Theory and Education
As we often do, we held a short educational discussion before our March 14 club meeting in Dallas. Here is our outline:
Texas Budget Cuts, Gobble-lization, and the Invasion of Iraq
The last time our club did a formal plan of work, we said that our central efforts would be on the issue of gobble-lization - world-wide "trade" agreements that allow the big corporations to seek out the lowest wages, worst working conditions, and most opportunities to pollute freely.
Today, we are looking right down the gun barrel of President George Bush's determination to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq
At the same time, the last bills were filed in the Texas Legislature today. Nearly all of them are horrible. They would cut into our right to organize, cut into our right to participate in politics, cut into our right, and take away many of the services that Texans need and deserve. There are cuts for preschool, school children, college students, all kinds of workers, and all kinds of senior citizens. The scale of these cuts is so atrocious and horrendous that we can hardly even imagine what they are planning for us in the next two years!
The purpose of this discussion is to examine these three crises: gobble-lization, war, and state budget cuts, to see what they have to do with one another.
What is the underlying thread that makes all written history understandable? Answer
What classes are involved in the three struggles under study? Answer
How has the international economic situation changed since World War II? Answer
How has the balance of military power changed since World War II? Answer
What options does the capitalist class have when their profits fall? Answer
How do capitalists decide who should suffer in order to restore profits? Answer
What options does the working class have in resisting the depredations of capitalism? Answer
What role will the middle class play in each of the three struggles under discussion? Answer
What should we do about each of these struggles? Is it important to understand
their interrelationship? Should we tell others?
Back to Theory Page
Back to Home Page
All written history is understandable as part of class struggle. It's pretty hard to understand things otherwise. Schools teach us that history came about because of people's personalities or ideas. Actually, the significance of historical (or current) events has to do with the changing power of different classes. Written history began about the same time that people began to accumulate surpluses, or more than they could immediately consume. "Haves" and "have-nots" were formed, and began to fight for that surplus. Kings & queens eventually lost out to the capitalists. Capitalists now struggle against the working class.
Please use your "back" arrow to return to the questions.
The working class, the capitalist class, and the middle class are the important classes in the world today. Although there are still kings, slaveowners, slaves, etc; they have little influence in world events.
At the end of World War II, the United States had almost the only standing factories in the world. Their economic dominance was almost total. Today, they have to contend with imperialist rivals for economic domination. At our Dallas meeting, I was challenged on this assertion. Another point of view was that the United States has actually increased its economic domination since World War II. Just goes to show that there's plenty of room for different views.
At the end of World War II, the United States was the dominant military power in the world. They have actually improved on their military situation with the implosion of the Soviet Union. Consequently, they dominate militarily even though their dominance in the economic sphere is less certain.
We live in a time of monopolies, when it is actually fanciful to think in terms of steadily increasing profits for an enterprise. Profits tend to fall because prices fall as more and more machinery replaces labor power in production. Capitalists are forced to seek new markets and/or to destroy their rivals and take over their markets. This is the essential lesson of Lenin's great work, "Imperialism." The tendency of profit rates to fall is outlined in Marx's Capital. Without getting overly technical, it just makes sense that capitalists have to constantly seek out more markets. When the markets are "saturated," capitalists call on their government goons, (armies), to destroy the obstacles to further expansion. Thus, war is only "gobble-lization" by "other" means. Think of the last 10 or 12 United States invasions or overthrows. Oil was not always the goal, but removing obstacles to their expanding markets was. Always! In the case of Iraq, the capitalists can not only get more oil for themselves, they can command the price that Europeans must pay. That is why European capitalist leaders oppose the U.S. in this adventure.
In general, it is the working class that must suffer in order to restore capitalist profits. They have to increase their rate of exploitation. The targets may be in other countries, or they may be in the United States. But they are nevertheless workers. Capitalists generally go after the parts of the working class that is least likely to be able to fight back. They particularly try to avoid attacking a sector of the working class that has the potential to unite the class, as unity of the class would be their undoing. Thus, in Texas, the legislature is most likely to attack children, minorities, the disabled, etc... A frontal attack against organized workers is less likely. However, they have grown really desperate in this period.
The working class has the option of unifying ourselves and our allies to resist the deprecations of capitalism. It would be nice to think that appeals to capitalist morality, appeals to supernatural powers, or some kind of minority action would change the situation. But history was never made that way.
The middle class has no independent role to play in history nor current events. Their role is to ally themselves with one or the other of the powerful antagonists: workers and bosses. They can be very effective and important and, in many cases, actually hold the balance of power. But they cannot consistently lead, and they cannot remain organized separate from the other two classes. There is a lot of room for argument about this, and I certainly caught it during our club discussion!
The Texas budget crisis, Gobble-lization, and the invasion of Iraq are all attacks on the working class being carried out by the capitalist class in the United States. The working class must unite and resist. They also have to bring as many as possible of the middle class with them. If anybody in the capitalist class sides with us temporarily, that is also very good. The three crises are essentially the same thing, and they all come from a desperate United States capitalist class as they try to resolve an economic crisis that is the natural by-product of their worldwide capitalist system. As Lenin put it, our role is to "patiently explain" and look for ways to unify our side of these life-or-death struggles.
I fully realize that there are no succinct "answers" to these great questions. Your part of the dialogue is absolutely essentialy. Please contact me with your views.
Back to Theory Page
Back to Home Page