Thursday, April 7, 2011

The "Mass Strike" today and tomorrow

We publish this text from the International Communist Bulletin of February 2011, organ of the Fraction of the International Communist Left.

Internationalist Communists - Klasbatalo

"Political and economic strikes, mass strikes and partial strikes, demonstrative strikes and fighting strikes, general strikes of individual branches of industry and general strikes in individual towns, peaceful wage struggles and street massacres, barricade fighting – all these run through one another, run side by side, cross one another, flow in and over one another – it is a ceaselessly moving, changing sea of phenomena. And the law of motion of these phenomena is clear: it does not lie in the mass strike itself nor in its technical details, but in the political and social proportions of the forces of the revolution"
(Rosa Luxemburg , The Mass Strike, 1906).

The present world situation illustrates the analisis that Rosa Luxemburg made on the "Mass Strike" in the period of the 1905 Russian Revolution. Obviously, we aren't on the eve of the Revolution. But the proletarian struggles increase almost everywhere around the planet, in capitalism's "central" countries as well as in the "peripherical" ones, and take various forms : isolated strikes or full sector of the economy as well as general strikes which spread in a city or in a whole country ; spontaneous strikes (without unions call) or "wildcat" as well as long strikes that the great unions have more and more difficulties to control ; demonstrations of proletarian young students whose perspectives of future collapse as well as public sector and big industries workers who see their living conditions worsening. In more than an occasion, the "economical" struggle of resistance are transformed in "political" struggles against the government or, at least, against the most representative figures of the capital's interests (even though, of course, these political struggles are still caught, controlled and led by the Left forces of the capital itself)... Furthermore the struggles develop every time more simultaneously ; they carry in themselves a strong tendency to spread, to seek solidarity and thus to become every time more determined and militant (Note). Thus the conditions which have created this struggle climate aren't temporary : the continuation of capitalism's fall in the worse crisis of its history enables us to foresee a long period, of many years, of this tendency to the rise of the proletariat's class struggle, a true international "mass strike".

Of course, in every country, the proletariat's struggles confront more and more fiercely to the different obstacles the capitalist State sets up ; in first the unions. For the moment, the majority of the strikes and the "Days of struggle" in countries like France and Spain are organized by the great unions in order to let off steam the growing discontent of the workers and, at the same time, to confine it in a framework which doesn't really enable to stop the capital's attacks against their living conditions. Nevertheless, these Days still are an expression of the growing discontent and combativity of the proletarians and of the bourgeoisie's need to anticipate on the spontaneous and out of control explosions. Futhermore, the proletariat begins to be conscious of itself as a class, to feel the need to overcome the sector barriers in which the unions enclose it, to seek solidarity and to become aware of the need to take control of its struggle outside the unions.

Then come the political parties of capital, particularly the parties and other organizations of the "capital's Left". As we could see in Greece since the beginning of past year, and as we now see in Tunisia and Egypt, the proletariat's anger (and of other exploited classes) can break out at any moment, in any country ; it is enough with an additional pinch of injustice (a youth's murder by police, rising prices of first necessity products...) for coming out onto a situation of spontaneous demonstrations and of generalized revolt which drive to open confrontations with the State repression forces. Then, the true role of "Left" parties of the bourgeoisie, as the "Socialdemocrats", the "Left Democrats" or all kind of stalinists, appear in all its cruelty and all its extent. Through the "change" of leaders, their role is to give back credit to the capitalist State to keep alive amongt the proletarians the harmful illusion that it does exist "solutions to capitalism's crisis" and "solutions to their problems". Nevertheless, if much workers still keep on illusions on the Left parties of capital, the actions of the latters - which appear more and more openly in favor of capital's interests and against the workers – carry in themselves a process of decline of their image, a process of growing consciouness within the working class that they are ennemy forces.

The proletarian struggles are indeed also confronted, more and more directly, with the repression forces of the capitalist State - judicial aparatus, police, army - which are constantly reinforced. In Mexico, the massive lay-off of 40 000 workers of the electric sector in the late 2009, had been preceded by the brutal occupation of the work places by the federal and anti-riot police ; in the "democratic" Spain of Socialist Zapatero, the December 2010 "wildcat" strike of the air controllers has been broken by the airport control by the army. Increasingly, workers demonstrations end up in violent confrontations with the police (Greece, Great-Britain, India, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt...) which, far from what the bourgeois medias hurl at us, are everytime less the product of "direct actions" of "small radical groups" and more and more due to the anti-riot police. In the last, this aspect is a clear sign of the conflict sharpening of the two antagonistic classes of the society : on one part, it is the intensification of the fierce attacks of the capitalist class against the living and working conditions of the proletarians as well as the preparation of this class and of its State to confront the exploited's resistance ; on the other part, it is a clear sign that the working class's attempts to resist and to engage in the struggle against capital are becoming more determined and wider.

