How the ruling class does it: 7 strategies to stay in power / by Anita Waters

The following is adapted from a talk given at the Marxist School in New York City in 2022.

As we see the erosion of the rights that working people have won by a Supreme Court that wants to roll people’s rights back to 1787 and that cavalierly disregards the will of the majority, it is a good time to put ruling-class strategies in the spotlight. In this article I will describe briefly what we mean by the ruling class, arguing that the class as a whole is a social actor more than a characteristic that adheres to individuals one at a time. Next, the nature of the democratic struggle in the current day is addressed. Finally, I will outline seven strategies that the ruling class has used over time and in contemporary politics to curtail the voice of the workers in government and damage the opportunities to make policies that serve actual human needs.

A caveat: this article barely scratches the surface in its examination of the ruling-class agenda. I hope here to just offer a starting point and an approach that notices patterns over time so we can better plan the fight-back.

What is the ruling class and who comprises it?

A ruling class is a collective social actor. It consists of those who control the means by which a society produces and distributes its goods and services, and who in turn control the rest of the population though coercion, violence, exploitation, and cultural domination. In feudal societies, the ruling class consists of those who control productive land and who extract the value of people’s labor in the form of rents and tributes. In industrial societies, the ruling class consists of banks and other financial institutions, industrial corporations, large agribusiness, and distribution networks like Amazon. The ruling class has used its wealth and military might to nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere (paraphrasing Marx and Engels), exploiting the people they encounter around the world and stealing their resources.

The Program of the CPUSA characterizes the ruling class in the United States as “one of the most controlling, entrenched capitalist ruling classes ever, concentrating enormous political, economic, and military power in the hands of a few transnational corporations, led by global finance banks and the politicians who do their bidding.”

While the ruling class has common interests and a social agenda, it is not always unified, and some segments are more dangerous than others. As Georgi Dimitrov pointed out in 1936, fascism is defined as the rule by “the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” It is segmented, and it also attempts to divide the working class to more effectively exploit it. For this purpose, the ruling class uses racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.

The global ruling class and its U.S. counterpart suffered some setbacks in the 1960s and ’70s but came roaring back in the 1980s during the administration of the union-busting, “small government” president, Ronald Reagan. Taking the lead from their president, corporations continued a process of gutting labor rights, eventually whittling union membership down to 10% from a high of 35% in 1954. The newly invigorated ruling class used government power to bust unions, and at every chance undermined the role of government to make workers’ lives better. Ruling-class interests invested in right-wing think tanks and eventually endowed conservative institutes at major universities. They brought in religious fundamentalists, who fomented a moral panic over abortion that deflected attention from the profits the ruling class was amassing.

We need to be sure to think about the ruling class as an agent of social change. In our party, we analyze society from a structural point of view, instead of looking at individual members of the class. In bourgeois social science, “class” is sometimes conceived as an individual-level characteristic and used to explain individual-level behaviors and attitudes. But the dynamics of social change as understood and explained by Marxist-Leninist analysis are such that we aren’t concerned with whether one person or another “is” working class or ruling class, but how their actions contribute to the movement of the working class or to the repression and exploitation of the working class. We focus on the broader class struggle in society.

What is the democratic struggle?

Democracy, from the Greek words for “government or authority of the people,” is a form of government in which the voice of the people shapes the affairs of government, all citizens have equal rights before the law, and the will of the majority prevails. Democracy is seen as a social, political, and economic system. But we recognize that economic relations change first, and political forms change in response. As Lenin argued, “any democracy as a form of political organization of society, ultimately serves production and is ultimately determined by the production relations of the given society.”

Our goal as Communists is to unite the working class, to increase its autonomy and independence. A revolutionary majority is our goal, one based on mass organizations and political parties, that will “make it politically impossible for the ruling class to use political or military means to return to power.” We are working toward the establishment of a socialist democracy, described as one in which “citizens’ rights are not just proclaimed, but are consolidated by law and secured by the fact that exploitation by private employers is ended and the crises of capitalism have passed” (Road to Socialism).

Our country’s revolutionary history is characterized by massive struggles to protect and expand democracy, from adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, to the referendum in the past few years to restore voting rights to felons in Florida.

It stands to reason, if the working class is the vast majority of people, how could it be defeated? In a country that purports to be not just a democracy, but the “most democratic country on earth,” how is the voice of the working class silenced and its power undercut? The ruling class has its methods, and that’s what we’re going to talk about here. I want to focus on some of the specific ways that the ruling class has shaped the United States as a state, as a nation, and as an imperialist power, both historically and in the current day. Specifically, how has it worked against the struggle for greater power for the working class? How has it managed to put into place the maneuverings and manipulations that divide us? The ruling class is in a constant struggle to contract the electorate, curtail civil liberties, and give the rich every opportunity to dominate elections. Democratic rights in capitalist society are under constant attack.

If democracy is said to mean people actually having power in government, how can we measure it? For bourgeois political science, simply having elections is interpreted as being a democracy. In graduate school I studied elections in Jamaica in the post-colonial period, during a time when the U.S. praised Jamaica for its “steadfast commitment to democratic traditions,” but it was clear to see that the will of the people was almost never expressed in those contests. Institutions that were set up by the ruling class and approved by the colonial powers chose the candidates and arranged for their victories, and for the most part carried on policies that served the imperialists and their local henchmen. Still, when the masses were mobilized and activated in the 1970s, and politicians felt compelled to listen, significant advancements were made in the conditions of the working classes (before those efforts were stymied by the decade’s end with the help of the CIA and U.S. Department of State).

Seven ruling-class strategies

1. Overturning elections

If democracy means majority rule, what does the ruling class do when elections are used to challenge the economic and social status quo? Thinking about this reminded me of Eddie Carthan, who in 1976 was the first Black person elected mayor of Tchula, Mississippi, since the days of Reconstruction. After his election, the white remnants of the local plantocracy stepped in immediately and were determined that Carthan would not be mayor. They locked him out of city hall, hounded him, brought him up on trumped-up charges, and sent him to prison.

Years later, in 2015, Carthan was again elected, this time as Holmes County supervisor. After four years of public service, the state auditor of Mississippi said his election was fraudulent because he filed a paper wrong, and he was to repay all his salary and benefits he received since he was elected to the position.

Carthan’s case involves local politics, but as we saw in January 2021, an outright overturning of the will of the majority of the voters is a threat even at the level of the highest elected office.

2. Limits on the franchise

For those who want to attack democratic rights, limiting the franchise is an obvious strategy, something that the ruling class has used to limit the power of the working class since the colonial origins of this country. In Boston in the early 1700s, wealth was consolidated in the top 1% of the population (which owned 44% of the wealth), and voting rights were limited to white men who owned property.

In the South, fear of a Black-white alliance led the Virginia Assembly to pass the “slave codes,” laws that involved discipline and punishment applicable only to the enslaved. The assembly also gave indentured servants specific advantages when their terms of indenture were over, including free land grants and provisions.

When the constitution was drawn up in 1776, it consolidated and institutionalized a set of power dynamics that included, in Howard Zinn’s words, “the inferior position of blacks, the exclusion of Indians . . . [and] the establishment of supremacy for the rich and powerful in the new nation.” Most of the men who wrote the constitution were “men of wealth, in land, slaves, manufacturing, or shipping.” They constructed a federal government structure that protected their specific interests: protective tariffs for the manufacturers, protection for land speculators against Indians, security against slave revolts for the plantation owners, etc. Women, the enslaved, and people without property were, of course, excluded from the process.

During the brief period after the Civil War when African Americans in the South voted, democracy flowered and policies addressing equity and inclusion flourished. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, and the Fourteenth declared that all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. are citizens. The Fifteenth Amendment declared the “right of citizens of the U.S. to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The first Civil Rights Act that outlawed the exclusion of African Americans from public accommodations was in 1866.

But soon after Lincoln’s death, President Andrew Johnson led the ruling class in rolling back the gains of Reconstruction. By 1940only 3% of eligible African Americans in the South were registered to vote. Jim Crow laws like literacy tests, poll taxes, violence, and intimidation kept African Americans from voting (ACLU Timeline).

Those limits on the franchise had lasting effects. For example, why did labor parties develop across the industrial world, but never in the United States? Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward voice one widely accepted reason. “Partial disfranchisement of working people” in the early part of the twentieth century, while socialist parties were in development in Europe, “helps explain why no comparable labor-based political party here.”

Legislative attempts to limit the franchise are alive and well today. Despite Florida voters’ overwhelmingly supporting a referendum that allowed ex-felons the right to vote, the DeSantis administration and its sycophant legislature passed a rule that ex-felons could not vote until all fines and fees are paid. People leave Florida prisons owing thousands of dollars to the state. In one recent case, Kelvin Bolton, an ex-felon with a history of mental illness and cognitive challenges, who was persuaded to register to vote as he left prison, voted, then was charged with voter fraud and fined thousands of dollars more. Bolton is only one of many people singled out for prosecution. It’s a war on voting in the state of Florida, and elsewhere.

