Class Unity Decisive in Fight for New Society
As the workers awaken to the truth of their conditions, the necessity for unity is becoming a decisive factor in the struggle for a new society.
Unity seems to be an apparent and obvious thing. The old sayings say as much: “In unity there is strength,” or “Many hands make light work,” and “United we stand, divided we fall.” Yet, it is also recognized, as Steven Biko once observed, “unity cannot be willed by mere declarations.” To get to the heart of unity in our struggle today, we must ask ourselves important questions. What is it about this moment in history that makes unity so necessary? What group in society is capable of leading the fight for the reorganization of society? How will unity be achieved?
The demand for a new world is already being proclaimed and defended by millions throughout this country. They don’t yet see that within their common demand for the basic necessities of life, they are articulating a new vision of America. It is a vision where cooperation and fulfilling the needs of humanity are the guiding principles. Today, the role of revolutionaries is to illuminate the meaning of what people are already fighting for and provide a strategy to achieve it.
The Importance of This Moment
The statistics can be found in any newspaper, think tank study, or government report. Literally tens of millions are either homeless, living hand to mouth, or scrambling to feed their families, some working two or three jobs just to keep body and soul together. This is the reality for the growing tens of millions of workers in the richest, most powerful country in the world.
It is not simply a recession from which we will soon recover, or a temporary layoff from which we will return to decent jobs and that once decent life. The spread of automation and robotics and the continued advances in digital technology are not simply destroying previous categories of work. These new technologies are eliminating human labor from production. The social order, based on the buying and selling of our ability to work as a means to live, is being destroyed. As the old social order crumbles, it means there is no other choice but to fight to create a new one.
In fact, these wondrous new technologies offer the promise of a world where poverty and exploitation can be eradicated from society once and for all, where everyone can have the access to the necessaries of life and the positive fruits of human progress.
The capitalist system of private property relations prevents this abundance from being distributed freely to all of society. The deepening and accelerating polarization of wealth and poverty is the dominant expression of this antagonism. It is no more clearly expressed than in the staggering statistic recently released by Oxfam: Eight individuals own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.
The clash between the promise of the new technology and its obstruction is caused by private property relations. This is creating the crisis and the struggle against its devastating consequences that we see all around us today. The ruling class has no choice but to preserve these private property relations, and is turning to fascism to do so. The workers have no choice but to take over these new means of production, and use them to build a cooperative society that provides for all.
It is this world historical transformation made possible by the electronic revolution, and the practical impossibility of survival without the reorganization of society, that makes class unity both urgent and necessary.
No Choice but to Transform Society
What is the group in society that is capable of leading the fight for the reorganization of society? That group is the one whose economic position gives them no choice but to overturn the existing system.
Automation and digital production are eliminating the necessity for human labor in production and creating a new class of workers. This new section of the working class is outside of, and has no stake in, private property relations itself.
This new class may appear simply as a conglomeration of people defined by their poverty. But poverty is the consequence of their position and not the cause of it. The majority of the new class is contingent, minimum wage, below-minimum wage, and part-time workers — now over 40 percent of the workforce. This employed sector of the class is constantly being drawn into the growing unemployed sector that ranges from the structurally unemployed to the absolutely destitute, homeless workers. These categories of work will be destroyed as automation and digital technologies advance. As the capitalist government increases its disregard for them, the new class is ultimately compelled to attack the source of their suffering, the system of private property itself.
However, because these workers are still in the process of formation as a class, they are also confused and their actions are often contradictory and chaotic. They are being thrown into competition with one another, not simply for the crumbs of livelihood, but for their very survival. They cling to the ideas of the ruling class, and are disarmed by the absence of an alternative vision of what is possible today, or a strategy to achieve it. The ruling class actively works to provoke one section of the class to accept its fascist program to attack another section.
Yet underneath all of this, the new class has an unassailable strength. They cannot give up and go home. They need housing, food, health care and other basic necessities of life. Their demands are coming into conflict with the State, which is standing in the way of them securing these basic necessities. This class is in fact, if not in understanding, struggling to transfer capitalist property to itself in order to feed, clothe, house and care for itself.
Equality of Condition is Basis of Unity
Despite the confusion and vulnerability of this new class, the hitherto unknown breadth of the equality of its common economic condition is creating the basis for real unity.
Unity or the lack of unity has never been simply a subjective question. When a large group of people are on the same social level with common economic problems, they can unite. Despite a history of common economic condition in the past, the workers in America could not unite. Petty social privileges granted to the white workers over the Black workers always made unity impossible. The workers could not unite, when they were unequally oppressed and exploited. Only equals can unite.
Privileges granted to white workers were not because the ruling class cared for them. The ruling class used bribery, a political tactic designed to prevent unity of the class, made possible by an expanding capitalist system. This imperialist bribery was extended to not only white workers over Black workers, but to Northern workers over Southern workers, and American workers over the workers of other countries. In a disintegrating capitalist system, bribery is no longer needed or even possible to facilitate exploitation, and is being cast aside. Exploitation is now achieved through automated production, the international competition for jobs, and the laws of the global marketplace.
The once privileged white worker, and in descending order of privilege, this new class of workers, is being created throughout the world. These workers have been cast adrift by a new ruling class of multi-colored, supranational financiers. This new international ruling class cares no more for, and has no more need for the worker in Chicago than one in Rio de Janeiro.
Of course, simply because the class is presented with the practical possibility of unity does not mean that unity will automatically take place. The divisions within the working class are very deep in America. The capitalist ruling class has forged a history of genocide, slavery, oppression and exploitation of the working class. They have created and exacerbated the divisions among the workers. Preventing the unity of the workers in any period of history has always been the ruling class key to power, highlighting the danger that this new class presents to them.
The divisions can only be overcome by intellectual struggle linked to the daily experience of the common struggles. Regardless of color, sex, faith or nationality, workers throughout the country are already beginning to express their common plight and need to act together.
Uniting for the Coming Battle
The new battles are being carried out by a new type of revolutionary. They seek to solve common practical problems. The impulse towards unity among these workers reflects a striving towards unity that arises out of their common interests rooted in the fight for the basic necessities. Their common condition is undermining all the old ideologies that have been used to divide the class. They do not need to be organized or told how to do their work. These fighters need an understanding of the significance of their fight and a vision of what is possible, to avoid falling victim to the ideology of a ruling class they are fighting. They need a strategy that reflects the new situation – a strategy that protects them from falling prey to simply fighting the tactics of the enemy.
All of history shows that change is impossible without new ideas – without vision. New ideas arise from the practical need to solve practical problems. Vision inspires, it shows what is actually possible, illuminating the direction in which to fight. The reality is that the new class — in all its chaos, disorientation and yes, sometimes ugliness — is the only force that can overturn the existing order and lead humanity to a peaceful and cooperative society. This class cannot move history forward until it has a sense of itself as a class, holds a vision of where it wants to go and what its historic mission is.
Special organizations must be created to carry out this fight. Until there is a new vision, even the most revolutionary fighters end up looking backward, fighting to recover what has been lost. Creating and imbuing them with such vision is the overriding task of revolutionaries and the foundation of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.
The social ills of today can only be resolved through the transition to a cooperative society, organized around the needs of humanity rather than the profit of a few. Today, the system of private property can be brought to an end. It cannot be accomplished without uniting the new class on the basis of their common equality of condition. Revolutionaries must throw everything into this fight for the unity of the new class.
March/April 2017 Vol27.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