The Spark

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

Issue no. 833 — November 3 - 17, 2008

The wars and financial crisis aren’t going away

Nov 3, 2008

Now that the elections are over, we will be hit in the face with the real consequences of the financial crisis, one worse than anything since the Great Depression.

We have already seen its outline. For three decades the capitalist class has increased its profits by attacking the standard of living of working people. To make ever more profit, the capitalists shifted money out of production into financial speculation. And, to increase profit still more, they created vast mountains of debt – debt pushed on consumers, debt taken out by the big banks so they could speculate for a bigger return. They turned the economy into one big financial casino, out of which they made trillions of dollars and in which they burned up trillions.

When it came time to cash in the chips, the biggest banks and financial interests said they had no money to redeem their debts.

The Bush Administration, backed by the leadership of both parties and backed by Obama and McCain, rapidly moved to bail out those same big banks and investment houses.

The government has already disbursed or committed 1.5 trillion dollars – all of it to go to the vultures who created this crisis. And it has guaranteed them another 3.6 trillion dollars. This comes to 5.1 trillion dollars – almost twice the total income of the federal government last year, including all the money that came in from Social Security taxes.

The money to pay this bill is going to come from us. It’s going to be paid by every working person in this country, through all sorts of taxes and fees, through severe cuts in every government program, public services, education, medical coverage, Social Security, Medicare – much more severe than anything we have seen since the Great Depression.

Obama and McCain, before the elections, continued to make promises – but the cold, stark reality is shown by these bail-outs, which they both voted for and both supported, bailouts for which we will be expected to pay.

Both Democrats and Republicans handed over the keys to the Treasury to the capitalist class that put us in this mess.

With the elections over, we will also be hit by the reality of ever-widening wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, wars that have been pushed out of sight during the end of the election campaign.

The National Intelligence Report, whose publication was delayed until after the elections, recommends that the war in Iraq will continue at the current level for the foreseeable future. And tens of thousands more troops are being sent into Afghanistan, and from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

These wars have devastated other countries; created enormous animosity throughout the world toward the U.S. – including toward all of us; laid waste to a generation of young men and women who volunteered for these wars out of a mistaken sense of service or because they could not find a job. And these wars grabbed resources that could have been used to improve life in this country.

John McCain said quite openly he would keep these wars going. Barack Obama campaigned saying he would reduce the war in Iraq – reduce, not end it. But he wants a bigger war than Bush is carrying out in Afghanistan, and he called for going into Pakistan. He didn’t propose to end the wars – only to shift their center.

We are in a war here at home, attacked by an avaricious capitalist class. And we are in wars overseas, pushed there by some of the biggest corporations in the world. All these wars – the ones overseas and the one here at home – are going to get unmistakably worse after the elections. And both big parties have already shown they side against working people in these wars.

The working class must not pay for this avaricious capitalist class that is leading society from one disaster to the next. Our needs must come first: an immediate end to these wars; a job for everyone, wages that let us survive; decent living conditions in the cities and countryside.

This is what we have to fight for – today, the day after the election, the day after the new president and congress take power, and in the months that follow.

Pages 2-3

Working and NOT getting by in California

Nov 3, 2008

About one million Californians took out so-called “payday loans” in 2006, according to a survey published by the California Budget Project.

These short-time loans are very expensive: for a 14-day loan, borrowers typically end up paying fees that would amount to more than 400%. This, in fact, is above the interest rate caps under the California Finance Lenders Law. But state officials not only looked the other way – the state legislature even passed a law in 1996 allowing such outrageous fees on payday loans.

Needless to say, only people desperate for cash would accept such a rip-off. Most borrowers are working people with steady jobs, who can’t make ends meet. About 60% of them are women. About three out of four borrowers said they used payday loans to pay bills or buy groceries and other necessities. And about half of the borrowers said they took out loans at least once a month.

Low pay for full-time work, skyrocketing prices, bloodsucking loan sharks – this is the reality of life in capitalist America. With a huge, and long, economic crisis looming, we can expect things to get even worse for workers and their families – if we accept the future the capitalists have prepared for us.

How the banks use our money

Nov 3, 2008

A reporter for the New York Times managed to listen in on a conversation inside JP Morgan Chase bank four days after it had received 25 billion dollars from the government, as part of the 700 billion dollar giveaway to aid the American banking system.

