Dec 5, 2016
The year 2016 was great for the capitalist class, ending with a new stock market boom fed by rising corporate profits.
Those profits come out of the increased robbery of the working population by the capitalist class. Companies have been carrying out a multi-pronged offensive against workers’ jobs, wages and benefits in a real class war. They have pushed their workforce to work harder and longer, continually reducing the number of workers on the job. They have held down wages so they don’t keep up with the rising cost of living. They have slashed health benefits, while often doing away with pension benefits all together, especially for new hires. And they have outsourced more work to temp agencies and private contractors that pay starvation wages.
These attacks have brought about a real decline in workers’ living standards. Even official statistics recognize that family income is lower than it was 20 years ago.
This drop has been compounded by cuts to vital government programs for working people, along with cuts to big parts of the public sector workforce, at the federal, state and local levels. The cuts decimated public schools in working class neighborhoods and public health care facilities, not to speak of reducing Medicare, Medicaid and support for the unemployed, disabled and retirees on Social Security. Cuts in public funding meant that vital infrastructure, including roads, airports, mass transit networks, sewage and water systems, continue to crumble and decay.
The two parties of the capitalist class—Democrats and Republicans—are handing over almost entire government budgets to the big corporations, banks, real estate developers and the wealthiest people through huge tax cuts, subsidies, privatization schemes and so-called bailouts.
The new Trump administration has already shown it intends to continue these attacks – before it even takes office. All those promises that Trump made during his campaign to drain the Washington swamp of Wall Street influence went out the window as soon as he was elected. Look who he put in top positions in his cabinet: Wall Street billionaires. His promises to protect government programs for seniors and the poor, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, were torn up with appointments of avowed enemies of public education, Medicare and Medicaid.
In other words, Trump will build on and intensify the attacks on working people that have been carried out under the previous administrations of Obama, Bush and Clinton.
What is most dangerous for the working class is the fact that Trump is following through with the virulent racist, sexist and anti-immigrant rhetoric that he spewed during the campaign. Trump has appointed avowed racists and white supremacists to top positions in the White House, as well as to run the Justice Department. Trump can do no greater service for the capitalist class than to weaken the working class by setting workers against each other, chopping the working class into small bits, even as the government itself carries out new witch hunts and persecutions.
That’s the situation the working class faces going into 2017.
But all that can change—when workers begin to organize and fight back, whether it’s on the shop floor, in the schools or in the streets. Workers in this country have not fought back in a massive way for close to four decades, not since the big coal miners’ wildcats and national strikes at the end of the 1970s.
But that doesn’t mean that workers won’t do it again. The capitalists are going to wage war on the working class, pushing us into a corner—until we begin to fight.
It’s that simple.
Who will begin the fight? No one knows. Just like no one knew, beforehand, that a strike of coal haulers in Minneapolis in February 1934 would be only the beginning of an avalanche of general strikes, urban insurrections and factory occupations in the following years. And no one knew beforehand that a week-long bus boycott in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1953 would be only the beginning of the black movement that would sweep through the South, as well as most of the major cities in the entire country—changing the country forever.
Fights might seem impossible—before they begin. But once those fights developed into powerful movements, they seemed inevitable.
When the working class organizes and fights in the future it will seem natural and inevitable.