Gary Walkowicz, Working Class Party candidate in 2022, spoke at the party's Michigan convention on November 19, 2023.
A recording and transcription of his speech are reproduced below.
Hello, I'm Gary Walkowicz. I'm a UAW member, a retired Ford worker, and also have been a candidate for Working Class Party for Congress.
So, in a few months, we will be starting another election campaign for Working Class Party. And we know that elections don't change anything for the working class. But starting with our first election campaign in 2016, we have used elections as a way to talk about the problems facing the working class, to talk about the kind of fight that the working class could make and needs to make.
In our first campaigns, we were mostly talking about the problems of low wages and jobs that aren't enough to live on. We talked about how money that we need for schools and roads are being given to the wealthy in order to make the rich even richer. And those things certainly are still happening. And those things are actually getting worse. We will certainly talk about them in our campaign in 2024.
But this year, we can't only talk about those things, because the world is changing. Look at how much has changed since we ran our first election campaign in 2014. So, the war on our standard of living is continuing. But today, we're also looking at real wars. All the military conflicts that are happening around the world. And we are looking at the real possibility of an even bigger war, a war that we will be put in the middle of.
So, what does the world look like today? The news reports we see from Gaza are horrifying. Bombs are being dropped on hospitals, schools, and apartment buildings. Bodies are being pulled out of the rubble. More than one in every 200 Palestinians living in Gaza have already been killed in the last three weeks. These are the scenes of war. The horrific pictures we see today from Gaza could have been right from World War II. Or they could have been pictures of the villages of peasants that the US destroyed in Vietnam. Or they could be pictures of the civilians that the US military killed in the city of Fallujah during their war against Iraq.
Many people are appalled and angry at what we see happening in Gaza. Rightfully so. But we also have to understand the big picture. We should also take warning that what is happening in Gaza could be showing us that a bigger war, a world war is on the horizon. Another world war would mean that the horrors we see in Gaza would be multiplied a thousand times over. Another world war may or may not happen immediately.
It may not start in the Middle East, but a world war is moving closer. So, let's look at what has happened in the Middle East. On October 7th, Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, killing Israeli soldiers, but also killing many Israeli citizens. As the Israeli military prepared to invade Gaza, the US government immediately sent more military forces to the region. Two naval task forces, along with 4,000 Marines, were sent to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. They were sent there to join with all of the US Navy ships, Air Force warplanes, special operations forces, and ground troops that were already stationed in the Middle East.
The military forces that the US sent to the Middle East are not peacekeeping troops. They are not there to protect Israeli citizens or Palestinian citizens. They were sent there to maintain US rule over this region. Within days, the US military had attacked Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq, risking retaliation and escalation of the war.
And all of this is happening in the midst of an explosive situation in the Middle East. Going back 100 years to around World War I, the peoples in the Middle East have been living under the domination of imperialism. First, it was British and the French, and then it was the US that controlled this region in order to have access to the oil fields and ensure the profits of the oil companies, as well as US banks and other corporations. To maintain their control over the Middle East, US imperialism has played off one people against another. They have propped up friendly dictators who oppress their own population. They have pitted one regime against another regime, leading to regional wars. And most of all, they set up the Israeli government to act as their policemen for the region.
US military and financial aid to Israel has made this relatively small country into one of the world's best equipped and most powerful military forces. But for most of the people living in the Middle East,
US imperialism domination has meant only misery and desperation. Even many Jewish people living in Israel, especially those who came from Eastern Europe and North Africa, they also live in poverty. They have no prospects for a better life as long as US imperialism uses Israel to be their policemen in the Middle East.
Today, Israel, backed by US imperialism, has invaded Gaza to punish the Palestinians and to impose a new rule over them. But for 75 years, the Palestinian people have resisted their oppression. And many other peoples in the Middle East feel a solidarity with the fight of the Palestinians, the Palestinian people, and they recognize that their own, of their own oppression and exploitation.
These other peoples in the Middle East also have their own reason to resist what has been imposed on them. There's a built-up anger in the Middle East that it could explode at any time. If that happens, will the US government intervene directly, sending in troops to attack these populations? If the US intervenes directly in the Middle East, would that bring in the possibility of other countries intervening? Looking at history, these things are certainly possible.
US imperialism's domination over the Middle East and North Africa and this whole region has already led to one war after another. The ongoing war in Yemen has killed up to a million people and has resulted in a humanitarian crisis for an entire population. The two sides in the war in Yemen are proxies for the regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran. And standing behind Saudi Arabia and Iran are the US on the one hand and China and Russia on the other hand, which means any war in the Middle East could spiral into a bigger war. The threat of a regional war could lead to a bigger war.
