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April, 2006

The Future is Up to Us!

What is the new poverty?

Editor's note: This column is based on excerpts from the book, "The Future is Up To Us: A Revolutionary Talking Politics with the American People ," by Nelson Peery.

We encourage our readers to join the discussion. Send your thoughts to info@peoplestribune.org. Order the book by sending $12 to Speakers for a New America Books, c/o People's Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.

Nelson Peery

Things are much more serious than the average person thinks or realizes or that the media lets you know. No matter how much you are talking about the expansion of the economy, the poor are getting much poorer. The poverty is spreading. The wealth is consolidating at such a rapid rate that even the wealthy are beginning to say, "We can't do this. We can't become a nation of have's and have-not's."

The stability of America has always rested upon that huge section of the population that had just enough to give them the hope that they were going to get some more. So long as they had that hope, they wouldn't change the system no matter how hard they were hurting. They believed there was a golden egg up there somewhere. They were the ones who stabilized America.

All of us have seen the magazines that speak frankly to the bourgeoisie, to the danger of this polarization of wealth and poverty continuing. It's one thing as long as you can say that poverty is colored and it's related to lack of industrious, Protestant habits. When you have the poverty spreading out, people look at one another and say, "You know, it's not true this is a Black problem, or a brown problem. It's a problem of a growing section of society." Now, the problem becomes -- how do you stop it?

The polarization of wealth and poverty isn't somebody's idea. It's a result of changes in the mode of production. When products made by robotics are sold as if they were made by human beings, the capitalists get rich, and I mean fast! You don't have much of a labor overhead and you are kicking these products out. Now, how do you spread out that wealth? You can't, and you cannot stop the process. A couple of years ago, there were eight billionaires in America. Well, it's now 154. The number of millionaires doubled between 1995 and 2000. Imagine where that money came from. Another million people lost a good portion of their livelihood.

What are the billionaires to do? How do you stop being a billionaire? Go back to the old means of production? Go back to a drill press or a typewriter? You can't. Either he is going to be a billionaire tomorrow or he is going to be homeless. The capitalists have to continue to accumulate. That's the way the system works. You can't decide to quit. You've got to make more money and more money and more money or you are going to lose the money you've got.

This polarization of wealth and poverty that's so rampant in the western world and especially in the United States, is going to continue. Little by little, the poor are going to recognize themselves as poor and propertyless. We have to help them understand that they are part of a new class. Any deep political response to the economic and social revolution depends on agitators and propagandists providing this knowledge to the movement.

This article originated in the People's Tribune
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