It’s not just Wisconsin: a nationwide counteroffensive is emerging


This is a moment of heightened class and democratic struggle. The signs are everywhere - not least in states in the nation's heartland. It isn't a time for the fainthearted.

The Republican right is squeezing labor and other sectors of the people's movement at the federal, state and local level. Nothing like it has occurred in the post-World-War-II period. And we haven't seen the worst of it.

Public workers are at the center of this attack to be sure, but it also reaches beyond them to the entire working class and people.

While right-wing Republicans are doing the dirty work, not far behind, pulling the strings where necessary, are major sections of the capitalist class.

The aim of this coordinated attack is twofold.

One aim is to shift the costs of the current crisis of capitalism onto the American people, who had no hand in its making. This is what the capitalists always do in the midst of any economic crisis no matter if it is deep or shallow.

The other aim - and this is what makes this crisis response from the top layers of capital different - is to strategically undermine labor's power in the political arena, much like it has done to labor in the field of collective bargaining.

If successful, it would leave the organized section of the working class, the main social force combating right-wing extremism, a badly weakened actor in U.S. politics and society.

But as Robert Burns said about "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men," they go oft astray. Neither labor nor its allies is rolling over and throwing in the towel. Instead, a working class led counteroffensive is emerging - so much so that it is fair to say a new phase of a struggle is afoot, in which labor and its allies could turn the tables decisively in their favor.

The battle in Wisconsin electrified (for good reasons) the whole country. But the counteroffensive is not just Wisconsin - it is national in scope, diverse in form, creative in tactics, and united in action. This nationwide tapestry of struggle is multi-threaded, woven in varied patterns, loops and colors.

It is accompanied by a change in class mood, feeling and consciousness the likes of which we have not seen in recent decades. In the felt experience of tens of millions, capitalism isn't working for working people, the American Dream is crumbling, something better is needed.

The counteroffensive in my view dates back to the 2006 elections, where labor and its allies scored a victory and thus threw the Bush administration on the defensive for the first time.

It continued in 2008 when tens of millions danced in unison on the political stage and elected an African American president who promised a u-turn from the far-right policies of the Bush years.

There was an unfortunate lull in this counteroffensive in the first two years of the new administration, during which time the right and corporate class regrouped and went immediately into attack mode. But the lull is over. Labor's counteroffensive is resurfacing in a strikingly new and promising way.

This augurs well for the future, even though Republicans at the state and federal level, fresh from a victory at the polls last fall, are pressing their advantage.

In the coming months, the GOP because of its legislative majorities may register some victories, but they will be short lived.

In politics, winning and losing isn't a matter of simple arithmetic, not simply a matter of tallying up what was won and what was lost. Rather, it depends on which side is able to expand its support, deepen its unity, and capture the initiative. It also depends on which side is best able to frame the debate and win the battle for public opinion. And on these counts, labor and the people's movements are scoring well.

Already casting a long and ever-present shadow over the nation's politics, economics and public discourse is the 2012 elections.

No struggle has the same possibility to rearrange the political balance of forces in a progressive direction as does the 2012 elections and its outcome. No other struggle has the same possibility to throw the working class and people's counteroffensive onto an entirely new forward trajectory.

Labor may have fewer financial resources in 2012, but its army of activists will be far bigger and its ground game will be bolder.

As we dig into today's struggles, it's not too early to be thinking about what has to be done to defeat right-wing extremism at the polls next year.

Photo: The scene in Madison, Wis., February 18. People's World



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  • An undermining process has obviously been going on for decades. Do some research about the connection of the Republican Party to Germany,in the World War II era. There were facist movements in the United States,at that time. In order for facists to thrive,the financial and political standing of their most likely opposition,needs to be crushed. Behind the sqeaky clean conservative values image that the GOP wants to maintain,you will uncover some very ugly and interesting facts.

    Posted by JR, 05/29/2011 10:16pm (4 years ago)

  • It's not capitalism that is the economic enemy, it is central banking and corporate special interests that are dismantling our republic and constitution.

    We do not have capitalism in America because we do not have a true free market. Our market is regulated to death, and that's what's killing it. A real free market would work! That's how America became great in its early years: there was no regulation. It was true free market capitalism.

