by Robert Montgomery, 7th September 2019.
While there is growing interest in socialism today, there’s much confusion about its meaning. Among theoretically informed socialists there’s also confusion. The word tends to be used impressionistically, a yardstick for classifying states where capitalism has been overturned. Such states are said to be either socialist or capitalist, either x or not-x, either the one, or the other. Cuba is either socialist or capitalist; China is either socialist or capitalist (or state capitalist.)
In The Revolution Betrayed, Trotsky listed criteria for evaluating post-revolutionary states. The USSR was, “a contradictory society halfway between capitalism and socialism”, plagued by material scarcity, and with a level of productivity far too low to give state property a socialist character. It was a country where socialist norms of production coexisted with bourgeois norms of distribution; where conscious economic planning contested with the market. Based on a foundation of socialized property relations expressed in nationalized means of production, and centralized economic planning, the USSR was history’s first workers state. An isolated island in a capitalist sea, enmired in generalized want and scarcity, economic growth facilitated the conversion of the state bureaucracy into a privileged bureaucratic caste. This social caste parasitized on the body of the healthy workers state to gain material privileges for itself. As this stratum crystallized into a permanent social caste, the workers state degenerated. However, Trotsky insisted that the revolution survived in the socialized property relations, nationalized industry and central planning. Trotsky wrote, “It is the duty of revolutionists to defend tooth and nail every position gained by the working class, whether it involves democratic rights, wages scales, or so colossal a conquest of mankind as the nationalization of the means of production and planned economy.” Like Marx and Lenin, Trotsky argued that socialism could only exist internationally: “The socialist revolution begins on the national level, unfolds on the international, and is completed on the world scale.”
The Deformed Workers States
Preobrazhensky was the economic theorist of the Left Opposition in the USSR. Since publication of his New Economics (1921), Trotskyists have viewed economically backward countries like the USSR as transitional states between capitalism and socialism. They are marked by a conflict between two different economic imperatives: one determined by the law of value; the other by the social relations of a planned economy. The law of value distributes resources in accordance with the laws of commodity production. Planning distributes economic resources independently of the market in accordance with socially necessary priorities.
A series of overturns of capitalism followed the Second World War. In Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe and China capitalism was ousted but without organs of working class struggle like the Russian Soviets of 1917, or a party of the Bolshevik type. After years of debate, the 4th International decided that the establishment of nationalized property relations and economic planning had resulted in new workers states. Since these states did not degenerate from proletarian revolutions, they were deemed workers states, bureaucratically deformed from birth by Stalinism. In these states political power was monopolized by a bureaucratic caste along the same lines as in the USSR. Deformed workers states followed the “socialism in one country” dogma of the nationalist Stalinist bureaucracy.
The same criteria Trotsky used to characterize the USSR revealed that these new states possessed the same contradictory and transitory features. To understand the class character of China today this history must be kept in mind.
The China Question
Aside from scattered sects and the “Spartacist family” there are no Trotskyist tendencies that characterize China as a deformed workers state today. Two examples suffice to represent the consensus view among Trotskyists: Socialist Action, of the Pabloite Unified Secretariat, and the orthodox Trotskyist, Socialist Equality Party of the ICFI.
1) Socialist Action ( S.A). — “China, built on a foundation of monopoly capitalism, is a major capital exporter that exploits workers at home and across the world. Its economy exhibits highly uneven development, with advanced and highly productive regions alongside impoverished and underdeveloped ones. Its military is increasingly advanced and is deployed to support the interests of Chinese capitalism worldwide. China is a major player in most theaters across the world today and is continually seeking to expand its already significant influence”. (China: A New Imperialist Power”, Dec 2018, convention resolution).
2) Socialist Equality Party (SEP)- “Moreover, the social catastrophe which has engulfed China is the direct product of bureaucracy’s restorationist policies. Having repudiated central planning, the Chinese economy is at the mercy of the anarchic forces of the world capitalist market. The creation of innumerable private links between provincial enterprises and foreign capitalists has undermined what was considered the greatest single achievement of the 1949 revolution—the unification of China.” – World Socialist Website – Victory to the Political Revolution in China.
