The World Economic Forum, Davos, regularly presents its global risk report. If last year’s was a true confession of the incompetence of the ruling class, this year’s one marks a leap in the concerns of the cloud of experts who, around the world, advise the top of the corporate bourgeoisie and governments. In focus: the acceleration of workers’ mass impoverishment and imperialist tensions between states.
A huge teaching strike has been going on in France since yesterday. It covers elementary schools and middle plus high schools, with both teaching and service staffs taking part together.
Gabriel Boric will be Chile’s new president. The global press and the left today hail a new stage in Chilean history. Is it that big a deal? What does it mean for workers in Chile and in South America?
The metalworkers’ strike in Cádiz shows us that we need to fight in a different way. And that means, from now on, to take control of the assemblies today monopolized by the unions. And to do so in order to extend the struggles, open the assemblies and make joint demands that go beyond all the divisions by sector, province, region or contract type.
Global food prices rose 31.3% in one year. Against the disastrous backdrop of capitalist chaos, which does not even enable 40% of the world’s population to afford a healthy diet and keeps 30% under food insecurity, the prospect of this runaway inflation is a wave of famines. Compounding it all: the Green Deal.
First it was truck drivers and cutting workers in Britain and not long after they were joined by healthcare workers. Then, alarms about the cost of “extreme turnover” and the lack of sufficient workers in hospitality and services were raised from the US. The EU, country by country, reported similar headlines. Now news of “labor shortages” is coming even from South Korea. The talking heads of capitalism and the opinion machinery, from Krugman to Fintan O’Toole, respond with a change in their discourse on labor.
What is the problem between the EU and Poland? Is the authoritarian drift of Hungary and Poland real or just an excuse? Do the Polish arguments have any basis? Does the PiS (Polish ruling party) want a “Polexit”? Why is this battle so important and why is the European Commission being so blunt now?
Yesterday in Spain all TV news programs devoted an unusual amount of space to the “referendum” at Desigual regarding the reduction of working hours. They insisted that “the reduction in salary is shared equally between the workers and the company”. Yes, they are peddling a model and yes, there is a catch. From Japan to the U.S. via Ireland, France and Great Britain, the so-called “recovery” is being accompanied by a reduction in workers’ incomes dressed up in different ways. Reduced working hours is just one of them.
The electricity companies, the CEOE employers’ association, the banks… the corporate bourgeoisie is radicalizing, at least apparently: it is charging against the lukewarm palliative measures on electricity prices, against a rise in the minimum wage below inflation and even against the distribution of the recovery funds being decided by the government. What is happening? Why is the ruling class threatening to abandon Sánchez and take the wheel itself?
Elections in Russia are held with unemployment on the rise and the Covid in full force -to the point of surrounding Putin. Predictable and contested results which, although deformed by fraud and the very nature of electoral processes in general, show the erosion of the political apparatus of the Russian bourgeoisie. What the European and Anglo-Saxon press does not tell openly is that the system lives in permanent and brutal war against the workers and that the economic bases of Russian capitalism see their expectations improving thanks to an unexpected ally: the USA.
Australia breaking its naval contract with France as part of the birth of AUKUS, is just “the tip of the iceberg” according to a senior British Foreign Office official. It is the culmination of President Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” as asserted by the US, recalling that “no matter how much one pretends otherwise it is impossible to pivot to Asia without turning away from other places.” The European ruling classes translate this as the end of a historical period in which they could rely – not without contradictions – on the US to defend their own imperialist interests. The future of Europe is changing.
Mercosur is living its final moments. The trademark may be recovered at some point, but the rupture of the former tariff union is a fact. Uruguay is going to sign a free trade agreement with China outside the founding agreement and the institution cannot follow it: one of the members, Paraguay, still recognizes the government of Taiwan as the only legitimate representative of China as a whole. The end of the bloc that never was tells us a lot about the nature of South American national capitals and states and what the future of the region will look like.
