Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bitter Truths

The current crisis is the most serious since the 30s. The global economic crisis started not in the periphery but in the capitalist centre of the world. Banks and corporations on the brink of collapse were everywhere saved with cash from central government and temporary nationalizations by it . The ruling classes are now trying to do their best to solve the economic problems at the expense of the workers, at the expense of the wage earners. Austerity policies, anti-crisis measures, "cost saving" reforms aimed at dismantling the welfare state.

So how did wage workers responded to this offensive? The attacks on our earnings and rights are so blatant, aren't they? One could hardly come up with a better test of the revolutionary potential of the masses of workers.

 Whether anarchist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Stalinist, or whatever there ha been the  over-optimist commentaries.  "The workers stand up for their rights!", "General strike, the first one for...(a number of years follows)", "All the trade unions mobilise " "Revival of the working class spirit!", etc., etc. Yet many on the Left are already looking for those responsible for the failure although the struggle seemingly far from over. It's clear why. General strikes (especially in the countries which hadn't seen those for decades) and multi-million demonstrations are impressive, of course, but the result is always the same: the ruling class quietly ignores them and continue their cuts and reforms.

We can see it in Greece, and in Italy, and in France, and in Spain, and in Portugal, and in Britain, and in Ireland. Elections will not change anything, except serve as a bone tossed to the embittered people: Labour may take over from the Conservatives but that does not matter; whoever forms the government, it keeps pursuing (and even intensifying) the same policy of cutbacks despite the widest and most impressive protests of the population.

Why is it happening? Because those protesting make no attempt at the founding principles of the System and are quite satisfied with capitalism, and all they want is to have capitalism with a "human face". That means their protest is purely defensive (and even conservative where it comes to preserving the vanishing welfare state under capitalism), they think in terms of conformism and reformism.

Let us recall what was the first response of British workers to the crisis? It was “wildcat” strikes and pickets by energy sector workers clamouring against the employment of foreigners (i.e. their class brothers!), those protests being spontaneous, not organized and not inspired by any right-wing groups, parties, publications. The British left should asked themselves what have they been doing all these decades?

Let us compare today's behaviour of the wage workers of  today with their precedessors from the past. Take, for example, the Spain of the early 20th century.  A vast number of specialized studies and a larger number of memoirs show us that the Spanish workers were setting themselves a direct and express task of overthrowing capitalism. They saw strikes and demonstrations merely as a first stage, as a necessary step on their way to the said end. And even if it was struggle for higher wages or shorter working hours, everyone knew--this is not the real goal, this is only an interim, tactical goal, the real goal is a social revolution, destruction of the power of capital. Therefore, every such manifestation, every such strike could easily escalate into armed hostilities and armed uprising (as was the case in Asturias in October, 1934).

 It is highly demonstrative that the contemporary Left have failed to offer strategies for the struggle other than reformist ones: struggle for minorities’ rights, for women’s equality, for the rights of immigrants and homeless, defending the environment and so on, that is they have offered actions aimed at improving capitalism partially (which helps to make capitalism more attractive to a greater number of people and thus decreases the number of socialist fighters) not at destroying it. And certainly all this, does not pose any threat to the rule of capital. A socialist revolution, which can only be worldwide and which will not run in the same pattern common for the previous bourgeois and state-capitalist revolutions is not a matter of the distant future. The  Left, at best, talk of the need to "transcend" capitalism in general, in some distant future but do not call for immediate struggle for social revolution. There are those (although few in number and weak in influence) and who do. But somehow their calls fail to ring the bell with wide, and even narrow, masses of the workers. When the ruling classes are forced to take such a measures against the workers that will inevitably blow up the class peace, i.e. to refuse to limit the working day, to terminate the dole system, to actually eliminate the social infrastructure of the welfare state, to crack down on protests, these circumstances may lead to the class organisations of workers (such as trade unions) radicalising, to the capitalist society betraying its class nature, to the general public opening up to the revolutionary propaganda, and consequently, to the class struggle reviving and then to a social revolution.


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