On the Situation We Face

by Neal Resnikoff, September 2023

A Labor Day for picnics and entertainment was established by the ruling class in the U.S. to try to divert the workers from their revolutionary May First International Working Class Day traditions. Still, I think, the wake of this day is a good time to consider the conditions we face and how to move forward to organize to have an economy and government that serves the people. I thought I would share a few thoughts with you about this, and see what you think.

For starters, I think the many fights workers have waged over the past year hold great promise. It is the expressed desire and aim of many workers to have all in their unions to unify to the maximum against the rich owners of the corporations such as by not having two tier wages and division between full-time and part-time workers or new hires. There are big fights by workers to have full insurance/pensions for all workers, and to have their unions break from ties to the Democratic Party. There has been increased opposition to having  collective bargaining rights stifled by the Biden Administration, as in the recent contract struggle of the rail workers and the current struggle of the auto workers.

Recently a wave of worker struggles has shown they are ready to go on strike when companies refuse to meet their demands for wages and safe and decent working conditions. So far this year hundreds of thousands of workers have participated in at least 250 strikes, according to the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. There is now the possibility of a big auto workers strike of 150,000 workers at General Motors, Stellantis and Ford on or about September 14. We need to join picket lines of any workers in support and do whatever else we can do to support demands that open up the path to greater worker empowerment.

Struggles by workers last year resulted in the highest average pay raise in more than three decades, according to Bloomberg Law. Their research figures show labor contracts ratified in the first quarter of 2023 gave workers an average first-year pay raise of 7% — the highest in a single quarter since at least 2007.

The United Auto Workers union (UAW) is pointing to automakers’ recent profits as evidence that these companies can afford to increase workers’ wages. Collectively, the Detroit Three automakers posted a profit of $21 billion in just the first half of this year.

The Teamsters union similarly highlighted UPS’ profits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as they pushed for higher wages for rank-and-file union members. The package delivery giant posted a profit of more than $13 billion in 2022.

The stronger the workers become, especially on an organized basis, the better is the potential basis for turning the society around in a manner which humanizes the natural and social environment. They produce all the value available in the society.

Other fights, such as against global warming/climate change, against U.S. imperialist war, against attacks on abortion and other rights, against racism and for immigrant rights are also very important as opening the possibility for a future that serves the people, not the rich.

At this time, the capitalist ruling class of the U.S. is attacking society almost everywhere. The ruling class opposes the view that society should provide for the well-being of all its members. For example, there is always the refrain in Chicago and elsewhere that there is not enough money available for  24/7 cooling and heating centers, for opening all mental health clinics that have been closed, for aiding migrants, for ensuring that all get needed vaccinations, for ensuring that no one gets kicked off Medicaid, for  ensuring food and shelter for all, for ensuring quality education and health care for all, for ensuring a safe environment; and taking steps that will help end  global warming/climate change, such as by having renewable energy for all public buildings.

As though the excuse that there is not enough money is true—when billions are being poured into the U.S. government war against Russia using Ukraine as a proxy, and 65c of every federal discretionary tax dollar goes to the military and support for U.S. imperialist domination of other countries throughout the world.

These developments which are taking place reflect the deep need of the big banks and corporations to have maximum profits. This is why the ruling circles do not adequately fund the needs of the low income and poor people for their health, education and social welfare.  Workers are submitted to intensified exploitation and union-busting and lack of safe working conditions so that “the country” can have prosperity, national security, and peace.

The policies of the Democratic and Republican Parties of the rich ruling class are carrying out the aims of the big banks and corporations for maximum profits. The ruling class parties attack social programs and provide money for war on competitors, mainly Russia and China at this time but on other countries throughout the world.

They use their police powers to attack people’s rights and to try to force people to submit to their dictate.

The system we have with the rich at the top is the opposite of what is needed. After all, it is the workers, not the rich, who are essential. It is their work that produces all the value and provides all the services that permit society to not only function but develop. This means the working class and people have a right and a duty to decide what society needs and how to get it done. And so it is inspiring and important that so many workers and other people have been rising up to fight the oppressive conditions we face.

To achieve the future we need, I think one of the greatest challenges we the people all face is to have more discussion venues to talk about what we need to do to break from the status quo and get better organized for that and for empowering ourselves. Right now, for example, there are a lot of conceptions floating around about the U.S. war on Russia using Ukraine as a proxy that are important to sort through and separate the wheat from the chaff.

Let’s make sure we are actively taking measures to represent ourselves and deprive corporate parties of any platform for paying the rich, privatizing, carrying out racist attacks against minorities, perpetuating violence against women, warmongering, and exacerbating the global warming/climate change crisis.

We are in a situation in which old forms are not working and the new forms to ensure that we can provide  pro-people programs  and services and enable empowerment of the people are yet to be brought into being. We need to cut through state-organized disinformation, corruption, violence, civil war scenarios here at home and imperialist wars abroad and defeat the aims of the ruling class to maximize its control and profits at the expense of the working class and people.

We all need to open the path of empowering ourselves.

The U.S. capitalist rulers control most of the forms of media at this time, which is tremendously harmful to the people. The remedy is for as many of us as possible to get together to inform ourselves and establish our own vantage point from where we can orient ourselves and provide solutions which serve our interests. It is the people who make history by setting our own aims and working out the tactics and forms of organization to achieve them.

The bourgeoisie does not want us all to have our own voice. A recent example is the State of Georgia indicting opponents of the construction of the Cop City training facility.  We have many obstacles that are put in our path. But, we cannot afford to have our voices be silenced. We need maximum numbers of more people to actively participate in discussions and actions, including working people and others active in progressive struggle for safe working conditions, funding, and other important issues such as dealing with the ever larger numbers of people suffering from lack of jobs, food and housing, and the issues of migrants.

We need to smash the widespread feelings of powerlessness and impending doom and point out how there is a way forward for the people to achieve emancipation and a government run of, for, and by the people. This is crucial at a time when government rule by Democrats and Republicans is not functioning to serve the people.

Struggles of the people in the U.S. have been very important and positive in opposing the U.S. government war against Russia, in demanding serious action against global warming/climate change, in demanding serious action against the COVID pandemic and for other public health issues, supporting migrants, opposing poverty and homelessness, opposing government and police attacks and attacks by others on the rights of women and minorities. This, plus the struggles of workers at their workplaces bode well for the future in the U.S. and in other countries in the world.

To wind up, I think this is a good time for all of us to offer thanks and congratulations to all those who have contributed to the strengthening of the anti-war movement and for the freedom of Julian Assange and Alex Saab, and taken action against global warming/climate change, for community control of the police, assistance to immigrants, and assistance to tenants and the homeless, among other important issues.  And I want to offer special thanks for the Labor Day and anniversary materials from the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), which led me to think this would be a good kind of article to draft and post.

I would be interested in your comments or questions on all this, and hope you will be able to join in ongoing activities if you are not already active.

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