The new cultural trends that have been emerging since the outbreak of the pandemic combine apocalyptic messages and an exacerbated drive for commodification.
Global food prices rose 31.3% in one year. Against the disastrous backdrop of capitalist chaos, which does not even enable 40% of the world’s population to afford a healthy diet and keeps 30% under food insecurity, the prospect of this runaway inflation is a wave of famines. Compounding it all: the Green Deal.
Infection rates are once again soaring across Europe, with the delta variant driving a new wave that is threatening to claim half a million lives in a few months. How has this happened? What can we do?
From the Maghreb to Bosnia via the Horn of Africa and Syria, a loop of simmering armed conflict is reactivating around Europe as the bulk of the U.S. imperialist effort shifts to Asia.
COP26 kicked off on Sunday in Glasgow with downcast royal speeches, war metaphors and tons of doomsday hypocrisy, but also with the significant absences of the Brazilian, Mexican, South African, Russian and Chinese leaders. The media is reporting in dribs and drabs on the content of the meetings and discussions and prefers to play at feeding the “climate anxiety” of the youth. But the issues on the table at COP26 go far beyond emissions pledges and even climate change. At issue is actually each country’s place in the Green Deal’s new international division of labor.
Since last Monday in Italy one can only work with a “Covid passport” (“green pass”). Although 85% of the population is vaccinated there remain some pockets of workers yet to be vaccinated victims of the anti-vax discourse. The “combative” unions like Cobas took a position similar to the one rehearsed by the Sud union and some branches of CGT in France, pitting workers against each other and against everyone’s needs in the name of a supposed “individual freedom” to put co-workers at risk. Unsuccessfully, for this time. But… How do we confront the anti-social alliance of the antivax and the trade unions
Underlying the steady rise in electricity prices there is a structural element: the speculative emissions markets created by the Green Deal. What European governments seemed not to have counted on is that this would be compounded by a steep rise in the gas prices. But in fact the latter is only a consequence of the general framework created by the Green Deal and its impact on the various imperialist strategies.
Industrial shortages are not just a British problem. In Spain they cut industrial output and weigh down the “recovery” despite rising demand. In Germany, the entire industrial production is being disrupted. Chaos reaches such a point that US industrialists call for a truce in the trade war against China and China is unblocking Australian coal imports. But make no mistake, all of these are part of what the EU calls “a war-like effort”. The world’s supply chains are on the verge of collapse.
Yesterday in Spain all TV news programs devoted an unusual amount of space to the “referendum” at Desigual regarding the reduction of working hours. They insisted that “the reduction in salary is shared equally between the workers and the company”. Yes, they are peddling a model and yes, there is a catch. From Japan to the U.S. via Ireland, France and Great Britain, the so-called “recovery” is being accompanied by a reduction in workers’ incomes dressed up in different ways. Reduced working hours is just one of them.
Practically all the US and European press broke out yesterday with Facebook on the front page. The six-hour outage of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp affecting thousands of companies further amplified the media and political offensive against the monopolist. Why has speculative capital’s favorite “unicorn” become a “public enemy”? What’s behind the change in discourse and pressure from governments?
France will reimburse mental health appointments; in Spain a law is being prepared pledging to establish and equip a care system that today offers little more than waiting lists and drugs in the midst of an epidemic causing more than 200 suicide attempts daily and in a context in which 2 million people are on daily anxiolytics. But no law is going to stop the grinder into which living and working conditions have turned. Only collective organization and struggle can achieve that.
The “US, Australia and UK make a deal against China” headlines in the official European media warned without sparing details about the danger of the AUKUS agreement and how it would signal the entry into a new stage of nuclear proliferation. True, it is a step closer to war, but the only reason it draws a line is because the European powers have been excluded by the U.S. from the ancillary weapons business they had been counting on until Wednesday. However, the organization of AUKUS as an “Anglophone bloc” is neither new nor limited to weaponry. It is the core of a bloc for trade and for war.
