United States

There is a lot activity and buzz around the struggle to raise the minimum wage in the United States. Here we provide an article by Tom Trottier of the US Socialist Appeal that explains the role of wages under capitalism and what has actually been achieved so far.

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has gone certifiably viral. Countless videos showing people dousing themselves with buckets of ice water have flooded social media. Everyone from GW Bush to Will Smith to Britney Spears to your next-door neighbor to half your High School classmates are joining in the late-summer antics and nominating someone else to do it. If the challenge is not met within 24 hours, the nominee is supposed to donate to

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As the protests in Ferguson, MO, enter their 12th day, following the shooting of Michael Brown by local police, the Workers International League (US section of the IMT) continues to intervene in this spontaneous upsurge, in Ferguson itself, and on the campuses in the area. These events mark a qualitative turning point in the class struggle in the United States. It is already being recognized as an event for which there will be a “before” and an “after,” even by the talking heads in the media and the representatives of the capitalist political establishment.

The shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, followed by the breaking up of a protest march by police in riot gear and dogs, has let loose the pent-up anger and frustration of ​b​lack youth in the otherwise quiet working class St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, which saw a night of looting and vandalism. These events above all show that huge pressures are building up in US society, just one scratch below the surface.

We are living in an epoch of crisis, war, revolution, and counterrevolution. However, revolutions are nonlinear processes; they do not unfold in a single act. From the perspective of the working class, the objective conditions and class balance of forces have never been as favorable. However, given the confusion and limited options of the bourgeois, the class-collaborationist policies of the labor leaders, and the lack of a mass revolutionary party—the subjective factor—this process will necessarily have a prolonged character. There will be many starts and stops, periods of advance and retreat, inspiring victories and demoralizing defeats. But through it all, the workers will learn, and

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100 years ago, US mining magnate John D. Rockefeller, with the help of the Colorado state government, ordered Colorado National Guard and militia forces to machine gun on a mining camp where 1,200 striking coal miners and their families were residing. Up to 60 people were killed and hundreds injured. The strikers were mainly immigrants who were paid slave wages by the company. They were forced to work 10–12 hour days and were not paid for "dead work" such as clearing the mines of rubble. The event marked a key milestone for America’s working class struggle to gain workplace rights, including the 8-hour work day, workplace health and safety measures, better housing, and the right to form

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The epoch of world growth fueled by globalisation is over. Two giant free trade deals are being thrashed out which would place the United States at the centre of its own strategically drawn up domain, stretching from both sides of the pacific to Eastern Europe. But far from being a means to open up the world to a further intensification of trade and to liberate capitalism from its own fetters, these deals engineered by US imperialism in its own interests would carve up the world into two or more power blocs waging economic war with one another. It is protectionism masquerading as free trade.

The bourgeois press went into overdrive about organized labor’s “devastating defeat” in the South, after workers at a Chattanooga, TN Volkswagen plant voted 712 to 626 against unionizing. One could detect a triumphant tone in the coverage, as if to say, “What more evidence could you ask for? The unions’ days are finished!

On August 21, the presiding judge in the case against Chelsea Manning read the sentence at the end of the court martial. Chelsea Elizabeth Manning—previously, Bradley Edward—was sentenced to 35 years in prison with a dishonorable discharge. What was her crime?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially known as “Obamacare,” is now rolling out across the country. The embarrassing technical difficulties faced by the program’s website dominated headlines for weeks—serving to obscure the real facts about the program. Many Americans had high hopes for Obama’s signature program, in particular young workers without any medical coverage. Surely, they thought, any change must be better than the status quo. But what is the reality?

The recent interview with actor/comedian Russell Brand on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman, dubbed a call for revolution by many, quickly became a viral sensation. Brand declared, “the planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting poor people all over the world, and the genuine legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.” He went on to discuss his own alienation from electoral politics as being a reflection of a feeling that is widespread in Britain.

For millions of people around the world, the United States represents the ultimate citadel of reaction: Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, the CIA, imperialism, sanctions, war, drones, anti-communism, discrimination, and exploitation. The American people are alleged to be a homogeneous bloc of ignorant, indifferent racists who blindly and enthusiastically back the reactionary economic and military policies of their government. Many people—even on the left— imagine that the US is immune from class conflict, and that life for the majority in the “belly of the beast” is prosperous and peaceful. However, while there may be an element of truth in some of this, the reality is far

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For the first time in history, a majority of members of Congress are bona fide millionaires. If anyone still has any illusions that the Democrats are somehow a party that fights in the interests of the workers, think again. Democratic members of the congressional delegation are actually even richer, on average, than their Republican counterparts.

Revealing another crack in the fragile foundation of the two-party system, voters in Lorain County, Ohio elected 24 Independent Labor Party candidates in local elections in December, out of 26 who ran. The election result was completely ignored by the major media outlets. Why? Because it shows that when offered an alternative fighting for the working class majority, with the numbers and resources of the unions behind to make it a viable option, working people will respond.

In the past two centuries, humankind has seen the development of our productive forces to a level previously undreamt of. What was once unimaginable is now commonplace. Never have we been so technologically advanced, never have we had such capability, never has there been such raw potential.

Given the lack of opportunities for political expression in the US, even off-year elections provide important insights into where things stand politically and in which direction they are moving. Frustration with incumbents and disgust with “politics as usual” has reached record highs.

The youth are bearing the brunt of the capitalist crisis, facing a future of debt, unemployment, underemployment, or employment in menial jobs that do not take advantage of their full potential and aspirations to do something useful and interesting with their lives. Faced with this situation, it is no surprise that interest in Marxist ideas is on the rise.

2013 is an off year for elections, involving races for cities, towns, and a few state governments. Among the more prominent elections is the one for mayor of New York City, which the ruling class says is “the second toughest job” in the country, the first being president. From their perspective, it is a tough job to rule and exploit the masses.

For 16 days, the world waited with bated breath as the US government was shut down and teetered on the brink of default. At the eleventh hour, a deal was rammed through both the Senate and the House and signed by Obama, thus averting the immediate crisis. What is the meaning of all this? What are the ramifications for American politics and the capitalist system itself?