Today is July 19th, the 84th anniversary of the revolution of 1936. A date whose historical meaning goes far beyond Spanish history and which imposed such a deep rupture in Spanish history that even today the state mobilizes laws and resources en masse to try to convince us that it never existed, that there was no workers’ revolution but rather anti-fascism and defense of democracy. It is by no means a one-off phenomenon. This year, in South Korea, the 40th anniversary of the Gwangju Commune was celebrated with great state pomp while attempting to transform a massive workers’ insurrection into a struggle for democracy. In the battle for memory, the ruling classes tolerate no narrative other than what they call the democratic one. And the perspective is that this implantation of memory will be increasingly important in state propaganda, because the same forces after July 19th or Gwangju, are on the rise again. And this applies also to the countries that suffered on the front row the stalinist counter-revolution, the same one that crushed the Spanish revolution, both in its original form in the USSR and in its chinese derivatives.
Unemployment in China today remains exceptionally high: 5.7% not counting internal migrants who could easily double the numbers. Consumption of basic goods, the measure capitalism gives of the level of satisfaction of basic needs, has plummeted by almost 2%, the same as per capita disposable income in urban areas. And as we have been seeing from week to week, everything is accompanied by an increase in military tensions at the borders and by a massive nationalist bombardment and accompanied by an increase in control and repression in all areas. And yet, the old ghost of the class struggle is unstoppable: strikes and workers’ demonstrations have multiplied in the last month, from construction to riders and from automotion to drivers.
Russia, in the midst of a reconfiguration of the regime’s political apparatus, is no exception either. All over the country, migrant workers are protesting because of unpaid wages and the fact that they cannot even go back to protect themselves from the pandemic at home. Consruction workers at the Moscow airport went on spontaneous strike the day before yesterday and the first news came out of a strike in the new Gazprom tower in St. Petersburg. From the Saratov’s trolley buses to the Amur gas plants, via the garbage collectors of half the country, the trickle of mobilizations and strikes is turning into a flood.
We could go on in a continent by continent and country by country basis. In a few weeks we’ll have a new infographics summarizing this month. But that’s not what’s important today.
It is true that eighty-four years after the Spanish Revolution, when it can only be directly remembered by a handful of old people, we must resist having our history changed for an implanted democratic memory. But above all we must reject its confinement to history. The forces that drove that massive insurrection, capable of defeating the democratic Republic, the military coup and fascism at the same time, are still present and are asserting themselves ever more strongly throughout the world. The Spanish revolution, its lessons and what it means, matter not for what was left behind, but for what lies ahead. It is not memory or history, it is the future.