The Spark

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

Editorial:
Behind All the Crises Is One Capitalist System

Jun 29, 2020

Trump’s America lurches from crisis to crisis.

The virus is still with us, as virulent as ever. The “hot spots” are new. Florida registers almost as many new cases as New York state once did. Hospital systems in Texas’s big cities seize up. But no part of the country is safe. California and Ohio, which both seemed to have controlled the virus, discovered they hadn’t.

Unemployment is still with us, still a scourge. Some people are called back. But others lose their jobs. Almost half of all working-age adults are without a job today. And the unemployment supplements are set to run out July 25, the same date when most benefits for millions of “non-traditional” workers will expire. July 25: the day reality will drive home the unemployment crisis.

Officially organized violence is still with us, still racist. That violence is racist on the part of individual cops, racist all through the institutional framework of the police. Faced with mounting demonstrations, mayors and police chiefs promised to “reform” the police. But even with the demonstrations shining a light on the situation, cops killed people in the same unrestrained way.

Trump may have contributed his petty bit to these crises. But the issues go far beyond a clown with strawberry-blond hair who is only a figurehead.

The multiple crises gripping this country are products of its economic system.

The capitalist system was born in slavery. It never made any attempt to provide restitution for the damage done to an enormous part of the human family, the millions of people stolen from Africa. It never even acknowledged the terrible destruction that the slave trade and three centuries of slavery wrought on people in this part of the world. Even after legally suppressing slavery, capitalism continued the particular oppression of the black population.

The capitalist system has always depended on the value extorted from labor to provide profit to the capitalist class—whether that labor be slave or “free.” What the capitalists have done to maximize their profit has led to economic crisis after economic crisis. Today their drive for profit is systematically driving down the standard of living of all of us who do the work society needs to survive.

What the capitalists have done to maximize profit has exacerbated all our problems, including right now with the spread of the coronavirus. The U.S. government never came up with enough resources to do the testing and tracing needed to isolate the disease. It didn’t find the money to provide medical personnel with needed protective equipment. It never provided the resources to pursue research into new viruses. Public money has instead been used for private interest, propping up the profit of the capitalist class.

Why do the police—an officially organized form of violence—even exist? Quite simply, they exist to make sure the capitalist class can continue to make profit, directly by extorting value from labor, indirectly by draining the public treasury. The justification for the police—that they deal with crime—is a cynical ploy. To deal with crime could only mean to root out its cause. But that cause is deeply imbedded in the poverty that capital’s pursuit of profit produces.

Every one of the basic problems we face trace back to these two factors: capitalism’s birth in slavery and its pursuit of profit.

The future we need cannot be built by trying to “reform” once again this old decrepit capitalist system.

Addressing our problems means tackling the system that has produced the problems—the capitalist system—ripping it out root and branch.

Tossing capitalism out is not enough. Something has to replace it. We need a system based on the collective possibilities of the population, and specifically on all of us who do the work today.

Working people—whether slave or “free”—have often shown the possibilities that exist when they bring themselves together to solve problems together, collectively. All of the real progress that has been made has rested on that capacity that resides in the laboring population.

The future can only be built by the people who carry out all the productive activity which society needs, the working population.