Revolution or War n°20

(February 2022)

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Renewal of The Proletarian Struggles and Pushes towards The Generalized Imperialist War or The Question of the Historical Course

“Quantum mechanics teaches us not to think of the world in terms of things that are in this or that state, but in terms of process. A process is the passage from one interaction to another. The properties of things manifest themselves in a granular way only at the moment of the interaction, that is to say at the edges of the process, and are such only in relation to other things; they cannot be predicted univocally, but only probabilistically.”

(Carlo Rovelli, physicist, specialist in quantum gravity, Par-delà le visible, la réalité du mode physique et la gravité quantique, Odile Jacob sciences, 2014)

For the bourgeoisie, the proletariat does not exist or is no longer. At best, for the most “enlightened”, it is only a fixed and passive category, an object. Some revolutionaries join this vision of a proletariat as a passive object, of a thing in this or that a state, by proclaiming its disappearance, or its absence, or by reducing its existence to that of the communist party. In doing so, some by class interest, others by incomprehension or discouragement, do not see that the class struggle is a permanent and moving fact of the capitalist society, a process, and that the proletariat is only interaction with the bourgeoisie and vice versa. Even at the height of the periods of counter-revolution, the struggle between the classes, and therefore the proletarian struggle, however weak and limited it may be, continues to exist and to be one of the factors of the situation whose course can be, and must be, foreseen not in a univocal way but only in a probabilistic way. It is therefore not a matter of affirming in a univocal way that the course of events leads to revolution, but in a probable way that it leads to a frontal confrontation between classes, that the course is towards massive confrontations between classes. To determine in a probabilistic way the historical course of events, here towards a confrontation between classes in the context of ever stronger pushes towards imperialist war, is one of the essential tools of revolutionaries to be able to establish orientations and slogans adapted to the historical as well as to the immediate, international, national, local or even particular situations and to their different moments.

Today, and despite the persistence of the pandemic and the pretext it provides to the States to reinforce the measures of control and social repression in the name of the fight against the Covid, it is undeniable that a renewal of workers’ struggles has been manifesting itself for some months on all continents. The dynamic of proletarian struggles that had started in the autumn of 2019 [1] had been halted and interrupted by the explosion of the coronavirus, the generalized lockdown measures and the paralysis of a large part of the world’s productive apparatus. All the more so as the richest capitalist states, mainly in Europe and North America, had hastened to decide either to maintain salaries, or to grant unemployment benefits and other benefits, sometimes simple cheques as in the United States, in order to prevent any generalized social explosion that respect for capitalist laws, known as “market”, would have inevitably and dramatically provoked. Today, the bill – “whatever it costs” said French president Macron – which is presented mainly to the proletarians [2], if only in the form of wage freezes and inflation for the time being, provokes the first proletarian reactions. This bill, that of the gaping hole in the public finances and of the gigantic generalized debt that comes on top of the increased exploitation of labor due to the accelerated fall in the profit rates of productive capital, is the signal, the first battle of magnitude, of the massive confrontations between the classes. These will decide the historical course leading either to the generalized imperialist war or to open – without guarantee of success – the door to the revolutionary and communist perspective of the international proletariat. This is the probable forecast that Marxism and the revolutionaries, the party, can and must advance today if they want to stand effectively and efficiently in the vanguard of their class struggle. This is the probable historical course of the present situation. Is it verifiable? Can it be verified?

The renewal of struggles must clear the proletarian perspective

The list of recent proletarian struggles is long. According to the revolutionary group Emancipation, the year 2021, which saw almost 17,000 strikes, “saw the end of the ‘Covid strikes’, but also the promising appearance of mass struggles in new regions” [3] of the world, in fact on all continents. Most of the “Covid strikes and struggles” responded only to health concerns, certainly legitimate ones, mainly to the dangers of infection in the workplaces. They remained therefore very limited, without real perspectives of massive and generalized struggle. The proletarian struggles of these last months tend to be situated on a firmer class terrain, in particular on the wage terrain in the face of growing inflation and, as such, they are of direct interest to the whole exploited and revolutionary class. Every worker can only recognize themselves in these demands and struggles. The revolutionary and communist press has reported on this new dynamic, has welcomed it, of course, and has actively supported it, in particular by intervening with leaflets when the opportunity arose. To verify the reality of the facts, we refer our readers to the websites of the Internationalist Communist Tendency, the group Emancipation, the ICP-Proletarian, and – for once – the International Communist Current, to name only the main ones that have reported and informed about the different workers’ struggles of the last few years.

