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Monday, September 28, 2009

Some Reflections on the G-20

Six days of G-20 actions in Pittsburgh highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the left, but also the raging hypocrisy of those who rule.

Though the G-20 was rejected by other cities, the City and County officials of this Western Pennsylvania metropolis leaped at the chance to welcome 19 national leaders for the public spectacle of determining the destiny of the world in the period ahead. Long the target of democratic forces, the G-meetings expose the elitism and arrogance of the most powerful nations in a way that cries out for protest. Flaunting the credible though flawed, more democratic mechanism – The United Nations – G-meetings send the clear and shameless message that the wealthier countries and their ruling classes are in full control of the world’s affairs. While little more than wining, dining, signing off on previously determined policies and vague statements is accomplished, its all done with feudal-like ceremony and conspicuous pomp.

The Pittsburgh elites saw this circus as an opportunity to show case the “new” Pittsburgh – a glitzy Potemkin village hiding the devastated, neglected neighborhoods and towns of this once industrial giant. Today’s Pittsburgh – out-of-sight of the world’s leaders – is a depopulated, low income, aging city weighted down by decades of debt accumulated from ill-conceived, but highly profitably development schemes. The tax base has been scooped out to retain extortionate corporate giants and to lure new businesses that seldom come. The formerly well-paying manufacturing and mining jobs have disappeared only to be replaced with low-paying, benefit-lacking, service sector employment. Decades of political leadership rigidly wedded to corporate obeisance have left the region with a broken infrastructure, decrepit public services, and crippling poverty. If anything, Pittsburgh is a lesson in the destructiveness of unfettered corporate governance. The loss of good-paying industrial jobs has been most devastating to the African-American community: the city is one of the most segregated in the US with African-American poverty, infant mortality, crime, and abject poverty rivaling any city in America.

The city spared no expense in polishing the downtown buildings, streets, and public spaces where world leaders or the media might cast a critical eye. But, more than anything, Pittsburgh committed to an unprecedented show of force to confront anyone bent on crashing the party: nearly twenty-million dollars and 6,500 police (most imported) and National Guard. Despite the natural security advantages of the so-called “Golden Triangle” – a confined area at the convergence of two rivers – the heavy-handed security arrangements insured that downtown Pittsburgh was essentially a ghost town for two and a half days. The fears generated by the hysterical media (demonstrators will hurl bags of excrement, wield weapons, assault by-standers, etc. etc.) along with the barriers, choke points, and security check points virtually guaranteed that no visitor would cast an eye upon the peasants dependent upon downtown employment. Pittsburghers got a harsh taste of what life must be like in Baghdad or Kabul.

The week’s events kicked off with a jobs rally and march from Monumental Baptist Church in the city’s predominantly African-American Hill District neighborhood to the storied Freedom Corner, a landmark of civil rights activism. Around five hundred marchers echoed probably the week’s most militant and focused demands for social and racial justice with a strong anti-capitalism voice. Like this rally, other events held at the Church reflected the widest diversity of all of the many held during the week. The rally enjoyed endorsements from both the Steelworker’s union (USW) and the United Electrical Workers Union (UE), representatives of which spoke at the concluding rally along with other union leaders and the indomitable Pennsylvania State Senator, Jim Ferlo, who castigated President Obama for his disdainful dismissal of the anti-G-20 movement.

The police presence at the rally was only a foretaste of the Storm trooper tactics to be displayed later in the week after the “guests” arrived. Police made a provocative and thorough photographic record of the participants and leaders, a practice that accompanied all of the mass events to follow. Pittsburghers can be assured that these photos and other reports and records will be retained and researched. If the city didn’t have a “Red Squad” before, it has one now.

The Authorities

Led by the Secret Service, the local security apparatus exacerbated tensions by denying permits to assemble and march until the very last minute and only with ACLU legal prodding. Clearly they hoped to dampen participation and thwart planning. The huge police presence received training modeled after counter-insurgency tactics with units organized in platoon-sized groups fitted with full body armor and armed with assault rifles and shotguns. They maintained a steady helicopter presence above the skies of this city under siege. Before the actual meetings, police conducted raids on city gathering places as innocuous as urban gardens. We visited one such garden placed under constant surveillance by a well-placed camera fitted just for the G-20 meeting.

