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Capitalism’s Unplanned Obsolescence

By Pedro Domínguez Gento

After centuries of atrocities against people including wars, massacres, slavery, exploitation, the destruction of the environment, pollution of ecosystems, extinction of flora and fauna, etc., this insensitive and insatiable system has brought us to the current critical situation, including pandemics. And if it were not for the environmental problems, more and more unsustainable, it would continue doing barbarities indefinitely, because people are easy to deceive (this is the only way to explain why the extreme right that caused the Second World War and 60 million deaths is growing again), but Nature cannot be deceived because it works with physics and chemical laws absolutely indifferent to publicity and lies of the great political, economic, religious, media leaders…

Corporate and state capitalism is reaching its expiration date, unplanned obsolescence, for at least three different reasons:

Climate emergency: the COP26 declared that during this decade we have to reduce greenhouse gases and therefore fossil fuels by 45% if we want to limit the global rise in temperatures to 35F, so that extreme climatic phenomena do not prove to be excessively destructive and we can withstand them.

However, the real commitments of governments are insufficient (some still subsidize airplanes, automobiles, mass tourism, weapons and want to expand airports, ports, roads, etc.) and lead us towards rises of 36F and 38F over the coming decades, with the danger that some phenomena such as melting Arctic ice, tundra and glaciers are self-sustaining and can irreversibly accelerate global warming. And if global temperatures rise this much, in Spain we will have summers with days of 122F and 140F, as in the Sahara .Are the governments, the owners of the big companies and the citizens aware that this is absolutely unsustainable and threatens the survival of millions of species, including our own?

Decline of natural resources: some strategic minerals are being depleted at a rapid rate, for example mercury of which we have already extracted 92%, silver 79%, gold 75%, tin 75%, arsenic 75%,  lead 72%, copper 59%, oil 48%, etc., and this is already beginning to generate serious problems before they are exhausted. Oil, in particular, still has half of its reserves left, but those of easy extraction have run out and every year it is more complicated and more expensive to continue extracting it, so that its production has passed peak oil 4 and is declining, especially diesel, fuel for heavy machinery… With the decline and depletion of natural resources, how long can a system based on continuous growth and abundant and cheap oil last?

System collapse: in the long run this system is unsustainable, but the question now is what will world leaders do in the short and medium term? In principle, they do not seem to want to solve the problems because for the moment they are doing well, they are getting richer and more powerful, the opposite of what is happening to the great majority of people. And they continue to do more of the same: speculation and financial bubbles, disconnection of the financial world and the real economy, privatization of public services and even pensions, automation of processes and reduction of human labor, growing unemployment especially among young people, maintenance of long working hours, lengthening of the retirement age, etc. etc.. They are so much carried away by the historical inertia that they are repeating the “solutions” that they already applied to the biggest previous crisis, the 1929 crash and the world depression of the 30’s; making those at the bottom pay for the crisis, hardening repression, encouraging extreme right-wing groups/parties/governments, specialists in lying and provoking, promoting a new arms escalation with NATO destroying oil countries, plundering them and besieging Russians, Chinese and others. We already know how that crisis ended and now it could be much worse because they have 13,000 thermonuclear missiles, much more destructive than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki… How would this civilization be left if World War III broke out? Would anyone survive?

Today there are already 7,921 billion human beings but the main problem is not overpopulation but over consumption. As Ghandi said, “the Earth has enough resources to sustain all mankind but not enough to satisfy the greed of a few”. In other words, there are not enough resources and regenerative capacity of the biosphere for our economy, consumption and waste to continue to grow ad infinitum; this insane pretension of capitalists and their economists is completely impossible and leads us humans and millions of species to the dustbin of history!

However, there are solutions to all problems and we have known them for a long time, but they all involve overcoming this system. Solutions such as those proposed by the 11,000 scientists generalizing savings, efficiency and renewable energies, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, helping poor countries to abandon them, protecting and restoring ecosystems, consuming more plant-based food and less animal-based food, stabilizing the world population while respecting human rights and on and on.