Britain is militarizing the Falklands/Malvinas at full speed. Argentina is building its largest military base in Ushuaia and its senate is preparing to create a new crime of opinion: doubting or belittling Argentina’s claims to sovereignty over the islands. And in case the increase in tension was not enough, Chile is unilaterally extending its southern borders, calling into question the already tense balance in the control of the Mar de Hoces/Drake Passage that separates South America from Antarctica. Why are this dance of positions and this apparently gratuitous increase in tension as well as the most crass nationalism happening right now?
The Anglo-Saxon press keeps the origin of Covid’s virus -SARS-CoV-2- as an open question. Scientists however realized long ago that the theory of “escape from the laboratory” has no material basis. The theory of animal origin, defended in the WHO report, strengthens and, far from excusing Chinese capitalism, reveals its most anti-human contradictions… and those of capitalism in general.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery and purification of insulin, a natural hormone crucial for treating the growing epidemic of diabetes and on which, in theory, there has been no patent attached for decades. However, the world’s insulin production is still monopolized by a handful of companies in Europe and the U.S., which sell it at astronomical prices. The WHO has described this situation as a “catastrophic moral failure” and it certainly is, but how did this happen, and more importantly, how do we get out of it?
A civilizational crisis such as the one capitalism is undergoing is necessarily expressed through culture: from the disappearance of Art in its strict sense to the daily experience of (social) defeatism and the vital emptiness reflected in all the great cultural products of our time. But withthe US abandoning Afghanistan amidst a thousand speeches about the so-called end of the American era one wonders whether we are also facing the decline of American culture, which has been globally hegemonic since the end of the second imperialist world massacre.
The US is speeding up its chaotic evacuation of Kabul amid an apocalyptic chorus from its own allies. The European and American press comes daily full of articles and editorials about the “end of the American era” fed by bombastic declarations about “the debacle”. But what does the “end of the American era” mean: the end of the US as a global imperialist power capable of acting alone anywhere in the world? The end of US economic, military and ideological hegemony?
The US durum wheat crop is down 46% and is the smallest in 30 years. Canada, which produces 2/3 of the global wheat trade, is on track to lose 1/3 of production. Add to that the shortage of stockpiles in Europe, the new European CAP and the downward revision of the Russian crop. The result is a speculative boom in the grain futures market. Global durum wheat prices have already rose 30% since mid-July. The “durum wheat crisis” is beginning to hit the plate of workers on both shores of the Mediterranean and from October may have dramatic consequences on basic foodstuffs.
Right now there are over 7.4 billion tons of plastic on the planet and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be 40 billion tons. In 2010 alone between 5 and 13 million tons of plastic wound up in the seas and oceans. The EU insists on selling us a “circular solution” and the press reassures us with miraculous technologies and bacteria. But the problem of plastic and its pollution is cumulative… and it is accelerating further with the Green Deal. The causes are not to be sought in the technology or processes themselves, but in the very heart of the capitalist system.
Between yesterday and today there were more than a hundred demonstrations in France against mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers, caregivers and other groups such as firefighters. Across Europe, the media are encouraging the same debate.
The industrial development of antibiotics is often presented as one of the last great contributions of capitalism to human development. It was so, but fraught with contradictions from the very beginning. Antibiotics were industrialized for war and were the basis on which the great global pharmaceutical monopolies were built. All in all a breakthrough for the species. But the triumph against bacterial infections is a race against the clock and is being lost. The reason? Developing up-to-date antibiotics is not attractive enough for big capital.
China is getting ahead of the U.S. in the quantum race. Last week, it announced beating Google’s most advanced quantum computer. Meanwhile, IBM began installing a major quantum computer development project in Germany, announced to great fanfare by the German government, which it claims will generate €75 billion of “value.” The imperialist conflict is being played out in several fields at once. Information technologies and in particular the quantum race are among the main ones.