The objective of this plan is supposedly to restore confidence and the capacity of the banks to issue loans. But when a JPMorgan employee naively raised the question, “How will this loan aid effect our lending policies,” a director of the bank revealed that claim to be a lie.

He explained: “What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.” And he added, “We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side.”

Thus, the banks are not going to give new loans at reasonable rates – which was the government’s pretext for giving the banks the money. No, they are going to use government money to buy up one another. And, in fact, the government is encouraging them to do that – it has even given a new tax break to those banks that buy up another bank.

The role of economic crises has always been to allow the biggest companies to gobble up the smaller ones. This example shows that they are doing it today with the help of the government. The government pretends this is necessary, so the banks can carry out their function – which supposedly is to loan money so companies can operate in the interest of us all – a lie, pure and simple.

25 trillion dollars up in smoke

Nov 3, 2008

Since the beginning of the year, the world’s biggest stock markets have lost more than 25 trillion dollars. That is two times more than the entire U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), all the goods and services produced in the U.S. in a year.

All that money was taken from the sweat and labor of workers and farmers all over the world. Imagine how much better people would be living, if that money were spent on their needs, starting with food, housing, medical care, education, basic infrastructure, cultural centers, etc.

Instead the capitalists took it and gambled with it, to increase their own fortunes. Now all that money has literally gone up in smoke.

What a waste! What insanity!

You can bet that the capitalists will try to get that money back by making the workers pay even more, through much worse unemployment and huge cuts in our standard of living.

Down, but not far enough

Nov 3, 2008

The recent fall in gasoline prices had some of us breathing a short sigh of relief – until we remembered how much we’re still being gamed! Just four years ago we were paying less than $2.00 a gallon – and only $1.50 a gallon five years ago.

And all this time, the profits of the oil companies have been soaring. Exxon just announced its largest profit ever – almost 15 billion dollars in just one three-month period! And Exxon is just one of the big five international oil companies.

Even with gas prices down some, we’re still being taken for an incredibly expensive ride!

Death in the “Donut Hole”

Nov 3, 2008

A recent survey shows that last year, 15% of retirees with chronic conditions stopped taking their prescription drugs when they reached the so-called “donut hole” in Medicare’s drug plan. They couldn’t afford the full outrageous cost, when Medicare cut them off.

The survey didn’t show how many people died as a result of this. But there are thousands of families and friends who could provide that horrible information.

Torturing cop charged

Nov 3, 2008

Federal prosecutors arrested former Chicago police commander Jon Burge for obstruction of justice and perjury. In the 1980s he commanded a police station where his cops tortured people to extract false confessions. Chicago has already paid 20 million dollars in restitution to four men held for years on death row, and there are more than 40 other cases where torture was used.

For decades, officials knew about this torture. Not only did no level of government take action, Richard Daley, the current mayor of Chicago, who was county prosecutor at the time, took those false confessions into court, letting men be falsely convicted and imprisoned.

Burge was the only one indicted, and he wasn’t indicted for presiding over torture – but for lying about it! Thus, the government winks its blood-shot eye at the brutal methods used in the back rooms of big city jails.

Highland Park, MI:
A deadly fire set by social neglect

Nov 3, 2008

A 51-year-old woman, with her great niece and two great nephews, died in a fire that burned through five frame homes in Highland Park, Michigan. Her family, which also included the children’s mother and three other people, had rented one of the houses only a short time before. They were paying $300 a month rent, yet the house had no heat, no water, and no working toilet, only a bucket. They were using a kerosene space heater for heat, and an electric hot plate to cook with. They carried water back to the house from a block away.

After first blaming the space heater, then the hot plate, fire officials finally admitted it was probably faulty wiring that set this house on fire, then spread to four others.

In the early morning hours when the fire erupted, dozens of neighbors gathered in the street. Many expressed anger that there weren’t enough firefighters on hand to put out the fire. Only one ladder truck came for five blazing houses. Others denounced the lack of water pressure in nearby fire hydrants. More than 700 people turned out for the funeral to show their support for the family – and anger at a constantly worsening situation.

How is it possible such conditions could have existed all this time, laying the foundation for this tragedy? The house had not been inspected for years. The landlord, who was ready to take the family’s $300, says it wasn’t his responsibility to provide a safe building. The City of Highland Park says it isn’t responsible – it got rid of its inspectors when the city went broke in 2002. The State of Michigan, which took over the city finances, says it wasn’t responsible to take over inspecting rental properties.