And by consuming less, in rich countries, we can even live better. For example, with regard to the climate emergency, we must reduce by half fossil fuels, which account for almost 90% of the energy we use, and we can do this perfectly well because right now there are people who maintain a good standard of living and quality of life by consuming much less energy and resources than the average of their fellow citizens. And they are equally or happier because, after covering basic needs, well-being and happiness no longer grow with consumption, and may even decrease due to the negative impacts of consumerism on health and the environment.

Inevitably we are going to decrease because we have exceeded the fundamental limits of the biosphere and this is unsustainable. We were warned because the authors of The Limits to Growth predicted it 50 years ago and numerous subsequent studies have corroborated it. The question now is how we decrease, if by the hard way, continuing as we are going until the uncontrollable collapse explodes uncontrollably, or by the good way, organizing and empowering ourselves as conscious people and leading it in a scientific, democratic, cooperative and in solidarity with one another.

This decade will be crucial, if we lose it uselessly as the previous ones, perhaps we will not be able to recover the climate balance, nor will we have enough resources for change or simply we will have burst in a new global deflagration… But the future is not written and if we do not let ourselves be deceived or lead like sheep to the slaughter, if we organize and fight, we can overcome this obsolete system and evolve towards a much better one…

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Is Woke Capitalism the New Trickle-Down Economics?

Stakeholder capitalism might be a feel-good corporate-friendly ideology, but so long as some stakeholders are (extremely) more equal than others, it is a flimsy fig leaf trying to hide an economic system that is producing ever-increasing levels of inequality.

By CARL RHODES

capitalism
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Just like the trickle-down economics of a generation ago, stakeholder capitalism provides a moral justification for the pursuit of corporate self-interest while inequality gets worse and worse.

Each January Larry Fink, billionaire boss of asset management firm BlackRock, sends a letter to the CEOs of the corporations his company invests in. In these letters he takes it upon himself to outline his views on the most important issues affecting the business world.  

A well-known advocate of “corporate purpose,” in the past Fink’s letters have addressed the responsibility of corporations’ environmental sustainability, workforce diversity, and the impact of business on society. His mantra has been that people have lost trust in governments that are failing to solve social and political problems, and it’s time for business to step up.

In this year’s letter released on January 17, Fink had a slight change in tack. He still goes on about stakeholder capitalism and how corporations should pursue the interests of the customers, employees,  suppliers, and communities, rather than just shareholders. What he added in 2022 was a direct statement that his approach to business is not “woke” and “is not about politics.”

Stakeholder capitalism, according to Fink, has nothing to do with ideology, it is simply the best way to do capitalism. What could be less woke than that! “We focus on sustainability not because we’re environmentalists, but because we are capitalists and fiduciaries to our clients,” he opines.

[Read on]

In 2021 The International Working Class Said: STAND UP FIGHT BACK!

The year 2021 affirmed how workers worldwide are fed up with this diseased system. Capitalism functions on this logic: capitalists profit from exploitation and division, thus mangling or killing us, then use reforms to strangle any rising working-class consciousness. When we recollect that 281 million workers have been infected by Covid-19 and 5 million are dead, we realize just how deadly reforms are for our class. Nothing short of communism will immunize workers and youth from the horrors of this profit system.

U.S. President Joe Biden is giving war-mongering vibes; he signed his intentions for the New Year with a $768 billion military bill, the largest since World War II (NYT, 12/21). Goodbye 20-year war in Afghanistan, hello World War III preparation. As the U.S., China, and Russia bosses prepare to nuke it out, it will be at the expense of the working class. Haven’t workers experienced enough? Could it be that our lives only matter when bosses say they do?

The despicable ruling class pushes for us to go “back to business as usual” (see page 2) while in our schools and jobs, we are getting sick en masse, hospitals are filling up with Covid-19 infected children, evictions are coming, with police enforcement.

