Art Preis, a participant in the Chevrolet strike activities: One year ago Toledo Chevrolet officials were looking out of plant windows, extremely irritated. They were watching Jimmy Roland marching around the factory gates with picket signs on his back. A one-man picket line around a factory employing 2,500 men! Brazen, insane, unprecedented—but successful. The regional Labor Board decided in his favor… So, Jimmy was rehired. Roland had advised the ALB in advance of his intention to picket the factory. The sign he carried asked for an immediate hearing by the Labor Board. Two days later, Roland was told that a hearing would be held. He abandoned picketing and in due course was granted an appearance before the three-man Board headed by Leo Wolman representing the public, Nicholas Kelly representing management, and Richard Byrd representing labor. A month passed without word of a decision. Roland again alerted the ALB to his intention to resume picketing the plant. The next day, the ALB instructed Chevrolet to return Roland to employment. Chevrolet put Roland in the accounts payable department, far away from the production workers. He remained in the front-office job even after his election as chairman of the shop committee and of the strike committee. Serving on the shop committee with Roland was Robert Travis-his first appearance in the history of the auto union.

The decision by Local No. 18384 to contest the ALB election allowed little time for preparations. They nominated business agent Fred Schwake on the ballot in all eight districts. The union held a successful meeting the night before the election and elected Roland chairman of the nine-member strike committee. This committee also served as the shop committee. The members voted the committee authorization to call a strike. The AFL carried every district, with a vote of 1,300 votes out of the 2,100 cast. The ALB scheduled a runoff vote; the union, however, acted quickly to make this unnecessary. The union then met with management and submitted demands for union recognition, seniority; and a 10 percent wage increase. The company, in the meantime, was making its intentions clear. As Roland related in an interview in 1960: To us it looked like they were preparing for a showdown strike and were making preparations so that there could not be another Auto-Lite ... they put up screens around all their windows, heavy wire screens ... From all indications it looked as if they were planning ... [to] make a long battle of it. The shop committee tried to keep secret the final strike-date decision. On April 22, GM sent in a special crew of negotiators headed by William Knudsen, Charles Wetherald, and M. E. Coyle, who kept the strike committee in session for twelve hours, considering the company's counter-proposals. The union rejected GM's position; the decision was made late that night to strike the following morning. Much to the consternation of the committee, GM greeted the workers on the morning shift with a handbill listing the company's proposals for a settlement. The union leaders learned that a leak in their group had made it possible for management to react overnight and embarrass the committee. General Motors proposed the following: a 5 percent increase in wages; rigid enforcement of the seniority rules established by the government; each employee to be given access to his seniority record; layoffs and rehiring according to seniority; meetings with accredited representatives of employees to resolve remaining grievances. The company pointedly refused to concede to a "closed shop"; also glaringly absent were union recognition and a signed contract. The union responded three days later with the publication of Strike Truth, co-edited by James Roland and Joseph Ditzel, with George Addes as executive committee representative and Arthur Preis as associate editor. The paper answered GM point for point, but focused on the "closed shop":

