Homelessness and the new world we could have


Leslie, a homeless woman in Santa Ana, CA., said her husband recently went missing. She said if she had one wish it would just be to see him again. PHOTO/DAVE GUZMAN

Leslie, a homeless woman in Santa Ana, CA., said her husband recently went missing. She said if she had one wish it would just be to see him again.


This society is dying right before our eyes. Capitalism has advanced to the stage where human labor is becoming obsolete. The micro-chip processor, introduced into production in the 1970s and ‘80s, has caused permanent unemployment in the once labor-intensive industries of the Rust Belt and beyond. Scores of formerly productive human beings continue to be tossed out into an abyss—the cold, heartless streets—where the government terrorizes the encampments of the now homeless workers.

It is testimony to this immoral, dying system, that one million people have experienced homelessness at some point in L.A. since 2009. Local laws are passed in many cities outlawing the survival activities of these throw-away workers. Police give citations for sitting and lying down in public. In Los Angeles, it is now against the law for the homeless to have more belongings than what can fit in a garbage can! And in “progressive” Seattle, a private company is paid $240 an hour for a three-man crew to remove homeless encampments.

The homeless are approximately 40% white, 40% Black, 11% Latino, 35% in families, 20% children, 72% urban, 21% suburban, and 7% rural. Their common condition ties them together across formerly divisive lines of color, religion, and region.

These homeless workers are members of a class that no longer is needed by the billionaire owners of our economy. This new class (which includes more than the homeless) increasingly has no place in a society that uses less and less labor every year. While labor-less production with robots creates an abundance of the necessities we need to survive, this society is based on private ownership of the means of producing these necessities, and the assumption that people have jobs. The ruling class will not feed, house, clothe and care for workers they no longer need at the workplace.

It is possible to end homelessness today. There is plenty of empty housing and everything we need to live a decent, cultured existence. What stands in our way is a system of private property that makes housing, and indeed all the necessities we need to survive, “commodities” to be sold in the market only to those who can pay.

We need a new society that ensures housing as a human right. We need unity as a working class around the demands of the destitute if we are to overcome the growing fascist assault on our rights as human beings to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”

With unity and cooperation, workers could create a world of peace and plenty. We could govern ourselves, distribute the necessaries of life to all, and ensure the survival of our fellow human beings! The first step toward that new society is to unify our struggle by demanding that the governmenet provide for the needs of the growing class of destitute workers—not for the billionaires.

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