A crisis waiting to happen

(The Workers' Advocate, January 1, 1990, p. 4)

. The new year is arriving with another round of layoffs and plant closings across the U.S.

. The big three auto monopolies have announced one, two, and three-week layoffs for over 100,000 auto workers in 35 of their 54 assembly plants in January. Each of the big three have also announced further indefinite plant shutdowns. Some parts makers, like Dana and Motor Wheel, are also laying off thousands while others, like Stewart Warner, are shutting down. And the crisis is now spreading to the Japanese auto plants in the U.S.

. Meanwhile, AT&T announced plans to cut another 8,500 jobs. IBM wants to eliminate 10,000 positions. GE plans to cut another 1,100 jobs, Honeywell some 4,000, and Lockheed about 1,000. McGraw Hill is eliminating over 1,000 jobs. Conrail declared it would cut 500 jobs in early 1990. And the list goes on.

. While the media gloats about the "victory" of capitalism in Eastern Europe, the paragon of the Western "free market" economy -- the United States -- is shaky.

Faltering economy shows need for workers' socialism

. Industrial production in the factories, mines, and utilities has fallen for three months in a row. The hi-tech "miracle" has crumbled. The boom in real estate speculation has collapsed. And although service industries continue to grow, the growth is at a slower pace. Meanwhile, price wars have also begun to spread from one industry to another as competition heats up to unload the overproduced goods and services.

. A crisis of overproduction is building. A crisis unique to the capitalist profit system. A crisis where the workers suffer unemployment and privation not because of a lack of food and clothing and homes and cars, but because they have produced more than the capitalists can sell at the profit they need.

. The current situation reveals that the economy has the capacity to eliminate want and misery in the U.S. But the collective production of the workers is held in check by the system of capitalism -- the system where not a wheel is turned unless it creates more capital for the wealthy exploiters. That is why the workers, while they fight for jobs and a livelihood, must also build up a revolutionary working class movement to over-throw the capitalists and free the economy to meet the needs of the working masses. This is a fight for workers' socialism. Not the state capitalism and shortages in Russia and Eastern Europe. Nor the crisis-ridden "free market" of the West. But a system run by the working class for their own benefit.

Crisis building through the decade

. Right now the capitalist economists are debating whether the U.S. will plummet into recession or pull out of this tailspin with a "soft landing." But even if they are able to temporarily climb out of this particular downturn, the inevitable capitalist cycle of bust following boom will eventually grab them.

. Indeed, throughout the 1980's the economy has lurched from one danger to another. There has been the threat that a major default on foreign loans will bring the banking system crashing down. The capitalists have held their breath as the stock market has crashed twice in the last two years. Meanwhile, the trade war has continued to heat up. The federal budget deficit has remained astronomical. Environmental disasters have mounted, and the unbridled pollution by the capitalists is now threatening to shake the economy.

. None of these and other problems have been solved. Each has been building up. And economic collapse has been put off only at the expense of preparing the ground for an even deeper crisis in the future. On this page, and elsewhere in the paper, we take a look at various crises that have built up through the 1980's, the severe cost paid by the working masses to keep the capitalist money-grubbers afloat, and the conditions developing for the outbreak of class struggle. <>

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Last modified: December 20, 2008.
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