It should be noted that, while pointing out their limitations, all groups agree on the new dynamic, the awakening, of proletarian struggles. “The ongoing strike of 1,400 Kellogg’s workers throughout the US is a continuing source of inspiration to other workers in this country and abroad who are joining in what is a fragile but significant reawakening of our class.” (ICT) [4] After these two years of extreme confusion and generalized disorientation, favored and aggravated by the petty bourgeois revolts of all kinds that we have witnessed, the reappearance of the proletariat as the only force antagonistic to capital and the only one in a position to offer an alternative to it is in itself a fundamental fact that changes – tends to change – the setting given by Covid for the last two years ; that is to say, it opens a new dynamic of the evolution of the world relation of forces between classes, between capital and labor, between bourgeoisie and proletariat. The concrete affirmation of the proletariat as a class in the defense of its living and working conditions makes equally concrete, factors of the situation, the affirmation and the defense of the historical slogans of the communist movement, the mass strike, the proletarian insurrection, the destruction of the bourgeois state, the class dictatorship and communism itself. These principles of communism carried and materialized by the communist groups, the party in the making, from simple propaganda objects tend to become weapons and slogans on the occasion of the proletarian thrusts, even incipient and timid, because they are the only ones allowing to guide with success and efficiency the action, the means and the goals of the daily fights. This is the first stake of the present situation.

What Defines The Current Historical Course?

But it is still necessary to grasp the real dynamic and its potentialities, general as well as particular, local or temporal, in order to define orientations and more immediate slogans of each moment and situation of the workers’ struggles. It would be a mistake, it seems to us, to see in the current revival only the simple – mechanical – reaction to the crisis and to the attacks that capital is forced to carry out against the exploited class in order to maintain at all costs a minimum of its profits and the continuation of capitalist accumulation. The error would be only a small one if it did not risk having consequences for the understanding of the real course of the confrontation between the classes and therefore in the capacity, which falls to the communist groups, to the party tomorrow, to orient itself in the coming turmoil.

It is not possible to understand today the full significance, the full extent of the policies adopted by the different bourgeoisie towards the crisis and the proletariat without taking into account the deep tendencies of capital towards generalized imperialist war. The pressures towards it on the bourgeoisie are just as pressing as those directly due to the crisis, forcing it to attack the proletariat more and more. The present historical course is determined, and will be determined for the whole period of massive confrontation between the classes that is opening, by the relationship between the proletariat and war as a probable perspective, that is, by the alternative of proletarian revolution or generalized imperialist war.

This imperative – due to the crisis – of the generalized imperialist war for the ruling class determines each time more the content and the violence of its attacks against the proletariat and therefore the terms and terrain of the confrontation. As the platform – updated in 2020 – of the Internationalist Communist Tendency perfectly states, once again the question of imperialist war or the proletarian revolution is being placed on the historical agenda and imposes on revolutionaries throughout the world the need to close ranks. In the epoch of global monopoly capitalism no country can escape the forces which drive capitalism to war. Capitalism’s ineluctable drive towards war is expressed today in the universal attack on the working and living conditions of the proletariat.”

It is therefore not only the crisis itself that determines the content and the extent of the attacks to which the proletariat must respond, but also the future of the generalized war. This is why every workers’ struggle is opposed to the whole state apparatus, the organ of the class dictatorship uniting all the bourgeois fractions, all united against the proletariat. This is why any workers’ struggle that is even slightly consistent is presented as the work of irresponsible people, or very often now of terrorists, such as the “criminal” steelworkers of Cadiz during their strike last November. Any wage or other demand aiming at loosening the grip of the capitalist exploitation of labor does not only limit the profit of this or that capitalist, nor even only the competitiveness of the national capital on the world market, but also hinders de facto – tends to hinder – the industrial, economic, social, political and ideological preparation of each national capital in view of its participation in the generalized war, the only way for it in the end to “defend its piece of the pie”, the only way to keep its head above water in the generalized catastrophe. Thus, for the bourgeoisie, any workers’ struggle that is at least consistent, that is to say, that defends the needs and necessities of the workers without any bourgeois economic consideration, is irresponsible, selfish, anti-national or anti-patriotic. We will not deny it: any strike today becomes in fact an expression, a germ, of revolutionary defeatism and proletarian internationalism.

