“No war except the class war” — an interesting and beautiful statement that has been on the lips of Marxists and other members of the left for centuries. The statement has many meanings, the first of which is blatantly obvious, that the workers reject imperial and nationalistic conflict that sees them die and the rich prosper and instead will focus their energies on the war between classes which will usher in socialism.
The second meaning is less obvious and in nations like Jamaica we have not fully grasped it, even if we do intuitively understand and accept the first meaning.
The second meaning, which we have lost, and which people from Marx to Maduro have sought to make plain, is that those in power are not the friends of those without power, that class interests are a primary factor in how people operate and that politicians, rather than being naïve individuals or idiots who just cannot figure out the obvious answers to our problems know damn well what they are doing and do it because it benefits them and their class allies.
Simply because a politician is nice, or charming, or even takes your concern to heart, does not mean that they are your friends or are operating in your best interest. To be crass about it, they would not be given the odious amount of money by the private sector if they did operate in the interests of the worker. To be even more crass, they would not be given a sniff at representational politics if they had the interests of the workers at heart.
All of this means that there is no hope and no better future for the workers, for the homeless, unemployed etc, if the two parties remain in power and remain in the kind of power which sees them unchallenged by a people who have been cowed by decades of broken promises and abuse — a people now have total apathy when it comes to politics.
Will the middle class, which has been decimated over the decades, bite the bullet and demand a system more resembling Bolivia pre-coup or continue to pretend that everything is fine and dandy as the Titanic sinks?
I fear that the majority of that ever-dying class, rather than save everyone, will continue to be as selfish as they have been for the past 30 years. They who have bought into the cult of the self, dare not think of the fact that they are living in an economy ready to collapse and are three pay cheques from being homeless. Instead they continue to fantasise that they will get the next big promotion or that their side-hustle will make them the next big thing.
Salvation continues to lie in the hands of the workers and the few class traitors who have seen the light and abandoned the upper- and middle-class interests to work for the interests of the workers. Salvation will not come from civil society groups or the polite country clubs, the bellies from which these politicians and their financial backers come, it will come from the workers organising and mobilising. It will come from the workers uniting and with one collective voice demand that they be masters of their own destinies and, by extension, the nation.
We are all displeased with how the country is run, with the State itself and with the private entities to which the State is beholden. We complain when we read about the tax holidays and giveaways while the workers get a pittance. We protest when the police murder citizens or gunmen shielded by the State murder individuals and we have nothing to show for it. Everyone above the age of 10 in this country has some semblance of what needs to be done to have this country being decent and yet we have achieved nothing of any note since the 70s, an era that gave us the majority of the benefits we currently enjoy and which, not by coincidence, saw the workers in their strongest position before or since.
What organising are we the workers and those who state they represent them and their interests doing? Are the unions engaging in collaboration before entering negotiations, are they maintaining mutual aid for members and their families, are they engaging in political and economic education? Are the Marxists going to the communities and creating the parallel competing structure to take the place of the State and to empower the worker? Are they going on the ground listening to the needs of the workers and pointing them in the direction of organising and political education for a sustained mobilisation?
This is the task for those who want not simply a socialist future or a more equitable future but simply put, a Jamaica which is fit for everyone to live in and where we all can hold our heads high. The majority of Jamaican citizens, not to mention the workers, have no qualms accepting, for example, the vaccine from India, China, Russia or Cuba. They do not care where it comes from so long as we get it, and it is safe, but our Government dilly-dallies for fear of upsetting America and the Opposition gives half-hearted statements knowing full well that it, too, would be doing the same.
Only through organising wholesale mobilisation will we, the masses, the workers, rake power. The odds of revolution in the streets are unlikely. The odds of the State failing however are higher and anyone who is thinking knows that the upper class and their managers in the upper middle classes are organised in such a fashion to fend for themselves in a time of anarchy. The police strike in the ’60s should be a reminder as in their stead the upper and upper-middle classes were deputised to beat up on the workers. Organising along community lines and broadening it out to constituency, then workplace etc. is the only way this eternal war in which we are engaged will be won.
No politician ever gave anything without a sustained demand. Power does not concede to weakness and people operate within their class interest. These are points we must come to terms with. Even if the biggest mogul wanted all Jamaicans to be well off it would not happen. The system in which we operate does not allow for it. It is a system that thrives off of and is empowered by the cult of the individual and the materialistic outlook which comes with it. To ensure that power is put in the hands of the many rather than the few, we who believe we know the truth must do the dirty work.
Build links, organise groups, infiltrate groups and preach to them the need for class solidarity. Find groups that align with causes you support and support them both materially and in terms of physical labour and interaction. This is the first step, the hardest step, if we are honest, on the road to national reconstruction. It entails rebuilding structures left to rot since the 80s, rebuilding a sense of nationalism, self-worth and the need for communal and collective policies. This is what we must do if we are to ensure that our future is not one that sees us becoming ever poorer, inequalities widening and poverty increasing instead of a nation and its people who collectively benefit from its wealth and who work in tandem to ensure that the workers, the individuals who create everything valuable in this land are the masters of their destiny.
We who are the children and grandchildren of the workers, the ones who eat the fruit they laboured for, owe them this debt and the workers will collect.