Saturday, October 12, 2013

Some impromptu thoughts on left unity in the US

I'm thinking out loud here. Feel free to tell me where I'm off my rocker. I'm interested in working some things out and I welcome debate and disagreement about what I say below.

The organized socialist left in the United States is quite small. Despite the profound, far-reaching social and economic turbulence caused by the financial meltdown, the US left did not experienced a massive swell in its ranks over the past 5 years. To be sure, the left has grown both qualitatively and quantitatively. Important struggles such as occupy, the Wisconsin capitol occupation, the Chicago Teachers strike, the ongoing Fight for 15 and Our Walmart struggle have all brought new layers of people into the orbit of the socialist left, on the one hand, and have provided socialist activists with valuable movement experience.

But although some growth certainly occurred, it was not nearly as substantial as I and many other leftists imagined it would be. Relative to the tasks we face, the socialist left is nowhere near the size it needs to be.

Despite the fact that polls consistently show that majorities of young people (ages 18-30) look more favorably on socialism than capitalism, socialist organizations in the US are largely invisible. I would wager that 19 out of 20 US workers have never even heard of any of the organized socialist groups in the US. It's not that they're inveterate right-wingers. The problem is worse than that: most workers don't even know we exist. We presently lack the public visibility and membership numbers that would enable us to break into public conversations on a mass scale. In an important sense, our ideas have yet to even get a hearing among the vast majority of workers.

Worse still, the socialist left is arguably more isolated from the working class than it has been in recent memorythe only historical analogy I can think of is the 1950s following McCarthyism. There are encouraging counter-examples to this overall trend, but the big picture here is not a pretty one: most workers---even most union workersdo not regularly encounter organized socialists or their ideas.

Now, I don't need to tell you that it's not all our fault that this is the case. Objective obstacles to the growth of the left abound. It's important to be clear about what those obstacles are and analyze them carefully. But all I want to do here is focus on the subjective sidein particular on one way that we, socialists, can try to change this frustrating state of affairs. I don't purport to have lighted upon a magic bullet that will end our relative isolation from workers. But in what follows I hope my reflections might prove useful in stimulating broader discussion.

It's not for nothing that ideas of "re-groupment" and "left unity" have begun to surface among a number of disparate left groups in the last year (e.g. here, here, here, here.) This trend, I take it, is directly tied to the problem we identified above: the scale of attacks on our class continues to escalate and large sections of the population say they're open to left ideas, but yet socialist organizations remain marginalized and largely invisible to the majority of the working class population. The basic argument for any form of re-groupment or left unity is simple: in an effort to overcome its marginalization the socialist left should cooperate and combine efforts.

At this level of generality, I find it hard to see how anyone could possibly reject this argument. The devil, however, is in the details: what would left cooperation or unity mean in practice? And exactly what should left groups collaborate to do, practically speaking? These are important questions that don't get solved by regroupment or unity—they must be worked out before any kind of regroupment or unity would make sense. Although it's a touch artificial, let us divide practical action into two categories: political and economic.

On the question of political/electoral action, there are profoundly different ideas among existing groups. Groups like CPUSA, Committees of Correspondence, DSA, "soft" FRSO and others (at present) seem to think that the goal should be to try to push the Democratic Party leftward through entryism or primary challenges. All of these groups are, to varying degrees, committed to building social movements, but when the question of the Democratic Party arises they have all traditionally showed a strong tendency to opt for the "lesser evil" when it comes down to it.

On the other hand, there's a large number of groups with very different politics (ranging from Stalinist and Maoist to varieties of Trotskyism) that all oppose the Democratic Party and argue that some sort of independent left political action is needed to carry the struggle forward. The largest and most well-known among these groups in the US is without doubt the ISO. These organizations also support building movements (although they differ about how to do that), but what sets them apart from the CPUSA cluster is that they are unwilling to accept the logic of "lesser evilism". In one way or another, they think that a break with the Democrats is a starting point for building the left.

