The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Situation in the United States Prior to the Spread of the Coronavirus

Mar 1, 2020

This report was written in early February and was circulated among the militants of the Spark organization for discussion starting on March 1, 2020. We made no attempt to update the report, leaving it as it appeared on March 1, because it shows the situation as it was just before the widespread dispersion of COVID-19 in the U.S. The situation discussed in this report may have been bypassed by rapid-moving events, but this text is an important reminder that the groundwork for the current disaster hitting the working class had already been laid before the first person had been infected in this country.

An Unremitting Attack on the Ordinary Population

We have been living through what is being called the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Longest it may be, but it also has the slowest rate of growth of any expansion in history. This eleven-year period of near stagnation is simply another mark of the underlying economic crisis, which may change its outward characteristics, but doesn’t go away.

During this latest period, the capitalist class has increased its share of the national wealth by carrying out a sustained, overt and ferocious attack on the standard of living of the ordinary population. There is a growing mass of the unemployed, as many as seven million more than before the last recession—despite a near-record-low official unemployment rate, which in fact ignores many of those without work. Millions who lost their jobs during the last recession never found work again. In semi-rural, economically depressed regions, workers have been confronting chronically high unemployment, a situation that the black population in the poorest areas of many cities has known well for a very long time. Factories and workplaces were moved from one location to another, or simply eliminated, decimating entire communities and regions. Productivity increases swelled the ranks of the jobless while overworking those still employed. Tens of millions of relatively decent paying full-time jobs with benefits were replaced by jobs that are unstable, often without fixed hours, often with short hours, much lower wages, and fewer or no benefits.

Many young workers are excluded from formal employment of any kind, pushing them into the underground economy—forced into odd jobs paid under the table, or else become lumpenized. And the situation doesn’t get better as workers get older. Almost half of workers in their prime working years (25 to 54 years) and with a high school diploma are no longer in the labor force (as reported by Princeton economist Anne Case). At the other end of the age spectrum, an increasing part of the elderly cannot afford to retire—they have little in the way of pensions, other retirement benefits and savings—while others have been forced out of retirement back into the labor force. In fact, the elderly are now the fastest growing part of the U.S. workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers age 65 to 74 is expected to increase by 55% between 2014 and 2024. By 2024, 13 million people age 65 and older will still be working.

Workers are earning less, on average, than their counterparts were in the 1970s. The federal minimum wage today is worth almost a third less than it was at its highpoint in 1968, even according to government statistics, which wildly understate the impact of inflation today. The biggest part of the working class is living paycheck to paycheck, with total savings of less than $400, not enough to cover “relatively small, unexpected expenses, such as a car repair or replacing a broken appliance,” according to the Federal Reserve in its annual survey.

Facing the steady reduction in their standard of living, more workers went further into a dangerous debt with high interest credit cards, longer-term auto loans, refinanced home mortgages and student loans. Consumer debt is now at higher levels than it was 12 years ago, above the previous peak in 2008, on the eve of the last financial crash. Working families’ debt payments are eating up a growing share of their shrinking household income.

The state apparatus made severe cuts in the public sector, in order to direct more state resources to capital. The result was a further reduction in the standard of living of working people, as well as a worsening of their living conditions. Public funding was cut for the construction and repair of vital infrastructure—including water and sewer systems, roads, bridges, tunnels and mass transit. Not only did this reduce job possibilities, it also weighed on daily life—whether in the form of unclean water, unsafe roads or longer commute times to go to work. The slashing of various kinds of income support for the disabled and “working poor” reduced painfully the standard of living of the poorest layers of the working class. The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid mean that a greater share of medical costs are borne by those depending on these programs, in much the same way that cuts in benefits contained in union contracts have pushed more cost-sharing onto covered workers. The price for medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act continues to go up. The reduction of funds to education meant not only a lessening of the possibility for education and the support services, such as school nurses that were once part of public schools, it also meant that parents had to find the money to pay for sports activities, other extracurricular activities, and even supplies for classes—all of which served to reduce the available income in ordinary households with children.

The economic and social gangrene, along with the lack of medical care and social services, has spawned an epidemic of “deaths of despair” from drug overdoses, liver disease and suicides. Such deaths mounted so rapidly that life expectancy declined three years in a row in this country, before a slight uptick in 2019. Such a reversal in life expectancy has not been seen in this country since 1918, in the period right after World War I when the Great Influenza Epidemic spread widely through the population. No other developed country has seen a multi-year drop in life expectancy outside of wartime.

