Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Republicans fight over capitalism as Union leaders remain mute.

Source: Keith Tucker Cartoons
Open letter to Union Leaders, Union activists and Union members.

 The fight for the Republican Party Presidential nominee has taken a very unexpected turn. The front-runner, Romney is being accused by his fellow right wing competitors of being a "Vulture capitalist," a "predator capitalist," and as having veered from "traditional capitalism." He is being accused, correctly of buying up companies, cutting them to shreds, then either selling them off for huge profits or closing them down and firing workers by the thousands; in other words what most capitalists do.

What is new and amazing here is that these attacks on Romney and his "Vulture Capitalism" are coming from opponents in his own capitalist Republican Party, especially the extreme right winger and racist Gingrich. There is now a swing of more of the top traditional Republican Party bigwigs to get behind Romney so they can lock up the nomination and stop these attacks before they go any further. This might help Romney to get the nomination but the attacks about his vulture capitalism will hurt in in the general election.

The capitalists in general are extremely concerned at this discussion about capitalism. It is not so long ago when the Wall Street Journal scolded a journalist for using the word "capitalism" as it said that this made people think about "systems" and the next thing would happen would be they would be thinking about alternative systems to capitalism. A secondary aspect to this is that the top capitalists who mainly support the Republicans do not want to give too much ammunition to Obama to use against Romney if he is the candidate in the fall.

But most important of all is for us to understand why Gingrich and even Perry are attacking Romney in this way. The reason is the mood of anger against the rich and Wall Street and their representatives in the Republican and Democratic parties. Working class people are increasingly challenging and questioning the system. 60% of Americans believe that the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes. It is no accident that Romney is under attack from Gingrich on this also. The Occupy movement took to the streets, at one time covering over 90 cities. It put the word capitalism and inequality back at the top of the agenda and and working peoples' consciousness once again. Opinion polls show up to 50% of the population is favorably inclined towards the Occupy movement. At the same time opinion polls conducted amongst 18 to 34 year olds have shown that a majority favor socialism over capitalism.

Union leaders, union activists, union members, we must recognize the change that has taken place. US society in spite of all its censorship and capitalism's control of the mass media and education system is now hearing daily the idea that there is a system called capitalism, This is a major step forward. This opening and opportunity must be recognized and seized. Capitalism must not be allowed to close this opening again and put the genie back in the bottle. This is where the union leaders, union activists and union members come in. But most of all it is where the union leaders come in.

Union leaders, you control organizations with over 12 million members, with members in tens of thousands of workplaces throughout the country. You control the AFL-CIO, you sit atop the individual unions, the State and regional and local federations, the central labor councils. This is a gigantic network which exists throughout the country. It is potentially the most powerful force in the country. It can determine whether the country goes or stops, works or does not work. In this context let us look at the role you are playing as the capitalist mass media is convulsed with discussing "capitalism". As far as we can see you have completely absented yourself from this discussion. You have, with the greatest determination, said not a word. You seem more afraid of this discussion then even the capitalists. We have to say with all due respect that your silence is an absolute disgrace.

Instead here is what we consider you should have been doing and should do now. You should organize meetings in every sector of the union movement, each Union, state, and central labor council and workplaces to discuss capitalism. Welcome the discussion on capitalism that is taking place in society. State clearly that you are against vulture capitalism but also against capitalism as a whole which puts profits above people’s lives and the health of the planet. Open up a discussion for an alternative and put forward as a starting point democratic socialism in the USA and internationally. This is what we call upon you to do. We have the incredible situation at the moment where the capitalist Republican party are arguing about capitalism and the capitalist mass media are arguing about capitalism but  the leaders of the mass workers’ organizations are not saying a word about capitalism. This has to end. You have to intervene in this discussion and take a stand against capitalism.

We know this is not easy for you. You believe there is no alternative to capitalism; you do not believe the working class can build a new society.  And so you have locked yourself and the working class into the so-called team concept approach where you support your own capitalists against other workers and unconditionally support the existing system. You must jettison the team concept approach. On the political front you also have the team concept approach. You collaborate with and support the capitalist Democratic Party. You must stop supporting this Party. In the place of this team concept approach you must put the movement’s resources to building independent mass unions, organizing the unorganized and building a mass workers' party based on these unions and working class communities. Break the capitalists control over your policies and their monopoly over politics.  

We know this will be hard for you in another way. We are addressing ourselves here to the top union leaders. You have allowed yourself to be sucked into the world of the employers. Both ideologically in the sense that you have the same world view as these capitalists; you believe capitalism is the only system possible. But there is also your material position. Your jobs are secure, your salaries and benefits are much greater than those of the majority of your membership. These perks have to go if you are to see things straight, to see things from your membership’s point of view. You have to be put on the average wage of the members you represent, all your expenses have to be openly available to be examined by all your membership and you have to be able to be recalled at any time by the membership.

Some peculiar features in the present situation in the US have opened up this discussion where we hear capitalism talked about at every turn. The opportunity this presents to us must not be missed. Also it will not last forever. Unfortunately your adherence to capitalism and working with the capitalists paralyzes you in front of this situation. You are even more afraid of the situation than the capitalists. Your responsibility is to play a different role, that is to stop capitulating to the employers and their capitalist system, to stop pouring hundreds of millions of the union membership's money into the capitalist Democratic Party. This opportunity to discuss the rotten nature of capitalism and how a much better life for all can be built under a democratic socialist system has to be seized.

As we the activists and rank and file in the movement call on the union leaders to take this action we must act ourselves. Put down motions at our locals, regional councils, central labor bodies, etc., and call for special discussion sessions, conferences, meetings in the workplaces and union structures, schools and colleges, to discuss this subject. Put our opposition to capitalism on the agenda of the mass of the population and into the mass consciousness. Yes call on the trade union leaders to act but also take action ourselves so that this opportunity is not missed.

The right wing academic Irwin Stelzer wrote the following in the Weekly Standard of Jan. 16th: “America’s more or less free market capitalism is not under threat from Marxism-Lenninism”, he wrote, adding that it was not under threat from China either.  It is not under threat from “socialism” he affirms meaning Stalinism.  It faces a “far more subtle enemy, the gradual loss of acceptance of the idea that markets more efficiently allocate resources than governments do… ".  He fears the consequences when “broad consensus erodes that capitalism as practiced in America is better at creating wealth than any other system…”

Stelzer is correct about capitalism; it is better at creating wealth---for a minority that appropriate it from the majority.  That this discussion is only taking place in the Wall Street Journal, other capitalist journals and the mass capitalist media and not in the unions, workplaces and working class communities is shameful and due to the failure of the trade union leadership at the highest levels to lead.

Sean O'Torrain
Richard Mellor

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