Low Wages and Capitalism – What About Socialism?

Young people today face a future of low wages and corporate domination of their lives. To secure any sort of decent life, we need to organize to force our bosses to give up some of the wealth they are stealing from us. Along with fighting in our own workplaces, we also need to educate ourselves about how this whole system works and what our interests are as workers.

It’s not just us facing low wages. Workers across the country and internationally are seeing their living standards under attack. Why, in the richest country in the world, are we facing this kind of a future? You won’t find the answer in the corporate-owned mass media. The reason is that it’s the system itself that is causing the crisis. Capitalism on a global scale has been in decline since the mid-1970s.

Capitalism is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “the economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution as land, factories, railroads, etc. are privately owned and operated for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions; it has been generally characterized by a tendency toward concentration of wealth, and in its later phase, by the growth of great corporations.” At least Webster’s doesn’t try to sugar-coat reality. The owners of these “great corporations” that dominate our lives are determined that the costs of this crisis in their system will be put on the backs of workers.

Where does that leave us as workers? The answer is that, while this system still exists, we are going to be driven down even further. The big capitalist owners openly admit that they will not tolerate any challenge to their control of the workplace or society. Yet that is our task as workers: to challenge this control, not only of the workplace, but also in society. We believe the interests of the more than 100 million workers in this county should have priority over the narrow interests of these few rich owners.

There is an alternative to capitalism, and it has been embraced by large layers of workers here in the U.S. – and internationally – when they have moved into struggle. It is called socialism. Once again, Webster’s gives us a more honest description of socialism than you will hear in the corporate-owned mass media: “The theory or system of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society, or the community, rather than private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the products.” Since around 500 huge corporations dominate 80% of our economy, socialism means ending the domination of our lives by these rich individuals and putting the over 100 million workers and their families in charge of running society. No wonder you never hear that mentioned in the corporate media.

Previous generations of young workers were forced into struggle by greedy corporate owners in mining, auto, transportation, and hospitals. Workers took on these bosses, formed unions, and transformed their lives through struggle. The battleground today is in the service industry, especially fast food. We need to build a powerful movement of fast-food workers who will be able to help each other out and take on these corporations.

As members of Socialist Alternative, a democratic socialist group active in the Seattle/Tacoma area, we have been involved from the beginning in helping organize the union drive at Pizza Hut. Our aims were identical with those of the workers: to make the union as strong as possible. We have published this pamphlet to provide support for further union organizing in the fast-food industry. Through it, we also seek to clarify the real economic interests of workers: to fight the bosses and this system that they use to enslave us.

We urge anyone interested in these ideas and conclusions whether about union organizing or about socialism – to contact us. As Karl Marx, the pioneer of the working-class and socialist movement, wrote: Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to win.

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