Based on a talk given at the Feb. 5 webinar “Global Class War: Lessons from Sam Marcy for workers struggles today.” Go to to view the webinar.

Brian Shea. PHOTO: Howard Rotman

In “The Communist Manifesto,” Marx and Engels characterize the working class as being the revolutionary gravediggers of capitalism. 

The vast, overwhelming majority of disabled people all over the world are proletarians. We’re not bourgeois. We either sell our labor to a bourgeois/boss for a private wage (the boss will try to pay us less because we’re disabled), or we may be able to live on a social wage* won through struggle by workers organizing into mass movements and unions, wrestling concessions from the whole bourgeoisie or from a few bosses to start with.

One of the foundational tenets of disability justice is that disability justice and capitalism are mutually exclusive. We disabled people are, like the rest of our class siblings, capitalism’s gravediggers, because if our movement is going to succeed at all, we need to consign capitalism and capitalists to museums of human prehistoric stuff that we don’t ever want to do again.

* “Europeans calculate real wages as direct wages paid by employers plus the ‘social wage’ paid by the government. The social wage is the equivalent of the wages that workers save by having free or low cost public health care, higher education, affordable housing, child care, public transportation, and many other public goods.”  (

Brian Shea

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Brian Shea
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