These are the human costs of what the capitalist class has done to improve its own situation in the midst of an economy lodged in crisis and stagnation. Corporations have taken a greater and greater share out of what has been produced and created, shunting it into profits, which reached record highs in 2018, not just in real dollars but in their share of the overall economy as measured by the GDP. Profits were not invested back into the production of goods and services, but funneled very directly to the bourgeois class that sits at the top of the income ladder.

Trump’s Compact, Organized, Minority Base

Since 2017, political life in the U.S. has been dominated by the White House, in a way not seen since the presidency of FDR. Donald Trump sets the terms of political discussion with a daily intensity that most of us have never seen before, through social media posts, comments to the regular media and speeches at his rallies. Dominating the political scene, he reinvigorates the racism, nativism and misogyny that runs through this society. None of this started with Trump. And it’s not only in the United States where such poisonous ideas are spewed by public officials. But coming from the mouth of the American president, they have a special weight. In the world, Trump reinforces the more generalized move to the far right. In this country, he gives official authorization to the racists who have always lurked in the social fabric.

At one point, media like the New York Times or Washington Post believed (or hoped) that impeachment would at least weaken Trump, if not remove him. It’s not what happened. Some parts of the state apparatus may be upset by his unpredictable and self-serving behavior, which sometimes appears to undermine or upend their own policy goals. But Trump’s policies still very much serve the bourgeoisie’s interests and they still fall right in line with the policies of his predecessors—whether corporate tax cuts or a trade war aimed at containing and profiting more from its Chinese competitors or the strangling of regimes like those in Iran and Venezuela. Moreover, Trump’s behavior serves to divert attention away from the attacks that the bourgeoisie and the state apparatus are carrying out against the working population. It even allows parts of the repressive state apparatus, like the FBI and CIA, to be presented by liberals and progressives as champions of liberty and freedom because some of them oppose Trump.

With no clear and organized opposition from a significant part of the bourgeoisie, the Republican Party had no reason to oppose Trump in the impeachment proceedings. And Republican incumbents risked political suicide by doing so. Before they get to the November elections, Republican politicians first have to run in the Republican primary, which is dominated today by Christian fundamentalists, other anti-abortion organizations, the NRA and a range of reactionary organizations. A Republican senator who voted to convict Trump in the impeachment trial could face likely defeat in the Republican primary.

Trump seemed to come through the impeachment “trial” strengthened. He kept his solid and distinct base of support, even if it is a minority. And, if we can gauge by the immediate post-impeachment polls, he seems to have gained somewhat more support in the general population—if for no other reason than impeachment failed. By the same measure, it appears that the Democrats lost as the result of impeachment, at least temporarily.

The most solid part of Trump’s base comes from that part of the Republican electorate which was especially cultivated by George H. W. Bush. In the 1980s, Republicans sought to build a more popular base for themselves, beyond the wealthy part of the population that had long supported them. They found a ready-made base among the organized Christian fundamentalists, who flooded into the Republican Party after it acted to reduce access to abortion, and also opposed the increasingly general acceptance of homosexuality. In many ways, the Christian fundamentalists are similar to the base of reactionary religious movements that have emerged around the world: staunchly right wing, often xenophobic, sometimes racist, and generally opposing women’s rights. And while the fundamentalist churches are centered mainly among white people living in rural or semi-rural areas, small towns and far-flung suburbs, we shouldn’t forget that among these religious fundamentalists there are also important black congregations, as well as Latino Pentecostals, not to mention important dioceses of the Roman Catholic church. Trump didn’t create this base, he inherited it from the Republican Party. But he made it his own by quickly expressing opposition to abortion and by appointing Supreme Court Justices whose opposition to Roe v Wade was clear. And with the 2020 election now looming, he did what no other Republican president had ever dared to do: he spoke at the annual rally of anti-abortion activists held on the anniversary of Roe v Wade.

The other part of Trump’s base—or at least of those who supported him in the 2016 elections—is centered among working people, especially, but not only, white workers. (Obviously, many of the workers who support Trump are Christian fundamentalists—but not all.) Like Reagan before him, Trump made a special attempt to appear as their spokesman. But Trump went further than Reagan, offering supposedly “radical” policies in answer to their anger about the chronically depressed economic conditions, which have become more severe since the time Reagan was in office. Specifically, he focused on immigration and “unfair trade” as the cause of lost jobs and growing poverty. Again, this reactionary answer didn’t start with Trump, but Trump has made these two issues the apparent cornerstone of his domestic policy.