On the "economic" question of building the labor movement, there is also disagreement. There are radically different ideas among socialists about how to rebuild a fighting labor movement. The ISO and Solidarity stand for the "rank-and-file strategy" of building democratic, militant caucuses of workers in the unions who can organize against the boss on the job and, when necessary, catch the existing union leadership in the cross fire of the class struggle and force them to fight or out themselves as sell-outs. Other groups stand for a more "permeationist" strategy of simply finding a way to get more socialists in staff positions, the better to steer unions in a progressive direction from above. Others take the "lesser-evilist" logic into the economic sphere and defend existing union leadership come what may, on the grounds that they are better than the bosses and that the labor movement is too embattled for internal criticism to be productive. Still others abstractly reject all of the existing trade unions and argue for exclusively building separate, radical unions. One also finds uneven and mixed combinations of all the above.

Now, that's a lot of practical, strategic heterogeneity and it's unclear how it could provide the basis for unified action among leftists. I don't mean to suggest that this renders the goal of left unity worthless. But it does show that every socialist group in the US could combine into one party tomorrow and we would be no closer to answering the question of what to do next. There are no shortcuts here.

What this suggests to me is that talk of left unity must be as concrete as possible if it is to be useful. Instead of jumping right to the question of combining organizations, we need to first of all discuss concrete practical collaboration among organizations on a case-by-case basis. This isn't easy to pull off, and there are certainly no short cuts.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that there's some low-hanging fruit to be snagged here. There's space in movement work for more collaboration, coordination and pooling of experience and resources. If different left groups always aim to carve out separate spheres of influence by staking out "turf" in different movements, that might benefit them in terms of competing with other left groups but it makes it far less likely that we'll start winning any of these struggles.

There is also, it seems to me, no defensible reason why politically similar Trotskyist organizations should be running candidates against one another in local elections. Instead of using elections as a straight-forward sectarian party-building maneuver, these organizations should work together to field left candidates that might actually get a hearing and project socialist demands to a wider audience. We can't just will into existence an American SYRIZA, but we can take steps toward building something like it if we reject the kind of sectarianism that leads groups to compete and attack one another for non-political reasons that ultimately benefit no one.

Unity, it seems to me, should be sought on the electoral front on the basis of shared commitments to practical platforms, not consensus on the class nature of the USSR or one's analysis of the Cuban Revolution. Elections are expensive and require a lot of time and energy. By and large, it doesn't make sense for any socialist organization to go it alone here, unless they are comfortable with being irrelevant for all time.

There are bigger questions lurking here about how wide a net independent left candidates should cast, how broad their demands should be, etc. But I see no principled reason why we couldn't figure out those questions together on the basis of a political commitment to the idea that it is mutually advantageous for socialists to cooperate on campaigns to overcome their marginalization. Again, we won't ever achieve this until it is identified publicly as a valuable goal.

A key to unity is that there must be trust built up among organizations who, for too long, have related to on another in a purely competitive, mutually suspicious way. We would also be naive to think that these fraught relationships are purely politicalthere are likely many personal reasons why certain people and the organizations they represent dislike and distrust one another. Careful, patient work will need to be done to change the dynamic here, and unfortunately it won't be entirely politicalsome of it will require building trust by creating less shrill, more friendly habits of communication among different groups.

A challenge here is that often the relation between different socialist groups is mediated by the leaderships of those groups. There are, in some ways, good reasons for this, and in a genuinely democratic group there isn't, in principle, any reason why inter-organization collaboration shouldn't be mainly facilitated by communication among leaders. Still, be that as it may, the sorry state of the US left and the scale of the challenges we face require dynamic and creative new approaches here. Members of socialist groups can't sit around and wait for unity to be brokered from above by the elected leaders of their organization. In many cases, leaders have more reason (because of their extensive experience interacting with other groups in ways that involved conflict, etc.) to hold grudges and resist cooperation than do most rank-and-file members. And it is no doubt true that some small sects probably have self-important leaders whose position as big fish in a small pond would be threatened by unity with other organizations.

There seems to me an important role that rank-and-file members can play in helping to build more left unity and cooperation on a political basis. First of all, members of different organizations can try to interact with one another in movements directly and help to change the culture of distrust and sectarianism. Second, I think it could be positive to simply have members of different groups (who, nonetheless, have similar politics and a shared strategic orientation around certain struggles) speaking to one another and talking politics more often. I myself have considered trying to reach out to members of other organizations with similar politics just to pick their brains about why there isn't more collaboration. In a sense, I feel that this sort of thing is implicitly, unintentionally discouraged, but it shouldn't be.

