The Spark

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

No One Else Will Hand Us What We Need

Sep 28, 2020

The following article was the editorial in SPARK workplace newsletters of September 22.

We are almost exactly six weeks from the election, an election taking place in the midst of multiple crises.

A contagious virus spreads unchecked because for decades, government raided public health funds—just like it raided funds for roads, bridges, wetlands, forests, dams, public transit and education—in order to hand out tax breaks, subsidies and gifts to a greedy capitalist class.

When the virus hit, it just compounded all the problems of an economy already in crisis. The capitalist class, in its mad dash to accumulate profit, has sacrificed the needs of the whole society. Companies slashed jobs, cut wages, used temporary or part-time or contract work. The super-profits flooded into speculation, driving up prices not only on Wall Street, but also on land, on buildings, and on commodities, tearing up life as we knew it.

Even the storms produced by “nature” turn into crises. Hurricanes in the South, fires on the West Coast, violent windstorms in the Midwest left people without power, without services, and in many cases homeless. The storms may have sprung from nature, but their impact was made many times worse by the way that capitalism prioritizes profits at the expense of the natural environment and the human beings who live in it.

Both parties, Republican and Democratic, supported this mad dash for profit.

Take Back the Wealth Stolen from our Labor

The super-profits that today go to the capitalists could be used to guarantee a job for every person, with decent wages that keep up with prices. There are millions of people who want a job, and hundreds of ways to provide one. If the bosses can’t hire everyone full-time, then slow down the pace of work, reduce the hours of work for everyone—with no loss of weekly pay for anyone. Why not? The workers’ labor created all these profits.

The money that government gives away to the corporations, banks and the very wealthy is more than enough to fund all the public services, including public health, protection of the environment and education. Fully funding these services would improve our lives at the same time it would create jobs.

Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party has ever proposed such a thing. Neither party will, because they both support the principle that the capitalists should control society.

Working People Could Build a New Society

Working people are essential—didn’t governors tell us exactly that when they needed us to keep things running after the virus hit? Well, let’s use our essential position to deal with the crises capitalist society has thrown at us.

As it is, our work makes everything run today. We know how the work is organized. Putting our knowledge and experience together, we know how it all fits together, how one part feeds into the next, how the whole productive economy runs. That’s what’s important—the productive economy, the part that produces all the goods and services that human beings need.

Our position in this economy is what will allow us to put our hands on the whole thing, take control of society, organize the economy to serve the interests of all humanity.

No one will hand us jobs and wages and a healthy country. We have to fight for what we need. We have to fight for power. But working people can do that—if we stand together as one class ready to fight for our common interests.

We have to be unified in the face of our enemies. That means we have to fight to cut out the racism that has been a cancer in our class. Not only has racism against the black population been an institutional part of capitalist society since its beginning in slavery; it spills over into the working class. Black workers know it. Other workers need to acknowledge it. Facing reality will set them free of this cankerous sore on their hearts and minds, opening the door to a real unity of the working class.