How Can We Actually Fight Capitalism?

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What Is Capitalism And Can It Be Defeated? 

More and more young people prefer socialism to capitalism, identify as “anti-capitalist,” or have a feeling that the bottomless pit of human suffering we see today is caused, or at least worsened, by a system driven by profit. But there aren’t obvious ways to crystallize these conclusions. Capitalism can feel too big to fail, or too big an enemy to take on. Some people can understandably look around and believe that people do not want to fight back. But we have to take a long view of history to understand that a mighty struggle against the system is inevitable.

There’s nothing eternal or final about capitalism. While initially being a technological leap forward from feudalism, capitalism is just another stage in a long line of class societies that have evolved and increased in sophistication over time. Only now, the economic system operates on new principles: a) the private ownership of production by a handful of capitalists, and b) the exploitation of workers by those capitalists to maximize profits. 

As workers, our only apparent choice is to feed our labor into this machine in return for meager wages to spend on products that the capitalists sell back to us. Socialists understand that this dynamic – where the owning minority holds the whip over the working majority – lies at the core of the poverty and oppression we see today. 

This dynamic, however, is a temporary state of society. Every single system that has made up the framework of human existence has been eventually replaced. Capitalism itself only exists because centuries ago, a series of revolutions overthrew the outmoded, land-based feudal system and resulted in the establishment of the capitalist status quo we have today. There is nothing to suggest that the same can’t be repeated, this time with the working class at the helm to break the cycle of exploitation once and for all. To quote author Ursula K. Le Guin, “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

What Will It Take? 

Workers, students, and oppressed people everywhere need to act as a unit against the capitalist elites. This not only means recognizing our common interests, but organizing the majority of society – the working class – into a fighting revolutionary force. 

In the US, we’ve seen recent moments of struggle that have pointed to the potential for organizing this force. Movements against attacks on abortion rights, climate change, and police violence have mobilized huge swathes of people into struggle. 

BLM in particular struck a vital nerve with working people in every corner of the world, drawing millions of youth and workers into the streets for the first time in their lives. That seed of widespread fury is exactly what we need. But we need to develop sustained, democratic organizations that can take the fight directly to those who fatten themselves on profits from oppression and environmental destruction: the billionaires and their political representatives. 

Right now, young people across the US are starting to do so by unionizing their workplaces, showing a powerful instinct to struggle at the very site of their exploitation. As the basic organizations of defense against the bosses, unions are crucial for building mass power, but the highest iteration of union power to actually change society comes when they are coordinated at a national and global level, with the goal of transferring power to working people. 

Take the recent situation in France, for example, where popular strikes have paralyzed profits and polls show that 74% of people want to bring down the government. The only way to leverage the revolutionary potential of the working class is to coordinate our organizations and parties across borders, languages, and cultures, especially as many of our exploiters are multinational corporations (e.g., Amazon). This is why Socialist Alternative is part of International Socialist Alternative, and why we call for worldwide solidarity of working people at all times. 

Why You Should Join SA 

Given capitalism’s inherent tendency to create, with ever-expanding profits, an ever-larger working class in worsening conditions of crises and deprivation, it’s almost inevitable that the working class will rise up. From France, to Myanmar, to Colombia, to Iran – it happens all the time. However, there’s no guarantee that our struggle will be translated into permanent victories and an end to capitalism. Socialist Alternative believes in developing a working-class leadership on a mass scale, one that is committed to using revolutionary tactics in the day-to-day struggles of our class to prepare for an ultimate confrontation with the bosses. 

For a small organization, we’ve achieved a lot on that basis. We have used our position on the Seattle City Council, through the election of our member Kshama Sawant, to help workers win historic gains in the city, including an annual $210+ million Amazon Tax to build affordable housing and the first $15 minimum wage in a major US city. 

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, we organized for abortion sanctuary legislation in Seattle and in Dane County, Wisconsin. We mobilize for labor struggles across the country with baristas, nurses, teachers, grocery workers, and more. ISA has helped resist the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and led protests against corporate climate destruction at COP26. We see all forms of oppression as deeply connected under capitalism, and able to be overcome through the struggle to overthrow that system.

Socialist Alternative is a disciplined, democratic force of working-class fighters with one overarching goal in mind: to defeat capitalism and transform society on the basis of socialist ideas and methods. If that’s something you stand for, JOIN US