[Marxism] “Cast aside illusions!” Crisis deepens
Waistline2 at aol.com
Waistline2 at aol.com
Fri Mar 6 10:20:33 MST 2009
“Cast aside illusions!” is the indispensable first step in grappling with
crisis. An illusion is a false impression of reality. No problem can be solved
that is not accurately described. Illusion prevents an accurate and objective
description of a problem. As our nation slips deeper into crisis, the main
tactic of the ruling class has been to prevent the people from accurately
describing the problem, offering them one illusion after another.
The first and fundamental illusion is that the current crisis is within the
system and caused by greed and mismanagement. The reality is that this is a
crisis of the system. It is easier to accept a shallow and superficial
illusion than to understand complex reality. However, the crisis is at such a point
that revolutionaries must master the complex way the system works or they
cannot describe the problem.
A fundamental characteristic of the capitalist system is that competition
between capitalists produces more commodities than the market can absorb. If
there is a market for ten cars, then ten capitalists will produce ten cars each.
The ensuing battle for the market compels every capitalist to cut the cost
of production. Labor saving machinery, speed-up and wage cuts lower the cost
of production, but also lower the purchasing power of the working class,
increasing the glut of products on the market. The result is the periodic slowing
down or stopping of production until the surplus is purchased or destroyed.
Then the race for the market starts again. This is crisis within the
What is different today?
The capitalist system rests on the buying and selling of labor power — that
is what creates value. In the struggle for the market, new electronic
productive equipment was developed that did not simply make labor more efficient,
it replaced it. As more and more capitalists are forced to use robotics, jobs
disappear and labor power becomes obsolete. As a result more and more
production is carried on with less and less labor. Inevitably more money flows into
the hands of fewer and fewer capitalists while the mass of the workers become
poorer and poorer as their wages decline and jobs disappear. Finally the
point is reached when the people of the world are too poor to consume what the
world has produced. Unsold products pile up, retailers cut orders, factories
close down, and bills and mortgages are not paid. Banks do not dare lend
money to businesses that might fail or to workers who may become unemployed.
Without the grease of credit the gears of the system grind to a halt.
Conventional wisdom has it that since the drying up of the market caused the
depression, then all that is needed is to create a market. This, it is said,
can be done by guaranteeing business loans and putting spending money in the
hands of the people. This was the essence of Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”
It didn’t work.
It took the destruction and gigantic market of World War II to again grease
the gears and expand the market. The Great Depression was the beginning of
the final stage of the capitalist system. Today, the entire world is capitalist
and there is nowhere to expand. The crisis within the system becomes deadly
as it is joined by the crisis created by new, labor-replacing means of
production that attack the very foundation of the system.
The illusion is we can spend our way out of the crisis.
The reality is that this system, like all those before it, is coming to an
A new system of social control over finance, production and distribution is
already forming. Will the new system be shaped to the benefit of the
billionaire ruling class or to the benefit of the mass of people? The question will
be answered in our favor if millions of people become clear about the problem
and their vision. They must become socially active and impose a democratic
economy that reflects a democratic political system. The first step is to cast
aside illusion and grapple with this difficult and dangerous reality.
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