Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Nov. 18, 1999
issue of Workers World newspaper


WW Party Conference: Excerpts from a talk by Larry Holmes

Just because a millenium ends, it doesn't necessarily mean
the end of an economic cycle or a phase of economic
development or a political period. And the beginning of a
century doesn't necessarily usher in a new crisis that
charges the political climate, engages and electrifies the
working class and raises their class consciousness, pushes
them down the road to socialism and to revolution.

This doesn't mean that the turn of the century is without
political significance. Psychologically it's a big turn.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing for most people and it
raises all the big questions of the century.

In our opinion, one of the biggest questions is this: What
are the prospects for communism, what are the prospects for
our struggle? So we tentatively raise that question at this
conference, aware that some would consider it a difficult
question to raise now while capitalism is riding high and
triumphant all over the place.

We concede some recent setbacks in the prospects for
communism in the next century. But I think it's also fair
that we pose another question in return: What are the
prospects for humanity under the continued rule of
capitalism for another century?

Capitalism is trampling all over the world, all over the
people, drunk with greed and the wealth that it's robbed
from the workers and the poor. The capitalists are drunk
with all the incredible technology and, instead of using it
for people's needs, they unleash it recklessly for the sole
purpose of extracting surplus value and making profit,
creating instability and crises along the way. They are also
drunk with their awesome capacity to wage war.

If you ask, what are the prospects for women, for
oppressed nationalities, for those who experience unique
forms of oppression, lesbian and gay and bisexual and
transgender people, Native people, the disabled, seniors--
what are their prospects under more capitalism? Their
prospects are unthinkable.

The United Nations recently issued a report on poverty and
the retardation of social development in the former
socialist countries, including all the former republics of
the Soviet Union, and countries of Eastern Europe. They
spoke to all the vital issues: infant mortality, life
expectancy, health care, the rate of suicide, substance
abuse, illiteracy, housing, whether people have heat,
whether they have jobs, damage to the environment. On all of
these issues, social conditions have taken a nose dive off a
cliff in these countries.

And in these countries, as well as much of the world, the
percentage of people living below the poverty level is
greater than at anytime in a generation. The percentage of
people who are starving is greater than anytime since World
War II.

Here in the United States the capitalists boast of 10
years of prosperity. Yet the most cogent thing you can say
is that with all this prosperity, the gap in income between
the 50 percent of the population occupying the bottom half
of that equation and the top 5 percent is the greatest gap
in history.

This is what happens when union jobs are replaced with
low-wage, dead-end, non-union jobs, primarily in the service
sectors. That's what's hidden when they talk about
unemployment going down.

This is what happens when six million people are kicked
off welfare--which is what has happened in the past three
years--kicked into the streets with no jobs, deprived in
most cases of food stamps, of Medicaid, of training, of
anything they would need to go from "welfare to work." This
is why in New York this year 60,000 people were turned away
from food pantries because there wasn't enough food to give

This is why in New York, if you are in a homeless shelter,
not getting cash or medical benefits, as of Jan. 1 you have
to do work for that shelter. And if you don't do it, they'll
kick you out and they'll take your children.

And comrades and friends, this is pre-crisis. In other
words, this is before the bubble bursts, this is before the
stock market crashes. The crisis is coming, it's inevitable,
and when it comes the misery that I'm describing is going to
be magnified to the tenth power.

We have to ask ourselves, do we want another century of
this, do we want anther century of capitalism, do we want
even another decade of capitalism, another season of it?
It's important for us to go over this because among other
things it reminds some of us of why we became revolutionary
com -munists in the first place and how urgent our historic
mission is.

It also reminds us of some of the basics, like the only
solution to capitalism is revolution. Capitalism won't melt
away, it won't dissolve or fall down on its own dead weight
and just disappear. The ruling class will not wake up to the
error of its ways and surrender.

The system has to be done away with and it has to be done
away with through the revolutionary process. The working
class and its allies among the oppressed remain the only
social force capable of doing the job, but of course they
need leadership, they need vanguard elements, preferably in
a revolutionary party, who are schooled in a revolutionary


What is revolutionary theory put into practice? It's
knowing how to prosecute the class struggle at any given
moment based on the circumstances. It's knowing what to do,
it's knowing how to keep our class together, how to maximize
solidarity within our class and with its allies, how to
maximize political independence from the ruling class, and
most of all knowing what the interests of our class are.

And right now it is in the interest of our class and the
progressive movement, the African American people and all
the oppressed peoples to fight like hell to stop the
execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Why is this the case? Mumia's is not the only struggle,
there are many, many fronts in the struggle. [Here Holmes
lists many of the fronts, from the anti-imperialist struggle
to the union movement to the defense of other political

But we feel we have to focus on Mumia to the extent of
putting aside other issues temporarily. We will even delay
launching our year 2000 presidential campaign and sending
out Monica Moorehead and Gloria La Riva to campaign as
revolutionary communists from coast to coast, as they did so
effectively four years ago.

But we focus on Mumia for a number of reasons. This issue
addresses the struggle against the police, the struggle
against the death penalty, the struggle to free political
prisoners, the struggle against rising repression, and the
struggle against racism and national oppression. At its core
the most pernicious feature of national oppression is
killing people, whether you assassinate them, whether the
cops shoot them in the streets, whether you poison them or
electrocute them or hang them or gas them in front of
everybody, which is what they're trying to do to Mumia.

But there's something else. This struggle over the years
has been so central to the progressive movement that its
outcome will be important to the morale and the health of
the movement. We must intervene and do what we can to make
sure the outcome is the one we want in this struggle. If
this struggle succeeds it will encourage the movement and
lift all the other struggles.

I think right now if we are able to do something that
makes a difference in the struggle for Mumia, the prospects
for revolution in the 21st century will be very, very good.

Free Mumia!

                         - END -

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