Time to Sit Down! Demand Socialization of Finance!

As in the US and France in 1936-37 and again in France in 1968, today Republic Windows and Doors workers in Chicago are showing the way to fight. With community support to prevent police action, seizing the workplace not only eliminates any possibly of scabbing or moving production, but poses a threat to the capitalists’ control over the economy. The immigrant rights, anti-war and labor movements need to provide all support not only to the Republic workers but to all workers who will follow in their lead and Sit Down to seize their workplaces.

We support the Republic workers’ demands that Bank of America release the credit needed to keep their jobs and pay their wages. But we should also ask: Why do we have to demand anything of the robber barons who run Bank of America? The Federal Government has already put into the BOA and the other top financial institutions far more capital than their net worth, which is less than zero for these insolvent banks. By all rights, the Federal government already OWNS the financial giants like BOA. Private control of finance has failed spectacularly, so why should Kenneth Lewis and the other thieves on the BOA board be making any decisions at all?

When we protest at BOA offices, we should be demanding that the Government take ownership of BOA and all financial institutions—the banks, the pension funds, the insurers—and run them with ELECTED boards at the municipal, state and federal levels. We must demand the socialization of finance! David Sole, President of UAW local 2334, is absolutely right when he says that this crisis can end only if workers control economic decisions.

If the government owns the financial institutions, it can wipe off the books the mountain of debt that is strangling the economy. And if elected boards control the Government-owned financial institution, they can decide what credit needs to be given and what debts need to be written off to maintain production and to keep people in their homes.

We need DEMOCRATIC control over finance to get out of this crisis. The planned bail-out of the automakers will include an appointed control board that could well impose cuts in auto workers wages and benefits in the name of “common sacrifice”. We need to demand boards ELECTED by all those affected by financial decisions.

Of course, we can’t expect the politicians to support this demand. Only a massive workers movement could win such a demand, and only in a struggle to take full control of the economy into our own hands. But the outpouring of support for the Republic sit-down shows that such a mass movement may not be far away. Now is the time for bold actions—and bold demands. Nothing less will lead the way out of a global Depression.

The first step is to discuss among ourselves what we must demand for a Workers Recovery Plan, both on the ‘net and in community forums. Let’s start this discussion now.

In solidarity, Eric Lerner (Workers Democracy - International Luxemburgist Network)

"Sit down; just take a seat Sit down and rest your feet. Sit down; you’ve got ’em beat. Sit Down! Sit down!"
— 1936 song—"Sit Down" by Maurice Sugar