The Third International after Lenin

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Reserve army"

PLP on the current conjuncture:

L.A. Times Praises Karl Marx! Capitalism’s Savage Disease: Mass Unemployment

“The real number of unemployed or underemployed people in the U.S. is a stunning 26.9 million,” (LAT, 11/30), although figures below indicate it’s closer to 35 million.

“The term ‘reserve army of labor’ is vintage Karl Marx” admits the LA Times. “But,” it continues, “let’s not hold that against it if it’s on the mark. These workers are on reserve; they are standing ready to work. And their sheer numbers make them an army.”

The ‘8.6%’ Scam

The bosses’ media spouts a “drop” in the U.S. unemployment rate to 8.6% (from the previous month’s 9%). Obama hails this as a sign of economic recovery. But this spurious figure results from the fact that 300,000+ workers who gave up looking for non-existent jobs are no longer included in the labor force and therefore are not counted as unemployed. According to such fraudulent figuring, if a few million more workers give up looking for these non-existent jobs, the jobless rate might “drop” to 6%!

Shadowstats.com reports that this “drop” in the jobless rate “actually signaled ongoing economic collapse…not the ongoing recovery heralded by the Administration and…Wall Street,” given the “swelling ranks of ‘discouraged’ workers.”

Not only does the government’s 8.6% jobless rate not include part-time workers who want but can’t find full-time jobs, nor “discouraged” workers who’ve given up looking for work after 26 weeks (which would raise the rate to 22.6% — Shadowstats.com), but it also excludes:

• Part of the massive prison population of 2.4 million being released from jail but also can’t find jobs amid the bosses’ economic crisis;

• GI’s recently returning from the rulers’ imperialist wars whose jobless rate is over 20%;

• Students “holing up in colleges and waiting for the economic storm to pass” (LAT);

• First-time job-seekers among high school and college graduates for whom there are no jobs;

• “Discouraged” workers who have been jobless for more than a year and who the Clinton administration re-defined in 1994 as “no longer discouraged”: the long-term unemployed;

• Workers on welfare who cannot seek jobs, lacking day-care for their children;

• Hundreds of thousands of youth who joined the military as the only “job” they could find.

Add all that up and the LAT’s “stunning 26.9 million” is closer to 35 million.

Unemployment’s Racist Factor

Within this massive misery is the fact that black and Latino workers have double the jobless rate of the working class as a whole. The government admits that even the low-ball figure of 8.6% rises to 15.5% for black workers (NY Times, 12/5), a rate that actually lies somewhere between 30% and 50% depending on the city, when considering the other factors outlined above. Growing out of centuries of racist discrimination, these workers became the last hired and first fired.

The mass hiring of black workers in the auto industry resulting from the black rebellions of the 1960s got wiped out in the 1980s recession when the pro-boss auto union “leaders” agreed to mass layoffs to “save the industry” — again the last hired and the first fired. This set white workers up for the kill when Obama became the savior in bailing out GM and Chrysler, leading to the layoff of thousands of long-time workers. This enables these companies to net profits during the Great Recession. Under capitalism, the bosses’ government exists to enforce the profit system. (See box below.)

Of course, capitalism’s reserve army of unemployed is mounting worldwide, from Britain to Mexico to France to Spain to South Africa to India to Italy to Bangladesh to Pakistan and on and on. The “Arab Spring” was a rebellion by workers demanding jobs. This international crisis is intensifying the rivalry of the imperialist powers as they compete for cheap labor and resources, especially oil and gas — an economic war whose “solution” inevitably leads to world war as it did in 1914 and 1939.

Marx’s “reserve army of the unemployed” is part of a working-class army that, when led by communist ideas, can overwhelm and overthrow the tiny number of billionaires who now run the world in their drive for maximum profits. This is the ruling class’s greatest fear.

Progressive Labor Party is fighting to marshal our class into a mighty force that will drive the money-changers out of their Wall Street temples and bury them with communist revolution. This can produce a society without bosses and profits, run by and for workers who produce all value, and who will distribute the fruits of our labor according to the needs of our class.

Joining and leading this PLP-led army can truly change the world.


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