New Developments in the Unemployed Movement

Glimpses of Britain and USA history

Responding to the deadly impact of the nation’s double-digit rate of unemployment, committees of the unemployed are blossoming out in all parts of the country. From Buffalo to Birmingham and from Seattle to Los Angeles, and all points in between, the unemployed are organizing. Vir­tually every city in the industrial heartland of our country finds jobless workers on the march.

This stirring upsurge marks a new stage in the struggle of the working class to counter the cruel effects of an economic depression. Among its bit­terest fruits are hunger, homelessness and the physical and mental ills that breed in the stagnant swamp of an economic crisis and decline.

Efforts are being made to attribute this crisis to new technology. This must be rejected. This is a crisis of the capitalist system. It is aggravated by the technological revolution because of capitalism’s inability to utilize the advances for the good of society rather than to further their drive for maxi­mum profits. In its own way, the new technology is contributing to this crisis, just as huge sums siphoned off by wasteful military spending throw the country deeper and deeper into debt to the banks and other financial institutions.

A constantly increasing number of Communist Party members are in­volved in helping to build unemployment committees in both local unions and working-class neighborhoods. They are helping to organize food kitchens and centers to aid the jobless. Members of the Communist Party and the newly-formed Young Communist League are helping to prevent evictions, cutoffs of utilities and repossessions, as well as securing food, housing and medical care for those in dire need.

Workers in the basic industries have been particularly hard hit. Steel, auto, rubber, electrical, chemical, coal and copper mining, maritime, con­struction, transportation. Tens of thousands of union workers in bankrupt food chains and discount houses have watched their jobs go down the drain. City, state and federal workers, as well as office workers, have all been hard hit.

The hundreds of billions being poured into the war industries sinkhole have brought some new jobs, primarily in high technology. But at what a cost! For every job created by war production, ten times that number would have been created if the same amount of money had been spent on social production. Since our economy can no longer provide both “guns and butter”, those jobs have gone down the drain for good. War produc­tion is no solution to the economic crisis. Instead, it seriously contributes to deepening the crisis.

One doesn’t have to be a mathematical genius to understand that work­ing people can’t spend money they don’t have, for goods that are priced sky-high. And even if their credit is good, they can’t afford to borrow money at double-digit interest rates. People can’t buy when they are laid off, working part-time or having their buying power reduced by wage con­cessions and continuing inflation in the prices of necessities.

The US Administration has further cut mass buying power by speeding the transfer of taxes from the rich onto the backs of the workers and the lower middle class.

The trade union movement is beginning to get into the thick of the fight. Many local unions have formed committees of unemployed members.

The AFL-CIO is pressing for plant closing legislation that would extend to the workers and communities victimized by closures at least some degree of protection.

Hard-hit family farmers are on the march. They adopted a militant program in defense of the family farm. It includes a demand for parity prices for farm production, an end to farm foreclosures and coalition with organized labor.

Neighborhood unemployed committees are making a significant con­tribution to the struggles of the unemployed. They add a special, much- needed punch and ability to initiate struggles at a higher level such as marches, demonstrations, picket lines and sit-ins. They usually exhibit a greater flexibility than the local union unemployed committees, which tend to be more formally structured within the framework of the trade union movement.

A new militant mood is sweeping the ranks of the working class. False hopes are being replaced by realistic appraisals. The majority now realize their jobs in such industries as steel, auto, rubber, electrical and chemical are gone for good the way things now stand.

It is clear to Communists, and it is becoming clear to many others, that capitalism is the culprit in the present state of affairs, and that capitalism is incapable of solving the multitude of problems we face.

From: Political Affairs, 1983