Hurricane Sandy’s lesson: Profit system breeds disaster

Nov. 6 — A crisis arising out of a major natural disaster — itself rooted in climate change — tends to reveal a society’s strengths and weaknesses, values and priorities, and forms of organization.

Despite the technological and military primacy of U.S. capitalism and imperialism, the authorities could not organize a plan to protect hundreds of thousands of poor people living in housing projects and vulnerable coastal regions along the densely populated Eastern seaboard, even though scientists warned about the power of Hurricane Sandy long before it arrived.

Millions went through days without electric power, water and heat. More than a week later, tens of thousands, especially from among the poorest, hardest hit and most neglected areas such as Far Rockaway, Coney Island, Staten Island and parts of New Jersey, are still without these basic necessities of life. In addition, six major New York area hospitals had to evacuate, not in advance of the storm, but under duress of failed backup systems. Farther inland, tens of thousands are still trapped by fallen trees, lack of power and gasoline.

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s heavy equipment went unused.

Unable to print and mail last week because of the storm damage, Workers World newspaper reorganized to provide daily web coverage at workers.org to report the above stories and analysis. We also helped guide Workers World Party activists and others to mobilize the working class to recover from the disaster. Most of these web articles are printed in this special 16-page issue.

In a crisis of this magnitude, it is important for revolutionary activists to participate in people’s relief efforts, to work with community groups providing immediate assistance to those in need, and to project a socialist perspective on what could be done. We urge them too, while building organizations independent of the ruling class, to demand of the capitalist government at every level — since it has the resources available — emergency aid, especially to the poorest and most marginalized sectors of the population.