The following speech was given at the Left Voice Journalism School. If you are interested in collaborating with Left Voice, sign up here.
Welcome, everyone, to Left Voice journalism school! I’m Tatiana from NYC on the editorial board. We’re especially excited to have this journalism school right now, a few weeks before the election. Revolutionary politics seem so necessary right now, as is independent left media to highlight struggles on the ground, to help people come to revolutionary conclusions from those struggles, and convince people that fighting for socialism is the way forward.
The situation now is both dire and full of possibilities. The big banks rake in record profits, Jeff Bezos is on his way to be a trillionaire and Trump wants to say the pandemic is no big deal. After all, Trump recovered quickly and is back on the campaign trail. But that’s easy to say when you get the kind of world-class treatment he did. Capitalism creates the best healthcare for the wealthy, while for the working class, it creates destitution and even death. With over 220,000 dead just in the United States, this virus is highlighting deep inequalities of race and class: Black and Latino people are being disproportionately infected and killed. And for those people who survive, thousands of working class people are going deep in medical debt from getting the coronavirus, because we live in a system of healthcare-for-profit.
In this period, many of us have experienced loss—of jobs, of security, of loved ones. It has exacerbated the losses and structural violence that have always occurred in this racist, capitalist system. Folks on this call have experienced the struggles of being undocumented, incarcerated, profiled by the cops—of systematic structural racism, of transphobia and homophbia, and all of the shit that happens in capitalism, even before the pandemic.
At Left Voice we want to highlight your stories. Your stories are important. They are a piece of the picture of violence against us. We want to use these stories to fuel an unstoppable rage among working class and oppressed people.
It didn’t have to be this way.
The Trump administration is to blame for botching the coronavirus response, for forcing re-openings and demanding that we die for Wall Street, for the family separations and the federal agents repressing Black Lives Matter protesters and much much more.
But the Democratic Party is also equally to blame. They are to blame for refusing to provide healthcare, for reopening schools unsafely, for bailing out corporations instead of workers— and for building, alongside Republicans, the prisons, detention centers, and private healthcare systems that are killing us.
The entire capitalist system is to blame, for putting profits over people, for destroying our environment, and for demanding that we die for Wall Street.
At Left Voice we want help getting that message out there, and convincing more people that we need to fight this entire system. We want to highlight every injustice, small and large, to try to paint a full picture of the injustice of capitalism.
But it’s not just doom and gloom. Around the world, people are waking up. Last year, there were huge uprisings across the world— Sudan, Haiti, the Yellow Vests in France, the Chilean movement. Many of these movements were against imperialist debt, against the imperialist relations that ensure massive profits for U.S.corporations .
At Left Voice, we think it’s key to stand with the working class around the world—to highlight class struggle in other countries, to cheer for the working class abroad when they rise up, and to build a political perspective in the US that is uncompromisingly anti-imperialist and internationalist. We’re part of an international network of socialist publications in 14 countries and 5 languages that fight for a principled anti-imperialist and socialist perspective. We have comrades in France who helped lead railway strikes; in Argentina who are participating in a land occupation of thousands of people; and in Chile who helped organize strikes and protests during the previous uprising.
Waves of class struggle have also reached the U.S. We’ve reported from the front lines of teachers’ strikes over the past few years, showing the heroic struggle of teachers for better funding for their students and better working conditions for themselves.
And this year, there has been a wave of workers’ struggles during the pandemic. Several Left Voice comrades who are healthcare workers have reported from the front lines. Tre Kwon and Mike Pappas organized healthcare worker rallies and actions, demanding PPE and better conditions for both patients and workers. They used our publication to put out the message that bosses are not essential. The multi-racial working class runs everything— the working class saved lives. We don’t need bosses. Even some of the mainstream media picked up the message— Tre and Mike appeared on BBC, CBS, DemocracyNow and Teen Vogue.
Then came the Black Lives Matter movement, where millions of people stood up against the murderous, racist police— direct descendants of slave catchers and strike breakers. People promised to fight for a world where Black Lives Matter— including Black women’s and Black trans lives. People toppled statues in the US and around the world, toppling the myth of colonial heroes and unbiased textbooks.
Thousands of young people experienced fighting the cops and being repressed by Democrat and Republican political leaders alike— most cities where curfews were created were in blue states, not red ones. We want to make sure the people who mobilized don’t forget it, that we don’t forget who our enemies are in this struggle.
During the BLM movement we at Left Voice highlighted the police repression, the right wing attacks, and amplified the demand to abolish police and prisons. We explained that we can’t reform our way out of state repression: we need to abolish capitalism to abolish the police, and we need a socialist, revolutionary strategy to do that.
We also called for cops out of our unions, with activists like Julia Wallace getting resolutions to that effect passed by the SEIU Local 721 Black and Latino Caucuses. And we argued that unions need to strike for Black lives and against police violence, showing that we can fight oppression with the strength of the working class. We also put forward theories on Black liberation, publishing a series of theoretical articles by C.L.R. James in discussion with Trotsky and other socialists in the 1940s.
A whole generation of folks have been changed by this experience: a generation that has lived through two economic crises, that increasingly sees that capitalism has nothing to offer us. We want to have a dialogue with those folks. We want the leftist inklings in millions of people to be taken to their logical conclusions: the need to fight for socialism. We amplify Marxist theory as well, because there is no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory. We stand on the shoulders of giants— of theorists like Marx, Lenin, Rosa, Trotsky, C.L.R. James, and many more. We build on the work of the activists and labor organizers before us— whose histories we also want to reflect on our pages.
And as we look towards the future, we know there will be struggle. Perhaps Trump will try to steal the election. Perhaps there will be violence at the polls from the neo-fascist ‘poll watchers’ Trump is mobilizing. But, regardless of who wins the election, we know what it will mean for working class and oppressed people. In economic crisis, the working class is forced to pay. It means a law-and-order residency by one of the two racist capitalists running for office. We know it will mean a president who will drop bombs in the Middle East, who will deport people, who orchestrates coups, regardless of who wins.
And it means we will have to fight.
At Left Voice you won’t see us supporting the mythical “lesser evil”, which just leaves us with more evil while demobilizing the movement with false hopes in capitalist politicians. We know there is no lesser evil. Instead, you’ll see Left Voice showing that our class is strong, and calling to organize against capitalists, cops and the neo-fascist right wing with a strategy for socialism. You’ll see us say that the working class produces everything— and that we deserve everything. You’ll find us on the side of the working class and the oppressed in the U.S. and around the world.
We want you to contribute to this project— to write, report or make visual media to share with coworkers, friends, and maybe even your grandma who is coming around to leftist ideas. We want you to help fellow activists draw conclusions from their activism, to see it as a part of a broader project for socialism.
We want Left Voice to be a publication that tells the truth about how things are— about how dire it really is, but also that we, the multi-racial, international working class, in alliance with oppressed people, are strong. We are the gravediggers of this system, once we realize our strength. And we want our publication to be in the service of that.