What follows is an excerpt from Sam Webb's recent report to the CPUSA National Committee, "On the Road Again," given November 10, 2007. This particular section focuses on the current economic struggles of the working class. The report in its entirety can be read and downloaded here.
The struggle in the electoral arena has to be combined with struggles on immediate issues that are roiling millions – with the struggle to defend and expand the rights of immigrants, with the struggle to completely withdraw troops from Iraq and prevent a military strike against Iran, with the growing actions around global warming, with initiatives around health care, such as children’s health insurance, prescription drug funding, and HR 676, and with the fight for equality and against racism, male supremacy, and other ideologies and practices of division and oppression.
Of particular importance is responding to the deteriorating economic conditions of working people.
When housing prices began to collapse and then spill into financial markets, the Federal Reserve Bank eased credit, thinking that this would bring financial stability and counter downward pressures on the economy, even if it didn’t assist millions of homeowners who stood to lose their houses.
But it is becoming abundantly clear that they guessed wrong. The worsening economic and financial conditions appear to be spreading across the domestic and global economy.
In the recent decade, stock and housing bubbles (which put enormous wealth in the hands of consumers, especially the wealthiest), record levels of consumer and government indebtedness, astronomical military expenditures, and a readiness of other governments and investors to hold massive amounts of U.S. government and corporate securities has sustained the economy. But each of these factors is self-limiting and unsustainable.
To make matters worse, the slowdown is occurring in a world economy characterized by overproduction in commodity markets and unable to fully overcome a crisis of profitability and accumulation that dates back to the mid-seventies.
It was this insufficiency of profits, accumulation, and growth that neoliberalism in its right wing extremist garb was supposed to remedy. But it failed to match its practical deed with its ideological claim, namely a return to robust and sustained economic growth and rising living standards that were a feature of the
What it did do, however, was to effect the most massive shift of wealth from the working class to the top layers of the capitalist class, raise deficit levels of all kinds (government, trade, consumer, etc), and grease the skids for capital to move from stagnant (and highly competitive) goods sector into the financial sector.
In turn, the financial sector has grown explosively, turned into the main site of high wire speculation and capital accumulation for financial and increasingly non-financial corporations, reconstituted relations within the capitalist class to the advantage of finance capital, and introduced a new element of instability into the national and global economy.
As for the working class: the historically unprecedented and savage assault on its living and working conditions makes for grim economic prospects.
Jobs (especially in manufacturing), have been destroyed by the tens of thousands, the low wage economy has spread to new and old sectors, health care and pension benefits have been cut and eliminated, and cities turned into wastelands. Tens of millions of working people feel a degree of insecurity that they never thought they would experience in their lifetimes. And for far too many African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, or immigrants, keeping hope alive as far as your economic future is concerned is almost a matter of self-deception. Racism amplifies many times over the economic crisis in these communities, while impeding more than any other weapon of division a united people’s struggle.
What is the upshot of all this? Suffice it to say that the economic struggles are sure to grow in scope and intensity and will be with us for a long while. Moreover, and I’ll say it one last time, the defeat of the extreme right and the consolidation of a new stage of struggle is imperative in order to begin to solve these deep economic and social problems.We have a lot on our plate. But I am confident that Joelle’s report on the elections and the discussion that follows this weekend will give the entire Party the insights and enthusiasm to step to the front at such a critical time.