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BEGGING FOR SUPPORT by Sylvestre McLaren

posted 24 Jun 2012, 21:12 by Gerry Kangalee

I never thought that I would live to see the day when a political party, purporting to be a working class party, is literally begging workers to endorse it as their party. That is what happened on Tuesday 19, June 2012. 
What the party leadership has done, by making such a request, is admitting that it never had the support of the labour movement in the first place. Somebody must tell these people, that you don't adopt such a bourgeois approach to the task of forming a party of the working class. 

Many individuals and groups used that approach in the past and they all failed, because the top down approach cannot sustain a party in a time of crisis. A party of the working class is stronger when it is formed out of widespread discussions among workers in their communities and unions. 
This is the ground up approach. Anything else is putting the cart before the horse. When it was decided to form the United Labour Front that decision was preceded by meetings of the General Councils and Central Committees of the respective trade unions. 
Workers who attended a Conference of Branch Officers and Shop Stewards at the head office of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union on April 18, 2010, heard of the existence of the Movement for Social Justice for the first time, when something resembling a religious tract was distributed among the participants. 

The fact that some trade unionists are in the leadership of that party does not make it a party of the working class. When the Peoples National Movement was launched in 1956 there were many trade union leaders in that party and that did not qualify it as a working class party. However, it succeeded in riding on the backs of the workers in order to get into power. 
What we are witnessing by the action of the MSJ is the behaviour of middle class elements that have formed a party to carry on in the footsteps of those who misled us into believing a nationalist movement could bring true democracy for all classes in the society. The MSJ has already failed the first test based on the approach it adopted in becoming a party. It failed the second test when it chose to join the Peoples Partnership government. 

There is nothing it can do to change the facts now. No matter how the media may try to assist it by attempting to paint a picture of its leaders as men of integrity, that is not going to cut it. That is not going to make it into a party of the working class. It will not and cannot be what it is not. 
The MSJ is the same kind of party led by middle class intellectuals of the type who used the workers in the past for their own political advancement. It is another knob on the political draught board which the ruling class hopes to use to ensure that their class interest is protected. 
What we must understand is the fact that this party's decision to break away from the P.P. Government at this time has more to do with a perception that the government may not get a second term and less to do with the Fyzabad Accord and the question of governance. 
If the first assumption is correct then the leaders believe that they can sell the lie that they can guarantee working class support for a new political arrangement…with the PNM perhaps? I think they know that they cannot win an election by themselves. They must learn from history. The Workers and Farmers Party and the United Labour Front were all rooted in workers’ organisations. That fact by itself did not help to keep them alive and active even when, as in the case of the ULF, it won some seats in the Parliament. 
That is why any decision to form a party of the working class must be preceded by widespread discussions, in which the history of the many attempts at forming such a party and the errors made in the past will be analysed before arriving at a decision. 
A party of the working class is not formed with the sole intention to contest a national election or elections. No! One of the essential tasks such a party must set itself is the task of building strong workers’ organisations. 
This is done through a programme of worker education about the role of the working class in the task of liberating itself from the exploitative nature of the capitalist system and through persistent demands for the type of reforms which will bring greater and deeper democracy for workers and their organisations. This may open up the possibilities for a party of the working class to contest elections if and when the objective and subjective conditions conspire to create such a possibility. 
Building a party of the working class is hard work. But it is work which must be done because, if such a party wins an election, the task ahead of it can only be accomplished with the full participation of the working class through its organisations and with the confidence which it has in its party. 
A party of the working class is one which practices democracy at all times in its dealings and relationship with workers organisations. It is not a party which chooses to take the easy way out of difficult situations. It is a party whose leaders will strive always to practice the highest standards of integrity, in their dealings with the workers. 
Do we know of any party around today purporting to represent working class interests which can stand scrutiny and claim to hold such high standards? If such a party exists then please come forward and testify.