If we learned anything from 2021, it is that if one section of our class is under attack, that attack will soon spread to another. That is the way the infectious system of capitalism works. In order to smash Covid-19 and this racist, sexist system for good, we must think and act collectively across borders. That is what Progressive Labor Party (PLP) fights for – an international, communist world where the needs of ALL workers are primary.

Awaken ye workers—strike, rise, revolt!

As bosses are demanding  more productivity during the pandemic, workers declared NO MAS (no more) and striked against killer working conditions, turning their workplaces into schools for communism.

[Read on]

What Was Capitalism?

by SANJIV GUPTA

a capitalist rich wraps its tentacles so many sectors of society

In 1888, in Edward Bellamy’s best-selling novel Looking Backward, a time-trav- eler wakes in the year 2000 to a social- ist utopia. A recently discovered manu- script—this one from the future—de- scribes for people of the year 2176 what life was like in the 2000s. Written by the Earth History Collective, it was retrieved by Sanjiv Gupta of the DSA National Po- litical Education Committee. —Eds

Capitalism was dominant for several centuries. Today, it seems alien, even abhorrent: How could people have lived like that? Yet capitalism trained millions of people to work together to do amazing things, like doubling the average human lifespan. But only a few people reaped most of its benefits. This created a vast gap between its promises and its realities, reflected in everyday experiences with money, work, time, and freedom.

Money: Today, money is a convenient tool for keeping track of our resources and wealth and for planning for future needs. Under capitalism, money was the ultimate measure of the value of all things, even of people. Most people did not have enough because a few had too much.

Work: Today, we understand work to be the use of our bodies and minds to satisfy our natural curiosity, create beauty, and nurture our children. We like being pleasantly depleted by work and then returning to it after rest and renewal. Under capitalism, most people “worked for money” in order to live. And by working, they

made the already wealthy even richer. They also did “unpaid” work, such as caring for their young, old, and sick. Today, we understand most work to be about caring for something or someone.

Time: Today, we understand time as the marker of change in all things. That includes ourselves: We exist for a finite time. During this time we work to increase our own, and others’, health and happiness and to enjoy our existence. Under capitalism, most people’s time was structured by their need to work for money. They could only spend time on other things— even caring for their young—during their “time off” from this work.

Freedom: Today, we understand freedom as our ability to choose what we do with our finite time, to choose our work and our pleasures. Under capitalism, most people’s freedom was limited by where and to whom they were born. Only a few escaped this tyranny of chance. Today, we understand that for any of us to be free, all of us must be free. This requires us to decide together how we use our resources and the fruits of our collective labor.

It’s hard to believe that our practices and conceptions of money, work, time, and freedom were considered revolutionary during capitalism. Yet capitalism itself was once revolutionary. It destroyed earlier, seemingly permanent ways of life, such as caste and slavery. But it concentrated the means of producing wealth in the hands of a few. When the vast majority took over these resources, it cleared the way for everyone to decide the content of their existence. It made it possible for all of us, today, to be free.

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Introduction to Socialism and Capitalism

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

8:30 PM EST / 7:30 PM CST / 6:30 PM MST / 5:30 PM PST

Call / Meeting Info

RSVP: RSVP Here

Event Information

What makes socialism a viable alternative to capitalism and what are the pathways to getting there?

How would you describe the critical problems with capitalism in just a few sentences?

This event from DSA’s National Political Education Committee will feature speakers Hadas Thier and Peter Frase, who will guide us through the basics of socialism and capitalism. Representing different socialist perspectives within DSA, you’ll learn how to discuss large ideas in simple ways with members and non-members alike.

This event will take place via Zoom, on Wednesday Jan. 26th at 8:30pm EST/5:30pm PST.

