The Spark

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

Plunging stock markets announce an end to the "New Economy"

Mar 19, 2001

In the second week in March, all the major stock markets plunged –not just in the U.S. but all over the world. This plunge was led by the formerly high flying NASDAQ index, whose stocks have lost almost two-thirds of their value in one year. But most other stocks have also been falling, raising the specter of a much bigger financial crash.

This plunge is putting to rest the myth about the so-called "New Economy" –one which would fuel a never-ending expansion, raising all boats in the process, as the saying goes.

In fact, there never was a new economy. No new schools were built for our children, no new teachers were trained and hired to work in those schools. Ordinary people had less access to decent health care, not more. No new affordable housing was built.

In short, there was no improvement in the workers' standard of living, no increased benefit from our hard labor, only a further decline.

This was not in any way, shape or form a "New Economy." It was the same old capitalist economy, based on the real exploitation of the working class.

Over the last year, corporate profits have fallen and speculation has plunged, and over the last weeks this plunge has worsened considerably. In response, the capitalists have cut back their investments and new orders.

It is no secret that the capitalists expect the working class to foot the bill. The capitalists made this perfectly clear even before they began to lose their first pennies: They initiated a new round of layoffs, while pushing for much greater production from those workers left on the job. These layoffs are being followed by the familiar demands by the capitalists for the workers to make ever more sacrifices, pull in our belts even more.

By putting so many people out in the street, without enough money to spend to buy their products, the capitalists do the very thing which ensures a new downturn and makes it worse. And these new rounds of layoffs and new demands for sacrifices only hint at what will come.

During supposed good times or real bad times, the workers have nothing to expect from what the capitalists have to offer. We have let the capitalists impose their demands on us for too long. We need to start imposing our own interests on the capitalists.

Certainly, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose from doing that. A vast, unmet potential already exists for everyone to have a decent life. The working class, generation after generation, has done the work which built up more than enough productive capacity to meet everyone's needs. Instead of running society to squeeze out every last penny in profit, we could drastically reduce the amount of time that people have to work to make a living, while getting rid of all unemployment. Right now we have the means to build up our system of education and health care and allow everyone the chance to retire in comfort.

We could stamp our imprint on society, running it according to our interests, giving everyone the time and the wherewithal to do the things we want to do.

It is time to stop sacrificing for the capitalists, and start organizing for ourselves.