The Worker, February 18, 2015
Published by the Workers Party, USA
P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625
What Rauner's Attacks Demand: GET ORGANIZED!
Earlier this month Illinois’ top official disputed the separation of powers doctrine.
Governor Rauner admitted that his program includes plans to use the executive branch as part of his campaign against the Labor Relations Act. This fascism must not be allowed to pass!
The governor’s declared idea is to withhold collected union dues from union officials.
His program of applying administrative measures to stop enforcement of the Labor Relations Act is fraudulent in the first place because, as the governor was informed during grade school, his legislative powers are limited to recommending and vetoing legislation. Even if he wishes to allege misconduct on the part of a previous General Assembly he still cannot act through the executive to break the law.
And when a governor can refuse to enforce one law he does not like then he can easily refuse to enforce more than one law he does not like. Today, the Labor Relations Act, tomorrow the Civil Rights Act, the next day the School Code, etc., etc., so forth.
Rauner also threatened to call on the federal courts to intervene in his dispute with the Illinois legislature. It should not have to be mentioned, but joining the decision-making powers of the legislative and the judicial branches is a power expressly prohibited in both the Illinois and the U.S. constitutions.
The separation of powers that Rauner is so eager to throw out the window was defended by Charles Louis de Secondat all the way back in 1748: “When the legislative and the executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty. Again, there is no liberty if the power of judging is not separated from legislative and subject would be exposed to arbitrary control; for the judge would then be the legislator. If it were joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression. There would be an end to everything, if the same man, or the same body, whether of the nobles or the people were to exercise those three powers, that of enacting laws, that of executing public affairs, and that of trying crimes or individual cases.”
How could this have come up?
The problem is that the Democratic and Republican parties, which have a monopoly over the electoral process, are both bought-and-paid-for by the big capitalists. Their campaigns are far more concerned with raising money than involving people in any serious discussion over the issues. And no wonder. For several years now, the Democrats and Republicans have joined together in attacking the people – slashing vital social programs while putting all our resources at the disposal of big business, militarizing the country and launching new wars – in short, arbitrarily imposing the dictate of big business over the whole country.
In order to break the monopoly of the Republicans and Democrats we must speak our own minds and build our own independent political movement.
The conditions for a truly mass, independent working class and popular movement exist. To begin with, the people are not allowing Rauner’s dangerous medieval antics to pass. Already huge numbers of people are coming out to participate in protests and demonstrations. Furthermore, people are thoroughly fed up with the Democrats and Republicans.
What is more, people are turning towards independent action and these actions are assuming an increasingly political character. People readily see that the Democratic and Republican parties only offer more poverty and exploitation, more racism, war and repression.
In areas where our Party has concentrated its work, our experience is that broad sections of people are enthusiastic about the independent program of economic rights, democratic renewal, a democratic foreign policy and socialism and that many people are actively joining in the work. People are eager to participate in putting forward a positive program of solutions to the various economic and social problems. Our experience is that people are eager to assist with distributing The Worker and building up its distribution networks as part of the organized and conscious movement of the working class.
The Party’s experience is that only by bringing revolutionary politics – the Marxist-Leninist politics of emancipation – to the people can we break the stranglehold of bourgeois politics and release the people’s initiative. Nothing new will come about in our country until the tens and hundreds of millions of people currently excluded from politics come into the political arena.
In the course of mobilizing the masses of people, the party also works diligently for unity in action amongst all forces willing, to whatever extent, to come out in defense of the rights of the people.
Unity in action is a principle for the Party and the working class because this is the only way to defend the interests of the people. Unity in action is necessary not only to maximize the immediate struggles of the people but also to create new space and assist the workers to organize themselves and gain experience in the class struggle.
The Workers Party calls to all the people:
Don’t let the rich push us to the sidelines and monopolize the political affairs of our country. We say: Get organized and develop our own independent political movement. There are many ways to develop this movement and this struggle.
– To begin with, denounce the political parties of the rich and their reactionary agenda of slashing social investments, preparing for war and lording it over the people.
– Let us step up our mass struggles both to resist the attacks of the capitalists and to assert our own independent agenda based on the program of economic rights, democratic renewal, and a democratic foreign policy.
– Let us put forward our own vision for a society and government run by and for the working class and people themselves.