Gang Fascism: How Capital Weaponizes the Social Ills It Creates

By Rainer Shea  

In The Peasant War in Germany, Friedrich Engels wrote:

The lumpenproletariat, this scum of the decaying elements of all classes, which establishes headquarters in all the big cities, is the worst of all possible allies. It is an absolutely venal, an absolutely brazen crew. If the French workers, in the course of the Revolution, inscribed on the houses: Mort aux voleurs! (Death to the thieves!) and even shot down many, they did it, not out of enthusiasm for property, but because they rightly considered it necessary to hold that band at arm’s length. Every leader of the workers who utilises these gutter-proletarians as guards or supports, proves himself by this action alone a traitor to the movement.

What are revolutionaries in the imperial center during the 21st century to make of this statement? Despite the wildly controversial nature that this quote took on when I recently shared it on social media, it needs to be examined. And it’s important to answer the question I just articulated.

The class character of the lumpen

Firstly, we shouldn’t interpret this quote as evidence that everyone who can be considered part of the “lumpenproletariat” as we now understand it is an enemy of the revolution. Such an idea is classist and reactionary, as those who negatively reacted to my posting of the quote pointed out. But they misunderstood what Engels was saying.

In the common modern definition, the lumpen include essentially everyone who’s been pushed aside by capitalism to the extent that they’re excluded from being proletarians. By this standard, the lumpen are encompassed by all of the millions of people who were proletarians just two years ago, but who’ve been forced into unemployment by the pandemic. They include all of the people who’ve decided not to fill the 11 million open job positions in the U.S. due to how exploitative modern minimum wage work is. (Though as I’ll get to, some within this category do fit the definition of who Engels cautioned against working with.) They also include all of the unhoused and otherwise destitute people who’ve been part of this dispossessed population for all of their lives, by no choice of their own. To say the least, it would be undialectical to blanketly exclude them from the struggle. For the most part, it’s not like these kinds of lumpenproles “establish headquarters” in anything; they’re just trying to survive a humanitarian crisis that neoliberalism has engineered.

So why do I bring up this quote from Engels? Because foremost, it’s extremely important for modern Marxists to recognize the distinction between the definition of the lumpenproletariat which Engels and Marx used, and the definition many use today. When they warned against working with the lumpen, they were talking about the types of lumpen who’ve been molded by capital to fill a role of counterrevolutionary intrigue. Who are these types? To find out, we need to investigate how the system brings them into this position.

The first clue is the economic nature of the lumpen as opposed to the regular proletarians. As the Communist Manifesto says: “Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.” The lumpenproletariat is not part of this class. By this, I mean not that no member of the “lumpen” as we define it today is capable of revolutionary consciousness, but that the lumpen lack the economic leverage to be able to affect change in the specific and instrumental way which the proletariat can. This isn’t a denunciation of their character, only an economic fact, one which also applies to non-working students, people who live off of creating online content, or any other person who falls outside the proletarian category.

If the proletariat stopped working, there would be no economy. If the lumpen stopped working, there would still be an economy, if one that’s deprived of the underground markets. Again, this does not mean everyone who falls under the modern umbrella of the “lumpen” is worthless to the proletarian revolution; under conditions like the ones Mao navigated, those among this broader category of lumpen are able to be incorporated into the communist movement on a massive scale.

But it does mean that communists should not pretend as if the regular proles and the lumpen can be treated interchangeably. Because whereas the proletariat is innately a revolutionary class, the differing economic position of the lumpen makes its members more easily able to be turned into weapons for capital. As Marx warned, the lumpen “may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.”

It appears Marx underestimated the extent to which the lumpen would end up being swayed in the revolutionary direction throughout the 20th century (see China’s revolution). But he was right in that the lumpen’s separation from the driving economic facets creates an opening for the lumpen to be turned towards the reaction.

