Abolish Private Property – Transform Society
The new electronic, automated technology is shaking the very foundations of society. It is creating untold misery for billions, as obscene wealth is accumulated in a few private hands. As their wealth grows, simultaneously a new class of workers, that ranges from the part-time low-wage worker to the permanently unemployed, are becoming absolutely destitute. Yet, with the destruction of the very process in which the worker in production is the source of all wealth, the potential for the end of exploitation itself is on our horizon. The changes in the economy can provide a basis for the development of a new society that liberates humanity and the earth, but only if this destitute new class of workers itself obtains the political power needed to ensure the transition from a system of private property to a system of communal property.
Capitalist private property is a form of ownership under which instruments of production and natural resources are privately held by the owning class for their private gain. Under the capitalist system of private property the rest of us, the working class, are obliged to sell our ability to work to the owning class in order to get, in exchange, the means of our subsistence. A relationship of exploitation of the working class by the owning class has been the primary means of existence for the working class and has provided the wealth and power for the owning class over thousands of years of systems of private property, most recently capitalism
In the economic sense exploitation means that the owning class expropriates a portion of the labor completed by the workers over and above what the worker is compensated for in the wage. The expropriated labor is the source of capitalist profit and is central to the capitalist system. Today’s labor-replacing technology is laying the foundation for the elimination of this exploitation, and this changes everything.
The qualitatively new means of production is labor-replacing. Millions of jobs have been eliminated by computers, robotics and other forms of automation, and they are not coming back. But this does not mean that the end of exploitation is automatic. Fascism is emerging as a State form today in an effort to forcefully maintain the system of private property. We can see this oppression in the violent police response to members of the new class who threaten private property to meet their needs, and the militarized police response to destitute communities who resist. Incidents of 21st century fascism will increase as the ruling class attempts to hold on to the system of private property in the face of the objective technological advances breaking the relationship between the owning class and our class.
Capitalism is dying and something new is arising. Now begins the struggle for in whose interest the new society will be built. How will the workers get the necessities of life without jobs? A new class is being created by the new technology. It is a new quality within the working class. This class is objectively poised to lead the transformation of private property to public wealth in a new society organized to benefit humanity. The class of workers being created by the labor-replacing digital technology consists of part-time, contingent, minimum wage, and below minimum wage workers as well as the structurally unemployed whose jobs have been permanently eliminated, and the absolutely destitute, homeless workers. The new class cannot solve its economic problems without the public ownership of the socially necessary means of production and the distribution of the social product according to need. For the first time an objective communist economic class is forming to become the foundation for a communist political movement.
The new class needs political power to transform society in the interest of humanity and the earth. The owning class, which is a small minority, currently has the political power to decide how the resources of our society are used: who is well-educated and who is incarcerated, who is bailed out and who is foreclosed upon, who benefits from the wealth of society and who is left to starve. Both the Republican and the Democratic parties represent the interests of the owning class and their corporations. That is why banks and private corporations receive government bailouts, while public schools and health clinics are closed for lack of government funding. The new class, and the working class as a whole must have political power to transform the privatized means of production and distribution of life’s necessities to public property to be utilized in the interests of humanity and the earth.
Currently, the ruling class has political power, and therefore they run society in their interest. They do this through the defense of private property. In contrast, the objective interest of the new class is to abolish private property and to distribute the wealth of society according to need.
What is the path to political power, the vehicle needed to transform private property to public wealth? Class consciousness is essential. It is here that the revolutionaries play their essential role.
The objective situation and the spontaneous strivings of the people create an environment for revolutionaries to develop this consciousness. In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement, through its popularization of the struggle of the 99% against the 1%, was a step in raising the level of social awareness that there are two different economic classes with vastly different interests. Since then, in teachers’ strikes, struggles for pensions, Moral Mondays, battles for democracy in Michigan to the recent upsurges against police violence many are beginning to see the commonality of the plight of all workers.
But it is the role of conscious revolutionaries to point the way of the line of march, the path to power that can ensure that a cooperative economic system is the practical solution to the problems we face, and to make clear that the only way to achieve that system is through political power. Class consciousness will lead to the development of political independence, to the creation of a working class political party, and to the end of human exploitation forever.
This is the third in a series of three Building Block articles on private property. Building Block articles help explain a basic concept of the revolutionary process, challenging readers to explore its meaning for political work in today’s environment.
March/April 2015 Vol25.Ed2
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011