Revolution or War n°24

(May 2023)

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Communique of January 23rd : In France as Elsewhere, Capitalism is Preparing for War by Imposing more and more Sacrifices on Proletarians

The following two communiqués on the proletarian mobilization against the new attack on the pension system in France “stop” at the end of March. However, the movement has continued until today with massive demonstrations on the occasion of May 1st. But, despite the continuing combativeness, the outcome of this class battle is no longer in doubt: the bourgeoisie succeeded in raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 and the working class suffered a new defeat. The fate was already fixed at the end of March, as the entire state apparatus, government, opposition from the left and the right, unions and leftists, managed to keep political control over this mobilization. At no time, except for the fools who get excited at the sight of garbage fires in the streets, has the working class questioned – or even considered questioning – the control and direction of this struggle by the unions and their day of action tactics. While it is premature to draw any definitive conclusions, it will be necessary to question the chronic inability of the proletariat in France to oppose union tactics that regularly lead to impotence with each new mass mobilization, often on the question of pensions, since 2003.

Communique of January 23, 2023 on Workers’ Struggles in France

We present the following text, written as a leaflet, as a communique insofar as we consider that the leaflet that the Internationalist Communist Tendency has produced and that we reproduce hereafter our text puts forward the same orientations of struggle as those that we ourselves put forward. Insofar as we are able, we will distribute the ICT leaflet in future demonstrations as long as we consider it relevant, even though it was written for the January 19th street demonstrations and strikes. The fact that communist groups that are resolutely situated on the terrain of the struggle for the world party of the proletariat can speak with one voice in the struggles of our class, because they are politically in agreement, is an asset for the current struggles - by reinforcing the capacities of intervention of the revolutionaries - and by offering a clear alternative to the trade union sabotage; it is also a moment of the struggle for the party of tomorrow.

In France as Elsewhere
Capitalism is Preparing for War by Imposing more and more Sacrifices on Proletarians

Two facts: On Thursday 19, two million demonstrators and strikers marched in the streets of French cities against yet another pension reform, which pushes back the retirement age to 64 at best – and this in the name of a supposed deficit in the pension system announced for the coming years. On Friday 20, President Macron announced a one-third increase in military spending for the period 2024-2030.

Two figures: 413 billion and 17 billion euros. The first is the decreed amount of France’s military expenditure – an increase of one third! The other would be the supposed, and quite hypothetical, deficit of the French pension system, which would oscillate “between 7.9 and 17.2 billion euros” in 2025. [1] Two figures that are bound to change. The first one, let’s not doubt it, will increase. The second is much less certain, as it is a vague working hypothesis of the Conseil d’Orientation pour les Retraites (COR), a French government body on pensions, and comes after two years of positive balances of 900 million and then 3.2 billion.

Two figures and two facts that the whole state apparatus, government, political parties, unions, media and other zealous and highly paid propagandists are careful not to bring together. Two figures and two facts which illustrate and summarize at the same time where capital leads us: always more sacrifices for the preparation of the imperialist war, the only capitalist way out of its economic impasse and crisis.

Whatever the conscience of each of the two million demonstrators and strikers of Thursday 19th, their will to refuse and to fight against the new attack on pensions rises up and opposes, in fact, against the increasing sacrifices that capital seeks to impose on the whole of the world proletariat, that is to say, on the wage-earners who produce the essential part of social wealth. An this for the needs of the defense of each national capital and of the march to the generalized war. Whatever the individual consciousness of the millions of workers in Great Britain who are trying to fight for an increase in their wages at this very moment, they too tend, objectively, to rise up and slow down the march to generalized war: isn’t the real and universal fall in wages because inflation itself due to the economic crisis of capital and multiplied by the direct and indirect consequences of the imperialist war in Ukraine? For the proletarians of the whole world, especially in Europe where the imperialist war is now raging in the heart of the historical countries of capitalism, the struggles to defend themselves against capitalist exploitation are widening and now include the opposition and the braking of the generalized war dynamic.

