Socialist Workers Party leader visits Caterpillar strikers
By Felix Sarver firstname.lastname@example.org July 24, 2012 9:41PM
James Harris, Socialist Workers Party candidate for the U.S. President, stands outside the office of the Herald News in Joliet, IL on Friday July 20, 2012. He was on a campaign stop at the office. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 26, 2012 6:05AM
JOLIET — James Harris’ presidential campaign doesn’t make promises.
The Socialist Workers Party candidate instead meets with struggling working-class people and speaks with them about what is needed to fight for better lives.
“It’s a bigger question than an election,” Harris said.
Harris, who previously ran for president in 1996 and 2000, is concerned with creating solidarity between workers around the country and helping them understand the problems of the current economic crisis.
Recently, Harris and his campaign visited the union strikers at Caterpillar Inc. to defend them against the cuts on pension, health care and wages the company is trying to impose, said John Hawkins, a member of the Socialist Workers Party.
Harris said he doesn’t see the conflict between the workers and their employers at Caterpillar as unique. The conflict is generalized throughout the country and the world.
“It’s not an American crisis, it’s a world economic crisis, and the solution the ruling class puts forward in all capitalist countries is the same: press harder on working people and take more of what they produce,” Harris said.
The problem behind the current economic crisis is capitalism and the ruling class who benefit from it, Harris said. The ruling class are people who only make money through ownership of factories, mines, mills and land. They are opposed to the interests of the working class.
“They basically determine the politics and policies of this country,” Harris said.
The Democratic Party and the Republican Party both serve the interests of the ruling class, Harris said. They only put forth solutions to the economic crisis that benefit the wealthy.
One solution neither party put forward is a government-financed jobs program to employ the millions of people without work, he said.
“(This program would) put all the idle hands to work, producing all the roads, the factories, the child care centers,” Harris said.
Instead people are finding less work and people who do work are working longer hours, working harder and earning less, he said. Real change to fix these conditions comes not from electoral politics but from mass, organized labor.
Harris said the Socialist Workers Party wants the working class to have more control over their work and that it will take revolutionary change for this to happen.
“We want to talk to working people about taking political power and establishing a government that working people control,” Harris said. “As long as that’s not done, we don’t make advances and our conditions continue to get worse.”
Harris said his campaign offers support to workers fighting for better working conditions and benefits. They try to show the lessons they’ve learned from the struggles of other workers to make current struggles stronger.
“Our campaign is part of the resistance and working people are mounting on different fronts,” Hawkins said. “We seek to be the spokesperson for the resistance.”