Date: Mon, 9 Dec 96 14:15:06 CST
From: Workers World <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: World unemployment at record high
Article: 2036

World unemployment at record high

By David Perez, Workers World, 12 December 1996

The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, reported on Nov. 25 that world unemployment rose in 1995.

According to the ILO, 1 billion people are either unemployed or underemployed.

One billion people—that's about 30 percent of the global work force.

In 1993 and 1994, only 820 million people were unemployed or underemployed.

The current increase comes at the same time that imperialist agencies like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have forced privatization on oppressed countries. So while the bosses are crowing about the growth of free enterprise, a billion people are finding that the profit system is neither free nor enterprising.

The situation is far from great for those workers fully employed in the major capitalist countries either—not to mention in the developing world. In the United States and in Europe, wages are flat and living standards are under steady attack.

Only workers' massive and militant resistance—as witness the victorious French truckers' strike—has been able to stay the hand of the bankers, bosses and big-business politicians.


Over a decade ago, the capitalist ruling class heralded the rapid development of science and technology as the solution to many of the world's ills. The advent of the computer age was supposed to be a boon to the productive forces and a virtual lifesaver for the poor and destitute.

Well, the productive forces have indeed grown to dizzying levels. The apparatus now exists, for example, to provide food and good nutrition to everyone on the planet.

Yet hunger still stalks the land, including in the U.S., the supposedly richest country in the world.

For millions of people the scientific-technological revolution has brought neither emancipating knowledge nor progress. It hasn't even brought clean drinking water.

The problem is not the growth of science and technology per se. It's that they are owned and controlled by a capitalist ruling class that sees profit as its single most important goal. Everything else, including the basic right to safety, is considered secondary to the almighty bottom line.

In short, the problem is capitalism—or, more accurately, monopoly imperialism.

The latest proof is the ILO report. Since the collapse of the USSR and the East European socialist bloc, capitalism has become more of a worldwide dominant force.

The result: One billion people without work.

This is capitalism.


The ILO report also stated that many of the unemployed will never find a job. This raises the question: Is there really no work that needs to be done in the world? Are there no hospitals and clinics that need to be built? No roads that need to be paved? No food that needs to be delivered?

In the U.S. alone, the General Accounting Office reported in February 1995 that one third of the country's 80,000 public schools need about $112 billion in repairs and upgrade.

That's over 25,000 schools that need work—a lot of work.

Add to this the hundreds of thousands of schools worldwide with the same needs and you begin to get a picture of just how absurd and irrational capitalism is, that so many people could be jobless in the face of so much need.

And this is about how good it's going to get under the present-day world capitalist economy. Bourgeois economists, including Federal Reserve Bank head Alan Greenspan, now admit that full employment means a natural 5 to 6 percent unemployment rate.

Is it any wonder Marxists say that capitalism is historically obsolete and needs to be overthrown?