Statement by Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Philadelphia district attorney, June 1.
As millions remain jobless today, driven out of the workforce by government-ordered coronavirus shut downs and the sharp contraction in capitalist production and trade, workers and farmers need to organize to fight to get everyone back on the job. Left to themselves, the bosses only increase hiring when they can make more profits. Otherwise they squeeze the number of workers to the bone and push relentlessly to speed up the pace of our labor.
Workers, whose labor produces all wealth, need to find the way to use our power in numbers and strategic position in production and distribution to force change. As growing numbers get vaccinated, our leverage increases.
Some bosses claim they can’t fill vacancies because unemployed workers live too high off the hog on overly generous government benefits. Their efforts to blame workers who don’t rush to take any job, no matter how little it pays, turn the victim into the criminal.
Regardless of the ups and downs in unemployment, capitalism cannot function without a reserve army of labor, striving to pit workers with jobs against those without. The pressure this reserve army exerts on those of us at work “forces them to submit to over-work and subjects them to the dictates of capital,” Karl Marx, a founder of the revolutionary working-class movement, explained. “The condemnation of one part of the working class to enforced idleness by the overwork of the other part, and vice versabecomes a means for enriching the individual capitalists.”
Workers need to build and use our unions to wage an unwavering fight for a government-funded public works program to put millions thrown out of work into jobs at union-scale pay to build the houses, hospitals, schools, irrigation projects and many other things working people need. We should fight on the job for a shorter workweek with no cut in pay to share the work available to all. This is the road to defeat the bosses’ efforts to pit us against each other and unify our ranks for struggle against the dog-eat-dog capitalist class.
Getting back to work puts workers in the one place where we can join together to fight for better wages and working conditions, as striking miners in Alabama, ATI steelworkers, and others locked in labor conflicts today show is possible. We can win widespread solidarity in our battles — each one is in the interests of the entire working class.
In a world in which millions more people face hunger and malnutrition, forging a fighting alliance with farmers is also crucial for our class.
Before the pandemic, farm bankruptcies in the U.S. were at the highest level in a decade. Big food processing companies and monopoly supermarket chains dictate what farmers receive for what they produce. These rock bottom prices farmers get have nothing to do with the sky-high costs workers confront at the store.
Workers and our unions must champion the interests of farmers — our fellow producers — and demand the government guarantee to fully cover their costs of production, including living expenses. To ensure that those who want to till the land and provide food for the growing numbers without, we need to fight for nationalization of the land, to prevent its seizure by banks, landowners and corporate agricultural capitalists.
Forging a fighting alliance between workers and farmers is necessary for the working class to lead in struggle all those exploited and oppressed to overturn capitalist rule, take political power and establish a workers and farmers government.
Wielding that power we can take into our own hands control over the factories, land, and banks, and reorganize them to meet human needs, not private profit. Then we can ensure that all who want to work can lead productive lives. We will throw our lot in with fellow toilers worldwide to create a new social order in the interests of all, transforming the world and ourselves. Join with us in this fight. Join the SWP.