Most accounts of capitalist restoration in China like those above are based on a purported dominance of market relations permeating the economy. The question then arises, if socialized property relations have been replaced by bourgeois property, wouldn’t it have taken a counter-revolutionary struggle to restore capitalism? If we hold that capitalism can be restored through the quantitative extension of market relations alone, aren’t we repeating Bernstein’s claim that capitalism can become socialism through the gradual expansion of the state into banking and industry? By Trotsky’s criteria, such ‘market creep’ accounts of capitalist restoration lack explanatory power, and seem superficial and unpersuasive.
There are plausible reasons for holding that capitalism has been restored in China: the state owned enterprises (SOEs) were reduced in size and pressured to become profitable; privatization of industry has made major inroads; working class exploitation in factory sweatshops is legend; social inequality now exceeds US levels and has produced a billionaire stratum; and the workers in the state enterprises who should be the bedrock of socialist consciousness have been forced on the defensive. Closer examination of these ugly features of China’s economic reforms suggests that the Chinese state has not undergone a qualitative transformation.
Market ‘Reforms’ & CCP Control
When the CCP began market “reforms” in 1978 it had no intention of incubating a capitalist class or undermining the SOEs. It hoped that market competition would make state firms more efficient, boost exports, modernize production and transform China into an economic “Super Power”.
But market logic didn’t meld easily with the Maoist system characterized by state ownership and central planning. As the Left Opposition argued, if the law of value is not suppressed when it conflicts with consciously determined priorities, the planning mechanism will be over-ridden and scarce investment resources will be directed by norms of profit maximization rather than by social and economic need. The laws of the market discipline workers and managers through the “law of value,” not by bureaucratic fiat. When labor power becomes too expensive, it is shed. When firms cannot compete, they go bankrupt. The “efficiencies” of the capitalist market derive from the commodification of both labor power and the means of production.
Chinese market reforms brought significant economic growth between 1978 and 1989. Yet growth was accompanied by large-scale appropriations of state property, an enormous rise in social inequality, and severe regional unevenness that threatened the unification of the country. In 1989 the Tiananmen massacre brought this contradiction to a head. When Beijing’s workers entered the mobilizations, the Deng leadership called on PLA divisions from the provinces to drown the uprising in blood. By 1992 the market-oriented faction in the CCP was hegemonic. Hothouse marketization resulted in large-scale appropriations of state property. This produced phenomena we generally associate with a social counter-revolution: endemic corruption, environmental despoliation, mass layoffs, increasing inter-regional unevenness, and the fracturing the social safety net of the “iron rice bowl”. While indicative of the direction in which China was (and remains) headed, these developments do not in themselves signify that capitalism has been restored. While China’s capitalists limit themselves to talk of “reforming,” rather than overthrowing the CCP, both the imperialists and the indigenous capitalists anticipate the establishment of a bourgeois multi-party democracy.
Privatization: How Great?
How extensive is privatization? Agriculture remains immensely significant as half the population (750 million people) still works the land. Many leftists view Deng’s de-collectivization of agriculture as de facto privatization. However, land remains state property, which has insulated poor peasant families from the full impact of market shock. Legal prohibitions on farm households using their land for non-agricultural purposes have limited speculation and capitalist appropriation of land. Restrictions on land use have proved to be a lifeline for the millions of migrant laborers now returning to their home villages in the interior after being laid off by the export industries of China’s east coast (China Leadership Monitor, Winter 2008)
China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 threatened peasants unable to compete against the large-scale, mechanized production of imperialist agribusiness. While meeting certain WTO obligations like lower tariffs, to avoid bankrupting millions of poor peasant households, Beijing shielded small agricultural producers. The CCP’s “new socialist countryside” program eliminated tuition fees for primary and secondary schools, reduced agricultural taxes, expanded infrastructure investments and increased funding for social services, easing pressure on rural families.
At the height of the pro-market reforms in the late 1990s, the state owned enterprises (SOEs) in the industrial sector saw drastic changes. 30 million workers were laid off, and tens of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises were privatized through issuing shares and entering into joint ventures. These measures were pushed through as a form of “shock therapy” in preparation for China’s WTO entry. The intention was to force the largest SOEs to become internationally competitive while retaining state ownership. Due to state control of the banking system, the large industrial SOEs survived regardless of their profitability.