The news are warning about the alleged imminence of a self-coup d’état in Brazil. The reality is even more complex and dangerous. The rift within the Brazilian ruling class is reaching a critical point where even a breakup of the army into rival factions cannot be ruled out.
After putting all its diplomatic weight on the table, the Spanish government managed to get Spain out of the British government’s latest round of travel restrictions. An oxygen balloon for tourism, a sector that has been the mainstay of accumulation in Spain since the 1960s and for whose results there have been precipitous restriction de-escalations which caused new pandemic waves. But this time, a year and a half later, it seems that “normality” is further away than ever. A good part of the tourism jobs will not come back anymore.
News of an outbreak of protests in Cuba leapt through agencies to media outlets around the world yesterday. Beginning in San Antonio de los Baños, protests spread in a matter of hours from the West to the East of the country and ended up surrounding the Capitol in Havana. The regime’s response was swift: exculpatory speeches, calls for civil confrontation and door-to-door repression all night long.
The increase in the minimum wage in both Amazon and Target was accompanied by the reduction of working hours as well as the elimination of both health insurance and bonuses…which meant that workers’ real hourly earnings were actually reduced despite the wage hike. And it’s even worse. In the U.S. economy as a whole, inflation has already eaten into wage growth. And what is coming with the Green Deal is more of the same.
On June 16, the Greek Parliament passed a bill that allows and legalizesthe ten-hour workday. The new labor reform in Greece also introduces a digital work card in order to monitor employees in real time Spanish-style, as well as increasing the maximum overtime to 150 hours per year. In addition, the new law aims to impose new minimum services in public services in case of strike and sanctions in case of service interruption.
The Green Deal, the rising cost of household electricity bills and the lack of profitable applications for capital are concentrating investment back into housing speculation and construction, transforming homes, neighborhoods and urban structures.
After the departure of the self-proclaimed Saharawi president by the hand of the Algerian and Spanish secret services, we can only expect a cold war with Morocco… which, like all cold wars, will not only have consequences for the capital invested in Africa by the ruling class, but also for the security and lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Let’s talk about dictatorship. In Britain, the reopening is jeopardized by the expansion of the Indian covid variant; in Europe, things are back to business as usual and borders are being reopened to tourists before it is prudent to do so, in Japan, amid new restrictions the government and the IOC are determined to celebrate the Olympics despite the general rejection of the population. All the news, from the imperialist battles between Spain and Morocco to the new electricity bill, as well as the hike in raw materials’ prices, share one element in common: the social imposition of the needs of capital profitability over and above the most basic universal human needs. A fact with an old name: dictatorship.
There exist advertisements which condense an era with far greater economy than any novel or film. The ad for Ford’s F-150 Lightning, Ford’s iconic vehicle for the Biden’s Green Deal is, by the same token, a promotional ad for precarious living rather than a celebration of green comfort, a Nomadland to insert into big-league matches and Superbowls rather than a sales pitch. But Biden has gone a step further: the Green Deal’s pick-up is also the symbol of a looming new war economy.
These past few days the Russian press has been talking about an epidemic of strikes in Georgia, a country in the Caucasus where for decades working class protests have been swamped by nationalism. What is going on and what is driving the strikes in Georgia?
The German Green Deal has a new rallying cry: end cheap flights to Majorca. At the same time, the Biden government’s new shoe tariffs threaten the Spanish consumer goods export flagship. And if that were not enough, the increased tension with Morocco is pushing towards the closure of companies and factories relocated there by Spanish capital over the last few decades. The Spanish imperialist model is in a state of crisis and is dragging down the industry. Spanish imperialism looks again to Argentina and Mexico looking for the first time not only for markets, but also for capitals to which it offers a beachhead in the EU.
After 12 days and having already suffered 47 deaths, 39 of which as a result of repression, protests in Colombia are entering a new phase.