3. Violence and intimidation

The ruling class doesn’t usually do its own dirty work, but ruling-class minions are brought in to do their bidding, including both vigilante violence and state-sponsored police brutality. In the post–Civil War era, the ruling class of white economic elites organized the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups, recounts Howard Zinn. Between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 lynchings in the U.S., that is, extrajudicial killings. Bloody Sunday, when police beat voting rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, was a signal incident in the fight for voting rights.

Mobs and police are not the only forces employed to break working-class power. In the late 19th century, corporations formed private armies to use force to break unions. Most famously, the Pinkerton Detective Agency had more men than the U.S. Army. Corporations wielded power without interference from the state. When murders were committed or injuries inflicted in busting unions, judges viewed unionization efforts as violations of the property rights of corporate owners, therefore corporate violence against workers was ruled defensive.

In the early part of the twentieth century, anti-union and “red scare” repression by government reached a fever pitch. As the authors of Labor’s Untold Story write, “The red scare was the heart of the open-shop drive of the National Association of Manufacturers,” whose president said in 1913 that the trade union movement was “an un-American, illegal and infamous conspiracy.” U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer put his Department of Justice at the service of the strike breakers, and on January 2, 1920, arrested 10,000 trade unionists across seven cities, many of whom suffered torture and humiliation at the hands of local law enforcement empowered by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Palmer Raids, as the evening came to be known, were widely condemned as lawless but effectively “frightened people and dampened militancy” (Boyer and Morais).

4. Representations and propaganda

In sociology’s version of critical race theory, specifically racial formation theory, structures are separated analytically from representations. Structures are laws, practices, and institutions that may either reinforce the racial hierarchy in society or undermine it. Structures have actual material consequences for people’s life chances. They may extend or shorten people’s lives or provide higher or lower wages. In contrast, representations are the ideas, myths, and meanings that attach to categories. While representations do not have direct material consequences, they still may either reinforce or undermine the hierarchy by mobilizing support for the structures that do make a difference to the distribution of resources. The ruling class uses symbols, narratives, myths, and images to limit the participation and power of the working class in government.

For example, during Reconstruction, when African Americans were being elected to legislatures and taking part in the political life of towns and states, Howard Zinn writes, a “great propaganda campaign was undertaken North and South” that claimed “that blacks were inept, lazy, corrupt, and ruinous to the governments of the South when they were in office.” The ruling class floated myths of a European “class” and brought poor white farmers “into the new alliance against blacks.”

The “ruling intellectual force,” as Marx and Engels called them, continued throughout the post-Reconstruction period to spread its ruling-class ideas, which are “nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships.” Some of these ideas were wedges invented to segment the working class into whites versus Blacks, men versus women, and old versus young. Other ideas, such as anti-union propaganda and “red scare” fear mongering, were aimed at the entire working class.

Representations are also important because they include myths of moral superiority and other justifications for their power that enable the ruling class to oppress the masses with impunity and an apparently clean conscience. In the realm of representation and symbolic politics, think about the question, are members of the ruling class “evil”? “Evil” is a metaphysical term. Certainly, lots of corporate power holders are completely heartless people (e.g., big pharma who raise the price of insulin, or the oil company that withholds data about the effect of fossil fuels), and they go about committing heinous acts against humanity seemingly without a care.

The point is, narratives and other representations of the industrial ruling class convince its members that they are entitled to their wealth: They worked hard, they have the best ideas, they paid their dues in their internships and residencies, their dads worked hard, they’ve made the best decisions, etc. A profound myth in American political culture is the Puritan concept that wealth is a sign of “blessing,” the opposite of “evil.” The wealthy see their wealth as an indication that one is among the saved and that God is hearing one’s prayers and bestowing His benevolence on one personally. The so-called prosperity gospel movement is one of the current iterations of this deeply rooted myth of the ruling class.

Of course, representations and propaganda are used by the ruling class to limit the franchise. We saw in 2016 especially how media are used to spread falsehoods that are aimed at contracting the electorate. A more insidious ruling-class idea that bourgeois political scientists tell people is that their vote doesn’t matter. This has the effect of contracting democracy and silencing the voice of the people. Between 35% and 60% of eligible voters don’t cast a ballot, and about 25% never vote. Many are simply convinced their vote doesn’t count, while others are daunted by the barriers to voting, which gets us to structures.

5. Structures

As described above, structures are laws, norms, bureaucratic practices, and institutions that have real material consequences. Some structural barriers that serve ruling-class interests masquerade as egalitarian but have outcomes that disproportionately affect the working class and its ability to use its franchise.

A study of nonvoters showed that factors included not being able to get off work in time or to physically access their polling place or failing to jump through the hoops of early registration or reregistration for “purged” voters. Bureaucratic structures that administer elections may make decisions that make voting more difficult in areas where working people live. This happened in Ohio in 2004, when the notorious Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell introduced all manner of limits. He rejected voter registration forms if they were on an incorrect stock of paper. He limited resources in cities and places where more people vote for the Democratic Party. Voters in the little college town of Oberlin, Ohio, waited eight or nine hours in line. The outcry from the masses of the electorate following the 2004 election led to the fairly generous early voting and mail voting options that the state has now.

Another set of structures that have deleterious effects on the voice of the working class in government is redistricting. After the 2010 round of redistricting, maps were engineered so that a vast majority of the Ohio’s congressional delegation goes to the Republicans, though almost half of Ohio voters choose the Democratic party. Three-quarters of Ohio voters subsequently passed a law establishing a redistricting commission that was meant to remedy the extreme gerrymandering. But there were many loopholes in the law, and the GOP-dominated commission has passed three maps that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional. The Republicans on the commission just waited it out, and now the 2022 midterms will proceed with an unconstitutional map.

Ohio of course is just one of many GOP-dominated states where voter restrictions are proliferating. In Florida the governor outdid his own lock-step legislature and drew his own electoral map, eliminating two African American–dominated districts. Voters’ rights groups challenge the most egregious limits on voting in the courts. That’s why it’s important that when we vote, we pay attention to what judges are running, in states where judges are elected.

Besides rules and regulations governing voting, a broader trend is feeding voter apathy and disillusion. The 1970s saw the full embrace of neoliberalism, and with it the decline in union density, the decline in corporate tax obligations, and the deregulation of industry. These have resulted in a working class that is often working more than one job to make ends meet, and that may mean four or five jobs held per household, for wages that can buy far less in the marketplace than they used to. People are impoverished by the process of getting a higher education, and young people are delaying beginning families because of their student loan debt and the high cost of health care and day care. Innovation and creativity are stifled by having a young generation beholden to work for corporate America just to pay off loans and maintain their health insurance.

6. Judiciary

The indifference to the idea of majority rule that we talked about earlier was reaffirmed in the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Most people in this country do not want to see Roe overturned. But their will has been thwarted by a court dominated by jurists who were nominated by a president who didn’t win a majority of the votes, and who were ratified by senators who also represent a minority of the electorate. Experts in law say that even if a law was passed by Congress and signed into law by the president establishing women’s bodily autonomy, the Supreme Court could overturn it on the same grounds that they are using to justify this decision. It’s one of the first times in Supreme Court history that a precedent has been overturned in a way that takes rights away.

The Supreme Court as it is currently comprised was stolen from the working people of the United States by the reactionary ruling-class forces that want an end to government regulation of industry. It is a uniquely undemocratic branch of government, and each member has extraordinary powers. Two-thirds of the court were nominated by presidents who had failed to win a majority of votes across the country. One of the proposed efforts to redress the imbalance is the Judiciary Act of 2021, which would add three seats.  Others would go add 10 or more new members. The people’s movement needs to incorporate these demands going forward.

Also in the category of judicial restrictions on the voice of working people in government, through elections or otherwise, is the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC. This is the famous “corporations are people” case. Citizens United is a right-wing media company which produces right-wing media content. The company made a very negative and dubious “documentary” about Hillary Clinton, and the Federal Election Commission forbid it being aired too close to the primary election day. In its ruling, the Supreme Court overturned election restrictions that dated back more than a century. Corporations are now allowed to spend unlimited resources on election campaigns. It allowed for the establishment of super-PACs, political action committees that serve the wealth­i­est donors and that spend secret money through nonprofits that don’t disclose their donors.

As a result of the Citizens United ruling, the GOP in particular has benefited. A study in 2020 of election results by Abdul-Razzak, Prato, and Wolton found “strong evidence that these regulatory changes increase the electoral success of Republican candidates, thereby leading to more ideologically conservative legislatures.” They found the most evidence of pro-Republican effects of Citizens United where labor interests were weak and where corporate interest were closely aligned with the Republican Party.

In his minority opinion dissenting in the Citizens United case, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens declared that the court’s ruling represented “a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government.”

7. Imperialism

“Despite the trappings of democracy, the U.S. government, like those of other imperialist countries, implements foreign policy as a direct instrument of monopoly capital, enabling the accumulation of capital for the monopolies” (Road to Socialism).

