Building a fair, just, and prosperous ecological future, rooted in social and ecological justice means fundamental change.
This present society is poorly organised that every day workers in their millions look for work and can’t find any. Workers in their thousands look for work and can’t find any. The poor beg for their food and shiver from the cold. They suffer the worst poverty. The youngest ask their destitute mothers for food and the latter can’t give them any because they don’t have anything. All they can do is ask for alms; to arrested as beggars. Many of the more vulnerable unfortunates commit suicide, leaving families in the most terrible distress. People go hungry and suffer while food, clothing and shelter are abundant.
Yet there are thousands of people who don’t work, who produce nothing, and who live thanks to the labour of others. The capitalist market system means economic plunder and ecological pillage and the continuing growth of the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very few.
Scarcity is a myth and nothing more. There are, in reality, abundant resources. There is actually enough for everyone and that all of us are deserving of our planet’s abundance. The world has achieved a high level of science and technology. The great store of society’s wealth is created by the millions of workers who with their toil transform raw materials into finished products. The raw materials, the machinery, and the means of transportation all created by the workers are an important part of the productive forces of society, but the most important part is the working class itself without whose labour the means of production would rust and rot. But in the hands of the capitalists the means of production become tools for the continued enslavement and impoverishment of the working class.
Part of the workers’ labour covers the cost of maintaining themselves and their families – their wages–and the rest is unpaid labour that produces surplus value for the capitalists, the source of their profit. This exploitation of the workers to create private profit for the capitalists is the basis of the whole capitalist system and all its evils.
Capital chases after the highest rate of profit, as surely as iron is drawn to a magnet – this is a law beyond anyone’s will, even the capitalists’, and it will continue in force so long as society is ruled by capital.
Owning and appropriating a part of the total capital of society privately, each capitalist must try to enlarge his share at the expense of the other capitalists. Capitalists therefore repeatedly introduce new machines and technology to try to produce goods faster and more cheaply, in order to grab more of the market from their competitors. But this machinery and technology costs the capitalists additional money without bringing additional profit–which can only be gotten from the labor of the workers. So there is the constant tendency for the capitalists’ rate of profit to fall, which constantly leads to desperate attempts on their part to push the rate of profit up, to the highest level possible. Capitalists battle each other for profit, and those who lose out go under. The strongest capitalists survive, and in surviving concentrate more of the means of production in their hands and hurl more of the smaller producers into the ranks of the working class. While each capitalist tries to plan production, the private ownership, the blind drive for profit and the cut-throat competition continually upset their best-laid plans, and anarchy reigns in the economy as a whole. Capitalists constantly pull their capital out of one area of investment and into another, along with bringing in new machines to speed up production. Some capitalists temporarily surge ahead and expand while others fall behind or are forced out of business altogether. With each of these developments workers are thrown into the streets and forced once again to search for a new master to exploit them. All this is why, from its beginning, capitalism has gone from crisis to crisis. But so long as capitalism is not overthrown, it finds some way out of the crisis–temporarily. Anarchy and the chase of competing capitalists after higher profit remain in effect. The laws of capitalism remain in force, especially the commandment: “expand or die.”
But for far too long wealth has been funnelled far too much to far too few, where only the wealthy prosper. Poverty has become an increasingly endemic and permanent fixture of working people’s life. Workers are often told to be "practical," to make their demands modest. It’s worth noting, though, that the same is never asked of the super-rich.
Phillip Alston, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, explained it well: "The overwhelming success of the ideological campaign that supports neo-liberal policies is that it has succeeded in convincing people that those in poverty have no one to blame but themselves, while supporting the notion that trickle-down policies will address it."
Supporters of the wealthy deflect attention from systemic failures and help them further consolidate their power. Capitalist institutions are set up to perpetuate social injustices including inequality, institutional racism, and imperialist wars and conflicts. Ending poverty, systemic racism, working to mitigate climate change, and halting this world’s ever-growing militarism is not only possible, but essential. The basic contradiction of capitalism stands out all the more starkly: production itself is highly socialised – it requires large concentrations of workers, each performing part of the total process and all essential to its completion, and it is capable of massive output on this basis; but the ownership of the means of production and the appropriation of the wealth produced is “private”–in the hands of a few, competing owners of capital. It should be obvious that working people are in dire need of a new vision.
The project of reconstructing society around the needs of the poor and dispossessed requires a socialist movement. Socialism is the recipe for a strategy that aims to have the economic pie fairly and justly divided, ending poverty and injustice. The working class possesses tremendous potential power to change the world, a fact that is shown every day in the process and product of its labor and in its many struggles against capitalism. It is the task of the working class to remake society to serve the interests of the great majority of the people.