This has been COP25’s week, NATO’s 70th anniversary summit and the week of general strike against pension reform in France. All these aspects are actually linked in a single very coherent picture, driven by a single engine. An unfortunately sinister engine for the workers.
A sickly accumulation
Today economic data was published under the “great confession” of German industry. These data reveal the difficulties of the German automotive industry and reveal a “unexpected” worsening of the industrial recession. The manufacturing sector, the physical production of goods, is in global recession. There are no markets to sell production, profitability falls and capital has nowhere to invest. Even in the US, which is winning the trade war and holds the best economic prospects for 2020 among the “old” national capitals, investment is falling back despite having the lowest interest rates in history. Capital has no profitable destinations in which to place itself and banks, with meager margins, take dangerously more risk to try to maintain – in a generally unsuccessful way – their mass of dividends.
Three anti-human escape routes
Where to find a destination for such a mass of capital? The “ideal” solution: a deep industrial restructuring, simultaneous among the large national capitals – so as not to increase the tension between them – and reduced in risks and costs by the state. How can this be achieved? Securing a captive demand, obligatory if possible through regulation and accelerating the “transition” at the expense of workers, while financing the extra by reducing social services and increasing indirect taxes. In other words, a massive change of industrial base to obtain a gigantic transfer of income from labor to capital. To put it bluntly: a brutal increase in exploitation dressed in technological change. But how will the workers be compelled to close ranks with the bourgeoisie for something like that? Well… such a scheme would be possible if they were convinced that the alternative to this “sacred union” and collective sacrifice for the profitability of capital is worse. As bad as “global extinction”. Does it sound familiar?
- «COP25’s green new deal lies» (Spanish)
Where to begin? Well, the most logical thing would seem, from the point of view of capital, to underpin the financial system that sustains the whole economic machine. The “obvious” way is to shore up the banks with an increase in scale that allows them to compensate for the very low margins without increasing the risk. In other words, let’s go after pensions! In old capitalisms with concentrated and massive proletariats, it is dangerous to do it like Bolsonaro, all at once and shamelessly. Even the “Austrian backpack” as Sanchez wants in Spain is risky for the bourgeoisie. It is necessary to squeeze the workers by first “rationalizing” the existing pension system, that is, accentuating the fall in pensions towards the vital minimum… and beyond. The result is the “Macron reform”. The whole state machinery has been put to work for it. And the unions are more anxious than anyone else, with the support of the media and the state they hope to recover the capacity of framing the class… and to hide or justify their defeats in front of the workers who really want to carry out their struggles, such as the railroaders. Secondary message: “the strike is no longer so important, what counts are demonstrations… something that we still control“. Could unions be lowlier?
The third option from each national capital’s viewpoint is to win existing markets by expelling competing capitals already occupying these markets. This in turn opens up three options: to expel competitors from third markets, to expel competitors from a national capital’s own internal market or to gain immediate opportunities for investment and exploitation of products that do not suffer from the above (trade war) because they are very localized in production and are universal in consumption, such as hydrocarbons or the mining of certain rare metals. Each bourgeoisie fills its own basket as it can with them. The U.S. is trying to drive out of its market -and that of its old allies- the big Chinese technological companies like Huawei before the new standards of Artificial Intelligence and 5G mobile telephony prevent U.S. capitals from competing. And logically it also tries to secure that big enclosure for the sale of armament that has been NATO until now. But what is actually happening? Brazil and Europe, which want to access the Chinese market to sell, adopt Huawei. Turkey, which needs to be a credible threat against Greece and the US itself, Israel and Egypt, which appropriate “Turkish” hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean, buys S400 missiles from Russia. And France… which is waging its own endless war in the Sahel finds itself in competition with the US in more and more fields and places, suffers its tariff reprisals and… wants to retake the old alliance and “dialogue” with Russia. In complicity and for very similar reasons, it does not find an erratic Germany that needs France as much politically as it avoids depending on it militarily. The result: NATO’s 70th anniversary summit is unable to give a common goal to the most enduring criminal gang in contemporary history.
- «OTAN: Who is the enemy?» (Spanish)
A Way Out for Humanity
All the “escape routes” that capitalism is capable of undertaking today only create more misery or bring us even closer to war. It is the logic of capital in its anti-human historical phase. Capital in itself is nothing sacred, in itself it means a certain amount of “accumulated rights” to exploit labor. The social system it articulates is already in immediate and direct contradiction with human needs. Only in these needs there is a solution. But human needs are not ideas floating in a vacuum, they do not depend on a “humanitarian spirit”. The satisfaction of human needs is what we workers defend and demand for ourselves and for everyone in every struggle and every conflict with capital. If imposing it is the only way out, only the workers, acting as a class, can lead the whole of humanity to reach it.