Of course, the ways that the U.S. ruling class reigns in the emerging power of the working class at home are numerous, two-faced, and often effective, and they are reinforced by an even more heavy-handed repression of democracy abroad. The U.S. undermines democratic outcomes in other countries by choosing to support certain candidates, by propaganda and misinformation, by violence and assassination. There’s abundant evidence of transnational corporate influence and CIA activity in the defeat of the Jamaican socialist prime minister, Michael Manley in 1980, and the installation of Reagan’s man Eddie Seaga. Recent reporting by the New York Times reveals the role of the banking industry in the centuries-long repression and impoverishment of the working class in Haiti. There are sadly innumerable examples.


The democratic struggle is a key one for the Communist Party and for the people’s movement more generally. While electing one over another candidate in a bourgeois democratic election may not bring on a miraculous socialist transformation, elections offer opportunities to build people’s coalitions to demand the voice of the majority in government, to enact policies that serve human needs and restore basic human rights. It is a truism that if voting in these elections didn’t matter, Republicans would not work so hard to take voting rights away. As we have seen in this review, they have an array of strategies that they have employed in the past and that we can continue to expect to see this year, in 2024, and beyond. We must organize to meet that challenge. There are several ways we can mobilize effectively: working with independent trade union and community-based political action organizations fighting for voting rights, for regulations that make it easier to vote, for fair district maps, and for greater numbers of registered voters.

Going beyond the election struggles of capitalist “democracy,” we need to keep our eyes on the prize of reversing the neoliberal slide downward, and attaining ever greater unity, autonomy, and political power of the working class. We need to struggle for labor rights, for livable wages, for bodily autonomy, and for rational climate policy.


Nour Abdul-Razzak, Carlo Prato, and Stephane Wolton, “After Citizens United: How Outside Spending Shapes American Democracy.” Electoral Studies 67, August 2020.

Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais, Labor’s Untold Story, 3rd ed. (UE, 1979).

CPUSA, The Road to Socialism Party Program, 2019.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology.

Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2015).

Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, “Does Voting Matter?” in Power: A Critical Reader, edited by Daniel Egan and Levon A. Chorbajian, 68–78, 2005.

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: Harper Perennial, 2015 [1980]).

Images: We the people, Move To Amend (Facebook); Reagan announcing he will fire PATCO air traffic controllers, White House, Wikipedia (public domain); Seattle teachers striker, Seattle Education Association (Facebook); Freedmen voting in New Orleans, 1867, Wikipedia (public domain); Pinkerton’s detectives escorting scabs during mining strike in Ohio, 1884, Wikipedia (public domain); Anti-union propaganda, Wikipedia (public domain); Gerrymandering protest, Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); Anti-corporate-personhood bumpersticker, Move To Amend (Facebook).

Anita Waters is Professor Emerita of sociology at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and an organizer for the CPUSA in Ohio.

Chinese and Cuban youths review communist organizations’ work / by Ana Luisa Brown

The Communist Youth League of China and the Young Communist League (UJC) of Cuba on Friday reviewed the work of their organizations to prepare the new generations, as reserves of the respective parties | credit Prensa Latina

Originally published in Prensa Latina, 09.09.2022

During a virtual seminar, delegates from both countries delved into issues such as the experience of the youth movement under the leadership of the parties, and the use of new media to disseminate the theory of these political forces.

They also discussed the process to build their organizations’ foundations and train the new cadres.

At the opening session, He Junke, first secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, highlighted the history of successful exchanges between the two groups and expressed willingness to work together to strengthen mutual relations.

He praised the role of young people in the Chinese’s efforts to achieve its long-awaited national revitalization and consolidate its position as an advanced, prosperous, and socialist power.

For her part, UJC First Secretary Aylin Alvarez thanked the Chinese League for its support for the struggle against the United States economic, financial and commercial blockade and media war, as well as its donations for the victims of the fire at Supertanker Base in western Matanzas province.

She referred to the young people’s participation in the challenges of their societies, noted the importance of consolidating friendship between the two organizations and explained the working strategies with the new generations in Cuba.

Prensa Latina, September 9, 2022,

To defeat imperialism, build a movement for peace / by Joe Sims

The following remarks were presented by Joe Sims at the CPUSA International Conference 2022: Dismantling Imperialism in the 21st Century, Sept. 10, 2022

Good afternoon, comrades,

And greetings to all and especially to our fraternal parties and those who have joined us from abroad. We’re glad to have you with us. We hope everyone is staying safe and strong and staying in the fight because we’ve got some big battles ahead.

And speaking of big battles, comrades, just over a week ago our party celebrated 103 years of struggle. Our 103rd birthday! Can you imagine? And it’s been quite a century. Think about it: This party has witnessed the October Revolution; two world wars; the birth of the CIO; the defeat of colonialism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the death of legal Jim Crow in our country — which we helped put in the grave.

We’ve lived through two Red Scares and the civil rights revolution, and we were able to see Nelson Mandela walk free. In these years, we watched with anguish the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also with tears of joy Cuba’s liberation, Vietnam’s triumph, and Venezuela’s ongoing transformation. And I haven’t started talking about China.

We are also well aware that these were the 100 years in which U.S. imperialism declared the American century, the era when the U.S. ruling class would shape a new world order.  But this new order led to the disorder of the Cold War and U.S. intervention in nearly every corner of the globe. And do I need to remind you today this was made possible by the largest and most expensive military build-up in history. In 2021 alone the defense budget nearly topped $800 billion.

But the costs are nearly incalculable, not only measured materially in the millions of lives lost in military interventions or in the destruction of the environment but also in loss of intangibles like hope and trust, a belief in human equality, and, most recently, in the loss of a woman’s right to have control over her own body.

It was Martin Luther King Jr. who, years ago, in his famous speech at Riverside Church opposing the war in Vietnam said, “The security we seek in foreign adventures, we lose in decaying cities. The bombs dropped in Vietnam, explode here at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.”

And he was right. It’s happened over and again: In the 1970s with nuclear armed Pershing missiles placed in Europe while steel towns shut down in Ohio; in the 1990s with Black Hawk helicopters going down in Somalia while NAFTA closed down jobs in Michigan; and in the 2000s when, instead of searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, they should have been searching Wall Street for the weapons of mass deception used to rob Black and Latino homeowners in that sub-prime rip-off  — they almost brought down the world economy and we still haven’t recovered from it.

And it continues today. The U.S. ruling class has not given up its designs for an American century. But achieving it is a much more difficult proposition now than before. While U.S. imperialism is in many respects still dominant, it faces stiff competition from other imperialist centers in the European Union, Japan, Russia, the Middle East, and other countries. The planet’s multipolarity is growing. And of course, China’s ascendance has everyone taking another look.

In these circumstances, global problems like climate change and new ones like the COVID pandemic abound. But despite their severity, imperialism seems intent on using the same old bullying tactics and attempts to dictate terms. The Trump administration targeted China, seemed to curry favor with Russia, and rattled Europe while attempting to isolate Cuba and overthrow Venezuela. And many have asked why, while promising a change, the Biden policy seems a not-so-faint echo of Trump’s, particularly with respect to China. Notwithstanding their denials, a Cold War 2.0 is in the making.

This Cold War thinking was pointedly challenged by progressive forces before the Ukraine war started. Citing the urgency of climate change, 33 environmental organizations challenged the Biden administration to end the trade wars and reach out to China and seek agreement on global warming. Bernie Sanders joined with them. A few months before that, half of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against what proved to be a successful GOP/Blue Dog effort to increase the defense budget over and above what Biden initially asked for which was way too much in the first place.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed everything, at least for the moment, and a ruling-class consensus seems to have emerged. But the question for us is how deep that consensus lies and by what means can it be shaken. And this requires a long, hard, and objective look at the balance of forces in the country and where the greatest pressure can be brought to bear to effect it. The big question is how, in these circumstances, can a peace movement be built, and along what lines?

What are the circumstances? Well for one, the fascist danger, while set back two years ago, has not receded. There’s a slow-moving coup taking place in states across the country with the aim of suppressing the vote and, if that doesn’t work, overruling it. The majority faction in the Republican party now takes the position that they will not accept losing an election. Period. They believe that anything goes, including taking up arms to prevent an election loss from happening. As we’ve been saying for some time, that’s fascist by definition.

On the other hand, the Democrats, while now correctly characterizing the MAGA danger, also equate all who stand up to U.S. imperialism with the same authoritarian brush. What do we do? Is it plague on both your houses? Do we stand aside? Or do we get busy and, by our mass work, fight to create conditions in which we are able to move developments in a better direction? To put it another way, under what circumstances will we be in a better position to build a mass movement for peace? Will it be under the rule of that fascist movement that has just outlawed abortion, now threatens to overturn gay marriage, denies climate change, and now threatens to pardon the January 6th insurrectionists? Or will it be with the people’s front that, with all of its inconsistencies, half measures, and hesitations, support choice, voting rights, union rights, and being allowed to marry whom you love?

But what about the almost identical foreign policy, you ask? And you have a point. But to address it, let’s draw a lesson from history. Let’s remember what happened with Martin. Remember that speech I quoted earlier? He was murdered a year later. But before he died supporting Memphis sanitation workers on the picket line, he taught an invaluable lesson. You see, he understood that the African American people needed allies, even inconsistent ones. The equation was pretty clear. The GOP opposed civil rights. So did the Dixiecrats. But a section of the Dems supported ending segregation. All of them supported the war in Vietnam.

