For the Creation of a Workers’ Committee for Workers’ Aid
I have recently written about my experience with the TPA. My chief criticism is based on the fact that people’s power and not worker’s power is their tactic, strategy, and program. As previously explored in Anti-Capital, class matters. The fixation upon people’s power rather than worker’s power has led the TPA to a series of decisions that expose an inability to defend their own membership.
On August 14th, a confederate statue was torn down in Durham by TPA and other organizations. This was done apparently with little to no ability to protect the individuals associated with the statue tear-down from police retaliation. Those who tore down the statue were gradually, but systematically arrested. On August 17th, TPA hosted an “Arrest Me, Too” event where participants turned themselves in to the courthouse saying “If they are guilty of fighting white supremacy, I am guilty too.” What TPA did not realize is that the police state does, in fact, exist. All participants with outstanding warrants were arrested at this demonstration. Those with no outstanding warrants were simply expelled from the courthouse.
The first thing I did upon reading that the TPA had literally delivered themselves to the police was collect my jaw from the floor. How can the Worker’s World Party (interchangeable with TPA as far as I can tell) claim to have “a proud history of supporting the right of oppressed people, particularly Black people in the South, to defend themselves against the state and white supremacist forces” when they can’t even defend their own membership? While deliberately offering oneself for arrest might appear as a courageous, and righteous moral gesture, deliberately offering others for arrest is a fundamental mistake, in tactics, strategy, and program. This isn’t the 1960s, and we are not sitting in at a lunch counter in Birmingham. There is, as of yet, no mass movement to overwhelm the existing and expanding forces of repression with bodies, with class as distinct from individuals.
We think the actions of the TPA/WWP were stupid grandstanding that needlessly placed people at risk. But we would be little better than TPA/WWP if we simply shouted criticism from the sidelines. Instead we will be moving forward with the creation of a Workers’ Committee for Workers’ Aid (Workers’ for Workers’, W4W). The point and purpose of W4W is to provide working class solutions to working class problems. We will not take actions that needlessly endanger our own membership. What types of actions will we take? That’s a big question. Big questions, like big problems, should be broken down in to smaller questions. If you can answer most of those smaller questions or problems, you’ve got your answer to the bigger question or problem. So what are the small questions? Does this action have a reasonable chance of success while simultaneously being able to protect our flanks and rear? After all, we don’t want to bleed out and be unable to act again. Does this action directly or indirectly offer material aid to the working class? After all, the point is to make social need the guiding principle of our production. Does this action have the potential to attract other workers to fight for their interests? After all, we’re just a handful of people, it takes an entire class to shape society. Does this action draw together different segments of the working class? After all, the same cops that murder African Americans also deport immigrants and break strikes. Does this action make efficient use of our existing resources? After all, capitalism has created more problems than I care to list and our resources are limited. Does this action seize resources from the capitalists for us to use? After all, capitalism has created more problems than I care to list and our resources are limited. Does this action allow the working class to act independently? After all, class confidence can’t be built by begging the bourgeoisie to fix our problems for us.
That’s the abstract, lets make it concrete.
Red Tutors is a group we’ve already started that’s dedicated to improving the academic success of working class students, with a primary audience of the children of undocumented immigrants. We’ve had success with this group as measured by the improved academic success of our students, and none of our membership has experienced any injuries more severe than the injuries to pride associated with being corrected by young minds. The material aid offered to the working class is relatively clear, higher grades and, more importantly, better understanding of academic content is part and parcel of seizing control of the means of production. We have, as of yet, had little success with using the Red Tutors project to draw other workers to fight for their interests. Red Tutors has served to draw together different segments of the working class, we are primarily white males who have linked up with latinx undocumented families and broke bread with them. It’s hard to evaluate whether or not Red Tutors is making efficient use of our resources without having a point of comparison so we’ll refrain from commenting on this score, but it is without doubt that we are not seizing any resources from the capitalists with this project. The last point is the one I am most proud to report on, Red Tutors was started by three members of the working class and throughout our interactions with students we have stressed to them the reason why we, as Red Tutors, need to exist isn’t due to the incapacity of either the student or their teacher, but the incapacity of capitalism to provide for them; that instead the working class must learn to solve its own problems as Red Tutors is doing, even if in such a small way.
But Workers’ for Workers’ isn’t just about building Red Tutors, Workers’ for Workers’ is about coordinating between, and building up, different working class solutions. Red Tutors is just one attempted solution to the problem of education under capitalism. Workers’ for Workers’ is intended to be a nexus, a point of contact for different groups that are providing working class solutions to working class problems. But we aren’t simply satisfied with bringing together already existing groups and projects, we want to coordinate the growth of new working class solutions.
Body cams for all is an idea that I personally raised at the last TPA meeting, an idea I received from S. Artesian. The idea is elegant in its simplicity. Nationally, police brutality has put thousands of Americans in the street. One of the demands that we see consistently raised is for police to wear body cams. As soon as cops have these body cams, they refuse to release any footage that would make them look bad, so the demand must again be raised, each and every time, for the footage to be released. Rather than leaving the power in the hands of the bourgeoisie and their armed gangs we can, in this small way, take the question out of their hands. Arming ourselves, and offering to arm others, with body cams is significant beyond simply the ability to monitor the police. It touches upon an issue which has echoed throughout the nation with a solution which builds working class confidence, links up apparently different segments of the working class, is relatively safe, and gives us a vector to begin seizing resources from the bourgeoisie.
Maybe we’ll create a fund to provide body cams to those who want them, maybe we’ll decide it’s not a good use of our resources, maybe somebody has a much better idea for a project. We can’t know the answers to those questions outside of Workers’ for Workers’, a committee specifically being made with the explicit purpose of creating, amplifying, and linking together working class solutions to working class problems.
If you have received this article from the Red Tutors e-mail, you will find the date, time, and location for the initial Workers’ for Worker’s interest meeting in the e-mail.