The EU’s Porto Social Summit unveils, decades later, its long-promised “social pillar” program. The “Porto Social Commitment” has been triumphantly presented as a shift towards employment and workers, a return to the welfare discourse that would definitively close the door to more precariousness and “austerity”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The commitment will be austerity’s banner.
Germany is raising its climate targets. It changes its Climate Law by committing to a 65% reduction in emissions by 2030. The formal cause, a Constitutional Court ruling. The real cause: competition with the US. The important thing: each push of the Green Deal increases economic contradictions, weighs down production and imposes an increasingly dark horizon on living and working conditions. In the increased competition, the state centralizes and looks for new ways to turn broken private companies into state-owned enterprises. There is nothing progressive about this. We are not closer to socialism, but to a war economy.
France and Germany jointly unveiled their recovery plans yesterday. Italy and Spain did not join the ceremony but had agreed on the date with Berlin and Paris and presented them on their own. They were in a hurry.
Yesterday, the EU reached a provisional agreement on the European Climate Law. In case there were any doubts, the objectives are explicit: To provide predictability to investors and to ensure that the transformations generated by the Green Deal in industries and capital markets are irreversible. Moreover, in concrete terms, the European Climate Law represents an acceleration in the speed of change. No one is unaware of the reason behind the rush: U.S. and China at odds for virtually everything else, are about to turn the Biden summit into the staging of a two-way split of the capital markets they hope to revive.
Raúl Castro has announced his upcoming retirement at the age of 89, 62 years after the M26J guerrillas entered Havana and 60 years after Fidel Castro proclaimed Cuba’s entry into the Russian bloc. The retirement of the last active commander of Sierra Maestra from the political leadership of the Cuban ruling class occurs in the midst of the latest acceleration of the agonizing and perennial crisis of a national capital in ruins.
The Argentinean disaster consists of a ruling class leading us towards health care collapse by prioritizing an unviable national capital which condemns workers to poverty and is oriented towards an increasingly difficult imperialist game which makes the development of militarism inevitable.
The collapse of the “just in time” chains during the Chinese confinement, the chips and the first global crisis of industrial shortages in “peacetime” and the interruption of the Suez Canal, signal and feed the new international division of labor. It will be paid for by the workers and it prepares the war.
Last Thursday was the closing ceremony of the two sessions 2021, the most important Chinese political event/ceremonial of the year. At its center lay the global crisis of capitalism. In its outlook was militarism, war and the green deal. The good news: Chinese strategists do not expect an armed confrontation with the US before 2027. The bad news: the burden on the Chinese working class has already begun.
There seems to be no way out of the crisis in sight. Official statistics are dire and unemployment is close to an all-time high. The Spanish government and the European Union are suggesting a Keynesian way out through recovery funds, digitalization and, above all, the Green Deal. Could it work?
From Linares (Spain) to Rosario (Argentina), passing through Mulhouse (France), capital, the state and cults are destroying the neighborhoods and their living conditions together. We workers can neither be satisfied with outbursts of struggle without any continuity, nor let capital, state and cults destroy our collective capacity to organize ourselves and defend basic conditions of life and freedom. Denouncing is not enough. We have to start building.
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.
When we read the business press, capital seems happy. According to Oxfam, the global bourgeoisie has already made up for its wealth losses. The Swiss bank has doubled its profits. And listed companies are heading for a dividend recovery.
The World Economic Forum, better known as the Davos Forum, presented yesterday its Global Risks Report, a two-, five- and ten-year analysis assessing whether present trends will get generalized. The panorama is awful and therefore a true confession of historical and systemic incompetence.
The large snowfall has done more to stop the Covid massacre than the intentionally limited measures of the regions and the government. However, the council of ministers is sucking up as if a country paralized by a non-exceptionally dramatic snowfall for days was the most normal thing in the world. Under the ice lies the sad truth of Spanish capital normalizing the unacceptable.
South America begins 2021 with very bad prospects for workers.
