Recently, the homeless Beale family with its four young children occupied the Mayor’s office at Oakland City Hall, demanding the government do something to help them. They had been through the nightmare of a slumlord eviction from their sewage-flooded apartment, forced to sleep in their car and in vacant buildings, in rapidly-gentrifying Oakland, CA. “We are at the end of our rope’ they explained.” We can’t live like this. We shouldn’t have to. Our children deserve better. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Indeed we are in desperate times. The mass replacement of jobs by automation is throwing millions out of work forever. As labor is eliminated from the workplace, the value of human life, as evidenced by the sheer number of people living in the streets, is driven to zero. Formerly stable workers suddenly find themselves on the wrong end of a job loss, an illness, a foreclosure or an eviction, living on a couch, in a vehicle or in the streets. Homeless kids move from town to town, depending on each other for safety and company.
The American people want to see homelessness ended and people taken care of. The ruling class has another remedy, harassment and jail for the ‘crimes’ of poverty. Sitting and lying on the sidewalk has been made illegal in cities and towns across the country, as well as asking for help by ‘flying’ a sign. People are arrested for sharing free food.
Homelessness is the Achilles heel of the capitalist system, where what we need is held as private property for profit, and withheld if we can’t pay for it.
This can’t be defended morally or practically, since there is more than enough of everything to fully satisfy everyone’s needs. The powers that be attack and criminalize people for pitching tents and sleeping in doorways, along the curbs under gleaming new condo towers in cities like San Francisco, or in the burned-out houses of Detroit. The ruling class has no remedy but terror. A government which can only mount fascist attacks against those in desperate need, while withholding the abundance it controls, is not fit to rule.
The homeless themselves are organizing in their own interest. Residents of self-governing tent cities across the US are demanding the right to this basic form of shelter, while organizing to demand housing as a right. City halls and capitol buildings are occupied, the homeless and their supporters demanding that government respond to human needs. The corporate-controlled government’s abject failure to do this calls its very existence into question.
The demands of the homeless and the whole of our class for the absolute right to housing and all else we need, not just to survive but to thrive, is in reality a cry for the overturning of the profit-driven system of private ownership, and for a society of sharing controlled by the people. This is the ultimate demand of the struggle for homeless rights, and everyone’s basic rights, and its logical outcome.