It’s important to recognize that many white workers in 2016 were angry and bitter against both of the two parties, Republican and Democratic. Many who supported Trump in 2016 did so on the assumption that he was an outsider, with the hope that an outsider would shake up the system. The fact that he has been under attack since the first day he took office has only confirmed their worst suspicions about the political system and reinforces Trump—giving him an excuse for not being able to address the problems people face.

Trump’s total base is a minority of the voting population—organized and compact, but only a minority nonetheless. What gives Trump his prospects is the congenital inability of the Democratic Party to propose and act on a policy in favor of working people.

The Democratic Party’s Shifting Base

For decades, the black population has been the Democratic Party’s most reliable election base. More than 90% of black people who vote support Democratic candidates. The Latino population is comparable, although its support for Democrats is somewhat less, running between 55% and 75%. The very large majority of these two parts of the population are workers, and along with white workers, who still provide the bulk of the vote for the Democrats, they give the Democratic Party the backing of the majority of the population. Finally, the labor movement, along with the black churches, has provided the most dependable troops for campaign work leading up to and on election day itself, mobilizing forces to get out the vote.

The Democratic Party depends on this large, solid social base; but it has long acted as though these votes are locked up, that it’s not necessary for the Democrats to do any more than pay lip service to the concerns of the working class population, black, white and Latino. And, to look at reality, what other choice exists for black and Latino workers, given the implicit and often overt racism of the Republican Party? What choice for workers, given that the Republican Party has long been considered the wealthy man’s party? But there is another reality, there is a third choice, which a large part, sometimes the majority, of working people have opted for, and that is to sit out an election, particularly true for the black population, and especially its poorest layers.

This time, the Democratic Party made an effort to show it no longer was taking black and Latino votes for granted. The Democratic primary season kicked off in mid-2019 with the announcement of 24 different candidates for president: including four black, one Latino, one Asian, six women, one gay man and several younger candidates. The 2020 Democratic primary line-up was supposed to make a statement about the party’s commitment to inclusion and “diversity”—in contrast to Trump. In the debates, one candidate after another sought to emphasize their “humble beginnings,” their ability to understand what working people are going through today.

Eight months later, after ten debates and four primaries/caucuses, this pitiful pretense at “diversity” is unmasked for what it was. Long before the first primary, the black candidates had all been forced to drop out, unable to raise the necessary money; the same was true for the Latino and Asian candidates, and for all but two of the women. [And after “Super Tuesday,” the field effectively had been reduced to two old white men, Biden and Sanders.] Certainly, the whiteness of the final lineup is not the basic political issue. But it is a concrete fact, whose symbolism may impact those who will vote in November—or decide not to vote.

In the 2018 mid-term elections, the Democratic Party directed a great deal of its campaign toward suburban women, students and even some better-off sectors of the population, people shocked by Trump’s language and behavior. Obviously, by far the biggest share of the Democratic electorate was in and around the working class districts of the big metropolitan areas, black, Latino and white. But the Democrats flipped 41 Congressional districts, previously held by Republicans, which, when added to their 194 safe Democratic districts, gave them control of the House of Representatives. Enough middle class people living in the further out suburbs, most of whom ordinarily vote Republican, crossed over in 2018, allowing Democratic candidates to win—not only for Congress, but for governor and other state posts. The vast majority of the candidates who “flipped” Republican districts campaigned as so-called “moderates”—i.e., socially conservative. Many who ran for Congress were former military, CIA, or other intelligence agency professionals, and they leaned heavily on their backgrounds in their campaigns. None of them were endorsed by the so-called “progressive” PACS.

It’s with these areas in mind that the Democratic Party apparatus focused on which candidate could be the “most electable.”

This defined the attitude of the party apparatus toward Bernie Sanders. Despite his results in the first primaries, the money he raised from millions of contributors, and even his standing in the polls, Sanders was, according to them, “too radical” to win in November—a “socialist” on top of everything else. A large part of the party apparatus panicked that Sanders at the head of the ballot would cost their “moderate” candidates the election in many states.

