Who Should Control Society?
A democratic revolution would be good or bad depending on whether ordinary people are fit to rule society. We are told in a million ways that working people are not fit to rule: they are violent, racist, unintelligent, selfish, and we are better off leaving our fate in the hands of the corporate and government elite. We believe, however, that ordinary people would make a far better world than the elite.
For example, most people believe that children should have a special, protected place in society. Organized workers and others fought for many years for child labor laws and universal free education. Ordinary people everywhere make great sacrifices to provide for their children and give them a safe future.
Capitalism, however, attacks this ethic. Capitalists see children not as especially vulnerable human beings but as little producers and consumers. Corporations flood Saturday morning TV with shows designed to get children to pressure their parents to buy toys. They fill afternoon TV with sensational garbage like Ricki Lake designed to appeal to curious teen-agers.
Capitalism also tries to dominate children at school. Schools are under tremendous pressure from corporate America to be training grounds for new workers to "compete in the global economy," rather than to nurture young people and impart our best values to the next generation, as most people want schools to be.
Most people believe that the elderly too should be protected. Respect for older workers is manifest in the principle of seniority on the job. Seniority represents a generational solidarity that is found in every human society. Older, experienced workers show younger workers the ropes, while younger workers acknowledge that older workers should be protected, even as they slow down in their later years.
The capitalist class rejects this ethic. Corporations routinely "downsize" and lay off thousands of people with decades of seniority and discard them like trash. People mean nothing to the capitalists.
Workers Are the Force for Change
At the heart of society there is a conflict between opposing views of human life. On one side is the owning class, who value competition, inequality, and control from above. On the other side are those who do the work of society and value equality, solidarity, and control from below. This is the class war.
When the battle breaks out into the open, it shakes society to its core. For three weeks in late 1995, two million French public sector workers struck against attacks on retirement and social welfare programs in France. Their strike brought massive outpourings of public support in France and beyond. Belgian railway workers went out on a national sympathy strike with French workers. The world elite feared that the strike might spread throughout Europe.
These strikes in France, like a recent one-day general strike in London, Ontario, and the months-long newspaper strike in Detroit and the three-year struggle of Staley workers in Illinois, did not fall from the sky. They sprang from the everyday values of working people.
Revolution is possible because most people in their everyday lives already struggle to shape the world with values that contradict the dog-eat-dog values of capitalism. Every supportive human relationship, every positive element in society, is a product of ordinary people's struggle against a brutal system to create a more human world. This struggle to humanize the world drives history and social change. Without it the world would be savage and unlivable.
Revolution means the overthrow of elite rule and the success of people's struggle to shape the world with their values. When millions of working people realize that they are fit to rule and that they can make a better world, they will be an unstoppable force.
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New Democracy works for democratic revolution. Contact John Spritzler (617)566-9637. For free literature: New Democracy, P.O. Box 427, Boston, MA 02130. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org