in September 24, 2021 (updated from original written in 2017)
As an indicator of racism in the US, some writers refer to the total amount of extra profits that the capitalists accrue from paying black and other minority workers (as well as women workers) less than white (male) workers in the US. Moreover, wage inequality is often expressed without reference to the even more intensely exploited workers of the so-called “global South” (or “third world” or “developing nations” or some other euphemism), who are subject to near-slave-labor conditions by local capitalists. The local capitalists are forced to act this way by conditions imposed on them by their imperialist overlords, whether they want to or not. Just because they are forced into this position, however, does not make them allies of the working class. This was a fatal error made by the Bolsheviks and Chinese Communists who called them “national bourgeoisie” and who mistakenly thought they would side with the working class against the imperialist invaders.
There is no end to the catastrophes that capitalism inflicts on workers. Covid, climate change, Haiti, and devastating wars to control resources: Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Vietnam, to name a few. After 20 years of US occupation in Afghanistan, the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban has taken power – again. Like the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, the US is leaving Afghnistan without maintaining political or economic control. Altogether about 241,000 people, including 71,000 civilians and over 2400 American soldiers were killed from 2001-2021 and $2 trillion was spent by the US, to no avail.
Now the Taliban are back and, based on prior behavior, will install a sharia state of orthodox Islamic practices, from the relatively benign mandate of beards for men to the horrendous rules forbidding education and employment for women and girls. They punished enemies with beheadings, stonings, rapes, and imprisonment. However, to many Afghans they represent relief from the rampant corruption of the American supported government and military and from US drone attacks that killed and injured thousands indiscriminately. Primarily urban women and girls, who benefited from years of education, employment, and health care, will again be subject to the sharia practices of seclusion, burqas, and constant supervision by male relatives. Many Afghanis anticipate arrest, torture, and death because they have opposed the Taliban ideologically or cooperated with the US or the deposed government.
Haitian communists in the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) let us know how they are affected and helping at the earthquake’s epicenter. Translated from French original.
8:30 in the morning, the sun is struggling to rise as the country’s problems pile up: Corona virus, five million starving, no functional institutions, no government. Haiti is in a coma.
8:31 am the earth began to shake like it did a little more than a decade ago. The departments of the South, Nippes and Grand-Anse are the most affected. The numbers are mounting of dead, wounded and especially displaced.
By Barbara Foley Reprinted from Science and Society, July, 2021
Near the top of the New York Times bestseller list through the summer of 2020 and beyond, Kendi’s 2019 provocatively titled book is one among several books urging racial self-awareness and systemic transformation that attained prominence in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. Accompanied by a SparkNotes study guide, How to Be an Antiracist is clearly headed toward classroom use; it is not just a book, but an event. Moreover, in 2020 Kendi was appointed director of Boston University’s new Anti-Racism Institute, which he calls a “factory for antiracist policy.” One must ask, Does Kendi’s book help to develop the anti-capitalist potential of current attempts to de-naturalize racist ideologies and practices? Or does it aid and abet the current rush to the anti-racism bandwagon on the part of corporate America?
$56,000 a year for a new Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab (Aduhelm), that has little if any clinical benefit and substantial risk. A 40% rise in the share price for its producer, Biogen. All this despite lack of a single positive vote by any of 11 expert Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee members(1). Is there something wrong here or is this just the way capitalism is supposed to work? Seems that way.
It is six months since our last comment on Biden, and so it is time for an update. Having replaced strident Trump rhetoric with his measured tones and having succeeded in vaccinating half of the population, Biden is seen by many as the savior of our sanity, safety and wellbeing. Although it is a relief to be free of senseless racist ranting and in less fear of Covid-19, we should have no illusions that Biden is even attempting to fill the caverns of need of millions of workers for housing, health care, education, jobs and food. Instead, he remains the servant of the wealthy, the capitalists, as he tries to assuage our fears of the future.
Edgar Snow, widely known for his portrayal of the Chinese Communist Revolution, Red Star Over China, also chronicled conditions in the Soviet Union in late 1944 to early 1945. Although not a communist, Snow looked at the struggles to create a communist society with an honest and appreciative eye. In The Pattern of Soviet Power completed in April, 1945, Snow described conditions in the USSR and policies and plans of the Communist Party.
Although the massacre in Gaza has halted as of May 21, there are no victors – – only 258 killed and thousands of maimed and displaced Palestinians and 13 dead Israeli workers. Around the world and in the Occupied Territories, there is an upsurge in the endless anger at the cruel and illegal Israeli occupation. Predominantly there are calls for Palestinian liberation and self-determination.
May Day, May 1, a day celebrated by workers around the world for 130 years. What many don’t know is that it all began right here in the US, in Chicago, in 1886. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) passed a resolution in 1884 to decrease the 10-16 hour workday to 8 hours. By May 1, 1886, over a quarter of a million workers became involved in this campaign, including the Trades and Labor Assembly, the Socialist Labor Party and the Knights of Labor. Much of the leadership of these organizations was made up of socialists and anarchists, so there was also a consciousness of the evils of capitalism and the limits of the 8 hour demand.
The essential feature of class-divided societies, including capitalism, is exploitation – exploitation of one (very large) class of people by another (much smaller) class. It is the one thing that absolutely prevents the reforming of capitalism to turn it into an equitable system. (This analysis is based on Capital, Vol.1 by Karl Marx)
Exploitation in capitalist society is the exchange of money for labor in which the money is less than the value of labor’s product – uneven exchange. Exploitation is the bedrock on which two economic (and social) classes exist, with a third group comprising people who may exhibit features of each class, such as small business owners who work alongside their employees or people who are self-employed, independent professionals, or managers.