Monday, June 22, 2015

Hurtling towards the edge of the precipice?

by Sean O'Torain

Different times throw up different words which reflect the nature of those times. One of those words for me today is "urgency." Different times also throw up different concepts. One of these for me today is:Open your eyes.  

In the last few days we have seen the following events. The racist terrorist massacre in South Carolina. The very serious possibility that Greece will exit the Euro and the Euro zone will be in danger of coming apart and with it will come a rapid increase in nationalism in Europe. The Middle East is still being blown to pieces and as part of this I believe that ISIS will set up a state and a further fragmentation of the entire region will result.  The background to these events is the economic system which soars on the back of mad fictitious capital and is destined to come crashing down in an even worse catastrophe  than 2008. Add to this the destruction of the environment. One estimate puts this as costing in dollar terms a minimum of $6 trillion a year which will rise to $26 trillion by 2050. Then we have the statement from the Pope. He declares that the world's wars are "a third world war in segments." He also declares that "weapons manufacturers cannot describe themselves as Christians." And he says: "In today's world everything is about money." As an aside he had better be careful because as the leader of the main church of capitalism making such statements might lead to his less far sighted capitalist associates deciding to put a bullet in his head.

But back to urgency and opening our eyes. When the leader of the main church of capitalism makes such statements as I have quoted something serious is going on. What is going on is this.  The pope is worried that the capitalist system which he and his institution supports, and which in turn supports his institution, is getting so out of whack that it is in danger of destroying itself. So he is trying to reign in its worst excesses to save it from this fate. This is what is going on. The pope is trying to save capitalism from itself, is appealing to capitalism to pull back from the brink and save itself. This is what is going on. As he makes his criticisms and warnings he wants to shield capitalism as a system and the capitalist class as a class. This is not lost on the most conscious workers. A worker in Latin America, a retired mechanic, showed he knew what the pope was up to. He said: "I hope the pope is not just referring to the peoples' actions, but also to the big corporations and mining companies who are also destroying the planet, so, he should tell them to their faces that what they are also doing is wrong."

Back again to urgency. There is not much time to deal with the crisis that this pope is worried about. Capitalism will destroy life on earth in the coming decades unless capitalism itself is overthrown. It will do so through a combination of climate change, pollution, droughts, floods, starvation, wars including nuclear or partial nuclear war, this is the reality.  If capitalism is allowed to continue to exist it will destroy life on earth. Old societies were destroyed in the past. Remnants of some of these can be seen in the ancients ruins of cities under the oceans and in the pyramids and burial mounds which show the knowledge of astronomy etc. which at one time existed. But those societies could not go forward so they collapsed. This can happen to society under capitalism.  Fundamental systematic change is necessary and urgent.

This is the bad news. So what is the good news? You did not wake up to your coffee to only hear  this down side. The good news is that there is a force that can overthrow capitalism and avoid this disaster. This force is the working class. Over the past century in country after country in continent after continent we have seen the mainly rural peasant societies join the advanced capitalist countries in the sense of developing large working class populations. We have also seen women enter the paid workforce as never before. Half the world's factory workers are now women. We have the giant workforce in China. The working class has the power to change and save the world. We as workers and youth have to see this reality. But in doing so we also have to see that there are always many sides to reality.

Yes we have the power. But this power is really only potential at the moment. Think about recent events. Think not only about what happened and has happened and is happening, but think about what did not happen. Think about the different forces and actors on the world stage. Which one was missing over the recent period and remains determinedly missing? To pose this to most people results in a blank stare. And no wonder. They have no idea what could could be referred to. There are 200 million workers organized in trade unions worldwide. There are 15 million workers organized in trade unions in the USA alone. There are 1,000 trades councils, that is central labor bodies, in the USA alone. Where were these huge forces in recent events, where are these huge forces as we enter into this explosive period of human history when the future of life on earth will be decided.

Yes there were mass demonstrations in mainly European countries against austerity. But these did not challenge the capitalist system with which austerity is inseparable at this time. In other parts of the world the working class did not in any way act as a class. Look at the massacre in North Carolina. Where were the 15 million US trade unionists after that, where were the 1,000 trades councils? The 1,000 US labor councils should have organized workplace meetings, meetings at every level of the union structures, organized mass union demonstrations against racist terrorism and for working class unity. But none of this took place. This was a disgrace. The union leaders have to be unconditionally condemned.

But not everybody is as inactive as the union leaders. It is worth noting that worldwide the extreme right and racist forces with which the racist terrorist killer in South Carolina was part are growing in strength and activity and also have many many websites and faces on the Internet. One of these alone, yes only one, has 300,000 viewers. It spouts the racist lies of the South Carolina racist terrorist that white people are under threat. The working class the force that can end capitalism and save the world is not fighting racism, division, or any of the major problems of the working class that result from the offensive of capitalism, of the 1%. The reason is not hard to understand. The working class is not fighting and showing a way forward because its leaders are totally committed to capitalism and help the capitalist class carry out their policies and repress any force in their own ranks who want to fight capitalism. They are rewarded for this with big salaries and secure jobs. They are presently to the right of the pope.

The raw power to change the world, to end capitalism exists. This is the working class. But what does not exist is a leadership of this working class that is prepared to take on and overthrow capitalism, to fight and die to overthrow capitalism. The working class is like a giant chisel but one which has  no cutting edge. This is what history demands at this time. This is what is urgent. This cutting edge. To hammer a cutting edge on to the chisel means building a mass revolutionary force in the international working class. This force has to be made up of tens and hundreds of millions of workers prepared to take on the rising racist and nationalist forces and the capitalist classes and their organizations, militaries etc, which are presently leading the world towards the edge of a precipice.

For the building of a revolutionary leadership of the working class of tens and hundreds of millions which can end capitalism and give life on earth as we know it a future. Hammer a cutting edge on the chisel.

No comments: