Hear them – the unemployed

Unemployment, joblessness, and the devastation they bring to every worker everywhere is endemic to capitalism. Capitalism, as an economic system, is incapable of creating and sustaining a job for everyone ready, willing and able to work. It is this thought, this fear that underlies the thinking of all workers everywhere.

Only those suffering from economic myopia, those who live off their investments and the miseducated believe that capitalism is the only economic system, that it has always been here and will continue to be here forever. It is the lack of knowledge that things don’t have to be as they are which lies at the heart of the fear of unemployment.

The Romney-rich, the owners and rulers of the capitalist system, are fully aware that capitalism is not a permanent economic system and it cannot supply full employment at any time. They know that widespread, long-term unemployment is a permanent feature of capitalism. That is why they spend billions to miseducate and create economic myopia so that people cannot see through the fog of lies and misinformation. Isn’t this what was at the heart of the 2012 presidential election campaign?

There is a recorded history of long-term unemployment in our country. This is true wherever capitalism exists. Let’s look at the record. There are over 15 million long-term unemployed in addition to 7.5 percent of the workforce who are still collecting unemployment insurance.

Capitalism in its globalized condition today presents a new complex problem for the working people as to how to struggle to bring about massive changes needed to solve this problem.

There is growing consciousness in the U.S. working class and people’s movement that it will take more than alleviating the boom-bust cycle to make serious dents in long-term unemployment.

The AFL-CIO puts the question of dealing more fundamentally with the boom-bust cycle: “What is wrong with the U.S. economy?” It gives an analysis of what got us into this mess and raises the ante on how to deal with the boom-bust cycle on a longer term basis. People’s organizations across the country have expressed opinions on how to solve the unemployment crisis.

But it is urgently necessary that the voice and demands of the unemployed be heard on the problem of unemployment and how to solve it. Therefore a primary task is to organize the unemployed as a core integral part of the people’s movement.

The unemployed are a force to be reckoned with. They can be decisive in the outcome of struggle with capitalism. They see the struggle through different eyes. Their illusions about capitalism are melting away. They are looking for new economic horizons.

Any programs for economic recovery must have long-term usefulness. Short-term relief is necessary but won’t quell the growing anger of the unemployed.

The monumental task facing labor and the people’s coalition is how to organize the potential of this core force. Objective conditions today are much more favorable for organizing the unemployed than they were in the 1930s. Eight decades have passed since the unemployed marches of the 1930s which helped produce the New Deal. They did it without the benefit of mass communication, and with a small trade union movement and a paucity of telephone communication; but they did it. Today the people’s movement has none of these disadvantages. We have a strong experienced trade union movement, we have the experience of the 1930s, mass communication, social media, clear-minded economists, a technologically accomplished system of commodity production – enough to supply the basic needs of humankind.

Undoubtedly, the unemployed can and will become a mighty force in establishing new economic, people-oriented relations. It was done in the 1930s and it can be done now.

Photo: “Unemployment Report,” based on a WPA photo by John E. Allen. Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com CC 2.0


Pat Barile
Pat Barile

Pat Barile was born Dec. 17, 1920, in Jersey City, N.J., son of immigrant Italian parents. He learned his politics from his father, a leader of the Italian immigrant community. He died Sept. 30, 2020, two months shy of his 100th birthday. He came to work as a reporter for the Daily World newspaper in 1971 and subsequently its labor editor. His devotion to workers, farmworkers, and farmers convinced him that the labor movement would come to understand the profound mistake they made in surrendering to anti-communism.