Questions sent by our readers on what is happening in France and the conflict with Turkey.
The General State Budget confirms that the promised "social turn" will not come. The faster the government tries to flee forward, the harder it treads on ice that is barely holding up.
Pandemic records in half of Europe. New restrictions in Italy and Spain that the governments themselves know are insufficient even before they are published. Massiveness of the referendum in Chile. And signs of a new devaluation, if not of a new "corralito" in Argentina. The week begins.
The street battles in Italy, the wave of Islamist violence in France and Germany and the debates on 5G have one element in common: they show, under different forms, the impotence of the European states to stop, on their own territory, the offensive of their competitors and rivals.
The intellectual and moral sterility of the rising blocs today is such that the old churches see their opportunity. The Vatican offers itself as an ideological partner to the European aspirations it encourages and participates in. And so we see the apparent paradox of a European anticlerical left shouting «Long live the Pope!» in the parliaments facing national-catholic right-wing extremists, aligned with the USA, who dream of an anti-Pope. It would be difficult to think of something more grotesque if both parties, supposedly confronted by the application of the right to life to fetuses, did not coincide in denying it to millions of people in their eagerness to «save the economy». That is to say, saving the profitability of capital.
Tens of thousands of people have already been sacrificed. The Spanish ruling class is willing to sacrifice whatever and whoever is necessary until they recover profitability. As Roig says, they are not going to "deviate from their path" just for anyone's health and life.
The media are beginning to reflect the real humanitarian crisis in the Canary Islands and Melilla. What they don't tell us is why there is now a wave of arrivals of people willing to risk their lives in order to reach continental European Spain, why the overcrowding and what is under the protests of the neighbors of the neighborhoods where refugees and migrants are now badly settled.
Prospects in the middle of the pandemic and the resurgence of the crisis.
No one has the slightest expectation that in the coming years, with Biden or Trump, even the most dangerous and genocidal tendencies that we see today will ease up. The opposite is true. The outlook for workers is worse, whoever wins, as long as the workers' struggles don't spread even further.
What lies beneath all this debate about the "rule of law"? Why does it appear precisely in Hungary, Poland and now Spain? Where does it lead to an EU that is only in the early stages of a new recession?
Argentina is in a new pandemic peak. The schools cannot fulfill the only thing that upheld them as a valuable institution for the state: to be a useful feeding ground and nursery for students on the way to nationalist indoctrination. Teachers are left in a bad situation, forced to choose between those students who resist this bad training and a state that sits idly by in the face of the most urgent needs, supported by the unions that keep the teachers enternained.
Spanish ruling class is worried, they are in solidarity with the florist, the shopkeeper, the hotelier, the small guesthouse and even the nightclub.. But nobody should think that they will share the state's booty with the small fry, the massive subsidies or the big projects financed with European funds. One thing is to be supportive and another to lose volume of income. No, big capital is "sympathetic" with its small SME brothers in its own way: for its own benefit and putting the lives of the workers under fire.
If we accept that whatever supposed "balance" between an "acceptable" number of deaths by Covid and the monetary costs of a new confinement is humanitarian and sensible, what will stop them from using the same cost-benefit morality to justify war?
Capitalism mobilizes more and more resources into making us poorer in relative terms. But when crisis devalues capital, it impoverishes us in absolute terms in order to regain momentum. And since in every cycle capital finds it increasingly difficult to recover, we have been suffering from precarization and impoverishment for more than ten years without ever recovering. All the plans for the recovery of capital are plans to worsen the global situation of the workers.
Today, China accounts for 85% of Argentina's meat exports, 63% of the total foreign currency coming in from foreign trade and 45% of the Central Bank's reserves.
The so-called recovery fund is becoming not only a way to accelerate the transfer of income from labor to capital throughout the continent, aggravating the conditions of exploitation of the vast majority of workers, but also is becoming the way in which Germany conditions the development of Europe.
The Spanish bourgeoisie does not want to try to relegitimize the state by relying on the anger and desperation of the petty bourgeoisie, it only wants to tame it and dilute its expressions in the institutional parties in the way that Merkel seems to be achieving in Germany.
Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, USA, France, Germany and even Italy and Spain, play different roles and weave unthinkable alliances. The criminal and impudent game of imperialism is unfolding with one leg in the Caucasus and the other in the Maghreb.
The pandemic is growing again in Spain. But the governments do not want us to fear it, or even to see it. They just want us to think about what they want the crisis to mean for us, their crisis. Capitalism no longer liberates Humanity from old fears of Nature. Now it competes to create even more fear of its impoverishing reflexes, of its destructive capacity.
A short FAQ with maps to understand the dimensions and danger of the clashes that broke out yesterday in the Caucasus.
Just this morning a new war seems to have broken out between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Four keys to understanding the moment of imperialism that we are living and the perspectives and dangers it imposes... but also its limitations and the basis of its real fragility: us.
Across the United States we are seeing growing opposition to school reopening. Some workers use the days off available to them for illness and personal business, others protest in various ways, and still others simply leave work. Unions only get involved when taking the lead in protest is the only way they can prevent workers from making school reopening plans unworkable.
The United States tightens its grip again and tries to revive Guaidó. The EU, on the other hand, is betting on Capriles and will help him run in the elections organized by Maduro for December. The reality is the collapse of national capital and the hunger of the workers. With the national bourgeoisie divided into three blocks, each with its international allies, what now awaits the workers in Venezuela?