The importance of this kind of interaction shouldn't be overstated, but neither should it be dismissed as irrelevant. Building trust and rapport is a key part of overcoming unprincipled sectarianism rooted in personalistic conflicts and histories of competition.

Another thing that we can do to build more practically-minded unity among socialists would be to try harder to adhere to the following principle: the sectarianism of others is not an excuse for being sectarian oneself. It's tempting to take any sectarian swipe at one's organization as a license to respond in kind, but this is not always sound politics. The tit-for-tat just reproduces a dynamic the left has internalized from decades of decline. It's not that there shouldn't be sharp debates among us—but more often than not these debates are needlessly polemical and uncomradely.

Sectarianism isn't simply a subjective problem, of course. The current state of the left is such that sectarianism can appear both rational and strategically prudent for many small groups. The situation is such that many small groups don't want to be the one to opt out of sectarianism completely because they can't be assured that others will do the same.

But this can't go on forever. It bears repeating: the left is marginal and this sort of unprincipled, unnecessary competition perpetuates this state of affairs. In this context, larger, more influential groups have an obligation to rise above some of the squabbling initiated by small sects who seem to stake their entire existence on trolling other socialists. They have the power and influence to set a better example that could lay the groundwork for increased collaboration.

In this same vein, socialist groupsespecially the biggest, most influential among them, such as the ISOcould help this process along by talking about the political value of left collaboration and unity more often. As it stands, it is not obvious enough that this is a goal that most groups share. But we can't expect much progress on something if it isn't explicitly identified as an objective.

There have been some encouraging developments worth noting that we should build on and try to generalize more intentionally. For example, the ISO worked with others to form a socialist contingent at the 2009 AFL-CIO march in Washington. The Eco-Socialist events on the East and West Coasts have drawn the support and participation of a number of groups. There seems to be growing willingness among left organizations to coalesce around the inspiring local campaigns being led by Socialist Alternative in Minneapolis, Boston and Seattlee.g. it seems that Socialist Action, a small Trotskyist formation, has agreed to formally endorse all of the SA candidates. There needs to be more of this in the short run. And in the long run, even more collaborative efforts should be pursued that involve cooperation beforehand about what campaigns to run, etc.

If there's to be any left unity or regroupment, it seems to me that it should occur on two different levels. First, there is space for groups with similar politics, practices, and traditions to combine efforts into single organizations. On the face of it, for instance, there is far more shared ground between ex-IS groups like the ISO and Solidarity than there is disagreement. Of course, unity can't be forged abstractly---it will have to be built up gradually through positive experiences of collaborating on practical projects. Nonetheless, it seems crucial that a discussion about the desire for unity be opened up so that the groups can, at least, be clear about where they'd like to be and why. This is but one example and I'm sure there are others.

Aside from more specific regroupments, as above, there is also room for increased collaboration and unity among groups with very different politics in movements, electoral efforts and, perhaps, for certain sorts of propagandizing as well (I know this violates the strictures of the "united front" strategy, but I don't think it should be off the table when we're talking about the organized socialist left, provided that propaganda is broad and demands-based, e.g. "tax the rich", "no to austerity", etc.). Why not, for example, a slate of left candidates who run at the state or local level on a platform that could secure the assent of wide layers of the socialist left? This won't ever become a possibility until we start talking about it and why it might be desirable in principle. To dismiss it out of hand as a pipe dream is not hard-headed materialist analysis but idealism, for it denies that our present sense of what's possible is, in fact, one of the material/practical obstacles to such an endeavor.

Some have argued that left unity and/or regroupment could help the left break into public debates more because it would pool financial resources. Now, what I've said above should make clear that things are not quite as simple as how to find the most efficient technical means of building the left. There are disagreements about what the left should do and how it should act in the world on a number of fronts. We can't very well pool resources if it's unclear what those resources would be used to do.

Nonetheless, this argument shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. We have to keep in mind that in capitalist society, money matters and opens many doors. With more money, left organizations could hire more paid organizers, promote their online presence, revamp their websites, print publications and pamphlets, produce video content, finance electoral campaigns, purchase advertisement space, get TV and radio airtime, etc. etc.