Highland Park drastically cut its fire department and has to get help from the City of Detroit, which has drastically cut its own fire department, too.

More and more the very heart of some of the biggest cities in this wealthy country are resembling cities in poor countries around the world. This is what capitalism has to offer people living in its very center.

The fears of CEO"s

Nov 3, 2008

What are top executives of big corporations worried about nowadays? A psychological consultant to roughly 20 top CEOs says they"re no longer preoccupied with their own leadership style, management-team dynamics or problems in their personal lives.

Now they worry about their own helplessness in the face of financial markets out of control. They worry about how their employees and others view the huge pay packages and perks they enjoy. And they want to know if the consultant thinks leading government officials and politicians in this country and Europe are telling the truth in their public statements.

We could have answered that one: The bosses and their government officials never tell the truth!

Pages 4-5

Endless war

Nov 3, 2008

The U.S. government says that it has started negotiating with some elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

This is being advertised as the beginning of peace negotiations in Afghanistan. Of course, they are more likely to be bribes to get some of the warlords who joined with the Taliban to support the U.S. against the rest of the Taliban. As one senior State Department official told the Wall Street Journal, “The question always comes down to price.” He said, “How much should we be willing to offer guys like this?”

These kinds of offers to former enemies are nothing new for U.S. strategy, and they have all worked to worsen the situation for civilians. During the recent surge in Iraq, the U.S. paid 100,000 Sunnis, many of whom had been former military officers under Saddam Hussein and former insurgents against the U.S., to patrol – that is – impose terror over parts of Iraq. Many of these gangs were used to round up and imprison people in ethnic enclaves. Once the U.S. was done with them, the Iraqi government subsequently marked many of them for assassination. It also issued arrest warrants for more than 1,000 of them – which has just fed into the continuing civil war and violence that shakes Iraq every day.

If the U.S. is trying to do the same kind of thing in Afghanistan, it is because, the war in Afghanistan has gone increasingly worse for the U.S. The Taliban has extended its control of the country, while they have become more effective in attacking U.S. forces occupying the country. More U.S. troops have been killed in the first ten months of 2008 than in any year since the U.S. invaded, seven years ago.

In response to this growing insurgency, the U.S. has escalated the war. It has boosted the number of U.S. troops from 20,000 to 31,000 in two years, and stepped up the bombing of Afghanistan. This escalation has only resulted in greater killing of ordinary people, as well as the destruction of their homes and villages. And this has led to greater anger and hostility against the U.S. occupation. Thus, the U.S. escalation has pushed more of the population to support the Taliban, despite the fact that it is so despotic.

The U.S. also admits that it has also extended the war over the border to the tribal areas in neighboring Pakistan. The U.S. has carried out commando raids and bombed villages. In fact, in October alone, the U.S. carried out 19 missile attacks inside Pakistan’s tribal region.

Of course, this too has only increased the opposition not only against the U.S., but to the already weak and extremely corrupt regime that runs Pakistan. In other words, the extension of the U.S. war in Afghanistan into Pakistan threatens to make an already explosive situation even more explosive – and this in Pakistan, a country of almost 170 million people.

In fact, the U.S. is being sucked into a real war without end, both in Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps even Pakistan – at an already enormous cost for all those involved. It is a war that working people in the U.S. have every reason to oppose.

Countries squeezed to the edge of bankruptcy

Nov 3, 2008

Standing in line after Iceland to ask for aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia and Pakistan. Other countries from Central Europe and the Third World are ready to make the same request. As much as they differ, all these countries have the same problem: the international economic and financial crisis has made it impossible for them to pay their bills

These national States aren’t as indebted as is the U.S., France or Germany. In fact, they’re much less indebted, except for Iceland. For example, while the U.S. national debt is 10 trillion dollars or the equivalent of 70% of the wealth produced in a year, Pakistan has 40 billion dollars in national debt, or less than 30% of its annual wealth. But the private banks, which are holding on to their cash, are not only refusing their usual year-end loans, but they also are withdrawing funds from poor countries. Meanwhile, the banks demand punctual payment of debt, and it must be in dollars.

Borrowing from the IMF is accompanied by “recommendations.” These always have the same thrust: make the population pay, cut back on public services (if there are any), starve the poor if need be, but reimburse the Western banks. The IMF’s last intervention to “save” a bankrupt State, Argentina in 2001, ended up with a brutal worsening of the population’s standard of living.