But Martin and others set themselves the task of building a mass movement that isolated the GOP, shamed the Dixiecrats, and made some switch sides. The result was the Civil Rights revolution. It was a big democratic breakthrough. But that was just the beginning. Martin then turned his attention to questions of war and peace. And he started to leverage that democratic breakthrough for the cause for peace in Vietnam. Oh, it was tough going. In fact, all hell broke loose, and important sections of the civil rights community balked. But Martin had a notion, and the movement for democracy joined hands with those opposing the war. Martin was murdered, but the writing was on the wall, mainly because the Vietnamese won the war on the battlefield. But the U.S. peace movement played no small role.

A year later in 1969 Nixon began withdrawing troops, and in 1973  Madam Nguyen Thi-Binh led the Vietnamese delegation to Paris and the peace treaty was signed.

The issue before us today is similar. The MAGA GOP opposes civil rights, abortion rights, and marriage equality. Some of the Dems are wavering; others understand the stakes. And like Vietnam days, most of them support a rotten foreign policy. But just as Martin and his coalition needed broader allies back then, we need them today.

We must continue to build a mass movement around democratic and class questions — a movement that isolates the GOP and neutralizes those wavering — and win important democratic victories in the next Congress. This is how we can build the leverage, like Martin taught us, from these democratic breakthroughs that can advance the cause of peace.

But to do this we’ve got to do more than vote. We’ve got to overcome the crisis of inaction. That means we’ve got to strike, register to vote, occupy, rally, and protest. And we’ve got to be creative in our tactics. In New York our comrades are going to set up picket lines at the offices of corporations who are contributing to campaigns of the over 100 GOP members of the House who supported the coup.

And we’ve also got to run our own candidates. But right now the deadline is November. Now I know some of us are not going to want to get tainted by getting involved in electoral work this fall for fear that it’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth. I understand that. But I also know that those who fear the bad taste of things are likely to fail. Bourgeois politics ain’t pure; in fact, it can be down-right dirty. But know this: We’re fighting fascism — not your garden-variety conservatism. We want expanded workers’ rights, abortion, voting, and other democratic rights; we want peace; and we want a clean and healthy planet. But to move forward, we have to shove aside the threat of fascism. You’ve got to be in the fight to win it. So let’s unite in the fight against fascist imperialism, neoliberal imperialism, and imperialism in all its forms. Let’s open up space for a democratic breakthrough. Let’s build the people’s front for a new anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-working-class new tomorrow. And let’s build the Communist Party. Solidarity forever!

Images:  Anti-war protest at MLK monument in D.C., CodePink (Facebook); Foreclosed home, respres (CC BY 2.0); Trump speaking at rally, Jan. 6, 2021, Voice of America, Wikipedia (public domain); Signing of Civil Rights Act of 1964, Cecil Stoughton, Wikipedia (public domain); Poor People’s Campaign March on Washington, June 18, 2022, Dylan Manshack.

Joe Sims is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. He is also a senior editor of People’s World and loves biking.    

The Italian road to fascism / by Luca Tavan

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the fascist Brothers of Italy party.

Originally published in Red Flag, 09.04.2022

At the end of 2021, Italy was crowned “country of the year” by the Economist magazine. The new “national unity” government of former Goldman Sachs investor and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi was lauded. For once, Italy had “acquired a competent, internationally respected prime minister”, and political parties from the centre-left to the far right “buried their differences to back a programme of thoroughgoing reform”. 

To add to the glow, Italy won the Eurovision song contest, over-performed at the Olympics and took home the European Football Championship trophy. 

Now, just eight months later, Draghi’s government has splintered and collapsed. New elections, called for 25 September, are expected to bring a coalition of far-right parties to power. This is a dangerous situation, produced by the crisis of Italian capitalism and the failure of the political establishment. 

Italy is often regarded as an exceptional European country for its propensity for rolling political crises and its perpetual economic backwardness. But looking beyond superficial differences, Italian politics is an extreme example of a series of trends in contemporary global capitalism: social decay and alienation, cost-of-living crises, the collapse in legitimacy of the political class and an insurgent far right. It contains warnings about the future trajectory of global politics if a combative left is not built that can provide an alternative to the discredited mainstream and the fake radicalism of the reactionary right. 

The right has thrived in the atmosphere of social decay and crisis in Italian society. The country is in a constant state of emergency economic management, teetering on the brink of collapse. In early 2021, Draghi was appointed to lead an unelected “technocratic government” with the backing of the Italian capitalist class. Draghi’s objective was to push through harsh austerity and the economic restructuring required to unlock a promised €200 billion in EU pandemic-recovery funds. He oversaw the lifting of all major public health restrictions to prioritise industrial production and tourism profits, despite COVID deaths in Italy being the second highest in Europe. Welfare access was tightened and the pension age was raised. Taxes were slashed for businesses, and future spending cuts are planned to make up the budget shortfall. 

Draghi is a trusted pair of hands for the capitalists. As head of the European Central Bank during the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, he said that he would do “whatever it takes” to defend the single European currency and the neoliberal economic restrictions that underpin it. In practice, this meant sacrificing European workers on the altar of financial markets, imposing austerity and trashing democracy. When Greek workers elected an ostensibly anti-austerity coalition in 2015, Draghi threatened it with economic strangulation until it signed into law a new tranche of cuts to social spending. 

Draghi’s cabinet, run by central bankers and economists rather than elected politicians, was the fourth such government in Italy since the early 1990s. Obedience to “fiscal discipline” and rigorous adherence to EU economic restrictions is like religious dogma for mainstream Italian politicians. The centrist Democratic Party has played a leading role in creating this catastrophe. The party was formed in the 1990s, primarily by ex-Communists who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, embraced with an evangelical zeal Clintonite third-way liberalism. 

Since then, more than €110 billion in public assets have been sold, and interest on loans and bailout packages has pushed public debt to €2.6 trillion. More is spent servicing the interest on this debt than is spent on public education. For three decades, workers and young people have been promised that if they swallow tough economic reforms, renewed prosperity will result. But real wages and per capita economic growth have been declining since 1999, and Italy’s industrial capacity has collapsed 25 percent. A generation of young people has languished; many have simply left the country in search of work. 

The result is increasing misery for Italian workers. The country’s official unemployment rate is 8.4 percent; youth unemployment is nearly triple that. The number living in poverty has risen to 5.6 million, the inflation rate of 8.4 percent swelling the ranks of the working poor. 

The catalyst for the Draghi coalition’s collapse was the decision of one of its constituent parties, the Five Star Movement, to draw a line under some of the government’s most controversial reforms. Five Star is a populist party, founded by an Italian comedian as a protest movement against the political class in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Refusing to place itself clearly on the left-right spectrum, the party has struggled to reconcile its anti-establishment rhetoric with participation in a series of right-wing government coalitions since rising to prominence. Five Star’s collaboration with the same establishment it denounces has led to waves of defections and a declining vote, from a high of 32 percent in the 2018 elections to 10 percent today. 

Worried about elections scheduled for mid-2023, Five Star revolted against Draghi’s most recent spending package, citing environmentally destructive policies and a lack of economic support for workers and the poor. This initiated a rolling crisis that led to media magnate Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the far-right Lega, both erstwhile supporters of the government, to withdraw support. The next day, Draghi resigned, triggering new elections. 

The main beneficiary of the government’s implosion has been the only major party to stand aside from it: the fascist Brothers of Italy. The party, led by Giorgia Meloni, has experienced a meteoric rise: from polling just over 4 percent of the vote four years ago, Brothers is now polling 24 percent. It is now almost certain that, a century after Mussolini’s march on Rome, a party descended from his National Fascist Party will lead the next government. 

Meloni’s proposals include a naval blockade to prevent the entry of migrant and refugee boats, massive tax cuts and an attack on social welfare. At a rally in Spain earlier this year for the far-right party Vox, Meloni vowed: “Yes to the natural family! No to the LGBT lobbies!”

The Brothers lead a far-right coalition joined by Matteo Salvini’s Lega, which was just a few years ago the leading light of the far right, but now stands as a junior partner to Meloni’s outfit. Berlusconi, the 84-year-old Trump prototype, who built Forza Italia as his personal political vehicle in the early 1990s, is staging a comeback as the third major partner. Together, they are polling at 46 percent. 

Business circles have expressed concern about how the new right-wing coalition might govern—but not because of its historic ties to fascism. Capitalists are worried by Meloni’s and Salvini’s history of anti-EU rhetoric, and the latter’s support for Vladimir Putin. But Meloni has been quick to reassure them that a government under her leadership will be pro-NATO and pro-EU. Those who really stand to lose from the victory of the right are not central bankers in Brussels or American military strategists, but workers, migrants and oppressed people.

At the time of writing, the Democratic Party is attempting to rebuild credibility by presenting itself as the bulwark against the far-right threat, assembling a centrist electoral coalition to stop the Meloni-Salvini-Berlusconi triumvirate. This cynical manoeuvre will fail. The Democrat-led coalition, which is joined by the Greens and other small parties, is trailing the far right by 16 percentage points in the polls. Even if they pull off an electoral miracle by temporarily blocking the right’s path to power on 25 September, a Democrat-dominated government will worsen the social crises that underpin the rise of the right in the first place. It would be committed to continuing Draghi’s austerity, compounding the social misery of Italian capitalism. 

