Archive

Tag Archives: capitalism

Progressives need a program, guidelines, to go forward. One element needed is acknowledgement of history, not only all the bad things that have happened and all the bad situations we face today, but also the positive developments.

tenayucca1938We can build on the good things that happened and are happening. There are lots of them. Just yesterday’s Dallas newspaper, for example, included an article announcing that the Texas African American History Memorial had gone up on the Texas Capitol grounds.

Many of us, especially me, have been complaining for decades about the Confederate monuments in and around the Capitol. Yesterday’s new monument is a partial response and a very positive development.

Also in yesterday’s paper, and again in today’s, the Texas Railroad Commission is taken to task for being a superficial front for the oil industry. They’ve been denying that the recent upsurge in earthquakes are associated with oil industry shenanigans. It’s great to see somebody point out corruption, but it’s even better to see a major newspaper that has some regard for the truth!

Why So Much Negativity?

Most of the “Programs For Action” I’ve seen from individuals and organizations are all negative. It’s certainly fair to point out that we are facing the possibility of fascism in America and that chauvinism has leaped forward. It’s honest to complain about poverty levels and inequality and unfairness. But it’s not a good way to approach writing a useful program of action if it doesn’t acknowledge the progress we’ve made since our days of savagery and slavery.

Labor Is Improving

The recent changes in the American labor movement shouldn’t be ignored. Since 1995, the top leaders of the AFL-CIO have been adjusting their overall program to suit the demands that used to be made only by progressive fringe groups. A good example is Jobs with Justice, which started out in 1987 as virtually an outlaw organization with support from only 5 big unions. Today, it works hand-in-hand with all labor leaders. I wrote a short history of the North Texas Chapter.

Capitalism Was A Step Forward!

In the longer sense, thinking people and organizations are rightfully down on capitalism. It’s terrible in the way it creates poverty, divides people, starts wars, lies, cheats, steals, and generally oppresses us. But it’s completely wrong to ignore its historical value. Capitalism freed the slaves! It organized the workers! It’s productive power was far superior to any of the other economic systems that it replaced. One might even argue that capitalism has been more productive, even, than any of the attempts at planned economy so far!

A Good Program Acknowledges the Good

I’m 100% in favor of a program for progressive change and I intend to continue writing about it. Certainly such a program should point out the many shortcomings of today’s society and the need for decisive action. But our history and our present situation aren’t all bad. There’s a lot of progress to build on!

–Gene Lantz

Listen to “Workers Beat” at 9 CST every Saturday morning on 89.3FM and http://knon.org

If you want to know what I really think, look at my life’s lessons site

Working Americans have always fought the bosses. We’ve won a few battles and lost many, but we always fought on.

redflag

The closest we ever came to a “cease fire” in America’s class war came between 1947 and 1972, “The American Century.” During those few years, the United States had so much economic domination over the rest of the post-war world that they were able to buy off militant workers and collaborationist leaders. Unionists regularly received 3% annual raises and steady improvements in their benefits packages, including retirement. Non-union people got their improvements, but only as a result of the unions.

Then Came International Competition

After 1972, when President Nixon was obliged to change the worldwide monetary agreement set up after the great war, the bosses returned to business as usual. Their usual business is screwing their workers whether they are organized into unions or not. From those days forward, bosses in every capitalist country have been getting government handouts for themselves and austerity for everybody else.

They would like to continue that, but, as I said, we’ve always fought them. We’ve never won a decisive victory and, for the most part, never even thought about a decisive victory. Our battles have been over immediate objectives such as a pay raise for a limited number of workers or voting rights.

Our Victories Have Been Temporary

Even when we win, our victories are temporary because the bosses are still in power and, sooner or later, will try to reverse our successes. Thus, for example, we won the Voting Rights Act and then lived to see it gutted by the Supreme Court. We fought to see our American standard of living rise to the highest in the world, then saw it fall ignominiously.

The trends on our side of the class war are getting hopeful. Just on the wages front, for example, we aren’t just fighting a few scattered battles over peanuts here and there, we are engaged today in a nationwide battle to raise the minimum wage to a respectable figure. The Fight for Fifteen can involve everybody, and actually does involve quite a few of us.

Things Are Looking Up

On the political side, millions were drawn into action by the Bernie Sanders campaign, and I do not believe it is over. Instead, we are on our way toward a working people’s political party that would give us a real choice in elections. I don’t know if that is what Bernie Sanders intends, but I think the momentum of his followers is going that way. Union leadership is better integrated, more militant, and far more progressive than it has been since 1947.

Most exciting of all, I believe that Americans are better informed, more capable, more connected, and more sophisticated than ever in history before.

–Gene Lantz

Click here for more of these ideas

I just got a text from a friend asking for advice. He wants to know whether or not to spend more than he can afford to go to the Democratic Party national convention. He’s a big Bernie fan and Bernie says they should reform the Democratic Party. “Is that even possible?” I ask.

clintonhillary

Until the Bernie campaign made history this year, I had never even seriously considered any hope for the Democratic party. But Bernie has changed a lot of opinions this year, some of them dramatically. Even some of mine.

I am not going to question, in the immediate sense, that Bernie is right in his efforts. Every inch of democracy that we can squeeze out of this capitalist system is worth fighting for. If he can get the Democrats to change some of their rules in a positive direction, I’m all for it.

But, before we go all-out in trying to turn an existing political party into an instrument for fundamental change in America, we need to examine some of our words, including “political party” and “fundamental change.”

The working people will never make permanent improvements as long as the bosses are in power. That’s my guideline. “Fundamental change,” then, requires that the bosses not remain in power. Everything else may be worth fighting for, but it’s still temporary and will eventually have to be fought for again and again.

A “political party” is a committee that organizes, leads, and promotes the interests of a given class. Both the Republican and the Democratic Party promote the interests of the boss class. When they talk about reforming one or the other of them, they are only talking about various rules, not their basic commitment to continuing capitalism. Even Bernie might talk about “reining in” capitalism, but he doesn’t talk about overcoming it.

So, no. I don’t believe it’s worth major time and effort to try to reform the Democratic Party to achieve fundamental progress. What we actually need is a political party based on workers. We need a workers party like those in several other countries. Usually, they aren’t revolutionary organizations, but they are workers’ organizations. A workers party in the United States would be a great historical step forward.

It’s my opinion, expressed previously, that the Bernie Sanders movement could result in a workers party in America. I think we’re very close to it, but not if all our energies are turned into a hopeless effort to reform the Democratic Party.

I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m against the Democrats or even the Republicans. Workers have every interest in working with whoever will help us advance. We need to work with whatever situation we have. Anything less than that shows either a lack of commitment to the workers’ movement or ignorance of strategy and tactics.

–Gene Lantz

Click here if you’re interested in more such ideas