The so-called “railroad war” is not limited to actions of workers in the Russian bloc or even railroad workers: trains and planes loaded with tanks and arms shipments have been stopped by workers in the US bloc…. Although naturally the European press has reported only marginally about it.
Table of Contents
- What we are told by propaganda…
- …hides, as usual, the class struggle under the railroad war
- The trade unions are either misleading workers or openly joining national capital
- What we workers should learn from the “railroad war”
What we are told by propaganda…
In any modern war, logistics is a cornerstone of the entire military campaign, and the war in Ukraine is no exception. The US bloc press has been quick to celebrate the militarization of the Ukrainian railroads and to applaud – at a lower key – the actions of the Belarusian railwaymen who have hindered the Russian military campaign.
There is nothing more effective than a war and an ultranationalist campaign to see fraternity between classes flourish… in the messages of an opinion industry turned into a war industry and devoted to bombarding the “internal front” with disinformation smoke bombs.
One need only look at the German or Anglo-Saxon press to see where the media battle plan is going. According to these media, the Ukrainian railway “workers” are setting an example of leadership for the whole world: now at last the trains are “arriving on time”, as they unironically claim. In these articles we can for example read the CEO of the railroads describing his deep civic concerns while a stewardess thanks the leadership of her supervisors between quotes from foremen.
This is hard to take too seriously, especially in a country where two major rail strikes occurred in a row less than a year ago (the last one was in October) and the rail network is militarized. Significantly, war propaganda articles need to lump managers with stewardesses by labeling both as “workers” and rendering the bulk of the workers invisible. The “railroad war” is the elephant in the room.
…hides, as usual, the class struggle under the railroad war
The confusion created by the media is not surprising. A “sacred union” between classes is the first goal to be achieved and maintained by every state at war, even if it is not always as real as the ruling class would like it to be. In fact…
1 It was Belarusian railwaymen and civilians who stopped Russian logistics, making it impossible to maintain the supply of arms to the invading army. The Ukrainian government and the Belarusian liberal opposition immediately claimed a success that was not theirs. The action of the Belarusian railway workers, the first great moment of the “railroad war”, was fundamental for Russia to abandon its offensive on Kiev, incapable of sustaining its logistic lines.
2 In Greece, railway workers refused to serve trains carrying tanks for the Ukrainian government in convoys of supposed “humanitarian aid”. The spontaneous movement was so strong that the unions and the stalinists immediately intervened to derail the mobilization with a false extension. Their “proposal”: abandon the real struggles for symbolic one-off actions and return to work with after being mentioned by a newspaper article.
3 We saw something very similar in Italy, where airport workers interrupted the stowage of armaments from Pisa airport. Armament that, of course, was also labeled as “humanitarian aid” for Ukraine. The mobilization succeeded in stopping the Pisa airport from being used as a departure point for military equipment.
The trade unions are either misleading workers or openly joining national capital
The role of the trade unions in all this is… what one might expect: in general they openly join the war effort of their respective national capitals. At most, like the German trade unions, they agree with the workers but avoid any real struggle.
Withdrawal of NATO troops and no expansion of NATO to the East, dissolution of NATO!
We break the approving silence, or approval of sanctions against the population by our unions! No to sanctions, no to arms exports, no to rearmament, no to price hikes! On the contrary, EVG and GDL should work together to build a strong international anti-war movement and expand it worldwide – that means, if necessary: work stoppage and strike against arms deliveries, rearmament of troop transports and war!
“If necessary”? – will they wait until there is nothing left but ruins before they take a stand in the railroad war? What are they waiting for?
Even more brazenly, the Swedish trade unions, always eager to collaborate with the state at the first hint of war, anticipated the closing of ports to Russian ships by boycotting their unstowing. Pure economic warfare. The ship of discord was loaded with bananas for the Swedish market.
What we workers should learn from the “railroad war”
It was actions similar to the current “railroad war” that initiated international workers’ solidarity during the two world wars by showing that there were not only two imperialist sides at war, but also a worldwide class capable of confronting both and stopping the slaughter.
At that time, however, workers still relied on a broad and diverse organizational fabric of their own, with physical meeting and discussion places in neighborhoods and towns and relatively solid structures in the enterprises. Although this fabric was first torn apart by the defensist betrayal of the social-democratic leaderships and the trade unions (already in fusion with the state) and later crushed by fascism and stalinism until its practical disappearance. Even during the Second World War the tatters that remained served as a basis for the internationalist responses of the workers.
Today, however, that fabric simply does not exist. Where the unions do not completely control the situation as in Sweden, they take the lead in preventing self-organization (Germany) and when it occurs they quickly confine any response to the local ground (Pisa) or take control by drifting it into nothingness (Greece). In industrial neighborhoods and towns the situation is even worse. Where the neighborhood is not “controlled” by union excrescences, it is controlled by a church.
We live in a historical epoch in which in order to face what is urgent from our own terrain, we have to build at the same time our own most basic organizational foundations. There are no shortcuts. We have to fight to organize and organize to fight. Everything contributes.