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 pandemic continues its upward course, from India which accumulates 2 million cases to Brazil which will reach 100,000 recognized deaths in these days through the USA where the figures are simply overwhelming. In Europe, Spain and France are heading towards a second wave which is now being considered as probable in Germany as well.
But more than the infection rates, what all governments have in common is the decision, encouraged by the companies, of not returning to mass confinement no matter what. It doesn’t matter that the servile practice of going to work when ill as a condition for renewing contracts is at the origin of many of the outbreaks. Family meetings and youth parties are blamed and that’s it. It is as if the virus were spontaneously generated by gathering friends and relatives. It doesn’t matter if the massive confinements of day labourers are in themselves incubators of outbreaks, when working until the breaking point is normalized, everything else becomes subtleties.
The important thing, as we have seen with the Spanish royal soap opera and in the coverage of the explosion in Beirut in the media around the world, is to draw public attention as far away as possible from the ongoing slaughter. This is not to say that under the supposed human interest of journalistic banality, the imperialist game will reduce its cruelty even for a second. And in fact it didn’t take long for Macron to mount one of his Gaullist shows in Beirut, presenting himself as the long-awaited savior and paternal prince listening to the helpless… appropriating the sterile and endless local petty-bourgeois revolt and preparing a French coup in the wobbly Lebanese balance of power. Behind the non-news that are routinely reported to us, the eastern Mediterranean is still in turmoil. This week Greece and Egypt finally signed a water demarcation agreement openly defined as the basis for a common strategy against Turkey. And Italy is strengthening its ties with the pro-Turkish government of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tripoli. There is no doubt that autumn will be hot.
And not only in the Mediterranean or in Asia, where imperialist tensions on more and more fronts make the war conceivable, even in the short term for both sides. It happens in every country. The responses of all the bourgeoisies to the crisis of capital are similar. In Spain Sánchez puts the focus in September and points toards a reform of pensions, while an even more dramatic fall in working incomes is taken for granted and direct subsidies such as the electrically-intensive consumer statute for large industrial investments are approved and will be paid for with the new taxes.
In Brazil, in the midst of record unemployment, industrial production is rising by lowering salaries and the Minister of Economy, Guedes, is promising a tax increase as soon as possible. Which taxes? Indirect taxes, of course, those that attack in a disproportionate way the basic consumption capacity of the workers.
In Argentina, after concluding a debt cut of almost 45% with the largest hedge funds and a new agreement with the IMF, the government is rushing to organize a new electric power fare hike and a battery of anti-inflationary measures whose main target, of course, will be wages.
All over the world, from undocumented day laborers in Spain to internal migrants in China, the weakest sectors of the working class have been the first to suffer the coming wave of attacks. In Russia, following strikes and demonstrations by migrant workers last month, the government is preparing to expel one million migrant workers .
But the crisis is such that capital will not spare any blows against the most condensed groups of workers. In Asia the textile sector is on a real repressive push against any attempt to organize the workers. An attack that is being exploited by the global propaganda of the trade unions, of course. But just this week we had proof in Nissan Barcelona of the usefulness of these trade unions… as gravediggers of struggles. After three months of strike, the union’s success has been to accept dismissals and postpone the closure -with the dismissal of all the remaining workers- for December next year. There is no effective response to the attacks without putting a stop to the unions and their orientations.
But, as we follow on a daily basis in our strikes channel, the dominant and really important thing today all over the world is the class response, on a global level, to all these attacks. From the doctors in South Korea to Iran, where the wave of strikes continues to grow throughout the country. There are more than 16 oil and petrochemical plants on strike. It should be noted here that, despite the geographical and, above all, subcontracting fragmentation, oil company workers are fighting simultaneously and on a basically common platform for the first time in three decades.
August is being approached as a prologue in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Prologue to a second pandemic wave, prologue to new armed conflicts, prologue to the biggest wave of direct and simultaneous attacks against our living, retirement and working conditions… prologue in short, to a stage in which the capacity of the struggles and strikes to go beyond the trade union’s enclosing tactics will be decisive to avoid the social collapse that they have in store for us.