by Nick Marcotte
This article was originally published in the September issue of Socialism Today! Subscribe here.
Throughout my youth, I witnessed the effects that the brutality of capitalism had on my mother and father. My father, a career truck driver, was worked to the bone: mental and physical exhaustion, painful work-related injuries, and eventually, he died on the job while preparing to travel hundreds of miles back home. My mother fought hard each day to raise my brother and me and worked three jobs on top of the unpaid labor she performed for our family; losing my father only made the conditions even more precarious. Despite my parents’ countless hours of work, we faced periods of hard times. Our utilities had been cut due to non-payment, and our house was nearly foreclosed on several occasions. To make matters worse, a mountain of debt, especially medical debt, was racked up. I am eternally grateful for the struggle my parents went through.
As an adult, I’m in a similar situation. I am a warehouse worker, where the building is hot (especially this past summer), and the hours are long. The labor tends to be hard on the body and stressful on the mind. Each day when I return from work, I often feel pain in my lower back and am too tired to do anything other than sit. To quote the Industrial Organizer Bill Haywood, “I’ve never read Marx’s Capital, but I’ve got the marks of capital all over my body;” for obvious reasons, this quote resonates with me a lot. During this time, I have also been working towards a degree; in other words, I have built a mountain of student debt that seems insurmountable. Though I know my conditions are not ideal, I see the world around me and notice that I am not alone.
My experience has made me conscious that our reality of collective precarity does not have to exist. This is why I am a socialist. There is no reason people should face unemployment; there is always work to be done. There is no reason why people should be without shelter; there are plenty of warm beds that are not filled. There is no reason why we, the working class, should be forced to sell our labor while others merely collect a check from their private estate. A better future is possible, and I believe we, the workers, can achieve it.
A few months ago, I attended an Independent Socialist Group Rally to Defend and Expand Reproductive Rights in Worcester and was instantly impressed by the message being sent by the group. After a member sold me a paper, I brought it home, read the “What We Stand For” section, and felt deeply inspired by the demands. Soon after this experience, I knew I wanted to become a member and be a part of a group that wants to bring real change to the working class.
Voting is not enough, nor will it be under the current order; as Joe Biden said during his candidacy to a group of corporate elites, “Nothing will fundamentally change.” Only through a working-class movement can things truly begin to change for the better.