In fact, the same policy that favors the same capitalist groups is carried out in every country, with or without the intervention of the IMF. There is only a difference of degree: while the workers of the rich countries fall from poverty into misery, those of poor countries go from misery to starvation.

And now the U.S. is bringing the war to Syria

Nov 3, 2008

On October 26, four U.S. military helicopters crossed the border between Iraq and Syria. The helicopter bombed a building in a Syrian village, located five miles inside the country. Eight construction workers laboring there at the time were killed and 19 others were wounded.

According to an Iraqi spokesman, this operation was designed to eliminate Al Qaeda militia members who were getting ready to enter Iraq. A U.S. spokesman added that it was easy to infiltrate “foreign combatants,” arms and money across this part of the border to Iraq, where such combatants could engage U.S. troops.

This incursion into Syria is in line with the policy carried out by the U.S. general staff, directed by General Petraeus. The U.S. military had made many similar incursions into Pakistan, with the same official justifications of flushing out “terrorists” from their “dens.” The very same day of the attack on Syria, the U.S. launched another bombing attack in Pakistan that killed some twenty people.

Is this the beginning of a wider war? Or was the Bush administration trying to make a show of force to impress the population at the end of the election campaign?

The U.S. military has been stuck for five years in Iraq and seven years in Afghanistan?

Will this attack on Syria in fact make it easier for the U.S. population to accept 170,000 soldiers stationed in Iraq, the expansion in Afghanistan, the nearly 5,000 dead in the two wars, and the 525 billion dollars squandered? It’s doubtful.

Pretending to “study” a problem

Nov 3, 2008

The Secretary of the Army just announced the military will spend 50 million dollars to discover why U.S. soldiers commit suicide!

As though it’s not obvious that the wars that the U.S. is now even ratcheting up in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have pushed soldiers to the brink – and over.

Scratching their heads in public like they don’t know what causes it – these fat military bureaucrats are the ones who make it impossible for the VA to treat all those soldiers who return with PTSD.

U.S. veterans commit suicide because they were trapped in filthy wars against other people.

A tribute to writer Tony Hillerman

Nov 3, 2008

Author Tony Hillerman died on October 26 at the age of 83, but his colorful books will live on.

His books are widely available in public libraries. Any and all are wonderful to read. He is best known for his series of mysteries describing Navaho Indian life.

Hillerman was fascinated with and deeply respectful of Native American culture. His books illuminate the experiences and landscapes of the American Southwest. His Navaho characters are so well described and so memorable, they feel like old friends.

Hillerman was born during the Great Depression – in a small dust bowl town in Oklahoma. He said in his 2001 memoir Seldom Disappointed, that life in his home town “was not complicated by any possibility of getting rich.”

He and his brother went to the only school in town – an Indian boarding school for girls. Hillerman himself was not Native American but he spent his life immersed in and devoted to Native American culture.

Hillerman explains that his father died when the author was still young – “having worked himself to death” trying to scratch out a living during the depression.

One of the things Hillerman remembers about his father is that he had a “tiny bookshelf.” And of his father’s books, what Hillerman remembered best were his father’s “pro-workingman, pro-union, anticapitalist” books.

Hillerman’s memoir is filled with great stories. Some of the most memorable are his Catch-22 like stories of his WWII experiences that show Army “intelligence” to be an oxymoron.

So pick up a Tony Hillerman book. You’ll learn fascinating things, you’ll enjoy a compelling story, and you’ll laugh at Hillerman’s humor which jabs at the rich and powerful.

World famine worsens

Nov 3, 2008

The World Food Summit set the goal of cutting in half the number of undernourished people in the world – promising it would be done within 20 years. But this goal, set in 1996, has not only not been met, the numbers of those who are hungry have grown worse.

A 2007 report said about 930 million people – almost a billion – were hungry, compared to 850 million 10 years ago. Malnutrition affects 55 million children, almost half of them so severely malnourished they soon may die.

A former U.N. reporter put it very well, “A child who today dies from famine is a child who has been assassinated.” The world has more then enough wealth to eradicate this plague of hunger. Only three billion dollars would save 19 million children from severe malnutrition. Yet the rich countries – able to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars overnight to aid financial institutions – refuse to make the necessary funds available. Or as someone with Action Against Hunger pointed out, “For years, not a single promise made by the international community to put an end to famine and malnutrition has been kept.”

