It’s not possible to sugarcoat what transpired in Wisconsin. On the one hand, it was an inspiring, vibrant social movement. But at the same time, one of the most dramatic attacks on the living standards and democratic rights of workers and poor people in recent history was successfully carried out.
But as big business and its politicians continue to try to make us pay for a crisis they created, we are only at an early stage of the battle in the U.S. to defend jobs, services, and living standards. Walker may have dealt a blow to the labor movement, but he has done nothing to resolve the crisis of capitalism. Through his butchering of public services and further enriching of big business at the expense of the working class, he has only intensified that crisis.
The merciless acceleration of budget cuts and attacks on our living standards will produce more and more titanic struggles of resistance across the country. In the aftermath of the Wisconsin struggle, we saw new struggles breaking out.
Workers in Greece, Spain, and the U.K. are also pointing the way forward with powerful strike movements. The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia that served as inspiration for the Wisconsin struggle are deepening their challenge to the old regimes that are still in place despite cosmetic changes.
Most importantly, we have seen the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the U.S. and worldwide. This movement caught on like wildfire and spread from its beginnings in the streets of New York City to over 47 states. Learning the lessons from the fight-back in Wisconsin, across the country, and internationally will put us in a much better position to win future struggles.
Despite the cruel defeat that we’ve been handed in Wisconsin, we’ve won something much bigger that they can never take away from us: class consciousness and solidarity. All the tens and hundreds of thousands that took part in the Capitol demonstrations, sick-outs, and school walkouts have learned invaluable lessons. In a few months, they have learned more than can often be learned in years. They have come to understand that we can only win a better future by fighting together and that we have enormous power when we do so. The next fight is already upon us; it’s important we learn the lessons of Wisconsin.