Disability and Capitalism

by Phillip B.


The concept of disability is not necessarily one that is created to help people in our society, but rather one that is used to label people as “less than” able to create based on the standards put forth by capitalists.  We do not define disability by something that a person needs, we define it by what a person lacks when compared to an “optimal” man for the industry bosses.  We know that what we wish to see from the working class is the principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”  We do not believe that those who can contribute less deserve less, and we do not place value on a person based on their level of production.  All people deserve dignity, equality, and for their material needs to be met.

In the United States, the life of those with disability is often one of alienation.  Both alienation from society and from their labor.  People labeled as disabled are not given the same opportunities to work, learn, and interact with the community as those deemed conditionally optimal for labor.  They are treated as though their labor does not have equivalent value, and as a result this causes a schism both within their class and work relationships.  In 2020, only 20% of people with a disability were employed while 67% of people without disabilities were participating in the labor force.  People with disabilities often have to live in group homes as their families are too consumed by work to give proper assistance.  Material conditions are lacking both for the families of disabled people and those who are deemed disabled.  Independence and integration into society begins to crumble as those with disabilities are not always allowed to make their own choices, but instead have to deal with routines, caretakers, and bosses who believe they are unable to reach their goals.

While it is hard to gather information regarding modern communist countries and disability, we can look at the rhetoric of modern communists and our history.  Modern communists call for the abolition of disability.  It is believed that all people should have their material needs met, and those who wish to work should have an opportunity to work to their ability.  We can also see how disability was handled during Lenin’s time; and this gives us insight into how those with disability were less likely to feel alienated.  In 1921 the All-Russian Cooperative of Disabled People was formed, in 1923 the All-Russian Union of Blind followed suit, and in 1926 the All-Russian Union of Deaf followed as well.  These organizations operated as a central democracy run by their members with support from the national government.  It gave power to the people with these conditions, and it brought them together as the functioning members of society that they are.

I hope that we can examine these models in detail and understand how empowering those with physical variations, while removing the stigma that comes with them, can lead to an abolition of the need to separate those who have different material needs.  I hope that we can see that the “optimal” man is a figment of capitalist society and that all people deserve to have a say in their life, labor, and the way in which they integrate into society.

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