US and World Politics

Devastation and Inspiration

By Bonnie Weinstein

The U.S. capitalist class has taken on the role of global police force to enable U.S. industry to exploit natural resources wherever they can be found. U.S. industry has no borders. They can profit where they wish—by force of violence when necessary. Borders are for the poor and the working class in the service of capitalism.

All the U.S. military interventions around the world are too numerous to mention but these three recent revelations stand out as stark examples of how capitalism’s wars not only wreak havoc militarily, but are reinforced through sanctions that punish poor and working-class people. Their goal—to get rid of any barriers to U.S. business interests and their profits. And to make the point that they will stop at nothing to continue their rule over the wealth of the world.

The war may be over, but the
killing continues

Although the War in Afghanistan is supposedly over, the U.S. has not stopped the murder and mayhem against the Afghan people—now through U.S.-enforced sanctions.

According to a December 4, 2021, New York Times article by Christina Goldbaum titled, “Facing Economic Collapse, Afghanistan Is Gripped by Starvation:”

“Nearly four months since the Taliban seized power, Afghanistan is on the brink of a mass starvation that aid groups say threatens to kill a million children this winter—a toll that would dwarf the total number of Afghan civilians estimated to have been killed as a direct result of the war over the past 20 years. …This winter, an estimated 22.8 million people—more than half the population—are expected to face potentially life-threatening levels of food insecurity, according to an analysis by the United Nations World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization. Of those, 8.7 million people are nearing famine—the worst stage of a food crisis. …Compounding its economic woes, the country is confronting one of the worst droughts in decades, which has withered fields, starved farm animals and dried irrigation channels. …Since the Taliban seized power, the United States and other Western donors have grappled with delicate questions over how to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan without granting the new regime legitimacy by removing sanctions or putting money directly into the Taliban’s hands.”

In other words, after bombing the country into oblivion, they are starving millions of Afghans through U.S. sanctions. This is on top of the COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacting the Afghan people. The U.S. wants to make sure the Afghan people understand that they will pay the price of resistance to their rule.

U.S. continued brutality

The widespread killing of civilians by the U.S. is nothing new. The U.S. drone war in Syria resulted in untold civilian deaths.

In a November 13, 2021, New York Times article by Dave Philipps and Eric Schmitt, titled, “How the U.S. Hid an Airstrike That Killed Dozens of Civilians in Syria:”

“Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet streaked across the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors. …It was March 18, 2019. At the U.S. military’s busy Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, uniformed personnel watching the live drone footage looked on in stunned disbelief, according to one officer who was there. ‘Who dropped that?’ a confused analyst typed on a secure chat system being used by those monitoring the drone, two people who reviewed the chat log recalled. Another responded, ‘We just dropped on 50 women and children.’ An initial battle damage assessment quickly found that the number of dead was actually about 70.”

In a December 12, 2021, New York Times article by Dave Philipps, Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzet, titled, “Civilian Deaths Mounted as Secret Unit Pounded ISIS:”

“A single top secret American strike cell launched tens-of-thousands of bombs and missiles against the Islamic State in Syria…the shadowy force sidestepped safeguards and repeatedly killed civilians, according to multiple current and former military and intelligence officials. The unit was called Talon Anvil, and it worked in three shifts around the clock between 2014 and 2019, pinpointing targets for the United States’ formidable air power…it circumvented rules imposed to protect noncombatants, and alarmed its partners in the military and the C.I.A. by killing people who had no role in the conflict: farmers trying to harvest, children in the street, families fleeing fighting, and villagers sheltering in buildings. Talon Anvil was small—at times fewer than 20 people operating from anonymous rooms cluttered with flat screens—but it played an outsize role in the 112,000 bombs and missiles launched against the Islamic State….”

Capitalism is moving the world closer to barbarism every day. Not only are capitalist production methods that put profits above all else—especially production for the U.S. war industry—but they have created global warming, polluted our oceans and fresh water, caused wildfires, heatwaves, violent storms, and flooding across the globe, making parts of the world uninhabitable.

Masses of people in revolt

Amidst this capitalist plunder and violence, are uprisings of masses of working people in every part of the world who are demanding justice—freedom from war, starvation, homelessness, bigotry, exploitation.

There have been massive demonstrations in defense of our climate, for democratic rights, against racism, sexism, demanding free healthcare—including reproductive rights—childcare and education for all.

These protests have happened spontaneously such as the Woman’s March for abortion rights this year in response to the draconian Texas anti-abortion law, and the Black Lives Matter protests over the deaths of George Floyd and so many others who have been murdered by police—all involving tens-of-thousands of people on the streets in acts of solidarity.

More than protests are needed

While these protests are inspiring, they are like a match in a windstorm. They flair up and die until the next spark lights another match. The failure is not in the sentiment of those out in the streets, but in the solutions offered to achieve their desired goals.