Real politics concerns the relationship of the various classes and sections of the population to the political power. Real politics for the working class and people can only mean developing our own independent movement with the aim of gaining the political power for ourselves. Developing such an independent movement is the way to end our marginalization in the political life of the country and for the workers and people to become the active and leading force guiding our country forward.
The Strike for Three Loaves
103 years ago, workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts were in the middle of an organized battle with the bosses of textile shops all across the city. Their strike lasted from January to March of 1912.
The strikers had to shut down production and slim down the profit margins of the textile capitalists before they won their demands. When the bosses were forced to agree to the workers’ terms, workers in thirty-four American Woolen Company branches and throughout the textile industry saw their quality of life improve and their wages rise. Their experience remains one of the most important to the workers’ movement.
In commemoration of the strike we are reprinting the lyrics of “Bread and Roses” from the Little Red Songbook. This song, made famous by the Lawrence strikers, was used frequently by organizers to mobilize the workers and keep their spirits high.
As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses.
For the people hear us singing, Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
Our brothers in the struggle, and together we will win.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for – but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
For the rising of the women raises up the human race.
No more the drudge and idler – ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
Stop Paying the Rich!
The Vast Sums at the Disposal of Government Must Be Put in Service of People
Even though all of the Democratic and Republican politicians agree that there is a large concentration of retired workers in the United States, the capitalist politicians refuse to make the needed social investments in Social Security to keep up with the growing demands of this population.
Already under the present system, a percentage of the retired population is living in or near poverty. The urgent need is for Social Security benefits, as well as Medicare, to be increased.
The Workers Party says that the right to income security in retirement is an inalienable human right. This right must be enshrined in our country’s constitution and enabling legislation must be put into effect to guarantee this right in practice.
Instead of addressing this real problem, the Democrats and Republicans are working to turn truth on its head. Even while the capitalist politicians prepare to pass one of the largest Pentagon budgets in history, they dare to argue that our country “won’t be able to afford” current levels of Social Security benefits for many more years.
Today, even while more and more retired and active workers are living in poverty and economic insecurity, the national budget is being drained by the government program of taking out of the economy rather than investing in it. Through taxes, including Social Security taxes, the government expropriates a large percentage of the wages of the workers. The government then takes most of these tax monies – representing an important portion of our country’s total annual product – and turns it over to the most parasitic sections of society – to the Pentagon arms merchants, the Wall Street money-lenders and other capitalists. It is this program of the monopoly capitalist class which is draining our country’s resources.
We say that proposals for cutting back on Social Security cost-of-living increases should never even be allowed to come up. It is already a national disgrace that the normal retirement age has been allowed to increase for a single beneficiary.
We must not stand by and let the capitalist politicians and the monopoly media manipulate and dictate the terms of the discussion about Social Security in our country. We say that there is something radically wrong when a society with as vast a productive capacity as ours fails to provide ironclad guarantees for the economic security of retired workers whose lifetime of labor created all the material blessings.
According to the widescale misinformation campaign of the capitalists, the Social Security Trust Fund will “run out of money” by the year 2034. This propaganda tries to pit younger workers against their parents by asserting that the older generation is taking more out of the system than it put in.
But the Social Security fund, far from “running out of money,” takes in far more in taxes every year than it pays out in benefits. In fact, as pointed out before, the government is using the surplus Social Security funds to finance its deficit – to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to increase profits for the Pentagon arms merchants and to underwrite the super-profits of the big bankers.
But since today Social Security shows a surplus, why do Obama and his appointees to the Social Security Administration claim that there will be a deficit by the year 2034?
Based on predictions that the workforce will continue shrinking in comparison to the retired population, they “argue” that the aging “baby boom” generation will become a “financial burden” on the country.
Besides defiling our country and going against everything that makes us human, this assault on the consciousness of the people completely ignores economic developments. Even if demographic trends (births and deaths, immigration etc.) go as predicted, workers’ labor will produce more than enough new wealth to fully fund Social Security even while lowering the percentage of the workers’ income which is set aside, and raising benefits to keep pace with the cost of living.
