Revolution or War n°15

(May 16th 2020)

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In the Face of the Crisis, Refuse Sacrifices for the War Economy!

The regular reader will be surprised to see this issue of our biannual journal coming out just four months after the previous issue. The main reason for this is that RoW #14 was published before the global explosion of the pandemic and the brutal halt of a large part of international capitalist production. Certainly, we were able to publish on our website the communiqués and statements that are collected in this issue. One will thus be able to verify the relative unity of view and positioning of the main political forces of the Communist Left [1], in particular the Internationalist Communist Tendency and the ICP-Proletarian, to which we will add the statement of the group Emancipation (Nuevo Curso). Nevertheless, it seems to us indispensable to try to provide a wider response and thus contribute to the politically arming communists and vanguard proletarians to face the historical rupture in progress. Indeed, the latter "will cause social turmoil, up to and including uprisings and revolutions" (Blomberg Opinion, 11 April). Since the bourgeoisie has visibly prepared for it, it is up to the international proletariat and its political minorities to do the same.

The first phase of the crisis, when the shock of the pandemic, the unpreparedness of the health systems and the massive confinement dictated both state measures and proletarian reactions – essentially to protect themselves in the workplace – is coming to an end these days; particularly in Europe. For all, the extent of the economic crisis is emerging from the last mists of lock-down. For the proletariat, the bill is going to be a heavy one, it already is: massive unemployment, falling wages, worsened working conditions, rates and schedules, drastic reduction of all so-called social measures, health, partial unemployment, etc. In addition to these conditions, we are going to see, we already see, massive police surveillance and repression, of which the period of confinement was only a foretaste for the exploited and a review of their forces for all states.

The bill will be all the more painful as the recession will inevitably be followed by a financial crisis. The 4 to 5 trillion dollars and euros, Japanese yen and Chinese yuan – to mention only the currencies of the major imperialist powers – that the central banks have put on the markets have only served to prevent a break-up and paralysis of the financial system and a stock market collapse, as was the case in 2008-2010, but worse and without any comparison in terms of the liquidities issued. Everybody understood that most of the incredible sums put on the table, "the Money-Printing Presses Are Fired Up and Ready to Go"(New York Times, March 23), would not be used for the ’revival’ of production because of the insufficient profits it can make for increasingly greedy capital. As a result, only states can force a minimum amount of capital into the production sectors. They can only do so through state measures, so-called Keynesian measures, that is to say, through a further strengthening of state capitalism: recovery plans – how many are calling for a new Marshall Plan! - and abysmal public deficits with wartime dimensions.

And this is where crisis and war come directly to conjugate into the present, feeding each other. The crisis that breaks out aggravates as never before the international competition between national capitals. It is a real economic war, of which the pandemic has provided a highly caricatural illustration. One need only remember the merciless struggle for masks between states on Chinese tarmacs. Capital was only able to face the pandemic, with great difficulty, not with sanitary measures, but with police and military measures. In this respect, the economically declining American bourgeoisie is shamelessly playing to the full with its incomparable military power and with the stranglehold of the dollar on the world market, including for the purchase of masks or even to buy for itself the exclusive rights to the future anti-Covid vaccine. Trump’s violent anti-Chinese campaign is supported by the entire American bourgeoisie and the noose is tightening around China and gradually strangling it. This is the same imperialist policy that the U.S. had pursued against Japan in the 1930s before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

It is the imperialist weapons which will dominate and dictate the economic struggle to the death between national capitals. Each national capital will refocus on the so-called strategic sectors, i.e., the sectors of each production apparatus indispensable to carry out this economic war, and will give up, or at least will not come to the rescue of the other sectors that will go bankrupt. On the other hand, everyone will try, and is already trying, to preserve, at least at a minimum, and as far as they are able, the air sector, which is just as paralysed by the recession: the airlines of the major powers, and even more so the aeronautics industry, Airbus and Boeing, will be preserved at all costs. Like the car industry, the aeronautics industry is too closely linked to the strategic arms industry. And make no mistake, the militaristic orientation is not exclusive to the American bourgeoisie. "The European recovery plan must integrate European defense" (La Tribune - French newspaper, 4 May).

The policies of ’relocation’, or even nationalization, of public deficits, aimed at refocusing the strategic forces of each apparatus of production around national capital and state, are going to be dressed up in so-called ’social’, even left-wing colours, as the Chinese Global Times points out: it is "employment, not GDP, that is key in a wartime economy" (17 April). This does not mean that left-wing governments will necessarily come to power – each ruling class has its own history and political tradition – but that ’left-wing social measures’ will return to the forefront of ’national debates’. At the risk of misleading proletarians, or even revolutionaries, by driving them onto false ground. The experience of the Popular Fronts and the New Deal of the 1930s must serve us for this ideological and political battle that the capitalist class is launching in all countries.

The dynamic of workers’ struggles and social revolts that had prevailed in the second half of 2019 was shattered by the shock of the pandemic, the lock-down and the brutal outbreak of the recession. Since then, the proletarian reactions were aimed at protection against the risk of contagion, which reduced any generalization of the struggle to... refusal to go to work and confinement. However, proletarian anger and combativeness have not disappeared. The phase of ’de-confinement’ opens wider perspectives for any workers’ mobilization in the face of the conditions of resumption of work, health, but also wages, rates, schedules, etc., and massive lay-offs. The demands of increased exploitation linked to the deadly economic competition between national capitals will make the proletariat face both crisis and imperialist war, i.e. the historical reality of capitalism, the only alternative it can ’offer’. The stakes are terribly dramatic and impose themselves on everyone. The massive confrontation between classes will centre and play out on the sacrifices that the bourgeoisie seeks to impose on the proletariat to meet the needs of the international economic war and the preparation for the generalized imperialist war.

Already, the consciousness of this alternative is emerging more or less clearly within the proletariat. Minorities of proletarians are questioning, worrying and getting closer to the revolutionary positions and especially those of the Communist Left. It is up to the latter, to its most dynamic forces, those who fight most clearly for the international consolidation, the political clarification and the future constitution of the party, to answer these questions, these worries and these new militant wills. Another lesson of the 1930s, including Spain 1936 (see the contribution in this issue), was that theoretical and political confusion and absence of the party were additional elements in the proletarian defeat and the march to generalized war. May today’s generations remember this and act accordingly.

The IGCL, 14 May 2020.



[1. With the now usual, chronic exception of the International Communist Current for whom every event is reduced to its opportunist dogma of Decomposition and who rejects the historical alternative of proletarian revolution or generalized imperialist war, thus preventing itself from grasping the real concrete stakes, the dynamics of the acting forces and the... historical course of events.