Their security plans became apparent as the week proceeded: they located any gathering, surrounded the participants, and ordered dispersal with the slightest provocation. This tactic guaranteed confusion and confrontation. Repeatedly, participants reported that they were unable to exit when dispersal orders were issued.

The authorities engaged a new weapon in Pittsburgh: a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) that sends a loud, 150 decibel sound into crowds, leaving victims confused and disoriented. This weapon, used by the US in Iraq, is ironically the same device recently employed against the Brazilian Embassy sanctuary to dislodge the elected president, Zelaya, who was deposed by a military coup. Agents of repression think alike.

The Ghost of Alexander Berkman

Like their Yippie and Weatherman predecessors, the anarchists were the specter that haunted respectable Pittsburgh. For months, the media, especially the local talk radio, made every effort to conflate anarchists with terrorists, portraying them as feces-throwing, window breaking nihilists hiding in abandoned buildings, patiently waiting for the right moment to strike. Veterans of the left have encountered the black-garbed, bandana-wearing youth at demonstrations for many years. To my admittedly jaded mind, many, if not most, are the sons and daughters of the upper reaches of the middle-class playing at revolution. Like their predecessors, they refuse to accept the discipline of Marxist or labor-led struggle. And like their predecessors, some will mature politically and some will move on –disappointed with the backwardness of the masses – to take their places in the capitalist hierarchy. Nonetheless, they cut a rakishly revolutionary figure and have an understandable appeal with some angry youth.

In Pittsburgh, they planned an un-permitted march to disrupt the G-20 on Thursday. Gathering at a Pittsburgh park, several hundred anarchists and sympathizers drew an even greater force of police for the moment of which the media had prepared everyone. Preempting the march, the police declared the gathering illegal and demanded that the crowd disperse. In short order, the LRAD weapon was employed (some say, for the first time in the US), sending the crowd to re-organize a few blocks away, only to be gassed and sent scattering. The police, supported by helicopter surveillance, attempted to corral any remaining groups by surrounding them with massive forces. Police tactics moved mobile units in a chess game to block both the advance and withdrawal of any groups, tactics that virtually guaranteed confrontation and an excuse to make arrests. Rocks were thrown, some windows broken, and dumpster barricades were constructed, but resistance was no match for gas and rubber bullets. The TV-ready confrontation exhausted both sides by nightfall with little more damage and casualties than the aftermath of a Pittsburgh Steeler victory rally. Nonetheless, the residence of several Pittsburgh neighborhoods got a taste of what the authorities have in store for any vigorous resistance movement.

The action plan of the security forces was calculated and provocative and the sight of massive, storm trooper-like maneuvers left many by-standers alarmed. What they saw as kids-at-play was met with enormous, repressive force. The reckless use of gas in the narrow streets and alleyways of Pittsburgh neighborhoods troubled many. Was this the face of Pittsburgh’s future? It is the height of foolishness to think that the tactical police will simply go back to business as usual after this repressive exercise. The toothpaste is out of the tube.

The Battle for the University

The G-20 planners organized few glitzy events outside of the high-security “Green Zone” constructed downtown. One was a reception near the University of Pittsburgh. Essentially an Oscar-like fashion show for the G-20 celebrities and the media, organizers had no intention of allowing ordinary folks that are normally drawn to such extravaganzas. University students – idled for two days by the G-20 – quite naturally gathered to get a glimpse of the People Magazine-worthy dignitaries. But the police – battle-hardened by the afternoon skirmish with the anarchists – would have none of it, pressing the students away from the event and demanding that they disperse. The heavy-handedness of the police was met by some resistance, but resulted largely in panic, fear, and some arrests.

Undoubtedly many students – seeing the face of police thuggery for the first time - were moved to join the Friday march in solidarity with those abused and arrested Thursday evening.

After the close of the G-20, students gathered again near the site of Thursday’s action and were again attacked by the police. For the most part, the 400 students gathered Friday night were more social than political. Nonetheless they were subjected to the LRAD weapon, batons, and rubber bullets. The violent police assault resulted in 110 arrests, including members of the media. The police could not resist one more strike against civility and Constitutional guarantees.

The Media

Sensationalism drew the media like a moth to a light. The local media bought the official public relations effort in its entirety, bombarding people with a catalogue of benefits that would surely befall the city with the hosting of the G-20. Pittsburgh media has always ignored the critical reports of the city’s decline, showcasing the profit-driven promises of developers and consultants who have driven the region into unprecedented debt. Neighborhood needs, public services, minority set-asides, and good paying jobs have always been overshadowed by the grandiose urban revivals imposed by the city’s wealthy and their political minions. The old legacy of a few dominant families, like the Mellons and Scaifes, telling people how to think has never been completely shed.

