Thursday, October 20, 2011

A "crisis of historic magnitude"


The lives of hundreds of millions worldwide are being affected in myriad ways by the ruinous consequences of a brewing crisis of historic magnitude. Underlying this crisis is the contraction of production, trade and employment throughout the world capitalist economy.

In the U.S alone since 2007, household income has gone through its largest decline in decades. Nearly 26 million workers are without full-time jobs and the average period of unemployment has nearly tripled since 2007.

In addition to shrinking paychecks, layoff notices or health care or pension cancellations from the boss, many workers also face the growing burden of unpayable debts from home mortgages to college loans, marked as "assets" in bank ledgers that are packaged and sold in ponzi schemes promising handsome return for the propertied owners.

Facing declining profits in production, capitalists seek other avenues to maximize returns. Instead of investing in expanding productive capacity, they blow up debt balloons fueled by investment in increasingly complex and leveraged "financial instruments."

As the world financial system becomes increasingly unstable and begins to shake, the crisis appears to be rooted in banking and finance. But this is not the source of the problem; it is merely a symptom.

Layoffs and shutdowns mount alongside the growing necessity and ability to increase production. The problem is not something gone awry with capitalism or of excesses that need to be regulated and checked by a correct government policy. Capitalism is functioning the only way it can; the crisis is a product of its natural and lawful workings.

The owners of the factories, mines, mills, land, etc. who buy and sell the labor power of the toiling majority hold political power and use their government to advance their interests.

Layers of working people in the United States—from sugar workers in the Upper Midwest to dockworkers in the state of Washington and others—are resisting the drive by the employing class to roll back living standards and job conditions and deal blows to the unions in order to boost their profit margins.

Tens of millions of workers, farmers, and youth—from Greece, Spain, and elsewhere across Europe; to villages, towns, and cities in Asia, Africa, and the Americas; to Wall Street and across the U.S.—are recognizing the miserable future capitalism offers them, a future of economic devastation, stepped-up assaults on political rights to organize, and spreading bloody imperialist wars.

As long as workers' confidence and practice of solidarity continues to grow as a result of these struggles, we get stronger. "Now and again the workers are victorious, but only for a time," says the Communist Manifesto. "The real fruit of their battles lies not in the immediate result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers."

It's today's struggles that will lay the basis for forging a mass working-class movement capable of wresting power from the hands of the capitalist rulers and building a society based on human needs and solidarity, not profits.

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