How Can We Make A Difference?
In Sacramento, California, thousands rallied in protest against the police killing of an unarmed young black man, Stephon Clark. In Washington, D.C., teenage survivors of the country’s most recent mass shooting confronted members of Congress and demanded to know why their elected leadership wasn’t looking out for them. These actions spoke to a nationwide community’s outrage. The system tragically failed Clark’s family and the young people in Parkland, Florida. Those in positions of leadership proved incapable of answering their demands. People are rejecting the violence and ugliness they see and want to be a part of something that changes the world around them for the better. Many ask themselves: What can we do to make a difference? To do that, people’s thinking must be changed.
Regardless of where people are with regard to their political ideology, they are coming to see that there is something wrong with the way things are working right now. They see that the quality of their lives is under attack. They see that no matter how hard they work, they cannot meet the basic demands for survival, that inequality is growing, and that society is growing more divided and violent. There is little or no illusion that the members of either major political party are working in their interests. The reforms put forth by the Republican and Democratic parties, both beholden to corporate interests, cannot address these looming crises in their lives. They see clearly the symptoms of social breakdown, but don’t know the underlying causes and how they relate to them. Many are coming to see that the capitalist system itself is unsustainable.
A disruption in the economy, through the introduction of new technology in the workplace – computers, robotics, equipment designed to produce faster and more efficiently than people can – invariably casts more people out of the workforce. Human workers are costlier to pay and insure, which hampers the profitability of their employer. People who are deprived of the ability to earn a wage have nothing to exchange for goods in a money-driven economy.
This process is giving rise to a new class of workers that the capitalist class no longer needs. It is a new section of the working class, a new quality within the working class. The majority are contingent, minimum wage, below-minimum wage, and part-time workers – over a 40% 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.
America has the means for producing more than enough to meet the needs of everyone. This is not a dream. A society in which everything is distributed according to need is the society that is most in line with the new technology.
The ruling class dreads the prospect of the new class becoming conscious of its common situation and acting to change it. As much as it tries to maintain a system that keeps the basic needs of life inaccessible to people who cannot pay for them, the antagonism created by the introduction of labor-replacing technology makes their efforts untenable. The more the workers come to realize that their fates are linked by a system that keeps them separated socially and fighting each other, the more they can start to see their common interests as a class. They come to understand that as individuals they have little power to make the changes they want to see.
Many have already concluded that there is only one direction that their situation can go under capitalism. It will not get better. They are debating big questions – what is the way forward? What does a society that can meet the needs of the people look like, and how do we get there?
Common experience of these conditions provides the opportunity for a change in thinking to take place. To change thinking requires a framework through which to interpret and make sense of the changes that are taking place, and to see what connects them to others in their situation with whom they previously saw no connection. In this, there is fertile ground for introducing new ideas.
How can we make a difference? Revolutionary propaganda is key to changing people’s thinking. The way to accomplish this is to join an organization of revolutionaries. Such an organization educates and propagandizes from within the movement. They assess situations and put forth a vision of what is possible. Revolutionaries follow the objective motion of society and analyze the time they are in. They alter their tactics to carry out their strategies in order to find the people they seek, in every arena they can. They realize that familiar political venues such as demonstrations, conventions, and the electoral process represent spaces in which new ideas can be advanced.
Systemic ruptures in the economy give rise to new movements and provide an opportunity for people to make a leap in their understanding of the world in which they live. The rising movement for the basic necessities of life is providing the room in which a propagandist works in advancing understanding of the class.
The purpose of an organization of revolutionary propagandists is to provide people with ideas for a new society that can only come about through ending the system of private property, making it public ownership of the means of producing what we need to live. A profit-driven system of distribution, where the means of production are privately owned is incompatible with the social good. The means of meeting the basic needs of everyone through a cooperative, communist society must be at the core of a revolutionary vision.
A revolutionary propagandist’s analysis informs their actions, and with a vision of what a cooperative communist society can be, they can orient their work. New ideas and vision are integral to the struggle for political power to create a society that provides for everyone. Stages in the process of achieving this political power cannot be skipped. Political power to achieve the vision is the goal, but this cannot be done without the understanding of the root of the problem, a vision of what is possible, and a strategy to get there.
May/June 2018 Vol28.Ed3
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