Finally, all this climate of increasing classes struggle is methodically and knowingly distorted by the capital's medias, press, radio, TV, without forgetting Internet. Never so many means of information have existed as today... but at the same time never has the ruling class used as today these means to avoid the proletariat to get a clear idea of the present stakes ; to avoid each worker become conscious that, everywhere, his class brothers rise up and fight exactly for the same reasons as the ones he is himself outraged (unemployment, direct and undirect attacks at work, constant worsening of the living conditions for his family, increasing exploitation and oppression) ; to avoid that everyone be aware these struggles are his and that these ones carry on spreading in all continents ; actually to avoid the proletarians recognize themselves as a class with the same interests and the same goals : fighting capitalist exploitation.

At first place, there's the greatest censorship possible - at national scale as well as world wide - on the proletarian struggles. For instance, everybody has been informed, up to nausea, of the assassination attempt against the democrat US congress woman in Phoenix. But, except the readers of the militant press, how many workers have been informed of the strikes in the United-States of the past year in which thousands of proletarians of different sectors participate to ? Then, if they can't completely hide them anymore because their wideness, the bourgeois medias distort in any ways the class struggles by presenting them as essentially "local" or "national", or as "selfish and irresponsible reactions which oppose to the adjustments capitalism judges necessary and profitable to the whole population" ("cuts in the State spendings" or "streamligning of enterprises" which supposedly make indispensable lowering salaries, massive redudancies or pension cuts) ; or by presenting them as "small extremist groups'" actions or as responses to "corrupted" governments that it is enough to change to bring back calm. The height of cynism is the frequent affirmation according to which the workers on struggle are "privileged" who, "selfishly", pretend to keep their living conditions at the expense of the rest of the population !

The conditions are present for the continuation of the classes struggle development

In this situation, the medias try by all means to hide or to minimize the struggles, or even to lose the fact that they obey to the same fundamental causes. Since this makes more difficult workers' growing consciousness that they have common interests and aims, the simultaneous sudden appearance of wide struggle movements in all continents become even mor significant.

Two important historical facts are at the basis of this situation. Firstly, the generalized attacks and every time more brutal and direct against the living and working conditions that the workers and the other exploited classes suffer from the capitalist class because the inexorable collapse of the capitalist system in its worse fall in economical crisis of its history. It is more and more obvious that all the efforts of the bourgeoisie of all countries and of all sectors to "save itself" and to "recover" from the crisis, have their foundation in the exploitation, up to the last drop, of the working force by all undirect and direct means it has at its disposal. For instance, the "funds transfer" from the State - at first rank the first world power – to "save" the great banks and the great industries actually consists in making pay this "rescue" by the workers through the explosion of unemployment, taxes rises and direct and undirect salaries cuts). And this happens in all countries around the world, as well as in the great capitalist powers as in the smallest and weakest. This capital's generalized charge against the proletariat is at the basis of the simultaneous and sudden appearance of a multitude of seats of resistance struggles at the world level.

Moreover, it is increasingly obvious that the supposed "end of the 2010 recession" is clearly appearing for what it is : a lie and, for the least, an illusion. In order to justify this, the bourgeois medias look for make believe that it is because the slown down of the "recovery" in the United-States or because the responsibility of many European countries whose public finances are collapsing. According to the economical area where they belong to, the medias warn against the growing "risks" of a new and next "economical" relapse whose cause would be the "responsibility" of the other one area. Behind this mediatical war, we find the sharpening of the commercial and financial war between the different "blocs" of the national bourgeoisies (at first even though not only, around the United-States and Great-Britain against the Euro-zone).

But, at this Russian roulette to which the world capitalist forces play, there is an additional element for the worsening of the crisis : inflation. We'll see in the next months a period of generalized rise of the prices, firstly of the energy and first necessity products ; it is already the spark which have launched many of the recent revolts (Tunisa, Algeria, Egypt, Chile...).

All in all, the crisis sharpening and, with it, of the material conditions don't but provoke the multiplication of the exploited's resistance struggles which not only tend to maintain themselves but also to become everytime wider and deeper.

There is a second fact also of historical meaning, which manifests itself at international scale and during an extended period, what Rosa Luxemburg called the "masses strike" ; it is what we can perceive today in the proletariat's willingness to defend itself and to struggle ; it means the existence at the same time of "objective" factors and of "subjective" ones which are in favor of the spreading and the deepening of the proletariat's fight against capitalism.

For one part, we can notice a tendency towards "contagion", it means to the appearance of a tendency to the international extension of the struggles. Since the struggles in France, the workers of other European countries (Great-Britain, Spain, Italy, Belgium...) have also embarked on the battle with the consciousness that the capital's attacks are the same everywhere. More recently, the social movement which has inflamed Tunisia during a month, has served as an example and as a detonator to the massive demonstrations which have shaken up the other countries in North Africa for the same reasons : the increase of the first necessity products price. At the same time, and again despite the obstacles that the bourgeoisie sets up - in particular the union control whose one task is to maintain the demands and the workers struggles divided -, we too see in the struggle the beginnings of solidarity expressions between workers of different sectors (even at the international scale), which means that the basis for a future unification of the demands and the goals of the struggles do exist.

