Massive Relief Now to
Joint Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Disaster
by Socialist Action and Labor Standard
The catastrophe in
Everything evil and barbaric in capitalism is being exposed to additional millions as this terrible crisis unfolds, from the long-term environmental degradation and disrepair that has been accumulating for decades to the immediate failure to mobilize the full power of the government to meet human needs first of all.
Make no mistake, the poor and oppressed of this country, working people in general, and all others who care about fundamental human values will be greatly influenced by what happens around this disaster in the weeks and months ahead. Many see, or will see, that this catastrophe was magnified by capitalism’s subordination of human needs to profit and plunder.
What must be done?
First and foremost, we demand that the federal government—the only force capable of intervening with the resources necessary to avert a further compounding of the horror that is occurring—stop the foot-dragging and take immediate action to bring massive aid and relief to the tens of thousands suffering in New Orleans and elsewhere as the result of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
We demand that the federal
government spend billions and trillions, if necessary, for
The real needs of human beings must be met immediately!
The government has no hesitation
about spending trillions of dollars on mass murder (war) and the attempt to
We demand billions per day to
What is needed is a massive
relief effort on the scale of the so-called Marshall Plan that was organized to
We demand the massive
mobilization of the nation’s resources, not to pursue imperialist war aims, but
to serve the immediate and long-term needs of working people, mostly Black and
We demand the immediate shipment of food, medical supplies, and water by any means necessary, and the provision of safe, hygienic shelter, to save the lives of those who are in danger. This must be followed by the massive, temporary evacuation of everyone in need and the simultaneous allocation of everything required to restore New Orleans and all other affected areas to full and safe operation, especially the rebuilding of levees and the enactment of flood-control measures sufficient to withstand Category 5 hurricanes in the future.
We demand jobs at union wages for all who have lost them and for all who are needed to work on the reconstruction, repair, and rebuilding of the homes and basic infrastructure that have been destroyed. This must be undertaken at federal government expense, and it must include immediate measures to reverse the decades of environmental destruction that stand as a backdrop and a magnifying factor of the present catastrophe.
We call on trade union sisters and brothers and their organizations to aid this effort and reach out in solidarity with working people in distress as never before. We applaud those trade unions, such as the fire fighters, air traffic controllers, food and commercial workers, service employees, California Nurses Association, and others, which have already taken such action.
We demand that massive
As opposed to “zero tolerance,” we demand zero racism! Provide aid to all people who need it, regardless of race or the amount of money they have. The racist aspect of the official response to this catastrophe was most clearly expressed in the online news website of AOL.com, which featured two photos, one of a Black youth with a loaf of bread with the caption “looter,” the other, a photo of a white couple with a loaf of bread captioned “struggling to survive.” These were widely reproduced and/or condemned, from WBAI to ABC NEWS.
These are just a few of the demands that we put forward as of Sept. 1. More demands of a similar nature will undoubtedly have to be raised as this crisis unfolds.
Socialist Action and Labor
Standard will soon be publishing an emergency pamphlet on
These are dire times, when tens of thousands of human beings are being made to pay the price of capitalism’s horrific default. Tens of thousands stand exposed to the system’s fundamental failure to immediately prioritize human needs. The dead have yet to be counted, but the numbers will surely be qualitatively larger than the hundreds reported to date.
The consequences of this disaster cannot be underestimated in any arena, from the economy to the consciousness of millions to the immediate plight of those still needing help.
Oil prices have already begun to soar, allegedly because of the hurricane-related shutdown of Gulf oil production, but more likely because of price gouging by the oil monopolies. Fully half of the nation’s export grain passes through this now nearly destroyed city, a fact that may well trigger additional tragedies elsewhere.
Below we reprint a letter from David Jones, of Labor Standard. His letter captures the depth and magnitude of this crisis. Socialist Action and Labor Standard are working together to jointly educate as many as we can reach with our socialist program, perspectives, and realistic solutions.
In this regard our Midwest socialist
educational conference, September 30-October 2 in
Letter by David Jones
It is almost impossible to overstate the magnitude of this disaster, both in human terms for the North American continent, and as a historic example of the criminal incompetency of the capitalist system. In the richest country in the world a major metropolis is going to be abandoned for weeks or even, as some are saying, for months!
In terms of loss of human life
There will be economic
consequences, besides what is happening in human terms—death, disease,
displacement, unemployment, not to mention the opportunistic escalation of
gasoline and diesel prices.
This disaster that capitalism has wrought has extremely ominous implications for the future. Clearly the magnitude of this “natural” disaster is exponentially magnified by a series of specific environmental and ecological circumstances created and driven by the profit system. The evaluation, debate, and assigning of responsibility for this disaster will increase in tone and tempo as the ideological damage control operation gets into high gear.
In terms of the labor movement, this highly industrialized area has many unions, and most international unions are beginning to indicate some efforts to render financial assistance to their beleaguered members, including the United Transportation Union. Other, more far-reaching issues will soon arise—jobs, income, health care, etc.