This isn't a silver-bullet for political success, but these things could make a huge difference in terms of getting the ideas out there. It's therefore worth keeping in mind that left unity carries a potentially important reward. This doesn't make the practical task of building cooperation easier, but it does sweeten the deal for all parties involved and could, if more openly praised as a potential benefit, be a good motivator get to groups to talk to one another in good faith. When someone says that left unity is too much trouble to be worth it, the costs need to be weighed against the potential benefits which include much larger financial power.

Nothing would be gained by rolling groups as different as CPUSA and the ISO into one organization. The results would likely be disastrous and utterly incoherent practically. But we socialists can't be comfortable with how things are. The status quo sucks and we can't sit around and wait with the expectation that it will gradually improve and our small organization will end up winning the "race" and becoming the next Bolshevik party.

We need to have principled networks of activists who participate in sharp debates about socialist theory and practicethat needn't be discarded in favor of some left unity melting pot. But socialist organizations of every stripe must become more serious, more vocal, and more committed to the non-sectarian goal of re-building the left in general in the US. Because right now we're all suffering from the fact that the left is largely invisible.

I think we also need to acknowledge that what kept the left alive in dark timesI'm thinking especially of the Reagan yearsis definitely not going to be what carries it forward to new heights. Necessary though those routines and habits may have been at that time, they aren't going to be what catapults us into garnering a mass following. We'll need to be creative, dynamic, and willing to take risks if we're going to grow and overcome marginalization.

The patient, methodical work of building movements and recruiting key militants to the long-term goal of revolutionary change should remain a key part of the work that socialist organizations undertake. But, at the same time, we need to be able to step back and ask the big questions with courage. I'm sick and tired of how marginal the left is in the United States. Part of that is beyond our control. But surely there is no fundamental reason why big groups like the ISO as well as smaller organizations like, say, Solidarity, Socialist Action and Socialist Alternative should be isolated from one another, divided, and competing. I'm interested in thinking about what it would mean to build a serious, tightly organized socialist organization that could include all of these comrades, sustain certain differences of opinion, and nonetheless still act in the world in a unified way.

I'm also interested in thinking about how socialist organizations with little in common politically could collaborate more in movements and in electoral efforts. There is surely some kind of platforme.g. tax the rich, end the warswhich could win the assent of virtually all socialist organizations. What about some sort of public campaign to project those demands into the public realm and mark them as socialist to stimulate interest and debate around left-wing ideas and organizations? I'm no idealistI don't think that joint propaganda is fundamentally what causes societies (or consciousness, for that matter) to change. But it matters. One of the biggest challenges is that socialist ideas don't even get a hearing.

To be sure, for left ideas to really grip people, it must seem to them that it is possible to put them into practice successfullyhence the need to build the movements as a way of creating a larger sea in which the left can swim and grow. Consciousness primarily changes through struggle. But I don't think we want to endorse some kind of wooden, un-dialectical stagism about how things must proceed. There is clearly a role that wider dissemination of socialist ideas and demands can play in radicalizing people and building the movements and the left in general.

To sum up: abstract unity is clearly neither possible nor useful. But there is way more space for collaboration and unity than there is actual collaboration and unity on the US left. If I had to reduce my argument to a slogan, it would be: collaboration and unity wherever and whenever it makes sense. It can and must happen on a variety of fronts: in movements, on electoral campaigns, organizational reroupment, propaganda, etc. There is no shortcut, but we can't move things forward until it is explicitly identified as a goal by the most important, influential socialist groups in the US.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Few Notes on Austerity

There's no doubt that the global economic crisis has precipitated a wave of austerity measures across Europe and North America. As banking crises mutated into sovereign debt crises, austerity has been forced upon working people from California to Catalonia. In "peripheral" European economies, the continued existence of the welfare state---a virtually unchallenged feature of the political landscape for at least a generation---is by no means assured. That wasn't the case before the crisis.

In the United States, we have not faced austerity drives as severe as those faced by the Greek working class, but we are still witnessing historic, unprecedented attacks on basic social programs at the federal level, combined with deep cuts and anti-labor restructuring at the city and state levels.

This would make it easy to think that austerity is a relatively new development---an outgrowth of the crisis that began with the collapse of big banks in late 2007. That, however, would be a mistake, and it's worth reviewing why.

The politics of austerity dates all the way back to the origins of neoliberalism in the early 1970s.  David Harvey's account of this is process is as good as any. He argues that the post-war Keynesian consensus breaks down after stagflation and global recession set in by the early 70s. The fiscal and monetary policies that had prevailed a generation were no longer capable of restoring profitability to a world economy that was in protracted crisis. After a number of fits and starts, a strategy for restoring profits began to emerge.