By 2003, SOEs accounted for some 70% of total fixed assets and 30% of non-agricultural production. The state sector remained dominant in strategic industries, including heavy machinery, steel, petroleum, non-ferrous metals, electricity, telecommunications and transportation. Since the early 2000s privatization of larger SOEs has virtually ceased. Subsidized by the state banking system just 10% of insolvent SOEs filed for bankruptcy in 2007/2008. The insolvent SOEs were kept afloat by the state banks and local officials concerned about losing access to government resources (Economist, 13 December 2008). But the weight of the private sector grew until very recently.
The sheer dimensions and relative weight of the state sector suggest that despite the inroads of private property, the Chinese economy is still predominantly collectivized. The increasing weight of capitalist enterprises strengthens the forces of counterrevolution but does not resolve the fundamental issue of class rule. The task of counterrevolution is the political conquest of state power by the capitalist class. The continuing resistance of workers and peasants across China to capitalist encroachment, while so far politically inchoate, is evidence that the ultimate fate of the Chinese Revolution has yet to be decided.
Nationalization as Criteria
Deformed workers states cannot be defined solely by the extent of state ownership. Many capitalist states have resorted to extensive nationalizations to prop up enterprises in strategic sectors unable to compete on the world market. Semi-colonial states have nationalized oil and other natural resources for purposes of national capitalist accumulation. None of these are anti-capitalist measures, but rather attempts to strengthen the position of the national bourgeoisie as a whole. Many who see China as capitalist see the nationalized property as functioning to accumulate capital in order to strengthen the emerging bourgeoisie. They view the ruling bureaucracy as simply an agent of foreign and domestic capitalism.
Challenging the Left Consensus
For the viewpoint of Marxist economists it is worth examining Michael Roberts’ contributions on China. A professional economist, Roberts writes a daily blog, has authored four books on Marxist economics and the causes of the current long depression. While he has some roots in the Trotskyist tradition, Roberts eschews the workers state terminology. A great merit of Roberts’ blog is his referenced documentation, and use of graphics to illustrate his analysis. In what follows I’ll try to summarize his view of China as expressed mainly in:
China workshop: challenging the misconceptions
Trading economics the Chinese way
China: a weird beast
Like economists in general, Robert tends to ignore politics, especially the role of class struggle in shaping economics and confounding predictions. This is a shortcoming of his work, which he accepts as a necessary evil of economic analysis.
Roberts refers to China as a “weird beast.” It is a non-capitalist state with interactions between competing factions of the state bureaucracy, with increasing conflict between the private and statist sectors, between the now dominant working class and both the CCP bureaucracy and the domestic and transnational capitalists. He stresses that it is capitalism’s drive for higher productivity, conflicting with the requirement for increasing profitability that is the main force driving the falling rate of profit of the global capitalist economy today. This contradiction is at the root of the Long Depression, which has plagued the capitalist world since the GFM of 2008. Growth rates in the advanced capitalist countries have yet to return to pre-2008 levels.
Explaining Chinese Growth
While Chinese growth has also fallen from previous highs, which doubled real living standards every 13 years, economic growth has stayed high compared to the slumping capitalist countries. China’s poverty rate fell from 88% in 1981 to 0.7% in 2015, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US $1.90 or less per day. While the world capitalist economies remain mired in a deep slump since the 2008 GFM, the Chinese economy has continued robust growth reaching national output second only to the US.
Roberts asks how to explain China’s success in raising 850m people out of poverty, and reaching such phenomenal growth on a capitalist basis? According to World Bank figures, a disproportionate share of this change has occurred over the last fifteen years. How can a purportedly ‘capitalist’ economy have bucked the trend, when the record of all other capitalist economies can show no such result? How is this exception possible if China is just another capitalist economy entangled in the same web of global market relations as the dominant capitalist powers? He answers that the accumulation of capital by the state sector has been the major engine of growth:
–102 big conglomerates contributed 60% of China’s outbound investments by the end of 2016.
–State-owned enterprises including China General Nuclear Power, and China National Nuclear have assimilated Western technologies and are now engaged in projects in Argentina, Kenya, Pakistan and the UK.