A few decades ago, Italy was home to the largest and most vibrant radical left in Europe. The collapse of the left into centrist liberalism has resulted in the far right appearing to be the only alternative to the unpalatable status quo.

A principled objection to the far right won’t come from representatives of the business world or politicians of the centre. The far right draws strength from state-sponsored racism and tolerance of Italy’s fascist history in the political mainstream, which helps normalise its positions. 

In late July, the murder in broad daylight of a Nigerian migrant and street trader by a white Italian in the town of Civitanove Marche, while onlookers watched and failed to intervene, shone a light on the brutality of anti-migrant racism in Italy. This case was not an aberration but part of a spate of violent attacks. Black migrants make up a highly oppressed and exploited substrata of the working class in Italy. Migrant workers, mostly from Africa, make up half of the country’s agricultural labour force, working in slave-like conditions and living in makeshift camps and sheds in rural slums. They are a regular target of racist scapegoating from both the right and the Democratic Party, which has used the right-wing slogan “let’s help them in their own country” during immigration debates. 

Four years ago, former Lega candidate Luca Traini opened fire on Black migrants in the centre of Macerata, shooting six. He then drove to the Archway of the Fallen, a Mussolini-era monument, and performed a fascist salute while awaiting arrest. The brutality of the attack brought denunciations from the entire political establishment, including, with gross hypocrisy, Lega leader Salvini. While in government, Salvini blocked the entry of rescued refugee boats and pledged to deport half a million “illegal immigrants”. Traini was using vile fascist methods to put into practice Salvini’s disgraceful legislative agenda. 

Traini’s decision to stage his final stand at a fascist monument is unsurprising. The rehabilitation of Italian fascism by the political class and intellectuals has been occurring since the 1990s. Revisionist histories of World War Two abound in Italy, apologising for Mussolini’s Salo Republic, and denigrating the anti-fascist resistance. By 2013, Berlusconi was confident enough to declare that, despite his racial laws and alliance with Hitler, “Mussolini did good in many ways”.

The fascist menace is going to be defeated only by a combative left. The absence of any significant organised left-wing force for the past fifteen years has left the field open to Meloni, Salvini and Berlusconi. With the political establishment out of answers in the context of a deep and irresolvable crisis, radical traditions that reject austerity, defend working-class living standards and connect class politics to an uncompromising struggle against social oppression have to be rediscovered.

Luca Tavan writes for Red Flag from Melbourne, Australia

UK’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss all set to carry forward the Conservative agenda / by Aditya Sarin

Originally published in People’s Dispatch, 09.06.2022

Hardline conservative Liz Truss emerged victorious over Rishi Sunak to replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party..

At the end of the almost month-long contest for the Conservative Party to choose its new leader and the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss emerged victorious securing 57.4% of the votes polled by her party members. She is set to succeed Boris Johnson – whose own premiership was mired in scandal and economic mismanagement. Johnson has left Britain to Truss in a critical state, mired in the worst cost of living crisis of recent decades, as well as a crisis of legitimacy. Over the past several weeks, Truss campaigned extensively to find some way to distinguish herself both from Johnson and the other Tories in the race.

So, who is Liz Truss?

Throughout her career, Truss has not been one to shy away from her Conservative roots and ideology, and the promises that she made while campaigning reflect that outlook. The central plank of her policy manifesto has been a slashing of taxes across various sectors, in an attempt to deal with the UK’s current financial woes and rising inflation. Her targets so far have included windfall taxes, corporate tax hikes, blocking all new taxesgreen energy levies to companies, taxes paid by the self-employed, and inheritance taxes

She has also suggested that she will roll back the 1.25% hike to the National Insurance that had been introduced last year in an attempt to fund health and social care under then Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Despite this, she has said that public spending will not decrease under her watch, and that more free schools and hospitals will be built during her time as prime minister.

The struggles of the NHS have been in the news a great deal recently, with repeated threats of doctor and nurse walkouts over low pay and poor working conditions, and complaints from patients of months-long wait times to access care. It is unclear how, or if, Truss’ plans would ameliorate this situation at all, especially as she has suggested her openness to diverting billions of pounds from the NHS into social care. Despite this, Truss has simultaneously suggested that the NHS needs a larger budget, but that this must come from “general taxation.” Where this increase in taxation is likely to take place has been unclear.

As energy prices have increased dramatically over the last several months, even Rishi Sunak, her rival for the premiership, felt the need to say that he would do something about energy prices and supply. Truss, in contrast, has opposed a freeze in energy price caps (even if members of her potential cabinet have said they could not rule out the same) and said that she does not support energy rationing. She had also initially said that she does not support direct relief to consumers, before being forced to walk back that particular position. Her proposed solution to the UK’s energy crisis can best be understood by her support for “fracking in areas where people want it to happen,” as well as lukewarm support for nuclear and renewable power. 

Increased funding, Truss has also promised, will go to the police, along with an expanded set of powers. She says she will ensure that ‘crime’ decreases by 20%, and called for re-instituting a league-style table to track the effectiveness of various local constabularies against each other. More patrols of the oceans will be launched, border force funding will be increased, and immigrants will be targeted even more ruthlessly; deportations to countries other than Rwanda have been mooted, as well as ways to ensure that immigrants cannot find work in the UK. Overall spending on defense will also be increased.

Internationally, Truss has suggested that she might withdraw the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) so that the government cannot be overruled by it, as happened when a flight deporting refugees to Rwanda was grounded on June 14 after intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. Firmly committed to Brexit, Truss has instead expressed her openness to greater trade with the Commonwealth and a potential free trade agreement with Israel. She has also pledged to tackle Russia and China more comprehensively, and suggested that the UK needs to send more aid and weapons to Ukraine and help rebuild it under a new Marshall plan, but at the same time not “become directly involved in the conflict.”

Domestically, her plans skew close to Tory cultural orthodoxy. She has said she will somehow “stand up for free speech” and at the same time stressed the “need to fight back against the identity politics that has infected [UK] institutions” and the need to reject “woke” civil service culture. She has suggested, as is almost a tradition in Britain, that she will move to exclude trans women from women’s spaces, and attempt to make it harder for those looking to transition.

Truss’ promises however, are full of contradictions and impossibilities, and perhaps it is best not to think of all she has said as a program for the next two years but rather as an election manifesto for the 2024 elections. What does seem clear, however, is that Truss remains committed to the same policies of austerity, privatization, and deregulation for business that has characterized previous Tory governments, and maybe even more so than those who have preceded her. There will be more strike-breaking and sabotage of industrial action under her, and people will continue to be immiserated.

Aditya Sarin, writes for Peoples Dispatch

Thomas Paine Was History’s Greatest Hater of the British Crown / by Ryan Zickgraf

English-born American philosopher Thomas Paine’s Common Sense savaged British royalty. (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Originally Published in Jacobin, 09.10.2022

The American Revolution was inspired by ruthless criticism of the British monarchy. Why stop now?

Since news broke of Elizabeth II’s death at age ninety-six, US social media has been awash with tributes, memes, and merciless dunks on the deceased queen — the latter of which have ruffled some feathers.

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO who helped modernize empire for the age of the corporation, took offense to linguistics professor Uju Anya describing the late queen as the monarch of a “thieving raping genocidal empire.”

“This is someone supposedly working to make the world better? I don’t think so. Wow,” Bezos tweeted in response. Twitter appeared to agree; its moderators deleted Anya’s post.

Bezos and other American royal sycophants could use a reminder that Anya has a kindred spirit in the Founding Fathers — especially one in particular. No one savaged the English throne quite like Thomas Paine, an eighteenth-century magazine writer and editor, whose forty-seven-page pamphlet Common Sense went viral in the American colonies when it was published in January 1776.

Part of the popularity of Paine’s prose was the biting edge of his takes on the mother country, which now read like cantankerous tweets.

In Common Sense, he called England’s King George III “the Royal Brute of Great Britain,” who “hath wickedly broken through every moral and human obligation, trampled nature and conscience beneath his feet, and by a steady and constitutional spirit of insolence and cruelty procured for himself a universal hatred.”

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, published in 1776.

Paine wasn’t just contemptuous of one particular British ruler but of monarchs in general.

“There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy,” he wrote. “It first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the different parts, by unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole character to be absurd and useless.”

Absurd, useless — even evil. Monarchy “was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry.”

The inherent nobleness of royalty, Paine wrote, was bullshit. “It is more than probable, that could we take off the dark covering of antiquity and trace them to their first rise, that we should find the first of them nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners or pre-eminence in subtlety obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who, by increasing in power and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenseless to purchase their safety by frequent contributions.”

To Paine, it was also no coincidence that countries without kings suffered fewer wars. “It is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion,” he remarked. Part of the confusion, he argued, is the folly of hereditary succession. “Nature disapproves it; otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.”