Sanders made the argument, much like Trump did before him, that because he’s not bound by the usual constraints of the political system, he will energize new voters. (In fact, Trump didn’t energize new voters; he shifted a relative few white voters in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin from the Democratic column over to the Republican one—while more black voters, not liking either choice, stayed home. Some of Trump’s voters in November had been Sanders’ voters in the 2016 primaries. This was noticeable, for example, in Michigan.)

The fact is, Sanders did not bring more people to the polls to support him in the first four primaries/caucuses. To the extent there was an increase in turnout, it seemed to have been in support of the “moderate” candidates, even in the states Sanders won. Sanders own campaign was forced to admit that the “new electorate” he talked about did not show up—and that sealed the issue as far as the Democratic Party apparatus was concerned.

In any case, the real issue, whether it’s Sanders or Biden or another candidate, is that the Democratic Party does not offer the population an answer to the current disastrous situation.

Sanders may seem to offer a more “radical” approach. And he certainly touched on some of the problems confronting working people. Among other things, he spoke of homelessness, and student debt, and low wages; he denounces the wealthy for not paying their “fair share” of taxes (whatever “fair” can mean in the midst of a completely unfair society). He may recognize many of the problems, but his answer to them, finally, is no different than the one given by all the other candidates, Trump included: that is, vote, put him in office, and expect that he will deal with the problems.

Deal with them, but how? Sanders has sponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour—over five years time! A not very radical proposal, given that $15 an hour probably won’t keep a family of four from sinking below the poverty line five years from now. At the end of the debate in South Carolina, Sanders said that the most important thing about him is that he is NOT radical, his proposals are NOT radical. That’s true.

Sanders is known, most of all, for proposing “Medicare for All,” which he says he would work to pass once in office. Medicare itself isn’t adequate to pay the costs most people face. But leave that aside. To have a single system guaranteeing full medical coverage to everyone means that the hold of finance, of big capital, over medical insurance must be uprooted. That will not be done by explaining to the financial system that such a system will be more efficient, less costly—if less profitable! It could be done only by a massive mobilization of the working class to expropriate the capitalists who today strangle the medical system; it could be done only if the working class were organized to fight in its own interest, that is, to fight to expropriate the capitalists who today strangle the whole economy, and not simply to back the program of a politician occupying the White House. Such a fight means a bitter clash between classes. But that’s exactly what Sanders has never proposed.

Sanders is, in fact, one of those candidates the Democratic Party often includes—someone with a “radical” tinge to their pronouncements, someone like Shirley Chisholm, Eugene McCarthy, Jesse Jackson or Howard Dean, someone who never wins the nomination, but does well enough to reinforce the idea that someday the Democratic Party might be transformed. Someday!

What will it mean if Trump were to win? It certainly could mean an aggravation of the racist, nativist, anti-labor and misogynist swill that spills from the White House today. And we could expect that the extreme right forces that have already been emboldened over the last number of years will be further encouraged, that racist violence will grow.

What will it mean if Sanders or Biden were elected? In the first place, it probably means there will be an increase in the popular electorate—either because there is a resurrection of the illusions that Obama elicited at the beginning, a resurrection of illusions in the electoral system, at the very moment that it has become vital that the working class break with illusions to organize its forces to fight for what is needed. Or, as more likely, it would be a product of popular fear and abhorrence of Trump. Voting for a Democrat on that basis is, in its own way, based on illusions in the electoral system.

Electing Biden or Sanders or any other Democrat doesn’t mean the extreme right forces would disappear. Embittered by Trump’s loss, they will be fertile ground for other reactionary demagogues. They easily can be pushed to violence, looking for someone on which to take out their frustrations. And they could be the troops of an anti-communist, anti-working-class, anti-union hysteria.

No matter who wins, the working class will be faced with the vital necessity to organize itself, including to defend its own troops and its own struggles from a growing physical menace. This is a necessity. And it’s one that no Democrat is advocating.

Popular Mobilizations

There has been an oppositional current among young people, as well as the broader left, over the question of climate change, and also a certain one produced by the violence in the schools, tied in the popular mind with guns. It’s clear that this opposition has already been pulled into support for the Democrats in the next election, even if at first through the medium of the Sanders campaign.

The reality of the destruction that capitalism is wreaking on the planet goes far beyond anything that can be impacted by hopping from one of the bourgeoisie’s electoral horses to the other one. It starkly raises the problem of which class controls society. And this is not something that will be answered in the voting booth, but rather in the conscious struggles of the working class, based on its own class interests, to offer its solutions to the problems that the bourgeoisie has created for humanity.

