U.S. and World Politics

Constructing Workers’ Power

Capitalism is responsible for all the violence in the world—only workers have the power to bring peace.

By Bonnie Weinstein

“That is what I want to urge upon the working class; to become so organized on the economic field that they can take and hold the industries in which they are employed. 

“Can you conceive of such a thing? Is it possible? What are the forces that prevent you from doing so? You have all the industries in your own hands at the present time. 

“There is this justification for political action, and that is, to control the forces of the capitalists that they use against us; to be in a position to control the power of government so as to make the work of the army ineffective, so as to abolish totally the secret service and the force of detectives. That is the reason that you want the power of government…

“…If I didn’t think that the general strike was leading on to the great revolution which will emancipate the working class I wouldn’t be here. I am with you because I believe that in this little meeting there is a nucleus here that will carry on the work and propagate the seed that will grow into the great revolution that will overthrow the capitalist class.” —Big Bill Haywood.1

The world capitalist system, commanded primarily by the U.S., is doing the only thing it can do to maintain its power a little longer—plunder the world back into barbarism.

They have no hope of establishing permanent power over the world’s wealth because there is a limit to how much destruction they can carry out before the entire Earth is destroyed along with them.

They can’t kill everyone. They still need workers to do their bidding in both industry and as cannon fodder for their military exploitations. The U.S. and its allies are on a military destabilization campaign in the hopes of paralyzing any and all opposition to their growing interventions across the globe. This is the only way they can hope to even temporarily maintain and increase their wealth, and the power it buys them.

Their power seems insurmountable. Their accumulated wealth is incomprehensible. In fact, according to a January 15, 2017 Fortune article by Reuters, eight men—Microsoft’s Bill Gates; Inditex founder Amancio Ortega; investor Warren Buffett; Mexico’s Carlos Slim, business magnet (America Movil, Latin America’s biggest mobile telecom firm,) investor and philanthropist; Amazon boss Jeff Bezos; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; Oracle’s Larry Ellison; and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg—are now as wealthy as half the world’s population.2

This obscene fact has a two-fold reality. One, the commanders of capital have more money than anyone could possibly spend in a lifetime—or even a hundred lifetimes; and two, they are a tiny, miniscule portion of humanity—an infinitesimal despotic regime that could not stand on its own without the enslavement, both physically and mentally, of the masses of the working class to do their bidding.

The statistics below illustrate that the terms, “capitalism” and “war,” are synonymous. They show that the need for a fundamental change from capitalism to socialism is necessary if we are to save the world for future generations.

What the capitalists spend to maintain their power

Besides the accumulated wealth held by the capitalists, they spend trillions of our tax dollars on a massive military budget to protect their financial interests. In fact, the military industrial complex is the most lucrative business in the U.S.—and the world.

They spare no expense on their weapons of mass destruction. Just last year, the U.S. dropped 26,171 bombs on the world.3

In a April 7, 2017 article in Fortune by Jen Wieczner titled, “Syria Airstrikes Instantly Added Nearly $5 Billion to Missile-Makers’ Stock Value:”

“Raytheon stock surged Friday morning, after 59 of the company’s Tomahawk missiles were used to strike Syria in Donald Trump’s first major military operation as President…. The Tomahawk missile used in the strike is made by Raytheon…whose stock opened 2.5 percent higher Friday, adding more than $1 billion to the defense contractor’s market capitalization. The shares of other missile and weapons manufacturers, including Boeing…Lockheed Martin…Northrop Grumman…and General Dynamics…each rose as much as one percent, collectively gaining nearly $5 billion in market value as soon as they began trading, even as the broader market fell.”

The top five military revenue earning corporations in 2016 were:4

  1. Lockheed Martin, earning 46.132 billion representing 88 percent revenue from defense.
  2. Boeing, earning 96.114 billion representing 31.62 percent revenue from defense.
  3. BAE Systems, earning 27.357 billion representing 92.40 percent revenue from defense.
  4. Raytheon, earning 23.247 billion representing 93 percent revenue from defense.
  5. General Dynamics, earning 31.469 billion representing 60.85 percent revenue from defense.

