“Our future is looking bleak, to say the least!” email from a Chicago Ford Worker.
For two consecutive weeks, more than 500,000 workers made new claims for unemployment insurance. The UN’s International Labor Organization estimates that the current crisis will increase the unemployment lines by tens of millions worldwide. This will be a terrible strain for the hundreds of millions deeply affected by this crisis.
Galveston, Texas has gone through many hurricanes and always recovered. Not this time. The workers and jobs are gone, people’s lives devastated. The University of Texas is laying off 3,800 workers at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The layoffs will destroy what was one the country’s premier hospitals and Galveston’s largest employer. Renown for its trauma unit, the hospital served mainly working-class patients, and was an economic center on the island. While a shrunken hospital will continue to operate, it will in all likelihood never return to what it was.
“Karen H. Sexton, vice president for hospitals and clinics was caught in a trap…acknowledged the cutbacks might be permanent. ‘We know we have to be a lot smaller now.’” (NYT 11/14/08)
Like in New Orleans before it, Galveston’s workers are scattered to the wind with no shot at recovery. We cannot take this lying down, not again, because much more is still to come as the bosses “solve” their crisis on the backs of the working class.
We must learn to respond to these attacks and fight back. There is much we can do. Whether we are in unions or not, we can set up unemployment committees to keep laid-off workers in the struggle and united with their brothers and sisters at work. We can fight to make every part-time worker a full-timer and organize factory committees, union or not, to fight evictions and make sure no co-worker is homeless.
We can move evicted families back into their homes and organize to defend them from a return visit by the sheriffs. In the high schools and colleges, students and teachers can do the same. We can participate in community centers and churches that organize soup kitchens and food pantries.
These centers and struggles can become schools for communism as we engage volunteers and those in need of assistance in political discussion about the nature of the profit system and the need to destroy it. We can expand the circulation of CHALLENGE and make our paper the flag of those fighting back. We can build the PLP out of these struggles.
No worker, woman or man, black, Latino or white, immigrant or citizen, will escape the growing depression. Racist unemployment, which is double for black workers than for white (and four times higher for black youth), will soar as wages and services collapse. These are not only racist attacks in terms of those workers losing their jobs, but also for those most affected by service cuts. About two-thirds of the unemployed receive no benefits. Chicago’s Cook County Health Bureau,which closed half the clinics for uninsured workers and slashed 2,000 jobs in 2007, is destroying another 500 jobs on January 1. Billionaire NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg just ordered the closing of all free city-run children’s dental clinics and is laying off 5,000 workers.
Smash Racist Unemployment With Communist Revolution
The real unemployment numbers are twice as high as those reported when you figure in the under-employed, 2.4 million mainly 70% black and Latin in jail, and 12 million undocumented workers and youth facing racist detention camps and deportations just for looking for work. “And as bad as these numbers are, they may look good a year from now because things are going to get much worse,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University. (Detroit Free Press, 11/14)
All the politicians, policy-makers and pundits are calling this the most serious crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. That crisis led to Hitler and the growth of fascism in much of the world, and World War II. It also led to the Chinese Revolution and the dramatic growth of the world communist movement, which ultimately crumbled under the weight of its own internal weaknesses and mistakes. The current crisis is pushing the world closer to World War III. What we do or don’t do will largely determine whether or not we are on the road to revolution. We must fight back.
The racist rulers will use Obama to try to buy time and win millions of black, Latino and white youth to invade Afghanistan and Pakistan. We can do better at leading our friends and CHALLENGE readers into the class war, and turn every battle, large and small, into a school for communist revolution. As Karl Marx said, “The point is not just to understand the world. The point is to change it.”