The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

“Electrification”—A Capitalist Scam

May 29, 2023

What follows is the editorial that appeared on the front of all SPARK’s workplace newsletters during the week of May 21, 2023.

Stellantis abruptly shut down construction of its planned battery plant in Windsor, Ontario. It demanded more money from the Canadian and provincial governments. It already was given a billion dollars from Canada in a deal cut last year.

Then, the U.S. government promised bigger subsidies, tax breaks and outright gifts to companies producing electric vehicles. Trying to compete, the Canadian government granted Volkswagen about four billion for a massive battery complex it would build in Canada.

So Stellantis threatened to leave the hulk of an unfinished plant to rot in Windsor if it didn’t get more. It hinted it might move its factory to the U.S.

It’s nothing but an extortion game. All over the world, it’s the same thing. A Swedish company wants eight billion dollars to move its planned battery factory to the U.S. from Germany. A Taiwanese company wants several billion to move a battery factory from Taiwan to France.

Governments compete with each other to attract investment. The ones who are winning this competition are the capitalists, no matter which country they come from.

Big capitalists have no country. They exist on the scale of the world. Consider Stellantis. It’s a single multinational company composed of companies that existed originally in five countries: Italy, France, the U.S., Britain, and Germany.

Big companies are owned by a capitalist class that knows no borders. They use governments like their servants; they have no loyalty to the workers in their plants; they respect no contracts they sign. Their only loyalty is to money.

Well, there is plenty of money to be had today in the move to electric vehicles.

Pretending that electric vehicles will protect the environment, governments try to force the sale of electric vehicles. No more gasoline-powered private vehicles can be sold in the U.S. after 2030. After 2040, no more gasoline-powered used vehicles can be sold.

It’s a gift to big companies, and it will be paid for by a population forced to buy electric, whether or not we want to drive electric.

Moreover, despite the propaganda, the move to electrification doesn’t protect the environment. Electric vehicles themselves may be less polluting, but the total damage to the environment of providing electricity for these vehicles is just as polluting, maybe more so.

Laboring people will bear the cost of this move to electrification. Our taxes will be used to pay for the subsidies and tax breaks. The public services, social services, and schools we depend on will be further cut, deprived of the funds they need.

We also pay because government has worked for decades to help keep the cost of labor down. The minimum wage in the U.S. has been kept at an abysmally low level for four decades, forcing young people to go into these new factories at impossibly low wages. Social Security has lost so much to inflation that many workers can’t retire from existing factories.

We will pay because government turns a blind eye to the worsening of conditions in production. Look at the railroad workers, who voted to strike to alleviate unsafe conditions on the trains. Congress passed a law, which Biden signed, making the strike illegal.

We shouldn’t fall for the capitalists’ propaganda about electrification. Electrification is a scam—in the way they do it. Falling for their scam gets in our way, prevents us from fighting for what we need. We have to protect ourselves, forcing the capitalists to answer our needs.

And why should we fall for the patriotic propaganda the capitalists push? They are trying to get us to view workers in other countries as our enemies, people to compete against.

No matter where we live, we have a common fight, against a common enemy. Our only enemy is the capitalist class, which is carrying out a real war against working people in every country.