What’s coming next

2 September, 2020 · News> Global situation> Weekly Report

In Spain

no international media denies it anymore: April’s accelerated deconfinement was the source of the second wave that is now emerging. But putting investments ahead of workers’ lives didn’t bring the bourgeoisie what they expected either: Spain became a dangerous destination and tourism saw an income drop of almost 80%. It was not the only affected sector: car sales fell by almost 40% and the whole industrial sector has no other expectation than recession. In short: we workers put our bodies for interests that were not ours, and as it could not be otherwise, what we have obtained is the highest unemployment in Europe.

What’s next? A back to school operation of impossible safety and, with it, an acceleration of the epidemic’s escalation that will put the hospitals closer and closer to saturation. In the productive sector highly indebted and defaulter companies incapable of holding up their heads and capital that will go en masse, as is already chronic in Spain, to housing speculation. Macro data are becoming increasingly worse and getting more distant from the bombastic promises of recovery made by the government, pointing to a destruction of production and rampant unemployment. All very adorned with political and media noise around the budgets. But let us not deceive ourselves: 81% of the budget is already legally committed, the rest, which comes mostly from EU funds, will be used to try to give outlets to capital -green deal, digitalization- and breathing space to some hyper-indebted companies.

The workers, as the official data already tells us, will keep on getting into debt, but less and less in order to buy a house and increasingly more to pay for their shopping basket: the mortgages granted drop, consumer credits go up. And if this were not enough, in the rest of the year the first steps of a wave of attacks on pensions will follow.

Teachers’ protest yesterday in Greece.

In Europe

the pandemic situation is at the moment less dramatic, but the attacks on workers will not be less profound. In France, the return to school will surely take its toll on some under-resourced public hospitals whose workers are mobilizing in desperation due to the lack of means. But the government’s initiative is not going to address this. In case we hadn’t noticed, lives, as long as the health system doesn’t dramatically collapse, appear for them in the expense category to be cut. What matters to the government is to resume the pension reform. In Greece, which has also paid in outbreaks for the rescue of tourism sector investments, the government has already passed a new law which makes lockdowns recoverable by businesses at the rate of three hours overtime per day.

It is not surprising that absenteeism in the return to school operation is becoming massive in half of Europe. But let’s not forget that for the most precarious sector of workers this is not an option either. Even the Spanish press reports are beginning to gather testimonials from teachers who report that the school lunchroom is the only daily meal for more and more children.

What about Germany? Its capitals expect to be among the winners of the crisis. After the biggest public expenditure since the world war, they are congratulating themselves for a softer recession than expected. But their exports keep falling… and half of the jobs are in the export sector. So the famous German training system is failing: businesses no longer take on apprentices, the job market will certainly not recover in the short term and the purchasing power of the workers is beginning to decline steadily and consistently. That is, the severity and speed of the attacks may vary depending on the results of capital in each country, but what is clear is that nowhere can capital be expected to offer anything other than sacrifices and pauperization.

Another thing in which Germany is showing us what awaits us globally is in the new forms of petty bourgeois revolt. It is one of the first countries in which the bannonites have taken the leadership of the movement, to the point of shocking the solid German repressive apparatus, which wasn’t expecting it. However, the rise of bannonism is only one face of a revolt that, however inane and impotent, is not going to weaken in what is to come. In places where there are strong separatist or pro-independence forces, such as in Scotland, new tensions are already beginning to show up, spurred on by the budgetary difficulties of the nationalist party in the regional government and the perspective of a Brexit that is looking increasingly draconian. The Scottish government declares that it is determined to adopt legislation on its own to hold a new referendum … which may well run aground on the British legal system, but which will create a situation of permanent and inconclusive conflict. And if centrifugal forces are going to become stronger and stronger in Great Britain, it is very likely that we will see a rebirth of independentism in Catalonia and new internal tensions among the Belgian ruling class.

In Argentina

where the incidence of Covid already exceeds that of Mexico, the risk agencies reminded everyone that the agreement with the bondholders and the debt restructuring does not reduce the total debt, it has only lowered the amount of interest and has extended the payment time. That is, national capital has bought time. And its whole game is about time: now delays the swine production agreement with China. To incorporate environmental clauses and cover itself against the risk of being lumped in with Brazil by the EU. Because, as the Brazilian vice-president himself confessed, the Mercosur-EU agreement is beginning to falter without even having been applied. So everything points to Argentina attempting to lay the groundwork for a future attempt to maintain the terms of the EU-Mercosur agreement in a particular agreement with the Europeans in case the trade partnership signed last year cannot be rescued by Uruguayan and Argentine diplomacy and the prospect of access to European markets breaks down definitively.

It is the same thing that we see in all the other semi-colonial countries, definitely in decline. In Algeria, the government is trying to renegotiate its agreement with the EU in the face of the destruction of its industrial fabric, incapable of withstanding European competition. This is just another example of a semi-colonial country in which the drop in the price of raw materials -in this case gas and oil- produces at the same time public debt, industrial destruction and capital flight. In Lebanon, the situation is so deteriorated that the prospect for the workers and a good part of the population is none other than famine. And the same thing happens with Turkey and Greece, whose way of fleeing from the trap of any semi-colonial economy leads them to a permanent struggle for the new gas fieldsto be exploited by foreign big oil companies– which is projected in an increasingly extensive, dangerous and lethal series of proxy wars. The main lesson we have to draw from this is that, in the decadent capitalism in which we live, there is no opposition between imperialist countries and semicolonial countries; the semicolonial countries are as imperialist as the great powers and in fact are driven towards militarism and expansionism with as much or more violence as the strongest national capitals.

In China

, where exports are recovering and industrial production reached its maximum since 2011 neither can we expect the slightest relaxation in the pressure of national capital against the living conditions of the workers. Xi’s academic bureaucrats recommend giving fluidity to internal migration and minimally training workers from the interior in order to lower wages through competition among workers by increasing the available supply of labor.

Migrants are an essential part of the Chinese proletariat, but they are excluded from even the statistics and have witnessed over these months how the factories in which they work have been shuttered down. For them, returning to a starving countryside was not an option, despite unemployment and the fall of their income below the vital minimum. And yet, they are fighting and striking in all the industrial zones, a fight from which we can only hear distant echoes because of the information blockade.

All over the world

. In fact, this is the only good news that we workers can expect. The record of struggles from May to today points to a global development of struggles involving workers in more and more sectors and countries. This last quarter of 2020 should begin to point to a step forward. Defending our needs, which are universal human needs, and not waiting for trade unions which always put forward a viability that can only be at our expense, is the only way to face what is coming at us.

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