75th assembly of the UN. Digital screens with the messages of the heads of state. And after the messages, the map of a world in which the division into antagonistic blocks and therefore the prospect of a new series of wars becomes explicit and closer.
This is a global movement that is overcoming the trade divisions within schools, incorporating other workers beyond individual schools into the demands, and organizing on the margins of the unions. All within a global framework of rising struggles.
The right wing in Madrid has shown its most criminal cynicism, but together with it, and with no less cynicism, the left has been the first to take a stand for the needs of profitability of investments against the universal needs of the workers, the first of them being not to be infected or to become an infection source.
Now we have a rising epidemic and an accelerated crisis. Will they see in the situation of the workers a human need to be satisfied or will they see in it the forces of scarcity preparing the way for us to «freely» accept the «reforms» that they have been trying to impose for years?
So what's going on with the Brexit? Is the bluffing between Brussels and London getting out of hand? Underlying the debate about the future of the Irish border there is actually a struggle over the conditions to sell on the European market. But there are consequences that go far beyond that and a risk... that goes even further.
The Spanish government reported yesterday 156 covid deaths in the last 24 hours. primary care is already overwhelmed. This autumn a fundamental factor will be that the discontent that is beginning to emerge in the educational strikes shall become undeniable, shall be openly manifested and shall set out the firm ground of universal human needs. It is fundamental to stop the upward spiral of slaughter. Fundamental to confront the [[pauperization|mass impoverishment of the workers]] they are demanding in order to revive national capital, its enterprises and its finances.
The protests that began in August in Tripoli have not yet been exhausted as a new wave of protests in Benghazi and its zone of influence has led to the resignation of the rival government in the east of the country. Will these struggles be enough to impose peace in a country torn apart by imperialist conflict?
The increase in hospitalizations, the ongoing strikes and the failure of the Oxford vaccine are not isolated events. What is coming next? An increasingly clear increase in all of these contradictions, with states and media trying to push back the reality of the pandemic and its consequences and making workers' struggles even more brazenly invisible. And on the horizon, the pressing need for self-centralization and extension of the struggles.
Lumpenization and police brutality are not racial problems... they are products of capitalism that represent a daily threat to all workers. The uncomfortable truth: the police cannot be trusted to confront lumpenization, not even the state's social programs.
In the end, jihadism ended up being a neutral ball in the imperialist game used by one and all to hit each other. And it failed because it did not succeed in winning over the great masses of the population, not even in Syria or Iraq, destroyed and fractured into small dominions by the policy of the American occupier.
Today the system is a steamroller going amok in the middle of the crowd. It doesn’t matter who drives it, it doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter if the engine increases or decreases its revolutions. Regardless, it will crush us and crush everything in its path because what it really exists for – making capital profitable – is already in direct opposition to the needs of Humanity as a whole.
The figures reflect the opposite of what they always intended to sell us. On the zero day of the new recession the education system was already aggravating the class divide in access to knowledge. And with the new onslaught of the crisis, we can only hope that it will get worse. What to do?
We have to get used to seeing the "economy" from the point of view of relations between classes, which is what capital does when it designs policies in the face of the crisis. Policies that in the end are nothing but forms of organizing massive transfers of labor to capital. Housing is no exception.
Global confrontation between the two powers emerging as bloc leaders has already begun. Workers from all over the world are already the victims, who are paying in deaths on not a few sides, in [[precarization]] and unemployment on all sides, the needs of a capital to which the world has become too small. Another sign that, just as it is not in its interests to have a homeland, neither is it in its interests to link up with any bloc.
The merger, announced today, of Bankia and Caixabank, marks the ways in which Spanish capital will reorganize itself in the face of the crisis, points out its consequences for the workers and advances changes in its imperialist orientation and even in the face of Catalan independence.
In a few days, the government parties in Germany went from the scandal of the last denialist demonstration to the celebration of Merkel as the restorer of the post-war political apparatus. In Spain, meanwhile, the German echo is felt.
Between now and the end of the year, the crisis is going to arise all over the world in all its harshness. The first signs are already here.
The news of the day in Spain is an event organized by the government to which the heavy weights of the bourgeoisie and the Spanish political apparatus are expected to attend. It does not really have a name but rather a slogan: Spain can do it. A whole confession of the atmosphere that reigns in the ruling class: impotence. And it is no wonder.
National capital of Argentina, Turkey or South Africa, semicolonial economies triumphantly presented as "emerging" for years, are coming out of a decade in which they have lost weight in global capital, to enter a new and dangerous phase of crisis.
The change of rudder -and imperialist alignments- of a country that until now has been the last frontier of Europe, is a stone thrown violently into the already uneasy waters of African equilibrium. It will leave waves of war in its wake.
When you double a bet and at the same time you double the insurance with which you cover your losses, one cannot say that the foreseeable result is the same. In case the bet is lost, the result will be even more catastrophic.
It would be hard to imagine a greater or more heinous cynicism than democrats if the unions were not there to hold that title. The experience across North America reflects the commitment of left wing governments and unions around the world to maintain production in order to save business investment, putting capital above the safety and lives of workers.