Echoing Chinese economist Dic Lo, Roberts asks, “How can it be possible, in our times, for a late-developing nation to move up the world political-economic hierarchy to become imperialist? Can anyone on the left answer this question?” The majority view of leftist economists, pioneered by Martin Hart-Landsberg, David Harvey and Minqi Li, as well as nearly all Marxist political tendencies, is that China is a “neoliberal capitalist” state, employing the so-called “Foxconn Model” of low-wage, coercive, and brutal labor exploitation. Most Marxist and mainstream economists consider that China is capitalist, even imperialist. It is commonplace for Marxists to assert that Chinese export of capital to invest in projects abroad is driven by the need to absorb ‘surplus capital’, similar to the export of capital by the capitalist economies before 1914 that Lenin presented as a key feature of imperialism. Does China invest abroad through its state companies to export ‘excess capital’ or because the rate of profit in state and capitalist enterprises has been falling?
But isn’t the drive to expand global influence and to “extract the natural and technological resources” of other countries a hallmark of imperialism? Roberts responds that this would be the case if its purpose were to export surplus capital in order to realize higher rates of profit than are available in the home market. He contends that massive Chinese overseas investments in infrastructural development projects are undertaken to expand political influence and obtain resources needed to fuel domestic investment by the state-owned sector. Consider the case of the “one belt, one road,’ New Silk Road project for Central Asia for example. This major undertaking to construct the infrastructure to link China with Russia and the West is emblematic of Chinese transnational development projects: state sponsored, high cost/low yield investment outlays to build forward linkages which will drive future domestic accumulation of social capital.
This has nothing in common with imperialism, at least in the sense that Lenin described.
Certainly, Roberts’ argument is open to question. But it does fit logically with his data on the hybrid nature of the Chinese economy. If his Preobrazhenskyist analysis of the Chinese economy is correct, then China isn’t capitalist; and therefore, not imperialist. It is a transitional state whose economy is driven by the contradictory forces of the law of value and central planning.
The Gathering Storm: Conflict with the U.S.
For Roberts the issue ahead is the battle for global trade and investment between China and the US. The US is out to curb and control China’s expansion as an economic power, and is taking aggressive measures to isolate China, block its economic progress and surround it militarily. But this policy of economic war is failing. What really worries U.S imperialism is China’s progress in technology and its aim to become the manufacturing center of the global economy within a generation.
Following Marx, Roberts starts from two premises: a socialist society of freely collaborating individuals where scarcity, toil, exploitation and class struggle have been eliminated is possible with the technology of AI, robots, the modern logistics industry and the internet; socialism cannot occur until the capitalism is no longer globally dominant, and democratically planned economies under workers control integrate production internationally. Like any other nationally based country, China cannot move (even gradually) to socialism unless the power of imperialism in the world market is ended. And though China may be the second-largest economy in the world in dollar terms, its labor productivity is less than one-third that of the US.
Limits to Chinese Growth
China has been transformed since the revolution of 1949 by overturning capitalist property relations and replacing the profit system with state control of the commanding heights of industry and agriculture. It is now applying the newest technology as a modern, urbanized society. As in the former USSR, the law of value asserts its destructive force through foreign trade and capital inflows, as well as through domestic markets for goods, services and funds. That’s not really surprising since socialism cannot be built ‘ in one country’. There is no doubt that the law of value under globalized production feeds through to the Chinese economy. But the impact is ‘distorted’, ‘curbed’, ‘blunted’ and blocked by bureaucratic interference by the state and the party structure to the point that it cannot yet dominate and direct the trajectory of the Chinese economy.
In fact, the capitalist sector in the economy is growing. There are many more Chinese billionaires (285), and inequality of income and wealth has risen as Chinese workers struggle against exploitation in the workplace. When, on the advice of neoliberal elements in the monetary institutions, China relaxed its capital controls the economy suffered serious capital flight. But 80% of all banks are state-owned, with the government directing their lending and deposit policies. There is no free flow of foreign capital into and out of China. Capital controls are imposed and enforced and the currency’s value is manipulated to set economic targets much to the annoyance of US finance capital.
There is an ongoing struggle within the Chinese political elite over which way to go – towards the Western capitalist model, or to continue with “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. After the GFM of’08 and the ensuing Long Depression in the West, the pro-capitalist factions have been partially discredited. Xi now promotes ‘Marxism’ and says state control under CCP guidance is here to stay. But the only way to guarantee China’s progress, to reduce the growing inequalities, and to avoid the risk of a future swing to capitalism is to establish working class control over Chinese political and economic life, and adopt an international socialist policy. That is something that Xi and the current political elite will not do.
Stock Markets and Billionaires?