    There are two versions of the Tea Party. One is a real, grass roots movement (the original one, the one Ron Paul endorses). The other is the version that the GOP has tried to co-opt for its purposes and to discredit the original Tea Party.

    Consider the big picture: without our fundamental liberties, there won't be anymore conservatives or liberals. We'll all just be debt slaves in a third world wasteland!

    We can work out the smaller issues after we restore our constitutional republic! We have to work together.

    Our best strategy is to use state's rights (10th Amendment) to nullify unconstitutional federal legislation to protect ourselves. Then we should move to repeal criminal legislation: Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, Homegrown Terrorism Act, Defense Authorization Act, and others.

    United, we stand. Divided, we fall. If we fight each other instead of the federal and corporate threats, we weaken our chances to save our childrens' futures!

    Posted by Jason, 04/10/2011 1:03am (4 years ago)

  • .."capitalism isn't working for working people, the American Dream is crumbling, something better is needed. Gee, I wonder what will replace it, umm, let's look at history , oh there it is, it's called Communism.

    Posted by Steve, 04/08/2011 8:46pm (4 years ago)

  • If the socialist model is a failure and capitalism is the answer then why do we owe China a gazillion dollars?

    Posted by Ron in SC, 04/08/2011 7:29pm (4 years ago)

  • This is all very inspiring until you realize that the end result of all this activism will be the election of Democrats a.k.a. Republican-lite.

    Posted by John Whiskey, 04/07/2011 6:31pm (4 years ago)

  • The makings of a great people's struggle is beginning. We have to be dedicated, alert, and united as we face this most serious attack on the people, led by Republican tea-partiers and opportunistic Republican politicians. We are facing the possiblility of fascism, and/or a double dip depression, and possibly the collapse of the economy. We are also facing mass impoverishment. Demonstrations on behalf of labor rights are indeed under way. The basis of a winning fight-back struggle has begun, but only begun. We must do more.

    !Viva la victoria siempre!

    Posted by Rob Moir, 04/07/2011 6:26pm (4 years ago)

  • My dear sam,
    This is a great piece to distribute at the Saturday demo and at May Day.
    Love Carole

    Posted by Carole Marks, 04/07/2011 1:38pm (4 years ago)

  • i think this is a good one sam. especially pointing out capitalists always try to shift the burden of the economic crisis on to the backs of the american people. especially the working class.never mind the naysayers, who does this michael think creates all this wealth?? these extreme right wing anti labor elements may have made a mistake in arousing folks. i agree we have to start mobilizing for 2012. wall street bankers already are in solidarity jim

    Posted by jim, 04/05/2011 2:35pm (4 years ago)

  • This is the same rhetoric that has been regurgitated by socialists since before the October Revolution of 1917. Let us look at the facts, look at the treatment of the worker under the wonderful socialist regimes of the Soviet Union and China, is this what you advocate for America? How had Lenin and Stalin's regime benefited the worker, the gulags I understand where replete with workers. How about China? THe living conditions and human rights are a record every follower of Mao and the AFL-CIO can be proud of.

    Socialism has failed EVERYWHERE it has been tried, it is amazing how arrogant American Socialists are that they think they will be any different.

    Go ahead, live in your delusions of the worker's paradise, it won't work, it never has and never will. Is capitalism the awnser, who knows. But one thing is for sure, it seems that the real us versus them mentality is in the Socialist camp. It is amazing how cruel every business owner (capitalist) is. It is mazing how they are all out to get them, but wait! Let us be proactive and get them before they can get us.

    The real visionaries of class hatred and warfare are the socialists. They spend more time obsessing over it than any other sector.

    But this I will challenge you, if the Unions can create goods and services BETTER than the capitalist, why not take all the extorted Union dues and start Union run business. I socialism is viable, they should out perform their capitalist counterparts.......

    But let's be real, you will never rise to the challengs. Instead I expect you to attack this post in the most vile and barbaric manner, if it gets posted at all.

    I would say thank God, I am not a socialist, but seeing as I am an atheist, I can only hope that you stop looking at the world through your John Lennon rose colored glasses and climb down from the ivory towers.

    Posted by Michael, 04/05/2011 12:17am (4 years ago)

  • I think an added characteristic is the boldness of American imperialism and it's stepped up attack on the peoples of the world and it's thrust to control as many countries as possible.

    Posted by ismael, 04/04/2011 9:35pm (4 years ago)

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