Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Expanding Workers World Newspaper

Expanding Workers World newspaper

Published Nov 27, 2011 5:54 PM

Excerpts from a talk by Gary Wilson, a managing editor of Workers World, at the Oct. 8-9 Workers World Party National Conference in New York City.

Twenty-five years ago, Sam Marcy, a founder of Workers World Party, wrote the book “High Tech, Low Pay: A Marxist Analysis of the Changing Character of the Working Class.”

There’s a chapter just about the changing character of the working class. It starts with a story about Che Guevara’s visit to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly. Che was in a private meeting with progressives from the U.S. He was asked if a different administration in Washington would ease the hostility toward Cuba. Che replied that it depended on changes in the U.S. working class.

Sam says that most progressives in the U.S. had discounted the working class, so it was significant that Che saw that great changes in the U.S. are contingent on the working class.

Che was talking about a change in consciousness of the working class. Sam writes that this remained the most important factor for progress. And in the 1980s there was a shift in the social composition of the working class that would also mean a change in consciousness.

That’s the working class we see on the move today. The change can be seen in the growing proportion of Black, Latino/a, Asian, Native, women, undocumented and lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer workers. But there’s another part of this change that’s equally important.

There’s been a major reduction in the percentage of jobs for skilled workers and a corresponding increase in the number of jobs for semi-skilled and unskilled workers. That means a shift to lower-paying over higher-paying jobs.

It means there’s been a decline of the traditionally more privileged workers and industries with higher wages and the creation of a vast pool of lower-paid workers and a generalized impoverishment of the working class.

Twenty-five years ago, when Sam was writing this, there was not yet a change in consciousness. No political movement had started that reflected the changing character of the working class.

Today, that working class has emerged and a movement has erupted.

Workers World newspaper plays a critical role. The capitalists not only control all the big media, they also control what you’ve been taught. They even tell you how you should think.

An independent press is essential

So a completely independent newspaper is essential not only to find out about what is happening, but also to learn how to see everything in an independent way — in a way that’s in the interests of the working-class majority, not the narrow interests of the capitalists.

We’ve been swept into a wide variety of actions and struggles taking place all around the country. Occupy Wall Street has spread to some 900 cities. But there’s more. A hunger strike by prisoners in California, for example. Prisons are big business with an enslaved workforce.

So there’s all these struggles taking place, and we want to bring them all together, which we can do in the pages of the newspaper. By bringing all of these struggles together, we are able to build unity.

Of course the paper does more than that. The paper is foremost a voice for socialism. When we can unite the actions and struggles that are happening in cities and struggles around the country, showing that they are all acting for a common purpose, and putting this together with a socialist consciousness, then that’s a real revolution.

This takes me to the second focus of Sam’s book. We’ve talked about the low pay; now we’ll look at the high tech. And one of the big changes in technology is the emergence of the Internet, which has become a dominant means of ­communication.

Our operations on the Internet were developed separately from the newspaper, but they are limited because of that separation. Yet as we can all see, the actions are on the Internet; the communications are there first.

We are now in the process of completely reorganizing Workers World newspaper so that it will publish first to the Web. It will be designed to be read on cell phones and tablets as well as computer screens. These changes will also mean that we won’t be restricted to the weekly print schedule. Of course, we’ll continue to have a printed newspaper. There are many reasons to have a printed newspaper, not least of which is reaching those who’ve been excluded by poverty from the high-tech economy.

Accelerating events in the streets may mean that we’ll need to accelerate this change as well. All of us working on the paper would welcome such a necessity.
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