The Spark

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

A generous people trapped in a system based on greed

Dec 12, 2005

It’s the time of year when mailmen collect food for the needy, when firemen ask for toys so every child has a gift, and organizations trying to provide shelter and warm clothing to the homeless ask for our help.

Knowing what it means that a child should go without a single gift, or that the unemployed should be forced out on the streets in sub-zero cold, people respond. In so doing, they show the generosity and feelings of solidarity which exist in the population, especially among people who work for a living.

But this very generosity indicts the government, which supposedly exists to serve the population. The government, which could do what’s needed to guarantee that decent jobs exist, turns its back on those without a job. The government – which ought to do what’s necessary so that everyone has a decent and affordable place to live, enough to eat, and adequate clothing – ignores the problems, when it doesn’t make them worse. Government, which should guarantee that every child be given the means to be fully educated, can’t be bothered.

To be more exact, it’s too busy finding new ways to aid the biggest of the big bourgeoisie – more ways to reduce their taxes, more ways to subsidize corporate profits.

Almost every year, corporate profits hit new records – adding up to more than a trillion dollars this year alone. The corporations then distribute their profits in the form of bigger dividends and stock repurchases to the wealthy class which owns more than 85% of all corporate stock. They pay their executives astronomical bonuses, which no one could have imagined, even ten years ago. They buy up other companies – only to resell them, or to dismantle them for tax advantages. This tiny minority which possesses most of the wealth in this society, gambles it away in financial markets as though they were in a giant casino.

None of this creates more jobs. Nor does it add to the productive capacity of society, or improve the cities we live in – just the opposite. Because this wealth is stolen from the labor of working people, our standard of living continues to decrease; teenagers have little hope of finding a decent job, and older people are being deprived of the very pensions they worked their whole lives for. Schools are warehouses, not temples of learning.

Today, at the end of 2005, this is where we are – mired in a growing catastrophe for the laboring population. Maybe our generosity in responding to appeals to help the homeless overcomes some part of the problem – but only for a few hours, and only for a few of the homeless.

Generosity and charity can’t get rid of homelessness, nor any of the other problems we face. Those problems are the necessary consequences of a system based on the pursuit of profit.

If we want to live in a world where everyone fully benefits from the labor they contribute to society, this whole system must be changed.

Capitalism is worn-out. It was already old and decrepit more than a century ago. It’s long since time for it to be replaced by a society where each of us will benefit, because all of us benefit, a communist society in the true sense of the term.