Underneath all this ideological unhinged charivari there is a materiality that can be summed up in two terms: incompetence and incapacity. Incompetence both of the bourgeoisie and it's theorists to imagine a progressive future, and of the petty bourgeoisie to find a way of articulating its interests capable of dragging the rest of the social whole, that is, to organize and create what they themselves call a people.
With infections on the rise and an increasing number of occupied beds and ICU patients, things are already approaching the level of early March. The opening of schools in September threatens to trigger a new phase of mass community transmission. And the only thing made clear by the Spanish bourgeoisie and state is a red line: "no more lockdowns, we lose revenues and taxes". Only a strong strike movement can force the state or the bourgeoisie to put lives, our lives, ahead of their profits.
Rare earths were the tool of the first attempt to enforce Chinese global monopolies in mass industries and the reason why the search for alternative suppliers has triggered the imperialist conflict in Africa and pushed the basis of a bloc of Anglo-Saxon powers. Rare earths are and will be for a long time at the center of technological development... and therefore, of imperialist conflict.
The workers will not gain any advantage from marching with Lukashenko, but neither will they gain any advantage from marching under the flags of the opposition. It is precisely the social and economic slogans -and not those of the opposition and its proposal for a general strike- that can enable the struggle in the Belarusian plants to be carried on and extended to the private sector again
What lies underneath this strange alliance of ultras, conspiracy-mongers, anarchists, libertarians of various stripes and underground geeks? What do they want?
Unions, Democrats and Trumpists all share the same goal: open up at all costs. The only difference is that trade unions and Democrats use the rhetoric of "social justice" and "safe reopening". And they all agree on something even worse: they minimize the importance of the most basic measures for preventing contagion in order to reduce monetary costs and administrative difficulties
The acceleration in imperialist movements and tensions that we are seeing still has a potential counterweight in the development of the workers' response.
The workers have finally appeared on the scene in Belarus, with their own concerns and not under the initial calls of the opposition. They are now presenting themselves as a force during this crisis, but the outcome is not yet decided. Will they be caught up in the incipient popular revolt as the opposition wants, or will they advance their own struggle as a class by adding their own slogans to their own budding movement?
We are facing an armed negotiation in which the different and contradictory imperialist interests of the coastal countries increase their pressure to the edge of an armed conflict. Of course, none of them has any intention of openly initiating it. All would prefer to see their interests flourish with no other violence than that of threat and imposition by the facts. But they are not playing alone. And if tension escalates, the turnaround will be little less than impossible.
The world’s news programmes depict the elections and protests in Belarus in a completely contradictory way. While the Spanish TV links the electoral fraud to Russia, the BBC recalls the background of recent clashes between the two regimes and the German TV highlights the joint statement of Poland and Lithuania lukewarmly calling for further talks. What lies beneath the political crisis in Belarus?
No, it is practically impossible that the services, Russian, Chinese or Iranian, would be able to manipulate so much opinion as to condition the electoral result. American opinion is practically the exclusive product of the American opinion industry. And that will continue to be the case this autumn.
The struggles continue to spread throughout Iran and now reach 12 provinces but are not yet coordinated among themselves.
Capital is in a deep and widespread crisis. Capital responds with increasing aggressiveness at all levels to its same needs in every country. And its forms are increasingly obscene, coarser, more desperate, closer to war.
With the epidemic on the rise but silenced, August is turning into the prologue to a global and drastic wave of attacks on the living, working and retirement conditions of workers around the world that is set for September. By October, it is more than likely that the pandemic and war will be in the foreground as well.
King Juan Carlos I is leaving Spain. Are we facing an institutional crisis? What forces are precipitating it? What are the bourgeoisie and the Spanish state reacting to, and with what outlook?
The surge of strikes that we are detecting around the world is now reaching Iran, where since December 2017 at least three waves of struggle have taken place.
A quick summary of the day's news to avoid being disconnected from reality by the media.
The imperialist conflict between the U.S. and China is accelerating with each blow of the crisis. Both powers are pushing towards the formation of «close blocs» that are strategically and economically very much aligned with those national capitals with which they are most integrated, leading to a wider fracture by reorganizing trade out of them and with it the international division of labor and the technological standards of the industries most capable of placing capital today. We are in the first steps of a deep fracture in the world market, which can only strengthen the tendencies towards crisis... and war.
Spanish capital closes the political course with the sword of falsehood held high. It wants to blur the reality of the epidemic, of unemployment, of the situation of its own companies, of what the European funds mean and above all its plans for a "way out of the crisis". At least until September, when today's lies will become a guillotine on our most basic living conditions and needs.
The low volume of the "recovery" funds turns them into a mere cover of the "austerity" promoted by the EU, with all that it means for the workers as a forced reduction of the general exploitation costs of the labor power: less healthcare services, education, social cohesion, etc. But this "austerity"would remain a mere appetizer for the general offensive against workers' conditions implied by the "reforms" aimed at by this "recovery fund".
Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia and of course Russia, the US and the EU are all playing at establishing faits accomplis, using diplomacy as a form of disinformation warfare. Disinformation that is primarily aimed at the general population. We live in a mixture of generalized information blockade - in Spain, for example, the danger of war has not even merited a brief appearance on the television news - and intoxication. Breaking this lie and half-truth-powered blockade by opening up conversations about "what is going on" with co-workers, neighbours and friends is today a crucial task in order to be able to respond.