The industrial shortage is not limited to chips anymore. Hundreds of large companies are stopping production at different points in the global chain. The EU and Japan, fearful that U.S. harassment of Chinese products will affect their international investments, are pushing for accelerated repatriation of low-profit but high-impact industries. However, the new Covid wave and the floods in Germany and China have shown that industrial destocking and its aftermath for workers -temporary layoffs and even more precariousness…-are not a passing phenomenon.
It is well known, and this is stated in all official scientific reports, that climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events. However, this is something very different from such events necessarily translating into death and destruction of entire villages as we have seen in Europe or massive fires as we are seeing in the USA. If this has been the case, it is because states are not fighting against climate change and its impacts on populations, but for the Green Deal, that is, for subordinating this goal to the recovery of capital’s profits by extracting income en masse from the workers.
Chips are in short supply. The production chains of the semiconductor sector, have been in crisis for several months. Industrial branches that depend on electronic components – 60% of all factories in some French regions, for example- report that they are suffering from critical shortages and automotive production lines are forced to slow down their production. Producers of microprocessor manufacturing machinery and other components are running out of capacity. And this situation will last for long.
Let’s talk about dictatorship. In Britain, the reopening is jeopardized by the expansion of the Indian covid variant; in Europe, things are back to business as usual and borders are being reopened to tourists before it is prudent to do so, in Japan, amid new restrictions the government and the IOC are determined to celebrate the Olympics despite the general rejection of the population. All the news, from the imperialist battles between Spain and Morocco to the new electricity bill, as well as the hike in raw materials’ prices, share one element in common: the social imposition of the needs of capital profitability over and above the most basic universal human needs. A fact with an old name: dictatorship.
The Covid vaccine patent waiver has become the subject of global debate following the announcement on May 5th that the US will push for a “waiver of patent protection” at the WTO. Although sold as a humanitarian measure driven by the need to stop the slaughter in India and other countries, the reality is quite different: it is part of a competitive strategy opposed especially by Germany, which is determined to use Covid to capitalize its biotech sector and become the “pharmacy of the world.”
Covid and schools continue to be at the center of the class struggle during the pandemic. In the months since the return to school after Christmas, states have striven to enforce the new normality in the education system from Argentina to France at the cost of contagions and through lies refuted even by their own research institutes. Meanwhile, from Brazil to Senegal via Great Britain, teachers are back in the struggle, and in Algeria they broke union control and imposed the payment of salary arrears throughout the country.
The map of world conflict is turned on its head. The US leaves Afghanistan to confront “new challenges”. The first: Russia… but also the EU’s “strategic sovereignty” aspirations. Meanwhile, the US military encirclement of China generates fears of war in Taiwan and configures the Falklands/Malvinas and the Magellan Passage as a new hot spot in the midst of an unprecedented naval deployment since the 81 war and with a surprising official announcement: Beijing and the Casa Rosada are preparing the first exercises of the Chinese army in South America.
The global minimum corporate tax rate on corporate profits, defended by the US, the IMF and under discussion at the G20, in addition to responding to the internal needs of US capital to stay ahead in the competition with China and to be instrumental in the formation of a new Western bloc, points to an internal reorganization of each national bourgeoisie after 12 years of crisis of accumulation
World War III is a forthright and conscious scenario that is already in the plans of the great powers. The horizon dates for which these powers are preparing their armies are official and vary between 2027 and 2034. In any case, outlines of military blocs and coordinated strategies are beginning to take shape, rendering the imperialist balance increasingly volatile and violent.
The collapse of the “just in time” chains during the Chinese confinement, the chips and the first global crisis of industrial shortages in “peacetime” and the interruption of the Suez Canal, signal and feed the new international division of labor. It will be paid for by the workers and it prepares the war.