This new strategy involved, first of all, breaking the power of organized labor in order to push labor costs down, reduce the number of strikes, and drastically speed up production on the shop floor. It also involved eliminating all barriers to the flow of capital across the globe---a move which opened up huge pools of the global industrial reserve army to corporations in core capitalist economies. The rest of the neoliberal package is well-known: deregulation, big tax cuts for business, drastic reductions in social spending, privatization, an emphasis on reducing inflation rather than aiming at full employment, and so forth. These policies weren't confined to specific countries, but were implemented on a global scale---from Deng's China to Thatcher's Britain to Pinochet's Chile. We could continue, but you get the point.

What this makes clear is that austerity has been a permanent feature of the neoliberal era. It has been ratcheted up ten-fold as a result of the crisis, but it is not a new development. The idea that austerity produces growth is a cornerstone of neoliberalism which, although new cracks in the edifice emerge every day, remains the default theory and practice of capitalist states across the globe.

The fact is that the working class all over the globe has, by and large, been enduring austerity for more than 40 years. It has by no means been a one-note symphony---it has varied in form and intensity in different times and places. But austerity is definitely the word we should use to describe the punishing "shock therapy" applied to Russia after the collapse of the USSR as well as to the brutal regimes of "structural adjustment" forced upon Africa, Latin America and elsewhere during the 80s and 90s. (I note, in passing, that Egypt, now the site of intense social struggles with global ramifications, was the first country in the world to undergo IMF-imposed structural adjustment). The same goes for developments in Europe and the US---think, for instance, of Clinton's decision to "end welfare as we know it".

This has important ramifications for understanding social struggles in the context of the current crisis. There have been a number of fights against austerity all over the world since the crisis began. But they have not yet been able to turn the tide. This is, to be sure, a frustrating fact that the left has to soberly assess, but it is less depressing when we keep in mind that we aren't simply organizing against a policy---austerity---that began with the financial meltdown in 2007/08. We are pushing up against a ruling class offensive that has dominated world economic and political affairs for more than four decades. During that time---especially during the "irrationally exuberant", triumphalist years of the 1990s---neoliberalism was, as Perry Anderson put it, on pace to become the most successful ideological/political movement in the history of the planet---more so than any of the major world religions. To expect, as many leftists did, that all of that momentum could be shattered by a few flare-ups of militant class struggle was unreasonable, to say the least.  

This should not be cause for pessimism. Sure, it's true that the left is not on the offensive and it's undeniable that the working class is taking it on the chin all over the globe. But that has been an enduring feature of the whole neoliberal period. What's different about where are today is that the neoliberal configuration is experiencing a deep, protracted internal crisis. This crisis is both structural as well as ideological. Structurally, there is not yet a clear path out of the stagnation and anemic growth brought on by the Great Recession. Overproduction on a world scale and sovereign debt crises in Europe remain unresolved, although temporary solutions have been found. Ideologically, neoliberalism is no longer the ascendant, up-up-and-away set of ideas it was in the mid 1990s. By now, an entire generation has lost confidence in the absurd technophilic triumphalism that underpinned the internet boom of the late 90s. Growing numbers of people see that the notion of the "free market" has always been a facade for the socialization of costs and the privatization of profits. Young people today in the United States say that they look more favorably on "socialism" (49%, according to a recent Pew Poll) than "capitalism" (46%). In 2012, the number one, most highly-searched word on Miriam Webster's website was "socialism". It is by no means unambiguous what these figures mean---or what the participants understand the word "socialism" to mean---but they do show, at the very least, that growing numbers of people are interested in systemic alternatives to what they see around them. We can imagine their reasoning going something like this: if capitalism means war, ecological disaster, insecurity and economic crisis, then it's opposite---socialism---can't be all bad. It stands to reason that the politics of socialism-from-below will continue to be best placed to appeal to young, newly radicalizing people who are unlikely to be inspired by the grey bureaucratic domination of Stalinism and its progeny.

