As scheduled, this week was a stroll of commemorations: from the Catalan independentist petty bourgeoisie to the Chinese state bourgeoisie. The economic and political reality, but also the class struggle, have imposed on them, however, a very different everyday.
Each economic upheaval further tears apart the already precarious imperialist balances
In the first place, the upheavals in economic data, inevitably accompanied by the intensification of the trade war: between the United States and China, and between Europe and the United States. The economic machinery is exhausted. In the last decade the bourgeoisie has not managed to lay the foundations for a new headlong flight. The opposite is what actually happened. It is not that the bases of the system are broken – they already were and still are – it is that even the “bubble-making machine” is broken.
All the seams of the international order were torn a little more. In a crisis of such depth, as we have seen in India, it is enough to intervene in a market apparently as uncritical as that of onions for imperialist tensions to accelerate and the old scars between regional powers to reopen a little more.
From trade war to the “weaponization” of the rival’s petty bourgeoisie
But, as we see in the Brexit, there is no imperialist conflict that is not reflected in the internal divisions of the bourgeoisie and the state of each of the competitors. That is why the US and Britain are doing all they can to keep the Hong Kong wound open at all costs. They do not care that, like all rebellious movements of the petty bourgeoisie, it projects nothing but political impotence. What it is really about is to bring about a fracture within the Chinese ruling class, embroiled in elaborating a strategy for a trade war that it recognizes will be permanent with much less economic growth than hitherto.
The most important thing about what is happening in Hong Kong is that “weaponization” of the hopeless revolt of a local petty bourgeoisie by a rival power. We’ll see a lot of those from now on.
Peripheral bourgeoisie readjustments
And we will see many because the immediate prospect of recession stirs up by itself conflicts in every local bourgeoisie. Both in Bolivia, where Evo Morales will probably lose the elections, and in Peru we come to the end of a cycle: the rise of the “cholo-bourgeoisie”. The Andean bourgeoisie is no longer that homogeneous and rancid set of colonial surnames with anglo touches, of the families of the bourgeoisized aristocracy. During the last three decades “globalization” allowed a part of the mestizo petty bourgeoisie to consolidate economic power, establish its own international economic alliances -looking towards Asia- and gain weight in the state bureaucracy. In Peru, it was the state of permanent exception of Fujimorism that integrated it into the prominence of political power and the social life of the ruling class. In Bolivia the Bolivarian “revolution” in its MAS version.
Once the process and the cycle of global accumulation of which it is the debtor is over, the political cycle is exhausted… although not without some resistance. We saw it this week when, faced with the permanent blockade of Fujimorism, President Vizcarra called elections in expectation of the practical disappearance of the former president’s party. Parliament responded by electing an alternative president and creating a serious institutional crisis. However, the positioning of the Armed Forces and the police -historically the first bastion of the mestizo factions of the national bourgeoisie- led to a rapid end to the rebel coup and a reinforcement of Vizcarra and what it represents: the definitive normalization and fusion of the power bloc.
A new wave of revolts
It is the movement that all the peripheral bourgeoisies generally crave: consolidating forces, closing ranks and preparing for an era of external conflicts and local revolts. From the merger of the two big Argentinian trade union centres at Fernández’s request to the business requests for a “grand coalition” – formal or informal – between right and left in Spain, the pattern is repeated all over the world.
The immediate cause is already anticipated in Ecuador, where the government has declared a state of exception against mobilizations in response to the rise in fuel prices, in Lebanon, where mobilizations against the effects of the crisis are beginning to take on a massive scale, and above all in Iraq, where a new wave of protests against the lack of basic services in Basra has extended to the capital where the state has imposed a curfew and begun overt repression… which slows neither the extension nor the growing massiveness of the demonstrations.
Iran has closed its borders with Iraq. It is well aware that a similar movement in Iraqi Kurdistan less than two years ago ended in two waves of workers’ struggles-which went so far as to proclaim soviets– and seriously compromised the war effort.
How far can “popular” revolts go?
So far in Ecuador, Lebanon and Iraq, protest movements have not surpassed the form of “popular revolt”. That is, they are movements of “citizens,” full of national flags and “inclusive” claims as “consumers” and “taxpayers”. In other words, they are broad movements under the ideological leadership of the local petty bourgeoisie in which, in the background and with unequal strength, the demands of the workers emerge. As was seen during these last two years from Nicaragua to France and its “yellow vests”, this type of mobilizations are exhausted by themselves. Even a little less than two years ago, when in Kurdistan, Tunisia and Iran, movements that were openly workers’ movements were raised in the “citizen” terrain, they quickly drowned. To sum up, in January 2018 we wrote:
They have stopped on their own, not as a result of repression, but by hitting their own limits. They have reached everything that can be reached within a “citizen” approach and seem to have realised that it is not enough and cannot go any further. For a movement to be able to defend the interests of the workers who make up the great majority of society today, two things are necessary that citizenship is crushing: speaking from a “we” of the workers and a real assembly organization with the capacity for discussion, decision and extension. We need real assemblies that elect revocable committees at any time so that those committees can coordinate and give body to the mobilization at new scales.
Surely at the time, it seemed to many to be an empty gesture, a piece of advice given to no one. But the truth is that this is exactly what the Iranian workers have demonstrated to have understood with facts, allowing them to paralyze for months the path to war in the region and to create a pre-revolutionary situation. The lessons of Iran and Tunisia were at the base where the force of the mass strikes in Matamoros (Mexico) resided.
The class struggle does not express by itself a revolutionary class consciousness, but it is in the struggle where the proletariat can constitute itself as an independent class, a revolutionary class, because it is through the struggle that consciousness develops. Not magically, overnight in the workers as a whole. Not because it receives generic anti-capitalist admonitions. But because the struggle itself poses problems and imposes situations that force the workers to equip themselves with slogans and forms of organization that are opening and realizing a finalist perspective, that of the universal interests they represent. But this perspective is only present permanently in a minority. For this reason, it is not a question of accepting -opportunely or defeatistly, it does not matter- the revolts or protests that begin to proliferate “as they are”. It is a question of contributing to the whole of our comrades so that these struggles, still “popular” and therefore inconsistent and condemned, can become the prologue of their own struggles.