Mortality caused by Covid is rising disproportionately compared to incidence, most likely because the new dominant variant causes a more serious disease and higher mortality. Contagions are concentrated in the working age group and the opening of schools and educational institutions accounts for 26% of infections. European vaccination targets do not seem sensible even if vaccination rates were to be drastically increased
Biden wants to encircle China and Russia with a ring not only of alliances but of wars and hotspots. But the U.S. has a weak spot: the Middle East. And it inflames the war on Europe’s border. Imperialism cannot be self-contained
The Green Deal claims to be a solution to unemployment. This is not true. The figures say the opposite: it is a solution for capital, the big energy and automobile companies, large landowners and even for small farmers. From the very first moment, however, it leaves a trail of layoffs, unemployment and loss of wage purchasing power.
For months, even during the worst weeks of the second and third waves, governments have tried to weasel out of the inadequacy of anti-Covid measures through appeals to personal responsibility. But personal responsibility in the absence of sufficient containment measures and lockdown has proven ineffectual time and time again, country after country. With a population much more isolated than usual and more vulnerable to the media, the emphasis on the supposed irresponsibility of youth has only served, according to data from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), to atomize us and generate an unprecedented feeling of distrust of others.
Syria bombing. The US is bombing Hezbollah in Syria, backing Kurdish terrorist groups in Iraq and Turkey and preparing to further protract the endless war in Afghanistan. With Biden America is back and intends to regain lost ground in the Middle East from its rivals by stirring up a hornet’s nest of imperialist conflicts.
The Perseverance rover landed on Mars. It will be followed by a Chinese mission (Tianwen-1) and another Emirati one, Hope. The supposed conquest of Humanity touted by media around the world is immediately undermined by the competition between powers in permanent conflict. If NASA’s Moon was not our Moon, the Mars of the current military-space race is not our red planet either.
From Linares (Spain) to Rosario (Argentina), passing through Mulhouse (France), capital, the state and cults are destroying the neighborhoods and their living conditions together. We workers can neither be satisfied with outbursts of struggle without any continuity, nor let capital, state and cults destroy our collective capacity to organize ourselves and defend basic conditions of life and freedom. Denouncing is not enough. We have to start building.
The Covid epidemic situation has not only affected struggles in the healthcare system or in education, it has also transformed conditions and exacerbated previous trends in the logistics and retail sectors. Many large companies in this sector have been making huge profits from online sales while keeping their workers on the job without protection against the pandemic. Strikes broke out practically simultaneously in several countries, reflecting the worldwide interconnection of capital and the working class, strikes which were drowned out in small local struggles by the unions. Let’s see what happened and what effects this situation had on the class at the global level.
From Argentina to the South China Sea, via Europe and the Mediterranean, the Biden administration is stepping on the gas in its imperialist policy, which is taking an even more warmongering turn than that of its predecessor.
The “No profit on the pandemic” campaign is spreading an important message throughout Europe: the intellectual property of pharmaceutical companies is a barrier in the way of halting Covid’s spread. Unfortunately, the reasoning is at the very least incomplete and the means unproductive. But it is worth a discussion.
We are publishing some of the questions raised by readers following the communiqué we released yesterday.
After diving into the history of the USA and the historical role of the Democratic Party we can understand why racialism is becoming a state ideology in the USA… and why it is not taking hold in Europe while feminism is. And above all, what these movements mean historically for the ideology of the ruling class.
In the midst of Covid’s third wave, attempts to keep schools open — or reopen them where they were closed — are meeting the resistance of teachers, education service workers and students.
The World Economic Forum, better known as the Davos Forum, presented yesterday its Global Risks Report, a two-, five- and ten-year analysis assessing whether present trends will get generalized. The panorama is awful and therefore a true confession of historical and systemic incompetence.
The new variants of Covid threaten new, even greater, waves of infection and put the vaccine in check. They are the direct product of the inability of the ruling class to give universal answers to universal problems.
The big European cities want to eliminate car space and renovate millions of homes. Meanwhile, big capitals are called upon to found and build huge, robotic cities in the desert.