By the afternoon of that same day it slowly dawned upon the management of Chevrolet that the "closed shop" was one of the conditions not demanded by our union in this instance; and, fearing lest further mention of it might put notions into our heads, the company conspicuously refrained from including the statement in its full page advertisements in the afternoon papers. The union paper hit hard at the ALB-sponsored election won by Local No. 18384. The unsigned articles expressed the belief that organization of the union in Chevrolet resulted from the company’s attempt, in collusion with the ALB, to rig the election in favor of a company union. The paper also called for a meeting to reject Chevrolet's counterproposals and told the members to bring a receipt showing union membership to gain admission to the meeting. In a sharp reversal of their policy -of abstention, AFL president William Green and Francis Dillon (appointed National Representative to the Automobile Industry by Green in October 1934 after the removal of William Collins) endorsed the strike. The AFL officials warned that neither the company nor the public realized how serious the situation was in Toledo. Dillon indicated that conditions like those in Toledo existed elsewhere and suggested that the strike might spread, even to Detroit. The nine-man strike committee greeted the strikers, insisting that their cause was just-"On to an Organized Auto Industry." The about-face by Dillon and Green contrasted with the weak position of the AFL in Detroit, where, lacking the organized force, the AFL refused to challenge any of the auto companies for union representation. In Toledo, of course, the local union, organized a year earlier, was able to lend material support and the practical experience it had gained in the Auto-Lite strike. The prominent Chevrolet strike committee members and their political orientation were described thus by Henry Kraus: The Toledo Chevrolet strike was led by an extraordinary group of radicals, who were in revolt throughout its duration against the ultraconservative AFL officials, particularly Francis Dillon. Its three outstanding leaders were James Roland, Robert Travis and Joseph Ditzel. Roland was unquestionably a disciple of A. J. Muste, cofounder of the American Workers Party, who was in Toledo through that entire period. Ditzel was an active Socialist Party member. Travis was unaffiliated despite later attempts to link him at the time to the Communist Party by what one might call "association by anticipation." I met Travis during the Chevy strike (as I did Roland, Kenny Cole, and other Chevrolet leaders)

and saw him two or three times, once in my home, in the period directly following it. He never gave the slightest intimation that he was a Communist nor that he was a Musteite, either, however highly he praised Roland for his trade union know-how and guts. The local strike committee led by Roland had no difficulties with Dillon in the first days after the strike, but as the strike progressed their perspectives diverged sharply. The committee's primary objective was a signed contract with union recognition, never before granted by General Motors. The strike committee, strongly influenced by Muste believed it was the right of the local union committee to make the decisions in the strike. This was an important lesson they had learned in the Auto-Lite strike of the previous year. Muste himself considered the greatest threat to the strike to be internal—a view that influenced many strike leaders. Muste's record in support of labor strikes, dating back to the famous Lawrence textile strike of 1912, gave him stature in the strike. Muste opposed unions' reliance on government institutions to help settle strikes. Dillon shared the committee's objective regarding a contract. He, however, came from the school of unionism that looked for help from government agencies. He wanted the strike confined to Toledo; an enlarged strike would create political and organizational difficulties' and make maneuvering difficult. Dillon "declared in a statement that once a strike conflagration started, you could never tell where it will go.” He worried, furthermore, that an enlarged strike would empty the International's coffers. Dillon asked the local to arrange a meeting to vote on the GM proposals: this took place four days into the strike. In the meantime, the company shut down the plant and made no effort to hire replacement workers or to ship transmissions by railroad. The company adamantly refused to meet with Dillon and the strike committee until the workers returned to work, Art Preis, writing in the New Militant, claimed that the Chevrolet strike committees publicity matched that of the corporation. Every GM press release was answered by the union. The publication of a strike newspaper was a first-time event for a Toledo union. It was a major effort to counter the propaganda of GM and the major newspapers.

Expanding the Strike
Without waiting for concurrence from Dillon, the strike committee sent telegrams, signed by Roland, to all the federal AFL locals in General Motors, asking them to strike for higher wages, seniority, and a signed

