Natural Disasters…

If the People Ruled Society—We Could Do Much Better!

Revolution #13, September 4, 2005, posted at

Look at what this capitalist system with its rule of profit in command has done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But there is an alternative to such madness: A socialist society, ruled by the working class, in which production meets the needs of the people and serves the revolutionary transformation of society.

The dictatorship of the proletariat would have fundamentally different priorities, principles, and methods in running society and this would lead to very different results in the event of a disaster: The suffering of the people would be immediately addressed and lessened—not made worse.

Imagine a socialist state that represents the interests of the people and puts this at the center of everything it does. Where the leadership relies on and mobilizes the people to solve problems together in every sphere. Scientists are not only listened to, but help educate people to understand things like hurricanes—and in this process learn from the people. Schools give youth a scientific understanding of nature and human society. There is broad, public debate and discussion over how to deal with things like hurricanes, preventative measures, and government money and resources allocated to deal with such problems.

As for the oppression of Black people, so sharply on display in New Orleans, as the RCP’s Draft Programme says, the policy of a revolutionary socialist government would be to “move quickly against the institutions and legacies of national oppression. Discrimination, for example, will be immediately and forcefully banned in employment, housing, and all other areas… The state will give preference in resources and assistance to the less developed and backward areas, in coordination with and on the basis of the overall development of society. And in the immediate situation after the seizure of power, the policy of “raising up the bottom” will be applied across the board.”

Capitalism reinforces and requires people competing with each and fosters the dog-eat-dog mentality that goes with this. But a socialist state reinforces and requires the opposite—people working together to uproot inqualities and to remake society. Hurricanes and other natural disasters would still pose very serious challenges. But people would fundamentally be in a different situation to deal with this. People all over the country would be immediately organized to figure out how to get food, medicine, aid and transportation to people. Extraordinary measures would be taken to utilize all possible resources in society—hotels, houses, hospitals, doctors, bus drivers, etc. The needs of all would be met, with first priority to those most urgenty in need—the sick, wounded, and poor.

We can not only imagine such a society—we can look at what was accomplished in China under the leadership of Mao Tsetung, when China was truly socialist. When a new revolutionary government came to power in 1949, the waterways, dykes and embankments were long out of repair and almost every year hundreds of thousands suffered from floods and drought. Millions of peasants were mobilized with a “serve the people spirit” in immense water projects aimed at changing the very landscape to prevent massive floods and droughts. And the masses completed a large-scale flood-diversion program that involved repairing and reinforcing existing dykes and safety areas to accommodate 170,000 people in case of evacuation during a big flood. Three hundred thousand soldiers and civililans were mobilized and the whole project was completed in seventy-five days.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina we can see the total inability of the current system to meet the needs of the people. AND we can see the potential for the masses to do things a different way. Look at the examples of how the people—under extremely difficult conditions—took initiative, stuck together, and found creative ways to try and survive. This was done in spite of and up against all the forces of dog-eat-dog capitalist society. And this shows the potential for what could be accomplished if society were set up in a whole different way.