For most of us, home ownership is the epitome of the American dream. In a 2015 Wells Fargo survey, 65% felt that homeownership is “an accomplishment to be proud of” and/or a “dream come true.” The growing nightmare of mass foreclosures, eviction and homelessness is shattering that dream, and along with it, any notion that our government serves the people. At the root of the problem is a dying capitalist system that is changing from industrial to automated production.
It doesn’t matter if you are Black, white or Latino. When the robot comes into your factory, you are laid off. The capitalist class is not going to house workers that don’t make profits for them. It follows from this that when these kinds of permanent lay offs occur, mass foreclosures and evictions follow no matter what ethnicity your community is.
The area around Detroit, Michigan is a perfect example. When the big three car manufacturers introduced robotics onto the production line, those jobs were decimated forever. Wages fell, population dropped and 40% of the city became impoverished. The result is 70,000 homes are going through foreclosure in Detroit. It was just a matter of time before this same process spread to the surrounding suburbs dispelling the myth that it was confined to Detroit and it’s majority African American working class population.
In Garden City, MI, an overwhelmingly white working class suburb of Detroit, growing numbers of workers are losing their homes due to loss of jobs, unpaid taxes, resulting fees, and medical issues. Many were unaware their home had been sold until they got eviction notices. In some cases the City acquired properties and sold them to corporate developers who then flipped them for profit.
When people showed up at a City Council meeting in early November to plead for their homes, the meeting was adjourned by the mayor who said they were going to a pizza party instead of hearing them. One homeowner, when interviewed by the media, asked, “Why are they dealing with the developer and not giving us the same opportunity to buy (the house) back for the taxes?” The whole situation brings to light that the “they” the gentleman is referring to champion corporate rights to profit over any right you thought you had to stay in your home because “they” are corporate government—the government of the ruling class.
That same ruling class is replacing workers with robots, but in the process, creates a new class of ever more deeply impoverished workers who are without jobs or homes. How are people to survive? As a first step, the government must release the hundreds of thousands of foreclosed homes it owns to those who need them. This is part of the fight for a new society.
Previously separated by segregated communities and divided by every inequality imaginable, the possibility now exists for a section of this new class of workers to unite based on a common experience of being pushed out of the capitalist system into an equality of absolute poverty. Without unity around a program that demands their basic needs are met, it is not possible for this new class of workers to envision a future society free of poverty, racism and want, let alone build one. The role of revolutionaries is to educate to make that possibility a reality.