Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monica Moorehead: "An Important Contribution by Sam Marcy"

Excerpts taken from a talk given by Workers World Party Secretariat member, Monica Moorehead, at the WWP Oct. 8-9 National Conference in New York City.

For those of us who have been in Workers World Party for 25 years and more, Sam Marcy has left an indelible impact on our lives as communist organizers. What has kept many of us in the Party has been the revolutionary vision and optimism of Sam Marcy, as well as other founding members like Dorothy Ballan and Vince Copeland.

Sam was a Marxist theoretician on the highest level, with objective, revolutionary interpretations of the writings of Marx, Lenin, Engels and Trotsky. Sam not only viewed Marxism as a tool to explain a historical or existing development at home or abroad, but he was also so brilliant in anticipating economic and political events because his general analysis was always on target. Sam was big on anticipating world events and finding an appropriate way to respond to them.

Sam wrote “Perestroika” in anticipation of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp 20 years ago. This collapse played itself out as a counterrevolution. And while many world struggles and movements were either decimated or put on the defensive by this development, because of Sam’s foresight, our Party was not caught off guard and therefore did not succumb to this devastating world assault on Marxism.

Sam also anticipated the capitalist restructuring of the economy and its social impact, outlined in his important book, “High Tech, Low Pay.” This book, produced in 1985-1986, helped to lay the foundation for Fred Goldstein’s book, “Low-Wage Capitalism,” before the big outbreak of this unprecedented global capitalist economic crisis

Impact of Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street is breaking the mood of pessimism and paralysis that the workers and the movement have been suffering from for a number of years. OWS has ignited a spark around the country in large and small cities, urban and rural areas.

Would Sam have been shocked by the OWS phenomenon? No. Sam understood that youth have historically lit a fire under many significant struggles coming out of periods of reaction — the Vietnam war, the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, budget cuts and austerity. The big difference between those periods and now is the devastating economic crisis.

The workers didn’t really show any signs of life in those previous epochs because their standards of living were relatively stable and high, but now, due to the global financial crisis, there has been a dramatic qualitative change. While the destruction of PATCO began a long period of defensive struggles for the trade union movement, Occupy Wall Street has the potential of helping the trade unions to go on the offensive, that is, to take on political struggles.

Sam would have been the first to say that youth’s idealism is just the first step forward. That it isn’t enough to hate the symbols of capitalism like Wall Street, but also necessary to understand why capitalism as a system can’t be reformed and must be eradicated root and branch. Class consciousness means understanding due to special oppressions, especially national oppression. We aren’t all equal. Sam would encourage these youth in motion to reach out in a genuine way to Black, Brown, Arab, Indigenous and Asian youth, who face daily racist economic and political repression. While some of the OWS activists were out on the streets with us trying to save Troy Davis’ life, the struggle has to be generalized to ending the racist death penalty for all, not just for Troy Davis.

Sam would be heartened to know that Occupy Wall Street has created openings for some of the most revolutionary class conscious forces among Black trade unionists, like TWU 100, or the Haitian movement to raising their demands in an effort to building anti-capitalist alliances. Sam viewed national liberation struggles, especially self-determination, central to the anti-capitalist, pro-socialist perspective.

Sam Marcy not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk. He believed in taking bold initiatives even when the movement and organizations weren’t ready for them or even when it may have been premature. But Sam believed that when it came to the struggle, sometimes you can’t play it safe. Because even if it turns out not to be successful, then how do you expect to learn from your mistakes. The time is now to do everything we can to support OWS, with all its imperfections! The time is now to put aside any political differences with other forces to build a socialist front of unity! The time is now to prepare to meet the challenges before us in new bold ways! The time is now to anticipate — like Sam Marcy — dare to struggle, dare to win! Build a Workers World! n

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