Working Class Mobilization

Once again, last year, the working class was for the most part quiet. There were several teachers’ strikes, particularly in Los Angeles and Chicago. There was a kind of mobilization of the teachers and support from parents and the community. But these strikes were controlled from beginning to end by the union bureaucracy, which is tied to the Democratic Party, which controls the local and state governments, the same apparatuses that have been imposing systematic cuts to public education.

The most important struggle of the year was the six-week strike of auto workers against GM. Like the teachers’ strikes in Los Angeles and Chicago, it was decided on and organized from the top. But there were several things that made this more than the usual strike at the end of a contract.

In one sense, we could say the strike was historic, since there had not been a company-wide strike in auto that lasted more than a day or two since 1976.

It’s safe to say that most of the GM workers who were on strike had never been in a strike before. When the strike started, workers seemed unsure about what was happening. But as the strike went on, they seemed to become more determined to resist. And when the final vote on settlement was taken after 40 days, over 40% voted “No.” The workers who voted NO were not only voting against a contract they didn’t like, they knew they were voting to continue the strike.

We heard a common refrain coming from workers in the other Detroit auto companies: “Their fight is our fight.” In Southeastern Michigan, workers from Ford, Chrysler and auto parts companies went out to the picket lines, often bringing food or money for the striking workers. Teachers, hospital workers and state and municipal workers also joined the picket lines. Certainly there were never large numbers of other workers coming out to the lines, but some did—and then went back in the workplaces to talk about it, and bring other people out. They didn’t join the strike as such, since they came on their “free time.” But coming out as they did was a testimony to the feelings of solidarity that a strike among an important group of workers can enlist.

The most notable thing about the strike, other than the fact that it happened, was the focus that many workers had: they wanted to reverse the changes that have turned the auto industry into a major employer of temporary workers and of so-called second- and third-tier workers—that is, hired to work on the same lines, doing the same work but getting significantly lower pay. The interesting thing was to talk to older workers on the picket lines who said they were soon going to retire, the strike wouldn’t change anything for them, but it was wrong that young people could be hired at half the pay to do the same work, or could be forced to work without ever having any hope of a regular job.

In fact, this issue permeates the whole economy, and it won’t be overcome by the workers at one company or even one industry, as important as auto still is. In exactly the same way, overcoming the decisions to close factories, lay off workers, which also permeates the whole economy, will require a fight that spreads far beyond the workers who originally start to fight over it. The GM strike, as much as it reverberated in the auto areas, did not extend beyond its origin at GM. But by raising the issue, by trying to address it, by forcing GM to bring the current temporary and two-tier workers up to standard pay, even if over several years, the GM strikers raised a banner for others to pick up.

Since the GM strike ended, there has been a real propaganda campaign in the news media arguing that workers lost more than they gained in the strike. Perhaps GM strikers could figure out the math for themselves, since even the $11,000 signing bonus permanent regular workers got gave them more back than what they lost over the 40 days of the strike. But less important than the monetary win/loss calculation were the feelings the strike invoked—that it might be possible to make a fight and not be crushed. This sentiment is what the anti-strike campaign has been aimed at undercutting.

The anti-strike campaign was directed at other workers, attempting to tamp down the excitement that some of them felt as the strike developed. It’s a campaign that has continued, with many variations up to this day, including by calling in question the motives of the union leadership who called for the strike—effectively accusing them of calling and prolonging the strike in order to hide from the union members corruption that supposedly is rife in the union.

An Attack on Organized Labor—Part of the Overall Reactionary Push

At the end of 2019, the federal government publicly involved itself in the pursuit of two unions, a pursuit that, if carried out, threatens further to weaken a union movement already severely weakened.

On the West Coast, a federal jury ordered the ILWU to pay 94 million dollars to an employer, an amount that would have bankrupted the national ILWU many times over. The suit concerned job actions carried out by an ILWU local in Portland Oregon seven years earlier against job cuts; the pretext for the ruling came from a Labor Department lawyer who testified on behalf of the employer that the job actions constituted a “secondary boycott,” something held illegal in federal labor law. The union immediately appealed both the verdict and the size of the fine. Whatever the judge involved in the case finally rules, the financial burden promises to restrain the ability of a significant union to carry out its ordinary daily activities—at least within the framework that the unions organize their activity today.

