Where Do We Go from Here?
Identity politics currently is in the forefront of the United States political agenda, and things do look quite dismal in regard to wealth, opportunity, and quality of life of a significant number of minority workers—but this is also the case, when we look closely, for a large segment of the overall population of our country. The question I see is where do we want to go and how can we change the situation? It is quite clear to me that the current ruling class has no intention of giving up their ruling position without a concerted fight. The ruling elite (the capitalist class or rich people as a class, not individually) have fought throughout the history of its existence—about 350 years, for its ruling position. I think the choice for us is this:
Parity or Emancipation?
Parity is the acceptance of the current system as long as the distribution of wealth is approximately the same for all races and ethnic groups. What would this mean? Using the analysis “Income Percentile by Race Calculator for 2018”1thefollowing is presented.
Total number of White (not Hispanic or Latino) workers –109,140,758
Total number of Black workers -20,396,139
Total number of Hispanic or Latino workers any race -29,900,624
From this study we can find the number of workers in various income brackets:
Number of Workers
Twenty thousand dollars of income per year is usually considered a poverty existence, with an extremely restricted quality of life. There were approximately 40 million workers living on an income between zero and 20 thousand dollars per year in 2017. If we accept parity for the races this figure would change and assuming the same percentage for all races as the White percentage there would be still approximately 34 million workers, in the groups considered here, living on 20 thousand dollars or less per year. Of course, I assume that the workers who moved out of this group have moved to a higher group and not gone into negativity. Also, we should note that 16% of the white workers in 2017 earned more than $100,000/year, versus 7% for Black, and 5% for Hispanic or Latino. This turns out to be 20,385,283 workers from the above groups earning over $100,000. per year.
Proposals for achieving parity usually involve revising regressive tax codes to more progressive codes—favoring people on the lower end of the income brackets and taxing the upper end of the income brackets to pay for social benefits. This is what is being done in many European countries that are commonly characterized as social welfare states. Bernie Sanders and other Democratic Socialists espouse this view. Sanders has proposed a tax on securities trading of 0.5% to cover various social benefits such as health care for all and educational spending. This concept is not bad but it neglects the fact that the capitalist class controls the political, financial, and industrial production systems, and possesses the overall wealth of the country. This means that the tax laws even if initiated could be changed at any time as has been done in the past and is currently being done with international treaties.
So the question is can we trust the capitalist class to maintain support for social benefits that attempt to achieve economic parity? I think not! The capitalist class through its control of property and wealth is able, without democratic controls, to determine the details of industrial production. Detroit 40 years ago was one of the richest industrial cities in the world and its working-class had achieved a relatively high standard of living. The owners of the production enterprises in Detroit decided to move their production facilities to other locations and abandon Detroit and now Detroit is one of the poorest major cities in the US. The wealth lost by the working class of Detroit is probably greater than the wealth gained by the upper class in making the move, but the capitalist class has significantly increased its wealth! Has the working class increased its wealth? There was and is no democratic process in the US to control the capitalists’ investment and production process to benefit all of society. When capitalists speak of democracy they mean the unfettered freedom of capitalists to do whatever they want with their capital. A more egalitarian system would have a democratic system that represented a broad spectrum of the people living in the region, county, and country and have some control over the economy including industrial production. Currently, the capitalist class controls the financial, industrial and military systems. Because of the enormous wealth of the US this financial control extends to the world at large and allows the US to use mafia tactics in an attempt to control foreign economies. This necessitates democratic control of the banking and financial systems to the benefit of all people in the world.
Emancipation is any effort to procure economic and social rights, political rights or equality for all people. What does this mean for people? It means the ability to live a life free of want and deprivation, with adequate housing, nutrition, health care, and education. That would provide people the opportunity to achieve their full potential in society along with the time to actively engage in cultural activities that give them pleasure. I have been in only one country (China) where several people told me on different occasions “ Do you know what we think—we think that all people should have a good life—and we don’t mean just Chinese people, but all people in the world.” This is the objective of emancipation—a formidable task that can only be approached through a process of continuous trials and extensive scientific experimentation since there is no known path.
With this objective in mind, what is necessary in our country in order to initiate a process that will achieve this goal sometime in the distant future? Is it possible that the current leadership will open a path to achieve this goal? That’s highly unlikely. In order to proceed in some way toward emancipation, the leadership must have it as its goal, and the current elite clearly does not. A leadership that does have this as a goal must attempt to control the financial system, large industry, and the military in some democratic way. This calls for a change in the paradigm of our political and economic systems. Xi Jinping in discussing the difference in the origin of the Chinese government and the Western governments said that the Western capitalist governments originated with the overthrow of feudalism by the business people (bourgeois) and are still primarily responsible to the business people whereas the Chinese Marxist government came into existence with the overthrow of feudalists, colonialists, and capitalists by the workers and peasants and so is responsible to the workers and peasants.
We also must have a change in leadership whose objective is a good life for all people. The first step is to develop leadership with that objective and for that, we need a revolutionary party that is committed to scientific methods to change reality. In addition, a massive popular demand must arise in the general population. The revolutionary leadership must have the ability to secure the support of the majority of the population. With this democratic leadership, and with the oversight of the people, decisions would hopefully be made that benefited the broad population of people and not a select few. We need to organize!