contract. The telegrams urged the locals to remain on strike until all the demands were met and to inform Local No. 18384 of the results. Members of the committee were divided into groups, which took the strike message to other plants. The group that went to Detroit to distribute Strike Truth were arrested by the Detroit police. In Norwood, Ohio, Roland's reception was friendly, but the GM workers there were hesitant to take action. He informed them they would be shut down for lack of auto parts: "Why don't you go on strike so that you are a part of it?" Two of the GM plants in Norwood were persuaded to strike. Then Roland made three trips to Flint. On the first visit, having been in town only two hours, he was arrested and put in jail. The police had warrants for his arrest on charges of armed burglary. Although they made no effort to make the charges stick, they nevertheless threatened to hold him for thirty days unless he left town immediately. On his second visit, he made speeches to groups of Buick workers. Joe Ditzel was with him on these visits and recollects: We wanted to expand the strike, and we even went up to Flint and talked to the leadership up there about striking some of the Flint plants. We met with their executive board up there. Later we were told that most of those we were meeting with on the executive board were stool pigeons. It was more or less a paper organization. When we left Flint that night, we sent Jimmy Roland out on the back roads back to town because we heard they were going to waylay him and he would come to great bodily harm. I know there were individuals around there looking for him then. Something might have happened to him if he had not. It was a member of the Teamsters Union who tipped us off to get him out of town by the back roads so nobody would find him. While Roland was carrying the message to the other GM plants in the region, he came under attack within Local No. 18384. A campaign of Red-baiting had begun after the arrival of Dillon. Fred Schwake, the local business agent, was under pressure from Francis Dillon and T. N. Taylor, representing William Green in Toledo. Local No. 18384, which controlled the funds of the amalgamated local, made the decision to cut off support for the publication of the Chevrolet strike bulletin. They wanted Art Preis removed as associate editor. Furthermore, in local meetings, conservatives in the amalgamated local made an effort to control the influence of the Chevrolet strike committee. On one occasion a small group of workers chased distributors of radical papers from the picket lines. The attack was directed primarily against the Communist Party. Art Preis wrote: Members of the Workers Party reported these reactionary actions to the Joint Action Committee, which immediately sent a strong

protest to the strike committee and the union executive board. The Workers Party members continued to distribute leaflets in the name of our party, which were widely accepted by the strikers and read with keen interest. The strikers shortly made a distinction between W.P. literature and that of other groups ... Meanwhile, General Motors took action in the second week of the strike to set up a transmission line in Muncie, Indiana. Most workers were not too concerned at this development: it would take months to bring a new plant into operation. More disturbing to the Chevrolet workers was GM's sponsorship of the company union, called the Independent Workers Association (IWA). The IWA held a meeting, which was attended by 1,600, the majority of whom approved the corporation's proposals submitted to the Chevrolet workers on the morning of the strike. The company union went further: it asked for a secret ballot of Chevrolet workers on the proposals to end the strike. The IWA concluded its meeting with a proposal to petition the government to conduct such a ballot on what it termed the company's "strike settlement concessions. " The Workers Party handed out leaflets mocking this latest GMsponsored action: Where does this so-called workers society hold its meeting? In the Chamber of Commerce hall! In the stronghold of the bosses and bankers! In that Chamber of Commerce which President Roosevelt himself has just denounced and flayed as hopelessly reactionary. True, they could not have gotten a union hall for their anti-labor meeting. But they chose the Chamber of Commerce as a meeting place! Any doubt that this is nothing but a strikebreaking, anti-union move has been removed. The IWA soon announced the success of its petition campaign for a government-backed ballot, claiming that over half the signatures were from GM employees. Dillon urged the strike committee to accept the IWA proposal but insisted the vote be conducted by the Department of Labor. Roland’s strike committee acquiesced in this action; nevertheless, it maintained that expansion of the strike was the surest way to a successful conclusion. The Chevrolet Transmission strike crippled GM plants in several cities, as the plant was the source of gearboxes destined for Chevrolet and Pontiac cars. The first plants affected were the assembly plants in Atlanta, Kansas City, St Louis, and Janesville. The press reported another half-dozen plants were in danger of closing. It was clear that GM would suffer a major economic blow from the closure of the Flint

Buick Plant. Consequently Roland tried to convince the union workers and their leaders to participate in the strike. He met with some encouragement. The leaders reacted to the attempt to shift transmission production to one of the plants in Pontiac, Michigan: the union workers indicated that while the Chevrolet Transmission strike was in progress they would not handle transmissions produced by a scab plant in Michigan. Dillon, nevertheless, persuaded the Buick union officials to refrain from taking action in support of Toledo until the Department of Labor vote was held.