What is also striking in the present struggles, it the anger and the combativity which don't stop growing. The action of the police forces of the capitalist State whose aim is to "dissuade", it means to terrorize and to repress the struggles, has become its opposite in various occasions : a stimulus pushing the workers to go out in the street in order to protest massively against the governments. The exceptional situation of the violent and massive revolts in Greece, more than a year ago, tends now to reproduce itself in various countries : Great-Britain, Tunisia, India, Egypt...

We also have to note the existence of tendency towards "politicization" of the struggles in the sense that the demonstrations in front of the worsening of the economical conditions give way every time more to open opposition to the State and to its more distinguished representations. Obviously, the bourgeois parties of "opposition" take over and take advantage of this "politicization". Nevertheless, they express a tendency amongst the proletarians to take consciousness that the response to give to the worsening of their living conditions is not simply at the factory or sector level, it means at the local and "economical" one, but that it has to be more "general", more "global" and thus too "political".

Finally, we must underline the fact that, with the acceleration of these struggle movements, does accelerate too the development of political proletarians vanguard minorities who look to go beyond the immediat struggles, who reflect on the defeats' causes, who seek to gather and organize in order to prepare in the best conditions the struggles of tomorrow, to make them that they'll be no defeated or taken over by the capital's forces and that they go towards the "true change" which is capitalism's destruction ; all in all, minorities who look for a revolutionary alternative and a revolutionary commitment. For instance, the defeat of the French mobilisations against the attack on the pensions system has left a multitude of small workers' "assemblies" where they, with members of various political organizations, discuss on the perspectives of organization and of struggle. A similar mood exists elsewhere. This reflects in the increase of correspondances, of discussions and contacts of the revolutionary groups.

By regrouping their forces, the communists will be able to fully play their role in the class.

This open situation that we define as the "mass strike", makes even more essential and urgent the intervention of the revolutionary minorities within their class, in particular the one of the groups and militants of the Communist Left.

Of course, one aspect of the ideological campaigns of the bourgeoisie against the proletarians (to which do participate even groups which declare themselves "revolutionaries" as the anarchists for instance), is to sow workers' distrust towards the truly revolutionary and communist political groups in order they see them as "external", "foreign" and even "dangerous" to working class's eyes. It is why we don't stop insisting on the fact that the revolutionary groups, in particular the ones of Communist Left are an entire part of the working class itself, the one which is "the most conscious and the most determined" ; that they simply are - as the Communist Manifesto said in 1847 - the ones who "point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality" ; they are "on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement" ; and their goals are : "formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat".

In this sense, it is firstly indispensable that, in this period, the revolutionary minorities put forward the common interests of the class which lie in the struggles which appear everywhere. Their task is not only to "spread information", nor to simply call for the struggle, but above all to boost the tendencies towards extension and unification of the struggles beyond any sectorial or national division that bourgeoisie tries to impose. They have to underline their common nature as parts of a movement of the whole working class, of a movement whose cuases and historical goals – the destruction of the Capitalist State and the seizure of power by the proletariat at the international scale - are the same.

At the same time, it is indispensable that the revolutionaries assume their task of passing on the legacy of the experiences of the past struggles which are in their hands as well as the revolutionary theory - marxism - in such a way that the proletarians can benefit for their present fights. Through this, not only revolutionaires contribute to increase the capacity of the whole proletariat to give up the mystificiations and the traps the bourgeoisie opposes to each struggle but above all they contribute decisively to the growing class consciousness of the proletariat for its revolutionary interests and goals and for the need and possibility for realizing them.

Finally, the revolutionaries have also the imperious task of transmitting all the accumulated experience of the class about the organisation and particularly about the one of the revolutionary period of the beginning of Century 20th ; the experience which led to the triumph of the proletarian revolution in Russia and to the international revolutionary wave which cracked the capitalist edifice and threated to put it down for ever.

Today, and even more tomorrow, the arising of vanguard proletarians looking for revolutionary coherence, for revolutionary militant commitment and for revolutionary organisation, imposes particularly to the present groups and militants of the Communist Left the major responsibility to clear the path which leads to the settting up of the new world communist party. On this way, the present communist forces must firstly overcome their political and organisational dispersion which characterize them and have to engage firmly, from today, in a process of getting closer and of "regroupment". They have to do so if they want to be up to the situation and to assume the responsibility for which the proletariat made them appear.

January 2011

Fraction of the International Communist Left

Note : Long is the list, it begins with the main European countries, of the workers fights which had developed these last two years and their number isn't but increasing in all continents with capitalism's economical dead-end. For a more precise following of the workers struggles around the world, we refer our readers to the international presses of the Internationalist Communist Tendency and of the ICC.

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