This strike, which is marketed to the workers as a fight for the improvement of working conditions and against the discrimination of black workers, affirms nevertheless in its demands segregation among workers, amplifies the racialistic guilt and ends up merging everything into the achievement by the unions of a status similar to that of their European or Argentinean equivalents. All well seasoned and limited by the electoral interests of the Democratic Party. Where is the working class potential of the BLM movement of which the American left talks about?
For the workers of the countries that have been affected, the credits really are cutbacks and the direct aid that they receive will only serve to accelerate the transfer of income from labor to capital. And in the case anyone had hoped that the European Council could serve to prevent the escalation of war in the Mediterranean and the horizon of barbarism that it opens, they were deeply mistaken.
War is spreading, directly involving the working class of a major industrial country like Egypt, threatening to stop Mediterranean merchant trade and hindering gas supplies to Europe. We are at a critical time for workers throughout the region, with the threat of mass slaughter looming ever closer and all the incentives for a seemingly endless escalation.
The forces that drove that massive insurrection, capable of defeating the democratic Republic, the military coup leaders 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.
Imperialism is not an adventure game taking place in exotic landscapes and control rooms where the level of abstraction makes hunger and blood invisible. It is the daily life of our lives and the threat it poses to us. It is the universal day-to-day life of a capital that cannot find enough markets to give free rein to accumulation and destroys the capacities it organizes socially, the main one of them being us, labor power.
The EU, one of the most contradictory imperialist projects both among its partners and in the global imperialist arena, will probably be one step closer to imploding.
The end of the stage of confluences around Podemos is the end of the possibilities of a fit of petty-bourgeois revolt in the political apparatus of the state. The form that remains open points to a regime crisis.
The agony of the EU, the possible nuclearization of a Turkey increasingly at odds with the US and the EU, and the militarization of the US-China conflict were the main red lights of the imperialist conflict this week.
It is significant that the current crisis is also an ideological crisis, that is, a crisis of the discourses that underpin the social domination of capital. It shows the historical exhaustion of the state capitalism in which we live. It is the other side of its inability to prevent the devaluation of capital.
The U.S. is focusing its imperialist strategy on weakening China. Its consequences are both global and often unexpected.
What we're seeing is not the optimism of finance capital, it's the hysterical laughter of the desperate gambler.
Tunisia is experiencing a summer of struggles and mass worker mobilizations that draws on the lessons of the January 2018 movements while raising new challenges.
Today, the Spanish Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, has published a document to convince large capital funds to invest in state debt. In other words, she explains why betting on the overall result of national capital is a good investment. The set allows to understand well the continuity of the "road map" of the Spanish bourgeoisie and what it considers its "achievements". Achievements that, of course, the PSOE-IU-Podemos government makes its own and intends to carry "further".
The distribution of offices speaks of a recomposition and electoral rise of the left in which the Socialist Party leaves the leadership to the Greens. But this official story remains very lame and incomplete.
Three highlights of this week: Covid is still around and the "reopenings" are proving to be more dangerous than what they told us; the alleged return to "business as usual" is a disaster pushing towards ever more serious conflicts between national capitals; and strikes and struggles are spreading and gaining strength as the only counterweight to the anti-human and warmongering tendencies of global capital.
Yet another generation of students has been let down. But what exactly are they denouncing? Where is this denunciation pointing to? Are they looking forward or backwards?
The Spanish capital will be one of the most punished in the world in 2020. The "solutions" provided by capital managers and trade unions cannot produce any hope.
A general disbelief towards democracy and its supposed ability to represent the interests of the workers, clearly emerges. 60% of those Europeans asked say that systemic parties do not care about "people like me".
The bourgeoisie wants everything to appear "normal" so that accumulation can resume its rhythm, but we are very far from anything like that. It is time to draw some conclusions and clarify some perspectives on what is to come.
The imperialist conflict enters new phases with a surprising synchrony and speed. What we have witnessed this week in the Mediterranean, between the two Koreas, in Hawaii between China and the US and between India and China shares a troubling element: despite the fact that they are more or less obviously trade negotiations, in all of them the main theme is the immediate threat of war.
The new wave of economic nationalism involves four vectors which, although they were already present and emerging in recent years, have gained strength with the pandemic, seemingly contradicting the "neo-liberal" hegemonic discourses of the last thirty years: limitations on the purchase of companies by foreign capital, renationalization of productive chains, nationalizations and the promotion of state production.
Yesterday, while a general strike of hospitals was taking place in France, strikes proliferated throughout hospitals and nursing homes on all continents.
From the Ivory Coast to Niger, from Libya to Crete, and from Ethiopia to Egypt, the northern half of Africa is being torn apart by a violent reshuffling of forces between imperialist powers that is threatening to overwhelm the continent's borders and lead to war in Europe and the Middle East.
While the right wing brings out for a walk their doberman wrapped in the red and yellow flag and the left wing enjoys discussing children’s sex and the future of princesses, the reality of the workers has already initiated the “adjustment”.
Tensions fueled by the pandemic have accelerated the dismantling of the network of multilateral international organizations. The alleged global nature of large companies and financial groups is also disappearing. The national bourgeoisies and bureaucracies are "re-nationalizing" and "decoupling" themselves, putting an end to the framework that had been promoted by the Anglo-Saxon powers during the last century, from the League of Nations to the WTO, the UN system and the "international capital funds".
