Unity of Our Class: Indispensable Step for the Liberation of Humanity
Something new is arising and growing by the day in America. Based in the objective development of new technologies at the core of the productive process, which for the first time makes human labor superfluous, a new class of workers is emerging. This new class consists of employed and unemployed sectors. The part-time, contingent, minimum wage, and below minimum wage workers within the employed sector are now 40 percent of the workforce. This employed sector of the class is constantly drawn into the growing unemployed sector that ranges from the structurally unemployed to the absolutely destitute, homeless workers.
The new class appears simply as a conglomeration of people defined by their poverty. But it is not a new class of poor or a new class of the new poor. Their poverty is a consequence of their economic position, not the cause of it. We refer to these workers as a new part of the working class; a new class of workers created by the qualitatively new means of production that eliminate the need for human labor. Necessarily, the struggle today is expressed in terms of the polarization of wealth and poverty or rich and poor.
This new class of workers is growing in every section of society, across all boundaries of color or nationality, in every city, suburb, and rural area in the country, in every age group and gender. The hitherto unknown breadth of equality of poverty reveals an objective unity that cuts across the divisions created by the ruling class. The question of the subjective development of class unity is paramount.
The real division in society is between a propertied ruling class and a propertyless working class. The increasing polarization of wealth and poverty is an expression of that. In 2012, for the first time since the Great Depression, over half of all income went to the top ten per cent. Today there are 540 billionaires in the U.S. alone. Globally, the eight richest billionaires possess as much wealth as the bottom 3.6 billion of the earth’s population. The ruling class is absolutely determined to maintain and protect their property at all costs.
With the advances in new technologies, people are sensing that we are on the edge of not just a quantitative, but an exponential leap to new possibilities. Under capitalist private property relations, these new technologies mean only misery and suffering for the working class. Released from these bonds, these technologies can become the foundation for a new society, where human happiness and a commitment to the betterment of all is finally possible.
Achieving that vision requires understanding, consciousness, and strategy. The first step is that the American people have to be won over to the reality that private property can be brought to an end. It is only through widespread propaganda that revolutionaries can get this over. We must show that a cooperative society is not only possible, but is the only practical solution to the problems the workers face.
Robotics makes it impossible for the new class to coexist with private property. The new class is increasingly outside of the economy, and therefore exists in antagonism to the wages system. Robotics has made reform of the capitalist system impossible. The only way for the new class to prevent itself from being crushed is to make the gigantic means of production public property. The program of the new class is therefore objectively communist, in the true sense of the word. Owning no property, without employment or resources, it cannot move in the direction of securing individual property. Its objective demand makes economic sense: each for all and all for each, from each according to ability, to each according to need.
An epoch of social revolution is being unleashed. If united and conscious of its historic mission, the new class has the potential to lead society, to a new cooperative society organized in its own interests and in the interest of all of humanity.
Ideological Blocks Attempt to Prevent Class Unity
The ruling class, regardless of color, portrays itself as superior because of its culture, presenting itself as orderly, self-reliant, religiously moral, and law-abiding. The emerging new class, regardless of color, is portrayed by the ruling class as inferior, because of its culture. Those who make up the new class are presented as violent, criminal, dependent, and unwilling to help themselves no matter how much help society gives them. Of course, these are ideas created by the ruling class, but these ideas filter down amongst the workers. Within this context, the ruling class continues to divisively use color as a racial designation.
Today the material basis for color racism is being taken away. Bribery has long been the material undergirding for an ideology of white supremacy, utilized to divide the working class in America. Every step the ruling class takes, to take more and more of the wealth of society for its own private property, undercuts the bribery that made white supremacy viable, and lays the basis for overcoming the deep divisions that have prevailed throughout American history. With the taking away of the bribe, combined with the breadth of the equality of poverty across color lines, the ruling class is promulgating a new form of racism, which is directed against the new class on the basis of its economic condition and social status. While it has precedent in American history, it is also new. It is racism in the new epoch of electronics. It is an ideology of class supremacy, and class inferiority.
In the past period of industrial development, it was not possible for the workers to unite as a class. Racism, backed up by the social privileges granted white workers over Black workers, kept people divided. But the 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 that was based upon imperialist conquest.
Today a growing section of the white workers has been abandoned and betrayed. Their deteriorating economic position is forcing them to seek unity. Revolutionaries must seek out the socially conscious workers among them. They are open to propaganda. If politically educated, they are able to reach, unite with, and play a critical role in politicizing the larger mass of workers, who are becoming more impoverished daily, and who no longer remain an objective material base of political support for the ruling class. For the first time in American history, large sections of workers are becoming economically equal. This hitherto unknown breadth of equality of poverty is creating the basis for real class unity. This is the historic role and possibility of the new class.
The impulse towards unity among the new class of 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 of the old ideologies that have been used to divide the class. 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.
