By Peter Cherry
The general crisis of overproduction has reached a new height as 36.5 million people in the US have filed for unemployment, making the unemployment rate stand at 13 percent, the worst since the Great Depression and expected to climb as high as 25 percent.
Bourgeois economists like Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said last week that the US economy is in an emergency and is deteriorating “with alarming speed,” and Alan Blinder of Princeton University remarked that “This looks likely to be deep enough to qualify as a depression.” At the same time of growing social misery and resistance to the conditions of economic crisis imposed on working people, the US stock market has shown unparalleled growth, with the eight richest capitalists in the US seeing their wealth increase by $6.2 billion in a single day, bringing them to a combined total of $653.8 billion.
Part of what characterizes economic crises under imperialism is an overbuilding of productive capacity (the machines, factories, and warehouses) in relation to a demand constrained by these monopolies keeping more profits from themselves relative to the wages workers receive, leading to an over-amassing of wealth at the top of society. When a wider and more intense gap appears between the purchasing of commodities made by workers due to their growing inability to buy them, layoffs begin like an avalanche, with evictions and foreclosures following close behind as many are increasingly unable to pay for housing.
To resolve this, capital annihilates massive amounts of value that cannot give it profit, which we see as products like milk are dumped or other necessary goods are kept locked in warehouses to spoil or collect dust. There is also a tendency towards concentration of capital (that is, the monopolies getting larger by pushing smaller and medium-sized capitalists out of the market) and centralization of capital (the number of competing businesses in a given sector decreasing as a few corporations come to dominate it) during this time. What is behind the growing riches that these capitalists are able to acquire? It is the expense of workers who face speed-ups, wage suppression through the hiring of more part-time workers, reduced hours, and exposure to coronavirus, which has done its part at exacerbating the crisis that underlined it.
These capitalists own the majority of stocks in their companies do not have to work, instead they can loaf all day long under quarantine and live an extravagant life on dividends, revealing the parasitic nature of imperialism. Their temporary leaps in profit only foretell an intensification of the division between the working class and the capitalists in this country, and an intensification of the contradiction between imperialist governments and the colonies and semi-colonies they oppress. As they attempt to shift the costs of their economic crisis onto the working class and the oppressed peoples of the world through accelerating exploitation, they do so at the expense of sharpening the contradictions that will one day end their rule and usher in a new economic reality: socialism.