Revolution or War n°15

(May 16th 2020)

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Communique of March 15th 2020

No to National Unity in the Face of the Pandemic Caused by Capitalism!
No to Sacrifices for the Safeguard of Capital!
It is not up to the Proletarians to Pay for the Coronavirus and the Crisis!
(IGCL, 15 March 2020).

In addition to our position, we invite readers to read the communiqués published on March 11 by ICP-Proletarian (, not in English yet) and on March 14 by the group Emancipation (Nuevo Curso) and the article of the Internationalist Communist Tendency, Italy: Class Struggle in the Time of the Coronavirus, on which we rely to a great extent and which we all quote below. All these positions are in the same direction to denounce the covid-19 pandemic as a product of capitalism and the calls for national unity and to support the few proletarian reactions that have been expressed – especially in Italy. They call on the entire international proletariat to follow this example. That, despite their differences, sometimes profound, different communist groups among the most active of the ’partidist’ camp, whether they directly claim to be from the Communist Left or not, can intervene on the same side of the class barricade is important to underline and welcome.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the speeches of Trump, Macron, Trudeau, Merkel, Putin, Xi Jinping and other imperialist leaders all sound alike. They are calls for national union [1] while at the same time strengthening police control of populations in the name of isolation and quarantine measures. Remove the word coronavirus and epidemic and put a call for the warlike defence of the nation and reality is coming. In fact, a real curfew has been introduced in countries such as China, Italy, Spain and even France, aiming above all to control the population...

The Coronavirus is Bursting the Capitalist Economic Crisis

The economic and political attacks against the proletariat can only be redoubled by the outbreak of the economic crisis, recession and financial crisis, of which the coronavirus is only the exogenous factor, an accident. The bursting of the open crisis was not only predicted for 2020-2021 according to many bourgeois economists but from the beginning of January 2020 according to economic indices that indicated a slowdown. In previous economic crises, gold was a safe haven for speculators - this is no longer even the case. The ECB [2] says that it cannot use all means as it did in the 2008 crisis - the negative interest rate policy and Quantitave Easing have their limits - but only a few.

In the immediate term, the trade war is still going on. For example, Trudeau is going to provide $275 million to Canadian researchers to find a vaccine. Every imperialist power wants to find it first. Heard on French television on March 14: "vaccine research will only be profitable if the epidemic continues"... As Engels wrote in his introduction to Dialectics of Nature, "the division of labour that had meanwhile become dominant in natural science, which more or less restricted each person to his special sphere [we could add to his own country], there being only a few whom it did not rob of a comprehensive view".

Coronavirus Reveals Capitalist Perspective of Widespread Imperialist War

"The closing of borders between nations is further proof that the bourgeoisies of different countries think in the same way: they think above all about defending their economies, their businesses, accusing other countries of being carriers of diseases, treating them as ’aggressors’ against whom one must defend oneself as in times of war: the aggressor is always the other one" (Communiqué of the ICP-Proletarian, 11 March 11th 2020,, translated by us).

The pandemic allows calls for returns to ’less globalized’ national economies. For example Trump which closes the American border to Europeans except for the United Kingdom at first (it is well known that the coronavirus does not infect the British). This is another step towards imperialist polarisation. As for Macron, he wants to strengthen the weight of the French imperialism in Europe by criticizing the nationalism of other European countries and by advocating, once again, a strengthening of the European Union, at least of its hard core, today in the name of European scientific research. In the same vein, former Italian Prime Minister Mateo Renzi, for whom "the coronavirus will be a change of era for Europe", calls for the "recentralisation of health services (...) and investment in infrastructure that Europe needs" (interview on French radio RTL, 12 March). The abandonment of the sacrosanct German dogma of budget deficits at zero (made official by Merkel), statements on the need to "relocate" key sectors of national production, protectionist measures, the explosion of state deficits and debts as never before that states are urgently taking, etc., are tantamount to concentrating and orienting the production apparatus around the states and the economic and imperialist defence of each national capital in opposition to the others, even if it means regrouping in close alliances, another characteristic of imperialist polarisation, as in the case of the major powers on the European continent. The coronavirus pandemic and the crisis which it is causing are also an opportunity, for the former, and a moment, for the latter, to the strengthening of imperialist tensions and the march to generalised war.