The bourgeois weaponization of gangs

If this sounds abstract, take the example of gangs. Even in the core of imperialism, gangs are capable of positive things, like when Jewish mobsters have fought neo-Nazis. But they’re the facet of the lumpen that’s been most effectively manipulated by the U.S. ruling class, and that have a structure which makes them functionally incompatible with the kinds of organizations needed for facilitating proletarian revolution. Plus, those Jewish mobsters were an exception; gangs of other ethnic groups, even ones which are oppressed by white supremacy, have been willing to collaborate with Nazis.

This was shown by the story of Rodolfo “Cheyenne” Cadena, the Chicano mob boss who attempted to make California’s gang structure into a revolutionary force. He formed an alliance with George Jackson and the Black Guerrilla Family, and became active in the Brown Berets-the anti-capitalist Chicano organization that resisted the Vietnam War, and that was part of the Third World Liberation Front. As part of his agenda to unite Africans and Chicanos into a decolonial communist movement via gangs, he sought to unify the Mexican Mafia with its rival, Nuestra Familia.

As a consequence, he was stabbed to death in prison by Nuestra Familia members, starting off a 31-year-long cycle of tit-for-tat killings. Now many of the non-white gangs Cadena hoped to unite are working with the Aryan Brotherhood, the country’s most notorious neo-Nazi gang. Which shows how easily gangs, despite sometimes acting as counters to fascists, can be swayed towards collaborating with fascists; their interests lie not in political principles, but in economic interests.

The NF killed Cadena because as soon as he tried to make peace between the gangs, his peers within the Mexican Mafia decided to sabotage his reconciliation mission by murdering two NF members prior to his planned peace talk with the NF. They also sabotaged Cadena’s personal influence within the Mafia, making him a sitting target for NF retribution. Just as Marx would have anticipated, reactionary intrigue came quite easily for the facets of the lumpen that Marx and Engels referred to; namely the mafiosos, who are part of an innately reactionary power structure.

If this is how easy it is for gangs in the United States to snuff out revolutionary elements within their ranks, and for non-white gangs to ally with white supremacists, gangs here are not ripe for becoming part of the revolutionary vanguard. What else to expect when these gangs have long served as vessels for the CIA to distribute its drugs-a tactic which encompasses not just U.S. borders, but the entirety of the exploited countries throughout the Americas.

Given the global prevalence of the CIA’s weaponization of gangs, the equivalent is naturally true for the gangs within exploited countries like Haiti, where an armed gang alliance which claims to be revolutionary has been carving out influence. This alliance calls itself “revolutionary” for opportunistic purposes. Its leadership is made up of gang members who’ve fallen out of favor with the government and the bourgeoisie, and are seeking to create a breakaway structure. Not one based around proletariat dictatorship, but around the same kind of bourgeois model which characterizes the gangs in the imperial center.

It’s necessary to point out these facts because the bourgeoisie, particularly in the imperial center, are fostering a culture which can lead communists to ignore such realities. Which can cause those who’ve been brought to an anti-capitalist worldview, but lack sufficient political education, to idealize and romanticize gangs. And to then be led down the same path which caused Cadena and his alliance to be destroyed by capital’s mafioso footsoldiers.

Obstructing class consciousness via liberal moralism & the weaponization of drugs

How are the bourgeoisie doing this? By obfuscating the unique importance of the proletariat, and thereby distorting the goals of socialism. By propagating the misconception that Marxism doesn’t entail the transferring of political control from the bourgeoisie to the working class, but the general lifting up of the dispossessed. These two things sound the same, but the latter has a crucial difference from the former: it leaves room for the mafiosos to gain opportunistic leverage over social movements, simply because their ranks largely consist of dispossessed people.

Under a dictatorship of the proletariat, gangs will be enemies of the state-far more so than they are under the capitalist state, since capitalism covertly fosters gangsterism (as shown by the CIA’s drug funnelings, and by the weaponization of gangs against revolutionaries like Cadena). Last year, the Communist Party of China cracked down on the country’s gangs, sweeping away 3,000 organized crime entities. The fact that the world’s largest workers state eliminates gangs even more than it executes billionaires or nationalizes private companies (both of which China does quite frequently) shows just how antagonistic communism’s relationship with gangs is.