US is loosing its power to encourage new global ideologies and movements. The renationalization of production chains also means the renationalization of information agendas and imaginaries.
Amidst repression, torture and militarization, the situation in the Donbass mines remains unsettled but an extension and a move towards mass strike cannot be excluded.
EU gave a perfect opportunity to present the Sánchez strategy for attacking pensions, the greatest direct attack in more than a decade on workers' working and retirement conditions, as if it were a European imposition.
We are experiencing a general clarion call throughout the world that threatens to produce a proliferation of armed conflicts.
There is no point in a mass "awakening" in condemnation of racism, because racism is not a problem of "individual consciousness" that can be separated from social structure and class division. Nothing will ever come from the trade unions, the bourgeoisie or the identitarianists bent on maintaining this same class structure. The struggle against all discrimination is inseparable from the social question and therefore inseparable from the centralization and independence of our struggle as workers.
Nuclear proliferation is a real threat to all mankind. It starkly reflects that the severity of the crisis of the system is far greater than what the media tells us and that the urgency of affirming a global alternative goes well beyond a "recessive economic moment"
Germany is getting ready toend off, via taxes, cheap meat. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Under the "green deal" comes an accelerated transformation towards "bio" livestock and agriculture that, at least temporarily, would entail non-tariff barriers to imports from outside the EU and a way to attract capital to the countryside. A trend is beginning that will end the era of cheap meat.
While the US media focuses its attention on "racial conflicts" in a not so innocent way, a series of day laborers' strikes in Washington state this month has shown much more clearly the forms and alternatives of the emergence of workers as a class.
"Decoupling" is the new slogan running through think-tanks, chancelleries and economic ministries. It means a reduction in the interdependence between national capitals. But the reality is that not only capitals will become "decoupled", but also the institutional system and the balances between classes will.
A wave of plant and factory closures is coming. What to do about workplace shutdowns?
A crown of conflicts is exploding around China at the worst possible time. They point out, in case it needs to be emphasized even more, that the United States is willing to use the military threat to "encourage" the movement of capital, modify the global trade map and accelerate the renationalization of productive chains.
States seem to be imbued with reckless haste as they concoct new "cuts" and "reforms" affecting us directly. The petty bourgeoisie is becoming increasingly angry, violent and delusional. And the workers' strikes are taking on a "de-escalation" character.
What we are seeing, from China to Brazil to Turkey, is an initial phase in the development of militarism. The political weight of the military reappears as a resource and a safeguard against the internal conflicts of the bourgeoisie (Brazil) but above all as a way of ensuring a viable medium-term strategic perspective (China) in a context where the centrality of the imperialist conflict shifts from the commercial and the placement of capital to the military (Turkey).
Sanchism needs Rajoy’s labor reform to do its alchemy so that, for example, each rise in the minimum wage reduces the total wage bill received by the workers. And if he were to repeal it, it would be in order to re-enunciate it under a different name… and with the same substance.
Germany wants an empire that will buy its overproduction and generate applications of capital, with a currency subordinated to its logic of accumulation, a Central Bank subordinated to its courts and a well-controlled nuclear army… but also wants to organize everything at a bargain price. No, the scaffolding does not seem to be solid enough for this historic era of economic, political and social tornadoes and hurricanes. But is there anything to be regretted? Are we workers losing something important with the collapse of the “European perspective”?
Along with the recession, a period of direct attacks on our working, retirement and general living conditions is opening up. Wages, pensions and working conditions will be in the front line. It is more important than ever not to fall into the traps that attempt to make us support the production of dividends at the expense of our vital needs, be it in the name of "reconstruction", "social justice" or "climate change".
This evening Macron and Merkel will be presenting their "salvation of the EU". But in today's historical conditions, every step forward is one step closer to a zombie structure.
The only things de-escalating are the lockouts and security measures. All dangers are escalating instead: dangers of epidemic resurgence, of being unemployed, of marching off to war...
In the historical period in which we are living, the mobilizations of the petty bourgeoisie, regardless of their ideological expression, cannot converge with those of the workers. On the contrary, they will be increasingly in conflict with the universal needs that the workers' struggles assert. Worker's struggles will have to overcome any nationalist temptation, any "popular" approach in order to advance. From day one.
The collapse of Saudi Arabia has gone virtually unnoticed by the international press. The impact, however, is enormous. In the Arab world, comparisons are rife with the collapse of Russia and its model of state capitalism in the early 1990s, with Prince Salman playing the role of an increasgly powerless Gorbachev, racking up imperialist defeats, economic disasters and internal enemies.
The U.S. has a background game with China. China is debating whether to enter a nuclear race with the American giant. And Europe... starts to keep its distance.
Four clues of what we are living and what is to come, about topics the media are barely talking about in order to sweeten an unacceptable reality.
The false trade truce between the US and China, the impasse in the conflict within the EU, the endless struggle between the state and Bolsonaro and between the military and pro-US economists within the Brazilian government, the failure of the craziest military adventures... are all moments of relief in the context of a tension that keeps growing. The whole thing can only end in fragmentation and open conflict. The only force that can restrain and reach a certain level of development, stop the process that points towards the generalization of war, the workers' struggles, despite coming up all over the world, are still on a local level. It is more urgent than ever to contribute to their development. And there are no shortcuts.
The de-escalation of the pandemic is turning into an escalation of imperialist conflicts and confrontations.