So what to do? Resist all attacks on our wages and living conditions, including attacks on pensions and other social benefits. Whatever the deficits and other financial reasons put forward, it is not up to the workers to pay for the crisis and, even less, for the war and its preparation. Resist through demonstrations, strikes, delegations to other companies, general assemblies, etc.; in short, by any means that express and realize the unity of our living conditions and our struggle. Capital and the bourgeoisie of each country attack the whole working class, whatever the corporation or status, civil servant, private employee, fixed or precarious contract, pensioner or student destined to capitalist exploitation. Therefore, resist by extending and unifying our struggles against capital and the forces of the state apparatus that support and defend it.

How to extend and unify the struggle? By not getting stuck and locked into the logic of union action days, one after the other, and by not leaving the initiative and the organization of the struggle to the unions. To accept their direction is to accept in advance a new failure after those of 2003, 2010, 2013 and 2019. By regrouping, for those of us who are already convinced and willing to become militants of this mobilization, in committees of struggle or others to intervene together in assemblies, strikes, coordinations and demonstrations in order to open the way to generalized and united strikes and demonstrations. This is the only way to impose a balance of power on the government, representative of the capitalist class, and its privileged tool, the state, which will force them to back down. By doing so, in addition to this retreat, the workers as a whole will tend to weaken the implementation of the war economy that Macron, like all the governments, is calling for to relaunch, and so slow down the march to generalized war.

Faced with the coming catastrophe, there is no other way than to fight against capital.

The IGCL, January 23rd 2023

Leaflet of the Internationalist Communist Tendency:
Inflation, Pensions, War Spiral: Only the Open and Massive Struggle Will Be Able to Stop the Descent into Hell Promised by Capitalism.

While for months, proletarians have seen their real wages decrease due to inflation and after a reform of the unemployment insurance which considerably restricts access to it, reduces the amount and duration of compensation, the government is once again attacking our living and working conditions by moving back the retirement age to 64 and by extending the duration of contribution. Their objective is clear: to reduce pensions!

This attack comes in a context of a major economic crisis, aggravated by the direct and indirect consequences of the war in Ukraine. As a result, all over the world, the bourgeoisie is trying to squeeze the proletarians even more and to make them pay the price of the crisis in order to safeguard its profits.

With this counter-reform, the bourgeoisie wants not only to save money but also to strike a blow at the proletariat, to break its willingness of revolt and to reduce it to the state of worker-citizen identifying with the interests of national capital and ready to sacrifice themselves for it.

Comrades, proletarians,

We do not have to demonstrate why it is imperative to reject this new attack, nor do we have to propose a more just reform. The balance of the budgets of the bourgeois state, the health of the companies or that of the national economy are not our business! The concessions, rights or advantages obtained in the interest of the workers are determined by the struggle, the balance of power between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie whose interests are radically opposed. Nothing is acquired, as long as capitalism lasts, it will try to take back what it was forced to give up. Let’s rather think about organizing our fightback!

Let us rely only on ourselves. The experiences of past struggles have shown that there is nothing to expect from the union leaderships and their practice of class collaboration. They sabotage struggles by isolating them and organizing harmless days of action, while they negotiate in our name with our class enemy.

  • From tomorrow, let’s renew the strike. Let’s organize ourselves at the base, let’s constitute committees of struggle and let’s decide on the follow-up to our movement.
  • Let’s organize delegations to extend the fight to other companies and administrations nearby.
  • Let us regroup, make contact and push forward the discussion. Let’s affirm that beyond this important stage of struggle, only a communist perspective can ensure the survival of humanity and life on Earth in the face of the chaos of capitalism.. Only a massive struggle uniting all categories, breaking with union practices, and defending only our class interests, can push back the bourgeoisie and mark the beginning of an offensive struggle against capitalism.
Bilan & perspectives, Internationalist Communist Tendency, January 18th 2023
(translated by the IGCL)