The horizons of Spanish capital are shrinking. And with them, its political borders – in the Americas and in Brussels – and even physical ones – in Gibraltar and Africa – are beginning to be called into question.
The Spanish government closes 2020 by charging head-on against the status of retirees and permanent workers. It is a warning of what is coming in 2021 and what they mean when they talk about reforms.
While the government renounce stopping the third wave of Covid sells a law of euthanasia whose social context is really obscene, capital is centralizing, concentrating and assaulting our incomes, which are falling sharply. While the ideological noise covers the changes in the background, the unions “reserve” themselves. For what?
A new offensive against the living conditions of Cuban workers begins. On the horizon, even famine.
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.
Since the last imperialist world war, capitalistic contradictions have never crushed and sacrificed so many lives and imposed so much misery. But never either have there been such broad material bases for overcoming capitalist society and organizing society into abundance and freedom.
Biden’s “Green New Deal” is presented as the most important change that the new U.S. government will implement. Its consequences for workers will be enormous… and not good.
Anyone following the Spanish media would be led to believe that the situation of the political regime is one of true decomposition. And yet…
Argentine capital is in an impossible trap: its imperialist game depends on three-way carom with major powers; its capacity to recover profitability depends on a plan that Fernández has not dared to define yet and that can only aggravate what he already has set in motion: drastically worsening the general conditions of exploitation and pensions; and increasing profitability by lowering further the real wages. The real decision-maker of the future is therefore the working class.
The more contradictions the system suffers, the more difficult it is to maintain accumulation, the more it needs to atomize and deny us as a class. In doing so, it also destroys what would allow us to better resist the daily consequences of such exploitation: from solidarity among friends and neighbors to family relations, to such basic things as eating decently or keeping our morals up. One cannot separate struggles in the workplace from action in the neighborhoods to defend ourselves from the effects of atomization and to strengthen our capacity for grouping and resistance.
The deaths by Covid that surround us every day are perfectly bearable for the state and companies, regrettable collateral damage but necessary to recover the sales and promote the revalorization of the businesses. The opinion industry works hard to describe them as the product of a natural disaster affecting private lives and damaging the economy. It is better not to think too much, those who go to work every day under risk may revolt. But the rebellion is there, it continues to grow, we follow its pulse monthly, and it is the only weir containing this slaughter… and the additional slaughters in the horizon.
On both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, the consequences of the crisis are increasingly devastating. Impoverishment, inequality… and a burning war belt.
The so-called locomotives of the EU, France and Germany, are increasingly divided and confronted with each other. Their attempts to give momentum end up being counterproductive, separating sometimes the East, sometimes the South. At this point it is undeniable that the pandemic and the recession have accelerated the process of implosion of the EU. And there is no let up and no respite.
It is enough to collect the headlines of the week to see clearly that both the public health policy and reduction of infections, as well as labor legislation, retirement coverage and distribution of income and revenue are bent to the desire to improve the immediate results of investments in companies. What capital demands in order to recover profitability takes precedence over the most basic and urgent needs of the workers, who are systematically made invisible.
All these petty bourgeois movements affirm, although they cannot compensate, the capitalist material truth that makes all their current manifestations reactionary. The petty bourgeoisie exploits because it has more and more difficulty in profitably exploiting the labor of others and fears proletarianization. Its slogans, the call to save businesses before people, express the devaluation of those human lives that it cannot make profitable in its accounts of exploitation.
The Chinese bureaucracy has set its goals for 2025 and 2035 this week. They will shape the imperialist crisis and conflict throughout the world.
The General State Budget confirms that the promised “social turn” will not come. The faster the government tries to flee forward, the harder it treads on ice that is barely holding up.
Pandemic records in half of Europe. New restrictions in Italy and Spain that the governments themselves know are insufficient even before they are published. Massiveness of the referendum in Chile. And signs of a new devaluation, if not of a new “corralito” in Argentina. The week begins.