It is therefore crucial to link the actual materialization, and in the making, of imperialist polarization with the conditions and potentialities of workers’ struggles and to deduce, predict and anticipate their particular dynamics. If we retain as probable the imperialist configuration such as it seems to be taking shape at the moment, that of a polarization around the United States on one side and China on the other, to the detriment of another such as a Europe-America polarization for example [5], then the role and the responsibility of the proletariats of China and Europe vis-à-vis the international proletariat as a whole and in front of the march to war will differ. Likewise, the ideological themes for mobilizing the American proletariat, which are essentially of democratic order, will not have the same effect if it matters to mobilize against China or against Europe. In Europe, the proletariat, which has the greatest historical experience of struggle, of generalized war and of the pitfalls of bourgeois democracy, will not be able to intervene directly on the two main imperialist protagonists. Will it be able, because of its historical experience, to clear the revolutionary path and present the perspective of communism to the international proletariat? In America, the experience against war is less – the first two world wars did not touch the country – and the democratic illusions are probably more anchored, but the American proletariat is at the heart of the historical situation because it is directly opposed to the most powerful bourgeoisie and the one which is the most warlike. Whatever the final imperialist configuration and the course of the class struggle, its role will be central and will undoubtedly tip the balance on one side or the other of the historical alternative. In China, one can assume that the proletariat has even less experience, although it is massively concentrated in large factories. Will it be able to oppose the class war to the imperialist war as the proletariat was able to do in Russia in 1917 and thus become the trigger of an international revolutionary wave?

In fact, without underestimating the importance and the absolute necessity that the proletariat of the more peripheral countries and continents, whether they are “rich” – Australia or New Zealand for instance – or “poor” as in Africa or Asia, engage in the fight for communism and join the whole international proletariat, and without excluding in an absolute way the possibility that one or the other could momentarily take the lead, its role in relation to the generalized imperialist war will be peripheral as well. Underlining these differences in the situations of the different fractions of the world proletariat should not make us forget that the action of each of them intervenes, influences, inspires, when they do not guide the other fractions of the world proletariat. In the end, there is only one international class struggle and one universal proletariat.

Mass strikes and massive confrontations between the classes will see their dynamics being influenced as much by the evolution of the economic crisis itself as by the evolution of the imperialist polarization, just as they will influence in one form or another the dynamics towards war. In fact, a race of speed is engaged between the two, revolution or war, knowing that the bourgeoisie will not be able to avoid confronting the proletariat frontally and brutally in order to impose political, ideological and physical bloody defeats.

Workers’ Struggles in the United States and Their Relationship to War

However limited the struggles and strikes of last autumn in the US were, the fact that they developed in the first imperialist power, moreover the one that pushes most towards imperialist polarization and war, is already in itself a first response of the proletariat and, in fact, a hindrance, a brake to the march to war, certainly still largely insignificant in its current state but significant if considered in movement, as a process. The October 2021 strikes of the 10,000 workers of the agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere and of the employees of Kelloggs, the latter lasting two months, as well as the struggle of “more than 24,000 nurses and other health workers in California and Oregon” [6] are the clearest expressions of this. The fact that they have denounced the company agreements signed by the unions and that they have asserted unitary demands, integrating legacy workers and transitory workers – because
two-tiered wage system – in the same demands, bringing them together in the strike, even though the legacy ones could “benefit” from the contract signed by the unions, expresses not only solidarity, which is certainly elementary, but above all a will and determination to fight in the defense of class interests that are contrary to the interests of capital and of the American nation. Equally important is the fact that they come to disprove the idea that America is divided between pro-Trump fascist racists on the one hand and pro-democracy anti-racists who are followers of identity and racialist theories on the other, knowing that some unions, in education in particular, had not hesitated to put forward specific demands according to the workers’ skin color and origin. In this sense, they are also a denial and proletarian response to the whole ideological and political campaign that had been massively bludgeoned in 2019 after the police murder of G. Floyd and that had ended with an unequalled massive electoral participation.

