As the Working Class Party prepares to run candidates this fall, we will have much to say. Because the working class today is facing major crises in every aspect of our lives.
There is an economic crisis, with millions of people out of work. Yes, it was the COVID pandemic which first shut down parts of the economy. But as things open back up, there is no reason that everybody who had a job can’t get their jobs back. But that is not happening because the vultures of capitalism, only caring about their profits, are already at work, using the pandemic as a reason to eliminate jobs, adding to all the people who didn’t have a full-time job, or any job, before the pandemic.
The Wall St. hedge funds, who control much of the retail business sector, are putting companies into bankruptcy or closing down thousands of stores, like JCPenney’s. The major banks are putting the squeeze on thousands of small businesses, like restaurants, forcing them out of business. This was already happening before the pandemic, and now it’s accelerating.
People still need to eat, people still need to buy retail goods, people who work in these stores and restaurants need their jobs. But the banks and vulture capitalists have decided they can make a bigger profit by taking money out of these businesses and putting more money into speculation. And so these greedy billionaires will steal the livelihoods of millions of workers and their families so that they can get even richer.
Businesses that stayed open are also cutting jobs, even in hospitals, in the middle of a pandemic! It’s not rational. It’s insanity! But that is the normal functioning of capitalism today.
The working class today is also facing the health care crisis of COVID-19. This coronavirus emerged from nature. But it wasn’t inevitable that so many people would die. Hundreds of thousands of people are needlessly dying from COVID, only due to the normal functioning of capitalism.
This country spends more money on health care than any country in the world, but much of this money does not go to keeping people healthy, but instead goes into the pockets of insurance companies, hospital corporations and drug companies to increase their profits. Today, five months into the pandemic, there is still not enough testing, not enough protective medical equipment, not enough contact tracing – all the things needed to save lives. While nurses and hospital workers are dying, trying to care for patients, the capitalist health care companies, in pursuit of profit, are making the situation worse.
The essential workers everywhere, in meat-packing, grocery stores, trucking, the post office, agricultural workers all are at risk without proper safeguards, and they are dying from COVID at a higher rate.
Many people are also dying from COVID because of conditions that put them at risk, because they lack basic health care; they lack health insurance, or they lost health insurance when they lost their jobs. And the black population, the most exploited part of the working class, is hit the hardest. Under capitalism, what should be a human right, is only available if you have enough money.
And then, just as sickening, is the response of the politicians whose only purpose in their slimy lives is to serve themselves and their capitalist masters.
You have lying Donald Trump who denies science and now attacks the medical experts, like Dr. Fauci. Trump, this smirking monster-without-a-mask, is telling people that there is no problem; he’s lying for the sole purpose of trying to get himself re-elected.
Then there are the governors and other politicians who denied the importance of masks and who opened their economies without adequate safeguards and, in doing so, recklessly exposed their populations to raging COVID infections. Politicians in states like Florida and Texas had several months to learn from what worked in New York and Michigan. But they chose to ignore it, and now the population in these states is suffering from COVID out-of-control. And even in the states that did better, politicians pushed to let business reopen, and those states are now seeing a new surge.
The richest country in the world – the country with the most free-market, capitalistic health care system in the world – the U.S. today has the most COVID deaths in the world, by far the most. What could be more of an indictment that this system does not work for working people.
The working class faces a crisis in our schools. Parents and their children soon will be facing a terrible choice – go to schools that put children at risk of getting COVID and spreading it to family members. Or lose the education and social enrichment that in-person schooling provides. But there shouldn’t have to be a choice. The money is there to make schools safe. But that money is in the pockets of the one per cent, the banks, corporations and wealthy in this society and they want to keep it only for themselves and for THEIR children.
And then there is the crisis of racism, a crisis which has existed since the first slave was stolen from his home in Africa and brought to this country. Black people have suffered murders at the hands of the police thousands of times. But this time, the horrifying execution of George Floyd forced a reckoning, as people across the country, black and white, came into the streets to protest.
But yet, even in the midst of these demonstrations, while some police forces prudently took a step back for the time being, other cops continued their racist attacks and more black people were killed by the cops, like Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Why do these murders continue?
The fool who resides in the White House, when he was asked about the police killing black people, Trump said it’s not a problem because more white people are killed by the police. Which is true only in the total number of people killed, it’s not true by the percentage of the population. But still, the racist Trump, while trying to defend the cops killing black people, unintentionally laid bare another ugly fact of racism. When the white population tolerates the police murdering black people, some of this police violence ends up coming back on them.
We should be asking, why do we need a militarized police force, armed to the teeth, ready to shoot to kill? We are told that they are here to stop crime. But that lie goes against everything we see. The more cops that are added, and the more weapons the cops are given, the more crime continues. The police don’t stop crime. They’re not here to stop crime.
The police are here for one reason only. They are an armed force that exists to control the population; to control the working class that is being exploited by the capitalists. The police are there to support the exploitation of capitalism. How many times in the past did we see the police go against striking workers? How many times have the police been used to attack civil rights protesters? The police do whatever their capitalist bosses want them to. They brutalize the exploited working class, and they especially brutalize the most exploited part of the working class, the black population.
Economic crisis, health crisis, school crisis, racism, they are all part and parcel of capitalism. Within this system, there is no way out for the working class, no matter how many protests we have.
But there is a way forward for the working class. When the working class brings all its forces together; when the working class decides to fight, it can go up against all the forces of capitalism. The working class has answers to all the crises caused by capitalism.
It starts with the fight for jobs and a decent wage for all. Throughout history, the labor of all working people, including the slaves, created wealth that could and should be used for all; wealth that could provide a decent life for all. This wealth offers the possibility that everyone who wants a job can have a job. If there is not as much work needed, then divide up the work, everyone work fewer hours, and everyone can still be paid a decent wage. The money is there. The wealth is there. The only thing standing in the way is the capitalist bosses.
All the other needs of the working class – better and safe schools, good roads, clean water, health care for all – can come out of the fight for jobs and decent wages.
The working class has the power to fight for this. It is the only power we have. But it is all the power we need.
This is what the Working Class Party has to say. This is what we will be saying in the election campaign this year.
We know that elections don’t change things. We know only a fight by the working class will change things. But the election campaign gives us an opportunity to say these things to more people; to put these ideas in the hands of more workers. It gives more workers the chance to say what they believe. The working class has an answer to the crises we face.