Sunday, November 17, 2013

International Communist Bulletin 11 (November 2013)

Organ of the Fraction of the International Communist Left

  • Editorial of the bulletin 11
  • The IC-Klasbatalo and our Fraction, we are on the way to adopting a ‘platform’ with main positions close to those of both the ICT and the “historical” ICC. We continue to discuss and clarify the questions of organization and functioning based on the Communist Left, especially the tradition of the “Italian” Left...

    Intervention in the Working Struggle

  • Communist Intervention and Evolution of the Class Struggle
  • The great masses of workers seeing that their minorities or more militant sectors hesitate at the sheer scale of the task, of the necessity to avoid the democratic traps and erroneous approaches – such of the "indignados" or "Occupy" ideology for instance – this indicates, above all,the concrete, practical, necessity to take up the political fight against capitalism's forces, in the first place from the unions who pretend to be "workers", in the struggle.

  • Statement of the Internationalist Communist Tendency about the Port-Said Events (March 2013)
  • Any bourgeois government can wait. It can wait until the anger is exhausted in some act of protest, however powerful and violent, and then take back by force the situation that previously got out of hand. The manoeuvre is much simpler and more effective if the uprising is isolated, if it concerns only a sector of production or a geographically small area...

  • Greece, Turkey, France, Spain ...
    The workers' response must be international and united!
  • That is why we must rid ourselves of the union-imposed framework, and take our struggle into our own hands. We must not accept that every mobilization remain in its particular “corner” in its “own” region or its “own” country. To remain isolated, separated from other sections of the working class, poses the best prospect for the bourgeoisie to continue to maintain control of the situation, for it to successfully wage more attacks against our lives, forcing us to sacrifice more and more, ultimately sacrificing our lives in the inevitable war.

    International Situation

  • The bourgeoisie prepares its repressive apparatus
  • As the economic crisis deepens, the bourgeoisie and its instruments of repression are consolidating...

  • An Irrational Accommodation: Capitalism
  • The capitalist class has only one aim in mind: to prevent the proletariat from affirming its solidarity and its unity as an international working class. While making believe that the Québécois proletariat would have something to safeguard, to defend against all immigrants from Arab countries or elsewhere, all this media hoopla endeavors to do is to make them believe that the immigrant situation is separate from the working class, from the misery of its own condition as an exploited class...

    Text of the Workers Movement

  • Rosa Luxemburg : Her Fight Against the German Betrayers of International Socialism (Preface to the Junius Pamphlet) Clara Zetkin (1919)
  • The Junius Pamphlet is a particularly sparkling treasure of the heritage which Rosa Luxemburg has left the proletariat of Germany, of the world, for the theory and practice of its struggle for liberation...

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Communique on the Constitution of International Group of the Communist Left

    The Internationalists Communists – Klasbatalo (ex-ICM) and the Fraction of the International Communist Left (ex-IFICC) held a Conference in order to set up a new communist group. At that Conference, the two groups decided to dissolve in order to form the International Group of the Communist Left.
    As soon as we can, we'll communicate and publish the documents adopted at this meeting and on which the new group bases itself. The Conference adopted a political platform essentially taking up the basic positions of the ICT and the ICC which generally corresponds to the positions that the FICL's International Communist Bulletin posted on its back page. It also adopted the international centralization as a mode of functioning and as a communist principle and practice to develop in its own ranks. It adopted the Thesis on the International Situation so as to define and develop political orientations and interventions within the working class.

    As well, it takes up again the debate that developed between the previous groups regarding the analysis of the Proletarian Camp and the intervention to develop within it. The IGCL wants to focus its intervention within the Proletarian Camp on the struggle for the communist regroupment aiming at the formation of the Communist Party of tomorrow and on the struggle against all the forms of opportunism and sectarianism which had weakened the original. More concretely, and taking note of a central line of demarcation and opposition within this camp between the "pro-party" and "anti-party" tendencies and groups, our group will orientate its intervention in order to favor at best the process of regroupment around the Internationalist Communist Tendency – around its positions and its organization as a unique international pole icapable of embodying the legacy of the Communist Left.

    Finally, the Conference decided to equip the new group with a review, initially to come out twice a year in French and English, along with extracts translated into Spanish on our website.  The web address will be:  . As well, we have a new email address : to which the reader and the groups can already write.

    Today, in the present historical situation – economic crisis, danger of imperialist war, workers struggles... the working class absolutely needs the regroupment of communist minorities in order to prepare the constitution of its world Party.

    The IGCL, November 7th, 2013

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    An irrational accommodation: capitalism

    In several countries, the bourgeoisie is escalating its ideological bombardment through campaigns on some subject or other called “society" which, on one hand occupies the terrain and consciousness in its diversion from the reality of capital’s crisis and proletarian conditions of life and work, and additionally on the other hand, brings up false issues, all aimed at enhancing adherence to the democratic mystification of the bourgeois state.