Tens of thousands of people have already been sacrificed. The Spanish ruling class is willing to sacrifice whatever and whoever is necessary until they recover profitability. As Roig says, they are not going to “deviate from their path” just for anyone’s health and life.
Prospects in the middle of the pandemic and the resurgence of the crisis.
Spanish ruling class is worried, they are in solidarity with the florist, the shopkeeper, the hotelier, the small guesthouse and even the nightclub.. But nobody should think that they will share the state’s booty with the small fry, the massive subsidies or the big projects financed with European funds. One thing is to be supportive and another to lose volume of income. No, big capital is “sympathetic” with its small SME brothers in its own way: for its own benefit and putting the lives of the workers under fire.
Capitalism mobilizes more and more resources into making us poorer in relative terms. But when crisis devalues capital, it impoverishes us in absolute terms in order to regain momentum. And since in every cycle capital finds it increasingly difficult to recover, we have been suffering from precarization and impoverishment for more than ten years without ever recovering. All the plans for the recovery of capital are plans to worsen the global situation of the workers.
Today, China accounts for 85% of Argentina’s meat exports, 63% of the total foreign currency coming in from foreign trade and 45% of the Central Bank’s reserves.
The so-called recovery fund is becoming not only a way to accelerate the transfer of income from labor to capital throughout the continent, aggravating the conditions of exploitation of the vast majority of workers, but also is becoming the way in which Germany conditions the development of Europe.
The pandemic is growing again in Spain. But the governments do not want us to fear it, or even to see it. They just want us to think about what they want the crisis to mean for us, their crisis. Capitalism no longer liberates Humanity from old fears of Nature. Now it competes to create even more fear of its impoverishing reflexes, of its destructive capacity.
The United States tightens its grip again and tries to revive Guaidó. The EU, on the other hand, is betting on Capriles and will help him run in the elections organized by Maduro for December. The reality is the collapse of national capital and the hunger of the workers. With the national bourgeoisie divided into three blocks, each with its international allies, what now awaits the workers in Venezuela?
Now we have a rising epidemic and an accelerated crisis. Will they see in the situation of the workers a human need to be satisfied or will they see in it the forces of scarcity preparing the way for us to «freely» accept the «reforms» that they have been trying to impose for years?
So what’s going on with the Brexit? Is the bluffing between Brussels and London getting out of hand? Underlying the debate about the future of the Irish border there is actually a struggle over the conditions to sell on the European market. But there are consequences that go far beyond that and a risk… that goes even further.
The Spanish government reported yesterday 156 covid deaths in the last 24 hours. primary care is already overwhelmed. This autumn a fundamental factor will be that the discontent that is beginning to emerge in the educational strikes shall become undeniable, shall be openly manifested and shall set out the firm ground of universal human needs. It is fundamental to stop the upward spiral of slaughter. Fundamental to confront the [[pauperization|mass impoverishment of the workers]] they are demanding in order to revive national capital, its enterprises and its finances.
We have to get used to seeing the “economy” from the point of view of relations between classes, which is what capital does when it designs policies in the face of the crisis. Policies that in the end are nothing but forms of organizing massive transfers of labor to capital. Housing is no exception.
The merger, announced today, of Bankia and Caixabank, marks the ways in which Spanish capital will reorganize itself in the face of the crisis, points out its consequences for the workers and advances changes in its imperialist orientation and even in the face of Catalan independence.
Between now and the end of the year, the crisis is going to arise all over the world in all its harshness. The first signs are already here.
The news of the day in Spain is an event organized by the government to which the heavy weights of the bourgeoisie and the Spanish political apparatus are expected to attend. It does not really have a name but rather a slogan: Spain can do it. A whole confession of the atmosphere that reigns in the ruling class: impotence. And it is no wonder.
National capital of Argentina, Turkey or South Africa, semicolonial economies triumphantly presented as “emerging” for years, are coming out of a decade in which they have lost weight in global capital, to enter a new and dangerous phase of crisis.