The Chevrolet strike committee concentrated on winning the vote conducted by the government. Prior to the vote, the Workers Party held a meeting attended by six hundred people. Muste, the main speaker, attacked Dillon’s attempt to prevent the spread of the strike; however, he also emphasized the need for a strong vote in support of the AFL. As it turned out, the vote was a major victory for the AFL: 1,261 rejected the company’s proposal; 605 were in favor. This was in sharp contrast to the response of the company union, which had accepted the offer. General Motors agreed to meet with the union, thereby reversing its previous stand of not negotiating with striking workers. In this second round of talks, however, the corporation again refused union recognition, though it made some small concessions. The committee voted eight to one to reject GM’s terms. Under pressure from Dillon, another membership meeting was called for May 13 to vote on the new company proposal. Before the meeting, the committee and Dillon had agreed that no public statement would be made. Dillon, however, broke the agreement and issued a press statement accepting the company’s proposal and suggesting that the members of the strike committee were under the influence of "Reds." The meeting at first refused to give Dillon the floor. A motion was agreed that only strikers and members of the strike committee could speak. Dillon threw a tantrum and stormed from the hall, yelling that the charter of the local would be withdrawn. Writing soon after the strike, Muste said: Francis Dillon, leading A. F. of L. figure in the federal automobile unions, was barred from speaking -last night, by unanimous vote, at the meeting of Chevrolet strikers called to consider a compromise settlement. Dillon had prevented the General Motors workers in Flint from coming out in support of the Toledo strikers and had even condoned their working on scab transmissions. A chorus of boos shook the rafters as Dillon stalked out of the hall and shouted that their A.F. of L. charter was withdrawn and that, if a personal reference may be made,

they could “let Muste run their union for them.” The leaders of the local were in fear of Dillon's threat to withdraw their charter. They pleaded with Roland to persuade the members to allow Dillon to speak, Roland gave way and George Addes went to the hotel to plead with Dillon to return to the meeting, assuring him that he would be heard, Three times the meeting booed Dillon, but finally the workers listened to his presentation for the acceptance of the GM proposal. He was now backed by Fred Schwake, who had supported the strike from the beginning, and who earlier in the day was reported to have said that he would rather lose an arm than advise the men to accept the company offer. Schwake's acceptance broke the united front of the local leadership and opened the door to a yes vote, even though Roland spoke against acceptance of the GM offer. Louis Stark, labor reporter of the New York Times, noted: Mr. Roland, disappointed with the vote to go back to work last night, tried to stem the tide but in vain. Today he went to the Chevrolet factory where same unauthorized pickets were stationed and ordered them to disband. Another meeting was held soon after the workers returned to work. Leaders of the local and representatives of the Central Labor Body denounced Dillon's role in the strike. A resolution passed by Local No. 18384 asked Green to remove Dillon, General Motors, like the other auto corporations, recognized AFL locals without signing a contract. The company union soon disappeared. A series of small strikes subsequently facilitated the resolution of the problems in the plant. Yet GM had the last word: within a year, the company had transferred production to the Muncie plant, cutting the Toledo workforce by half. For all their weaknesses, the Toledo Chevrolet workers, led by a group of class-conscious—indeed, Socialist—leaders, broke new ground. In doing so, they set the stage for what would be the classic struggle of the 1937 sitdown strikes. Auto workers owe a considerable debt of gratitude to Roland, Ditzel, and Travis.

Dianne Feeley, “Labor's Disaster at American Axle”
THE 87-DAY STRIKE earlier this year at American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) ended in a rout that has devastating implications for the organized U.S. labor movement. Begun on a snowy morning early February 26, the strike ended on May 22, a late spring day just before the Memorial Day weekend. The 3,650 AAM workers at the six plants in Michigan (Detroit and Three Rivers) and in the Buffalo, New York area prepared themselves for the strike: most saved up for months, showed up for picket duty dressed for the freezing winter weather, were articulate on the picket lines about their demands and turned the union halls into community centers. They wanted to stop all traffic going into the plant, but were given bad advice by representatives from the UAW International - not to stop either foremen or trucks from entering and leaving. This strike, they were told, was an Unfair Labor Practice dispute, and if you don't allow traffic in, the judge will rule against the union. What was management demanding? For the first time in the auto industry, a profitable company was demanding that the present work force take a permanent cut in pay, from something like $28 an hour for production workers (with cost-of-living adjustment) to $18 an hour. Skilled trades workers would see their wages lowered by $5 an hour. The contract was rewritten with one concession following another. The only "attractive" feature was the signing bonus and buyout money. The company wanted 2,000 to apply for a buyout. (See box of contract "lowlights.")

