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.
Tag: class struggle
The situation in Argentina in recent years has become a laundry list of union and left-wing resorts to divert and prevent the extension of struggles. We saw a first large-scale example in 2019 in Chubut. Then the convergence of struggles in the province around teachers and health workers was neutralized with national union strike calls cutting across the movement. Now in Neuquén we are seeing an alternative -yet no less damaging- strategy. We workers in Argentina and the rest of the world have much to learn from the experience in order to be able to effectively confront the unions and find our own terrain of struggle.
Russia mobilizes its troops on the Ukrainian border and launches with the US and EU a new exchange of armed threats. Meanwhile, strikes break out in the Donbass on both sides of the front. The only real alternative to a new slaughter will not come from a Putin-Biden deal to share out plunder, but from extending and uniting struggles across borders and armed fronts. Strikes in the Donbass lead the the way.
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.
We are publishing some of the questions raised by readers following the communiqué we released yesterday.
An assessment of the historical moment we are facing, the lessons of the pandemic and the outlook for what lies ahead, so that we can begin to respond appropriately to what the situation demands from us.
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.
The pandemic has accelerated the global capitalist crisis and the course of imperialist conflicts, but it has also made explicit a level of contradictions between the workers and the bourgeois classes that is only comparable to that of a war. All capital -small and large, private and state-owned- and the classes that represent it -bourgeoisie, bureaucracy and petty bourgeoisie- have openly shown themselves as organizers and enforcers of sacrificing lives to save investments. The overall response of the working class has been a development of massive and growing combativeness throughout the year. And yet the understanding of the historical meaning and the ultimate potentialities of the moment is still far away, and with it an orientation, a conscious direction of the struggles capable of affirming in the concrete and under the perspective of the satisfaction of universal human needs. There has never been so much work to be done, but it has been a long time since conditions were so favorable for doing it.
Indian workers have already made it clear that they will not let the unions hold them back when their lives and basic needs depend on the continuation of the struggles.
We have a class, Proletariat, whose struggle, even unconsciously, asserts the possibility and the necessity of the communist future. And which, being completely and universally denied, can only be understood in each moment and in history as a whole, in relation to that future made present by its struggle. In other words, the particular relationship of the proletariat with the future is permanent and constant… even during the darkest periods. For our class there is no longer any stable accommodation possible in present society. The future is everything.
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.
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.
The macronite response to the wave of strikes and its synchronization with Brussels, Germany and the Netherlands in increasing the repressive capacities of the states, comes at a time when the most basic contradictions of the system are becoming increasingly violent. It is clear to us that the rules of confrontation of the ruling class and the state are already set: against the affirmation of universal needs, use nationalism; against protests, use repression and impunity.
Prospects in the middle of the pandemic and the resurgence of the crisis.
Under the grammar of the fear of unemployment and poverty what they call economy -the accumulation of capital- has been revealed as an arithmetic of slaughter. But everything that is presented to us as “superhuman forces”, unbeatable, inexorable… is not.
The workers will not gain any advantage from marching with Lukashenko, but neither will they gain any advantage from marching under the flags of the opposition. It is precisely the social and economic slogans -and not those of the opposition and its proposal for a general strike- that can enable the struggle in the Belarusian plants to be carried on and extended to the private sector again
The acceleration in imperialist movements and tensions that we are seeing still has a potential counterweight in the development of the workers’ response.
The workers have finally appeared on the scene in Belarus, with their own concerns and not under the initial calls of the opposition. They are now presenting themselves as a force during this crisis, but the outcome is not yet decided. Will they be caught up in the incipient popular revolt as the opposition wants, or will they advance their own struggle as a class by adding their own slogans to their own budding movement?
The struggles continue to spread throughout Iran and now reach 12 provinces but are not yet coordinated among themselves.
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 surge of strikes that we are detecting around the world is now reaching Iran, where since December 2017 at least three waves of struggle have taken place.
1936, on July 17 and 18, a military uprising confirmed that a sector of Spain’s ruling class -the most reactionary one- had decided to take that path. But on the 19th, the “unexpected” general insurrection of the Spanish proletariat, overriding parties and unions, disarmed the armed reaction and seized power in 4/5ths of the territory.
