By the New Spark Editorial Board
Today we celebrate May Day, a day of incredible historical significance for all working people. But this day holds a particular significance for American workers because this day marks a tragedy experienced by the American proletariat. While the workers were on strike in May 1886 fighting for the 8-hour working day, a bomb was set off in the crowd, killing and injuring many. The bombing resulted in state repression against the working-class movements of the time. This event came to be known as both the Haymarket Affair and May Day, and we celebrate May Day to remember and honor those who fought for the working class, past and present.
The class struggle has intensified in America as of late. Today, real wages for workers are still trending downward, the cost of living continues trending upward, and the reforms of yesterday are continuously being dismantled piece by piece. Throughout this, we’ve seen consistent struggles for social issues that strongly affect the working class. The struggles against racism, sexism, LGBT+ discrimination, war, joblessness, and homelessness are very alive today and growing. While both the end of child labor and the 8-hour work week were won as legal rights over 100 years ago, today, the working class has seen increasing amounts of mandatory overtime, unpaid wages, and instances of child labor. The struggle in Chicago in 1886 is the same struggle being waged today, but the classes are now on a different footing. Aside from this fact, the working class is still turning out in growing numbers to fight back against the excesses of the bourgeoisie.
In contrast to 1886, the American bourgeoisie is a horrific monster. While the US government was back then by no means inexperienced in fighting against threats, it was a baby compared to today. Today there are over 1,000 American military bases outside of American soil. Billions and billions of dollars are spent on these bases and asymmetric, covert, and proxy warfare all over the globe. American capital is exported all over the world in exchange for inexpensive products that can be sold to US workers at an incredible profit to the owners of capital. In contrast, American jobs continue to be exported and replaced with lower-paying non-union jobs.
The American bourgeoisie, wielding the power of the American state and capital, uses NATO as a tool of imperialist hegemony. NATO member states are not treated as equal partners but are used as proxies in conflict and shields against enemy reprisal. This massive outlay of war and economic manipulation all over the globe is financed on the backs of the working class through tax and debt schemes. All this is for the conquest of profit for a tiny percent of the American population, the bourgeoisie, which spares no expense when it comes to wasting the lives of the proletariat, American or foreign. So, while its scale may be larger, its cruelty has also grown. Because of this, the seriousness with which the American working class faces this problem can and must develop as well. We must challenge ourselves and learn to lead and to fight in a way that remembers the lessons learned on May Day and in every victory and loss made by the international working class.
To make this a reality and not just the wishes of the working-class fighters all over the world, we must lay down some ground rules. The primary is that no amount of reform, electoral or congressional action can solve these problems. The current state of affairs, evidenced clearly by the consistent rolling back of working-class rights, is that we live under a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie! There is room for the exercise of limited freedoms by the working class under a bourgeois dictatorship, the bourgeoisie may even give concessions through reforms here and there. But whenever social contradictions are sharpened in a crisis the bourgeoisie always preserves the most essential feature of a bourgeois dictatorship, the right to private property!
As long as there is a right to private property, there is a right for a minority to exploit a majority and control the economic basis of society which brings us food, shelter, medicine, culture, or all necessities of life. The only way to counter this is a dictatorship of the proletariat. Therefore, the proletariat, tasked with eliminating exploitation and ALL social classes, must resolutely defend against the creation of new social classes and new contradictions that prevent the development of socialism and communism. Only with this type of state can we create a society that is democratic in a new way and dictatorial in a new way—a society that is controlled by the working class as a whole and not managers and owners of capital.
To achieve these goals, the working class’s footing must be strengthened! The communist party, as formulated by V.I. Lenin, is to be a vanguard that leads the working class to revolution by making it aware of its necessity and giving it all of the tools needed to lead and self-govern itself. There was no American communist party in 1886, but one eventually formed after World War 1 with the help of the Communist International (Comintern). This party dealt with factional issues early in its life. It dealt with splits, and later on, it also faced splits that affected the international communist movement as a whole. Through this history, we have ended up with an untold number of communists and would-be great organizers who are scattered, dispersed, and weak. It has been seen in history at various junctions where vulgar criticism, slander, name-calling, and overall uncomradely behavior have contributed to this. Many communists have experienced this firsthand. The rest have either already read of it or surely will if they continue to learn and grow. Today no party in America seems to be “the” American communist party. However, the American Communist movement has many intelligent and dedicated people who work hard for communism.
Unity is needed, but not a generic, empty, or false unity. What we need today is an open discussion among communists — specifically, those actively organizing for the goal of communism. There must be broad and open discussion amongst these communists of all problems of the communist movement and the present-day political situation. These cannot be discussions where we base our conclusions solely on the conclusions of our predecessors, but genuine discussions where we can have humility and not allow our egos to be bruised by mistakes or disagreements. Discussions where losing or winning one day doesn’t mean a new enemy the next day; where a wrong answer is not identified by correlating the incorrect view with a historic decision but by identifying the erroneous conclusions in the answer itself.
This can and must be done!
We must stop wasting our efforts working isolated from each other and instead work towards outlining a complete scientific world outlook applicable to a unified American communist party.
Only decisive movement toward this goal can unify the most advanced elements of the entire American working class toward revolution. Only serious efforts towards this goal can create a winning strategy for American communists. Today, the American Council of Bolsheviks and Editorial Staff of New Spark call on all American Marxist-Leninists for greater cooperation and open discussion amongst our ranks to eliminate American imperialism. American imperialism today is the key pillar of the world imperialist system. Its defeat is a key component of winning communism for the entire world which is currently dominated by many imperialist countries and two main imperialist blocs. Therefore, as a first step for our organization, we open our columns to guest writers and commentators. This is a modest first step in our estimation based on our size and experience. It will also help our readers better understand our differences and allow for more discussion in our ranks on how best to solve these disagreements and problems. As such, we also hope to see similar efforts from other American communists.
After all, the proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!