The Empire Dauch Built
As one of the early GM spinoffs, American Axle has maintained its preferential deal with General Motors, which buys 80% of its products. In 1994 Dick Dauch, a former GM, Chrysler and Volkswagen executive, purchased five GM forge and axle plants with a workforce of 7,500. He built the company into a successful driveline manufacturing operation, upgrading plants and equipment. Dauch also bought two companies, MSP in Oxford, MI and Colfor in Ohio. Although the UAW represents those workers too, they have inferior contracts with wages set at $14 an hour and benefits to match. Their International rep is not part of the union's AAM department; their contracts expire at different times. AAM now operates in 29 locations in 11 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Poland, India, China, and Thailand. Following the strike's settlement, AAM announced that 85% of its new business would be made in non-U.S. operations. More than 50% of the production will now be located outside the country, with 65-70% shipped back.

Clearly any successful strike strategy at the former GM plants would establish long-term relationships with the unions at the MSP, Colfor and Mexican plants. But there is no evidence that more than an 11th hour phone call was made. Production continued at these plants throughout the strike, providing AAM customers with enough products to squeak by. In fact the Guanajuato, Mexico plant increased daily production to 6,000 axles. Rumor was that GM was footing the bill for the transportation costs. A month into the strike, AAM management placed ads for new hires. The ads didn't list rates or a start date; the company scheduled interviews off-site. When AAM asked the Three River public schools if they could hold interviews there, community support for the strikers nixed the request. Later the company asked if the police department would accompany replacement workers if they were brought into the local airport; again the request was turned aside. In the Detroit area strikers closely followed AAM's attempt to hire a new work force. They found out which high school the company was using for interviewing potential employees and fed the information back to the UAW reps. Strikers wanted to put up a picket in front of the school, but the reps didn't see that as a priority. Nonetheless a group of strikers went out and picketed. When a rumor surfaced that AAM might bring applicants onto its Detroit site, strikers and supporters showed up early one Monday morning, stopping traffic in front of a plant for 45 minutes, until police showed up to escort what turned out to be only foremen reporting to work. The Strike's Progress Weekly checks were issued for union members who carried out picket or kitchen duty. During that one- or two-day period almost everyone came by to pick up the check. But with the exception of the Three Rivers local, there was no space set aside for strikers to discuss with officers and reps the strike's progress or ways to increase the pressure on the company. However, UAW autoworkers in the surrounding areas were able to express their solidarity through the initiative of individual workers, who collected money at plant gates and organized carpools to the picket lines, as well as through the leadership of local UAW officers. Particularly over the Easter holiday, Chrysler locals organized a "picnic" at the Detroit plants. They showed up with their barbeque pit, food and a bullhorn. Marching from one plant gate to another, they held a rally in front of AAM's corporate headquarters and then served lunch. Community groups also demonstrated their support. In Detroit the Michigan Welfare