It is more urgent and necessary than ever to affirm the needs of the workers, which are universal human needs, for what is coming is a dogfight in which we are wanted as offal.
We are not seeing the dawn of a "post-American world order" as the media would have us believe. We are seeing an acceleration of chaos driven by the recession that makes each day more dangerous than the last.
A new phase of economic recession and political crisis is beginning worldwide. All the contradictions of the system have accelerated with the pandemic and the ability of capital to recover will depend on its ability to impose a massive transfer of income from labor to capital in each country. The losses and needs of capital are even more brutal than in 2009. But unlike ten years ago, we are entering this new phase with a working class that has mobilized under an almost universal program of demands and that in not a few cases has been strong enough to overcome the unions and twist the arms of companies and governments. But this was not even the first act. It has been the overture.
Spain, France or Italy are already starting deconfinement. The absolute numbers of new infections are in the same range as when confinement began. And deaths are still over 300 a day in all three countries. The danger of “de-escalation” is obvious. But the aim of governments is not to put an end to the epidemic and return to normality when the situation is safe, but rather to recover economic activity, including in the hotel and tourism industry, by accepting to “live with” the epidemic and its consequences as long as the numbers of patients requiring intensive care do not overwhelm the health system. This is the “new normality” that governments are looking for and that will change living conditions, the organization of work and even the international division of labor.
For Spanish capital, the fall in tourism is not a "social problem"... it is losing a leg and going headlong into a deficit in the trade balance that will accelerate the trend towards its devaluation, as happened in 2009.
Oil companies are starting to go bankrupt serially to the point of threatening to turn the fall in oil prices into a financial crisis. Meanwhile, Europe makes its "green bet" trying to win the competition for capital from the US. And the workers?
The fact that “de-escalation” is possible without overwhelming the health system is not the same as saying that de-confinement will not produce more infections and deaths, nor that it is advisable from a health point of view.
We are living through an acceleration of chaos whose scale has only begun to show in the media when the UN has begun to warn that the coming famine will affect more than 136 million people.
This is the time when workers in the US military industry plants should also break the trade union siege and join the struggle under the same platform, which describes and defines their interests as clearly as it does for their Mexican comrades.
The development of tensions between states, in a framework defined by the attempts to organize a massive transfer of income from labor to capital, will further narrow the space of expression that the ruling classes will be able to allow without risk to the social order. The media, which increasingly contained less and less news and were more parochial, are going to be even more accommodating and localistic. And the famous "anonymity" and "neutrality" of the Internet will be eroded into sweetened - or privatized - versions of China and Russia. Exacerbated social and information control is here to stay.
The fall in prices from confinement has made evident the irrationality and inefficiency of an international division of labor conditioned to the extreme by imperialism, magnifying the industrial impact of the deflationary shock on an industry as gigantic as it is fragile.
The EU cannot resolve its contradictions, only by raising them again and again to a higher level, in the hope that the developing global environment of "economic warfare" will be enough, as external pressure, to precariously hold the structure together.
The post-confinement world is beginning to take shape. On the one hand, the tendencies shown by capital outline a world of war economy and exaltation of sacrifice; on the other hand, the world wave of workers' struggles presents a world that imposes life by orienting production to satisfy people's needs. On this struggle, which can only be understood as a class struggle, depends the immediate future and the destiny of the whole Humanity.
The points of friction between imperialisms are "heating up" again as the social and productive reorganization precipitated by the Covid crisis lays the foundations for a war economy.
Can anyone still think that the "Ecological transition" and the "Green New Deal" they want to impose on us is a progressive "way out of the crisis"?
Neither Dutch, Danish or German nordism nor Spanish anti-EU pro-sovereignty narratives fall from the sky. But in order to understand them, one must first discover the particular place of Spanish imperialism between Europe and Latin America.
We have to stand up in the workplaces and demand the closure of all non-essential production as long as transport and workplace safety cannot be ensured.
It is impossible to "play down" both the situation we are living in and the challenges and responsibilities that will follow from it. After the slaughter, comes the biggest attack since the end of world war two on the living conditions and basic needs of the workers. The worldwide wave of strikes and struggles that we are experiencing must serve as an accumulation of the forces needed to confront the post-epidemic world.
Even if an agreement on debt mutualization were reached today or in the next few days, what would follow would be a struggle to change rules, protect national sector-based markets and reduce the interdependence among national bourgeoisies. And so the EU would also dry up and the old reactionary dream of the United States of Europe would come to an end, not with a bang but with a whimpe
What unites the strategy of the Spanish bourgeoisie then and now is the aim of transferring income from labor to capital in order to revive profitability and the fear that the unions, on their own, will not be able to impose sufficient discipline in the workplaces and - above all - in the streets, in order to make a new wave of precarization.
Mexico and Brazil are distressed by a crisis that fuses the impending health disaster with a paralysis of export markets and political chaos. The situation is extremely dangerous for workers throughout America. Only the generalization of the struggles can impose the priority of saving lives instead of investments, stopping the spread effectively and guaranteeing the satisfaction of basic needs for all workers.
We are placing the "Covid strikes" on an interactive map that we will be updating during the coming days and weeks. Have a look!
Is it inevitable that we will be poorer after confinement? No. If it were, Bolsonaro, Botin, the CEO of Michelin and so many others, would have us already working and with a "solidarity" cut in salaries.
