United States of America
United States & Solidarity
Susan Dirr and Mike Cannon
The current political period in the United States is characterized by low levels of working class mobilization interspersed by occasional sparks of resistance. Leftist or socialist candidates outside of the two major parties fight to get even 1% of the vote at the state or national level.
Within the last decade, there have been some major mobilizations of the anti-war movement and the immigrant rights movement. From 2003-2004, several US demonstrations against the Iraq war reached more than 100,000 people. However, the US anti-war movement has essentially disappeared in the last six years. In 2006, millions of immigrants across the country took part in demonstrations for reform of US immigration policy, including some marches of 100,000 to 500,000 people. Immigration continues to be an important issue which radicalizes young people and has the potential to mobilize communities.
In 2011, more than 100,000 people demonstrated over two weeks in response to legislation which took away public sector collective bargaining rights and cut many social services in the state of Wisconsin. Six months later, the Occupy Movement emerged in cities across the United States, criticizing economic inequality and corporate control of government. Although by the spring 2012 the Occupy movement had mostly dissipated, it has changed people’s political consciousness and created an environment more conducive to movement-building.
Earlier this fall, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) launched a successful city-wide strike in response to school closings, privatization, and deteriorating working conditions. This was the most significant labor struggle in the U.S. in at least two decades and Solidarity members played an important role.
Independent political action in the U.S. is often throttled by our entrenched two-party system. This creates significant hurdles for any efforts to organize outside of the Democratic Party. In the 2012 election, the combined left vote was less than 1%. Solidarity continues to argue for electoral action outside of the Democratic Party, but the political realities of the U.S. make a viable left party unlikely for the foreseeable future.
The re-election of President Obama represents a rejection of the racist and anti-working class program of the Republican candidate. However, on most major policies, the two candidates hold to fundamentally the same positions. While many on the left were relieved at the Republican defeat, movement activists in the U.S. are gearing up to fight Obama-led efforts to further privatize public education and to attack social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Solidarity is a socialist, feminist, anti-racist organization with roughly 300 members, most of whom are located in the Northeastern part of the country. At our 2011 convention, we became a “sympathizing organization” of the FI. We’re currently undergoing a generational leadership transition and are working to develop younger comrades and our internal capacity. In terms of member activity, our focus has historically been on labor, but comrades are increasingly involved in a variety of movements, such as immigrant rights and student organizing.