Jan 19, 2015
It is January of the new year, and politicians new and old are taking office and making speeches, blathering about the “State of their Union.” Democrats and Republicans both try to tell us things are getting better.
But a real Workers’ State of the Union would show a different picture, a dismal one. While there is a “slight uptick” in the employment data, the deeper truth is that there is a smaller percentage of total workers in the nationwide workforce. The few hundreds of thousands of jobs added each month have been underpaid, mostly part-time, seasonal. The standard of living for most workers has been reduced and at best, wages have not grown in spite of record profits by Wall Street bankers and bosses.
Hardest hit over the past year have been public workers. With wage and benefit cuts, pension cuts, wave after wave of attacks spreading across the country – they bear the brunt of politicians’ giveaways to corporations in the form of tax breaks or outright donations of land and property.
What is increasingly dangerous this year is the growing potential for the right wing to drag workers into divisions and false solutions to the problems we face. The right- wing violence and growth of reactionary ideas is an integral part of this capitalist society – and it is always aimed ultimately against the working class.
Right-wing appeals differ, depending on what section of the population is being addressed. But the political approach and remedy are the same, whether they are working to attract rural or urban workers from the South, North, East or West.
Most openly, the right wing promotes discrimination against women and against any possibility for them to choose whether to have children. The religious right has already jeopardized women’s access to abortion and even birth control in most states in the union by legally forcing facilities to close and by threatening the lives and well-being of doctors and other health care workers. Poor women are the ones who pay the biggest price of this attack.
The right wing attacks immigrant workers. In doing so, they hope to attract the support of workers who have been in this country longer, and make them believe that these newer workers are taking their jobs – when nothing could be further from the truth.
And the oldest and most violent of their strategies, of course, is to encourage racism and the violence it engenders. Most recently, after standing silent on murder after murder of young black men by police, many politicians cheered on demonstrations of defiance by police in New York City and called for support to them.
The strategy of the right-wing is to pit one section of the working class against another; to encourage every bigotry and prejudice available to keep workers from uniting to address the falling standard of living and the attacks on their persons and their neighborhoods.
Finally, the leaders of both Democratic and Republican parties continue to focus the U.S. working class on the right-wing strategy of blaming the poor in other countries for our troubles. The terrorist killings in Paris have provided the U.S. ruling class and their politicians with one more example of what they call a world-wide conspiracy against freedom and democracy.
As U.S. politicians announce their partnerships with European rulers and the most reactionary and violent dictators of the Middle East and Africa, the laboring classes of these countries are also pushed down a political road that leads into a dead end.
The workers and the poor suffer under an international capitalist system that benefits a small minority at the expense of the majority. It siphons off and diverts all wealth possible away from the needs of the world population.
There will be no answer for working people, no remedy to the ills this system breeds until the working class takes up the fight again, until it fights in its own name to take back this wealth. That fight requires working people to see who our real enemies are – and they are not among our fellow workers, in this country or anywhere else in the world. The enemy we have to fight is the enemy that fattens itself off of our labor, our very lives.