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American Axle strike, Detroit Michigan, March 2008.
PHOTO /DAYMONJHARTLEY.COM
The economic crisis that is steadily engulfing our country is getting broader and deeper. This is not just another recession. The market economy system is running out of steam. The temporary “fixes” that have been used over the past 30 years to patch up the capitalist economy and keep it going no longer work. Now, only fundamental change that addresses the underlying problem will get us out of this mess.

What is the underlying problem? While the corporate press talks of the bursting housing bubble and the subprime mortgage mess “spreading to the broader economy,” this is only a symptom of the problem. At the root of the crisis is the way a market or capitalist economy really works.

It works through workers selling their ability to work – their labor power – to a capitalist in return for wages. That labor power creates more economic value than it consumes – this is the source of profit. The capitalist owns what the worker produces and sells it to get his profit. The “market” that the capitalist sells to consists of businesses and workers that have money to spend. The basic problem is, the market is being destroyed because advancing technology is replacing workers and wiping out jobs and whole industries. As more workers compete for fewer jobs, wages fall for those who still have jobs. Technology, combined with globalization, also means millions of jobs can be shipped overseas, so workers in one country are competing for jobs with workers all over the world.

The result? A new class of dispossessed workers – permanently unemployed, or with only temporary, low-paying jobs – is being created and is moving steadily toward becoming the majority. Workers will little or no money cannot consume. This destroys the market for what is produced, and the market economy begins to fail. This is the foundation of the crisis we see developing now.

Until now, the crisis has been averted. For about the past 30 years, the US economy has been propped up with borrowed money. Workers and homeowners have borrowed on their credit cards and against their homes. Banks, investors, industrial firms and the US government have borrowed from foreign investors and governments. The US today relies on $2 billion a day from abroad to finance investment.

The periodic recessions and other economic crises that have developed have been temporarily solved with more borrowed money. But sooner or later the loans have to be repaid. And now everyone involved is out of options. Unemployed and impoverished workers can’t pay. Without buyers, businesses can’t sell what they make, and now they can’t pay. Seeing this, bankers and other lenders are pulling back. Credit is drying up.

The US “Rust Belt” – the former industrial heartland – tells the story. Look at Michigan, for example, where auto layoffs and buyouts continue, and 400,000 jobs have been lost since 2000.

The jobs aren’t coming back, and new “New Deal”-style government programs won’t solve the problem. It does no good to put money in the hands of workers who will never again have jobs. Once the money is spent, we’re right back where we started. During the Great Depression, it wasn’t Roosevelt’s New Deal programs that ended the Depression, but World War II, which put everybody back to work. But today, the military industries and modern warfare are so automated, even another world war won’t put many people to work, and it would probably destroy the world.

History shows that depression, war and fascism go hand in hand. If we continue to follow capitalist leadership, war is where we’re headed. And we’ll have fascism in the bargain, as the corporations seek to turn us against each other so we don’t turn on them.

There is only one way out of this – we, the people, must organize ourselves to fight for a new society where we use the marvelous technology at our disposal to produce everything we need and guarantee that everyone has the necessities of life. It is a world worth fighting for.


GM, American Axle’s biggest customer, appears to be Ho Hum about the strike that has idled some 42,000 GM employees and counting. Could this be because they had a 3-5 month supply of trucks and SUVs when the strike began February 26th ?? But UAW Brothers and Sisters, along with other union members and community supporters, are not Ho Hum. We are outraged that a company who did post a profit in the last quarter, and who did get a two-tier wage system in their last contract now wants to cut in half the wages of the current workforce.
 
Workers see this as the last straw after all that's gone on with Delphi and the historic concessions negotiated in all of the Big Three contracts last fall. These talks beg the question: When is enough, enough????
 
Spontaneous support everywhere, especially from around the state, is pouring in to the American Axle strikers. Gate collections, car pools, and caravans, are common. Community groups like Welfare Rights have weekly scheduled picket duty. The support for this strike is growing daily and American Axle is becoming the new poster child for corporate greed. Plans are now being made for thousands of  workers and supporters to Demonstrate and  Rally in Detroit on Friday April 18.


From the Editors
We are sometimes asked “Why do revolutionaries need a press?” The answer has to do with this moment in history. Historical and economic forces beyond anyone's control have set the stage for a new society to be built, but from this point on, how things turn out depends on what people think—because what they think shapes what they do. This means that those of us who are seeking fundamental change are engaged in a battle of ideas, a struggle to win the hearts and minds of the people. If we don't raise the consciousness of the people and unite them around a vision of a better world and a strategy to achieve it, then we'll fail in our effort to build a just and free society. To raise consciousness and win the battle of ideas, we need a press.


This article originated in the People's Tribune
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