In Michigan, a federal prosecutor publicly announced, after a three-year investigation into corruption by maybe a dozen UAW officials, that the goal of the investigation was to put the whole 425,000 member UAW under government oversight.

Are these two cases coincidental? Perhaps. But coming as they do together at this time, they make a strong case that the unions, as weak as they are, as class-collaborationist as they are, still create too much discomfort for a capitalist class increasingly intent on imposing a much lower standard of living on working people, intent on imposing it at a much faster clip.

What happens remains to be seen, but we have nothing in common with those self-styled union oppositionists in the UAW who are ready to gamble that by accepting intervention by the government in the union, they will get a more “democratic” union, via a “one-man-one-vote” direct election for top officers of the UAW, to replace elections at a convention of elected delegates. It’s a bet lost in advance. In the Teamsters, direct election of officers was the sop thrown to the oppositionists in the union to get their tacit support for government intervention. It should have surprised no one that the government contrived to use its “oversight” of the Teamsters, once established, to remove a union president who led an important strike. The purpose of government intervention in the unions is to block the organized activity of the workers themselves. As for one-man, one-vote, which exists today in the Teamsters, it produced a procedure every bit as bureaucratic and out of the hands of the membership as what had come before. The means by which James Hoffa Jr. took the presidency—based on very large sums of money raised by people who had long had positions in the Teamsters—stands as proof of that. But more to the point, the isolated mailing in of each individual’s ballot has little to do with a functioning workers’ democracy, which depends on the possibility for workers or their representatives to meet together, discuss, decide and then implement what is decided on.

The unions, as they are organized today, cannot function if they are deprived of money and of support by the state. Their militants, not to mention their leaders, depend on both. Money pays for full-time union officials, for staff, for grievance and arbitration, for lobbying of Congress in the pursuit of pro-union legislation—with what good effect we know. It pays for legal staff, legal pursuits and an occasional friendly congressperson or two. As for the state, it’s the state that determines whether a union exists or not, whether a strike is legal or not, whether a union official is corrupt or not. The unions, as they are today, act so as to gain the forbearance of the state, pretending or perhaps even believing that it can be convinced to be neutral in the ongoing struggle between classes. But the state is nothing but the instrument for defending the interests of the capitalist class.

The organized labor movement is long past the time when several generations of workers through their own self-activity created the unions themselves. What is severely lacking today is not the knowledge of how to fight, what is lacking is what existed coming up to the point when the mass industrial unions were formed: generations of militants who were devoted to their class, and who had a vision of another society, a communist society. They may not have been able to give a full perspective to the workers with whom they tried to build organizations. But they put the interest of their class before their own self-interests.

A Retrograde, Reactionary Climate

Everything in the current situation pulls the working class backwards. The fact that the workers in general have been unable to defend themselves during this long period of retreat weighs on the confidence they can have in themselves as a class. The fact that one part of the working class is induced to see other parts of the same class as enemies saps the very idea that there is a single class with the same class interests. The everyday dominance of reactionary ideas—and first of all of the individualism, the every-man-for-himself, the dog-eat-dog conception of survival—has eaten away at the basic idea of solidarity, which is the underpinning of collective working class life.

The worsening economic crisis has been forcing and will continue to force the bourgeoisie to wage an ever more brutal class war against the working population, with the aid of its state apparatus. At what point the working class breaks out of its demoralization to take up the battle we have no way of knowing. We do know that there is an enormous amount of crap the working class will have to break through. But we also know that the working class, when it begins to move, can move much faster than anyone understands.

[Whatever happens, the reaction of the stock markets to the spread of Corona virus shows how brutally a situation can change. Ever since the “recovery” from 2008 began, the economy has been poised on the edge of a precipice. What would it take for it to fall off the cliff? What seemingly unrelated incident could push it? We don’t know. But the spread of the Coronavirus into a couple important countries, in this world where economic activity is interwoven globally, might be what pulls the whole world into a new, more devastating collapse. The economic crisis then unleashed would almost certainly turn into a political crisis.]

In any case, our duty is to defend within the working class revolutionary communist ideas—ideas that have practically disappeared from the working class. We cannot act as though these ideas can be “snuck in,” gradually “introduced” bit by bit. We need to put them forward simply and directly as the necessary answer to a society intent on the destruction of humanity. Our aim must be to find those who can be militants and fight to spread these ideas from inside the working class.