In fact, contributions from governments to end hunger have fallen to their lowest levels in 40 years. The U.N. World Food Program is so underfunded that it has begun to ration food to refugees. In Darfur, for example, adults receive only 1600 calories a day from aid – instead of the 2200 calories recommended.

Close to a billion human beings live today in extreme hunger – from Afghanistan to Somalia to Haiti. This earth could nourish all these people, so that hunger no longer existed. Instead, in this revolting system for profit, if the poor don’t have enough money to buy food, they starve to death.

Pages 6-7

GM-Chrysler merger:
Not one layoff!
Not one job cut!
Not one wage cut!

Nov 3, 2008

The merger of Chrysler and GM is said to be all but necessary and inevitable. The companies and their apologists claim that U.S. vehicle sales have dropped too far to support all of the existing auto makers. They claim their only hope of survival is to eliminate “duplication” – that is, to wipe out factories, dealerships, suppliers, communities, until their previous corporate profitability is restored.

Either that, they say, or they will go into bankruptcy.

No matter what they do, their plans will darken and deepen the black hole already developing in the economy. Today, they openly admit that they want to eliminate at least 200,000 jobs, counting all those who work in the dealerships, the factories and the offices – of the two companies.

Michael DiGiovanni, GM’s head of global marketing and industry analysis, said, “Once we start growing again, productivity will be greatly enhanced.” Meaning, that GM already assumes workers will accept a dramatic degrading of their lives, their wages and conditions.

A large part of the current economic crisis was prepared by job cuts, restructurings, and profitability drives.

Too many unemployed workers cannot buy goods. Too many underpaid, two-tier, temporary workers cannot buy cars and trucks. Too much profit was sucked out of production and development so that executives and investors could gamble it away on the stock market – and on even more obscure financial speculations!

The auto companies want us to let them do the whole thing over again, only worse. NO! Their methods, used by every company in the country, have already sent us hurtling toward a choking of the economy on a scale we have never seen, a scale worse than what our grandparents and great-grandparents told us about.

If the auto companies get away with their latest plans, workers all through the economy – in steel, glass, rubber, plastics, electronics – will lose jobs and no longer be able to produce or consume.

How can an economy run without production and consumption? How many decades of hard times will be required before a recovery? When the 1929 Depression started, auto production that year was just over five million units. It did not recover to that level until 24 years later – 1953.

The only answer to this looming catastrophe is to stop every single layoff. Whatever Chrysler and GM are going to do, there must be no layoffs, no wage cuts, not on any worker in any affected company. Whatever the banks do, there should be not one more foreclosure.

It’s outrageous that workers should be asked to pay the cost of this crisis. We didn’t create it. We didn’t get wealthy out of it.

Forget about protecting corporate profits. Protect our ability to build and buy what we need.

Page 8

The 1929 crash:
A dangerously relevant precedent

Nov 3, 2008

On Thursday, October 24, 1929, just 79 years ago, the stock market in New York crashed. It led to the most profound world economic crisis that capitalism has ever known.

The causes of the crash

A deep economic crisis had broken out in the U.S. at the end of World War I. In 1920-21, national income fell by 27%, with a brutal increase in unemployment. Eventually the economy started to recover, based on a general expansion of credit. By 1929, national income had not only recovered, it had greatly surpassed its previous high.

The media said that everyone was getting rich; in reality only a few hundred thousand people did. And this situation rested on the same contradictions as before: production grew more rapidly than did the income of the population. But profits increased rapidly, which in turn led to greater dividends paid to stockholders. They took this money and put it back into the stock market, driving up stock prices, while speculating on rising profits in the future. Soon the increase in stock prices began to feed off itself, fueling speculation that became increasingly distant from economic reality. This unbridled speculation remained unsurpassed until today’s financial escapades.

As the capitalists began to worry about how much more they could make from the “ordinary” exploitation of the workers, they turned to even more financial speculation. The stock exchange soared, offering “financial products” increasingly distant from the real value of the companies they were supposedly based on. In 1929, like today, everything depended on the belief that stock prices would inevitably go up, rising forever. Investors bought everything, but on credit, borrowing at 6%, 7%, even 12% interest, while they expected stock prices to increase 50%, even 100% or more.