The massacre of the residences is a very clear expression of how the objectives and incentives of[accumulation are opposed to the most basic human needs. The result is a bloody incompetence from the point of view of something as basic as the protection of human lives, but in reality, it has been "exemplary" from the point of view of the placement of capital and its profitability. Covid has spread and swept through them precisely because they were efficient for the purposes for which they were created.
Agricultural and food production has become dysfunctional even within the parameters of the system itself. If agriculture and the food sector are increasingly regulated, subsidized and financialized, it is simply because capitalism does not even work to meet social food needs and the system itself has to prop it up by accumulating band-aids... that do not fix its own underlying dynamics.
Capitalism is definitely an upside-down world and "social justice" is the most cynical expression of this absurdity. Reducing contagion by closing factories is presented as being in the particular interest of the workers, while avoiding further damage to corporate profits would be the "common good". The common sacrifice is thus, always and in any case, that of the workers: some "recovering" hours when the health crisis subsides, others going to work because their work is essential... so that the average profitability of national capital does not suffer.
We are in the middle of the most synchronous and geographically widespread wave of strikes and struggles in the last century. It shows to what extent universal, human needs can only be defended by the workers as a class, because only to the workers do they present themselves as their immediate and direct objective throughout the world. And what is no less important, it shows that we workers are capable of affirming a global alternative when we break with the subordination of our demands to companies’ profits, in other words, when we break with the discourse that unions have been hammering out for years and that they continue to repeat today
Just as with Economic Theory and its experts , social knowledge and the needs of capital diverge because human needs and capital accumulation are increasingly antagonistic. The "expert" then becomes a stuntman whose task is to justify policies and to reassure the population.
Winners and losers of the inter-imperialist brawls in the EU have a common objective: "recovery", in other words, organizing a brutal transfer of income from labor to capital. Once again, as always, as in any imperialist conflict, the main enemy is within the country itself.
This is about shutting down non-essential production, but at the same time ensuring that production serves basic human needs. Food, water, energy, supplies and medicines must reach everyone and in sufficient quantity during the confinement.
If the pressure to close down ceases to come from the striking workers and becomes part of a faction of the executive, not only will it be possible to manipulate what is an “essential service”, as in Murcia or Italy, until the concept loses all meaning, but the working class strength gained during the struggles will come to nothing It will be handed over to a part of the same class that is already discussing how to distribute the burden of reanimating national capital among the workers of each country “when it is all over”.
Italy closes non-essential production under the pressure of strikes. The governments of Spain, Portugal, France, Germany... are resisting. Not only they want to impose the criterion of saving investments over saving lives. They know the shape of the post-crisis will depend on the outcome of today's struggles.
The pandemic has suddenly raised the level of contradictions in the system to the point of exposing at least two fundamental truths: the radical antagonism between human needs and capitalism, and that workers are the only political subject capable of representing and asserting these universal interests throughout the world,
The epidemic will not only change the competitive place and access to markets of European big business. It will also change the correlation of forces within the EU. It is now doubtful whether Italy, Portugal, Spain and even Greece would again support the adoption of “defensive measures” against China from Brussels. In a few weeks, when the health and economic crises further exacerbate the brutal instincts of the German bourgeoisie, it is more than possible that Germany and France, not China, will be the ones in an uncomfortable position on the European imperialist map.
The "shock plan" is a two-handed movement - one hand being the Spanish government and the other the European Central Bank - aimed at achieving the lowest possible devaluation of Spanish capital. To this end, it articulates a massive transfer of income from labor to capital that is "compensated" with minimum social coverage.
If anyone ever believed that the European Union could serve to moderate the appetites of national capitals and put the most basic universal human needs first, they can see their hopes refuted today, once again, with absolute clarity. On the other hand, those who doubted the ability of the working class to stand up to the barbarity of capital across national borders have a palpable demonstration these days of how the working class not only exists as a universal class but that its struggle is the only one capable of affirming the primacy of human needs effectively and across borders.
Too late and too little is the political formula for this epidemic to decimate workers and their families. We have to stop all non-essential production for confinement to serve any purpose. And we have to stop layoffs disguised as "emergency measures".
The covid-19 pandemic is exposing the permanent disaster that capitalism is today and the extent to which its imperatives are antagonistic to the most basic human needs.
The hospital overcrowding that poses a danger to thousands of people today would have been avoidable if health systems had not been systematically eroded and if current governments had taken action against the spread at an early stage.
The “sacred anti-viral union”, the slogan of “coming together” with governments and national capital to “get out of the crisis together”, is not catching on. That’s excellent news. Probably the first good news that this epidemic has brought us.
Four lies and half truths that disarm us and in front of Coronavirus, and some important lessons for the workers as a class.
What is developing before our eyes is an increasingly direct connection between trade quarrels and military conflicts on the one hand and between these and the attack on the living conditions of the workers and the whole population on the other hand.
From the Sanders and the Sánchez to the Trumps and Putins, all ideological variants, all national capitals, have the same needs and lead us to the same place. It is not with them but against them that the only possible alternative can be affirmed.
Europe is at war... against refugees, migrants... against all of us.
76,000 Syrian refugees are already crossing Turkey. Thousands are crowding in front of the militarized borders between Greece and Turkey and in the last four hours alone, four hundred have arrived on the Greek islands in boats.