The equivalent will happen under the workers democracy that we’ll build on this continent, because beyond being opposed to the bourgeois nature of these gangs, communists are opposed to their systematic destruction of impoverished communities (who are disproportionately made up of colonized peoples) by flooding these communities with drugs. And targeting the bourgeois gang leaders who distribute these drugs is an infinitely better route towards reducing self-destructive drug use than criminalizing the users. Which is what the U.S. bourgeoisie do in their phony “war on drugs,” where the victims of the CIA’s substance proliferation are incarcerated to keep up profits for private prison companies. The same companies that are currently operating concentration camps for the migrants displaced by CIA-created gang violence in Latin America.

Under the distorted version of “socialism” that’s propagated in the imperial center, the low-level mafiosos who participate in this trade are judged to have as much revolutionary potential as the proletariat simply by virtue of being in an economically low position. But as Stalin assessed in Anarchism or Socialism, communists do not necessarily represent those in poverty:

It is true that the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie now constitute the majority and are really poor, but is that the point? The petty bourgeoisie has long constituted the majority, but up to now it has displayed no initiative in the struggle for “freedom” without the assistance of the proletariat. Why? Because the petty bourgeoisie as a class is not growing; on the contrary, it is disintegrating day by day and breaking up into bourgeois and proletarians. On the other hand, nor is poverty of decisive importance here, of course: “tramps” are poorer than the petty bourgeoisie, but nobody will say that they can undertake the task of “emancipating Russia.” As you see, the point is not which class today constitutes the majority, or which class is poorer, but which class is gaining strength and which is decaying.

This is what the moralistic arguments of the imperial center’s liberal concept of “socialism” leaves out: the practical reality of what it will take to emancipate the proletariat. Namely, an objective assessment of which class has the potential to carry out the economic aspect of a proletarian revolution, and a correct identification of the kinds of counterrevolutionary elements which Engels warned about. Scientific socialism is distinct from moralism. And when one applies a scientific analysis to today’s drug trade, its petty bourgeois nature becomes apparent.

The street-level hustlers don’t enter the trade out of need for sustenance, because this job garners them only several thousand dollars a year; as the webpage for the book Freakonomics observes:

Drug dealing isn’t a job that has a lot of monetary and personal benefits. University of Chicago student, Sudhir Venkatesh helped expose this reality by creating a survey he personally distributed to the poor communities surrounding Chicago. His interest was focused on what the people who lived in these neighborhoods thought of being “black and poor” (Sudhir). The Black Disciple gang leader, J.T. explained the dynamics of the gang, from the bottom-up. Petty drug runners, the runts of the hierarchy, are at the greatest risk, and yet they get paid the lowest wages. On average, street-corner drug salesman made $3.30 an hour while working in areas with high potential for violence, extortion, and police. (Levitt and Dubner). These runners only worked these almost impossible jobs in hope of one day moving up the gang hierarchy. The boss and few higher-ups of the gang were the ones that made the big cheddar. The possibility that a runner would become a higher-up was slim to none, yet for people from these poor neighborhoods, slim was better than nothing.

This real-life example demonstrates the economic principle that “conventional wisdom is often wrong” (Levitt and Dubner). Just because citizens are involved in high crime jobs like selling drugs does not mean they make much money. People think that with such a huge supply of drugs on the street, that the business must be incredibly profitable but in reality only a few make amounts worth bragging about, while the rest of the lower drug “foot soldiers” are still so poor they have to live with their mothers.

Given this data, these dealers would be able to make far better by working at even one of those millions of currently open minimum wage jobs. They’ve entered into this business of selling the CIA’s poison out of desire to become bourgeois, to rise in the ranks of the trade and become one of the rich mafiosos. It’s this fact about the trade which reveals the parallel between these “foot soldiers,” and the lower class elements which Stalin warned against idealizing; both are relatively poor, but poverty doesn’t in itself make for revolutionary potential.