In a very real sense, the movement of the new class today is a freedom movement to acquire the very necessities of life. It’s a movement to be free from the misery of poverty. It is a movement to be free of exploitation and oppression. How can this revolutionary movement move forward? How can it advance? Class unity is indispensable. There is already objective unity – the equality of poverty. The next step is the conscious unity of the new class of workers, united around the commonality of its interests in the fight for a common solution.
The answer to the plight of these workers cannot be found in the confines of a social and economic system that is being destroyed. The only solution is to reorganize society on a new basis, in the fundamental interest of the new class and in the interest of all humanity. Distribution not with money, but according to need and contribution. Only then will we finally be free.
Consciousness lags behind the objective changes we are observing. Therefore, the intellectual grasp of class unity, the subjective side, must be fought for. Recognition of the necessity for that kind of unity is a result of consciousness. Having no meaningful relationship to the economy, the new class is objectively untethered to the ruling class. This combined with the equality of poverty that is the objective basis for its unity, is the reality revolutionaries must rely upon.
The actual program of this class is to abolish private property and this communist program is in the interest of all society. The ruling class has to contain and destroy that fight. Today, fighting for the basic necessities of the class is the fight against fascism. Under the current conditions, both rulers and workers must turn to the government to meet their respective needs, yet the needs of the two classes are in direct antagonism to one another. Because of this, the question of which class the government will serve is at the cutting edge of the struggle. This means focusing on fighting for the immediate demands of the workers, insisting that the government provide for their basic needs and using that fight to disseminate the necessity of class unity, a vision of the new society and a strategy to achieve that vision.
Breaking the Ties That Bind
The motion around the 2016 presidential election and the social unrest that followed are clear manifestations of a nation in the midst of growing political polarization. According to a report from Business Insider, dated December 1, 2016, “Mainstream media painted Trump’s election victory as a ‘white working class revolt’. The real story is that voters who fled the Democrats in the Rust Belt were twice as likely either to vote for a third party, or to stay at home, rather than to embrace Trump. Compared with 2012, three times as many voters in the Rust Belt, who made under $100,000 voted for third parties. Twice as many voted for alternative or write-in candidates. Similarly, compared with 2012, some 500,000 more voters chose to sit out this presidential election. If there was a Rust Belt revolt this year, it was the voters’ flight from both parties. In short, the story of a ‘white working-class revolt’ in the Rust Belt just doesn’t hold up, according to the numbers. In the Rust Belt, Democrats lost 1.35 million voters. Trump picked up less than half, at 590,000. The rest stayed home or voted for someone other than the major party candidates.”
Revolutionaries gravely err labeling all Trump voters as racists or fascists. They are not a monolithic group of people. Certainly, there are some who are anti-immigrant and racist. There are others who simply feel they have been abandoned by their government. They are desperate. Their needs have not been addressed by the Democrats or the Republicans. Trump appealed to these anti-establishment sentiments. These workers are already beginning to discover that the Trump administration cannot deliver the jobs, better healthcare, or the better life that were promised during the campaign. Even if some manufacturing jobs are brought back, they will have to utilize robotics and thus provide nowhere near the jobs needed.
For example, additive manufacturing, or 3D printing is one of the industries that is growing in the Rust Belt. Economist Michael Spence, in a 2014 Project Syndicate article, “Labor’s Digital Replacement,” wrote about additive manufacturing saying, “Now comes a…powerful, wave of digital technology that is replacing labor in increasingly complex tasks. This process of labor substitution and disintermediation has been underway for some time in service sectors—think of ATMs, online banking, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, mobile payment systems, and much more. This revolution is spreading to the production of goods, where robots and 3D printing are displacing labor.” Now you can 3D print a house in 24 hours.
The new advances in technology and the progression of the introduction of electronics continues to hit the more stably employed sector of society. This formerly bribed sector of the industrial working class, along with a section of the intelligentsia, has historically bound the mass to the capitalist class. The destruction of this economic middle section of the working class is of the greatest political importance, as it means the beginnings of the separation of the workers from the enemy class and is opening the way for the ever increasing possibilities for visionary propaganda. Trump’s electoral victory shows the dangers of revolutionaries ignoring this section of the working class.
Revolutionaries focus on the ruling class’s weak point, and take advantage to make a breakthrough. It is here that we find the recently dispossessed section of the new class, which is educated, socially conscious and used to organization. Without new ideas and a vision of the future this section can be turned against the revolution.
A direct consequence of the increasing economic polarization is social and political polarization. The workers are growing disillusioned with government and its institutions. They are questioning why so many are poor, or living from paycheck to paycheck in the richest country in the world. The workers are beginning to demand the government solve society’s ills.
Consciousness develops in stages. An event occurs that sparks a flash of consciousness in people’s thinking. For instance, the real estate financial crisis of 2008 became a flashpoint in the thinking of the American people. Millions of workers lost faith in the government. They questioned how could it be that while millions of workers were losing their jobs and millions more were being dispossessed of their homes due to foreclosures, the Obama administration was bailing out the banks and the auto industry? This was a quantitative point in the development of people’s thinking and a particular time to introduce a new quality, such as the need for a totally new society where humanity’s needs come before the profits of a hand full of capitalists.
