“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
Jan 3, 2022
What follows is the editorial that appeared on the front of all Spark’s workplace newsletters during the week of December 13, 2021.
Consumer prices are increasing faster than at any time since 1982. According to government figures, prices are up nearly 7% from a year ago.
According to our purses, prices are up more than that. And the government’s breakdown of inflation shows it. Want a steak just to live high for one meal? Prepare to pay 25% more than last year. Gasoline prices may be going down—a little—but they’re still almost 30% higher than a year ago. And don’t think about getting yourself a new car. New car and truck prices were up 11% last year. Used vehicle prices shot up 31%.
The “typical” family spent $4000 more last year just to keep up with price increases on needed items like food and housing. This is according to Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University.
Inflation is a hidden wage cut—and it affects every worker across the board.
In the last year, big corporations have gone on a binge of raising prices. Yes, that just creates or adds to inflation. But big companies have never worried about how their actions tear up their own economy, nor what they do to society as a whole. What they care about is maximizing profit. And raising prices is one way they can do it.
In the three months ending in September, total corporate profits hit an astronomical figure of three trillion dollars—almost 50% higher than they were at the beginning of 2020, many times higher than they had ever been. An even more enormous share of the value produced by millions of workers was grabbed by a few thousand corporations—for the benefit of their bankers and the tiny, wealthy class that owns these companies.
Pure and simple—inflation is an attack on the whole working class, carried out by the whole capitalist class.
The capitalist class that today drives inflation is the same class that pushes speedup in the workplace—destroying the health of those working, leaving millions without a regular full-time job. It is the same capitalist class that makes some workers temporary, seeking to drive down all wages. This same capitalist class ships production from one part of this country to another part, or to another part of the world—pushing workers to compete with each other, driving down wages. It is the same capitalist class whose governments, one after the other, have kept the minimum wage at a poverty-stricken level for more than half a century.
All of this adds to the accumulation of profit.
The governments of this same capitalist class raided public service budgets, leaving the public health system stripped bare, unable to organize a response when the virus hit. Governments of this same capitalist class drained money out of the public school system, condemning children to schools that are unhealthy, unsafe, and unable to provide the education children need.
For the capitalist class, it is all a part of the war to grab still more profit. For the working class, fighting back is a matter of survival.
We can’t fight this war individually, nor in one workplace or one company alone. Simply just to defend ourselves requires a common fight by all those whose lives have been impacted—a fight to share out the work available, to push up wages to a livable level, and keep them there. It requires a common fight to gain a society worth living in, with schools, health care and all the other things a comfortable life requires.
The lives we need won’t be given to us by the bosses who decide everything based on their profit. Nor will it be given to us by the government that serves them, no matter which party is in power. It can be accomplished only by the working class, pulling its forces together for a common fight.
The working class has the capacity to do this. It is the largest class in this society. And it makes everything run. This is a power that can be used not only to defend its own interests but for the benefit of all society. Today, working people don’t recognize the power their class could have. But this can change when workers begin to struggle again.
We are confident the working class will regain its readiness to fight and discover its power.