Editorial: Let's save humanity,
not the billionaires

The headlines are ominous: "Asia Braces for Further Currency Falls"; "Korea's Crisis Sends Ripples Around the World." The bad news is, things are going to get worse before they get better. The steadily widening economic crisis in Asia and what seems to be a worldwide motion toward police states is proof of that. The good news is, there is cause for hope. A basis for unity and struggle of the majority of the people around a common program is developing.

The Asian financial crisis threatens to engulf the world, and at its root are fundamental flaws in the very system of capitalism. It's not just Asia that the capitalist governments are trying to bail out, but the capitalist system itself. And even this "bailout" (if it works at all) will be temporary, until the next (and deeper) crisis manifests itself. We don't need another bailout of the billionaires; we don't need to tinker with the existing system; we need a new system, one that serves humanity rather than impoverishes and oppresses it.

While the ruling-class politicians and economists point to "corruption and mismanagement" as the cause of Asia's troubles, the developing crisis is really a reflection of several things: the globalization of markets for capital, labor, and goods and services; the replacement of labor with electronics in the production process; the flooding of world markets with more products than people can buy; the falling rate of profit; and the shifting of huge amounts of capital from productive investment to speculation. The combination of these factors is what caused the crisis that threatens to spread worldwide.

The chief underlying cause is the shift to a system of production based on computers and robots; this has begun the process of eliminating human labor from the workplace. Labor is the source of economic value and profit; reduce the amount of labor in the goods that are produced, and you reduce the rate of profit. At the same time, cutting wages and jobs is shrinking the market for the goods that are produced. The prospect of falling profits and shrinking markets is what has caused the financial collapse sweeping across Asia. The crisis is both compounded and manifested by the massive debts of governments and corporations and the global orgy of speculation in stocks, bonds, derivatives, real estate, currencies, etc.

The terms of the $100 billion-plus "bailout" of Asia will only make things worse -- it means wage and benefit cuts for the countries involved, cuts in government spending, businesses going bankrupt, people's savings wiped out, and jobs and markets eliminated. And at the same time, the crisis will flood world markets with even cheaper goods. Couple this with a spreading financial panic, and you have a prescription for a worldwide downward spiral of wages and prices, meaning a global depression. But there is hope. In this country, the common poverty of a huge and growing section of workers -- whether employed or unemployed -- is laying the basis for unity across lines of color and nationality and along class lines.

The economic revolution that has produced a global economy and production by computer is steadily splitting society in two. It has created two new classes -- a class of wealthy speculators, on the one hand, and on the other a true proletariat, a class of people who are economically unnecessary because their labor is no longer needed.

The core of this new class of dispossessed -- the part-time workers, the temps, the unemployed, the homeless, the low-wage workers, the welfare recipients, the workfare slaves -- has no ties to capital and no interest in maintaining a system that is literally killing them. The worldwide trend is for the majority of society, including the skilled workers, to become members of this proletariat.

New means of production and new classes mean a new society must be born. The needs of the proletariat -- for food, clothing, housing, health care, for life itself -- can only be met by a fundamental reorganization of society along cooperative lines. In this sense, the proletariat is a revolutionary class. There is no question that society will be reorganized; the question is, by whom? By the global speculators, whose morality dictates that whole nations be impoverished so their profits can be maintained? Or by the proletariat, whose morality demands a peaceful, prosperous, orderly society where no one is allowed to suffer? This is the underlying question that is being fought out in our country today.

The daily struggle for reform, for life, is the form the revolutionary movement takes. But its inevitable ultimate aim is a cooperative society, where the necessities of life are distributed according to need. For the struggle to be successful, conscious people must step forward and guarantee that the political program our society rallies around is the program of the new class of the dispossessed.

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