The Enemy: Monopoly Capitalism

Adopted at the 9th Congress of Freedom Road Socialist Organization in spring 2022.

Exploitation, inequality, and oppression are not things that “just happen.” Everything that is wrong with this country is the product of a system: monopoly capitalism. Capitalism has not been around forever — it had a beginning, and it is certain to come to a finish. How this system works is not some big, unknowable mystery. Monopoly capitalism has economic laws that we can understand, and developing this understanding assists us in our effort to bring it to an end. 

The huge array of goods and services that are all around us are the product of human labor. At no time in human history has there ever been such a vast quantity of wealth as what now exists in this country. Never. Workers go to work and are paid enough to keep us coming back, along with enough subsistence to maintain a future labor force. 

These commodities — the goods and services we create at work — have far more value than we are ever paid in wages. This gap, between what workers create and what we get in wages, is how the capitalists grow rich – this is the real source of the capitalist’s profits. 

Therefore, you do not get rich by working hard — the capitalists get rich by having others work hard for them. That is why a fair day’s pay is impossible. Everything of value that the owning class has was created by the working class. Capitalists are parasites. The wealthy cheat us and they cheat each other. They take what is created by the working class, try to make additional money from these goods and services in the marketplace, and then invest in where they think they can make more — be it a factory fish farm in Chile or a credit card company that charges huge interest rates. For the capitalist, the economy is one vast casino where wealth is extracted from those who work. 

The production of goods and services is social. It involves people coming together to make things, be it cars, computers, or something else that is wanted or needed. But workers do not own the places where they work. While there are small businesses, most workers are employed by big corporations, like UPS, Ford, or McDonald’s. In any case, those who are making the big money here are those who own the means of production. Production is social, but the wealth created is taken by capitalists who do not work. We make and they take. 

In a capitalist society like ours, the goal of production is not to create things that are good and useful — it is to make the maximum possible profits. Low-income housing is needed but not profitable, so it does not happen. The same goes for affordable health care and quality mass transportation. If it is more profitable to shut down a factory and move it somewhere else — inside or outside the U.S. — that is what the owners will try to do. The goal of production is to enrich those who own the places where workers make things. This is not about good corporations or bad corporations. Companies that do not strive to make, and actually achieve, the highest rate of profit will be pushed out of business by corporations or monopolies that do. Competition is the enforcer of this drive to get the greatest profits possible. 

The race for maximum profits leads to anarchy in the production and distribution of goods. Each capitalist tries to produce as much as possible with the hope of making as much money as possible. The ability of the capitalists to produce grows and grows as they reinvest their profits into more machinery and more advanced technology. But there is a limit to the effective demand of consumers. Workers collectively produce far more than they could ever afford to buy back. Eventually, the marketplace is flooded with goods that cannot be sold, and workers are laid off because it is no longer profitable to keep them working. The economy then enters a period of crisis, a crisis of overproduction, where the working class and others cannot afford what has been produced, which ends with the destruction of unsold goods and the least efficient means of producing things. Financial crises that worsen a crisis of overproduction can also be triggered by speculation, currency manipulation, government policies, and bank failures. 

Imperialism

Monopoly capitalism extends its reach across the globe, in search of new venues for exploitation and profits. When capitalism reaches its monopoly stage, it is also known as imperialism — the highest and final stage of capitalist development. Monopoly capitalism is characterized by an incredible concentration and centralization of wealth, where big banks become intertwined with industry, creating a financial oligarchy. Big corporations invest all over the world, and export of capital is the norm. Monopoly capitalism is irrational, chaotic, and slow to adapt to changes in science and technology. It is a decaying and dying system. 

Imperialism, racism, and national oppression

We live in a country that has many nationalities within its borders, and racist inequality in all spheres of life is a defining feature of the U.S. today. This systematic discrimination visited upon oppressed nationalities, including African Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, Hawaiians, Native American and indigenous peoples, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, and others, is an ugly, builtin feature of monopoly capitalism. 

For oppressed nationalities, there is a pattern of discrimination, of institutional and systematic racism. Generally, oppressed nationality peoples face worse conditions than whites. Often, this inequality means inferior health care, shorter life expectancies, and a lower standard of living, along with higher rates of extreme poverty, imprisonment, and homelessness, as well as job discrimination and inferior housing. Democratic rights, such as the right to vote, are under serious, sustained attack. There is no equality of languages, which is another basic democratic right. This system of racist discrimination is enforced by police who serve as an army of occupation in oppressed nationality communities. 

