By Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition
Yesterday’s dramatic outpouring of tens of thousands in New York City, just two days after the police evicted the Occupy Wall Street encampment from Zuccotti Park, is one more sign that each police attack creates a burst of energy and added support throughout the city’s five boroughs.
It is no wonder that this movement has spread like wildfire—not only in New York but in cities and towns throughout the country.
People are aching for change.
There are about 40 million people who are either unemployed or severely underemployed. That’s the real number. The scourge of unemployment devastates all who are affected. For Black and Latino communities, the rate of unemployment is almost double the national average.
Young people cannot find decent paying jobs. For those who took the path of college, the aggregate amount of student loan money owed to the banks is over $1 trillion. The banks pushed through legislation in Congress that prevents people being able to declare bankruptcy on student loans. These debts to the banks can last a lifetime.
Nine million families have either been foreclosed or threatened with foreclosure because they cannot keep up with their interest payments to the bankers.
Yesterday’s protest action was not just in New York City. People were in the streets throughout the country.
They were protesting at bridges. There are more than 70,000 bridges that are in disrepair. The unemployed could be immediately put to work fixing the bridges. But that is not a priority for the capitalist class or the government that serves their interest.
Spending nearly $1 trillion a year on wars and military spending is a priority. The Pentagon apparatus includes U.S. military bases located in 130 countries. The 1% in the U.S. derive their fortune from capitalism at home and abroad—necessitating an empire of a new type.
Capitalism today is a brake on human progress
Capitalism is global. During its several hundred years of tenure as the dominant social system it has revolutionized industry and science. Nearly every commodity is the byproduct of an international division of labor. The revolution in travel and transport, as well as communications, has woven the world together like never before.
But capitalism is also system of organized greed. The pursuit of maximum profit that drives competition between corporations has revolutionized technology but brings with it unsolvable problems. It creates and relies on systemic unemployment and growing poverty even for those who are fortunate to be employed by the 1%.
Capitalism has today become a brake on human progress. Absurdly, it is accelerating human misery even while the capitalists get ever richer.
As the new global movement grows it will invariably become an explicit movement against the capitalist mode of production. It will develop a program and plan for reorganizing the economic system to overcome the systemic problems of the current model. A rational economic system premised on meeting society’s needs with the available resources is not only compelling but realizable. Only the concerted actions of human beings can make that kind of radical change.