If production of commodities for profit based on market relations is the motor force of capitalism, then China is non-capitalist. Under capitalism the rate of profit on private capital determines investment cycles and generates periodic economic crises. This does not apply in China. Public ownership of the means of production and centralized state planning remain dominant, with the CCP’s power firmly rooted in state ownership.
But yet again, “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is a weird beast. It is not socialism by any Marxist definition of democratic workers control and socialist democracy. And there has been a significant expansion of privately owned companies, both foreign and domestic over the last 30 years, with the establishment of a stock market and other financial institutions. But the vast majority of employment and investment is undertaken by SOEs, or by institutions under the direction and control of the CCP. The lion’s share of China’s industry is not foreign-owned multinationals, but Chinese SOEs. As for the stock market, which enterprises may be listed, is strictly controlled by the state. Since the vast majority are SOEs, share markets don’t operate like the stock markets of finance capitalism. Chinese enterprises raise their capital mostly through the nationalized banking system, not by floating new stock through investment banks. Less than 8% of the population operates in the stock market as “retail investors” as opposed to institutional investors. Trading shares on the Chinese casino stock markets is basically like betting on a horse; or better, it’s like putting money on one’s favorite SOE.
A report by the US-China Economic and Security Review found that “The state-owned and controlled portion of the Chinese economy is large. The SOEs and entities directly controlled by SOEs-accounted for more than 40% of China’s non-agricultural GDP.
Chinese Industry and the CCP
The party/state machine infiltrates all levels of industry in China. There are party organizations within every corporation employing more than three party members. Each party fraction elects a secretary, and the party secretary is the lynchpin of the management system of each enterprise. This extends party control beyond the SOEs, partly privatized corporations and village or local government-owned enterprises and into the private sector.
(Capitalizing China, NBER Working Paper No. 17687)
The reality is that almost all Chinese companies employing more than 100 people have an internal party cell-based control system. The CCP is currently writing itself into the articles of association of the country’s biggest companies, both public and private. There are 102 key state enterprises with assets of 50 trillion Yuan that include state oil companies, telecom operators, power generators and weapons manufacturers. Xiao Yaqing, director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), writing in the Central Party School’s, Study Times, noted that when a state-owned enterprise has a board of directors, its party boss tends to be the board chairman. Communist Party members at state enterprises form the “the most solid and reliable class foundation” for the Communist Party to rule.
Will there be a Chinese Perestroika?
What guarantee is there that this army of party functionaries won’t play the role that the enterprise managers played in the restoration of capitalism in the USSR under perestroika? Perestroika reforms in the USSR freed the managerial strata to circumvent planning and assume greater personal control over the means of production. Their appetite for ownership was whetted both by perestroika as policy, and their own position as a privileged stratum managing the productive forces directly. In China, by contrast, party cadres don’t directly manage production but function as political functionaries under the direct control of the Stalinist party.
Social Inequality greater than in the U.S.
It’s true that inequality of wealth and income under China’s ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ is very high. There are growing numbers of billionaires, many of whom are related to CCP leaders. China’s Gini coefficient, an index of income inequality, has risen from 0.30 in 1978 to a peak of 0.49 in 2003 (the U.S Gini index is .41). Though wages in the factory sweatshops are leaving peasant incomes behind, when workers assembling Apple Ipads earn under $2 an hour, urban wages are brutally low. As urbanization has decelerated since the global recession and the growth rate has slowed, the inequality index has fallen back a little (Gini =.46). But it is also the result of the elite at the levers of power getting fat, while allowing some Chinese billionaires to flourish.
While the Chinese economy is partially protected from the law of value and the world capitalist economy, the threat of capitalist restoration remains high. IMF data show that, while public sector assets in China are still nearly twice the size of capitalist sector assets, the gap is closing. The issue for China is whether the capitalist sector of the economy will eventually override the planned public sector, so that profitability will dominate over productivity and crises will appear, leading to economic stagnation. For Roberts, that point has not yet been reached in China. The state sector and public investment through one-party dictatorship still control investment, employment and production decisions while the growing capitalist sector is still subject to that control. Under Xi, the majority of the party elite will continue with an economic model dominated by SOEs directed at all levels by CCP cadres. The currently hegemonic faction of the CCP elite understands that if the “capitalist road” is taken and the law of value becomes dominant, it will expose China to chronic economic instability, insecurity of employment and income, and greater inequalities that can only lead to the threat of more social turbulence.