Oppressed nations in the U.S. include African Americans with a historic homeland in the Black Belt South, the Chicano Nation, also known as Aztlán, in the Southwest, and the Hawaiian nation. These nations are historical constituted groups of people, with common histories of oppression and heroic resistance, that have definite national territories, common languages, a common economic base, and a common culture. These nations are deprived of their basic democratic rights, including the right to exercise political power within their national territories and the right to self-determination — up to and including separation. The economic and political life of the oppressed nations are dominated by imperialism. African Americans outside the Black Belt South, Chicanos outside Aztlán in the Southwest, and Hawaiians on the mainland also face national oppression and carry out a struggle for full equality.

Alaskan Native, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians are the indigenous peoples of the United States. Their history is one of genocide and stolen land. Their languages and cultures have been suppressed or sold as commodities. Treaties with the U.S. government have been torn up in practice as their sovereign rights are trampled on. 

National oppression serves to enrich the monopoly capitalists who rule the U.S., allowing them to reap super-profits off of the labor of oppressed nationality workers. They also plunder the resources and agricultural lands of the Black Belt South, the national territory of the Chicano nation of Aztlán in the Southwest, and the lands of indigenous peoples.

Discrimination intensifies the exploitation of oppressed nationality workers on the job. Merchants tend to charge more in oppressed nationality communities, where there are also higher rents for substandard housing and fewer community services. This racist inequity is real, and extends from workplaces into communities, shaping all of society. That is why we say that racist discrimination is more than a ruling class trick to “divide and rule.” 

Racist inequity or national oppression is the material basis for disunity in the multinational working class, and it is the basis for racist ideas among white Americans. It is also the case that national oppression pushes down the standard of living for the entire multinational working class in a very immediate, here-and-now kind of way — that is why it is possible to unite many nationalities, including working class whites, to fight racist discrimination, inequality, and national oppression. 

Buttressing this system of racist national oppression are a host of reactionary, white supremacist, and fascist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, 3 percenters, and neo-Nazis. These groups have been on the rise in recent years, growing stronger during the years of the Trump administration. 

Racism and national oppression are consistently met with resistance from oppressed nationality peoples, who create freedom movements that aim at full equality and liberation. Imperialism means national oppression, and blows to national oppression weaken monopoly capitalism, the common enemy of the people of the U.S. 

The U.S. Empire and war

The U.S. has created an empire of the dollar spanning the globe. In search of profits, the wealthy rob the land, labor, and natural resources of others. U.S. corporations hire textile workers in Haiti, own mines in Bolivia, and control vast plantations in the Philippines. U.S. corporations are sucking the wealth out of other countries of the developing world and blocking their path to national development and independence. U.S. corporations are not in the business of helping people. 

Many people in countries looted by imperialism try to escape by emigrating to the United States and other imperialist countries. Once in the U.S., most join oppressed nationality communities as immigrants. Oppressed nationality immigrants often fill the ranks of the lowest strata of the working class as farm labor, domestic and elder care workers, and construction laborers. 

U.S. imperialism uses investments, loans, foreign “assistance,” its military, unequal trade agreements, and a host of institutions such has the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund to dominate and exploit other countries. U.S. military bases are present around the world. While people in the U.S. go hungry and need shelter, the U.S. military budget consistently hits new records. 

U.S. monopoly capitalism holds a number of colonies that have the right to independence including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Belau (Palau), Guam, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. 

Imperialism means war, and it is no accident that the U.S. is continuously waging wars on others. The drive for corporate profits means finding new places to exploit labor, acquiring resources — such as oil — and finding new markets for goods and services. People do not want to live under the dictates of Washington D.C., so they wage just wars of national liberation to free themselves. 

The principal contradiction in the world today is between the peoples of the developing world and imperialism. The U.S. is presently the principal imperialist power, and as such, it is the main danger to the world’s peoples. From Puerto Rico, to the Philippines, to Palestine, people are rising up and fighting for liberation.

The U.S. also competes with other capitalist powers. Because capitalism develops unevenly, with the economies of capitalist countries growing at different rates, they come into conflict with each other — a conflict that is sharpened by the fact that the world is already divided into spheres of influence. The socialist countries, along with the other countries which have broken out of the orbit of imperialism, place limits on the expansion of the major capitalist countries, and this tends to sharpen the competition among the imperialists. 

We fight for peace and support all who are fighting for liberation. Imperialism will always lead to war. Countries want independence, nations want liberation, and people want revolution. For peace to prevail, monopoly capitalism must be overthrown. 

