From the May-June issue of News & Letters
People with disabilities make up 15% of the population. They are in every country and culture on earth. Some disabilities are visible, like not being able to walk. Others are mental and harder to detect like Autism. Some people are born different and live with what is called disability their whole lives. Others develop it over time whether through a disease, accident, or war injury. One’s experience of being disabled is influenced by age, class, society, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, how supportive and understanding friends and family are, etc. One thing that unites the disabled is that capitalism is a world not made for us, and communism is the only way to establish true freedom and equality for everyone.
CAPITALISM HOSTILE TO THOSE WITH DISABILITIES
People with disabilities are hired less often. The goal of the capitalist bourgeoisie is to make as high of a profit as possible. One way this is done is by lowering costs, which is why bosses don’t like paying a living wage. People with disabilities need not only a living wage, but may also need special accommodations. For example, a blind person may need braille; someone with a wheelchair requires ramps and elevators; a deaf person requires sign language courses in the workforce, etc. All these accommodations to the capitalist are seen as costs.
A society where profit is the goal is rigged against the disabled. In addition, capitalism is dehumanizing. The bourgeoisie does not see workers as human beings. We, unfortunately, cannot produce as much as somebody without a disability. In Mammon’s eyes we are lesser. Somebody with autism who needs frequent breaks is less valuable, making them subhuman to capitalism. Capitalism is a horribly discriminatory and ableist system.
Marxists know that alienation is inherent to those living under capitalism. The worker is alienated from their labor by being forced to work for someone else, from their hobbies and passions by work’s constant grind. The bourgeoisie is alienated by the need to animate capital. Someone with a disability is already alienated from this society. In poor areas special education is often lacking so the disabled often have bleak futures. They frequently suffer police brutality, one of the most barbaric and savage realities of oppression under capitalism.
POLICE BRUTALITY ABOUNDS
About 50% of those murdered by police have a disability. Deaf people are frequently beaten severely when they use sign language to ask what’s happening. After African Americans, people with disabilities suffer most from police brutality. Unarmed autistic people are often gunned down in cold blood when they have meltdowns. Psychologists say the worst thing you can do during a meltdown is call the police. By not doing so you’ll probably prevent a murder. There really isn’t much of a solution other than the abolition of the police. The reactionary attitudes of most police mean they don’t care about our plight, after all, why should they? According to the U.S. Supreme Court, their job isn’t to protect and serve people, it’s to protect property. They have no legal obligation to protect us.
Some may disagree and cite successful disabled people like FDR who was crippled from polio, or Elon Musk who has autism. But it is important to know these people are the exceptions. Most disabled people who are in a good place had to fight to get where they are. The rich and powerful have the advantage of connections and inheritance. For example, Elon Musk came from a rich family, and had money thrown at him by his father. FDR came from a long political dynasty, and even then he had to hide his disability to be successful. For every Musk there are millions of people with autism who are unemployed. For every FDR there are millions of homeless people because they can’t walk or use their arms so no one will hire them. It’s even more hellish for those who are undiagnosed or diagnosed wrongly.
Our story hasn’t been taught, and few have the ability to write it. You aren’t taught in school that we were among the original victims of the Holocaust, or that Russia denied it had disabled people. Here we are taught of the struggles for Black, women’s, and Native equality. It is high time schools teach about the 504 sit-in, and the blocking of Madison Avenue and that people chained themselves to buses to ensure they had lifts. We continue to struggle.
Just as the Civil Rights Act didn’t end systemic racism, the Americans with Disabilities Act didn’t end systemic discrimination against the disabled. We have to fight for ourselves. The state, corporations, religious organizations are not our friends. Neither are Republicans or Democrats. They have always been our oppressors. We must carry our liberation flag ourselves, write our history, rise up, and strike, and protest.
Only we have the keys to our own future, only we can be the dawn of a new order for ourselves. We have the power to break our chains in order to create a new world. The flame of revolution often burns passionately in our hearts. There is no revolution, there is no Marxism without the participation of the disabled. Workers of the World (including those designated as disabled) Unite!