WW photo: Alan Pollock
Following are excerpts from a Nov. 13 talk at the Workers World Party national conference given by Monica Moorehead, member of the WW Secretariat, a WW managing editor and editor of “Marxism, Reparations and the Black Freedom Struggle.”
This unprecedented global capitalist economic crisis is devastating the lives of workers not only in the poorer, developing countries but also in the rich, capitalist countries including the U.S. Almost daily some study is released on how workers are being impacted by unemployment, underemployment, home foreclosures, debt, lack of education and health care, attacks on pensions. The list goes on and on.
Just reading all these statistics can easily be a downer and a source of tremendous demoralization and desperation, especially for the masses who right now see no way out of this morass. But for the movement it should have an opposite effect because as Marxists, our duty and responsibility is not just to interpret and analyze the world’s problems but to change them. Revolutionaries must be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The experts never view these deteriorating conditions within the general framework of the decadent, archaic nature of the capitalist system, which is driven insanely to make profits at the expense of providing human needs.
The workers, as exploited wage slaves, continue to be a tremendous source of profits for the corporate bosses. This exploitation has laid the basis for globalized solidarity as the growing poverty in the capitalist countries is moving quickly in the same direction as the poverty in the oppressed countries.
But because oppressed nations or people of color exist inside imperialist countries based on centuries-old super-exploitation and the white supremacist attitudes that flow from it, there is a greater degree of suffering in disproportionate numbers among people of color that cannot be ignored. There has been a lot written about the plight of African Americans and the current economic crisis. Consider these devastating numbers: The richest 1 percent of the U.S. population owns close to 40 percent of its wealth. The top 25 percent of U.S. households own 87 percent.
A recent Brandeis University study shows that a white family has five times more wealth than a Black family, amounting to a difference of about $95,000.
In a recent CNN documentary called “Almighty Debt: Black in America,” it was stated that 81 percent of Black college graduates have outstanding loans. One out of 10 Black families is losing their homes to foreclosure due mainly to the predatory subprime loans which singled out Black single mothers.
According to the Graduate Employment Gap: Students of Color Losing Ground report, the unemployment rate for 16-to-24-year-old African-American high school graduates increased 11 points since the beginning of the recession in 2007 to 31.3 percent. The unemployment rate for white high school graduates, at 21.4 percent, is the lowest among Black, Latino/a and Asian graduates. African-American college graduates have an unemployment rate of 15.4 percent, up from 8.4 percent at the beginning of the recession. Almost twice as many Black workers are unemployed compared to whites.
This current crisis for Black people is rooted in the legacy of slavery, the counterrevolution known as the demise of Reconstruction, Jim Crow and current institutionalized racism.
This economic crisis has caused a political crisis as well, especially since the 2008 election of President Obama. Millions of people, especially people of color and young people, were hoping that the election of the first African-American president would be the answer to good-paying jobs, the eradication of racism and the end of endless war. But just the opposite has happened — the economic assaults have intensified and so have racism and other forms of reaction. President Obama, like every president before him whether Democrat or Republican, serves the interests of the bourgeoisie, since the U.S. president is the head administrator of the capitalist state who must maintain class rule.
In “Almighty Debt,” the intervention of the Black churches was raised as a viable solution to foreclosures and layoffs. Our party would certainly support any source of immediate economic relief. But this kind of relief is like a bandage trying to cover a growing cancer. It’s not the ultimate solution.
No matter how many trillions of dollars the government hands over to the banks in bailouts, the present capitalist crisis will remain permanent. Capitalism cannot be reformed. The capitalists are appendages to an irrational system, not the other way around. Capitalism must be uprooted tooth and nail.
All revolutionaries must put aside all ideological differences to unite to build a united front for socialism, a system that puts peoples’ needs before profits. The material conditions are more than ripe to do this. What is missing is the political will to do this. Unity is crucial to reaching our class sisters and brothers in an effective way with a political program of fightback and struggle. Oppressed workers are taking bold actions like the immigrant-led sit-in by the Republic Windows and Doors workers in 2008, which won back wages for them. Black Workers for Justice and UE 150 are organizing public sector workers in the low-wage, racist state of North Carolina, and the Black-led ILWU Local 10 recently shut down the docks on the West Coast to protest the police killing of Black youth Oscar Grant.
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