United States

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


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?

As explained in the latest Socialist Appeal (US) editorial, Ruling Class Divisions Deepen, the US government shutdown over parts of the federal budget and Republican opposition to “Obamacare” is in the final analysis, a reflection of the insoluble contradictions of capitalism. Due to our readers’ keen interest in what is happening in the US, we are expanding our explanation and analysis of this ongoing situation.

The worldwide crisis of capitalism is leading to a deep questioning of the structures, institutions, politicians, and parties of bourgeois society. From Greece to Italy, Brazil to Turkey, Egypt to Iran, the consciousness of the masses is undergoing a profound transformation. This is not a linear process, and is not automatically and directly reflected in all countries at the same time.

“It sounds good on paper, but socialism will never work, because if everybody gets everything they need whether they work or not, then there is no incentive to work at all!” This is one of the most typical and caricatured arguments against socialism.

The bourgeoisie is not entirely blind. There are layers of the ruling class that can, on occasion, come to similar conclusions as Marxists. The benefit of a birds’ eye view of the capitalist system allows them to potentially have a more expansive view of the system as a whole—its corruption, its inequality, and its senility.

On July 18, the long–economically depressed city of Detroit officially declared its intention to file for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy is the largest ever for a US city, with $18 to 20 billion in debt. It is also the largest US city to ever go bankrupt, despite the disastrous collapse in the population over the last 30 years.

In one country after another, crisis, protests, war, revolution, and counterrevolution are raging. Here in the United States, however, it may seem to some that “nothing is happening.” But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Slowly but surely—though not linearly—the economic, political, social, and psychological tensions continue to build.

As Marxists, we welcome and fight for any increase in the wages of workers. A gain for one layer of the working class is a gain for all, and there are few layers of the American working class more desperate for such a gain than retail workers. The 2010 average retail worker’s hourly wage was a wretched $10.09, adding up to a $20,990 yearly income. However a four-person family in DC requires a staggering $88,615 every year, a clearly unattainable amount of money for parents working the most common job in America.