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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/22/16

Fight back or go under

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Message William T. Hathaway
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.Class War Ahead.
.Class War Ahead.
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The presidency of Donald Trump is going to be a slap in the face of American workers that will wake us up to the reality of social class. Big T's pedal-to-the-metal policies will show us clearly that we are one class, the ruling elite are another class, and our interests are diametrically opposed. Our declining standard of living is essential for maintaining their wealth, and they will do whatever is necessary to continue that. They will jail us, deport us, kill us, anything to crush resistance.

But in the long term they won't succeed.

Why not? Because we, the working people of the United States of America, are stronger than the ruling elite. We are the 99%. Everyone who has to work for someone else for the essentials of living is working class, but many of us have been indoctrinated to emulate and admire the owners. They are a small, parasitical class that has stolen our labor for hundreds of years. The wage slavery they impose saps and undermines our lives, our energies, our futures, even our sense of ourselves. They are truly our enemies.

Their attempts to crush us will teach us that. We'll realize that the rich have not only taken away our possibility for a decent life, they are now taking away our freedom. When we choose to fight back rather than go under, we'll become tougher. The struggle will temper us. Our outrage will become revolt.

The forces of repression will gradually become less effective. Police and soldiers aren't machines; they are workers who have chosen the wrong side. When they realize they are attacking their own people, their loyalty will begin to waver. They'll start disobeying their masters. Eventually the power structure, weakened from within and without, will grind down, falter, and fall. Then the revolution can succeed with a minimum of violence.

To avoid the unpleasantness of this conflict, many people hope that capitalism can be reformed. That's why progressives and pseudo-leftists such as Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein are popular.

Reformism has been tried ever since the Fabians of the late 19th century, and it hasn't yielded any lasting changes. Reforms have had only a temporary impact. From the 1950s to the '70s unions were able to force through higher wages and better working conditions in many industries. Back then capitalists could afford this because the main market for products was the home country, and higher wages stimulated consumption. Thi s Keynesian approach created a bubble of prosperity in North America and Europe that has now burst and can't come back. T he hard-fought gains of those days are being reversed because the world market has become more important than the home country. To compete globally with low wage countries such as China, India, and Brazil, corporations here have to slash their labor costs. The pressure of international competition is being shifted onto us, the workers. We are beginning -- just beginning -- to get the same treatment as third world workers.

These conditions will inevitably intensify; capitalism needs ever more profits to keep growing. It finances its expansion through bonds and bank loans, so it needs increasingly more money to pay the interest charges. And it must invest more in plant and equipment to stay competitive. Its rate of profit is always under pressure. And if it stops growing it dies.

Those pressures are increasing as the global economy approaches its limits of exploitable resources and markets. The rival capitalist blocs are fighting among themselves in a dog-eat-dog struggle for survival. To lower costs and hold on to its markets -- to remain top dog -- the US elite are pursuing repression at home and war abroad. The smiley mask that covered the face of the establishment has dissolved, revealing the predatory beast beneath.

A kinder, gentler capitalism is impossible, and the hopeful rhetoric of progressive reformists isn't going to change this economic reality. Their program is designed to divert potentially revolutionary energy into the dead-end of tinkering with the system, trying to fix it. But capitalism isn't broken; this is how it functions. We have to junk it, not fix it. It needs to be replaced with socialism. The two systems are mutually antagonistic, and the struggle between them can't be comprised.

We can win this! It's no more difficult than other evolutionary changes humanity has mastered. This is our time, an historic battle for liberation.

But to defeat the beast we need to be unified. For that we have to heal the divisions the elite fuel within the working class: the antagonisms of white vs. black, men vs. women, straight vs. queer, earlier generation immigrant vs. recent immigrant.

The decisive battleground is not the streets or the ballot box but the workplace. That's where our true power lies, where we can fight and eventually win. Workers run the profit machine. When we stop working, profits stop flowing. Withholding our labor through general strikes is a step towards breaking the power of the owners who have been getting rich from the profits we produce.

This requires being organized, and not in the sell-out capitalist unions we now have. We're going to have to take over these unions and throw out the labor bureaucrats, or form independent militant organizations that really represent us.

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William T. Hathaway is an award-winning novelist and an emeritus Fulbright professor of creative writing. His peace novel, Summer Snow, is the story of an American warrior falling in love with a Sufi Muslim and learning from her that higher (more...)

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