Pittsburgh media dwelled incessantly on the security needs for the world’s leaders, demonizing the arrival of anarchists and the potential for terrorism. During the week of political action, they trivialized the resistance events, singling out the most obscure and off-beat of demands in a crude attempt to render all participants marginal and frivolous. In gatherings, they showed a particular interest and fascination with the masked activists, hoping to paint the thousands committed to peacefully advocating a host of serious issues as bent upon some nefarious act of vandalism or outrage.

In one rare instance, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke through the wall of hypocrisy, describing fairly, fully, and with some outrage the police assault on the University of Pittsburgh students on Friday night. No doubt this was because the rioting police assaulted and arrested one of their own: a young reporter. That made all the difference.


Leo Gerard, the President of the Steelworkers (USW) union, seemed to be everywhere, speaking on many occasions and with passion about the sins of the G-20. The union’s endorsement of events, including the opening and closing marches was significant and commendable. A few other unions made notable contributions; most were not involved. Yet there was little mass participation by labor in the week’s events. In a city and region famous for its concentration of organized labor, rank-and-file labor participation would have made a truly qualitative difference in the impact of the G-20 protests. With thousands of members and retirees in the area, it is hard to believe that any great effort was made to mobilize members in support of these events.

The wide gap between official endorsement and member participation points to the long period of labor’s dependency on electoral strategy and faithfulness to the Democratic Party. The machinery of mass action has grown rusty from disuse and desperately in need of repair. The bodies and voices of the rank-and-file were sorely missed at the G-20. Without some official distance between the labor movement and the Democratic Party, members are understandably reluctant to protest an event hosted by President Obama. Needless to say, with few exceptions, Democratic Party leaders were nowhere to be found amongst the anti-G-20 folks.

The Big Finale

Friday’s concluding march brought thousands to the streets of Pittsburgh in a show of resistance unseen in this city since the highpoint of anti-Vietnam War activities. Eight, perhaps nine, thousand marchers trekked to the heart of Pittsburgh to hear speakers positioned at the City-County Building, before marching on to the city’s Northside. This final, permitted march brought together all the causes advocated over the six days of protest in a peaceful, joyful celebration of dissent from the G-20 agenda.

Thanks to the energy and determination of the event’s sponsor – The Thomas Merton Center, a long-time catalyst for social justice – and its indefatigable organizer - Pete Shell - the Friday march was a success on ever level. Despite further intimidating police presence, there were no clashes (rumors abounded that the police planned to stage a provocation, a suspicion reinforced by the staging of mounted police and a mass of riot police near the City-County Building).

For the final march and throughout the week, Shell made a conscious effort to center the events around issues of peace, equality and economic justice, a task made difficult by the diverse, and sometimes conflicting, agendas of the many participants. The lack of focus has plagued all G-protests and, though no threat to unity, has blunted the critique of the undemocratic, corporate-friendly essence of the G-20.

The clarion call of the marchers – “This is what democracy looks like” – stands in sharp relief to the call to arms of the G-20 organizers. Those participating in opposition might point to the huge gathering of the tools of repression and say with equal vigor: “This is what fascism looks like”.

The best laid plans of the security agencies failed to frighten thousands from participating in G-20 activities. Yet far more can be mustered if we could find a way to bring rank-and-file labor into the streets. Far more would join us if we could better integrate African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minority peoples and their issues into the struggle.

Traditionally, it has been the role of the left – especially the Marxist left – to make these connections, to bring clarity and focus to the issues. But for some time, the left has been split into narrow sectarians and timid apologists for a broken, backward political and economic regime.

Zoltan Zigedy

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why is Marxism a “Science”?

The claim that Marxism is a science is particularly pertinent in light of the same, but dubious claim made on behalf of modern economics. The economics taught in most universities, alongside physics, chemistry and biology, surely has only a loose claim on that honorific title after its abysmal performance explaining and taming our tenacious economic crisis. Despite all of the formalisms, quantifications, models, and theorems (the trappings of modern science) bloating the books and papers of academic economics, the discipline has a rather weak record in steering economic life towards rationality, efficiency, and, of course, justice. If physics were as mired in conventionality as economics, we would still be searching for phlogiston. Despite the wealth of new data, computational tools, and economic experience, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the conceptual toolbox collected by the Classical Economists –Adam Smith and David Ricardo – would have served us as well in understanding and addressing the current economic storm.