It’s the kind of line that may have gotten Paine canceled in 2022 (“He who dares not offend cannot be honest,” he once responded to his critics), but in 1776, Common Sense was crucial to inspiring the American Revolution.

“Without the pen of the author of Common Sense,” John Adams once admitted, “the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

Hear, hear.

Ryan Zickgraf is a journalist based in Atlanta.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Reign Glamorized Britain’s Political Backwardness / by John Merrick

Queen Elizabeth II on a four-day visit to Berlin, Germany in June 2015. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

Originally published in Jacobin, 09.09.2022

During Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign, the UK witnessed immense social transformation. Throughout this tumultuous period, the monarchy served one purpose: suppressing Britain’s political divisions in the name of unity and deference to the Crown.

Queen Elizabeth II, who died yesterday at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, at the age of ninety-six, became monarch in the early hours of February 6, 1952, while on safari holiday in the then-British colony of Kenya. That she would reign for seventy years, becoming in the process the country’s longest serving monarch, was a fact that no one in the country at the time could have foreseen.

Since her death, much has been made of the scale of social and political change that has occurred in the years since she ascended the throne, as well as the modernization she oversaw in the institution of the monarchy itself — even if, for the most part, she merely acquiesced to the changes rather than driving them herself. She was, to hear the eulogies, that most oxymoronic of things: a “modern monarch,” who dragged the archaic institution into a new century.

The role of the monarch has undoubtedly undergone a profound series of changes in the past seventy years. Already a purely ceremonial role, it has retreated further from the everyday realities of political power in Britain; rare has been the occasion in which her mask of impartiality has slipped. Yet, one of the enduring truths of British politics is that as the political role of the monarch has declined, the constitutional — and ceremonial — one has increased, sometimes enormously.

As the historian David Cannadine once observed, it was once a commonly held opinion that, as the population became better educated, “royal ritual would soon be exposed as nothing more than primitive magic, a hollow sham.” Would that were so; for now the royal family is second only to the Papacy in tawdry theatrics and magical ceremony, and the popularity of the recently deceased monarch far in excess of any of the fifteen prime ministers who have run her various governments.

The question raised in all of this is then, of course, just what role does the pomp and circumstance of Britain’s top family actually play in the life of the British nation? To see the tearful crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace is to realize that the passionate embrace of the monarchy is no mere elite imposition, but a popular enthusiasm. The monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth II more than any other, is so thoroughly encrusted into the psychic life of the nation that it is at times difficult to disentangle the two.

A Diligent Understudy

April 1926 was to prove an auspicious month for Britain’s ruling Conservative government. With the long and bitter dispute in the coalfields reaching its climax, the deadlock between the Miners’ Federation and the mine owners seemed to be moving inexorably toward open confrontation. “Not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day,” declared the miners as the national crisis escalated. So a call in the early hours of April 21 to the home secretary, Sir William Joyson-Hicks, to attend a royal birth was hardly the good news expected, not least with the meeting between coal owners and the prime minister due to take place the following day.

Still, he went along to the residence at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London, and was at the scene when at 2:40 AM the child, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, was born. Less than two weeks later the general strike began, in which some 1.7 million workers walked out, threatening not just to bring Britain’s economy to its knees, but the very constitution itself.

Elizabeth was, at the time of her birth, third in line for the throne, and never expected to be more than a minor member of the royal entourage. Her father, the Duke of York, was the second son of the reigning monarch, George V, and it was his older brother, Edward, who was due to take the throne at their father’s death. Still, the birth of a young royal was met with both establishment and popular enthusiasm.

That the King’s death came so soon, when the young Elizabeth was just ten years old, shocked everyone, despite George’s long-precarious health. In his place came Edward VIII for his short and ill-fated rule. He was to last less than a year before the constitutional crisis caused by his planned wedding to the twice-divorced American socialite, and Nazi sympathizer, Wallis Simpson forced his abdication.

It is a testament to the royals’ powers of reinvention that, less than a century on from the abdication, a leading member of the royal family can not only wed, with much fanfare, another American divorcée — and a mixed-race one, to boot — but that Elizabeth’s once-divorced son, now happily married to his long-time mistress, will soon have his own coronation, placing him at the head of an Anglican church that only accepted remarriage in 2002. Such are the storms that Elizabeth has weathered over her long reign.

The Glamor of Backwardness

Her early years were cloistered, and her education insured, either by accident or by design, that she was uncommonly well qualified to be a royal figurehead. She never went to school nor to university: private tutors trained her in history and constitutional law. At the head of society, her social sphere was narrow: she mixed with the offspring of Britain’s aristocratic elite, otherwise her only brushes with the common folk were with the various servants and members of domestic staff that made up the royal household.

That the Queen was born in a private residence in London, and that her early walks, pushed in a pram through St James’s Park by her nanny “Crawfie,” were met by crowds of well-wishers offering gifts to the young royal, is nearly inconceivable. Today the royals are as removed from public life as the average Hollywood celebrity. Yet, the mediatization of their lives came to rival that of the film stars and television personalities whom they have come to emulate.

Elizabeth’s reign, of course, began with the first publicly televised coronation of a monarch. She, along with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was initially opposed to the idea of broadcasting the coronation, fearful that one wrong move, viewed by millions live on television, would ruin the ancient mystery of the monarchy. In this, they had nothing to fear. If anything, the vast media spectacle that is contemporary royalty has only served to heighten the mystique.

Five years after her coronation, in 1957, she recorded the first of her annual Christmas speeches to the nation; and in 1969, there aired a behind-the-scenes documentary about the life of working royals. It was, however, during the 1980s that the once deferential relationship between the royal family and the media began to change. The various scandals that resulted from the royal children’s bad behavior — from Charles’s much publicized affair with Camilla, to the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, only recently separated from her husband, Prince Andrew, being caught having her toes sucked by a lover — became just more tabloid fodder, splashed across the front pages of Britain’s red-top newspapers. If the Scottish historian Tom Nairn could once confidently pronounce that what the royals offered the nation was the “glamour of backwardness,” then it is one to which a distinctly modern sheen is frequently applied.

It was of course Nairn who did more than any other to excavate the meaning of the monarchy for the modern British nation. He, along with Perry Anderson, anatomized the British state in a series of penetrating essays during the 1960s and ’70s. The arguments they developed there — which came to be known as the “Nairn-Anderson” thesis — traced the roots of Britain’s postwar crises to the country’s early, and aborted, bourgeois revolution in the mid-seventeenth century.

Yet if Britain was early in entering the modern world, it was to pay a harsh price for being the world’s first modern capitalist state. For Nairn and Anderson, the result was a hybrid social-political system in which, rather than overthrowing the old feudal aristocracy, the nascent bourgeoisie held them in a long-upstanding alliance. The post-1688 political system was, in a word, a “bastard form.”

The place that the monarchy in general, and the Windsor clan in particular, have played in this has been pivotal. As Nairn wrote, in 1977:

It would be a much happier situation if Queen Elizabeth were functioning as an opiate to forestall the coming socialist revolution. The truth is many degrees more dismal. She and her pyramid of lackeys constitute a dead-weight repressing — so to speak — the revolution before last in Britain. Their ideological force is built upon a now ancient loss of radical nerve by the bourgeoisie itself — upon the inner capitulation of last century, most strikingly expressed for us by the virtual disappearance of middle-class republicanism in Victoria’s reign. The “magic” of our monarchs is the sweet odour of decay arising from this mountainous dunghill of unfinished bourgeois business.

For those of us of a Marxist persuasion, seeing the groveling deference and cloying sentimentality of many, even in the labor movement, to the news of Elizabeth’s death has been a disheartening sight. Yet, few on the Left have truly attempted to wrestle with the royal family’s enduring popularity, even among the country’s working class. In light of this, many on the Left have found it congenial to hold one’s hands up and proclaim that the monarchy never really mattered all that much after all. Others make the argument for a republic on financial grounds; as if the question of the “parasite in chief” sitting atop the throne at Buckingham Palace, as well as the hundreds of chinless hangers-on who continue to bleed the national purse for all they can get, could be reduced to a simple cost-benefit calculation.

One of the more intractable problems for any nascent republican movement in Britain is that, in the words of the novelist Martin Amis, “As in all matters royal, we are dealing here not with pros and cons, with arguments and counter-arguments; we are dealing with signs and symbols, with fever and magic.” And what the Monarchy reminds is that, even when empty, such magic has real material power. As Nairn councils: “There is little value in abusing the Monarch herself, in isolation from the decrepit Cathedral-State where she is enthroned. When this edifice is at last shaken down it will bury her dynasty in its ruins.”

If the symbol of Elizabeth represented anything at all over the past seventy years, it was stability and constancy. In this, the crises she and her family have faced — perhaps the most extreme coming in the months after Princess Diana’s death in 1997, where the Queen’s refusal to remove herself from her summer holiday in Balmoral and come to London to meet the grieving millions spurred even the usually supine tabloid, the Daily Express, to demand across its front page: “Show Us You Care” — have accentuated, rather than diminished, the institution’s appeal. In her blandness and neutrality, she has become a cipher for millions; an empty vessel into which the nation can lovingly pour whatever content most suits the moment.