How the fear of some and the discontent of others led the islanders as a whole to join into the struggle by making the migrants' demands their own
The most dangerous and constant enemies of human needs and life are within each country and are neither the viruses that come "from outside" nor the armies of neighboring countries.
The speed at which the trends towards recession and war are developing, the violence of the attacks on the living conditions of millions of workers around the world, still do not correlate with the level of response achieved by workers' struggles so far this year.
The pockets of war are expanding, the global arsenals are widening and the tensions between powers are worsening at the pace of the difficulties of global capital. And do they expect us to close ranks with "our" national capital, which reserves more misery and militarism for us every day?
A strange and false "peace" built on the temporary impotence of its protagonists, who have every intention of blowing it up. Behind the fog, both war and crisis continue to rage.
We're entering a critical time. The forces and tensions driving the spread of war in the Mediterranean and North Africa are constantly unfolding, while European workers are close to suffering -thanks to the trade unions- the first serious defeats in the fight for their pensions.
From the perspective of the bourgeoisie, this has been the week of the definitive acceptance of Trump in one hand and Green New Deal in the other. But from the workers' perspective, however, the focus can only be on France.
Putting ourselves firmly on our own ground today means moving from discussing pension mechanisms to demanding pensions according to the needs of everyone as well as rejecting trade union representation and parades in order to start organising strike assemblies and coordinating them among themselves.
This week demonstrates that we cannot trust the ability of imperialisms to stand still on the edge of the abyss of open warfare, and how the trade unions are bringing all workers to the brink of dismantling the pension system.
In just three days, this week has given us the clues not only to the year that is beginning, but to the historical period in which we are living. Where the workers accept to follow the democratic revolt of the petty bourgeoisie, the latter, unable to assert itself, will end up framing them for the imperialist conflict and war. And yet, be it in Iran, Turkey, China, America or Europe, where the workers are affirming themselves through their own struggles and slogans, the infernal machinery of war grinds to a halt.
We need concrete slogans to advance the struggles, but also to form political groups to accelerate the development of a class programme and party.
In addition to the path of crisis and trade warr, there is now an industrial and transport reconversion -the "green new deal"- and its immediate consequence: a new global impulse towards imperialist conflict.
The week of COP25, NATO and the pension reform in France shows that all the "exits" that capitalism is capable of undertaking today are to create more misery or bring us even closer to war.
The scenario that is being drawn is that of a generalization of the frictions between states feeding internal "civil conflicts", generally led by sectors of the discontented or drifting petty bourgeoisie (Hong Kong, Catalonia, Chile, Lebanon...). For the workers this means that the "popular revolts" are becoming increasingly mined land.
From Beirut to Baghdad, from Santiago de Chile to Mexico City and from Bogotá to Paris. Wherever we look, students are the erupting revolts' vanguard. But not all mobilizations represent the same social class, nor do they impart the same meaning to the social uprising.
Tendencies towards confrontation and inter-imperialist conflict are inextricably woven with the strategies to deal with the crisis of the bourgeoisie all over the world.
This week ends with impossible balancing acts in Bolivia and Spain, as well as a new progress in the mobilizations on class demands in France... Before which Macron yields as soon as they gain massiveness and visibility.
The unraveling of the Bolivian situation 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.
Since 21 October, workers at the railway maintenance centre in Châtillon, the high-speed rail network's linchpin in western France, have been on strike without prior notice independently of the unions. They stand up against the appalling working conditions and union control that led to the disastrous strike of 2018.
The week has been marked by the impact... and the global political stalemate of the revolts.
South America and Syria have been the two main scenarios of a week in which both the path of Brexit seems to be cleared out and the recession is flashing its teeth more violently than announced.
We arrived at this weekend with a Brexit agreement pending approval by the British parliament, a Turkish truce awaiting reciprocation by the PKK-YPG and a call for a general strike in Catalonia which, in the lack of common interests between nationalism and the workers, has become a lockout.
This week's big picture is the beginning of a real general offensive... not on the Syrian-Turkish border, but all over the world. A recession is coming and every national capital wants to arrive with the best possible cards. That means with the greatest capacities both to face its external rivals, and to increase our exploitation in absolute terms.
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.
European stocks are bordering on a crash situation. In Spain the day opened with a sudden downturn in employment this September… despite European tourists delaying their holidays. Around the world, the worst oil production figures in 16 years and the stagnation of world trade (1.2%) speak of a productive engine unable to rev up or even keep up its rhythm. In Europe as a whole, industrial production has been at its worst since 2012. The first victim: Germany. Economic activity figures for 2019 have fallen so low that Germans coined the term “mini-growth” to describe the aggregate result.
This week started with the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, the first sign of a crisis that is already plunging into recession; the trade war took over the universal postal system - a historic jewel of rising capitalism; it showed the inanity and immorality of the new ideologies of "sacred ecological union" with the bourgeoisie; it exacerbated the battle of the bourgeois factions in the United States; and it made clear the immediate limits that unions and the left impose on the only struggles that can offer a perspective of overcoming the morass that is unfolding before our eyes.
We are starting a new section: a weekly news report that puts into perspective the short term and its relationship with the interests and mobilizations of workers around the world.
Since midnight on Monday, workers at General Motors plants in the U.S. have been called to what could become the largest industrial strike in the country in a decade. 50,000 of them are on strike today.