Monday, September 29, 2008

Main Street Not Wall Street! Communists Fight Back!

Brothers and Sisters,

Working class Americans are grappling with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s and with the Bush Administration’s demand that they hand over $700 billion of their hard-earned tax dollars to bail out Wall Street. No Bailouts for Billionaires!

Since many folks are comparing the capitalist crisis of today with the Great Depression, the great economic crisis of 1929-1933, it’s worth a look at those days. We should note that the Communist Party of the United States was a leader in the fight-back against unemployment, evictions and wage cuts.

William Z. Foster, former Marxist-Leninist leader of the Communist Party USA, wrote that: "The golden era of ’permanent prosperity’ in the United States was brought to a sudden end by the terrific stock-market crash of October 1929. This was accompanied by a headlong fall in all spheres of the national economy, a decline which continued without let-up for the next four years. Over $160 billion in stock-market values were wiped out, basic industry production sank by 50 percent, 5,761 banks failed, and the value of farm products fell from $8.5 billion to $4 billion. Wage cuts for all industries ran to at least 45 percent. By 1933 some 17 million workers were walking the streets unemployed, and many millions more were on part time...

"The crisis was one of overproduction--an explosion of the basic capitalist internal antagonism between the private ownership of industry and the social character of production. That is, rapidly expanding production had far outrun the limited power of the capitalist markets to absorb this output, owing to the systematic exploitation of the toiling masses by the robber capitalists. This condition was accentuated by the anarchy of capitalist production. Hence the general economic glut and violent crisis catastrophe resulted.

"The cyclical crisis was far and away the most severe in the history of world capitalism, in its depth, duration and universality. This exceptional severity was due to the fact that the breakdown took place within the framework of the deepening crisis of the world capitalist system....

"With the outbreak of the economic crisis the bourgeoisie immediately embarked upon the same course that it had following all previous crises; namely, to unload the burden of the economic breakdown upon the shoulders of the workers and poorer farmers. Without the slightest concern for the welfare of their wage slaves, out of whose labor they had amassed their fortunes, the capitalists proceeded to throw millions of workers out on the streets without any relief, much less unemployment insurance...

"There was only one party in the United States from which leadership could and did come for the unemployed--the Communist Party." (William Z. Foster, History of the Communist Party of the United States, 1952, International Publishers)

The Communist Party USA led and participated the mass struggles during the Great Depression, the great economic crisis of 1929-1933, for unemployment insurance. The Communists fought for public work at union wages, against housing evictions and wage cuts and racism. They demanded food for school children.

(Police attack a Hunger March organized by the Unemployed Councils in 1931. Carl Winter said that ’The thrust of the Unemployed Councils, under Communist leadership and influence, was to place both the responsibility and the burden for relief upon the government and the employers.’)

Carl Winter, Communist leader of the Unemployed Councils in NY and one of the organizers of the National Hunger Marches of the 1930s points out that before the Communists could conduct and lead the mass struggles during the Great Depression, "the Party first had to settle accounts with Right-opportunist forces within its own leadership who refused to assume the responsibilities of a vanguard party of the working class." He said that the expulsion of a revisionist leadership and their small band of supporters "was accompanied by a new turn to the masses and serious efforts to organize for the solution of their most pressing problems." (Carl Winter, "Unemployment Struggles of the Thirties," in Bart, Highlights of a Fighting History, 1979, International Publishers)

William Z. Foster, former Marxist-Leninist leader of the Communist Party USA, said that we must "turn towards socialism. For that is the only final answer to the many basic contradictions which produce the terrors and hardships of rotting capitalism." He added that "the capitalist system has become hopelessly obsolete and reactionary. It must be replaced by socialism." (William Z. Foster, History of the Communist Party of the United States, 1952, International Publishers)