The Great Crash: How and Why It Happened, What Workers can do to fight back
A booklet of articles from Workers World newspaper 2006-2009
New York 2009http://leftbooks.com/store
A review by
The Great Crash collects 23 articles written in 2006-2009 and originally appearing in Workers World, weekly newspaper of the U.S. Workers World Party. The booklet is 47 pages long, and should be read by anyone grappling with the current world capitalist crisis. The Great Crash is no dry, opaque economic treatise. The articles are written in a plain, clear and accessible style, and are free of both jargon and sectarianism.
The earliest article in the collection is from the fall of 2006. It is titled “As Housing Market Falls, Is $10 Trillion Bubble Ready to Burst?” “The capitalist economy is drowning in debt, deficits, and the crisis of hyper-speculation in non-traditional mortgage lending,” the article says in part.
Stories that follow focus on the consequences of debt-fueled overproduction, which rang down the curtain on 20 years of Wall Street’s globalized utopia.
At every turn the articles seek to encourage independent labor political action, resisting attempts by the mandarins of U.S. finance capital to shift all costs of the crisis onto the backs of working people and their oppressed allies. An article from October 2008 spells this out: “….it is vital for workers to have a clear and unambiguous program of demands that meet their own needs and put the burden on the bankers and the rich to pay…. As the unemployment rate rises, it is urgent to demand a freeze on all workplace closings and job layoffs and an extension of unemployment benefits. There must be a freeze on utility cutoffs and a rollback in gas, food, and utility prices.” (p. 26)
One of the first areas of resistance to the crash and crisis developed around foreclosures and evictions in 2007-2008. Community activists, neighbors, and friends of victimized homeowners came together using militant direct action tactics to turn back the bailiffs. According to the article “The Housing Crisis and a Fightback Program”: “There must be a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions to keep people in their homes and stop the destruction of our communities by racist, predatory banks…. The billions being given to the mortgage companies to bail out their failing loans should be used instead to train youth as plumbers and electricians and carpenters, in a city like Detroit, to repair the 18 percent of homes that are vacant due to foreclosures and turn them over to the homeless.” (p. 31)
Articles in The Great Crash combine sensible, well-proportioned Marxist journalism with a rank-and-file action program for the labor movement. “In the present crisis the historic methods of reviving the profitability of capitalism, of restoring capitalist accumulation and prosperity, appear to have run their course, as they did during the Great Depression. This is what has the ruling class running scared.
“Working class leaders, labor leaders, community organizers and activist in all spheres must come to grips with the prospect that there is no way out of the crisis except for mass intervention and mass struggle.” (From: “Capitalist Bosses Plan Permanent Job Loss,” p. 38.)
The Great Crash articles do not stop explaining and motivating at the trade union level of political activism. They spell out clearly that while the labor movement must start bringing its social weight to bear around specific issues today, only by connecting these fights to broader questions can the struggle for socialism be put on the agenda in the United States and around the world.
To quote from the booklet’s final article (p. 47): “What are we waiting for? Let’s organize…. and fight for it!”
Jay Rothermel lives in Cleveland, Ohio.