by Danny Haiphong
Death is a for-profit enterprise. In defense of capitalism, the ruling classes are prepared to kill on a staggering scale. “It is estimated that since World War II, US wars have murdered between 20-30 million people worldwide.” The rich wage economic and political warfare against public health systems in every country under their control. In contrast, Cuban “life expectancy has gone up decades” since the 1959 revolution.
Capitalism Kills, Socialism Heals
by Danny Haiphong
“Now is the time to spread knowledge of the healing properties of socialism far and wide to prepare the oppressed for the long struggle ahead.”
The success of Jeremy Corbyn in the recent UK elections sent another shockwave through the crisis-ridden system of capitalism. Labour's insurgent left-wing candidate rallied millions to vote against austerity and war, two fundamental pillars of global capitalist catastrophe. The tone of the election sounded familiar to struggling people in the US. Bernie Sanders, while no anti-imperialist, appealed to the material decline of the US working class imposed by the same forces fueling Corbyn's popularity. Capitalism is on the ropes, and the only possible way to stop the murderous system is to replace it altogether with socialism.
Capitalism kills, plain and simple. The system kills in many different forms. The subtle forms fall in the realm of profit accumulation. Numerous stressors inevitably arise from the exploitation of poor and working people. Pain accumulates and take years off of the lives of workers. The decline in life expectancy in the US is a significant indicator of the unbearable character of the system
“Workers are forced to think about cost first and care second when ill.”
Healthcare is another example. As many as 600,000 workers in the US file for bankruptcy due to medical debt each year. Even more avoid healthcare for chronic conditions and pass away from treatable causes. The corporate healthcare system in the US serves profits first and people last. So workers are forced to think about cost first and care second when ill. It should come as no surprise then that capitalism in the UK, which is undergoing a privatization process of its own, is currently in crisis. The National Health Service (NHS) has been in danger of being engulfed by this process, with Corbyn's success a strong indication of mass resistance against the idea of healthcare as private enterprise.
Corporate healthcare is just a symptom of a system that feeds off of the exploitation of the laboring classes to enrich the ruling class. Racism emerges from this condition to provide a material incentive for a cross-class alliance of "white people" whose sole purpose is to terrorize Black people, indigenous people, and anyone deemed outside of the spectrum of whiteness. Black Americans in particular have a net-worth of near-zero and possess an unemployment rate double that of whites. Access to a quality public education is out of reach for majority Black cities facing a complete siege from the charter school privatization movement.
“Black Americans in particular have a net-worth of near-zero and possess an unemployment rate double that of whites.”
Privatization, wage decline, and the continued mass looting of the poor are the slow killers of capitalism. However, they could not persist were it not for state violence and war. State violence under 21st century capitalism has two components. On the one hand, the corporate media aligns with the state to inflict psychological violence on the people by promoting ruling class lies and half-truths. On the other, the capitalist state utilizes its police, military, and security forces to repress and discourage insurrection. That is why the US has become home to 2.3 million mostly Black and poor prisoners in a period where Black Americans and poor people generally have lost enormous economic ground since the 2008 crisis.
The same goes for the capitalist state's international dealings. In order to forge economic dominance beyond nation-state borders, the US and Western orbit of capitalism has pursued an ever expanding regime of war around the world. The US in particular spends more on the military than the next eight nations combined. US arms flow to Saudi Arabia to murder thousands of Yemeni people and to proxies in Syria conducting sectarian mass slaughter on civilians. US military forces occupy lands in every part of the planet, enforcing sanctions and preparing the way for a World War with China, Russia, and whoever decides to ally themselves with these emerging superpowers.
“The US has become home to 2.3 million mostly Black and poor prisoners in a period where Black Americans and poor people generally have lost enormous economic ground since the 2008 crisis.”
The result has been the loss of millions of lives. It is estimated that since World War II, US wars have murdered between 20-30 million people worldwide. This is not to mention that state sanctioned murder isn't limited to capitalism's quest for global expansion. In the US, a Black person is killed every 28 hours by law enforcement. That doesn't include the poor whites, indigenous peoples, and Latino identified peoples also harassed and terrorized by the police. The frequency of state-inflicted terror provides a material basis for solidarity between the victims of capitalism in the US and abroad.
The only system capable of supporting such solidarity is socialism. Socialism, when defined in a revolutionary manner, can heal the wounds of the mass graves laid by the capitalist system. In Cuba, a nearly six-decade old socialist revolution has vastly improved the lives of the people. Child malnutrition is non-existent. The infant mortality rate is lower than in many locations in the US. Life expectancy has gone up decades since 1959. It was the overthrow of neo-colonialism and a transition to a planned economy controlled by peasants and workers that made it all possible.
Cuba is but one example. Socialism was a thriving system in the 20th century. Colonized peoples from Vietnam to Algeria took up arms against global capitalism to chart their own course of history. Many of the success stories would not have been possible without direct aid from the Soviet Union and China. Key gains in the fields of women's rights, education, healthcare, and industry raised the standards of living for millions of dispossessed people. Socialist movements provided the main impetus for US-led global capitalism to wage a campaign of endless war in the name of "anti-communism."
“Nationalized industry allowed the Syrian and Libyan governments to protect the rights of the people and wrestle with colonial underdevelopment free from foreign domination.”
Recent events in Syria and Libya show that the campaign has yet to cease. Both countries possessed some of the highest standards of living in the Middle East and Africa prior to 2011. Education was free from early childhood to university level. Strong state subsidies existed in all sectors of society. Nationalized industry allowed the Syrian and Libyan governments to protect the rights of the people and wrestle with colonial underdevelopment free from foreign domination. The US-led overthrow of the Libyan Jamahiriya in March of 2011 and the continued war on Syria has set both nations back immensely, with millions of lives lost or displaced in the process.
The record is clear. Capitalism kills, but socialism heals. The crisis of capitalism that is rocking the US and Western spheres of influence has led to political instability in the centers of empire. A large number of workers, poor people, and especially youth are fed up with the conditions of the system. Now is the time to spread knowledge of the healing properties of socialism far and wide to prepare the oppressed for the long struggle ahead. As history demonstrates, the fight for socialism is a fight for life.
Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. Hecanbereachedatwakeupriseup1990@gmail.com