A watery sun cast its feeble light over New York this morning, after a week of desperation, darkness and cold. The people of this great city are awakening as in a morning after a nightmare. But the sun’s rays bring no real relief. Clear, cloudless nights herald the coming of the cold. And two and a half million people are still without heat, lighting or proper cooking facilities. Many have been without food. Everyone is without gasoline.

Just a few years ago, the world watched in horror as Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The richest and most powerful imperialist country in the world did nothing as people were drowning, starving, and literally dying of thirst. Now, we see the northeastern United States get hit by Hurricane Sandy. Millions are still without power. Mass transit is suspended. Whole neighborhoods were burned out. Dozens have been killed, including 24 in New York City alone.

It is hard to believe that nearly four years have already passed since the election of Barack Obama. The streets were filled with honking cars, waving flags, and shouts of excitement. Tears of unbridled joy and relief streamed down the faces of many. After eight long years of Bush, change had come at last! Or had it? As the months—and the crisis—wore on, it became increasingly clear that in all essentials, Obama’s presidency was more like Bush 2.0 than a new dawn of peace and prosperity.

In December 2010, a 26-year-old street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, lit himself on fire in protest against repeated harassment by police in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. This marked the beginning of the Arab Revolution. Bouazizi’s self-immolation was simply the catalyzing event that connected with the anger and frustration of a large layer of society—anger and frustration that had been building up for years.

For over 30 years, American workers have been under assault. For decades, there were very few fight backs, and even fewer successes. Between 1973 and 2007, private sector unionization decreased by over 75 per cent and wealth inequality increased by 40 per cent. Strike levels fell to record lows. Politically, things shifted ever-further to the right as the Democrats and Republicans fell over each other to carry out the wishes of the capitalists. The labor leaders offered nothing but the failed policy of “partnership with the bosses” on the shop floor and at the polls. Despite the heroic traditions of the past, this led many—even on the Left—to believe that Americans “have it too good,” and have somehow become “bourgeoisified” and lack revolutionary potential.

"The U.S. is increasingly polarized to the right and to the left. Although the media plays up the Tea Party and the right wing, the general trend among the working class will be toward the left. Poll after poll confirms this. The youth in particular are suffering the brunt of the crisis, and they are far more free from the prejudices and inertia of the past. They know nothing but a world of crisis, war, mass unemployment, and discrimination, and are increasingly willing to do something about it. Even more important and powerful than the right-left polarization is the intensifying polarization between the rich and the poor. Wealth disparity has reached unprecedented levels, and there is a burning hatred of the rich by broad swathes of the population. (...) As it has in one country after another, at a certain stage, the experience of life under capitalism will force the U.S. working class to enter into mass struggle."

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