The new king, Charles III, will have no such luck. Long unloved, not least following his tumultuous and ultimately tragic marriage to Diana Spencer, Charles will, as he himself has made clear, be a very different monarch to his mother. Politically opinionated where Elizabeth made great show of being above politics, he is known for his pet enthusiasms — not least his feudal Disneyland at Poundbury, a village built on his estate from the early 1990s and meant as his answer to the horrors of modern planning, and his advocacy of the quack medicine of homeopathy.

In recent years, he has been embroiled in a number of political scandals involving the selling of access to the royal household and honors to a Saudi billionaire, as well as the infamous “black spider” letters (so called because his childish scrawl resembled a series of black spiders) written by him to various government ministers, quizzing them on matters of policy — a fact that was only revealed by the Guardian in 2015 after a decade-long legal battle.

As the Labour minister Hugh Dalton recorded in his diary following Charles’s birth in 1948, “If this boy ever comes to the throne . . . it will be a very different country and Commonwealth he’ll rule over.” Now that his time has finally come, and Charles is granted the promotion for which he has been waiting for seventy years, to say that Britain is a changed country from the one his mother ruled from the years immediately following World War II is somewhat trite. The question of what it will be when it ends is still to play for.

John Merrick is a London-based writer. He is currently working on his first book on class in contemporary Britain.

Plebiscite Vote in Chile Rejects Proposed New Constitution / by W. T. Whitney Jr.

Supporters of the new constitution embrace as they listen to the partial results of a plebiscite on whether the new Constitution will replace the current one imposed by Pinochet’s military dictatorship 41 years ago, in Santiago, Chile, Sept. 4, 2022. | Cristobal Escobar / AP

Supporters of a proposed new constitution for Chile suffered a big defeat in a plebiscite taking place on September 4. The “reject” side gained 7.882.958 votes, or 62% of the total; 4.860.093 voters – 38% – approved the document. Voting in such a plebiscite in Chile is mandatory; participation was 80%.  

Chile’s current Constitution, produced in 1980 under the Pinochet military dictatorship, and with alterations since, remains in effect. The issue in question, according to  Hugo Guzman, editor of the Communist Party’s El Siglo newspaper, was “whether Chileans will continue to live in the midst of a repressive political structure and an exploitative economic model installed by a ruthless dictatorship some four decades ago, or whether they will choose to start a new and egalitarian chapter in the history of Chile.”

The vote marked the end of a process that began with huge youth and labor-led demonstrations throughout Chile in October 2019. They continued for months. Protesters were reacting to inequalities generally and to privatization and austerity initiatives interfering with equitable access to education, healthcare, and social security.

The pressure led billionaire president Sebastián Piñera to agree to a nationwide vote on authorizing an assembly charged with devising a new constitution. On October 25, 2020, 79 percent of Chileans voted to approve a Constitutional Convention.

An election was held in May 2021 to choose delegates to the Convention, which would be in session from July 4, 2021 until that day a year later. Meanwhile, voters in December 2021 elected Gabriel Boric, center-left in political orientation, to succeed Piñera, in the process rejecting an extreme rightwing candidate, Campaigning, Boric had prioritized carrying on with a new constitution.  

The proposed Constitution contained meaningful advances, including:

  • Formation of a Congress of Deputies for passing laws and a Chamber of the Regions for dealing with legislation agreed upon at the local level. The National Congress with its Chamber of Deputies and Senate would disappear.
  • No longer would there be high quorum requirements for passing legislation.
  • Women would make up at least 50% of the officials and office-holders in all state agencies and institutions.
  • Chile would take on the character of a “multinational and intercultural state,” where indigenous peoples would be regarded as nations occupying autonomous regions.
  • The state rather than private entities would assume primary funding responsibility for education, healthcare, low-income housing, and pensions.
  • The proposed constitution recognized the “free exercise of sexual and reproductive rights.” It limited penalization of abortion.
  • The document prioritized ecological sustainability and especially water rights.

Commentary following the plebiscite suggests multiple reasons why the “approve” vote failed, among them:

  • Myths circulated in the media. The new Constitution supposedly would promote late term abortions, dismemberment of the national territory, and empty pension funds. Critics alleged the malign influence of Cuba, Venezuela, and/or Bolivia.
  • The Constitutional Convention presented the appearance of disorganization and lack of experienced deputies. Social movements supposedly exerted more influence within the Convention than did political parties.
  • The Convention failed to provide the public with updates on its deliberations and was unable to overcome propaganda from the corporate-dominated media.  
  • The government’s apparent failure to cope with “galloping inflation” – now 13% annually – and a precipitous fall in copper prices and export income overall cast a pall over the idea of a new constitution, according to one critic.
  • Another suggests that the winning majority included a “punishment vote” by those Chileans who normally don’t vote in elections – where voting is optional. 

The fight against the “approve” campaign, according to Guzman, found support in the “the right-wing and far-right parties, the Catholic church hierarchy, the so-called “military family,” liberal social democratic sectors, financial groups that own the … consortiums that control private pension and health services — and most of the media and business associations.”

Reaction to the defeat of the proposed constitution varied. For commentator Cristóbal León Campos, the “shadow of Pinochet weighs heavily” with Chile joining Ecuador and Bolivia in sheltering “the most regressive sectors of Latin American conservatism, neofascist in nature.”

An editorial statement from The Citizen (El Ciudadano) news service emphasized the “gigantic sums of money” big corporations paid “to influence the opinions and decisions of millions of people.” It assigned blame to the government for not directing the state media to “confront this tremendous assault.” The editorial pointed to “an intelligence operation aimed at bringing down the most advanced constitutional project in the world.”

The command center of the approve campaign called for “work toward a new social pact, because what was rejected was the text and not the impulse toward a new constitution.” Social movements within the campaign joined in declaring the outcome “to be a matter of an electoral defeat, not defeat of the effort itself.” 

Political parties making up the “Approve Dignity” coalition responsible for electing President Boric agreed, and insisted that the project would continue under Boric’s leadership. These included the Socialist, Radical, Liberal, Communist, For Democracy, and six other parties. Boric himself promised “to put everything he had into building a new constituent process, together with the Congress and civil society.” He urged Chileans “to unify and together continue building the future.”

W. T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

In a Just Society, Every Day Would Be Labor Day / by Eugene V. Debs

Socialist Eugene Debs addresses a crowd at a meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1925. (G. Rinhart / Corbis via Getty Images)

Originally published in Jacobin on 9/5/2022

On Labor Day, there’s perhaps no one better to read than Eugene V. Debs. Here’s his 1903 Labor Day message, never before republished, in which he declares, “The struggle in which we are now engaged will end only when every day is Labor Day.”

he first Monday in September has by statutory enactment and general consent been set apart as Labor Day in the United Sates; and its celebration this year will be more general than ever before.

It is a day not only for rest and recreation, but for counsel and meditation. It affords an excellent opportunity to take a backward look, examine the present situation, take an inventory of resources and prepare for the greater work yet to be done before Labor Day can be celebrated by the hosts of freedom.

Labor Day must be regarded not as a privilege to be thankful for, but as a right to be enjoyed.

We never hear of Capital Day, not because Capital has no day, but because every day is Capital Day.

The struggle in which we are now engaged will end only when every day is Labor Day.

Upon every hand we see the signs of preparation.

The working class are mustering their mighty forces for political and economic conquest.

While the capitalists are capitalizing, the industrial conditions are revolutionizing, the working class are organizing, the Socialist sentiment is crystallizing and in due time the cooperative commonwealth will be materializing.

The liberation of the toilers of earth from the bonds of wage slavery is a mission worthy of the great international movement historically commissioned to render that inestimable service to humanity.

Courage is needed and intelligence, and both will be furnished in abundance by the working class itself.

Organization, based upon the mutual economic interests of the working class, is the demand of the day.

The photo of Eugene Debs that appeared with the original article, published on September 5, 1903 in the Social Democratic Herald.

All workers, men, women and children, of all races and countries are included in the call to action.

The only line that is drawn is between the working class and their exploiters and that must be drawn straight and reach around the globe.

Workingmen, this is the day for you to realize that your interests are the same, that divided you are helpless, that united you can and will conquer the earth!

United political action will place the working class in control of government, and the abolition of capitalism will inevitably follow.

To work for wages, no matter how high, or how short the work-day, is to acknowledge a master and be at his mercy.

The full-grown workingman of the future will be free with his fellow workers to employ themselves, be their own masters and enjoy all the fruit of their labors.

Let every intelligent workingman resolve this day to do his share to abolish the wage system and emancipate the sons and daughters of toil.

The Socialist Party is the party of the working class, the party that stands for economic equality and industrial freedom, the party of progress and civilization.

This is the day to hold aloft its banner and proclaim its principles.

The struggle is as righteous as ever prompted men to do and dare on field of battle.

A few men are great now because the great mass are small.

Socialism means the exaltation of the whole and not the aggrandizement of individuals.

It is the greatest movement in all history.

It is the challenge of the twentieth century to the tyranny and oppression of the ages.

The ultimate triumph is inevitable.

The future is for socialism and humanity.