In the United States, we've seen no shortage of resistance---think of Wisconsin, Occupy, the wave of protests against the murder of Trayvon Martin, the successful teachers' strike in Chicago, and so forth. The last four decades have left the labor movement and the left in shambles. Many have no direct memory of what mass movements look like. It is inevitable, therefore, that the first flashpoints in the growing resistance to neoliberalism will be works in progress. A collective learning process will have to occur within the working class whereby it re-gains, by means of these struggles, some of the confidence and militancy that has been shattered by a 40 year class war from above.

This won't happen overnight. But there is more space to build this fight now than there has been in a generation. What looked unassailable 10 years ago is now vulnerable and open to a challenge from below. The future is uncertain, but the potential to re-bulid the left is greater today than it has been since the demise of the movements of the 60s. We should be sober about what has happened since the crisis broke in late '07. But we should not lose sight of the fact that there is an opening today that did not exist for decades. We have to keep that in mind when soberly assessing recent defeats and setbacks in the class struggle.


Monday, February 11, 2013

What do Union Density Figures Actually Mean?

What do union density statistics actually mean? To what extent can we draw sweeping conclusions about our present political period from them?

Union density measures the percentage of the work force that is unionized. Recently, new figures came out which indicate that union density in the United States recently reached a 95-year low point. It would be easy to hastily conclude from this (admittedly depressing) statistic that things are getting progressively worse for the workers movement in the US.

As Chris Maisano at Jacobin has convincingly argued, however, that would be a grave mistake. Increasing union density does not necessarily translate into increasing workers power, and declining union membership does not entail a one-to-one decline in workers power. After all, much depends upon the extent to which rank-and-file workers are organized and activated within the union, among other factors (both subjective and objective).

Consider the example of the Chicago Teachers Union. The CTU has had tens of thousands of members for decades. But only recently has the union been transformed by its members into a rank-and-file-led vehicle that can wield the strike weapon to defend public education. In fact, during the last 10 years, the city of Chicago has closed a number of schools and I would wager that the CTU’s membership declined as a result. But in this case, figures about declining membership hardly mean that the CTU was on the road to decline, veering ever closer to disaster. The result is this: despite the fact that union density in Chicago public education fallen over the last 10 years, the prospect today for a upsurge in rank-and-file-led, social movement unionism among teachers is favorable.

Or, consider an example that Maisano discusses in his piece, namely the fact that union density in France is only 8%---much lower than in the United States. Despite this fact, the French workers movement is in many ways ahead of its American counterpart. The French left has greater implantation in the trade union movement and workers there are often more likely to employ militant tactics, disruptive forms of protest, and so on. But you wouldn’t necessarily know this from keeping tabs on union density figures.

Consider another of Maisano's examples: New York State, which has extremely high union density figures---23% overall and more than 70% in the public sector. Despite these impressive figures, public sector workers have been forced by Gov. Cuomo (D) to accept concession after concession. This should lead us to ask: what will it take to transform these unions into organs of struggle for their workers and what role can we play in making that a reality? I fail to see how a schematic narrative about terminal decline---grounded on a faulty interpretation of the significance of union density figures---gives us any traction here. A far more fruitful approach would be to look at what militant teachers in the CTU did and try to generalize lessons for the left and for the labor movement writ large.

One more example. As Steve Early discusses in his excellent book Civil Wars in US Labor (Haymarket Books: 2011), SEIU added thousands upon thousands of members in the 1990s and early 2000’s. Now you might think that this entailed a general upswing in workers power and class consciousness. You’d be wrong. As Early shows in the book, much of that growth in union density was built on an edifice top-down business-unionism and aggressive pro-Democrat electioneering.

Yet, in spite of declining union density because of public sector layoffs, the prospects today for a working-class fightback are far greater than they were during the early 2000’s. Again, we see that the meaning of union density statistics is hardly as obvious as some leftists would have us believe. The real problems are more complex and abstract hand-wringing about declining union membership does little more than paper over them and encourage an unjustifiable pessimism about what's possible today.

Without struggle the labor movement withers on the vine. There are no irreversible gains in the class struggle. When militant action from below declines, so does the energy that enables the labor movement to tread water (let alone advance forward). Conditions today are making workers more and more open to militant, disruptive tactics (such as illegal strikes and sit-downs and all the rest) as well as radical politics. That won't erase overnight the lacerations of 40 years of class war from above. But it's reason to think that there is more possibility today for working class struggle than there has been in decades.