When you double a bet and at the same time you double the insurance with which you cover your losses, one cannot say that the foreseeable result is the same. In case the bet is lost, the result will be even more catastrophic.
Underneath all this ideological unhinged charivari there is a materiality that can be summed up in two terms: incompetence and incapacity. Incompetence both of the bourgeoisie and it’s theorists to imagine a progressive future, and of the petty bourgeoisie to find a way of articulating its interests capable of dragging the rest of the social whole, that is, to organize and create what they themselves call a people.
With infections on the rise and an increasing number of occupied beds and ICU patients, things are already approaching the level of early March. The opening of schools in September threatens to trigger a new phase of mass community transmission. And the only thing made clear by the Spanish bourgeoisie and state is a red line: “no more lockdowns, we lose revenues and taxes”. Only a strong strike movement can force the state or the bourgeoisie to put lives, our lives, ahead of their profits.
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.
A quick summary of the day’s news to avoid being disconnected from reality by the media.
The imperialist conflict between the U.S. and China is accelerating with each blow of the crisis. Both powers are pushing towards the formation of «close blocs» that are strategically and economically very much aligned with those national capitals with which they are most integrated, leading to a wider fracture by reorganizing trade out of them and with it the international division of labor and the technological standards of the industries most capable of placing capital today. We are in the first steps of a deep fracture in the world market, which can only strengthen the tendencies towards crisis… and war.
Spanish capital closes the political course with the sword of falsehood held high. It wants to blur the reality of the epidemic, of unemployment, of the situation of its own companies, of what the European funds mean and above all its plans for a “way out of the crisis”. At least until September, when today’s lies will become a guillotine on our most basic living conditions and needs.
The low volume of the “recovery” funds turns them into a mere cover of the “austerity” promoted by the EU, with all that it means for the workers as a forced reduction of the general exploitation costs of the labor power: less healthcare services, education, social cohesion, etc. But this “austerity”would remain a mere appetizer for the general offensive against workers’ conditions implied by the “reforms” aimed at by this “recovery fund”.
For the workers of the countries that have been affected, the credits really are cutbacks and the direct aid that they receive will only serve to accelerate the transfer of income from labor to capital. And in the case anyone had hoped that the European Council could serve to prevent the escalation of war in the Mediterranean and the horizon of barbarism that it opens, they were deeply mistaken.
What we’re seeing is not the optimism of finance capital, it’s the hysterical laughter of the desperate gambler.
Tunisia is experiencing a summer of struggles and mass worker mobilizations that draws on the lessons of the January 2018 movements while raising new challenges.
Today, the Spanish Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, has published a document to convince large capital funds to invest in state debt. In other words, she explains why betting on the overall result of national capital is a good investment. The set allows to understand well the continuity of the “road map” of the Spanish bourgeoisie and what it considers its “achievements”. Achievements that, of course, the PSOE-IU-Podemos government makes its own and intends to carry “further”.
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 Spanish capital will be one of the most punished in the world in 2020. The “solutions” provided by capital managers and trade unions cannot produce any hope.
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 new wave of economic nationalism involves four vectors which, although they were already present and emerging in recent years, have gained strength with the pandemic, seemingly contradicting the “neo-liberal” hegemonic discourses of the last thirty years: limitations on the purchase of companies by foreign capital, renationalization of productive chains, nationalizations and the promotion of state production.
While the right wing brings out for a walk their doberman wrapped in the red and yellow flag and the left wing enjoys discussing children’s sex and the future of princesses, the reality of the workers has already initiated the “adjustment”.
EU gave a perfect opportunity to present the Sánchez strategy for attacking pensions, the greatest direct attack in more than a decade on workers’ working and retirement conditions, as if it were a European imposition.
“Decoupling” is the new slogan running through think-tanks, chancelleries and economic ministries. It means a reduction in the interdependence between national capitals. But the reality is that not only capitals will become “decoupled”, but also the institutional system and the balances between classes will.
