Revolution or War n°22

(September 2022)

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Crisis and War are Raging. The Issue of The Moment... ? Not to Leave The Initiative and The Leadership of The Struggles to The Unions

Prosperity and peace have disappeared from the capitalist gospels. And from the minds. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the lines of confrontation between bourgeois propaganda and ideology on the one hand and the theory and principles of the proletariat, Marxism, on the other hand have shifted. The fight to warn the proletarian ranks of the inevitability of the crisis of capital as well as of the imperialist war belongs to the past as a central battle. The struggle to convince the proletarian camp, especially the forces of the Communist Left, of the danger and the perspective of the Third World Imperialist War and the historical alternative of revolution or war is a thing of the past. Crisis and war have become immediate realities announcing an increased and brutal fall into generalized suffering and misery. An obviousness for all. And even for the bourgeoisie, which does not even try to hide it anymore. [1]

As for the revolutionary political forces, only the most sectarian and sclerotic refuse to take note of the general rearmament, of the calls to develop the war economy and of the accelerated imperialist polarization of these last six months. [2] There is no central struggle now, no urgency, to convince the most dynamic components of the proletarian camp, who have remained faithful to the principles of Marxism, of the reality and actuality of the threat of a march to the generalized imperialist war as well as of the historical alternative. They are convinced of this and try to act accordingly.

The central ideological and political confrontation has moved to the field of direct confrontation between classes, to the ground of workers’ struggles and above all to that of their conduct, of their political direction. What is at stake is not even the capacity of the proletariat to react, as some could still doubt a few months ago. Just as the crisis and the war have become dramatic and bloody realities, so is the resumption of its struggles by the international proletariat. The more or less massive revolts of the less developed capitalist countries are now answered by the dynamics of strikes and proletarian struggles of the most developed countries. There is no need to convince the proletarians that they have to struggle. They are struggling. They try to respond to the crisis. They react above all to the general rise in prices, to the inflation that is exploding everywhere, on all continents, in all countries, without exception. Faced with the current inflation, the wage demand is central. It therefore becomes the political object and factor of the generalization and unity of proletarian struggles. And, by fighting for the wages, the proletariat breaks de facto the national unity and rises against the sacrifices that each national bourgeoisie, each government, each state, wants to impose to it for the defense of national capital and the needs of imperialist war. As a result, its national indiscipline tends to become a brake, an obstacle, objective, relative and tendentious, to the forced march of capitalism towards generalized imperialist war.

The current strikes in the UK are setting the tone for the international class struggle. The proletariat of Great Britain is showing the way forward: engage in the struggle without further delay. [3] The fact that the British bourgeoisie is one of the most warlike against Russia in Ukraine illustrates, oh how much, the reality of the historical stakes, of the alternative revolution or war and the proletarian potentialities. But above all, the current strikes show that the central fight that the proletarians in struggle must lead today crystallizes around their leadership and their control. Faced with a dynamic of spontaneous workers’ reactions, of wildcat strikes, since May, the bourgeoisie has not remained inactive. Far from opposing these strikes head-on, the unions are trying to overlap them and take over their direction in order to better undermine and hinder from within the dynamics towards their generalization and unity. By organizing votes to decide on legal strikes, they have sought, and apparently succeeded, in controlling the tempo and imposing their ground: that of successive days of action by corporation or sector. Their objective is clearly stated: to play for time by threatening a general strike for... October. [4] After the appointment of the new Prime Minister!

To the reality in movement of a hot summer marked by a dynamic of mobilization and generalized strike, of mass strike, the unions oppose a “hot autumn” for later. To accept this tempo is to accept the tempo of the bourgeoisie and its unions. It means giving them up the control over the timing and the terrain of the confrontation. It means letting the succession of days of action by sector or corporation go on unopposed, which can only disorientate first, then divide, and finally demoralize the proletarians in struggle. It is to give up the struggle for unitary demands allowing all the sectors to recognize them as their own, to take them up and thus to unite around them. It is not to assume the indispensable real struggle, in the assemblies, on the pickets, in the workplaces, against the substitution by the unions of the dynamics of extension, generalization and unity by that of sectorization and division by corporation and specific demands; in the end to let the division settle itself. Waiting for the trade union autumn means allowing the various days of action to serve as a counter-fire and, in the end, to smother the blaze of the proletarian summer that is still going on today. It is to accept the preparation of the workers’ defeat without delivering a real fight.

