Class Warfare?

For once the news media and the politicians are telling the truth – or at least part of it. They have been talking about class warfare in the US. The Republicans say the Obama administration and the Democrats are attacking the rich and powerful because they have talked about raising taxes on the richest one percent of the population.

But Obama and the Democrats are hardly waging class war on the bosses and bankers. This was plain for all to see, starting with the economic crisis in 2008. They and the Republicans have only helped out the rich at our expense. First came the trillions in bailout money to the companies, and banks that were “too big to fail”. Now many of them are making huge profits, while the official rate of unemployment nationally is still over nine percent and over twelve per cent in California.

For instance, despite its rising profits, Sutter Health, the giant hospital chain, is demanding that nurses sacrifice their health benefits and working conditions. This is just one in the latest in the series of take-away contracts pushed on working people in the name of the crisis. The banks got billions while millions of working class families have continued to be foreclosed on and lose their homes.

The deficit reduction plan continues to protect the rich while cutting programs for working people. Transportation services are being reduced and other social services are being cut or eliminated. Public education, from kindergarten to the university has been cut to the bone – teachers are laid off, classes and programs cancelled and tuition and fees raised. Fewer and fewer working class kids will have the chance to get a decent education..

Today poverty is higher than it has been in the 50 years that the US government has been keeping records. Recent statistics show that 28 percent of the population has been pushed out of the middle class through these attacks on our standard of living. Well we already know this. We see it every day on the job, in our families, in our neighborhoods and schools.

Yes there is class warfare in the USA today – a war of the bosses and the bankers, with the help of their political puppets, against the working people of this country. But up until now, with a few small exceptions, it has been a one-sided war – or more like a massacre.

Working people have traditionally looked to the Democrats to defend their interests. But how much more proof do we need that the Democrats are not acting in our interests but against them? And looking to the tea party and other Republican politicians is no alternative. It is just like placing the noose around our necks. Working people have looked to their unions to defend them. But more and more the union officials just try to protect the small number of members they have left by working out deals with the bosses. Or they spend their energy attacking each instead of working to organize the workers to fight together for what we need.

We have been facing an attack by the forces of the wealthy and powerful – a united attack. But we do not have to simply be victims of this class warfare. Working people are the majority in this country. We do all the work, run all the services, provide all the transportation and make everything run. Without us, society would come to a halt. But to change our situation, we have to stop depending on others to defend us and begin depending on ourselves. We can’t protect ourselves isolated from each other, in our own workplace and our own union. We need to start there, but not stop there. We need to use our numbers and fight together. We can’t defend our interests through legislation and contracts. Instead we need to use all of our forces, to make a real fight – where we work, where we live, where we go to school – and take it into the open, into the streets!

We are the majority and potentially, if we decide to organize together, if we stand together, we have the power to make this a two-sided fight and even to win this war.