On the other hand, Xi and the party elite are united in opposing socialist democracy. They wish to preserve their autocratic rule and the privileges that flow from it. The working masses have yet to enter the stage and play a role. They have fought local battles over the environment in 2015, their villages, and their jobs and wages. But they have not fought for more democracy or economic power since 1989. While opinion polls like that of the Pew Research Center show passive support for the regime, worries about corruption and inequality abound.
What’s In a Name?
Is this debate over China just a sterile hairsplitting exercise of little actual consequence? What real world difference does it make if Marxists view China as capitalist, socialist, state capitalist, some form of Bonapartism, or a deformed workers state? As a matter of principle won’t Marxists defend China against imperialism no matter what they call the state? Aside from the most principled Trotskyists like the SEP, this is unlikely. How can we expect that those who deem China a predatory imperialist power will defend it in a conflict with the U.S.? And how can a movement against war be organized when both sides are imperialist gangsters? We are more likely to see support for “pro-democracy” forces inside China as in the waning days of the Soviet bloc, and as we see today with the knee jerk cheerleading extended to the resurrected “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong. This time around, “Neither Beijing nor Washington!” will substitute for the 3rd Camp slogan, “Neither Moscow nor Washington!”
Despite broad antiwar sentiment in the working class, soft support to imperialism predominates on the “left.” If left to these forces, the material gains made by China’s workers and poor peasants since the revolution will be left to the wolves of imperialism. We can expect to see the pseudo-left swamp abandon the Chinese workers with the same fecklessness with which it has betrayed Julian Assange. The broad antiwar sentiment in the world’s working class will remain inchoate if the forces of revolutionary Marxism aren’t capable of “calling things by their right name.”
With the US/China conflict reaching white heat it makes a big difference if China is just the newest, big kid on the capitalist block. Threats may fly over technology, intellectual property, trade imbalances, tariffs, regulation of foreign corporations, and plans to make China the world’s leading economic power within five years. These conflicts can’t be downplayed. Capitalist powers fought two world wars in the 20th century to re-divide the world market. But when capitalist powers jostle over relative global economic power, these conflicts may be negotiated short of military conflict. (May, being the operative term).
On the other hand, if a non-capitalist China tightens control over market access, and increases production of media and other high value-added industries like semiconductor design and production, cell phones, high-end machine tools, medical devices, and optics, China will enter into direct competition with major US-based companies. Should China be seen as choking off unfettered penetration by foreign capital, the conflict will differ qualitatively from an inter-imperialist struggle, dangerous as that may be. In the context of the long-term decline of American capitalism, continuing long depression, the failure of the rate of profit to recover after the GFM of 2008, and the looming prospect of a new recession and financial collapse, China faces a definite prospect of war with the US. If anything were to survive a nuclear exchange, or the Stalinists capitulate short of war, imperialist capital will move to:
- wrest control of the accumulated and natural resources of the world’s 2nd largest economy
- open the 1.4 billion person market to its capital exports
- seize the mineral and material wealth under its soil
- and most importantly, exploit its massive working class for the surplus value so desperately needed to overcome its secular profitability crisis.
The stakes are high in either case. But if China remains a post-capitalist, non-capitalist, deformed workers state— call it what you will— a war fought with nuclear weapons will be more than a horrible possibility. It will be a virtual certainty.
The venal Stalinist bureaucracy can’t be relied upon to defend the social gains made since 1949. Only the power of the massive Chinese working class can oust the Stalinist clique and defend the gains of the Chinese revolution. By uniting with their class brothers and sisters throughout the world, China’s workers can play a leading role in the fight against war, poverty, all forms of oppression, and for the socialist liberation of humanity. It will take the formation of a conscious revolutionary vanguard party of the Bolshevik type to give political form and leadership to such a movement.
Robert Montgomery is from Boston, he has been active in antiwar and labor struggles as for almost fifty years. He has functioned as an independent Trotskyist since leaving the SWP (US) in the 1970s. A historian he has published numerous articles on US labor history. A union activist he has served on numerous action committees and was local president of two different municipal library unions. He is a retired medical radiographer and P.A. (Physician Assistant). He has contributed this article to classconscious.org as a guest contributor