Socialist Action salutes the 40,000 trade unionists, environmentalists, students, farmers and other concerned people who took to the streets of Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization in November.
We are also thrilled with the number of local organizing initiatives that have arisen in the aftermath of Seattle, both to discuss the lessons of that protest and to come up with a plan about what to do now. Proposals include a mobilization against the IMF meeting scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., on April 16; support for the National Farmers Union march in the same city on March 21; and mass May Day rallies around the theme of opposition to global capitalism.
However, we think it is important to once again stress what we see as a failure on the part of many of the organizers of the Seattle protest to come out in clear opposition to the main enemy we face-capitalism, and especially capitalism at home.
Furthermore, in coming up with strategies about how best to oppose capitalism, we have to avoid getting sucked into the debate over free trade versus protectionism. This is a debate between different sections of corporate America, and neither side represents the interests of working people. Slogans like “fair trade” serve only to confuse people into thinking that the way forward is to support “good” capitalists against “bad” ones, when in fact there is no such distinction.
The enemy is neither free trade nor protectionism. The enemy is all capitalist trade policies-and the capitalist class as a whole, which inevitably puts profits before human needs. To successfully fight and win we need to be clear on whom exactly we’re fighting against.
The massive protest in Seattle was significant because of its great size and its bringing together such a diverse group of people and organizations, from labor unions to environmental groups. It’s also important to recognize that it is exactly these kinds of mass mobilizations that have resulted in historic gains for labor, women, Blacks and other progressive movements. Our strength lies in our numbers!
Socialist Action calls for continued mass mobilizations, organized around specific issues that affect working peoples’ lives. We need to revitalize the labor movement, the feminist movement, the Black liberation movement, the gay and lesbian liberation movement, and the spirit of international working-class solidarity.
If we avoid the traps laid for us by the ruling class by building an independent working-class movement dedicated to fighting for our interests, we can and will take on corporate American and win. And when that happens, we’ll be in a position to construct a new society, one where people come before profits, and democracy is extended to every level of society. Join us in the struggle for socialism!