Rights Organization, Detroit Greens and MECAWI, a social justice/antiwar organization, picketed weekly. Trucks and cars driving by honked their support. During a lunch break at the April Labor Notes conference, about 250 participants packed three buses and more than 30 cars, trucks and vans and drove across town to picket. Strikers were overwhelmed to find out that workers from across the country, and indeed international visitors from places such as Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, Germany and England wanted to learn about, and support, their struggle. The UAW International set April 16th for a support rally to be held in Hart Plaza, in downtown Detroit, near General Motors' headquarters. At that point, 30 GM plants had idled shifts or been shut down completely by a lack of parts. These included six assembly plants. Within a week, GM was going to run out of parts for its hot-selling Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6 sedans. Thousands of leaflets were distributed and it seemed that workers throughout the region were making plans to attend. But two days beforehand, the union cancelled the event. Officials explained that the company led them to believe they were near to a settlement and it would be diplomatic to cancel the event! The following Sunday, at Local 235's monthly membership meeting, strikers packed the hall and questioned the decision. They knew they needed to escalate the pressure on AAM and GM. Given that the AAM stockholders' meeting was scheduled for the next Thursday, they passed a motion to march to corporate headquarters two blocks away. Those who held stock would go inside and confront management. One international rep told me that hopefully the strike would be settled by Thursday so we wouldn't need to demonstrate. That remark indicated the rep had no clue for how the strike could be won - not through fancy footwork at the bargaining table but only if AAM was completely shut down. During the strike AAM lost almost $370 million in sales while GM lost $800 million in the first quarter and $1.8 billion in the second, but that wasn't enough. Two days before the stockholders' meeting, the company broke off negotiations. The UAW International decided to build the strikers' march and rally by asking UAW regional directors to get other locals to send delegations. By noon the crowd in front of the Local 235 hall was so densely packed the local's leadership decided to begin the march to corporate headquarters (aka "The Glass House"). The marchers walked along the sidewalk and spilled into the street. For almost three hours a crowd of 1,500 to 2,000 milled around, shutting down both corporate entrances. Management called the police, who arrived within a half-hour with a riot squad and a bus to begin a mass arrest.

Although militant, the strikers were in a light-hearted mood as they controlled all but a small passageway through which stockholders entered under police escort. Over the course of the whole afternoon only one striker, Ada Walker, was arrested - and it was pretty clear the officer who arrested her was out of control. After he placed her in a police car, he walked over to taunt those concerned about her arrest, telling them they ought to go out and get a job! Meanwhile, the media reported that inside the company's offices strikers, who were also stockholders, told CEO Dick Dauch, without raising their voices, that the wage cuts he was demanding would cost them their home and put their children's education in jeopardy. But the union did not follow up on the momentum unleashed that day.

The Union's Lack of Strategy
It's the UAW International that makes the decision to authorize a strike vote, and negotiates the contract. It's clear they took the AAM workers out on strike without having a strategy. They seemed to think that a profitable company with cash on hand would have to negotiate a fair contract. But Dauch felt that if the UAW had negotiated concessions to the Big Three, he had the right to demand the same. Aside from assigning strikers to picket duty, the UAW had no plan for using the work force. No committees were set up to secure provisions for the strike kitchen, help families with special needs, or organize community and labor support. Strikers wanted to follow supply trucks leaving the AAM plant, but beyond reporting what they saw and where it went, the union squelched notions about what could be done. But the purpose of a strike is to deprive the employer of production. When a group decided to throw up an informational picket line at the plant processing axles made by the AAM foremen, the assumption was that it was a non-union plant. Through leafleting strikers found out that it was a UAW-organized shop and their contract was up the next day! The workers were supportive of the AAM strike - in fact they even had striker relatives. When the information was brought back to the International rep assigned to work at the local, he didn't see that there was anything to be done. Clearly the UAW thought it could come up with a contract based on its ability to negotiate with a profitable company. In 2008 they didn't think it necessary to organize a contract campaign, mobilize the membership and cut off production. Instead of forcing GM to place demands on AAM to settle, all UAW officials from President Ronald Gettelfinger on down said they wanted to keep GM "out" of the negotiations.

But GM was backing Dauch. While more than 30 GM plants were forced shut, the company hoarded parts and would plan production at one facility for a period of time, then shut it down in order to start production somewhere else. In the end Dauch forced GM to pony up $218 million to cover some of the early retirement buyouts.

