[On the one hand,] giving priority to immediate reforms can lead straight into the mire of capitalist politics where principles have no place and everything has its price. On the other hand, insisting on revolutionary purity can lead to isolation and irrelevance. It seems that what is needed is a program directed toward an intermediate goal which both rejects the existing social order and at the same time is attainable without overthrowing it.
—Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy, “Reform and Revolution,”
Monthly Review 20, no.2 (June, 1968) p.3
At a time when a mass movement for fundamental structural social change has begun to grow, the choice of focus among the many possible demands for particular needed changes poses a major problem. And today, for the first time since the late sixties, such a movement is recognizably underway in the United States.
As an immediate demand, the growing movement for a Federal guarantee of a decent socially useful job has much to recommend it. Dissatisfaction with demeaning and exploitative shitjobs is universal among an entire generation. If a guaranteed socially useful job at a liveable wage were available (think of the WPA programs of the New Deal), the cost would be a small fraction of the current military budget, and the jobs on offer from capitalist employers would of necessity pay more and demand less. In that sense, the demand is attainable.
At the same time, as Michał Kalecki set out in one of the twentieth century’s most significant economics articles, “Political Aspects of Full Employment,” the discipline of unemployment is a political necessity for our rulers. As opposed to the centrist and explicitly pro-capitalist “Universal Basic Income” that would substitute for welfare benefits and serve as a subsidy for low wage employers, full employment is inconsistent with the existing social order. From our perspective at Monthly Review, the demand for full employment is therefore an exemplary “revolutionary reform.”
And, indeed, in the last two periods when (ultimately unsuccessful) mass movements for fundamental structural social change got underway in the United States, in the thirties and late sixties of the twentieth century, the demand for full employment generated widespread and significant support. This history is usefully set out in Trudy Goldberg’s “Trying Again for Full Employment .” We are very glad to see the demand raised forcefully once again.
We therefore suggest to our friends and readers that they sign on to the Jobs for All Manifesto, and to spread the word.
Imagine a world
- Where everyone who wants to work has a living-wage job.
- Where no one needs to cobble together multiple jobs to make ends meet.
- Where joblessness and its consequences no longer exist.
- Where millions are working in concert to heal our environment, rebuild our physical and care infrastructure, and renew our public art.
- Where the basic right to a job is guaranteed.
- We face a crisis of economic insecurity
At this moment of economic and ecological upheaval, when pervasive economic insecurity and racial exclusion exist alongside concentrated wealth and a sweltering planet, we need a strategy to build an economy that produces economic security and dignity for all.
A Federal Job Guarantee is our way forward
By ensuring every person who wants to work can find a good job meeting vital community needs, a Federal Job Guarantee can be the cornerstone of an inclusive, thriving, and sustainable 21st century economy.
Add your voice
Join us in calling for a Federal Job Guarantee—our path to an economy centered around human value. Show your commitment by signing this manifesto.
- National Jobs for All Network
- Modern Money Network
- Our Money
- Center for Popular Democracy
- Community Change
- Race Forward
- Gamaliel Network
- National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
- National Employment Law Project (NELP)
- Democracy Collaborative
- Liberation in a Generation
- Economic Security Project
- Living New Deal
- MPower Change
- WESPAC Foundation
- Prout USA
- Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity
- California Immigrant Policy Center
- Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan
- Miami Valley Full Employment Council
- Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative
- Living New Deal-New York City Working Group
- New York Solar Energy Society
- S.E.E.D.S. Brotherhood Garden Leadership Network
- Columbia Seminar on Full Employment
- Living New Deal-New York City Working Group
- Cream City Conservation
- White Center Community Development Association
- Urban Research Strategies and Logistics
- Children of the Light, Inc.
- We Are the Change We Want to See
- AAMU Small Farms Research Center
- Admeasure Community
- Phoenix Democratic Socialists of America
- A Red Circle
- Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies
- Darrick Hamilton, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
- Alan Aja, Brooklyn College
- William Darity Jr., Duke University
- Stephanie Kelton, Stony Brook University
- Mark Paul, New College of Florida
- Pavlina Tcherneva, Bard College
- Randy Wray, Bard College
- Delman Coates, Our Money
- Robert Reich, University of California Berkeley, former Secretary of Labor
- Cornel West, Harvard University
- Jennifer Granholm, University of California Berkeley, former Governor of Michigan
- Barbara Cooper, Tennessee State Representative, District 86, Memphis
- William Peduto, Mayor, Pittsburgh
- Lovely Warren, Mayor, Rochestor
- Helen Gym, Councilwoman-at-large, Philadelphia
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt III
- Sheila Collins, William Paterson University (Emerita)
- Philip Harvey, Rutgers School of Law-Camden
- Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
- Manuel Pastor, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity
- Michael Skolnik, The Soze Agency
- Linda Sarsour, MPower Change
- Herbert Gans, Columbia University (Emeritus)
- Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, National Jobs for All Network, Adelphi University (Emerita)
- Carol Sheffield, William Paterson University (Emerita)
- David Stein, Department of African American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
- Steven Attewell, Murphy Institute for Labor Studies, City University of New York
Visit the Jobs for All Manifesto website for the full, updated list of signatories.