The seams of the political apparatus are beginning to tear. The French Senate rejected Macron’s plan to “de-escalate”. In Spain, the independentist partners of the Sánchez government abandon him, threatening the renewal of the “State of Alarm”. Not to mention Italy where the petty bourgeoisie is being radicalized to the point of putting Salvini’s leadership in question in favor of that of Meloni, a neo-fascist who favors the immediate opening of all businesses and commerce. The situation will not come to that. But it is a first sign of something important.
The situation will not amount to much because the French Senate’s vote is merely testimonial and because the Spanish PP, a systemic party, as much as it detests Sánchez, cannot do anything but support him, even if it does so in exchange for a programme that is more symbolic than real. But the sign is there. The “sacred anti-viral union” is finding it increasingly difficult to contain its centrifugal forces even within the government blocs.
The upsurge of workers’ struggles, revitalized in Italy this week by the deconfinement, is not dragging the petty bourgeoisie into discontent. On the contrary, the petty bourgeoisie is radicalizing in an opposite and openly anti-social direction: it wants an even faster “de-escalation”. ” Business suffers, let the world sink”, seems to be their motto.
To this basic haste and to the permanent tendency towards magical thinking typical of this class – “we need to reopen as soon as possible, let’s open up, it won’t be so bad” – we must add the weight of ideology. While the bureaucracy has suddenly become “Keynesian” and centralist overnight with a degree of conviction proportional to the needs of national capital, the petty bourgeoisie, in the face of insecurity, is reasserting itself in its old formulas.
It is obvious among the regional nationalists. But in the case of the extreme nationalism represented by Vox in Spain, the response amounts to a suicidal plan for national capital. They are so attached to the moralizing “neoliberal” superstition -widely used by Rajoy in the last great recession- that in the midst of a European battle they take sides against the state and Spanish capital by supporting the Dutch position. Not even the messages of Ana Patricia Botín and other figures of the Spanish bourgeoisie have affected them in the slightest.
The fracture of the EU, aggravated today by the decision of the German Constitutional Court to declare “partially unconstitutional” the massive purchasing policies of the European Central Bank during the last great recession, threatens to explode in the face… of every national European bourgeoisie. Not only as an escalation of Germany’s trade and political differential in the EU, but also with a new episode of petty-bourgeois revolt.
Neither one nor the other is good news for the workers. According to the manual of state capitalism, the way out of the crisis for the countries that are “left behind”, such as Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal or Greece, but also Poland or the Czech Republic, is a devaluation. This in itself would mean an attack on the purchasing power of wages, moderated for the time being by low oil prices. But in the context of the euro, a euro that is also highly deflationary and with German capital gaining ground on its rivals within the EU borders, currency devaluations are not even a possibility. The “way out” on which each national bourgeoisie will bet will be, as in 2009, a race for “wage devaluation”. The Spanish employers’ association, which is not hiding its plans, is already asking the government for tools and flexibility to compete in the race of attacks against workers and wages.
And, on the other hand, the political revolt of the petty bourgeoisie is not driven by the struggles and strikes of the workers. It does not converge with them. On the contrary. It is even more radical in its will to increase workers’ precarity and in its will to destroy. One need only look at the transformation of the countryside during the covid to understand where the program of the petty bourgeoisie is going in all its brutality: wildly increasing the prices of basic foodstuffs and lowering wages and working conditions to the point of slavery.
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.