The Information Meeting
Word began leaking out that there was a tentative contract. UAW International President Gettelfinger told the press "It's not a good agreement, but at this juncture it's the best we could do." Meetings were called for Three Rivers, Detroit and Buffalo. As a retiree I was able to attend the one at a public high school in Detroit. In addition to the officers of the two AAM locals, Gettelfinger and Vice President Jimmy Settles, director of the UAW-AAM department, participated in the discussion. Former Local 235 President Wendy Thompson laid out a strategy for how the strike could still be won: • Remove all the concessions from the bargaining table. • Demand that the UAW International tell GM they will not tolerate their accepting scab parts from AAM. (This tactic was successfully used at Ford during a Johnson Controls strike a few years ago.) • Double the strike benefits to $400 a week so strikers would have the possibility of holding out; organize an "adopt a worker" program with hardship cases, particularly foreclosure, recommended by the benefit reps. • Reschedule the Hart Plaza rally and build one in downtown Buffalo. • Hold weekly rallies in front of AAM headquarters. • Mobilize strikers and supporters to stop production of scab parts, using civil disobedience tactics if necessary. • Set up informational picket lines wherever scab parts are being delivered, encouraging those workers to reject inferior materials. • Set up community outreach to visit unions, churches and community organizations to garner their active support. The crowd roared its approval. One striker came to the front of the auditorium and pointed to Gettelfinger, indicating that he should get up and answer her. He seemed glued to the chair. Jimmy Settles finally spoke: “Wendy, you're right. In the perfect society that's what should be done. But we live in America, with all these laws that are hostile to working people….” Here was Jimmy Settles, an African-American UAW International officer, saying that it was impossible to fight against unjust laws. What had the civil rights movement been able to accomplish by refusing to go along with unjust laws? Didn't the birth of the UAW

effectively begin with the sit-down strikes in Flint, Michigan and Andersonville, Indiana, actions that were carried out in defiance of the law? With that the inadequate sound system failed and the meeting came to an end.

Going Back
That was the day the strike collapsed. Local union officials told strikers to continue picketing, but they never did at the Detroit plants. Over the next several days there were a series of formal and informal meetings to discuss the contract. The writing was on the wall: the UAW wasn't going to protect the strikers' jobs if there was a "no" vote, and you could expect scabs bused in following day. The majority of strikers felt they had two options: vote the contract up and apply for the buyout or vote the contract up and feel lucky to still have a job. At the Detroit Forge plant about 30% voted against the contract because they wanted to be able to look at themselves in the mirror, but at that point in the strike they didn't propose an alternative strategy. Over 2,200 strikers have applied for the buyout. Some never went back into the plant; others are working, waiting for their application to be approved. The Buffalo plant is shut, two forge plants are closing at the end of the year and Three Rivers may be on the chopping block next year. Meanwhile Dauch has opened a forging operation in Oxford, MI, where the starting wage is $10 an hour. Following the contract signing, Dauch was awarded an $8.5 million bonus, according to AAM's press release, on the basis of the company's "strong financial performance in 2007, the structural transformation achieved under our new labor agreements with the UAW and … Dauch's leadership role in these negotiations." The work force knew why it was on strike and fought to win. In walking the picket lines, strikers reached across the longstanding divisions of skilled trade vs. production, younger and older workers, Blacks and whites, male and female. Strikers struck up new friendships and there was a high level of unity. Unfortunately that unity isn't particularly evident now that workers are back: One set of workers is frustrated because it put in for the buyout but have to report to work everyday, while the ones staying have seen their pay and benefits slashed and their working conditions deteriorate. Foremen have been instructed that employees are not supposed to sit during work time so chairs and boxes have been eliminated, and even the picnic tables and benches set up in the plants' rest areas are gone. One worker was written up for leaning against a wall.

Another rule is that workers are only supposed to talk with each other during break. One afternoon, after lunch break, a whole assembly line reported back to work with their mouths taped shut. That seems to indicate that no matter how defeated workers feel right now, they still have a fighting spirit and a sense of collectivity. This was a strike that could have been won, that had the power and militancy to be able to force the employer to back down. Despite a militant workforce, the strike couldn't be won without a strategy.

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