US and World Politics

Symptoms of Terminal Capitalism

It’s time to pull the plug

By Bonnie Weinstein

The President of the United States has sent armed Federal Police agents into cities and threatens to send them across the country to suppress the massive protests against police violence in response to the murder of George Floyd and many other Black men and women.

On July 17, 2020, after Trump sent Federal troops to Portland, Oregon to suppress the ongoing protests there, Nancy Pelosi tweeted:

“Unidentified stormtroopers. Unmarked cars. Kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti. These are not the actions of a democratic republic. @DHSgov’s actions in Portland undermine its mission. Trump and his stormtroopers must be stopped.”

She sounds horrified but makes no mention of what she and the rest of the Democratic Party are going to do about it—because they will do nothing—as usual. That’s because they support capitalism more than they dislike Trump.

That’s what defines capitalist parties—their unequivocal support of capitalism. That’s why Democrats overwhelmingly passed the new Pentagon budget—a $740 billion “defense” bill as part of the 2021 Appropriations Minibus which includes four Fiscal Year 2021 spending bills: State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.1

In a July 31, 2020 article in Common Dreams titled, “Inhumane at Any Time,” by Eoin Higgins about the House approval of a new $740 billion Pentagon budget:

“The bill passed the House on Friday by a 217 to 197 margin….Only 12 Democrats voted against the measure while 217 voted in favor. …House Democrats have decided to once again couple passage of a bill that fuels militarism abroad with bills that fund our priorities at home, forfeiting the ability to challenge the former without undermining the latter.”

Meanwhile, we are experiencing a huge increase in COVID-19 infections, deaths and an ever-increasing rate of unemployment with no end in sight.

The Democratic Party has proven itself incapable of solving even the simplest tasks of overriding Trump’s indifference to the needs of those on the battlefront of this pandemic and making sure the government is providing enough Personal Protective Equipment to hospitals and ensuring enough testing to discover the real scope of the infection rate.

Both parties have proven incapable of slowing down the virus, stopping police murders, saving public education, providing universal healthcare, reducing homelessness, poverty, unemployment, illegal detention of undocumented adults and children and the deterioration of our infrastructure.

While some capitalists claim they are opposed to all these injustices both capitalist parties and the class they represent are responsible for them all.

What this government—both Democrats and Republicans together—have been able to carry out is more military and police repression at home and abroad while boosting the profits of U.S. corporations.

Competition or cooperation?

In the face of the COVID-19 virus, instead of collaborating with scientists and researchers all over the world to find a cure or vaccine, they encourage secrecy so that U.S. pharmaceutical corporations will profit the most if they do come up with something useful. And if some other country seeks scientific information that might help them find a cure—it’s called criminal espionage.

Meanwhile, the U.S. companies in search of a vaccine (and profits) have found a way to make billions before they even develop one.

According to a July 25, 2020 New York Times article by David Gelles and Jesse Drucker titled, “Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine:”

“Well-timed stock bets have generated big profits for senior executives and board members at companies developing vaccines and treatment. …Executives at a long list of companies have reaped seven- or eight-figure profits thanks to their work on coronavirus vaccines and treatments. …The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds-of-millions—or even billions—of doses to a desperate public. Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are capitalizing on that dynamic. They are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies—most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug—have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March…”

Capitalism is a dictatorship of the wealthy over the poor

Instead of prioritizing the world’s health and wellbeing, the capitalists invest in war so they can continue to fund the weapons production industries and rule the world.

Capitalism must deny even the most basic necessities of life for the overwhelming majority of humanity in order to increase profits and maintain its dominion.

That’s what the military and the police are for—to protect the wealth and property of the rich and to keep us enslaved and in their service on the job—if we’re lucky enough to have a job.

Its aim is to keep the entire world’s working class working for as little money as they can possibly get away with while ensuring ever-increasing profits for themselves.

Their problem is, however, that they can’t keep squeezing workers for money we don’t have. Even the most powerful capitalists can’t get blood out of a stone! And so, they’re coming to an end and risking the survival of humankind as well.

The question is, will we end? Or will we end capitalism?

Terminal capitalism

The profit motive inevitably forces capitalists to continuously compete with each other for the greatest amount of profits they can squeezefrom the working class. They must compete for resources and the labor power needed to extract them and turn them into profit. Without labor power there is no profit.

But capitalism has finally extracted more resources than they can profit from. It’s come to the end of the road and now that road is being cut short by a pandemic.

There’s a glut in oil. They can’t even give it away. And no one has money to spend on new trinkets and gadgets.

Hundreds-of-millions have no money for rent or utilities and even less money for food. The stores are going out of business because no one has money to spend. And, of course, this leads to even more unemployment and to a speedier, downward, spiral-to-the-death for capitalism.

Unemployment, starvation, homelessness is rampant everywhere except in the most affluent little pockets of the world.

The standard of living of workers has been going down steadily everywhere. Even in the best of times, most workers—especially workers of color—have not been able to make ends meet. For the vast majority of workers of the world, capitalism has never been great!

The way forward, cooperation vs. competition

In order to survive capitalism’s pandemic of disease and police and military repression, we, the world’s working class, are going to have to find a way to cooperate with each other to end capitalism and its unnecessary waste of human life and resources in order to keep a tiny group of rich people rich.

We need to organize

We need to build our own democratic organizations independent of the parties of the capitalist class. We need to develop our own program of how to make the world better for everyone. Only we workers have the power and the knowhow to actually achieve this.

We do the work, why not make the decisions on what work we need to do, and how to equally distribute the wealth our work produces?

The worker’s movement must remain independent of capitalists

We can’t let capitalists have a say in our independent democratic structures, our demands, or our strategy for victory. That must be up to us, the entire working class, to decide democratically and in our own interests—because we are the majority. We do the work.

The fight against capitalism is the ultimate life and death struggle if humanity is to survive.

We must build the unity and solidarity capable of stopping capitalist war, to prevent their use of nuclear weapons, to prevent the military and police dictatorship of our communities and our workplaces, and help to free the whole world that capitalism has enslaved for centuries.

It will take great organizational efforts to unite the world’s working class into one great force for peace and justice and to finally bring an end to capitalist oppression and war everywhere. This is our power and strength.

The future of the world is at stake

Building working-class unity and cooperation is necessary to survive beyond capitalism—to finally pull the plug on this despotic capitalist system of rule by violence and oppression that threatens the destruction of the planet itself.

Together we workers can create the socialist world we all want—free of war, racism, bigotry, pollution and poverty—a healthy world of human democracy, equality, peace and justice for all. We have nothing but war and poverty to lose and a shared world of peace, justice and plenty to gain.

1 “House to Consider Four-Bill Appropriations Minibus Next Week,” July 16, 2020