That’s why we called, and still call at the time of writing [5], the proletarians of Great Britain to enter into struggle all together, at the same time, without waiting, so that they can keep the initiative which has been shown both by the unofficial strikes of May and June and by the massive participation in the official strikes. The organization of successive strike days, sector by sector, corporation by corporation by the unions, the absence – to our knowledge – of any attempt to “overrun” the unions, for example by refusing to go back to work after a day of action, the apparent sympathy or understanding of the media towards the strikers so far, leads us to think that we are already behind the events; that the bourgeoisie succeeds in mastering the dynamics of the events and in seizing the effective control over the strikes. For all that, the confrontation continues. If the proletarians want to keep, or take back, the initiative of the struggle, they have to contest the direction, the objectives and the means of it to the unions, whether it is the central unions or the base union sections. And it is today that this is at stake. Not in two or three months. That will be too late. In the United Kingdom, at the very moment when the proletarians are in open and massive struggle, the time is not for propaganda but for agitation. The time is not for explanation and analysis, but for concrete orientations and action slogans for the struggle.

To call the proletarians to contest to the unions and leftism the control of the timing, of the goals, of the grounds and of the means, is the first responsibility of the communist vanguards. Thus, far from letting the bourgeoisie and the unions maneuver as they please and impose the terrain and the moment of the battles, it is up to them to rise up to the political vanguard of the conflict, to anticipate as much as possible the course of events and confrontations; in short, to assure a real political direction of the struggle of our class. In this sense, it is also up to them, as political leadership, to participate in the fight for the definition and adoption of immediate demands that allow the extension, the generalization and the greatest unity of the struggle. Convincing of the need to provide concrete orientations and slogans for action during the very course of the struggle, and according to its dynamics, its moments and different episodes, its highs and lows, becomes in turn an issue within the communist forces and the proletarian camp.

“Instead of puzzling their heads with the technical side, with the mechanism, of the mass strike, the social democrats are called upon to assume political leadership in the midst of the revolutionary period. To give the cue for, and the direction to, the fight; to so regulate the tactics of the political struggle in its every phase and at its every moment that the entire sum of the available power of the proletariat which is already released and active, will find expression in the battle array of the party; to see that the tactics of the social democrats are decided according to their resoluteness and acuteness and that they never fall below the level demanded by the actual relations of forces, but rather rise above it – that is the most important task of the directing body in a period of mass strikes.” (Rosa Luxemburg, we underline) [6]

As we write, and as the week-long Felixstowe dockers’ strike comes to an end, the stakes remain the same: to warn strikers and non-strikers alike, to convince other revolutionary forces, that waiting for the hot autumn announced and planned by the British unions is tantamount to leaving them the field of the initiative and conduct of the strikes; and to let them set up and plan the union days whose final goal will be to smother the last embers of the summer’s mobilization.

“To drag at the tail of the movement [is] of no service to the movement; at worst, it would be exceedingly harmful.” (Lenin, What Is to Be Done?)

Revolution or War, August 26th 2022



[1. “Global Economic Growth Slows Amid Gloomy and More Uncertain Outlook. (…) This reflects stalling growth in the world’s three largest economies—the United States, China and the euro area—with important consequences for the global outlook.” (IMF, July 2022,

[2. We have a special thought for the specific case of the International Communist Current and its opportunist theory of the Decomposition which excludes any perspective and danger of generalized imperialist war. Indeed, to go back on this position will inevitably put into question the Decomposition, taking with it all its sectarian anti-parasite policies carried out since the 1990s at the cost of the exclusion and condemnation of dozens of its members. Faced with the historical reality and its contradictions, the survival of this organization and the political conviction of its members become increasingly difficult

[3. It is useless here to remind that the communists are not ’strikes culvicators’, that they do not call everywhere and always for the open struggle and for the strike, independently of the course of the events and particularly of the evolution of the balance of power between the classes

[4. See our communique and leaflete on the strikes in UK in this issue.

[5. With all the limits, even reservations on this or that particular aspect, due to our absence on the British territory and our difficulties to follow on a daily basis and ’on the spot’, by militant intervention in the workplaces and in the demonstrations and pickets.