That the U.S. proletariat can free itself, essentially through its struggles, from the grip of democratic and nationalist ideology, the one of the “American dream” and the “self-made man”, will be crucial in holding back the armed and bloody arm of U.S. imperialism, whether against another imperialism or against any victorious proletarian insurrection in another part of the world. The U.S. bourgeoisie, even less than the others, will not hesitate to launch missiles and atomic bombs on any country or group of countries in which the proletariat will have taken power. This is why we say that the proletariat of North America will be at the heart of the historical situation: either it will give the signal of the generalized workers’ insurrection by its own action [7] ; or in the case that one or more other proletariats will take the initiative of the insurrection and will exercise the class dictatorship in other regions, it will be in the first line to paralyze the main armed wing of the international counter-revolution. Already, the proletarian struggles in the country, however limited they may be, are calling out to the international proletariat and setting an example to follow. Just as it gives the signal to the American bourgeoisie that it will have to account for it; that is to say, to confront and inflict a minimal defeat on it in order to have its hands free enough for its warlike imperialist designs. The proletariat of America is not a passive object in this or that state but a subject of history because of its interaction and its opposition to its own bourgeoisie. The massive confrontations between the classes will also, and we hope especially, pass through the United States.

International Dynamic of Working Class’ Struggles

The renewal of the workers’ combativity is international and crosses all the continents. In countries without a democratic tradition and where the unions appear openly for what they are everywhere, that is to say the organs of the capitalist state, the proletarians have no other choice than to launch themselves boldly into the struggle and to try to extend it as quickly as possible before the repression can be exerted on them. These are real examples of mass strike in action that the proletarians of Iran, last summer, or of Kazakhstan, at the beginning of January, have been able to launch. The demands are always the same: higher wages to cope with price increases. In countries with a democratic tradition and where the unions present themselves as independent of the authorities, as in Europe in particular, the strikes that have broken out and are still breaking out are based on the same type of demands. If the unions keep control over these and still manage to sabotage the extension and generalization, the dynamic of the mass strike is well present. The strike of the metalworkers of Cadiz in Spain illustrates at best the recovered combativity and this dynamic. In this, it does not differ fundamentally from the struggles in the United States or in Iran or elsewhere. We allow ourselves to reproduce the account that the Spanish group Barbaria [8] gave of the strike in Cadiz, which overlaps with what other groups, Emancipation and the ICC, which were able to follow this struggle closely, also reported.

“What this means is that any mobilization will be dismantled if it does not follow the principles which have marked the successes of our movement (it should be pointed out that there have also been some), and which are none other than internationalism and the independence of our class, which in a strike is concretized on the one hand by extending it to other sectors – and not isolating it in just one –, a tendency which has been seen in the Cadiz strike, which had a marked tendency to go beyond the framework of the factory, spreading to the urban environment of Cadiz and San Fernando through demonstrations and neighborhood assemblies, and on the other hand handing over all the power of decision on the strike to the assembly formed by the workers themselves, and not to unions alien to them and with interests different, if not opposed, to those of our class.”(translated by us)

It is worth noting several common characteristics that have emerged in the struggles, whether in the United States, in Spain (Cadiz) or elsewhere such as in Iran. Most of them tend to oppose the unions, in particular the agreements they sign with the management, to impose the strike in spite of them, to reject any division between proletarians, in particular between those with a fixed contract and those with a precarious contract [9], and finally to seek – even if still too timidly – the extension of their struggle to other sectors.

The dynamic of renewal of struggles is thus well present. It presages confrontations more and more massive; and brutal because of the state repression which becomes systematic and generalized. In this sense, the measures of control of the population taken on the occasion of the pandemic come at the same time to reinforce the measures of surveillance and repression but also prepares, accustoms, the public opinion to it. The bourgeoisie is also preparing for the confrontation.

Fighting for The Political Leadership of The Struggles

Even so, the first and main obstacle that the proletarians in struggle encounter is the unions, whether it is the big trade union or the grassroots unionism, as all the above-mentioned revolutionary groups have concretely and rightly denounced. It would be a mistake to advance only self-organization in itself, in particular the holding of General Assemblies, as an antidote or guarantee against the various and sundry sabotages of trade unionism and leftists. If we can note certain formulas opening the door to what we call fetishism of self-organization and that we criticize because putting this as a prerequisite to the struggle – such as “the ability to push forward the struggles will depend increasingly on the initial forms of organization” [10] – it is important to support the political orientation that makes the organizations with which the proletarians in struggle equip themselves as organs of such or such task and orientation.

“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.” [11]

However, in order to realize this orientation of extension and generalization, whether by means of assemblies, massive delegations, picket lines, street demonstrations, etc., it is still necessary that the proletarians in struggle assume the inevitable confrontation with the unions and the leftists. This is a political struggle against the forces of the state in the working class milieu, without which neither extension nor generalization, and therefore neither retreat of the bourgeoisie on this or that demand, is possible. It is therefore up to the most combative and conscious proletarians to take charge of this confrontation for the direction and orientation of each workers’ struggle at the expense of the unions and leftism. And when it is possible, to prepare for it by regrouping in struggle committees or other.