Supporting capitalist politicians leads us down a spiral of defeat

We workers here in the U.S. have been in a downward spiral politically. Our unions—the very few we have left—spend more effort in getting us to support the Democratic Party than fighting for better wages and working conditions.

We are told our only alternative to gain the demands we are overwhelmingly in favor of, like free healthcare and education, is to support candidates that claim they are on our side.

The union bureaucrats spend all their time schmoozing Democratic Party candidates, contributing huge sums of our union dues to support so-called “pro-labor” candidates, yet even with a majority in congress, the Democrats that labor supports can’t seem to get even the most modest pro-labor bills passed.

Shining lights of inspiration and the way forward

There have been two successful workers’ struggles here in the U.S. recently: John Deere workers who won significant wage and benefit increases and Starbucks workers who won union representation in one Buffalo store by going on strike.

As reported in a November 17, 2021, New York Times article by Noam Scheiber, titled, “Striking Deere workers approve a new contract on the third try:”

“About 10,000 workers at the agriculture equipment maker Deere & Company will go back to work after the approval of a contract on Wednesday, bringing to an end a five-week strike that affected 14 facilities primarily in Iowa and Illinois. …The new contract raises wages and includes language that makes the company’s performance pay more generous.”

And in a December 9, 2021, article in Common Dreams, by Julia Conley, titled, “Buffalo Starbucks Workers Win Union:”

“…employees at the Elmwood Avenue location of Starbucks in Buffalo, New York celebrated Thursday, December 9, 2021, as they became the first U.S. employees of the international coffee chain to unionize, with a decisive margin of victory.”

Continuing workers’ struggles at Amazon and Kellogg’s

Amazon workers are seeking to organize unions in warehouses in Staten Island and Alabama and in other locations around the country. Their pay and the conditions they work under are deplorable while Jeff Bezos, the second wealthiest person in the world and executive chairman (former CEO) of Amazon has accumulated over $200 billion as of December 2021.1

Let’s put this figure in perspective. Suppose you had $1 billion dollars. You could spend $5,000-a-day for 500 years before you run out of money!2

Kellogg’s workers, who have been on strike at four cereal plants across the country since October 5, 2021, rejected a contract proposal over a dispute around a two-tier compensation structure that would limit pay and benefits for newer employees condemning them to poverty wages and dwindling benefits.

Kellogg’s CEO, Steve Cahillane, earns an annual salary and bonuses that are 279 times that of the median pay of Kellogg’s employees. For 2020, Cahillane made over $11.6 million in total compensation as Kellogg’s CEO.3

This extreme disparity between what workers earn compared to the enormous and mind-boggling sums commandeered by corporate CEOs have not gone unnoticed by the masses of the working class. Workers are beginning to realize that it’s their labor that creates these enormous profits for their bosses and we would get none of it without fighting for every cent.

Workers’ democracy and control over the economy

The next major step to confront this profound economic inequality is for workers to organize independent struggles in our own interests and in opposition to the bosses—to recognize that the system of capitalism itself, that puts profits over everything, must be overthrown. And in its place, a working-class democracy that makes decisions based upon what everyone needs and wants.

Capitalism is at war with the workers of the world

The capitalist wars dominated by the U.S. commanders of capital—Democrats and Republicans alike—use war and repression to hammer into the minds of the world’s working class that if anyone gets in the way of their profits, they will use all in their power against us. It’s what the U.S. military does, it’s what the police do, it’s what the prison industrial complex does. They are there to protect the private property of the wealthy.

The property they own is worldwide—across all borders—above all laws since they make the laws and rule the military, police, and prison industrial complex itself.

U.S. big business interests finance candidates from all capitalist parties. It’s their ace in the hole of whichever pro-capitalism candidate wins.

We, the working class, only get to vote for one capitalist candidate or another. We get to vote for the boss, no matter which capitalist party they represent. That’s what is meant by the term “bourgeois democracy.” We don’t get to vote for the things we want and need—what would be the norm for a socialist society—we only get to vote to maintain the power and rule of the capitalist class.

Socialism is democracy. Capitalism is a dictatorship of the wealthy few over the many.

The power of the working class to control our own lives can only be achieved through independent, anti-capitalist, democratically organized organizations controlled by the working class and its allies alone.

That means our unions must abandon support to the Democratic Party and all capitalist politicians and parties and organize to form parties of our own—under our control and organized to defend our interests—in the interests of the masses of workers of the world.

Only the working class and our allies have the right to determine our destiny. And this can only be achieved through independent action and organization in direct opposition to capitalism and their modus operandi of profits over people.

Only a socialist revolution in defense of the entire working class can ensure the health and welfare of all life on Earth.