But the failing of economics, or sociology, or social psychology, in no way proves that an alternative approach – for example, Marxism - is superior or more scientific.

I was reminded of what makes good science by reading a recent opinion piece written by Richard Dawkins, the distinguished evolutionary biologist, and appearing in The Wall Street Journal (“Evolution leaves God with Nothing to Do”, 9-12/13-09). Though Dawkins ostensible target was the existence of God, I was drawn to his splendid defense of Darwinism and the scientific world-view. We would do well to reflect upon one particular passage:

The laws of physics, before Darwinian evolution bursts out from their midst, can make rocks and sand, gas clouds and stars, whirlpools and waves, whirl-pool shaped galaxies and light that travels as waves while behaving like particles… But now enter life. Look through the eyes of a physicist, at a bounding kangaroo, a swooping bat, a leaping dolphin, a soaring Redwood. There never was a rock that bound like a kangaroo, never a pebble that crawled like a beetle seeking a mate… Not once do any of these creatures disobey the laws of physics. Far from violating the laws of thermodynamics (as is often so ignorantly alleged) they are relentlessly driven by them. Far from violating the laws of motion, animals exploit them to their advantage as they walk. Run, dodge and jink, leap and fly, pounce on prey or spring to safety.

Never once are the laws of physics violated, yet life emerges into uncharted territory. And how is the trick done? …Darwinian evolution, the nonrandom survival of randomly varying coded information.

This passionate defense and crystal clear exposition of the place of Darwinian evolution in the body of science could equally serve as a defense and exposition – with the replacement of a few key words – of Marxism as science. Society, like life, shows a vast array of forms with distinctive patterns of development. Society, like life, changes over time in adaptive ways that spring from seemingly random factors. At the heart of both processes – biological evolution and societal transformation – is the struggle to survive and thrive, a natural process that separates the rocks, gas clouds, and whirlpools that Dawkins mentions from amoeba and social institutions. It was Marx and Engels’ great insight in 1845 and 1846 (in writing The German Ideology) to view social change as an evolutionary pattern generated by this struggle. It was Darwin’s great insight in 1859 (with The Origin of the Species) to see the vast, diverse mass of living things as the result of an intelligible evolutionary process. Where Darwin’s great insight drew upon an enormous survey of the diversity of life, Marx and Engels drew upon an enormous wealth of social and historical data. Both investigations revealed patterns: species evolution in the former case, societal evolution in the other.

This common insight, a centerpiece of all biological sciences, but largely scorned by the social science establishment, stands as the pillar of Marxism’s claim for scientific stature. Before Darwin’s landmark work was published, Marx and Engels identified a social evolution that mapped the continuous development of humans and their social organizations, driven - as with biological evolution - by a struggle with nature. In order to better meet the challenges of nature – climate, scarcity, security, disease, etc. – humans created more and more complex social relations that improved humanity’s chances in the battle for survival. The dramatic increase in the life expectancy of humans from pre-historic times demonstrates vividly this process, a success unmatched by any other biological organism. The biological development of consciousness, self-awareness, and symbolic representation birthed the construction of community and social relations, accounting for this distinct advantage accruing to humans in the survival of the fittest.

For Marx and Engels, the fittest social organizations survived and thrived just as the fittest biological organisms survived over their less adapted rivals. They saw the creation of an economic surplus – a reserve of the means of sustenance - as determinative of a society’s edge in the struggle against nature and rival social organizations. The more that a community could accumulate the material means of survival, the more it could take steps to accumulate even more of these material means and further advance in the struggle for survival. But accumulation is slow and limited in a community lacking both domination and privilege; early egalitarian, peaceful societies tended to seek little more than enough to overcome pangs of hunger, avoid pain and mortality and reproduce. In this regard, they mirrored the behavior of other species. But thanks to the unique features evolved by humans, communities emerged with an evolutionary advantage: they took to plundering and domination. With the material advantages gained by these survival adaptive activities, these societies were able to both expand and protect their privileges; new social structures emerged that elevated the material means – the adaptive sustainability – of a few by dominating the many.

