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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Fri, 28 Nov 97 12:34:23 CST
From: Jim Davis <jdav@mcs.com>
Subject: Editorial: People begin to take the offensive
Article: 22895

The people begin to take the offensive

Editorial, People's Tribune, Vol. 24, no. 12, December 1997

There is no denying that we've reached a moment of transition, both in the development of the economic crisis in this country and the world, and in the evolution of the class struggle.

The recent economic turmoil in Asia and in the global financial markets is just a taste of what is to come, and an indicator of how deep and fundamental is the underlying crisis.

Globalization, which is erasing the national borders and turning the world into one giant investment colony for the capitalists, isn't just a policy -- it's the necessary course that capitalism has to follow in its search for a place to expand, and it marks the final stage of capitalism. We are certainly not going to see the capitalist system collapse next week, but the massive amount of speculation that is going on worldwide -- in stocks and bonds, in currencies, in real estate -- is testimony to the fact that the capitalists are less and less able to profitably invest in anything productive.

Since human labor is the source of profit, the ongoing downsizing and elimination of labor from the workplace is lowering the profitability of productive investment and causing huge amounts of capital to shift into speculation, while at the same time eliminating consumers from the marketplace and causing a glut of unsold goods. People without jobs don't buy much.

It is this speculation that has built up the massive financial bubble worldwide that is now beginning to burst, as evidenced by the devaluing of Asian currencies and the global fall in stock market values. And it is this speculation that is telling evidence that we are living in the final years of the capitalist system.

If the plunge in the financial markets shows what time it is economically, the recent UPS strike and the public's reaction to it give us a sense of the political implications. The central issue in the revolt of the UPS workers was the need for UPS' many part-time employees to have full-time work. These part-time workers are part of the new class of throwaway workers and permanently unemployed that is being born out of the application of electronics to production. Their standing up to fight, and the sympathetic reaction of the majority of Americans, is, like the falling stock markets, a sign of things to come.

The new class of those being abandoned by high-tech capitalism -- the low-wage and part-time workers, the unemployed, the homeless, the welfare recipient, the workfare slave -- is beginning to gather itself to take the offensive. This will happen in fits and starts, but it is happening. Besides the UPS strike, there are other signs: the recent march of the poor and homeless to take their plight to the United Nations; the plans of people around the country to raise the question of economic rights during the upcoming campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Labor Party's 28th Amendment campaign to put the right to a job or income in the U.S. Constitution.

Given that technology replacing labor spells the end of capitalism, the struggle of the new class of poor can have only one ultimate goal -- the reorganization of society on a communal or cooperative basis, where goods are distributed according to need, not ability to pay. The new technology at once demands a new society and makes it possible to have one.

No one can say for sure how many years of life are left in the capitalist system, but we one thing is certain: It won't collapse of its own weight. It will take the conscious activity of conscious people to eliminate this system and build in its place a society where no one is homeless or hungry or uneducated. We can be sure we are going to face resistance. A section of the Democratic Party and other forces are gearing up to channel the people's struggle in directions acceptable to the ruling class. At the same time, the elements of a police state are steadily being put in place to contain the struggle with force should all else fail.

Revolutionaries have a particular role to play in helping keep the struggle on track. We have entered a time when everything depends on what people think, on what they understand is the root of the problem and how to deal with it. The role of revolutionaries is to spread the ideas of class consciousness and class unity that will allow the struggle to reach a successful conclusion. Our role is to theoretically understand the world, to be active as teachers and purveyors of new ideas, and to articulate the ideology of the new class.