The unraveling of the Bolivian situation, with Bolsonaro and the growing tensions between Brazil, Mexico and Argentina spurring Santa Cruz’s bourgeoisie, warn of what is to come in South America. Meanwhile, in Europe, the crisis is fuelling inter-imperialist tensions, putting NATO in the spotlight. And the most important thing of the week: the struggle of the Chatillon railroaders achieved a historic success by getting rid of the union police’s yoke.
The fire spreads from Puebla to Buenos Aires through La Paz
La Paz is now a battleground. What began as an electoral revolt of the petty bourgeoisie has become a full-fledged fracture of the Bolivian ruling classes since the moment the Santa Cruz bourgeoisie took it upon itself to turn the revolt into an attack for power. The qualitative leap has not only left out Mesa, the victim of the recount gerrymandering , but, above all, it openly involves Bolsonaro’s Brazil for the first time in a violent change of government.
It is necessary to understand it as an progressively widening board where the moves take place at an ever-increasing speed. Yesterday Bolsonaro authorized the purchase of duty-free wheat outside Mercosur, a direct blow to an Argentinian bourgeoisie that has not yet accepted its relative weakness in relation to its neighbor.
Alberto Fernández leads, in fact, the alternative to Brazil’s containment policy conducted by Macri. This week, along with the president of Mexico, he announced that the “Puebla group” will act as a counterweight to the US-aligned “Lima group” of Brazil and Chile. The Puebla group is armed by Marco Enriquez Ominami, son of the guerrilla leader who died in 1974, adopted by one of the heavyweights of the Chilean socialist party apparatus and married to a successful presenter, the eternal third candidate for the Chilean presidential elections. “Puebla” is not a club of states but of leaders, ex-mandatories and apparatchiks of the Ibero-American bourgeoisie: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Spain), Pepe Mujica (Uruguay), Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Ernesto Samper (Colombia), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic), Álvaro García Linera (Bolivia), etc.
That the option of AMLO and Fernández has been to counterpose a lobby to an association of states means two things: the first is that the emerging imperialist divide is reflected in the internal conflicts of the bourgeoisie in each country; and the second is that both parties are willing to fight on that terrain. The consequences are foreseeable. Bolivia is only the first meal.
Meanwhile in Europe, Malthusian apocalyptic discourses are already taking the form of a real ideological campaign, from France to Italy, where they already are established as a state ideology to be taught throughout compulsory education. It is no coincidence that this intensity is happening at this precise moment. The “climate emergency” responds to the urgency of the European bourgeoisie to impose new attacks on living and working conditions in an agonizing attempt to save the precipice that is opening up again at their feet. Germany’s entry into an industrial recession threatens a domino effect and for the moment produces a cascade of downward revisions of growth expectations placing the whole of Southern Europe in stagnation.
In Spain, companies in the IBEX stock reduced profits by 20% and become over-indebted by taking advantage of negative rates. Banks do close branches nonstop because, like all capital, they can only recover profitability by lowering wage costs. Increasing sales is not even considered. The world market is being constricted by the commercial war, and in addition, now it turns out that family consumption and especially that of workers, not only had been overestimated, but is stagnating at higher speed than expected. If we talk about durable consumer goods (household appliances, cars, etc.), it simply decreases in the face of the fear of losing one’s job. What else could one expect in a country where 81% of adults under 38 years of age do not have the capacity to save money?
It’s not just Spain. In Great Britain -the best performing state in terms of economic expectations- the main theme of the campaign is … hunger! and the proliferation of food banks. The electoral campaign is showing a bourgeoisie in delirium that claims to be the creator of the social wealth barely admonished by its left faction – Corbynism – that warns against the cynical and haughty discourse of the nineties (end of the working class, non-existence of class struggle, etc.). According to Corbynism, this discourse is a paper tiger and it would be convenient for the right faction to moderate their language. It is by no means the only place in Europe where the political apparatus of the state has not just realigned itself to withstand the next blow of the crisis. In Germany Merkel’s CDU begins to crack in the face of the loss of part of its bases in the petty bourgeoisie and its re-framing in the AfD.
But surely the most dangerous result of the crisis’ imminence is the increase of imperialist tensions within Europe itself. Macron’s trip to China this week marked a new milestone in the split between France and Germany. Franco-Chinese closeness and Macron’s proposals for a more politically global alliance have upset Germany. There couldn’t be a more cruel confession of the German bourgeoisie’s myopia than to recriminate Macron for his “brilliance”. Not satisfied with that, Macron declared NATO «brain-dead» in an interview in The Economist. The French president called on Europe to align itself around him with a geopolitical strategy differentiated from the US that started with dialogue with Russia… which opened the wound even further. Merkel’s response was forcefully prude, revealing the feeling of impotence that prevails in a Berlin that has spent its last political powder tightening the screws to France and Spain in the design of the European financial rescue system that is in itself a new confession of weakness and interdependence.
There is light at end of the… Railwaymen’s tunnel
In a panorama marked by a double axis of increasingly strong attacks on living and working conditions and the sinister dance of war threats and prospects, the wildcat strike of the railwaymen in France represents a true light.
After the events we shared on the blog, the company’s management finally backed down on Thursday afternoon in the face of the determination of the strikers and the union’s inability to return them to their fold. Unions could no longer “represent” workers once the workers were organized in open and sovereign assemblies that voted in a handraised manner. There was no going back: the artificial divisions, the “pacts” with the company, the “common sense” that imposed the need for the dividend on the generic human needs of the workers, all fell like a card castle. It is the first victory of the French railwaymen in decades. And what remains is not just a workforce that, freed for the first time in a long time from the trade union police, enjoys the ties created in the struggle, but an example of the way forward for all workers.
This week’s experience marks the contrast of the historic alternative as it is now presented to workers. On the one hand, to try to defend ourselves and our needs within “popular” struggles, submitted to the leadership of a petty bourgeoisie with no historical project. Syria in its day, Lebanon, Iraq and Bolivia today, show that this path can only worsen the situation and end up integrating the struggle, as we saw in Bolivia, in an inter-imperialist conflict, that is to say, directing it towards a horizon of war.
The other option, the only one that leads forward, is to fight as workers overcoming, in the first place, the trade union siege, which is what we have seen in the French railwaymen. Without breaking that siege, as we saw in Chubut (Argentina), it is sterile to expect anything, not even from the extensions proposed to us by the unions, extensions that will always be false and self-limited.