During the election of 2016 both Sanders and Trump addressed the American people’s fear over their economic conditions, as well as their sentiment against what they saw as the billionaire elites and the political parties that represented them. As an outcome, Trump won with only 20 percent of the eligible voters. Ninety million registered voters decided to stay home and not vote for either candidate. A Gallop poll in September 2016, just prior to the general election revealed that 57 percent of Americans believe that a major third party was needed, up from 46 percent in 2012. Additionally, more than one in four Americans believe that the government is the enemy of its citizens, and a full 75 percent of all registered voters acknowledge that the government is essentially run by a few big interests, and is not representative of the people.
The growing motion toward a third party is part of the splitting, wrecking and destruction of ruling class institutions of the past period. It is the social and political reflection of the increasing economic polarization created by the new electronically automated means of production. It is part of the battle to reorganize society on a new foundation, based on the new means of production. As the workers are thrown out of the production process and the capitalist economy, the subjective ties to the old are beginning to fray and break. The development of a third party, even one created by the ruling class is an indispensable stage in the revolutionary process. It will accelerate the political polarization and political formation of the new class.
Social Movement Raises Demands of the New Class
A broad social motion is arising in response to the worsening conditions. Within this motion, the demands of the new class are increasingly coming to the fore, as the destructive consequences of the ongoing introduction of the qualitatively new means of production entangles these demands with the interests of the broader society.
Since the election of Donald Trump millions have protested. On the day of his election and the days that followed, thousands of students walked out of schools across the country, declaring, “Not my president!” On January 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration, more than three million marched and protested in 676 towns and cities across the U.S. This Women’s March had 500,000 in Washington, DC, 750,000 in Los Angeles and 300,000 in Chicago.
A woman marcher in Washington, DC from Detroit said, “This was not a Women’s March, but a march led by women that took up working class demands. This is the first march I’ve seen, not totally socially conscious, but the first with such social and political activity. The people in the march were reaching for a vision of a new America, with love and respect for mother Earth. They heard something in Trump that they didn’t like. They felt something was wrong. They got this feeling that this is not the direction they want to go and they came.”
The response of the workers to the ruling class offensive against them is spreading, as they lose their hopes and dreams that come with losing a decent paying job, a house to call home, or their health care. They are already beginning to fight for the basic necessities of life, and to come together with others in that same fight, regardless of what specific issue it might be.
From the fights against police murders, to Moral Monday, to the water battles in Flint, Detroit and Standing Rock, to the immigrant rights marches, the workers are beginning to understand that simply fighting back is no longer enough. They are beginning to put forward programs in their interests. Written posters carried in every protest across America regardless of issue are the basic demands of the class: Health care for all, quality education, protection of Mother Earth, no to police killings, and no to separation of families. Their natural impulse to unity has brought them to town hall meetings to speak in the interests of those who would be thrown off of health insurance, to airports to speak out against the travel ban, to march against “The Wall” and the growing number of deportations around the country, to march for science and truth, and in defense of the environment.
As we go forward we must never forget our class enemy. The ruling class is united on their program — what they must do. Their only option to save private property is consolidate a fascist State to protect private property. They engage in fierce and sometimes dangerous battles over how that program is to be carried out. They use the two parties to disseminate their views, as well as a myriad of non-profits and think tanks, in an attempt to bring the working class behind them.
The capitalist class cannot cover the sun with one finger — it cannot hide the reality that electronic production is making the workers superfluous, creating a new class of workers outside of the capitalist relations. The fight for survival, the fight for basic necessities of life can defeat any lies and tricks of the ruling class. Revolutionaries rely on the objectivity of that fight to introduce new ideas.
Many of the marches, protests and speaking out are being organized by the Democratic Party, which seeks to channel the discontent into anti-Trump strategies, to corral it into the Democratic Party. It is also true that these protests might appear to be issue oriented or identity based, but under the new conditions the struggles take a new meaning. It’s a class attempting to break away ideologically from the capitalists.
For centuries the workers have been told that they have different interests, based on their color, gender, age and where they came from, as a way of preventing them from uniting as a class. While some workers are being moved by the rulers toward a more fascistic outlook, a growing number within the class are moving toward a more class-based position. The ruling class moves to suppress this embryonic class awareness wherever it appears. Revolutionaries have to grab hold of and develop these seeds of class awareness, no matter how contradictory and embryonic they are.
Class consciousness is key to winning the fight for a new society. But it won’t happen unless revolutionaries take advantage of every flash of consciousness in the thinking of the workers, to ensure they grasp the ideas of a new society based on the qualitatively new means of production. Now is the time for revolutionaries to go on the offensive with propaganda about the vision of the new society that is possible.
We will find ourselves pulled in many directions. However, our primary responsibility as revolutionaries remains the same. That is, to teach from inside the movement – to raise both the intellectual understanding and the independent political development of our class, by influencing those practical revolutionaries who are emerging to the forefront of the social struggle.
Political Report of the Central Body, August 2017
September/October 2017 Vol27.Ed5
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