After the waves of strikes in French and Portuguese schools this past autumn, the situation has taken a new turn. Unions have tried to harness the movements, a new actor has emerged in Italy, new movements in the US, and vaccination has entered the scene. The slogans have been evolving with the situation and the struggle is still on the rise, sometimes in the form of small isolated strikes and sometimes in spontaneous forms threatening the back-to-school operation in a whole country.
With the new year, the EU-China agreement, the African single market, the new British mission in the China Sea and the convertibility of the Cuban peso are launched.
2020, was the year in which the war became a continuum of hot spots from the Atlantic to the China Sea, but also the year in which the spontaneous mobilization of workers put a stop to the war in Libya.
The trade agreement between the EU and Great Britain is more a truce than a new stage. In Spain, the debate on the royal discourse reveals that the petty bourgeois revolt is being diluted without losing an ounce of reactionarism.
There are thousands of strikes and a multitude of local struggles, but a good part of them are a response to the global phenomena of the moment, such as the effects of the covid pandemic on health and education systems. Let’s see some samples of the class response at the global level and the reaction of the unions trying to control them.
Since the last imperialist world war, capitalistic contradictions have never crushed and sacrificed so many lives and imposed so much misery. But never either have there been such broad material bases for overcoming capitalist society and organizing society into abundance and freedom.
The more contradictions the system suffers, the more difficult it is to maintain accumulation, the more it needs to atomize and deny us as a class. In doing so, it also destroys what would allow us to better resist the daily consequences of such exploitation: from solidarity among friends and neighbors to family relations, to such basic things as eating decently or keeping our morals up. One cannot separate struggles in the workplace from action in the neighborhoods to defend ourselves from the effects of atomization and to strengthen our capacity for grouping and resistance.
We are witnessing globally the development of the class struggle, the first consequences of the “green deal”, transformations in the forms of competition and trade conflict and fundamental cultural changes.
Is it possible to open borders? Why do states say they can’t even absorb refugees?
The deaths by Covid that surround us every day are perfectly bearable for the state and companies, regrettable collateral damage but necessary to recover the sales and promote the revalorization of the businesses. The opinion industry works hard to describe them as the product of a natural disaster affecting private lives and damaging the economy. It is better not to think too much, those who go to work every day under risk may revolt. But the rebellion is there, it continues to grow, we follow its pulse monthly, and it is the only weir containing this slaughter… and the additional slaughters in the horizon.
On both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, the consequences of the crisis are increasingly devastating. Impoverishment, inequality… and a burning war belt.
Most of the strikes that appear in the media are desperate protests against company closures that can achieve little or nothing in isolation. Many times the unions are passive or directly opposed to the prospect of a strike… But strikes actually win many times, even if the media does not count them. Today we will speak of a wave of strikes that is beginning to bear fruit: strikes in schools and nurseries for the health of workers and students.
The reactions and expectations of the powers on all continents make it quite clear that no relaxation of imperialist tensions can be expected if Biden is finally inaugurated as President of the United States.
All these petty bourgeois movements affirm, although they cannot compensate, the capitalist material truth that makes all their current manifestations reactionary. The petty bourgeoisie exploits because it has more and more difficulty in profitably exploiting the labor of others and fears proletarianization. Its slogans, the call to save businesses before people, express the devaluation of those human lives that it cannot make profitable in its accounts of exploitation.
Questions sent by our readers on what is happening in France and the conflict with Turkey.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What lies underneath this strange alliance of ultras, conspiracy-mongers, anarchists, libertarians of various stripes and underground geeks? What do they want?
The acceleration in imperialist movements and tensions that we are seeing still has a potential counterweight in the development of the workers’ response.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Yesterday, while a general strike of hospitals was taking place in France, strikes proliferated throughout hospitals and nursing homes on all continents.
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.
We are experiencing a general clarion call throughout the world that threatens to produce a proliferation of armed conflicts.
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”
“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?
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).
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…
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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”?
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.