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.
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 class struggle is too important a thing to be tied up in “traditions” or obsolete forms. Our lives and the future of our families depend on it. It is enough to recall the experience of the generations that are working today to realize that the isolated struggle in the company, the sector-wide strikes, the “social dialogue”… have only led to a spiral of precarization and impotence in the face of plant and company closures. In order to find alternative forms of struggle that will serve us today to confront the coming one, we need to understand at least in a fundamental way what capital is and how it functions. And when we do, there is no historical fantasy able to withstand it. We have to fight in a different way than the one proposed by the unions. And from now on, fight to extend the struggles over the territory.
While the US media focuses its attention on “racial conflicts” in a not so innocent way, a series of day laborers’ strikes in Washington state this month has shown much more clearly the forms and alternatives of the emergence of workers as a class.
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.
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.
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.
This year we are not going to make a statement of our own. We adhere to the communiqué of the comrades of “La Antorcha”, an organization of young communists that represents better than any other organization known to us the momentum that our class is already engendering and that is the only hope of our species.
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.
This is the time when workers in the US military industry plants should also break the trade union siege and join the struggle under the same platform, which describes and defines their interests as clearly as it does for their Mexican comrades.
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.
We have to stand up in the workplaces and demand the closure of all non-essential production as long as transport and workplace safety cannot be ensured.
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.
What unites the strategy of the Spanish bourgeoisie then and now is the aim of transferring income from labor to capital in order to revive profitability and the fear that the unions, on their own, will not be able to impose sufficient discipline in the workplaces and – above all – in the streets, in order to make a new wave of precarization.
Mexico and Brazil are distressed by a crisis that fuses the impending health disaster with a paralysis of export markets and political chaos. The situation is extremely dangerous for workers throughout America. Only the generalization of the struggles can impose the priority of saving lives instead of investments, stopping the spread effectively and guaranteeing the satisfaction of basic needs for all workers.
We are placing the “Covid strikes” on an interactive map that we will be updating during the coming days and weeks. Have a look!
We reproduce a flyer that will be distributed this week, on paper and by cell phone, in three capital cities of Argentina. It has been prepared by comrades who have been organizing for some time in Mendoza, San Juan and Córdoba, hand in hand with comrades from «La Antorcha» and «Emancipation».
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
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”.
Italy closes non-essential production under the pressure of strikes. The governments of Spain, Portugal, France, Germany… are resisting. Not only they want to impose the criterion of saving investments over saving lives. They know the shape of the post-crisis will depend on the outcome of today’s struggles.
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,
If anyone ever believed that the European Union could serve to moderate the appetites of national capitals and put the most basic universal human needs first, they can see their hopes refuted today, once again, with absolute clarity. On the other hand, those who doubted the ability of the working class to stand up to the barbarity of capital across national borders have a palpable demonstration these days of how the working class not only exists as a universal class but that its struggle is the only one capable of affirming the primacy of human needs effectively and across borders.
Too late and too little is the political formula for this epidemic to decimate workers and their families. We have to stop all non-essential production for confinement to serve any purpose. And we have to stop layoffs disguised as “emergency measures”.
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.
How the fear of some and the discontent of others led the islanders as a whole to join into the struggle by making the migrants’ demands their own
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.
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.
Since 21 October, workers at the railway maintenance centre in Châtillon, the high-speed rail network’s linchpin in western France, have been on strike without prior notice independently of the unions. They stand up against the appalling working conditions and union control that led to the disastrous strike of 2018.
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.
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.
Since midnight on Monday, workers at General Motors plants in the U.S. have been called to what could become the largest industrial strike in the country in a decade. 50,000 of them are on strike today.
On June 21, 22 and 23, we held the first Emancipation Congress with the participation of comrades and nuclei from three countries. The congress constitutes Emancipation as a global and internationalist organization.
Text of the brochure distributed on 1 May 2019 by «Emancipation»
When workers defend their living standards in each strike, in each company, they show that a new and just world is not only possible but necessary; a world organised in order to satisfy human needs and not for producing profits to pay the bosses and shareholders.