Finding Genuine Solutions to the Growing Economic Problems

January 7, 2020

The basis of the Workers Party program for unifying and strengthening resistance to the capitalist offensive and to carry through the struggle for the political economy of the working class is the assertion that every human being, simply by virtue of his/her humanity, is entitled to certain inalienable economic rights – has the right to food, clothing and shelter, has the right to a secure job or a livelihood at a level commensurate with the degree of development of our society, has the right to income security in retirement or loss of capacity to work, has the right to comprehensive, free medical care, has the right to the best possible education from infant care through the university. This political program holds that it is the elementary responsibility of society and government to provide ironclad guarantees for these rights.

The cuts to wages and benefits, 10 million unemployed, the 17 million living below the official poverty, the economic insecurity which threatens every worker, the 8 million seniors unable to pay for medicine, and many more of the conditions of the U.S. show that the promise of a “better future” does not come to fruition even in the country famed as the most successful capitalist country of all time.

While the propagandists for American capitalism beat their chests about how the social system in which the instruments of production are owned by private individuals and allegedly set in motion voluntarily for the profit of those individuals is capable of resulting in general “economic prosperity,” the reality tells a different story. The share of those whose labor-power produces all the material wealth – the workers – in the aggregate social product as well as the national wealth of the country as a whole is shrinking. Even the story of goods and services freely exchanged on a market regulated only by supply and demand turns out to be another ridiculous fairy tale. In actual fact, capitalism is marked by monopoly domination rather than free competition. And the very fact that the U.S. monopolies are constantly driven to the export the capitalist-imperialist relations of domination and subordination of one state to another in order to find outlets for reinvestment of their capital is enough to show that the conditions of the capitalist mode of production are eroding themselves from within.

The limit of the political economy of the bourgeoisie, whether the topic of the day is the so-called “budget deficit,” or the alleged “bankruptcy of the Social Security Trust Fund” or the “high cost of capital gains,” the agenda is always presented on the basis of assuming that the profits of the capitalists must be protected, that the capitalist relations of exploitation are unchangeable and hence that the workers can only debate which way they prefer to be exploited and robbed. It is always openly or tacitly assumed that the existing economic, political and social relations are the only possible way in which society can be organized. The people are defined as fragmented into various “special interest groups” and dead-end debates are created on the basis of such artificial, polarizing aims.

It is not merely the role of highly paid expert researchers and the state (organs and agencies engaged in exercising power such as Congress, administrative bodies, courts of justice, etc.) to promote this political economy; it is also adhered to by the two parties which function, in law and in fact, as part of the governmental apparatus and which enjoy a near legal monopoly over the electoral process and de facto control over the election boards which organize and monitor the elections – the Democrats and Republicans. In the main, bourgeois political economy sees its main field in the social form of the economy, meaning the juridical and ethical relations between people. But these relations belong to the superstructure and not to the economic basis. They are merely an ideological reflection of the material, objective economic relations between people that take place in the process of production. Present-day bourgeois political economy is a champion of monopoly capitalism. So, for example, the entire struggle for equal rights is reduced to controversy over privileges or “opportunities” because the inability of capitalism to guarantee jobs for all is taken as an immutable law.

The political economy of the working class takes up an entirely different subject matter. In a nutshell, it can be summed up into the following four points.

In the first place, it takes up the social side of production, rather than the technical side which is left as the subject of the natural and technical sciences. It does not examine material production as such, but the social relations between people concerning production – the social system of production, and relations in all the phases of the reproduction of material values – including relations of distribution, exchange and consumption.

In the second place, it studies the relations of production in close connection and interaction with the development of the productive forces. It does not study the productive forces from the technical angle but from the standpoint of their place in the mode of production. Thus, a machine as such is an implement of labor which is not an economic category in itself. But when it is seen as an object of property, its use in production is connected with definite economic relations between people which are studied by political economy.

In the third place, it studies the relations of production – the society’s economic basis – in interaction with the superstructure arising on that basis. Although the superstructure is determined by the economic basis, it exerts a reciprocal influence on the economic basis, accelerating or slowing down its development. Thus, present-day state-monopoly capitalism has been actively intervening in the relations of production in order to intensify the exploitation of the working people.

Lastly, it studies the development of society by elucidating the laws of society’s transition from one form of productive relations to another.

It is the subject matter of this political economy which gives rise to the express demand for the creation of a society which genuinely guarantees equal rights for all human beings and directs contention with the capitalist system on the basis of the question: the economy for whom? for the capitalists or for the workers?

This political program is diametrically opposed to the other one which is offered.

The other distinct program is offered by the Democratic and Republican parties. The political economy advertised and implemented by the Democratic and Republican parties insists that the task of government is to fulfill the claims which the capitalists make on the economy. As for the workers and people they have no claims on the country’s yearly social product, no claims on the public treasury. In sum, the people have no rights by virtue of their humanity and the government has no responsibility for the well-being of the people.

Rather than recognize that rights such as those mentioned belong by definition to all human beings the two parties try to transform rights into privileges or “policy objectives” which may be granted or denied to various sections of the people depending on circumstances. Versions of such social democratic or liberal bourgeois political economy are imported into the workers’ movement through the labor aristocracy and opportunism with the goal of undermining the independent political movement and economic resistance of the workers and placing the workers under the domination of bourgeois ideology. For example, how many times have the upper echelons of the AFL-CIO hierarchy renounced the independent class aims of the workers and pitted different sections of the workers against one another in order to redirect the struggles to petitioning for “privileges” from the ruling class or “getting out the vote”? Of course, the thorough repudiation of this opportunism is absolutely necessary in order for people to take their movement into their own hands and advance along the path of independent politics.

The Workers Party program for economic rights brings the workers and broad sections of people to the social front, arrayed against the bourgeoisie and challenging the foundations of private property in the means of production and the capitalist state not only because it starts from the demands that are already in the thinking and on the lips of millions of people, but also because it is based on a correct theory. It is based on the theory of Marxism-Leninism – the theory that uncovered the law of surplus value, revealed how the capitalist system is based on the exploitation of the workers, showed how the class struggle of the workers necessarily leads to revolution and illuminated the conditions necessary for the complete emancipation of the workers.

The program for economic rights gives consciousness and political expression to the many economic and partial struggles of the people with the aim of winning contractual and other guarantees of such rights as the right to a livelihood and merging these struggles into a generalized political movement. As a political program for bringing people out again and again in opposition to the attacks on all sections of people, it defends the working class concept of rights and defends the general interests of the workers. It helps to strengthen the convictions of the workers that an injury to one is an injury to all and that rights and emancipation can only be won through the principled approach of organizing on the basis of the collective interests and collective struggle.