The capitalists and their politicians in the Democratic and Republican parties “overlook” this simple fact because their economic program calls for all of the new wealth created by the ever-increasing social productivity of labor to be put into the pockets of the capitalists as profit. According to their anti-social agenda, wages must be lowered, retirement funds slashed, and the entire surplus monopolized by the capitalist class as profit even as productivity increases.
In short, the issue posed is the issue of whose claims are recognized, the issue of the economy for whom?
The capitalists want to erase the very concept that workers – employed or unemployed – are human beings entitled to, at least, a minimal livelihood.
The Workers Party says that the workers and people must make their voice heard, bring our own demands and agenda to center-stage, and openly contend with the capitalists over the present and future of our country. Our starting point is that:
1) Every human being must be guaranteed, by right, income security in retirement or in the event of loss of capacity to work. Income security means the right to a standard of living commensurate with our country’s high degree of economic development.
2) The government must make all the investments needed to guarantee this right.
Chicago Schools Need More Investments, Not More Standardized Tests
According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act should make federal funding of public schools dependent on students’ scores on yearly standardized tests. On January 12 Duncan called on Congress to mandate that students take “annual, statewide assessments that are aligned to their teachers’ classroom instruction in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school.”
Unless schools distort the curriculum to accommodate high-stakes standardized testing requirements, they risk losing federal funding.
In addition, schools which do not make “adequate yearly progress” on tests face an escalating menu of penalties, including loss of Title I funds (monies earmarked for high poverty areas), firing of staff, take over by the state, possible privatization, etc.
In Chicago, principals reward and punish teachers based on their students’ test scores, forcing teachers to “teach to the test” and restrict the curriculum. Students, who for a variety of reasons, simply do not perform well on such tests find themselves more and more under the gun.
In Chicago, standardized tests play an important role in the rating system used by the Board of Education. Schools in which students do not perform well on the tests can be placed on probation, taken over directly by the Board (and its teachers dismissed) or even closed altogether.
In addition, high-stakes, standardized testing only diverts needed time and resources away from education into test-taking and record-keeping.
In short, standardized tests are being used as a means to punish students, cut funding for schools, and cover over the government’s failure to invest the funds needed to guarantee the education of our children.
It is obvious to anyone that test results – at best – only reflect the educational inputs received by students in the first place. Thus mandating standardized tests without improving inputs – lowering class sizes, modernizing schools and curriculum, hiring more teachers and staff, etc. – will not “improve performance.”
In fact, far from improving inputs, funding is being cut for the steadily increasing number of schools which are labeled as failing. The capitalist politicians are using standardized testing as an excuse to withdraw needed investments and to blame the public school system itself.
The public school system is one of the great achievements of our country and rather than finding ways to condemn the schools and tear them down, the government must make more investments.
Education is a Right, Not a Privilege!
State Department Decision Violates U.S. Immigration Law
On February 2, U.S. State Department issued a press release stating that U.S. immigration law can be used for the sake of fighting “human rights abuses” in Venezuela. According to its own announcement the Obama administration plans to arbitrarily refuse visas to a number of Venezuelan nationals as part of its strategy of “democracy promotion.”
While it is true that the administrative decision will do nothing substantial to harm the Venezuelan people, it must be noted that Obama is introducing a dangerous precedent for our country when he asserts that the executive branch can be used to persecute individuals who disagree with the ideas of the U.S. president.
A political system which allows elected officials to use the law to satisfy their whims must be thoroughly condemned! In the struggle for democratic renewal of the political process and the political system we can and must take the initiative into our own hands!
Obama and his cabinet must stop breaking U.S. immigration law, start respecting the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people, and learn to respect the elementary human right to freedom of conscience.
As part of organizing the independent political movement of the working class on a pro-active, independent basis we must put forward the program of democratic renewal of the political process and political system. The program of democratic renewal relies on the independent political initiative of the people and brings to the forefront the question of political power. The program of democratic renewal demands the abolition of any and all political privileges and the creation of mechanisms which guarantee the masses of the people the right to participate fully and directly in the political process and in governance. The entire operation of government must remain under the direct supervision of the people. Any power not expressly delegated by the people to the government remains with the people themselves.
The war program of the U.S. government is a product of the all-sided crisis and decay of the present day capitalist system. Thus, to get to the root of the problem, and to clearly understand how to advance and win our struggle against war, we must look into the fundamental laws of motion of U.S. capitalism today.