Capitalism Unable to Control and Check Coronary

One has to ask why the panic among all governments. There have been so many cuts in health and education services that the health situation was particularly dire before the pandemic. In France, exhausted doctors and nurses were asking for increased health budgets. And this autumn, Macron, far from supporting them as he hypocritically does now, sent the anti-riot police to gas them. As we write, more than two months before the start of the pandemic, capitalism is still unable to provide enough protective masks for the populations most at risk! So let’s not even mention the lack of respirators for patients with acute pneunomia. As was already the case in China and Italy, health specialists are talking about the risk of having to choose between the sick, including in the central countries of capitalism, between those who can benefit from emergency care and those who will be sent to die at home or in the street! While the bourgeoisie is capable of mobilizing billions to save the banks or send an armada to bombard entire countries.

Once the pandemic over, the hypocrisy and praise of politicians will stop and attacks on health care workers will resume. Another example that has been going on for years is that people have to wait several hours in an emergency room before seeing a doctor in Quebec. Health care workers in most countries are exhausted or on sick leave with budget cuts. An increase in serious cases of infection, as in Italy, has led to the collapse of the health care system in the absence of resources, hospital beds, respirators, and personnel.

Capital’s Only Remedy: Renewing Attacks on the Proletariat

The incitement of voluntary measures of internment (discreetly called isolation) by the media is a foretaste of measures that could be put in place to counter anti-war movements or the bankruptcy of states that could no longer pay civil servants. In many countries assemblies of 1000 to 100 people are banned. Other countries go even further, such as China and Italy, with compulsory containment measures that affect entire cities and regions of tens of millions of people.

"It is in fact the social prevention that the bourgeoisie implements to defend its power, its domination, its privileges. If, on the one hand, it shows that it does not have the capacity to prevent epidemics and to prevent these diseases from spreading rapidly throughout the world, hiding for reasons of purely economic interest - as has been irrefutably demonstrated - the seriousness of the disease when it appeared, on the other hand, it reveals that it has a very different objective from that hypocritically proclaimed ’defence of public health’: the defense of the capitalist economy, at a time when the economic crisis has already knocked on the doors of China, Italy, Germany and therefore the whole of Europe. The militarization of society is moving in this direction and Italy, in this case, can serve as a school for other ‘democratic’ countries’ "(Communiqué of the ICP, op. cit).

State propaganda on the coronavirus clears capitalism for the outbreak of the economic crisis and thus justifies the redoubled attacks on the working class. Indeed, the calls for national unity hardly hide the fact that the epidemic only further exacerbates class contradictions and the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie. In Italy, for example, in working class neighbourhoods, proletarians are left to themselves; preventive measures are not applied; evictions of tenants continue to be carried out; bar and restaurant employees, tourist guides, substitute teachers, etc. are without income and for an indefinite period of time despite this they must continue to pay rent, food, medicine, disinfectant, etc.

"The coronavirus epidemic, recently reclassified by the WHO as a pandemic because it affects all continents, shows today how the bourgeois ruling class is using an event of this kind to apply – in a period of particular economic difficulties for many world powers – a directly anti-proletarian policy (ibid.).

National Union or Struggle against Capital?

"Outside the workplace, everyone stays at home as much as possible, wearing masks outdoors, keeping at ‘safe’ distances, or in quarantine. By contrast, in crowded factories, with inadequate information, there are overcrowded changing rooms, and no disinfection. Apparently, it’s much too expensive for the bosses to comply with the instructions on healthcare: and it’s “irresponsible” of workers to demand them. (…) An evocative image of this situation is the 5.00am bus that, crowded with people piled on top of each other, takes the workers to the petrochemical plant in Marghera, near Venice. And there are many reported cases of workers being threatened with the sack just for asking for the coronavirus regulations to be applied ([Italy, Class Struggle in the Time of Coronavirus, Internationalist Communist Tendency [3]).