And that threat is not only in the Middle East. The war in Ukraine has faded into the news background, but that war continues for almost two years now. Over 100,000 soldiers and civilians, Ukrainians and Russians, have died. And the US is also deeply involved in this war. The US government, along with their NATO allies, have been pushing against Russia for decades. They have surrounded Russia with troops, military bases, missiles, bombers and other weapons right up to the border of Russia. When Putin responded to these provocations by invading Ukraine, the US began pouring weapons into Ukraine. The US has kept this war going in order to weaken Russia, using the Ukrainian people as their proxies. The US supplies the weapons, Ukrainians supply the deaths.
And then in Asia and the Pacific region, the US is pressing against China both militarily and economically. The US flies warplanes and sends its naval forces through the South China Sea, right up to the coast of China. The US government has been arming its allies who surround China, like Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia.
The US military threat against China backs up the US economic attacks on China. The US has been putting sanctions on important computer chips and other valuable commodities, denying access to China. The US today is waging an economic war against China. And during the history of capitalism, economic wars often lead to shooting wars, just like happened before World War I and World War II.
And finally, we see the US government today continually increasing its military budget. Many other countries in the world are doing the same thing. What are they preparing for, if not for war?
Today there are wars in the Middle East, in Eastern Europe, in Sudan and elsewhere. Wars are spreading. And the history of capitalism tells us that another world war is nearing. World War I and World War II both started as regional wars that expanded into a world war. Today the capitalist class and the political leaders of their capitalist system are ready to provoke a third world war. Did you hear the cabinet minister from Israel recently, who just casually suggested that Israel should drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza and its two million people? It's insanity. This is where we're headed.
And when the world war comes, people in this country will not escape it. We will suffer here too.
So, can war be stopped? For the ordinary people of the world, for the working class of every country, we have no reason to go to war. We have no reason to kill each other. What could the working class do about stopping the coming war? How can we stop this madness?
Andrea and Kathy talked about the strikes in Auto and in Blue Cross. They told us how these fights were kept within the rules and laws and bounds set up under capitalism. They told us that if we keep our fights within these bounds, then the workers have no way to get what they need and desire. It's the same thing when we talk about the coming war. A fight to stop war would mean that the working class would have to make a fight at a different level. To stop war, we have to understand where the push towards war comes from. It comes from the normal functioning of the capitalist system. To stop war, we would have to make a fight against a system that produces war. That could mean a fight against the system before the war starts. Or it could mean a fight against the capitalist system during a war or after a war.
Now, that might sound like something impossible, like something that could never happen. But it has happened. During World War I, the working class in Russia wanted to stop the war. The Russian working class made a revolution to overthrow the capitalists in their country who were waging that war, and the working class took power in their own name. And also after World War I, the working classes in Germany, Italy, Hungary, China, and other countries fought for revolution. In the end, these other fights were not successful in building a state run by the working class. But the working class in the world, after World War I, made enough of a fight that the international capitalists could not do what they wanted to do. The capitalists could not overturn the successful revolution made by the workers in Russia.
Even in this country, in 1919, workers in Seattle went on a general strike and refused to load the US military ships that were being sent to Russia to try to overthrow the workers' revolution.
After World War II, we saw other kinds of revolutions in Africa and in Asia. Now, these revolutions were not led by the working class, but they were made by the population to throw out the imperialists who sucked all their profits and resources out of their economies.
The suffering of war often leads to revolutions, and the working class has the power to change the world. What has been missing since the Russian Revolution has been a party built in the working class to organize a fight to take power. And that's why we did the work to put the Working Class Party on the ballot and keep us on the ballot.
Now don't misunderstand me. The Working Class Party here today is not the party I'm talking about. When the working class builds their own revolutionary party, it will be something more, something bigger. But by the Working Class Party being on the ballot, we have a chance to address the working class and tell workers something different than the lies that they will hear from Biden and Trump. In our campaign, we can talk about the strike in Auto, which was supposed to address the attack on our standard of living. This strike accomplished a little, but it could have been something much bigger.
Having Working Class Party on the ballot allows us to address workers about the war that is coming, a war that most people don't see coming, a war that will be a disaster for humanity.
Finally, in our campaign, we can say that the working class has the capacity and ability and the power to take on the problems we face and make a fight that will benefit humanity.