Solidarity Forever

The Need for International Solidarity

The Left in the United States is loosely defined these days. According to the mainstream media, it’s a simple binary; Republicans = Right/Democrats = Left. The reality is much more complicated than this arbitrary binary enforced by political pundits and talking heads on Fox News or MSNBC. 

The true Left in the United States is a mix of progressives, communists, anarchists, socialists, labor organizers, black militants, radical Chicanos, radical-left religious folks, and leftist intellectuals and journalists like Cornel West and Chris Hedges. I would argue that any person who is a self-proclaimed Democrat isn’t a leftist. Those folks are agents or disingenuous people who claim that the leftist politics and views are the same as the DNC platform. Joe Biden is a segregationist who pushed the conservative Reagan Administration to be tougher on the “War on Drugs.” That’s not exactly left-wing in my book, no matter how many right-wing pundits claim Biden is a ‘secret socialist.’ He’s the self-proclaimed leader of the Democratic Party with an almost 50 year history of being one of the most conservative Democrats. 

In the United States, actual leftists are scorned and mocked by those that swear allegiance to their favorite political party, whether it’s the Neo-Conservative Republicans or the ‘Rainbow Conservative’ Democratic Party. The DNC allows more women, queer, and black and brown people in token leadership roles as long as they promote the same horrible status quo. Shout out to Pete, Obama, and Kamala! It’s a lonely journey being a true leftist in a nation where many of my fellow citizens have been propagandized by school, media, political leaders, family, and Facebook about how the world works. While party line voters will gleefully claim the ‘lesser of two evils’, despite the fact that evil is still evil.

Within the leftist movement, we’ve also succumbed to many divisions as well. We try to out-woke each other and tout what fancy theory we’ve read lately or how our type of leftism is the most pure. We stan so-called progressive politicians, podcast hosts, and celebrity activists as our new saviors. This all unfolds on Twitter daily. Outside social media spaces in community and labor organizing, you see “so-called” left-wing leaders angling for non-profit status, jumpstarting their political careers, or getting a gig on cable news. Shout out to Ben Dixon! 

When I left the U.S Navy in 2005 and joined the anti-war protest in college, I was saddened to see many of my peers spouting Fox News talking points or blindly supporting wars in foreign lands because it allegedly made their lives ‘better’ in the United States. It’s true, another world is possible, but to make that world possible, the U.S. left needs to stop trying to one-up each other and look to the past. 

In the past, true left-wing movements understood international solidarity. The issues at home were also impacted by the issues abroad too. Unchecked capitalism, corporate greed, environmental destruction, climate change, endless war, right-wing populism, sexism, racism, and extreme poverty in the face of massive wealth transfer to the billionaire class are all connected.  The continued crisis at the U.S Southern border is tied to the U.S.’s economic imperialist policies enacted in Latin America well before WWII. The ‘War on Drugs’ has only made a shitty situation in Latin America far worse. We see police murder in the United States in communities of black, Latino, Indigenous, and poor white people. Police murder poor people in countries and places like the Gaza strip, Brazil, the Philippines, and Nigeria. The bombs raining down in Gaza by Israeli forces are the same bombs raining down on the children in Iraq and Afghanistan. The uprising against austerity cuts has been sparked across the globe since the days of Occupy Wall Street. Amidst the worse global pandemic in a century, we’ve seen the massive transfer of wealth from rich to poor continue. The West hordes the vaccine formula to enrich big Pharma and ensure the developing world has to play to ‘pay for play’ politics to gain access to life-saving medicine. 

It’s all connected, and I strongly believe that U.S. leftists need to look beyond our borders to understand that we can’t win this alone. There’s no one politician or political party that will save us all. We need to do the work ourselves. One of the easiest lifts we can do in the U.S. to spark a global movement is a new labor movement. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, labor organizers won massive victories home and abroad. Not because of the ‘powers that be’ gave in because they had goodness in their hearts. No, because workers of the world fought and bled for every concession. I currently organize labor with Progressive Workers Union, and we’ve seen massive labor organizing since the start of the pandemic. Most notably, the workers of Amazon. We have comrades across the world!

Revolution doesn’t have to be guerrilla warfare in the streets of Chicago,  Jakarta, or Atlanta. No, but revolution does start within. 

The Black Panthers march in protest of the trial of co-founder Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California.

Our leftist heroes of the past made many mistakes. But they also won many victories, and they understood the importance of connecting and building with our comrades across the globe. MLK understood this, Malcolm X did, the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement understood this as well. They stood in solidarity with our comrades across the globe. In today’s hi-tech and globally connected world, we have the edge over our predecessors: instant connectivity. But our enemy has evolved and adapted as well. Another world is possible, but to make that world possible, we need true international solidarity. 

I’ve seen that with the latest brutal assault by the Israeli government on the people of Gaza. People across the globe have stood in solidarity with the people of Palestine, as the people in Palestine has stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We need to maintain that momentum to take on the challenges facing our  21st Century world today. Solidarity Forever! 

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