A crown of conflicts is exploding around China at the worst possible time. They point out, in case it needs to be emphasized even more, that the United States is willing to use the military threat to “encourage” the movement of capital, modify the global trade map and accelerate the renationalization of productive chains.
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.
Sanchism needs Rajoy’s labor reform to do its alchemy so that, for example, each rise in the minimum wage reduces the total wage bill received by the workers. And if he were to repeal it, it would be in order to re-enunciate it under a different name… and with the same substance.
Germany wants an empire that will buy its overproduction and generate applications of capital, with a currency subordinated to its logic of accumulation, a Central Bank subordinated to its courts and a well-controlled nuclear army… but also wants to organize everything at a bargain price. No, the scaffolding does not seem to be solid enough for this historic era of economic, political and social tornadoes and hurricanes. But is there anything to be regretted? Are we workers losing something important with the collapse of the “European perspective”?
Along with the recession, a period of direct attacks on our working, retirement and general living conditions is opening up. Wages, pensions and working conditions will be in the front line. It is more important than ever not to fall into the traps that attempt to make us support the production of dividends at the expense of our vital needs, be it in the name of “reconstruction”, “social justice” or “climate change”.
This evening Macron and Merkel will be presenting their “salvation of the EU”. But in today’s historical conditions, every step forward is one step closer to a zombie structure.
The only things de-escalating are the lockouts and security measures. All dangers are escalating instead: dangers of epidemic resurgence, of being unemployed, of marching off to war…
The collapse of Saudi Arabia has gone virtually unnoticed by the international press. The impact, however, is enormous. In the Arab world, comparisons are rife with the collapse of Russia and its model of state capitalism in the early 1990s, with Prince Salman playing the role of an increasgly powerless Gorbachev, racking up imperialist defeats, economic disasters and internal enemies.
The U.S. has a background game with China. China is debating whether to enter a nuclear race with the American giant. And Europe… starts to keep its distance.
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.
We are not seeing the dawn of a “post-American world order” as the media would have us believe. We are seeing an acceleration of chaos driven by the recession that makes each day more dangerous than the last.
A new phase of economic recession and political crisis is beginning worldwide. All the contradictions of the system have accelerated with the pandemic and the ability of capital to recover will depend on its ability to impose a massive transfer of income from labor to capital in each country. The losses and needs of capital are even more brutal than in 2009. But unlike ten years ago, we are entering this new phase with a working class that has mobilized under an almost universal program of demands and that in not a few cases has been strong enough to overcome the unions and twist the arms of companies and governments. But this was not even the first act. It has been the overture.
Spain, France or Italy are already starting deconfinement. The absolute numbers of new infections are in the same range as when confinement began. And deaths are still over 300 a day in all three countries. The danger of “de-escalation” is obvious. But the aim of governments is not to put an end to the epidemic and return to normality when the situation is safe, but rather to recover economic activity, including in the hotel and tourism industry, by accepting to “live with” the epidemic and its consequences as long as the numbers of patients requiring intensive care do not overwhelm the health system. This is the “new normality” that governments are looking for and that will change living conditions, the organization of work and even the international division of labor.
For Spanish capital, the fall in tourism is not a “social problem”… it is losing a leg and going headlong into a deficit in the trade balance that will accelerate the trend towards its devaluation, as happened in 2009.
Oil companies are starting to go bankrupt serially to the point of threatening to turn the fall in oil prices into a financial crisis. Meanwhile, Europe makes its “green bet” trying to win the competition for capital from the US. And the workers?
The fact that “de-escalation” is possible without overwhelming the health system is not the same as saying that de-confinement will not produce more infections and deaths, nor that it is advisable from a health point of view.
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 fall in prices from confinement has made evident the irrationality and inefficiency of an international division of labor conditioned to the extreme by imperialism, magnifying the industrial impact of the deflationary shock on an industry as gigantic as it is fragile.
