Farrell Dobbs, a Trotskyist worker who played a leading role in the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters’ strike, one of the most important rank and file-led strikes of the era, answered the naysayers against workers’ capacity for struggle like this:
Wiseacres of the day spoke pontifically about the “passivity” of the working class, never understanding that the seeming docility of the workers at a given time is a relative thing. If workers are more or less holding their own in daily life and expecting that they can get ahead slowly, they won’t tend to radicalize. Things are different when they are losing ground and the future looks precarious to them. Then a change begins to occur in their attitude, which is not always immediately apparent. The tinder of discontent begins to pile up. Any spark can light it, and once lit, the fire can spread rapidly.
- from The Meaning of Marxism, by Paul D'Amato.