Viskonsīnas strādnieku atbilde kapitālistiem:Tax the rich! :

Posted on February 22, 2011


For an entire week, Wisconsin workers and students have carried out escalating waves of protest at the State Capitol in Madison. The uprising has been centered around an occupation of the capitol building and a string of mass rallies and marches on the capitol grounds and surrounding streets.

The movement’s main demand is to kill the union-busting bill sprung on the state legislature byi right-wing Gov. Scott Walker and his corporate backers. The bill would strip teachers, nurses and other public sector employees of their hard-won collective bargaining rights and drastically reduce their benefits.

On Feb. 19, over 100,000 people streamed into Madison for a massive rally. This writer, a member of the Illinois Education Association union and a Midwest organizer for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, joined the protests this week, along with dozens of other PSL members.

The ongoing struggle shows that workers and students of all backgrounds have the power to unite and fight for real change. Here are some myths we have seen debunked by the heroic struggle in Wisconsin.

Myth: Youth and students are too distracted to care about politics.

Truth: Youth and students are the lifeblood of every movement and their political energy and innovation shapes every working-class struggle.

The Facts: Students shut down nearly every school in Madison in solidarity with the unions. For several days, thousands of students marched from their schools to the capitol building. One 14-year-old student said, “We walked out of our school to do the right thing—to defend our teachers from the governor’s attacks.”

The takeover and occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol is being carried out by students, who are chanting for hours, holding speak outs in the middle of the capitol and helping to lead the protests. College students from around the state have used social media to get the word out.

On Feb. 17, when the cops tried to drag a Democratic State Senator into the Senate to ram through the bill, hundreds of students packed the hallway and refused to move, preventing the cops from achieving their goal.

The middle of the capitol’s rotunda is draped with progressive, pro-union and anti-Walker slogans, most of them written on homemade signs and banners. On Feb. 20 at 2 a.m., the cops came in and removed the signs and banners.

Myth: U.S. working-class consciousness and unity is a thing of the past.

Truth: Class consciousness is once again on the rise as a result of the capitalist economic crisis and the capitalist class’ war on workers.

The Facts: From the signs at the mass protests in Madison, it is easy to see that Wisconsin workers view the attack on public sector workers as an attack on all working people.

PSL members have talked to thousands of workers at the protests. We noticed that most were very clear about the fact that Wall Street and the billionaires are on the warpath against working people and that coming together to fight is the only solution.

The PSL sign, “Tax the rich!” is very popular at the protests. Signs and banners calling for unity in the struggle against the bill are very common.

Myth: U.S. workers will never care about mass political activity.

Truth: A mass struggle, like the labor battle in Wisconsin, highlights the fact that workers can and do understand politics and are the first to engage in mass political activity.

The Facts: Walking down State St., a busy street that runs into the capitol, I thought the many workers gathered outside numerous restaurants were waiting to eat. I was wrong. The outside speakers for the restaurants were broadcasting the news. In the middle of the day, U.S. workers were standing in the middle of the street outside the state capitol, eagerly trying to get news about the progress of the struggle against the anti-union bill.

Thousands of people visited the PSL table to sign a petition to “Stop the budget cuts: tax the rich.” Workers are eagerly grabbing all the political literature being distributed at the protests. And the sheer volume of handmade signs at the protests is staggering.

Myth: Some U.S. workers are not “working class”

Truth: All people who go to work each day and get a wage for their labor are part of the working class. The need to struggle under the capitalist system brings workers together–at this time we can see our power as a class. Workers on the streets in Madison are pro-union and anti-Tea Party, not anti-working class.

The Facts: Teachers, nurses and other public employees, representatives from every union, non-unionized workers, some who consider themselves “middle class” are all enthusiastically joining militant street protests occupying the state’s main government building to defeat an attack on working people.

They are marching for hours, chanting “Kill the bill” and singing civil rights and labor songs together in the streets. The high-level of solidarity at the protests is strikingly clear.

Every sector of the working class is present in the Madison street actions, and much of the city is with the workers. Signs in the windows of area businesses support the workers.

Hostility to the billionaire supported, racist Tea Party and anti-worker Fox News in Wisconsin is extremely high. The Feb. 19 protest was fueled by news that the Tea Party would stage a rally supporting Walker’s bill. Many signs called on workers to reject the Tea Party.

Workers in Ohio, who are facing-off against a similar bill, have taken action at their state capitol in Columbus. Solidarity rallies have been held in Chicago, Minneapolis New York and beyond.

Myth: Workers will never rise up and challenge the rich and powerful.

Truth: Wisconsin workers are rising up and sustaining the struggle to defeat a ruling class campaign to bust public unions. Wider struggle against capitalist rule is not only possible, it is inevitable.

The Facts: Each day, the Wisconsin protests have gotten larger and more militant. On Feb. 19, the crowds from Wisconsin and all over the Midwest flooded the capitol in a steady stream for over seven hours. More protests are planned.

Along with very important union organization, the Wisconsin struggle is being driven by a genuine uprising of working people and students.

Myth: U.S. workers will never make common cause with workers in other countries.

Truth: Common struggle and solidarity between workers in different countries is possible because they face similar situations in a world dominated by U.S. imperialism and a handful of billionaires.

The Facts: A significant portion of the handmade signs at the protests referenced the Egyptian revolution. From talking with the students and workers on the ground, it is clear that the example of Egypt is very much on people’s minds. It has had a material impact on the Wisconsin struggle.

John Beacham

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