The Ideology of the Anti-Social Trend
January 9, 2014
I. The Individual and Society
As The Worker goes to press, the Democratic and Republican politicians in Congress are preparing to "reform" the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Although all the details have not yet been made public, the plan would enact much stiffer eligibility requirements. As a result, more of the millions of workers who do not even earn enough to keep life and limb together or who for some reason have lost the capacity to work and are without any means of subsistence, will be denied food stamps.
The government's latest attack on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is part of a broadscale capitalist offensive aimed at shredding the "social safety net" altogether. In carrying out this offensive, one of the key questions which the capitalists themselves have brought to the fore is the relationship between the individual and society.
The capitalist politicians and ideologues are saying that government and society have no responsibility to the individuals who make up society. They are saying that every individual must fend for herself/himself within the so-called "free market" system. But this is not all. Turning back to Medievalism, the capitalists actually claim that poverty and misery are the wages of sin – that the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, the exploited and oppressed majority of society have only themselves to blame, that they lack the "work ethic, individual responsibility and family values."
It is not very hard to see that this extremely anti-social ideology is only a flimsy attempt to hide what cannot be hidden – to divert attention from the fact that the capitalist social system is incapable of creating conditions which guarantee even the most minimal existence for vast and ever-growing numbers of people. What is perhaps most noteworthy is that the pervasiveness and virulence of the ideology which blames the victim, show that, in the conditions of all-around crisis, capitalism can only attack the working class and the most vulnerable sections of society.
Part of countering the capitalist ideological offensive is the simple recognition that we are all born into society and that the development of every individual is dependent upon the conditions which exist within society. People must think over the conclusions which follow from this simple consideration. Our country has clearly reached a point in its development where all the material resources exist to guarantee the well-being of everyone; furthermore, it is equally obvious that the most fundamental fact of our society is its social character. For example, the vast productive capacity of our country's economic base arises from the fact that it is based on a social division of labor amongst some 120 million people. The conclusion is that every individual in our country must face up to the reality, that his/her development and humanity is dependent firstly on what kind of society we have, on the social relations which exist amongst the people, on the relations which determine the economic system, the political superstructure and so forth.
In other words, the struggle against the reactionary anti-social agenda of the capitalists can only be carried through by creating a truly modern and humane social order – a socialist society, a society which recognizes the common interests and collective life of the people and which provides real guarantees for the rights and all-around development of every human being.
In slandering and defaming welfare recipients the capitalists are not only trying to blame the victims of capitalism for the poverty and misery imposed on them, but also trying to marginalize the problem. In other words, the capitalist propaganda presents the problem of "welfare" as a problem affecting only a small portion of society and one which the working people as a whole need not really concern themselves with.
But, of course, the truth is that it is the working class as a whole which is directly under attack. For one thing, in dismantling the social safety net the capitalists aim at wiping out any minimal economic and social supports as a means of increasing competition amongst the workers and driving wages and the standard of living down as much as possible.
In fact, in their continuing anti-social offensive, the capitalists try to marginalize each and every group that is attacked. One day the immigrants are defamed and their rights attacked, the next day it is the turn of the welfare recipients, then the trade unions, the oppressed minorities, etc., and so forth.
Of course when all these so-called "special interest groups" are added up they equal the vast majority of the population.
The issue here is not simply to assert that all these various groups have common interests; the issue is to put forward the political program which represents the common interests of the vast majority of the population – to develop the independent aims and agenda of the working class. Only by opening up this new space, can the people take the initiative into their own hands and not only resist the capitalist offensive but open the perspective for progress and the renewal of our society.