Greetings from Fred Goldstein

This talk was presented on Nov. 18 to the Workers World Party National Conference.

Greetings to the 2017 annual conference of Workers World Party.

I want to especially greet all the new comrades, candidates and friends who have come to participate with the party in evaluating past struggles and planning future struggles against capitalism and to build the fight pushing back exploitation and oppression of all types. We are here to chart a path to eventual socialist revolution. There will be ample time to discuss and thrash out the way to go forward.

Trump and his administration are hell-bent on bringing more suffering to the masses on every front and further enriching the already obscenely wealthy ruling class. They are fanning the flames of white supremacy, ravaging health care, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, carrying out witch hunts against undocumented workers, unleashing the police and fascist forces on oppressed communities, enabling the polluters to destroy the environment, and the list goes on.

They are also unleashing the military, escalating drone attacks, and Trump threatens nuclear war against the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] almost weekly. Of course, Trump is an authoritarian reactionary, racist bigot, but the rise of Trump can be laid directly at the feet of the previous administrations. Both imperialist parties, the Democratic and the Republican parties, aided and assisted in the breakup of the unions and played key roles in the deteriorating conditions for the masses.

I want to call attention to the fact that this conference coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  It is important for new comrades and friends to know that our party traces its roots back to that revolution. The revolution was carried out by the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. This revolution sent tremors of fear through the propertied classes of the world and especially the ruling classes in the imperialist countries, for it was the first time that an enslaved class, an exploited class, a downtrodden class seized and held state power.

It took the property of the bankers, the capitalists and the landlords and proceeded to construct a planned economy against all odds. The revolution went through many trials and tribulations, advances and setbacks until it was finally overcome 74 years later.

It is crucial to study the history of this revolution for its relevance to the struggle today. But what I want to stress here is that the Russian revolution was the opening shot, the very first stage, in the world historic transition from capitalism to socialism and communism.

It took place during World War I, the first major breakdown of the world imperialist system. There were revolutions and uprisings at the end of the war involving millions all throughout Europe and in the colonies. But under these conditions, it was only the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, who were prepared to take advantage of these events and overthrow the hated czarist and capitalist regime.

This revolution was forced to survive alone for decades in a world dominated by hostile imperialist powers. But the fact that the counterrevolution eventually prevailed in the USSR in no way negates the historical significance of this opening stage of the world socialist revolution.

In looking back, we want to reiterate that the socialist revolution in the USSR and the succeeding revolutions in Korea, Vietnam and China all arose out of the breakdown of the world imperialist system as well.

Fast forward to the present. …

Beginning in 2007, with the world financial and economic crisis, imperialism entered into a new stage, a stage of capitalism at a dead end. The capitalist system as a whole could no longer overcome its crisis of overproduction and has condemned more and more workers to unemployment, underemployment and poverty. This dead-end capitalism is also low-wage capitalism.  The bosses have created a global race to the bottom for the workers while they rake in huge profits.

This new phase of imperialism will inevitably open up revolutionary opportunities for the working class and oppressed. And just like in 1917, we must build the party in the spirit of Lenin, which is ideologically, strategically, organizationally and tactically prepared to take advantage of the revolutionary opportunities that are sure to come.

Let us be that party, like Lenin’s party, the party that its founder Sam Marcy sought to build, that will be ready for the coming crisis of world imperialism and U.S. capitalism, that is prepared to lead our class to victory.

Build Workers World Party.

Down with capitalism and imperialism.

Long live socialism.

Prison profiteers drive detention of immigrants

By Fred Goldstein, published April 22, 2015

The U.S. prison system is more and more becoming a profit center for big private corporations. The detention of undocumented immigrants fleeing persecution has become a special source of “profit from misery.”

A new study from “Grassroots Leadership” documents how the largest private prison corporations in the country, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, have spent millions of dollars lobbying the Department of Homeland Security committee in the Senate for harsh immigrant detention laws. Together, they run 90 percent of the DHS detention centers.

Mass protests, boycott specter make anti-LGBTQ laws bad for business

By Fred Goldstein, April 6, 2015

It is rare when the capitalist class openly reveals its relationship to its political servants. But in the cases of the bigoted so-called “religious freedom” laws passed in Indiana and Arkansas, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. panicked in the face of mass outrage and protests and pressured two right-wing Republican governors to shift course.

Bosses get $243 billion subsidy for paying low wages

By Fred Goldstein

The capitalist class has found more and more ways to pay tens of millions of workers below-subsistence wages by shifting what should be the cost of wages onto government at various levels. This shift of wage and benefit costs off the payrolls of the bosses and onto the government amounts to a massive subsidy to many of the richest corporations and biggest employers in the U.S. for paying poverty or below-poverty wages.
Every dollar not paid by the corporations to keep their workers at a livable wage is another dollar in profit for fast-food and big-box billionaires, as well as other low-wage companies.

Between 2007 and 2011 the federal government spent $243 billion a year on supplements for poor workers, according to a University of California study published in 2013. (Think Progress, Oct. 13, 2013)

The study focused on fast food workers, who represent a typical segment of the low-paid workforce, but included a broader section of low-paid workers. It aimed to show the “last line of defense between between America’s growing low-income workforce and the want of basic necessities.”
The study limited itself to the cost of food stamps (SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers, and the TANF program (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, formerly known as welfare). It did not include Medicaid and subsidized housing.
This dramatic number, nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars to supplement below-subsistence wages, flows from the enormous growth of low-wage jobs and the drastic rise in forced part-time employment in the United States.

Fast food and big box workers paid below subsistence
Low-wage fast food workers were forced to apply for $7 billion in public assistance in 2013 for such programs as Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), among others. Low-wage workers at a single 300-employee Walmart Supercenter are on average forced to apply for about $1 million in government benefits just to stay at the subsistence level.
A study by Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 400 groups, showed that Walmart workers in 2013 were forced to apply for $6.2 billion in food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing, etc. Walmart has 1.4 million workers. (Forbes, April 15, 2014)
Forbes reported that McDonald’s workers had to apply for $1.2 billion in government subsistence benefits and workers at Yum Brands (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC) needed $648 million.

This situation has been intensified by the growth of involuntary part-time work. In 1968, 13.5 percent of U.S. workers were employed part time. In February it was 18.5 percent. There were 7.4 million workers subjected to forced part time when they need full-time jobs to survive. (advisorperspectives.com, March 9)

Marx on wages and profits
Karl Marx gave a basic definition of wages in his analysis of capitalist exploitation which can help in understanding this situation. Under capitalism, every worker must sell their labor power to some boss in order to survive. The price of that labor power is the wage or salary.
But the wage received is far below the value created by the worker. The total value created by the worker belongs to the boss in the form of the product or service provided. The boss sells the product or service for money and gives the worker just enough to live on. A part of the money is paid out for materials, machines, rent, interest, etc. What is left is surplus value, that is, value created by the worker but for which he or she is not paid. This part is kept by the boss in the form of profit.

The way the boss raises profits is to take more surplus value. The main way to do this is to lower wages. The bosses get the government to pay for food through food stamps, Medicaid for the poor, subsidized health care, housing, etc. These are the basics of life that the bosses should pay for by giving workers a living wage.
By shifting their labor costs onto the federal government, the bosses raise their profits and can pay below-subsistence wages.
It is this that is fueling the low-wage workers’ campaign, a just campaign whose goal must be to force the capitalists to pay a living wage, not just a bare subsistence wage, but enough to cover the cost of having a decent life.