That’s a total of 224.319 billion in revenue from defense spending—for just the top five! And that’s not all:

  • “Industry experts highlighted that approximately 800,000 defense jobs, intelligence jobs and other occupations are tied to the defense industry. In addition, more than ten percent of U.S. manufacturing demand in the U.S. is dependent on aerospace and defense spending with contractors including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics.”5
  • “The U.S. outpaces all other nations in military expenditures. World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total. U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined. U.S. military spending dwarfs the budget of the #2 country—China. For every dollar China spends on its military, the U.S. spends $2.77.”6
  • “U.S. spending on Middle East wars and Homeland Security will reach $4.79 trillion in 2017.”7

Think of what we could do with this money instead of spending it on death and destruction!

This doesn’t even include the roughly $80 billion8 spent on the U.S. prison industrial complex, not counting the police. In down to earth terms, “...the cost of jailing someone in New York City has ballooned to nearly $250,000 a year, roughly the cost of a four-year Ivy League degree...”9 That’s just at New York’s Rikers Island. There were more than 2.3 million people confined in the U.S. in 2016.

The prison industrial complex is a vital extension of the military on a local scale. Our working class and poor communities live in armed camps patrolled by militarized police, while those same police guard and protect the property of wealthy communities.

Under capitalism human beings are expendable—profits and property take precedence. Not a dime is stolen from the wealthy without the severest retaliation. Even selling loose cigarettes on the street without a license comes with a death sentence as the family of Eric Garner found out.

Our tax dollars fund all of it so that the profits of the war and occupation industry can remain in the hands of the miniscule capitalist class so they can continue to rule.

And therein lies our only hope for ending this capitalist, profit-driven insanity once and for all. Without our participation and labor, they cannot continue!

Smoke and mirrors

The power of the capitalist class depends upon how effective they are in convincing the working class that we have no power.

They own the mass media that bombards us with lies and subterfuge. They convince us that we are powerless against them—not only to end their power over us—but to even dream that a another world beyond capitalist war and exploitation could exist.

Workers can change the world

Not only is another world possible, it is the most logical way to end poverty and injustice, and it is attainable. All we need to do is realize that the power is in our hands, and our hands alone. Together we workers can end capitalism and build a world that can fulfill the needs and wants of all, instead of providing profits for the wealthy.

Workers together with our own revolutionary party, completely independent of the capitalist class, have the power to end the barbarity of capitalist enslavement and war once and for all.

Workers have been taught from kindergarten that we have no real political power except to exercise our “democratic right to vote” for one of the major capitalist political parties. The capitalist class knows full well that without the cooperation and collaboration of workers, the capitalist parties would be utterly powerless.

Capitalism is in a downward spiral and they can’t stop it. War is irrational yet they can’t stop it because they profit from war. They sell their weapons anywhere and everywhere to maximize their profits both in selling weapons and capturing the spoils of war—the oil, land, natural resources and cheap labor left among the crumbling debris.

The only way to stop this inevitable, deadly, descent into chaos is for us to massively organize, independently of the capitalists, to end capitalism, and build a socialist world.

Organizing workers independent of the capitalist class

Capitalism can’t be reformed. It must continue on its profit-driven warpath. It cannot fulfill the needs of the majority of humanity—it never has.

The vast majority of the Earth’s human population under capitalism has been impoverished for centuries. It is an economic system based upon the exploitation and oppression of the working class—the overwhelming majority. Capitalism has no other source of power other than the enslavement of the working class and the exploitation of our labor, which is how they maintain their power.

Capitalists are not Gods; they are human. Without us, the working class, they are a tiny, untalented, helpless minority of despots posing as super-human deities.

Workers on the peace-path

It is the working class that has the power to change the world for the better because it is the working class that knows how to do all the work. We can change the war industry into a human industry— building things we all need to live a fruitful and happy life with equality and justice for all—a world free of poverty, want and war.

Only workers can build a new and better world. Donald Trump doesn’t know how to work in an auto plant or pick fruit and vegetables on a farm. The capitalists can’t build bridges or pave roads or respond to medical emergencies. Workers perform these and all the jobs necessary for civilization. The capitalist class, in fact, is a hindrance to all the necessary work needed to build a healthy and prosperous future for all of us.

