Monday, August 23, 2021


 The many social evils and economic contradictions that capitalism engenders are for the most part insoluble and endless. No matter what reform efforts are made to mitigate the impact of those evils and contradictions, they continue to plague society in varying degrees. Some of those problems may at times and on the surface even appear to have been mitigated only to have them flare up again. Exploitative working conditions may have moved on from sweat-shops but those without a contract struggle to make a living.

From the capitalist's point of view, the gig uber economy is a very desirable employment model. A "temp" is a person who hires out his or her services to companies on a temporary basis, for time periods ranging from a few hours to several months with no formal contract of employment, no paid sick leave or vacation days and often on part-time hours. No matter how good a job they do, there is absolutely no assurance that they will find work the next day. These workers are financially insecure. Because of their need for money, they take just about any job at almost any pay, willingly do unpleasant work, work very hard, and don't complain or argue. And, as an added advantage if business takes a down-turn, they aren’t eligible for any redundancy payments. They are easy to recruit, easy to get rid of, easy to replace. Workers in the gig economy are good for the capitalist class as a whole. They help keep permanent employees "in their place" by serving as an example for other workers as to how bad life could be for them if they don't serve their masters well because they accept low wages and so offer capitalists leverage in resisting pressures to pay higher wages for their permanent employees.

Uber workers know they are used, abused and exploited. But they usually feel that they can't do anything about the situation. This is not true. They can do things other than passively accepting anything the capitalist system dishes out to them. They can understand what is happening to them. They can talk with their co-workers about what is happening to all of them. They can communicate with like-minded people, and get comfort and companionship from the association. They can join people who are trying to get rid of the whole system that is based on the use and abuse of the entire working class. They can contribute to the building of a world based on dignity and cooperation instead of domination and exploitation. If they will do these things, then temporary workers can then look forward to a world where their children and grandchildren will never have to know how it feels to go through all of this in order to earn a living. No social problem can be eliminated unless its cause is uprooted. That fact alone guarantees that insecure precarious work will remain as long as capitalism—its cause—remains.

Jobless! Willing and able to work, a family to feed and house—but no work! This is the plight shared by millions in a world of plenty. And millions more live in fear that their jobs may soon disappear! Why? What's wrong?

Since the Socialist Party was founded in 1904 it has said the cause of unemployment and bad working conditions has nothing to do with which party is in government. Politicians don't decide who will work and who will not. They do not decide what to produce or when to produce it. In a capitalist economy, those decisions are made by those who own the things needed to produce and distribute the goods and services that everyone needs. They are made by the capitalist class. Capitalists and their politicians have no more control over economic crises than they have over earthquakes or hurricanes. Government reforms can't solve the problem, and history proves it. The "recessions" and "depressions" that bring unemployment are caused by the capitalist system itself. That's because the capitalist system has a fatal weakness. That weakness is that wages are never enough for workers to buy back all that they produce. Wages may go up in "good times" and fall in bad ones, but in the long run and on average workers get what is loosely called "a living wage."

New technology and automation only make things worse. Every new advance in labour-saving (read displacing) technology widens the wealth gap. 

The lesson is clear. Unemployment and economic exploitation are inherent in the capitalist system. Consequently, the interests of the overwhelming majority dictate that capitalism be replaced by a new social system capable of guaranteeing security for all—socialism. Sadly many workers think that socialism means an oppressive system of government ownership and control similar to what used to exist in Russia. The truth is that socialism never existed in Russia, or anywhere else. Socialism means economic democracy. There was no more economic democracy in the old USSR than there is in the USA or UK. Under genuine socialism, there would be neither capitalists nor bureaucrats. We have everything at hand to end unemployment and poverty and to build a society in which freedom and security would be guaranteed to all. That is a fact no one can dispute. We have skilled and productive workers. We have the equipment and the machinery. We have raw materials and natural resources. In short, we have all the means with which to produce an abundance for all. What we don't have, however, is the economic democracy that would enable us to use these skills, tools and resources to end unemployment and poverty permanently.

The solution to the problem of unemployment is not complicated. We—the working men and women who have made this the richest epoch in history—must replace private ownership of the industries with common ownership (i.e., the industries must be owned by all the people collectively). We must replace production for sale and profit with a system of production for use. And we must replace the economic dictatorship with economic democracy.

Then and only then will involuntary unemployment be eliminated. Then, instead of kicking workers out of jobs, automation will shorten the workday, workweek and workyear. Technological progress will no longer be something for us workers to fear, but an unqualified blessing that will ensure abundance and leisure for all.

We can achieve socialism peaceful
ly. We can outlaw capitalist ownership by a democratic decision at the polls. But before we can do that we must reject the political parties of capitalism and support the party of the working class—the Socialist Party.

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