Eugene Victor “Gene” Debs (1855 – 1926) was an American socialist, political activist, trade unionist, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States.

How Zoomers Organized the First Chipotle Union / by Jonah Furman

None of the members of the organizing committee at the Lansing Chipotle have any direct union experience. They relied on friends who had organized at Starbucks and at a local library for advice on their campaign. Photo: Atulya Dora-Laskey

Originally published in Labor Notes, August 31, 2022

Chipotle workers in Lansing, Michigan, formed the fast food chain’s first recognized union in the U.S., voting 11-3 on August 25 to join Teamsters Local 243. It’s the latest in a string of new organizing breakthroughs at prominent national brands, from Starbucks to Apple to Trader Joe’s to REI.

Of all the employers that have seen union drives over the past year, Chipotle—with 100,000 employees across 3,000 stores, and long-term plans to double its footprint in North America—is the most similar to Starbucks. They’re both outliers in fast food: their stores are primarily corporate-owned, rather than franchised out to smaller operators.

Though chains like Subway and McDonald’s have more total locations, Starbucks and Chipotle are two of just four fast food chains with more than 1,000 company-operated locations. (The others are Panda Express and Arby’s.)

Harper McNamara has worked at Chipotle for two years; the average Chipotle worker stays about four months, he estimates. For him, the reasons to unionize were simple: “pay, scheduling, and treatment from managers.”

McNamara started at $10.15 an hour, 50 cents above Michigan’s state minimum wage. Now he’s up to $13.60, after Chipotle raised wages during the pandemic. That raise, which brought the company’s minimum pay to $11 an hour and its average to $15, was partly a response to workers organizing in New York City with SEIU 32BJ, as Alex Press reported for Jacobin.

SEIU’s campaign emphasized scheduling, too. Ultimately Chipotle agreed to a $20 million settlement for routinely breaking a 2017 New York City law that mandates regular schedules, two weeks’ notice, and premium pay for changes or “clopenings.” (That’s when a worker has a late night closing shift followed by an early morning opening shift.) It was the largest ever settlement for “fair workweek” violations.


At the Lansing store, the scheduling issues intensified in the ramp-up to the store’s general manager being promoted to “restaurateur” status.

Chipotle uses this designation for a very limited number of managers; it comes with a much-touted six-figure salary, and limited raises for all workers in the location. But to achieve it, local management had to put on a show for corporate.

They cut hours in the days before the inspection, so they could over-staff on that day—without exceeding their weekly average labor hours—to make a good impression. They even put up a fake schedule in the back, to make it look like this was standard procedure.

“The really radicalizing thing that happened that day,” says Atulya Dora-Laskey, another organizing committee member, “is they brought all the crew members out and took a photo in front of a huge cake with balloons with ‘R’ on them. Then the managers all ate the cake and the crew members were sent to the back.”

As they were washing up after the photo op, one of the crew members remarked, “I thought ‘R’ was going to be for ‘raise.’”

“That really set people off,” says Dora-Laskey, “So after that we started looking into the union stuff more.”


Unlike the Chipotle workers organizing in New York City, the Lansing workers filed for a union election.

None of the members of the organizing committee have any direct union experience. They relied on friends from the Democratic Socialists of America: Rikki Reynolds, a member of the Michigan Education Association; Angelo Moreno, who unionized his public library job with the UAW; and Grace Norris, who organized her Starbucks. They read the Labor Notes book Secrets of a Successful Organizer together. The committee made a list of their co-workers and started having one-on-one conversations to see what people thought of the idea of a union.

Dora-Laskey would ask co-workers, “What do you think would happen if you asked for a pay raise? You’d get in trouble. What do you think would happen if everybody asked for a pay raise?”

They made up their own system to assess people’s responses, using a one to 10 scale. “Five was neutral. Anything three or below was like, ‘They’re going to snitch on us.’ Eight would be, they’re on board. Nine would be, they’re willing to do extra work for it. Ten was, they’re on the organizing committee.”

If people were on board, they would get added to a group chat on Snapchat. The chat became a place to vent, to swap shifts, to share the schedule when it came out, and to pass around articles on Chipotle corporate. It also became a place to schedule union meetings.


Before they talked with any unions about affiliating, the Chipotle workers in Lansing started holding union meetings. They’d have one in the morning and the evening, so both shifts could attend. They’d have an agenda plotted out, and they would take votes on important issues.

One of the votes was on whether or not to tell the managers they were organizing. Others were on whether certain co-workers should be asked to join the next meeting.

One of the most consequential votes was on which union to affiliate with.

Once they had assessed that 40-50 percent of their co-workers were pro-union, McNamara and Dora-Laskey went in search of a union. They researched different unions both locally and nationally and reached out where they could. Some never called back; some said it was out of their geography or jurisdiction.

“One thing that wasn’t expected for either of us was we actually got turned down, or left on ‘read,’” says Dora-Laskey. “It was actually really frustrating for a while. We were, like, wondering what was wrong with us.”

So they put it to a vote. At an organizing meeting in March, they put together a list of nine unions, and included an option to go independent. On the latter option, the organizing committee was skeptical, primarily because members thought they’d need a lawyer to help navigate the NLRB.

“We were like, if you guys want to do this, I guess Harper, Sam, and I will start, like, reading up on National Labor Relations Board law and stuff,” Dora-Laskey laughs.

They also had an interesting call with the Industrial Workers of the World, who advised them to skip the Board and the contract process, and focus instead on shop floor action.

“Teamsters wasn’t really high on our list,” says Dora-Laskey. “[But] my roommate was in the living room and was like, ‘Oh yeah, Teamsters is a fighting union.’”

So he decided to stop by their union hall “on a whim” one day before work. The difference was “remarkable,” Dora-Laskey says. “They really took us very seriously and were really enthusiastic, and they gave us union cards to start signing immediately.”

The Teamsters staff organizers were surprised to learn that the Chipotle workers had already made a list, assessed their co-workers, and were holding meetings. The workers didn’t know it was unusual. In March, they voted to go with Teamsters Local 243 and began signing cards.


But they weren’t the first Chipotle store to file for an election. On June 22, workers at a Chipotle in Augusta, Maine, had petitioned the NLRB for a union vote as Chipotle United, an independent union. A week earlier, they had walked off the job in protest of chronic understaffing.

On July 19, the same day an NLRB hearing was being held to determine the election process, Chipotle permanently closed the Augusta store, claiming the ongoing staffing issues made it impossible to continue to operate. Workers there called it “union busting 101.” The union has filed charges at the Labor Board alleging the closure was illegal retaliation against their campaign.

The Maine closing was an obvious problem for the union in Lansing. “If there was bad news, we wanted to be the first people to share that information with people,” says Samantha Smith, another organizing committee member, “so we didn’t seem like we were trying to lie and hide things.”

At first, the workers tried to understand why Chipotle wouldn’t close their store as well. They researched and found that Chipotle had only closed about a dozen stores over the previous year; closing two unionizing stores would be too suspicious. They also reasoned that the new “restaurateur” status meant the store was profitable enough to keep open.

“But then we kind of shifted gears,” says Dora-Laskey. “The better inoculation was more like, ‘OK, so what if Chipotle closes down?’ They were like, ‘Oh I’d just get a job at Qdoba, they’re hiring for $14 an hour.’ I think it’s a tight labor market that is giving people a lot of power right now.”

Part of it, say Smith and Dora-Laskey, is also generational. “Everything that’s happened politically, like abortion being criminalized, and then inflation but nobody’s getting paid any more, people can’t afford things—that is a real push,” says Smith.

“Zoomers are looking around and we’re like, ‘This shit is over.’ Everything is coming to an end in, like, quite a spectacular fashion,” says Dora-Laskey. “And it really is like, ‘Okay, I might get fired from this job for organizing. Okay.’”


Chipotle did not threaten to close the Lansing store. But the company did make a concerted union-busting effort.

Managers held extended one-on-one meetings with nearly all 18 workers. They brought in a union-busting consultant who presented herself as a “non-biased educator,” but with a clear anti-union slant.

“Towards the end she got more blatant with her lies,” says Dora-Laskey. “She started saying that we would have to be paying dues for life if we joined a union—even if you leave Chipotle.”

In one-on-one meetings, the consultant would say different things to different people, saving the worst rhetoric for non-native English speakers. But after the meetings, workers would compare notes and identify inconsistencies.

“Eventually,” says Dora-Laskey, “we got people to see that she gets hired by companies to come in. Companies don’t like unions.” They would ask their co-workers, “Do you think she has more or less job security if we unionize? What do you think her incentives are?”


The Chipotle workers in Lansing know that winning their union vote is a breakthrough but not the end of the line. More stores will have to organize, and at some point, they’ll need to win a union contract.

“Chipotle is such a big corporation that it would be kind of hard if it was just us against all of Chipotle,” says Dora-Laskey.

But last week’s win was further than he had hoped to get. “I kind of wanted to see why union organizing drives don’t work. Because I figured since it had never been done before there was, like, a reason, and I wanted to explore that,” he says. “We have not found that yet.”

Jonah Furman is a staff writer and organizer for Labor