In the U.S., capitalism long ago reached the stage of monopoly. Monopolies arose as the inevitable result of the process of concentration and centralization of capital, which is a general and fundamental law of the development of capitalism. Monopolization means that instead of tens of thousands of small enterprises competing against one another, a handful of giant corporations dominate every sector of industry. The big monopolies employ hundreds of thousands, even millions of workers, control nearly the entire sources of raw materials as well as dominate the entire internal market.
For example the top 50 industrial corporations had revenues in 2006 of over $5 trillion, nearly 1/3 of the gross national product of the country. In every sector of industry a handful of giant monopolies control the market – half a dozen oil companies, half a dozen auto companies, three aerospace companies etc. and so forth.
Side-by-side with the monopolization of industry, banks and other financial institutions have also been monopolized – controlling trillions of dollars in capital. Through the floating of stocks, bonds, and a network of interlocking corporate directorships, banking capital merges with industrial capital and creates a real financial oligarchy which controls the entire economic life of our country. Some studies have shown that as few as 26 financial groups, groups like the Rockefeller family, the Morgans, the Melons etc. control nearly the whole of the U.S. economy.
At the base, the very foundation of this enormous concentration and centralization of the productive forces of our country is the working-class and socialized labor. The top Fortune 500 companies employ close to 20 million workers and it is their labor, in fact it is the division of labor amongst more than 100 million workers in the country which is the source of our tremendous productive capacity. It is the labor of the people, their socialized labor, which produces all the material blessings.
In other words, development of monopoly capital brings to the bursting point the fundamental contradiction inherent in the capitalist system. The contradiction between collective socialized labor on the one side and private capitalist appropriation of the product on the other. As has been pointed out again and again, the yoke of the monopolies, their domination of the whole economic life, increases the exploitation of the working-class and brings tribute out of the entire population.
Today in the U.S. the rate of exploitation is over 400%. In other words, 4/5 of every working day is expropriated by the capitalists as profit, while the amount the workers receive in wages amounts to only 1/5 of the day’s labor. In one year the top five oil companies alone grabbed enough in profits to increase the wages of every single worker in this country by $1,000. Exxon itself makes profits at the rate of $1,200 every second.
As part of the process of monopolization the capitalist state more and more steps in to guarantee the profits of the capitalist class as a whole. Through the gigantic military budget, through government grants for infrastructure development and research, through a tax system which redistributes wealth out of the pockets of the workers into the hands of the capitalists, and many other means, the state operates on behalf of the collective interests of the capitalists. The military budget alone amounts to $11,000 for every family of four.
So too, the state underwrites the profits of the banks through developing a huge national debt. Every year the federal government alone pays in the neighborhood of $300 billion as interest to the bankers and this tribute is extracted from the taxes, the labor of the working people year after year after year.
Today the so-called privatization of governmental services which has become the watchword of the capitalists is really a misnomer. In fact privatization is a process through which the capitalist state takes tax monies out of the working people as well as the economic infrastructure which our country has built up over generations, and turns this over to the capitalists in order to guarantee and increase their profits. Thus for example, the privatization of Medicare, Medicaid or education means that the social fund formerly earmarked for the people for social investment now is used firstly by the capitalists as a source to make profits, and only a small amount left over ends up providing the people with some healthcare, education and so forth. So too it means that the school infrastructure, hospital infrastructure and other social investments which have been created over so many generations, with the intention of guaranteeing the rights of the people, of creating the means necessary for the people to enjoy their economic rights – today this infrastructure is being turned over to the capitalists to be used as another source for profit making.
In fact monopoly capital has come full cycle and returned to the period of the infancy of capital, when capitalism first through primitive accumulation, that is, when the state helped the capitalists accumulate their initial fortunes by direct force, by taking the land from the native peoples, by enslavement. Today too, the capitalist state is striving to put all the wealth of our country at the disposal of the capitalist class.
Summing up the features of monopoly capitalism Stalin writes, “The basic economic law of capitalism is the securing of maximum capitalist profit through the exploitation, ruin and impoverishment of the majority of the population of a given country; through the enslavement and systematic robbery of the peoples of other countries, especially backward countries; and lastly, through wars and militarization of the national economy, which are utilized for the obtaining of the highest profits.”