Everyone jumped in, from the well-to-do middle classes to the big bourgeoisie. Business created credit companies specially devoted to this speculation. Well-known banks led the charge, banks like Goldman Sachs and City Bank, who have played the same role in recent years. Big companies placed their funds in this market, for it brought in more return than the normal production of goods.

Money for the stock market flowed into the U.S. from all over Europe. President Calvin Coolidge, turning over power to Herbert Hoover in March of 1929, promised that this flood of money would continue forever. Speculative fever reached its peak in the summer of 1929, but for several months the demand for industrial products had been showing signs of weakness.

The feverish and “irresistible” increase in stock prices, on which all this speculation rested, was about to be transformed into a general collapse.

The stock market crash and the collapse of the economy

Thursday, October 24 gave the signal with a drop in stock prices, and with 13 million shares sold – double the volume of any previous day. The drop in stock prices that day, according to the different indexes used at the time, was “only” 11 to 13%. So far no one expected a collapse, for there had already been temporary lows in stock prices. Furthermore, this drop was followed by two days of increased prices.

But on October 29, the drop was still more brutal. This time 16 million shares were sold, and that ignited a general panic. By January 1, 1930, a “strong” industrial stock like Dupont had fallen 90% and Chrysler had fallen 96%. The funds established by the banks and other rich speculators rapidly attained the value of ... zero. Failures increased among banks which owned rotten stocks, and the banks became insolvent. This was the case in all sectors of the economy.

The most profound economic crisis in the history of capitalism developed in the U.S., and ricocheted to the entire world. Gradually the whole of the U.S. economy – the richest in the world, producing 40% of the world’s wealth – fell into a general depression, with certain sectors, like steel, functioning at only a tenth of their capacity.

In 1932, national income was half as high as it had been in 1929. The number of the unemployed climbed to some 20 million, depending on the source. More than 25% of the active population had no job at all, while more than 60% of those who continued at work had only part-time work, at starvation wages. The bosses cut wages everywhere in an arbitrary manner.

The U.S. working class and the small farmers, whom the bosses forced to pay the cost of the crisis, knew misery and even hunger. All Europe was hit. This was particularly the case with Germany, whose economy had suffered for years from “war reparations,” which because it lost World War I, it had been forced to pay to France. Germany had been kept alive only by infusions of U.S. capital, which now suddenly dried up.

Production partially paralyzed for a dozen years

Contrary to the legend spread by Democrats and union officials, the crisis was not overcome by Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. By way of example, auto production in the U.S. did not obtain its pre-crisis level until 1953. The stock exchange did not reach its 1929 level until 1954.

In the U.S., industry did not really pick up until war production began in 1941. The famous New Deal, the political intervention of the U.S. State, gave a part of the unemployed some money to survive on, but in no way did it put an end to the economic crisis. Above all, it permitted the biggest companies to get rich, while buying the collaboration of the union bureaucracy.

In Europe, where the means of the bourgeoisie were more limited, the crisis led to fascist dictatorship in Germany, which broke the working class. And all that finally led to World War II for the division of the world between the different imperialist powers, through which the U.S. went on to impose its economic domination over the whole planet.

Put an end to a crazy system

The 1929 crisis, with its consequences, revealed the profound rottenness of the capitalist system, which was incapable of developing the productive forces that its technology made possible. The economy was paralyzed by private ownership of the means of production.

It is true that capitalism finally survived. This is the only argument of its defenders. But at what price? This survival was at the price of economic anarchy and general waste for decades, with the misery that accompanied them, immense destruction, tens of millions dead and the barbarism of war.

Revolutionary communists ever since Karl Marx have always insisted on the necessity of social revolution – resting on the conscious will of millions of workers – to give birth to another society. The working class, in the years following the crash, reacted with vigor, in the U.S. and in Europe – particularly in France and above all in Spain, where it knocked at the gates of power. But without a revolutionary leadership ready to lead the struggle all the way to get rid of the capitalist system, the fights of the working class were led astray and betrayed by Social-Democratic and Stalinist leaders.

No one can say what will happen in the current crisis, but the 1929 crisis showed how far the economic rulers and their political servants were ready to go to assure the survival of their system. Why do we once more have to go through misery, “blood and tears”? The working class and the whole of society has every interest in preventing the capitalists from dragging us down, by once and for all taking away their ability to injure us.