U.S. government serves the wealthy and corporations

Government, especially on the state and national level, is dominated by the monopoly capitalists. The rich fund and groom candidates, dominate the two major political parties, and utilize corruption and lobbying to get their way. The state is the terrain where disputes between the capitalists are addressed, and it is an instrument to suppress working and oppressed people. We live in a capitalist cash register democracy where the rich put money in the pockets of politicians and take out billions in tax breaks and land leases. 

The capitalist state exists to protect the wealthy and their corporations. The U.S. government has always been about holding down the masses of people. At its core is a repressive apparatus that includes jails and prisons, courts, local police departments, Homeland Security, the FBI, CIA, and more. Law enforcement breaks strikes, the National Guard is used against protests and urban rebellions, and the intelligence agencies, like the FBI, spy on revolutionaries. 

The U.S. jails and imprisons more people than any other country. Many are wrongly convicted. Some are survivors of police torture. Those incarcerated are disproportionally African American and other oppressed nationalities. 

The laws themselves, along with many government institutions — such as the Senate and Supreme Court — are not democratic. They serve the few at the expense of the many. This includes much of labor law, which exists to limit the rights of labor, or laws concerning “terrorism” which are used against Muslims or those of us who practice working class internationalism. The rights we have in this country are rights we have fought for. The rulers have never given us anything voluntarily.

In addition, the corporate rulers use as an array of private security agencies and resort to extra-legal violence. 

Oppression of Women and LGBTQ People

The treatment of women in the U.S. is a stark indictment of monopoly capitalism and the sick society it is at the foundation of. 

Inequality faced by women exists in every part of the social order, including the workplaces where discrimination in pay is the norm, in social life where women are often expected to do most of the work maintaining a household, and through attempts to limit democratic rights, including something as basic as the right to control our own bodies and reproduction. Physical violence, sexual harassment, assault, and rape serve to maintain existing gender roles. Capitalist culture reinforces the objectification and subjugation of women. 

The owners of big corporations benefit from the systematic inequality imposed upon women. This includes super profits from the pay differences between men and women. Also, discrimination against women places a downward pressure on the standard of living for the entirety of the multinational working class. 

The real inequality faced by women is the material basis for male chauvinism and misogyny. These reactionary ideas trivialize or deny women’s oppression and strengthen backwards, repressive social relations in society that subordinate women to men. 

The discrimination and inequality faced by all women falls upon oppressed nationality women the hardest, with women workers facing class oppression, national oppression, and gender discrimination. 

Capitalism’s gendered division of labor is the main basis for today’s gender roles. This cements women’s oppression and punishes anyone who doesn’t fit in — fueling discrimination and bigotry against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender masses. LGBTQ people face attacks on democratic rights, especially trans and gender non-conforming people’s rights to control our bodies and correct legal identification. Assault and murder reinforce anti-LGBTQ oppression. Oppressed nationality, working class trans women suffer the most brutality.

Environment

Monopoly capitalism is killing our planet. The boundless drive for profit is a threat to our continued existence. Climate change is causing more extreme weather disasters around the globe, with the most severe falling on the peoples of Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Island countries, in particular, are at risk of disappearing entirely beneath rising sea levels.

The United States, while making up less than 5 percent of the worlds population, has accounted for a large majority of the world’s carbon emissions.

The U.S. Military, a tool of U.S. Imperialism, is one of the largest polluters in history. In it’s quest to dominate and murder abroad, it consumes more liquid fuels and emits more climate-changing gases than most medium sized countries. The U.S. military is omitted from climate change treaties like the Paris Accords or the Kyoto Agreement.

To appear more ‘green’, many U.S. industries have been moved overseas, exporting pollution to places under the thumb of U.S. corporations enforced by trade deals and organizations like the WTO. Meanwhile, imperialism denies Third World countries the right to development and to determine their own futures. At the same time, U.S. corporations also push for more market-based solutions to climate change which entrench the role of capitalism.

Inside the U.S., Indigenous communities are hit hard as their lands have been used to dump military and industrial waste. Treaty lands and territories are often used as sites for oil transportation pipelines that threaten their waters, putting traditional food sources like wild rice at risk. Moreover, polluting industry is often located near working class and oppressed nationality communities, creating worsening health outcomes and exacerbating poverty. These practices add to the burden of national oppression.

A dying system

Every facet of society is poisoned by capitalism. The culture extols greed, national chauvinism, racism, and misogyny. Reactionary politicians are attacking science. Public education is under attack, while ignorance and a willful disregard for reality is glorified. The decline of monopoly capitalism is accelerating, and life demands something different: socialism.