Jerome Stern

Why I read the WSWS

I discovered the World Socialist Website about a year ago from another site which linked to a WSWS article. Since then I have treated it as my daily newspaper. I do this mostly for two reasons: its choice of topics on which to report and its often cogent analysis of the issues relating to those topics. In particular, I often enjoy the perspectives, which are the WSWS equivalent of the editorials in a newspaper. In newspapers, I usually avoid the editorials because they mostly consist of subjective opinion unsupported by reasoned argument. The WSWS perspectives, however, typically offer a coherent analysis of the issues and events under discussion, placing them in a wider context, thus enabling the reader to see them as part of a bigger picture.

More specifically, the website helped to cement my growing radicalism, strengthening my views that there is no possibility of recovering social democracy in western countries and that the only solution to the continuing attacks on workers’ living standards and the erosion of welfare states is a social revolution undertaken by the working class on a global basis. What the website has helped to clarify for me is that the attacks on working class (and many middle class) peoples’ living standards and welfare are a global phenomenon, and that trade unions, far from defending their members against these attacks, are cooperating with corporations and states in furtherance of them.

Prior to reading this site I was unaware that some political groups which began as supporters of Trotsky have repudiated his analysis of the character of western capitalism and the possibility of working class revolution against it, continuing to do so even when the current historical circumstances show his views to be increasingly relevant.

An important feature of the WSWS is its often in-depth coverage of strikes, frequently highlighting the extent to which the unions involved call off and undermine militant actions endorsed by the members, leading to the collapse of effective opposition against attacks on workers’ wages, living conditions and jobs. A case in point was the coverage of the recent New York City school bus drivers’ strike. The union leadership did everything it could to undermine the effectiveness of the strike, finally calling it off without even holding a members’ meeting. The detailed and sympathetic coverage of the bus drivers’ fight and the reasons for their action, as well as the eventually vindicated predictions of union betrayal were noted by many bus drivers. When, as usual, the workers are vilified in the mainstream media, denied the opportunity to voice legitimate complaints against unjust treatment by their employers and finally betrayed by the very organisations whose supposed purpose is to defend their interests, those workers need both a voice to speak on their behalf and a channel of communication which allows them to speak directly to the public.

In this case, the WSWS provided both. About 50 bus workers met with a WSWS representative to discuss the way forward to defend their jobs and living standards. As a result the workers agreed to form a rank-and-file committee to organise future action and coordinate directly with other drivers and public sector workers in the city. This shows the importance of such coverage.