From Every Pore
November 2, 2015
Capitalism is characterized by the contradiction between the social character of the productive forces and the private, capitalist ownership of the means of production. Today, in our country, capitalism has reached the stage of monopoly capitalism and imperialism and this contradiction has reached the bursting point.
Who cannot see how capitalism is suppressing the productive forces of our country and how it is unable to put our modern economic infrastructure in service of the people. While the ruling circles never stop boasting that “America is the richest country in the world,” 40% of children in urban centers live in poverty, tens of millions of Americans are denied needed health services, tens of millions live in substandard housing, etc., etc.
Thousands of years of civilization have put, at the disposal of humanity, all the productive forces necessary to insure the economic well-being of everyone, to enable humankind to take a giant leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. But the daily life of the vast majority of Americans is still dominated by the economic struggle to make ends meet – we still live from paycheck to paycheck and with continuous economic insecurity, haunted by questions like: “What happens if my job gets ‘downsized?’” “What if my parents get sick?” “What does the future hold for the children?”
Indeed, the productive forces at the disposal of our country are enormous. Over the decades, we have created a modern economic infrastructure, including a system of scientific agriculture which enables a tiny fraction of the population to produce an abundance of food, factories which can produce such an excess of all the necessities that large quantities remain warehoused and unsold, an instantaneous mass communications system, advanced science and technology which enable humanity to harness the forces of nature.
These productive forces are, in the first place, a product of generations of labor of the working people. What is more, the limitless productive capacity of modern economic life arises from the revolutionary character of cooperative labor – in today’s workplaces, the minds and muscles of thousands and tens of thousands of people work together and more than 100 million American workers cooperate in a social division of labor. It is this collective character of the modern production process – the common labor of the working people – which is the secret of the vast productive capacity of our country.
Yet, under the capitalist system, this social mechanism is set in motion with the narrowest aim. The only goal is for the capitalist owners to grab maximum profit. Thus, health care is not produced on the basis of the needs and rights of the people but only for the profit of the HMOs; science and technology are not used to lessen the burden on the working people but to downsize and deny workers’ a livelihood while the capitalist owners increase the rate of exploitation of the remaining workforce. In the midst of abundance, the elementary needs of the people remain unmet. U.S. monopoly capitalism produces every conceivable luxury item but it cannot guarantee adequate, modern housing for tens of millions; it does not even provide sufficient food for millions of children or guarantee health care for tens of millions.
All these contradictions, which suppress the very humanity of our country and of our people, arise from the fact that the socialized means of production – the very tools needed to reproduce life – are owned by the capitalist class. These means of production – the product of generations of collective labor and the birthright of the people – are already social in character. But this social character is denied and suppressed by the system of capitalist ownership.
The necessity is to recognize the social character of the productive forces, to replace private ownership of the means of production with social ownership. This is the starting point of modern socialism and communism.
In fact, the entire history of this century is the history of the struggle of the working people for socialism and communism. Of course, the propagandists for capitalism never stop saying that “communism has failed.” But just the opposite is the case. Firstly, we must ask: Why did the working people in Russia, in Albania and other countries rise in socialist revolutions? Because capitalism had led their countries and the world to disaster, unleashing the first World War and the great depression, fascism and WW II. And today, even while capitalism boasts of its “world-wide victory” it is creating new and greater disasters for humankind, launching new wars and condemning billions of people to poverty and exploitation. In the U.S., even while the capitalists boast of “unprecedented economic growth,” the gap between the rich and the poor – the class polarization – is deepening and tens of millions are denied even their most basic economic rights.
Communism in the Soviet Union and elsewhere did not fail, it was temporarily defeated by the continuous encirclement and wars waged against it by world capitalism. In fact, during the years of socialism, the Soviet Union achieved unprecedented economic development and established a standard of rights which, to this day, is the template by which workers everywhere measure how far they have come and how far they have to go. Socialism eliminated the exploitation of the working class and guaranteed workers secure, stable livelihoods with a rising standard of living, guaranteed health care and education for all, carried through, for the first time, the struggle for equal rights by eliminating the oppression of women and the oppression of nations.
Not only in the socialist countries, but everywhere, the political economy of socialism has been making inroads against the political economy of capitalism, winning victory and asserting itself as a necessity for human development. In the U.S., such social achievements as the establishment of Social Security or a nation-wide system of public education represent victories for the political economy of socialism and are part of the assertion by the workers and people that they are not mere beasts of burden to be exploited by the capitalists but are human beings with inalienable economic and social rights.
Today, everywhere one looks, one sees socialism and communism arising from every pore of our society. How can the health care crisis be resolved except by recognizing that health care is a right belonging to everyone and by organizing a system of national, comprehensive and socialized health care. How can we guarantee everyone the inalienable right to a job or a livelihood except by introducing social planning into economic life?
The line of the Workers Party is that social development – life itself – is demanding the transition from capitalism to socialism. The task which we have taken up is to create the subjective conditions – the consciousness and organization of the workers themselves – necessary to carry through this social revolution.