Keith Pavlik worked as a printing-press operator in the 1980s and ’90s. Since the early 2000s, he has served as a co-director — along with Rosa Penate and Brenda Sandburg — of the Progress Unity Fund (PUF), a nonprofit organization closely affiliated with the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party (WWP). As of 2009, Pavlik’s San Francisco home doubled as PUF’s official headquarters.
In an article titled “Technology and the Impact on Workers’ Wages Under Capitalism,” Pavlik maintains that “the capitalist system … makes advancing technology a burden on workers’ wages and living standards.” “When technology is used only to expand capitalist production and not for human benefit,” he says, “it becomes a tool for greater exploitation” by “business owners” whose “greed” leads them to lay off as many expendable employees as possible. The way to counter this, Pavlik explains, is for workers to organize labor unions “with the ultimate goal of overturning the system that causes us to lose our jobs in order to maximize profits.” “When we as workers own and control the means of production,” he continues, “humankind can fully realize the beneficial wonders of technological development.”
In a piece titled “Capitalism and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage,” Pavlik claims that during a more pleasant, benevolent epoch of human history, “matriarchal societies, tracing the lineage of the family through the mother, existed under classless systems where scarcity dictated the necessity of sharing and cooperation.” But “as the productive level of society matured from conditions of generalized absolute scarcity to the creation of relative surplus,” he says, “the collective social norms gave way to the private appropriation of the surplus.” As a result, “social and family relations based on collective ownership and mother-right were replaced by father-right and class society” where “repressive patriarchal laws and customs to control wealth also emerged.” In short, Pavlik maintains that the traditional “family” in Western culture was created by “the ruling class” as a mechanism by which it could “maintain ownership of wealth through inheritance.” Moreover, this family system purportedly “ushered in the systematic oppression of women and homosexuals in society, which was previously unknown.”
Asserting further, in that same article, that capitalism is inherently inimical to gay rights, Pavlik avers that LGBT couples will never “be able to live free from discrimination and violence” until society is “completely reorganized on the basis of human solidarity and cooperation.” He explains that “socialism—an economy based on human need instead of private profit—lays the foundation for a truly liberated family, whether heterosexual or same-sex.” Consequently, says Pavlik, “the struggle for same-sex marriages and partnerships provides an avenue for building working-class solidarity and challenging ruling-class anti-gay, anti-woman ideology.”
Socialism is likewise the key to reforming and improving society’s housing system, Pavlik writes in a piece titled “San Francisco Communities Fight Racism [and] Gentrification,” because capitalism “is organized to serve the bankers and landlords” rather than people of modest means. “Only by eliminating the profit motive from housing and real estate,” he says, “can the right to housing be truly guaranteed. Otherwise, this basic right will always be controlled by real estate speculators and slumlords.” According to Pavlik, “Countries that are much poorer than the United States have been able to provide this right by organizing society along socialist lines, for people’s needs instead of for private profit. Countries like Cuba and North Korea are able to guarantee home ownership or rentals for less than 10 percent of one’s salary.”
Pavlik has great esteem for the men and women who belonged to the Black Panther Party during the 1960s and ’70s, describing them as heroes who “fought racism and injustice” even as they themselves were subjected to “judicial repression.”
He was a signatory to a full-page ad published in the Washington Post on April 30, 2012, demanding freedom for the so-called Cuban Five—a Miami-based, KGB-trained, Castro spy ring whose activities were uncovered by the FBI in September 1998. Though all five had been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 years to life, the Post ad described them as men who had been “wrongly accused” and “unjustly convicted.”
Pavlik has written extensively for WWP’s weekly newspaper, Workers World, and for the website of the Party for Socialism & Liberation, of which he is a member. He has the highest regard for the writings of WWP’s founder and longtime chairman, Sam Marcy, as well as those of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.
Further Reading: “Technology and the Impact on Workers’ Wages Under Capitalism” (by Keith Pavlik, 2-1-2005); “Capitalism and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage” (by Keith Pavlik, 2-1-2006); “San Francisco Communities Fight Racism [and] Gentrification” (by Keith Pavlik, 11-1-2006).