Poverty can even be exploited by the bourgeoisie to create more recruits for counterrevolutionary activities, as shown by the pipeline that the infamous movement infiltrator William O’Neal (as depicted in Judas and the Black Messiah) went through: getting in trouble with the law, then agreeing to become a counterintelligence infiltrator who helped get Fred Hampton killed. Just because someone has a background in the underclass, doesn’t mean revolutionary parties should be the slightest bit more lenient on them in terms of vetting and security culture.

Give these facts, it’s no wonder why “lumpenproletarianization” is one of the biggest weapons of capitalism and white supremacy, especially in the imperial center. Around the globe, the bourgeoisie elevate the criminal elements so that they can be pitted against the proletariat, and against the broader types of lumpenproles who Mao was able to incorporate into the revolutionary struggle. Their strategy is quite simple: divide and conquer. Communists must unite with the types of lumpenproles who Mao proved to be compatible with revolution, while not being naive about the destructive potential of the mafiosos, or while uncritically equating poverty with revolutionary potential.

[Source]

COP26 Conference: Capitalists Don’t Cop to Climate Corruption

https://www.naagriknews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cop.jpg

Over the 12 days of the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, fossil fuel companies extracted a billion barrels of oil from the ground. As diplomats tap-danced around the climate crisis, capitalists guaranteed that even more Earth-warming carbon would clog the atmosphere. Beneath their fake show of unity and pathetically inadequate (and unenforceable) pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the bosses did what bosses do.  The COP26 conference was driven by the capitalist law of maximum profit and by the inter-imperialist rivalry heading toward global war. The only thing that unites the world’s ruling classes is their need to build racism, sexism, nationalism, and fascism to prepare for that war. Only communist revolution, led by Progressive Labor Party (PLP), can save a habitable planet by putting science and workers’ needs first.

Climate change and racist inequality

Though all workers are hurt by climate change, poor Black, Latin and Asian working-class areas suffer the most. An unprecedented drought in Madagascar has left more than one million people at risk of famine (U.N.,10/21). Rising sea levels in the Indian Ocean could erase the Maldive Islands within three generations (express.co.uk, 11/15/17). In the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil, dried-out rivers are wiping out crops, drinking water, and farmers’ jobs (Yale Environment 360, 11/10). In September, Hurricane Ida swept through New York City and killed 11 workers trapped in illegal basement apartments in working-class  Asian neighborhoods—victims of both climate change and their landlords’ greed.  And let’s not forget Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 killed nearly 2,000 workers in New Orleans, 52 percent of them Black.

By far the worst is yet to come. By 2050, more than a billion workers could become climate refugees (theguardian.com, 9/9/20).

[Read On]

Taxing Billionaires Is Long Overdue, But There’s a Better Way to Do It


If only Congress weren’t so beholden to the rich.

Elon Musk, currently America’s richest man. Kiichiro Sato/AP

Word on the street, or in the press, anyway, is that the billionaires tax Democrats are eyeing to help pay for their ambitious social policy and climate package is in trouble. Hell, I just published a book about American super-wealth and its consequences, and I don’t get it.

I mean, I get the sentiment. In their 2019 book, University of California, Berkeley, economists Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez noted that the 400 highest-earning Americans pay a smaller percentage of their income in combined federal, state, and local taxes than any other economic group. That should piss everybody off. A lot of those same people, meanwhile, avoid income, and therefore income tax, almost entirely by taking out low-interest loans against their investment holdings in lieu of a salary.

When those holdings—stocks, private equity, real estate, paintings, jewelry, antique cars, and so on—increase in value, the “unrealized” profits remain untaxed until the assets are sold, triggering a capital gains “event.” But even then they are taxed at a far lower maximum rate (23.8 percent) than the current maximum rate the IRS levies on regular work income (37 percent).