Obama's "Free Trade" Agenda
Obama wants to re-authorize “fast-track” trade promotion authority in order to push the Trans-Pacific-Partnership Agreement through Congress. This would limit Congressional powers to ratification or rejection of the secret treaty with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The TPP would be a NAFTA-like trade and investment agreement for facilitating the flow of U.S. goods and capital into other countries.
In a January 29 Op-Ed in the New York Times Vice-President Biden underscored that Latin American NAFTA-like deals remain high on the agenda of the Democratic Party leadership as well.
Obama’s “free trade” program of “increasing U.S. competitiveness” is a program of restructuring U.S. industry by downsizing the workforce and slashing wages.
The unhappy consequences of this program include: increasing the exploitation of the U.S. workers to the maximum, relocating U.S. factories to countries where wages are low, and increasing U.S. monopoly capital’s domination of the economies of other countries.
Of course, the capitalists and their politicians look at the problem of the worldwide economic crisis from the angle of their own class aims. They are not concerned about the fact that tens of millions of workers have no jobs, no means of a livelihood; they’re not concerned about the fact that tens of millions cannot afford the basic necessities. Their only concern is with maximizing their profits. In fact the big monopolies see in the growing poverty, economic insecurity and exploitation, a good means to increase their domination and their profits.
Today, the entire world capitalist market is glutted as a result of overproduction. In this situation each set of national capitalists (for example American, Chinese, German, etc.) are trying to further penetrate and dominate the markets of other capitalists in order to maximize their own profit. But in the struggle between competing national capitalists, victory goes to the capitalists who are able to increase the exploitation of their own workers to the maximum, who are able to produce the maximum amount at the lowest cost.
For their part, the workers are resisting this capitalist offensive, fighting against wage-cutting and union-busting, against cutbacks in social investments and the privatization of public services. In addition, the demand of the workers is that everyone be guaranteed the RIGHT TO A JOB OR A LIVELIHOOD.
To take the initiative into their own hands, the workers must come into the political arena on a country-wide basis. The capitalists, relying on their state power, are waging a concerted and organized struggle to drive the workers into the dirt and throw our country backwards. The workers too must respond by organizing themselves as an independent political force on the basis of their own aims and agenda. The workers agenda must include not only resisting the capitalist offensive but also taking the counter-offensive in order to win all their inalienable economic and political rights.
U.S. Imperialism is the Organizer and Instigator of Israel's Genocidal War Against the Palestinians
Since Obama took office the American people have been bombarded with propaganda 1) blaming the Palestinian people for every tragedy which has befallen them, and 2) declaring that the U.S. government is a neutral arbiter capable of negotiating a solution to the crisis in the Middle East.
In fact from day one Obama’s administration has been reading the Palestinians the riot act even while using the tactic of imperialist diplomacy to cover over the fact that Israel refuses to negotiate over any of the just demands of the Palestinian people.
The just demands of the Palestinian people include immediate disarming of the paramilitary settlers, removal of all Israeli settlements from Palestinian territory, withdrawal of Israeli troops, an end to Israeli “closures,” i.e., the sealing off of Palestinian land, by-pass roads to re-enable Palestinian access to their jobs and universities, an end to the policy of land confiscation, removal of the “security fence,” and Israeli recognition of the inalienable right of the Palestinians to their own independent Palestinian state on their own land.
From the start, the agenda imposed by the U.S. on the “talks” pushed the U.S.-Israeli demand for U.S.-style political and judicial institutions and oversight of Palestinian finances by the World Bank and the IMF. The very starting point of this agenda was that the Palestinians must renounce any and all resistance to U.S.-Israeli occupation. First Hilary Clinton and then John Kerry supported the formation of a neo-colonial administration completely under domination of Israeli civil and military authorities.
Obama’s increased military aid to finance Israel’s genocidal war against Palestine also contributed to delaying the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state.
No one should have any illusion about the U.S. goals or of the monstrous crimes it has committed and is planning. U.S. imperialism has not changed its view of the Palestinian people as an obstacle to Israel’s “security” and annexation of more territory. As the military events of last summer severely prove, U.S. imperialism – the capitalist class and capitalist government – will commit any crime in order to maintain Israel as its military outpost in the strategic Middle East.