From the March-April 2021 issue of News & Letters
Pensacola, Fla.—An Amazon protest on Feb. 20 was part of a national day of solidarity with Amazon workers, especially those conducting a union drive in Bessemer, Alabama. As this was my first protest, I found it remarkable. It was a small protest and included some members from the Workers’ World Party. We heard a speech about what is going on and information about other events supporting workers’ struggles.
After the protest, I talked with a few people. A man who recently moved here expressed how revolution is necessary for socialism but reforms are not a bad thing. He spoke of a need for a mix of both reform and revolution. I told him reform should come out of workers’ self-organizing and taking control of their own lives rather than something that is a principle or program of an organization.
I brought up my affiliation with News and Letters Committees. He looked up News and Letters on Wikipedia on his phone and saw Raya Dunayevskaya and C.L.R. James mentioned. He said he knew of them and he likes them. He has Dunayevskaya’s book Philosophy and Revolution.
A DEBATE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THEORY
He claimed that Dunayevskaya argued that “In order to understand Marx, you must understand Hegel” and he has an issue with devoting a lot of time to theory. I explained the Marxist-Humanist position which stresses that the workers need to have a way to comprehend the new society, what would make it new. We need a philosophy to help us understand the world around us. Without it we will be left at the mercy of intellectuals and those who seek to assert themselves above the movement.
I also expressed how workers, from their own personal experiences, understand capitalism and its contradiction. I tried to say that it is practice from which we derive effective theory and it is theory from which effective practice derives. Practice to theory and theory to practice. He finished my thought by saying “Praxis.” I agreed and replied “Yes. The unity between theory and practice.” I concluded that this means “I’m fighting not only for my liberation but your liberation and the liberation of everyone.”
Even though the protest was small and short, it was worth coming to in order to learn of the people there and know who cares enough to come out against the degradation of workers by Amazon. My advice to anyone who ends up in a similar situation is to use such times to communicate with people and establish contact with them.
What matters as communists is using those moments to support struggles against capital. The first part in building a movement is becoming aware of what it wants and what is necessary to fulfill those wants, to talk with fellow workers and learn of their struggles.
I want to thank every single protester who participates and organizes solidarity protests. Such events help us as workers to develop and connect with one another, and realize our strength.