It was this engine of domination and primitive exploitation (little different in the beginning from what we now call “thievery”) that Marx and Engels placed at the center of social evolution. As social scientists, they viewed this coldly as an essential process of social transformation (though as humans, they could not help but vividly paint the pain and degradation of the process). Moreover, they saw this social process as the basis for the creation of divisions of labor – workers, soldiers, etc. – and class differentiation (insofar as this process may mirror a society of bees, it must be remembered that humans generated these divisions socially and not genetically).

Just as with species evolution, some paths of social transformation were unsuccessful or preserved by natural boundaries or isolation, leaving societies sustainable, but frozen in time. But the mechanisms of exploitation and class dominance marched on in others, producing greater and greater accumulated surpluses. Marx and Engels identified the patterns of exploitation – slavery, serfdom, and the purchase of the power of free labor – that established distinct markers in the social evolution of humans. Drawing upon their careful studies of these previous changes, Marx and Engels foresaw a time when the mechanism of exploitation would not only outlive its usefulness in driving social development, but, indeed, become a restraint upon human survival. I would argue that we are well into a period where that projection is a reality. The dominant form of social organization – capitalism – now threatens human survivability on so many fronts – war, environmental chaos, extreme poverty, declining living standards, cultural degradation, loss of community, hollow values – that further transformation is not only desirable, but necessary.

On a final note, Dawkins makes passing, casual reference to the laws of thermodynamics, noting that those who see a conflict between these laws and Darwinism are ignorant. He is referring, with this aside, principally to the Second Law of Thermodynamics – the irreversible increase in entropy within closed systems. Increasing entropy - crudely, the tendency of order to dissolve into disorder – represents a unique law that introduces directionality into physical processes. Where most processes are reversible – water into steam and back into water – the Second Law posits a process that will, in the long run, reduce what we perceive as order or organization into a bland, random disorder: our shoes wear out, our sandcastles deteriorate, our mountains erode, and our muscles weaken. But this randomizing often generates interesting new combinations, such as life itself. This fascinating organic accident bears an equally interesting feature: though life has a fragile hold on its advantage, it succeeds by harnessing random changes to improve its survivability. The evolution of new species has managed to stay a step, a tenuous step, ahead of the increasing entropy in our closed system. All but the ignorant recognize this as both consistent with and dependent upon the Second Law.

Like Darwinian evolution, the Marxist theory of social transformation – commonly called “Historical Materialism” – embraces the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but in this case, by the persistent re-organization of society to battle entropy’s infinite challenges to human survival: disease, starvation, environmental calamities, and self-destruction. As with biological evolution, social evolution is a fragile process that, under the best of conditions, stays a step ahead of the dissolving forces of nature. But in the case of society, it is not random changes selected by fitness to survive, but conscious human constructions selected in their resistance to the challenges of nature and human folly that is determinative.

Engels, writing in the Introduction to the Dialectics of Nature, acknowledged the science of Darwin while foreseeing the enormous possibilities unleashed by an understanding of the science of society:

Darwin did not know what a bitter satire he wrote on mankind, and especially on his countrymen, when he showed that free competition, the struggle for existence, which the economists celebrate as the highest historical achievement, is the normal state of the animal kingdom. Only conscious organisation of social production, in which production and distribution are carried on in a planned way, can lift mankind above the rest of the animal world as regards the social aspect, in the same way that production in general has done this for men in their aspect as species. Historical evolution makes such an organisation daily more indispensable, but also with every day more possible. From it will date a new epoch of history, in which mankind itself, and with mankind all branches of its activity, and especially natural science, will experience an advance that will put everything preceding it in the deepest shade.

It is this deeper search for an understanding of societal evolution that Marx and Engels brought to science. It is this science that is so sorely needed to address the problems of our times.

Zoltan Zigedy

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The “Mystery” of Unemployment

As the stock market rebounds and key statistics show some slowing of the pace of economic decline – even some growth – economists and forecasters are hailing the recovery. At the same time, they are wringing their hands and bemoaning the increasing unemployment, as though there are no connections between the two events.

To read the mainstream media, one gets the distinct impression that unemployment is a calumny that descends upon the economy like locusts. Where any other economic problem requires attention and repair, the unemployment problem – apart from issuing unemployment benefits – must run its course. Maybe, the pundits say, employment will begin to grow next year or perhaps it won’t improve until even later. Banks, of course, get immediate attention - as do other ailing corporations. But the unemployed must suffer quietly until the self-regulating market regulates itself and jobs miraculously reappear.

