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

What Capitalism Calls Progress

May 13, 2002

The latest report presented by the International Labor Organization to the United Nations indicates that 80% of the world’s population lives–in reality, just survives–without any social protection at all. Furthermore, 90% of the workers do not have anything approaching what the ILO calls an “adequate” retirement program.

At the beginning of the 21st century, there are very few places in the world where social programs and retirement programs exist. And even where they do, for example in the U.S. and in Western Europe, governments are in the process of pushing up the age of retirement and reducing pension amounts.

Despite all this, we are told about the virtues of capitalism, and despite all the speeches about what they call “progress,” this 21st century looks more like the 19th century and the early days of capitalism. But there is this difference: Over the last two centuries, with the development of all the technical and other means, the productivity of labor has grown immensely. There has been a tremendous growth in the wealth produced by the labor of workers all over the world. Yet most workers do not have access to this wealth even on the most elementary level. What appears ever more evident is the parasitism of this capitalist system and of the few who are its sole beneficiaries.