[Read On]

There Is No Labor Shortage, Only Labor Exploitation

by Sonali Kolhatkar 


For the past few months, Republicans have been waging a ferocious political battle to end federal unemployment benefits, based upon stated desires of saving the U.S. economy from a serious labor shortage. The logic, in the words of Republican politicians like Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, goes like this: “the government pays folks more to stay home than to go to work,” and therefore, “[p]aying people not to work is not helpful.” The conservative Wall Street Journal has been beating the drum for the same argument, saying recently that it was a “terrible blunder” to pay jobless benefits to unemployed workers.

If the hyperbolic claims are to be believed, one might imagine American workers are luxuriating in the largesse of taxpayer-funded payments, thumbing their noses at the earnest “job creators” who are taking far more seriously the importance of a post-pandemic economic growth spurt.

It is true that there are currently millions of jobs going unfilled. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just released statistics showing that there were 9.3 million job openings in April and that the percentage of layoffs decreased while resignations increased. Taking these statistics at face value, one could conclude this means there is a labor shortage.

But, as economist Heidi Shierholz explained in a New York Times op-ed, there is only a labor shortage if employers raise wages to match worker demands and subsequently still face a shortage of workers. Shierholz wrote, “When those measures [of raising wages] don’t result in a substantial increase in workers, that’s a labor shortage. Absent that dynamic, you can rest easy.”

Remember the subprime mortgage housing crisis of 2008 when economists and pundits blamed low-income homeowners for wanting to purchase homes they could not afford? Perhaps this is the labor market’s way of saying, if you can’t afford higher salaries, you shouldn’t expect to fill jobs.

Or, to use the logic of another accepted capitalist argument, employers could liken the job market to the surge pricing practices of ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft. After consumers complained about hiked-up prices for rides during rush hour, Uber explained, “With surge pricing, Uber rates increase to get more cars on the road and ensure reliability during the busiest times. When enough cars are on the road, prices go back down to normal levels.” Applying this logic to the labor market, workers might be saying to employers: “When enough dollars are being offered in wages, the number of job openings will go back down to normal levels.” In other words, workers are surge-pricing the cost of their labor.

But corporate elites are loudly complaining that the sky is falling—not because of a real labor shortage, but because workers are less likely now to accept low-wage jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce insists that “[t]he worker shortage is real,” and that it has risen to the level of a “national economic emergency” that “poses an imminent threat to our fragile recovery and America’s great resurgence.” In the Chamber’s worldview, workers, not corporate employers who refuse to pay better, are the main obstacle to the U.S.’s economic recovery.

Longtime labor organizer and senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies Bill Fletcher Jr. explained to me in an email interview that claims of a labor shortage are an exaggeration and that, actually, “we suffered a minor depression and not another great recession,” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Fletcher’s view, “The so-called labor shortage needs to be understood as the result of tremendous employment reorganization, including the collapse of industries and companies.”

[Read On]

Capitalists Consolidate Control Over U.S. Farmland

By Ted Kelly 

The amount of farmland in the United States has been in steady decline for most of the 21st century. While roughly 40% of the country’s land area remains devoted to agriculture, 14 million acres of farmland were lost to ecological devastation or development between 2012 and 2017. (American Farmland Trust) At least 2 million additional acres have been lost every year since then. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Capitalists consolidate control over U.S. farmland – Workers World


Petition to the New U.S. Administration: End Economic Sanctions in the Face of the Global Pandemic

Sanctions Kill is asking everyone to sign its new petition to the Biden administration and Congress. To sign, go to sanctionskill.org/petition.

We write to you because we are deeply concerned about the impact of U.S. sanctions on many countries that are suffering the dire consequences of COVID-19.

Petition to the new U.S. administration: End economic sanctions in the face of the global pandemic – Workers World


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~ Steve, editor