What will YOU do about the worst capitalist crisis since the 1930s?
Uniting & fighting back is no longer a choice; it’s a matter of survival
Published Oct 26, 2008 10:29 PM
Most people have heard that the economic nightmare—the “greed and
profits before society” that the capitalist system is plunging us
into—is the worst crisis since the so-called Great Depression of the
Unemployed mass protest, St. Louis, Mo.,
What you won’t get from the capitalist mass media is how the crisis of
the 1930s transformed tens of millions of frightened workers and desperately
poor people of all races and nationalities into a fighting force organized on
the basis of class solidarity in an epic struggle against the capitalists and
their government. By the end of the 1930s, it was not the super-rich, but the
organized working class that seemed all powerful and unbeatable.
Working and poor people, devastated by the depression, entered the 1930s
destitute, broken and hopeless. Yet by the time the decade was over, the
working class had won great battles, first by organizing itself into
Unemployment Councils and tenants unions and later into giant labor unions.
Social Security, Medicaid, millions of jobs created by giant public works
programs and the right to unionize were among the major achievements of the
struggles of the 1930s.
With the help of communist activists dedicated to fighting on behalf of the
working class, people organized to stop landlords and banks from evicting
families from their apartments or homes.
Workers in the auto, steel and many other industries discovered new tactics in
their fight to win the right to belong to a labor union. In addition to going
on strike, sometimes the workers decided to stay in the plants and factories
where they were striking. They took them over until they won their demands.
A leaflet urging people to attend what became one of the most famous mass
protests against unemployment in New York City’s Union Square in March
1930 simply read, “Fight or Starve.”
That was one of the biggest lessons that the working class learned during the
1930s— either we push aside all that divides us, and anything that
someone can use to divide us like class, and fight like hell or we will not
This lesson is as relevant today as it was 75 years ago. Whether we unite and
fight back will be a matter of survival for most of us this time as well. Let
there be no doubt: Unless you’re rich, chances are either you will lose
your job—some of you already have too little pay—and find it almost
impossible to find a job or you will lose a place to live. Many will lose their
student loans. Others will lose their pensions and find themselves burdened
with debt and no health insurance. Many more of us will be homeless and
The cultural ideas and norms of recent times—ideas and norms invented and
perpetuated by the capitalist system, the billionaires that it serves, their
media, their schools, their hierarchy where most of us work and their political
system—have not prepared us to act in our own interests in concert with
The ideas reinforced every day are that if you fail, it’s your fault
alone. The rich are rich because they’re smart. Human nature is innately
bad so don’t trust those like you; you’ve got to compete with them.
Along with these lies, there is the big one that “things will get better
sooner or later” because “this is the greatest country and
capitalism is not only the best system, it’s the only one.”
The basic conspiracy afoot here is designed to keep us divided, confined to our
own personal worlds, essentially left alone to deal with the crisis and the
capitalist class that’s at war with us 24/7.
With the incredible stresses of today, people certainly deserve the right to
put their headsets on and zone out to the great music they’ve downloaded
on their Ipods. Or veg-out on the several thousand cable stations on their TV
(if their cable hasn’t been turned off due to lack of payment). Or spend
hours online, which is both social yet isolating at the same time. One can, of
course, abuse substances of choice, but ultimately that does more harm than
Most people probably think, with good reason, that capitalism’s most
effective social control mechanisms are its racist police, FBI, Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, courts, jails and the Pentagon, all now under the umbrella
of “homeland security.”
Obviously government repression is a problem. However, in and of itself,
it’s not enough to control the masses or stop us from rebelling.
Equally, if not more effectively, are the ways in which the system works very
hard to program us not to unite and fight.
What the system does is a lot like what’s depicted in the movie
“The Matrix.” In the real capitalist matrix our comatose bodies are
not warehoused somewhere, while our drugged minds stumble around in a
computer-generated dream world. Still, the function of the real capitalist
matrix is more frightening and diabolical because it’s not a movie.
The capitalist system works hard to keep our political consciousness paralyzed
and in a coma in order to make us passive, regimented, disconnected from each
other and thereby easier to exploit, which is what the parasitic capitalist
system is really all about.
In order to unite and fight for our right to a job and a place to live, to
healthcare and education, to all that we need and deserve, we’re going to
have to break out of the capitalist matrix. Some will break out before others,
but most of us will make it out.
In the movie, Neo is given the choice between the blue pill which equals
blissful ignorance, and the red pill which is the path to the truth and to
revolutionary action. With every passing day, more and more workers will take
the red pill. Which one will you take?
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