If the basis of all real wealth – the real economy, past, present and future – is the application of human labour‑power to material from the natural environment, why has the most draconian use of state power been summoned up as a weapon against the Ontario Teachers Unions? Most people would argue that teachers do not produce wealth. In fact, in the anti‑teacher propaganda blasted by the capitalist media and whispered in a thousand dark corridors, this slander against an honoured profession is perpetrated: why should people who are essentially a drain on the public purse be compensated so generously?
What is it about this area of collective bargaining that would cause the ruling elite to instruct their political lackeys to suspend parliament, to violate constitutional law and go to direct one party rule?
The capitalist state has undemocratically dispensed with parliament in Ontario, to launch an unhindered attack on the teachers’ unions and their ability to exercise collective bargaining. The instrument of direct class intervention is the Ontario Liberal Party, with the Tories trying to be even more hawkish, and the NDP sitting on their hands.
Now the silk gloves have been shed for the naked fist, dispelling any illusion that these three parties protect parliamentary democracy. If the NDP had called for massive public resistance, they could have done a service to all working people, especially if the trade union leaders who belong to the NDP had organized labour unity across the board with the Teachers.
Any Marxist will see immediately the relationship of teachers to the real economy. Their vital role to the ability of capitalism to create and expropriate surplus value is the reproduction oflabour-power, the primary human ingredient in the creation of wealth. The scientific and technological revolution demands an ever higher level of education and training for working people. This is about productivity and the rate of exploitation. This is about the uncountable wealth of the one percent.
No educated person (the product of teachers) would vulgarize the value of the teaching profession as only an instrument to maintain and expand the parasite role of the one percent. But we live in a class society. The historic service of teachers against the mental pauperization of capitalism, their resistance to the increasing demand to produce literate industrial and social drones, instead of people armed with a sense of themselves and a demand for a better future, is a direct threat to the one percent.
It is also no accident that generations of women have dominated and transformed the profession. Witness the power of their efforts embodied in the courage and unity of the Quebecstudent’s strike. Witness the threat to the capitalist state when student activists are a major part in the defeat of a governing political party. You cannot separate teachers from students, from the awareness of the Occupy movement, from the mental hunger and sense of wrongness and violation that is surging through our youth and through the indigenous people.
The viciousness of the attempted destruction of collective bargaining in Ontario can only be understood clearly with a world view of the antagonism between the capitalist class in the advanced stages of imperialist decline, and the possessors of labour‑power, the global working class. Teachers worldwide develop a consciousness that makes their students much more than units of labour power, an awareness of self that will become an awareness of class, an awareness that labour power is also the essential ingredient in building the shared wealth of a non‑exploiting socialist alternative.
The crisis of capitalism will continue to destroy whatever stands in the way of its drive to buy more life for an obsolete and historically unnecessary system, at war with its own productive forces. In the crosshairs everywhere are those who teach our children and youth, those who preserve and pass on knowledge. The capitalists cannot dispense with teachers, but they seek to break their relative independence and their dedication to humanity. They want to turn teachers into trainers who prepare our young for more efficient and profitable exploitation. This struggle is about much more than sick days, wages or classroom size. These issues might be the field of battle, but the stakes are much higher.
The Ontario Teachers are on the front line of defending labour rights. They will decide on the extent of their resistance, on their tactics, where to attack and where to retreat. The Communist Party calls for one hundred percent support, now and in the future.