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Have YOU stopped listening?
Where politics are concerned a lot of Americans have. They just don't believe anymore in what politicians say or do. That's quite understandable after all the times they've been hooked with phony campaign promises and let down by programs ballyhooed as sure-fire cures for this country's steadily worsening problems.
Most Americans, though, haven't turned their backs on politics yet. They're watching the present Presidential campaign. They still believe that hearing and weighing what the various candidates propose can enable them to elect men who will get this country's problems solved.
These two opposite views of the merits of participating in political elections boil down to this: The majority "believers" still hope to find the "right men" to put America's social house in order. The minority "nonbelievers" have come to doubt that such men exist.
Now, there happens to be a third view on the subject -- a view which, besides agreeing that no "right men" are available, goes further by denying that our country's desperate problems have been caused by "wrong men" chosen to run its government in the past. Instead of blaming political officeholders, this view claims that the real cause of our social problems lies partly in the form of government we have and mainly in the capitalist system on which the government rests. It therefore also claims that the ballot should be used to fundamentally change both.
That is admittedly a grave view of where this nation stands. You may think it is unduly pessimistic. If so, please don't simply dismiss it. Do it the justice of checking it against the facts.
The relevant facts have been piling up for a long time -- at least since the Great Depression of 40 years ago, which first plainly signaled that capitalism should be scrapped.
HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE NEEDED
What happened in the thirties is not ancient history. It forms the background of today's situation. Indeed, the crisis that hit the U.S. after 1929 is directly linked to the crisis of recent years.
Then, as now, the problem was so-called "overproduction" -- more goods and services produced (or producible) than could be profitably sold. Not more than the American people needed. Just more than the owners of industry could sell.
Result: As orders for their offerings dried up, capitalist employers cut back production and laid off millions of workers. Millions of them remained unemployed until World War II and U.S. involvement in it.
True, efforts were made to put the jobless back to work sooner. But these were fouled up by two serious twists in the capitalist system.
The first is that capitalists want to see rising sales before they hire additional hands. Sales, however, usually refuse to rise when employment is way down. After all, workers constitute the bulk of the nation's customers, and they obviously can't buy much unless they're collecting paychecks.
Whenever sales and employment do somehow move upward, another twist in capitalism constantly tends to slow business to a new halt. This second twist is that production for capitalist profit necessarily yields a mass purchasing power insufficient to buy up anywhere near the full national output. The insufficiency is due to the fact that, no matter how high the workers' wages go, their collective pay never amounts to more than a small fraction of the value of their collective product.
UNCLE SAM BECOMES BIG SPENDER
Roosevelt's "New Deal" Administration undertook to get American capitalism selling and employing again. And it undertook to plug the big hole in the nation's purchasing power. The chief means used was government spending ... deficit spending ... spending by the Federal government that considerably exceeded its income. Such a "shot in the arm" naturally had an effect. Although hardly as potent or lasting as the New Deal medicine men expected. For, as soon as Washington tried to taper off its spending, the economic "recovery" turned into a relapse.
A vastly more powerful stimulant was required to restore capitalist production and employment to high level. The Second World War supplied it.
That profitable orgy of slaughter and destruction was not, of course, deliberately arranged to generate an industrial boom. Like the earlier world tear, it grew inevitably out of a bitter struggle for control of international markets.
Every capitalist power having the same tendency as the U.S. to overproduce the home market, each is compelled to export a sizable part of its output. Since available foreign markets are not nearly adequate to absorb all that each wants to unload, fierce competition develops which periodically ends in military conflict.
BELIEF ONLY ... NO CURE
The post-World War II record demonstrates that neither government spending nor war (which involves government spending on a colossal scale) cure capitalism's built-in disposition to produce more than it can sell. They merely ease and hide the problem for a while. Eventually and repeatedly, accumulating "overproduction" leads to another business slump.
There have been five of them since 1945, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike. The latest was triggered by President Nixon's initial decision to put a lid on government spending. So, the man who began his Presidency by blotting the idea of prosperity through Federal deficits was forced to reverse his course. Now that he has, he's really dipping into the red ink.
The red ink has been adding up. Thanks to a long succession of budget deficits, the national debt ballooned from less than $20 billion when F.D.R. entered the White House to about $450 billion in 1972. The interest on this enormous debt is now a whopping item in the annual budget, feeding further deficits and growth in the debt.