The EU cannot resolve its contradictions, only by raising them again and again to a higher level, in the hope that the developing global environment of “economic warfare” will be enough, as external pressure, to precariously hold the structure together.
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.
Can anyone still think that the “Ecological transition” and the “Green New Deal” they want to impose on us is a progressive “way out of the crisis”?
Neither Dutch, Danish or German nordism nor Spanish anti-EU pro-sovereignty narratives fall from the sky. But in order to understand them, one must first discover the particular place of Spanish imperialism between Europe and Latin America.
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.
Even if an agreement on debt mutualization were reached today or in the next few days, what would follow would be a struggle to change rules, protect national sector-based markets and reduce the interdependence among national bourgeoisies. And so the EU would also dry up and the old reactionary dream of the United States of Europe would come to an end, not with a bang but with a whimpe
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.
Is it inevitable that we will be poorer after confinement? No. If it were, Bolsonaro, Botin, the CEO of Michelin and so many others, would have us already working and with a “solidarity” cut in salaries.
Winners and losers of the inter-imperialist brawls in the EU have a common objective: “recovery”, in other words, organizing a brutal transfer of income from labor to capital. Once again, as always, as in any imperialist conflict, the main enemy is within the country itself.
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 “shock plan” is a two-handed movement – one hand being the Spanish government and the other the European Central Bank – aimed at achieving the lowest possible devaluation of Spanish capital. To this end, it articulates a massive transfer of income from labor to capital that is “compensated” with minimum social coverage.
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.
Four lies and half truths that disarm us and in front of Coronavirus, and some important lessons for the workers as a class.
What is developing before our eyes is an increasingly direct connection between trade quarrels and military conflicts on the one hand and between these and the attack on the living conditions of the workers and the whole population on the other hand.
From the Sanders and the Sánchez to the Trumps and Putins, all ideological variants, all national capitals, have the same needs and lead us to the same place. It is not with them but against them that the only possible alternative can be affirmed.
The most dangerous and constant enemies of human needs and life are within each country and are neither the viruses that come “from outside” nor the armies of neighboring countries.
The speed at which the trends towards recession and war are developing, the violence of the attacks on the living conditions of millions of workers around the world, still do not correlate with the level of response achieved by workers’ struggles so far this year.
The pockets of war are expanding, the global arsenals are widening and the tensions between powers are worsening at the pace of the difficulties of global capital. And do they expect us to close ranks with “our” national capital, which reserves more misery and militarism for us every day?
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.
Tendencies towards confrontation and inter-imperialist conflict are inextricably woven with the strategies to deal with the crisis of the bourgeoisie all over the world.
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.
The week has been marked by the impact… and the global political stalemate of the revolts.
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.
We arrived at this weekend with a Brexit agreement pending approval by the British parliament, a Turkish truce awaiting reciprocation by the PKK-YPG and a call for a general strike in Catalonia which, in the lack of common interests between nationalism and the workers, has become a lockout.
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.
European stocks are bordering on a crash situation. In Spain the day opened with a sudden downturn in employment this September… despite European tourists delaying their holidays. Around the world, the worst oil production figures in 16 years and the stagnation of world trade (1.2%) speak of a productive engine unable to rev up or even keep up its rhythm. In Europe as a whole, industrial production has been at its worst since 2012. The first victim: Germany. Economic activity figures for 2019 have fallen so low that Germans coined the term “mini-growth” to describe the aggregate result.
This week started with the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, the first sign of a crisis that is already plunging into recession; the trade war took over the universal postal system – a historic jewel of rising capitalism; it showed the inanity and immorality of the new ideologies of “sacred ecological union” with the bourgeoisie; it exacerbated the battle of the bourgeois factions in the United States; and it made clear the immediate limits that unions and the left impose on the only struggles that can offer a perspective of overcoming the morass that is unfolding before our eyes.
We are starting a new section: a weekly news report that puts into perspective the short term and its relationship with the interests and mobilizations of workers around the world.