An article by Fred Goldstein, author of the recent book Low Wage Capitalism, sums up both the key elements of the economic crisis and the first inklings of real resistance. With respect to the economic crisis, the point that Fred hammers home time and again is that claims of economic recovery from the global crisis are false on two fronts. First, there are strong indicators that we are only in the early stages of this crisis, and that it resembles the Great Depression of the 1930′s in more ways than just high unemployment. Second, even mainstream pro-corporate analysts agree that “recovery” for Wall Street and the banks does not mean more jobs – that any recovery will be a “jobless” one. In fact, the most optimistic predictors of recovery concede that there will be no increase in jobs for at least another year, while many economists say that we can expect continued double-digit unemployment until 2012 or 2013!
In discussing resistance to this crisis, Fred correctly points out that so far what we have seen is scattered, local, and often spontaneous. Many of us have a gut feeling that this crisis is long-term…that rising Dow Jones averages or 4th quarter corporate profits will not translate into more jobs or into relief for our communities, where vital social services are overwhelmened by demand. We are beginning to see the handwriting on the wall: that things won’t get better for working people until we organize and fight in our own interests. But that has not yet translated into any kind of national movement. Fred points to two exciting developments that give an inking of what is possible: the April 10, 2010 national march on Washington that will demand a Works Progress Administration-type national jobs program on a massive scale, and the rumblings in the West Coast labor movement about a call for a Solidarity III march on Washingtonto be initiated by the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations.
If you are concerned about unemployment in your community, if you are one of the millions of people who have lost their jobs or are underemployed or working two or more jobs just to make ends meet, or if you are one of the tens of millions more who know that their own jobs are in jeopardy, I recommend Fred’s analysis to you. One thing is certain: corporate America has a plan to weather the crisis by putting it on our backs, so we need a strategy and a plan to fight back.