Lost in all of this nonsense is the fact that unemployment is the result of a conscious, deliberate act on the part of employers. Bosses terminate workers because they see some gain from doing so. Of course there is much regret –real or feigned – and “I feel your pain” parting of the ways, but in the end, the decision to fire, lay-off, or dissociate is made to somehow gain an advantage. It’s a simple truth, yet of great consequence.

In a time of systemic profit decline like the current crisis, the employer grasps every opportunity to restore profitability. The kept press obscures this motive as a noble desire to contain and reduce costs. Of course “costs” in this downturn is simply shorthand for “labor costs”. The other factors of production - raw materials and fixed capital – offer little opportunity for savings. For some time, energy and raw material prices have been creeping back. Fixed assets are more costly when capacity is dramatically underutilized. Therefore, profitability is directly connected to labor costs. If they can be reduced, then the decline in profitability can be abated.

But it is not enough to reduce labor costs in proportion to production, which can, at best, only stabilize an undesirable situation. The employer must decrease labor costs more deeply in relation to the level of production in order to regain profit growth. This is the categorical imperative of capitalist management.

Thus, the recovery of enterprise profitability is intrinsically tied to paying workers less and/or reducing the number of employees – the only two routes to shrinking labor costs. Both are features of the current crisis and both tactics are obscured in the popular celebration of recovery. The drive for greater profits explains the persistence of unemployment.

Yet we have more than a credible argument to make this case. We have the facts.

Second quarter labor productivity growth was an astounding 6.6%. Quite simply, the same worker who produced a hundred widgets in spring of 2008 produced nearly 107 in the spring of 2009. Bearing in mind that the unemployment rate grew by roughly 4.5% in that period, every remaining, employed worker was required to make up for those fired and produce yet even more. At the same time, payrolls dropped over 4.5%, in step with the orgy of layoffs. This dramatic increase in the productivity of the labor force demonstrates how prevalent the tactic of reducing labor costs through layoffs has been. The desired level of production has been achieved by driving fewer workers to produce far more.

But has this tactic improved profitability?

Decidely. The Wall Street Journal reported on August 8, 2009 that 75% of companies included in the Standard and Poor’s 500 index reported earnings over analyst’s expectations in the last quarter, the highest recorded figure since calculations began in 1994. Moreover, the Dow Jones industrial average has leaped by approximately 50% since March, indicating a strong rebound in the corporate bottom line.

We get an even sharper understanding of this process when we turn to the language, the framework of Marxism. For Marxists, the ratio of surplus value or profit to labor costs is definitive of the rate of exploitation of labor, a notion foreign to the thinking and language of academic economics. When employers (capitalists) force labor costs down while extracting greater profits from the production process, they are taking a greater portion of the social wealth created in that process. This notion of exploitation is central, at the core of Marxist political economy and marks a sharp line between the Marxist point-of-view and that of liberals, social democrats and other progressives. While many non-Marxists admirably decry the uncertainty, pain and destruction of mass unemployment, they fail to acknowledge the plight of the working masses suffering the life-threatening, spirit-draining effects of intensified exploitation. One can search wide and far in the popular media for even a hint of the exhausting grind of today’s workplace. Only Marxism offers the theoretical machinery to reveal this harsh reality behind producing more for less.

Marxists also link the rise of unemployment with the disciplining of workers who retain their jobs. Marx called mass unemployment “the reserve army of the proletariat”. When millions are without work, they constitute a reserve that would eagerly work for less to survive the ravages of unemployment, an extortionate force that restrains workers from demanding a greater share. Thus, high unemployment serves to dampen, even quench the fight for better wages and working conditions through the fear of being discarded into “the reserve army”.

The “mystery” of unemployment evaporates when we understand that it is not a direct result of economic ills, but the result of conscious decisions meant to restore and grow profitability.

With an understanding of exploitation, we see that forced unemployment is a direct attack not only upon those forced out of work, but those still employed. It is a vicious assault in the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class.

With this understanding, we see why corporate-friendly politicians and policy makers are in no hurry to either attack unemployment or see its demise.

With this understanding, we see why it is fool’s gold to stake the fate of workers on a capitalist recovery.

Zoltan Zigedy