Turning Things Around
October 9, 2014
For several years now, wages and living standards have been falling for the vast majority of the people. With poverty and economic insecurity increasing, people are looking to the future and asking: what does it take to turn things around?
The only answer which the capitalist politicians give is that things will continue to get worse before they get better. The politicians insist that corporate restructuring and downsizing (which mean unemployment, part-time jobs, lower wages, and cutbacks in benefits for the workers) must continue in order to “increase the international competitiveness of U.S. capitalism.“ The capitalist politicians insist that any and all restrictions on big business must be removed in order to “unleash the free market.” The workers are told that even though today and tomorrow they will be victimized by the “free market” and the drive to “increase international competitiveness,” sometime in the future some small part of the superprofits of big business may “trickle down” to the workers.
In other words, even while insisting that the workers have no choice but to accept the capitalist system, the politicians are admitting that under this system, the workers have no rights whatsoever. Workers are nothing more than wage-slaves of capital. Even the most basic right – the right to a livelihood – is not recognized and the workers must accept the fact that the needs of capitalist restructuring can wipe out their jobs at any time. It is the need of capital to increase its profit which is and must remain the controlling factor in economic life. And, of course, capitalist profit is increased precisely by increasing the exploitation of the workers.
For the last 35 years and more, the capitalist politicians have been telling the workers to accept wage cuts and growing unemployment, while “waiting” for things to “trickle down.” But nothing has “trickled down” yet, except more exploitation and poverty. And the plain truth is that the workers can wait another 15 or even 50 years but the results of capitalist restructuring and the “free market” system will still be the same – more poverty and exploitation of the workers.
The fact is that the capitalist system is caught in an all-sided and unresolvable crisis. This crisis arises from the fact that the development of monopoly capitalism brings to the bursting point the basic contradiction inherent in the capitalist system – the contradiction between the socialized character of the productive forces and the capitalist social relations based on private ownership of these social, productive forces. The economic base of our country – including its vast natural resources, its largescale factories, its transportation and telecommunications systems, its modern technology, as well as the social division of labor amongst 120 million workers which sets all these social tools in motion – is subordinated to the profit-drive of no more than a handful of big monopoly capitalists.
This contradiction becomes sharper with every new economic development. Thus, for example, as new technology stimulates the capitalists to rationalize and restructure production, workers find their jobs permanently eliminated and tremendous downward pressure is exerted against wages. For the last several years, the crisis of capitalism has become so severe that even in periods of so-called economic upturn or boom, unemployment keeps rising and wages keep falling.
In fact, these days the monopoly capitalists can only maintain their exploitive system and their profit margins by attacking society as a whole. It is the monopoly capitalists and big bankers who have been plundering the public treasury, receiving trillions of dollars in interest payments in the last decade alone; it is the monopoly capitalists who are draining our country’s resources by the continuous militarization of the economy. It is the monopoly capitalists who are the source of the extremely reactionary, anti-social agenda of the Democratic and Republican parties which insists on stripping away any gains made by the working people in order to put all the resources of the country at the disposal of big business. It is the monopoly capitalists who have set our country on the path of preparing new imperialist wars in order to expand their markets and spheres of influence – their super-exploitation and plunder of other countries and peoples.
The issue is that the workers must have no illusion about the future of capitalism. Restructuring and rationalization will not eliminate but only intensify the contradiction between the social character of the productive forces and private capitalist ownership. “Increasing the international competitiveness of U.S. capitalism” will not eliminate but only intensify the anarchy of capitalist production and the intense rivalry between big monopolies groups and capitalist states. The only thing which will “trickle down” to the workers is more exploitation and more poverty.
In other words, in the course of resisting the capitalist offensive, the workers cannot aim their struggle at simply “hanging on” to a system which has reduced them to wage-slaves. Even less can the workers subordinate their aims to the program of “saving capitalism.” The workers face the task of carrying forward a complete transformation of economic life. The program of the working class can be nothing less than creating an economic system which guarantees all the inalienable rights of the people, such as the right to a secure livelihood and to wages commensurate with our country’s high degree of development; the workers must create an economic system which eliminates altogether the exploitation of human beings and which, on a planned basis insures uninterrupted development for our country while continually improving the material and cultural well-being of the people. This is the program for the socialist transformation of the economy and it is the only program which can open the path for the progress of our country.