THE DEBT-INFLATION CONNECTION
As the national debt swelled, it has steadily fueled inflation. The reason is that the U.S. Treasury covers its deficits largely with loans from commercial banks -- a procedure which capitalist monetary experts admit is an indirect way of printing and circulating equivalent amounts of dollars.
The dollars thus created have again and again inflated America's money supply to a volume much greater than that needed to circulate the volume of goods being offered in the market. As a consequence, the value of the dollar has fallen down, down, down -- thereby causing prices in general to climb steeply, even in face of a decreasing demand.
Inflation is a bonanza for capitalists because their profits increase as the ever higher prices they are getting shrink the workers' real wages. Then, when workers seek to regain the lost real income by winning raises in money wages, their employers cmn cunningly blame further price increases on these wage raises. The "wage-price spiral" capitalists lyingly call it.
But though a bonanza for individual capitalists, inflation is deadly for their system. By pushing prices up, it allows domestic purchasing power to buy less. It causes American products to lose foreign markets. It undermines the dollar's international standing. It accelerates governmental bankruptcy at every level. And it intensifies social discontent.
IRON HOOPS FOR SAGGING SYSTEM
Confronted by these deadly effects, President Nixon has reached for a totalitarian remedy: economic controls. Phases One and Two unmistakably reveal at whom and what those controls are aimed -- not at capitalists and prices, but at workers and wages. To put it bluntly, Mr. Nixon's purpose is to force the working class to bear the costs, in materially reduced living standards, of his drastic attempt to keep U.S. capitalism from falling apart.
The economic controls have been labeled "temporary," to be lifted once inflation is licked. Don't be taken in by that deception. The controls are not going to lick inflation -- not with the Nixon Administration feeding its source by running up a $38 billion deficit for 1972, and with future deficits predicted. They are therefore likely to become permanent.
Furthermore, the multiple crisis gripping American capitalism is destined to deepen rather than recede. As it deepens, President Nixon (or whoever may succeed him) will be pressed to impose even stiffer controls in a last-ditch defense of the system. In short, America is headed toward total regimentation unless we fundamentally change our economic setup, and our government as well.
Fundamentally change them how? First, by utilizing the ballot to affirm the American people's right to take social possession of the entire economy and to begin running it for the benefit of all. Then, by enforcing a democratic mandate for social ownership with the united industrial power of the whole army of workers engaged in operating the nation's industries.
United industrial power does not refer to capitalist-minded unions like the AFL-ClO, It implies a radically different kind of organization: a Socialist Industrial Union; a union which organises the workers for the express task of taking over the economy in the people's name; a union which equips them to perform this task by organizing them exactly as capitalism has organised them to carry on production; a union which unites every category of labor, from designers, supervisors and clerical staff to the rank and file; a union which organises the unemployed together with those who stil have jobs. Besides providing the power to defeat any capitalist resistance to the majority's will, the Socialist Industrial Union serves as the framework of a new government built on industrial constituencies.
Here is how it will function:
* Voting where we work, we shall elect the supervisors of our respective units (plants, offices, laboratories, stores, schools, hospitals, etc.); and we shall determine the operating procedures in these units, giving emphasis to antipollution measures.
* We shall elect representatives to higher administrative bodies, including an All-Industry Congress that will plan and coordinate nationwide production.
* We shall recall and replace persons elected to supervisory or administrative posts whenever a majority finds their performance unsatisfactory.
* We shall participate in setting the nation's priorities -- what is to be produced and in what quantities, how our products are to be allocated, what projects are to be undertaken for our common welfare.
Here is what it can accomplish:
* Through industrial self-government, we can use our natural resources wisely and start undoing the environmental damage commited by capitalist greed.
* We can use our productivity sanely to rebuild our cities and rural areas, to construct the housing and other facilities we gravely lack today, to meet abundantly the wants of every adult and child.
* We can employ automation to shorten our workday, workweek and work-year, while at the same time boosting our productivity.
* We can dispel racial and ethnic antagonisms by assuring every American a fine education and useful employment in the widest choice of occupations.
* We can lead the world to lasting peace by extending to our fellow men abroad a hand of fraternal cooperation.
* * *
Think about what you've read. Better yet, send for fuller information. Study the literature you receive, then help promote the Socialist Industrial Union program. You haye nothing to lose but a capitalist hell, and a safe, prosperous, peaceful world to gain!
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