In this context, how can the proletariat fight? States in the hope of preventing resistance limit gatherings to, for example, 100 people in France and 250 in Quebec. The proletariat will also have to face the trade unions which, as in wars, support their bourgeoisie. As a small example, the first meeting of the Base Common Front [4] on Saturday in Montreal was cancelled. In spite of everything and in the Italian context, "The message from the bosses is “shut up and work even though we can’t offer you even the minimum conditions to guarantee your health”. This seems to be the slogan of the bosses everywhere, which has sparked the spontaneous strikes in Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, and Puglia. Hundreds of factories have stopped working. (…) We condemn the bosses, and support and spread the demand of all the workers: nobody should work if their health is at risk!"(ibid.).

In his interview, quoted above, Mateo Renzi urged the other European bourgeoisies "not to make the mistakes we made in Italy". In the light of what we learn from the sections of the ICP and the ICT in Italy, we better understand the profound meaning of the warning, especially since he was quick to add that "the most important public demonstrations should be blocked". The warning of the former Italian prime minister was not only aimed at the mere extension of the pandemic but also at the possible explosion of workers’ and popular reactions. No doubt it was also based on the few demonstrations hostile to the Chinese government that the press could not completely silence.

Even in the emergency in face of a pandemic caused by the very conditions of capitalist exploitation and the circulation of goods, the reality of today’s productive capacities, which capitalism has pushed forward as never before, would make it possible to reduce production in order to prevent proletarians from catching the virus at work and in transport, while continuing to ensure the material well-being of the world’s population. All the more so as it would make it possible to produce protective masks, respirators, to take in the critically ill, etc., if all the means available were aimed at general good health. But for this to happen, the needs of capital accumulation would have to be abandoned and the overwork, the surplus value, extorted from the proletarians by capital itself, would have to be considerably reduced. That is why calls for national unity are by no means a response to the pandemic. That is why the struggle of the proletariat is the way. Just like imperialist war or crisis, a pandemic does not put class struggle on hold. The bourgeoisie itself proves it to us still today.

It is not up to the proletarians to pay for the paralysis of production due to the pandemic and for the crisis. This is why we endorse much of the March 14 communiqué produced by the Emancipation Group (, whose Spanish-language intervention organ is better known as Nuevo Curso. We submit for reflection all the slogans and demands that the comrades put forward in the current situation.

"Not closing factories and workplaces, even when they become hotbeds for the spread of the coronavirus, is tantamount to sending workers to be infected with a serious disease. To offer temporary or total dismissal as the only alternative is criminal blackmail. (…).

But if the spread has multiplied it is because the priorities of each country’s bourgeoisies and their governments are focused on maintaining social order, preventing their national capital from being devalued, and trying to keep production “normal” by inertia. Their ideal is that we should uncritically obey the dictates of each moment and not worry or criticize but remain “united” as long as they deem necessary to the production of profits. We cannot accept this. The risk for working families and the general population is too high. That is why it, it is time to go on strike in all workplaces not engaged in essential production to ask for:

- The closure of all non-essential production and the implementation of general confinement ;

- Reversal of all dismissals, both permanent and temporary, and compensation as medical leave for workers throughout the period of confinement;

- The extension of testing to the entire population with symptoms;

- The urgent reinforcement of medical and health teams, and the setting up of a large enough number of emergency structures and hospitals to allow the monitoring and isolation of patients at risk"(Communiqué March 14th of the political group Emancipation (, better known under the nema of its intervention publication Nuevo Curso [5]).

The IGCL, March 15th 2020.



[1. Speeches similar to those at the time of the Charlie Hebdo Paris bombings, January 7th 2015.

[2. European Central Bank.

[4. Trade unionists who want to be critical of union leadership only.