If you got on a bus to go to Washington, D.C., for the Oct. 26 antiwar protest, if you took to the streets in San Francisco, or if you took part or plan to take part in a demonstration in any city in the world against the U.S. war against Iraq, you’re in good company. Protest has been the method by which workers have stood together historically to push back the more brutal aims of the ruling class.

Without those who protested, older workers after years of mind-bending and backbreaking labor wouldn’t have Social Security. Absent protest from workers who worked 16-hour days, forced to work six and seven days a week for barely enough food to have the strength to return to work, an eight-hour workday would simply have been out of the question.

Because of protest against imperialist injustice, the Vietnam War ended. Because of worldwide protest, Mumia Abu-Jamal has not yet been murdered by the state of Pennsylvania.

Working-class protest slows down and sometimes turns back the drive of those who would extract from us everything but our very souls for their own gain. Without protest from the working class, there would be no such thing as the minimum wage. Without a history of protest, women would not be “allowed” to vote.

The battlefield of the worldwide class war has many fronts. Foremost at this moment, we must struggle to end wars waged to profit the ruling class. More than eight million U.S. children are without healthcare. Who are their enemies? Not the children of Baghdad.

Those who make their voices heard as our bodies take to the streets against the warmongers are taking a most important step toward the liberation of the working class worldwide. One individual step at a time, each of us collectively with millions of others are taking millions of steps at a time, in the streets of Rome, London, Haifa, Pretoria, Cairo and countless other cities around the world. Ruling class aims of total domination and exploitation of the world’s workers and their resources leave us no choice. We must.

One step at a time, we climb aboard buses, hoisting our protest signs, many of them homemade the night before. Each pen stroke on those signs is a stroke toward the victory of our class. In concert, millions of steps, millions of pen strokes, we march on and fight the battle for peace with justice. That battle is one the working class is prepared to win. It’s the one we can’t afford to lose if we don’t want to be forced to exchange our blood for oil. All aboard.

Barbara Jean Hope is a contributor to the World. She can be reached at bjhope2000@cs.com