Instead of building homes, schools or hospitals, they invest in building bombs, guns, and jails. Instead of maintaining a pristine environment, they poison the land and water with pollutants and pesticides. Instead of focusing on clean and renewable energy, they spew oil and coal byproducts onto the land and into the oceans, rivers and streams. Their sole concern is to increase their profits.

That’s why the capitalist class as a whole can never be an ally of the working class. Individuals, of course, can come over to our side—and they do from time to time. But to be on our side, they must oppose capitalism and embrace socialism as the only way to rid the world of this vicious system.

Independent political action

A first step toward ending capitalism is to build an independent labor party—a nation-wide party of the working class with an international program building solidarity with workers everywhere.

This party must have the perspective of challenging the rule of capital at every step. This means organizing at our workplaces, communities, jails and schools. It must include the unique needs of Blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ, youth, Muslims, the homeless, all those who are doubly oppressed. All of our diverse communities must stand together in unity in defense of all because that is where our power lies.

And it must be in diametric opposition to the capitalist parties—including those parties that seek to reform capitalism into a “kinder and gentler” capitalism—because there is no such thing!

Placing the blame of violence where it belongs

Such an independent party of the working class must oppose violence against the working class in all its forms. The more united we are, the better chance we have to stop the violence against us.

This is why we want to rid the world of capitalism that uses violence—war, incarceration, police violence, and oppression—relentlessly to maintain their wealth and power. We oppose capitalism because we want to build a world of peace, democracy, economic and social equality—a world without violence, oppression, slavery and starvation.

It is the capitalist class that invented and uses weapons of mass destruction—nuclear weapons, MOABs (Massive Ordinance Air Blast or “Mother Of All Bombs,”) Sarin gas, Agent Orange, tanks, bombers, rockets, drones, aircraft carriers, automatic weapons—and who profits from them!

Capitalism promotes and festers violence among the working class over superficial differences in order to divide us—to convince us that we are each other’s enemy—and to hide the fact that it is they who are the enemy of all human kind.

They are the purveyors of violence because it serves their purpose of maintaining power.

They unleash weapons of mass destruction and deploy militarized police in our communities to enforce their oppressive infrastructure—including their phony “elections” that have no relationship to democratically deciding what the masses of humanity actually want and need.

Instead we get to vote for one capitalist liar or another—all of whom are dedicated to defending capitalism by any means they deem fit—by violence or any other oppressive means.

Our common interests as the working class

We workers have much more in common with one another than our differences. We all want to live a happy and comfortable life. We want to see a bright future for our children. We want to enjoy the comfort of our homes. We want good food, housing, education, clean water, air, and a pristine environment that flourishes with life. We want to heal the sick and care for our elders and safeguard the planet for the future of all the life that shares it with us.

An independent party of the working class can establish the democratic mechanisms to bring us all together into a powerful force for peace and justice.

We must temporarily put aside our differences, and embrace our commonality, our love of life and of a better future.

We can begin by organizing meetings with open and democratic discussions on what our main objectives are and how we can best work together to win them. It doesn’t have to be a difficult struggle to see beyond our differences if we always remind ourselves that our common interests overwhelm those differences.

Once we begin traveling down this road toward organizing ourselves into a massive and unified force for ending capitalism, we will be able to keep our eyes on the prize of justice and equality, and a thriving and healthy planet free of capitalist exploitation and war.

1 Rebel Voices, Page 49, Google Books

“Big Bill” Haywood, (February 4, 1869-May 18, 1928) was a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and a member of the executive committee of the Socialist Party of America. During the first two decades of the 20th century, he was involved in several important labor battles, including the Colorado Labor Wars, the Lawrence Textile Strike, and other textile strikes in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

2 “The World’s 8 Richest Men Are Now as Wealthy as Half the World’s Population,” Fortune, January 15, 2017

3 “Why Did the U.S. Drop 26,171 Bombs on the World Last Year?”

The Nation, January 15, 2017

4 “Top 100 for 2016,” Defense News

5 “Defense Jobs Make up 10 Percent of U.S. Manufacturing Demand”

Cleared Connections

6 “U.S. Military Spending vs. the World”

7 “Costs of War,” Brown University

8 “Does the U.S. Spend $80 Billion a Year on Incarceration?

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

9 “Closing Rikers Island Is a Moral Imperative”