But contesting the leadership of the unions to counter their sabotage is not simply a matter of “rank-and-file workers” versus “bureaucrats” and the union apparatus. It is also necessary to oppose the latter with orientations and slogans, including sometimes demands, that correspond to each situation and moment, to each particular battle or issue. In short, it is necessary to be part of the real process, to be an active factor in it and not to base one’s positioning on this or that state of the different elements in themselves, forgetting that they are in interaction. The political direction of struggles cannot be decreed. It is disputed and won, or not, in the capacity of the most combative proletarians to clear and impose the concrete ways for the development and the generalization of their struggle. And this even in the most isolated and immediate struggles. This is where the function of communist organizations or political groups, whether or not they have militants on the spot, is not only essential but even crucial. As will be that of the party of tomorrow.

Equipped with the principles of communism and armed with the understanding that the course of history leads to class confrontations in order to resolve the alternative of proletarian revolution or generalized imperialist war, they are the best, if not the only ones, able to evaluate the particular and general relations of forces and their dynamics and, thus, to put forward orientations and slogans corresponding to the needs of each moment of struggle. In doing so, they prove the daily and historical efficiency of the principles of communism, of its theory of historical materialism, and therefore of the party, if not of the communist groups, which materialize program, principles and method. In this way the party, today the forces of the party in the making, assumes and finally wins the effective political leadership of the proletariat.

It is the sine qua non condition, but not the absolute guarantee, of the victorious insurrectional capacity of the proletariat and of the exercise of the class dictatorship to put an end to capital, misery and war. In a more immediate way, that is to say today in the dynamics of renewal of the workers’ struggles, the fight for the effective political direction of the proletarian struggles still remains in an embryonic state, largely in the making, in spite of the efforts of all the revolutionary groups. Even so, we are convinced that there is already today a link – that we will dare to qualify as dialectical – between the very dynamics of the struggles that are emerging and the intervention and propaganda of the proletariat’s political vanguards. And it is not so much the degree reached by the economic crisis that reinforces this link – historically there are many cases where economic crisis and development of workers’ struggles do not correspond – but the pushes to generalized imperialist war that is the fundamental, historical reason. This dynamic link between the two has for content, reality, the defense and the implementation of the principle of proletarian internationalism extended to the principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat as Lenin said. For it is in the real, concrete, in-process relationship of the international proletariat to the perspective of generalized war, through its struggles, and through the active and decided intervention of the communist groups and militants of today in these struggles, that the party will be able, at the price of efforts and struggles just as hard, to constitute itself and to guide the revolutionary class until the insurrection, the dictatorship of the proletariat and, at the end, to communism.

The revival of the current struggles, besides expressing the inevitable defense of the living and working conditions of the proletarians, which are deteriorating in an accelerated way, is the first expression of this perspective. It allows us to verify that the historical course is indeed towards massive confrontations between classes.

RL, January 31st 2022



[1. The highest point of which was the two months of strikes in different sectors, mainly transport, in France in December 2019 and January 2020 (see Revolution or War #14 and the communiques we published at that time).

[2. But also in part to important strata of the petty-bourgeoisie thrown into misery.

[4. December 5th 2021 Leaflet distributed by the IWG, affiliate of the ICT in the US ,

[5. The same one that seemed to emerge during the Iraq war of 2003 and that saw Germany and France polarize around them the opposition, in particular of Russia and China, to the American adventure, which was supported by the Anglo-Saxon countries.

[6. ICT,
USA: ’Striketober’, An Unprecedented Wave of Strikes,

[7. This, without ruling it out absolutely, seems unlikely to us today for reasons that we cannot go into here. On this question, we refer the reader to the critique of the weakest link theory developed in particular by the ICC in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, one can refer to the internal debate reported in the International Review 57, 1984 (

[8. Barbaria is a revolutionary group in Spain that appeared in 2018. Its website publishes a few pages in English to which the non-Spanish-speaking reader can refer if needed.

[9. Whether at John Deere or Kelloggs in the United States or in Cadiz, proletarians with fixed contracts or status did not hesitate to fight alongside precarious workers, even when the agreement signed by the unions did not directly affect them. This phenomenon had already manifested itself during the strikes of autumn-winter 2019 in France: a large part of the strikers of the railways or urban transport, as in Paris, were not directly affected by the ’reform’ on pensions. This had not prevented them, on the contrary, to strike for two months.