By SYLVIA WEINSTEIN
This is a song written by my friend Jack:
If you see me sitting with a teardrop in my eye, it’s just a memory passing by
And if you see me walking and I don’t say hello it’s just a memory that I know
Time goes fast, time goes slow, it’s always been that way
Changes come and changes go, and there’s really nothing else to say
Life’s been good, life’s been sad, life’s the best thing I’ve ever had
And I’m thankful for the memories of my mind.
Jack is a retired San Francisco “Muni” bus driver who has raised four sons and nursed his wife, who died of cancer. He would be the first to say he’s no different than millions of other working-class people who just do what they think is right and necessary-and he is right.
But that is what gives the working class their edge and their will to struggle. Many workers are artists whose work we will never see or hear. They do it between going to work, shopping, and cleaning the house. They do it to take their mind off bills and jobs and to expand the beauty that is in their mind.
That’s why they go to see science fiction movies or to watch Miss Marple uncover the killer. It gets them away from everyday labor on the job.
Their boss owns their body on the job, but after work their mind is their own to create music, paint on canvas, photograph scenes that appeal to them, or tinker around with wood and nails.
The working class also has the ability to create a society where everyone will be an artist, a scientist, clean up the environment, or create educational centers for everyone, young and old.
We are coming up on the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate our independence. It came out of a revolutionary army made up of shipbuilders, iron workers, shoemakers, farmers, longshoremen, carpenters, etc. Oh yes, and flagmakers.
Unfortunately, that revolution traded the tyranny of the monarchy for the tyranny of the capitalist class. It was an unfinished revolution as far as the working class was concerned.
Certainly it was not a step to freedom for the African American slaves in this country-who remained slaves until the Civil War, and then were forced into economic slavery.
Workers not only have the ability to make music, poetry, and art; they also have the remarkable ability to change the course of history, to fling themselves into battles that bring them closer to freedom.
Garment workers marched in the streets for the eight-hour day and for safer working conditions. Millions of workers, male and female, marched to end child slavery in the sweat shops of the capitalist class. Hundreds of thousands of women marched in the streets for the right to vote.
In the 1930s, women and men workers joined together to fight for union rights. In San Francisco and Minneapolis the working class brought the capitalist class to their knees. The battle cry of “solidarity” became the lance that pierced the hearts of the ruling class.
In the ’50s, it was Black youth who marched against Jim Crow in the South. The African American struggle cleared a path for Northern civil rights and for students at colleges throughout the country to fight for free speech and the right to organize on the campus.
The Vietnam War gathered all of these different groups-young, old, Black, white, Hispanic, male and female-into a fight which resulted in the end of that imperialist war. Whenever workers have fought for their rights it has resulted in the expansion of the rights of everyone.
The next struggle is for workers everywhere to end this system of exploitation and unjust wars. Only they can create a society where every individual can bring all of their ability to build a better world for all. Solidarity is the glue that can make it work.