    In various countries, mainly Europe, the question of whether to allow the Islamic veil for women has become one of these themes. In Belgium, in France, the issue of the hijab has become the pretext for strengthening secular and republican ideology, in other words, the ‘democratic’ state. This, too, was the case in Canada in French speaking Quebec. On September 14, in an appeal to religious organizations, a street demonstration took place in Montreal. On this occasion, our K-IC comrades deem it necessary to reproduce the following text from 2007 on their blog.

    Fraction of the International Communist Left

    An irrational accommodation: capitalism
    For several months, the press and bourgeois media spearheaded a massive campaign to divide immigrant workers from their Québécois and aboriginal counterparts. The pretext: reasonable accommodations for Jews and Muslims. Even if, for example, no Islamic religious organizations requested the right to wear the veil during voting, the media kept on about it. The whole point of this divisive debate is to have us forget that the vote is utterly useless for the proletariat, regardless of their origin. Amongst politicians, this has culminated in the creation of the Bouchard-Taylor commission given the task of touring Quebec. Everyone - bourgeois, petit bourgeois and workers are invited as "citizens" to offer their opinion. This campaign serves to fuel the worst of bourgeois ideology: racism, xenophobia, and nationalism, of 'every man for himself'. The capitalist class has only one aim in mind: to prevent the proletariat from affirming its solidarity and its unity as an international working class. While making believe that the Québécois proletariat would have something to safeguard, to defend against all immigrants from Arab countries or elsewhere, all this media hoopla endeavors to do is to make them believe that the immigrant situation (1) is separate from the working class, from the misery of its own condition as an exploited class.

    We have even heard that "lady of the manor" Pauline Marois, speak to us of "Our identity" as nationalists. This "Identity" being the right to be exploited by our own home-grown business people... The bourgeois elites, as always, stand in the way of any real workers solidarity, which must extend beyond nationality. This "faith" in the "secular" bourgeois State as ultimate judge of peace and social cohesion, is just the kind of crap that's thrown out for the unions. Behind this whole debate about reasonable accommodation is the defense of "secularism" which is in fact the defense of the special status given to the capitalist state and bourgeois democracy.

    The government has no intention of diminishing the importance of religions, to the contrary – its aim is to reinforce them. It will be under the staff of "our secular State" that courses on all religions will flourish in the schools in the autumn of 2008. Religion will always be the opiate of the masses.

    In the face of worldwide misery and barbarism in full putrefaction, there is but one prospect for the working class – to firmly reject the competitive rationale of its own exploiters, of "every man for himself". No matter what their origin, language, colour of skin, or religion, the proletariat has no interest in common with national capital. It can only really defend its interests, by developing everywhere its solidarity with the international working class, by resisting any attempt to foster division as immigrants, Canadians, Quebecois and aboriginal peoples.

    Only the assertion of its common interests in struggle will permit the proletariat to gather all its resources, to affirm itself as a world class united in solidarity, to bring down the capitalist Moloch before it destroys the planet.

     Some internationalist communists of Montreal

     (1) Note: from 1840 to 1930, 900,000 French Canadians emigrated to the USA. It is alarming to read the racist report of an American functionary:

    « With some exceptions the Canadian French are the
    Chinese of the Eastern States. They care nothing for
    our institutions, civil, political, or educational.
    They do not come to make a home among us, to dwell
    with us as citizens, and so become a part of us; but
    their purpose is merely to sojourn a few years as
    …They are indefatigable workers, and docile… All they
    ask is to be set to work, and they care little who
    rules them or how they are ruled. To earn all they can
    by no matter how many hours of toil, to live in the
    most beggarly way so that out of their earnings they
    may spend as little for living as possible, and to
    carry out of the country what they can thus save: this
    is the aim of the Canadian French in our factory
    districts. »

    Massachusetts Report on statistics of labor Boston 13
    th 1881

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    The bourgeoisie prepares its repressive apparatus

    As the economic crisis deepens, the bourgeoisie and its instruments of repression are consolidating. Throughout the world, police act with increasing violence, aided and abetted by ‘democratic’ societies. It’s primarily in these ‘democratic’ societies that repression hits: arrests without charge, mass arrests, kettling of demonstrations and infiltration by agent provocateurs, surveillance of workers in struggle, murders, torture, new and old laws (the American “Patriot Act” has broadened its scope everywhere) giving individuals and police more power, if not “complete power”. In several countries, the police benefit from the unions’ help in isolating workers struggles or in containing demonstrations. The weapons paraphernalia grows steadily and is widely used: Tasers, Flash Ball (plastic or rubber balls), and even live ammunition. Far from neutral, the police are trained, armed and educated to protect the capitalist system; that’s their prime directive.

    Here are several examples which represent only a tiny part of police and military activities around the world and the free reign they enjoy, backed by the media, the magistrates, laws and commissions of inquiry. The mass arrests and murders of demonstrators and of militants are increasingly trivialized by the ‘democratic’ media. The armies reinforce this to a great extent by bringing us to war to oppose workers’ uprisings.


    The vigilante, George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of the teenaged Trayvon Martin. He copped a plea of “self-defense”. This happened in February 2012, when Zimmerman killed the unarmed teenager with a single bulled during a surveillance round. The “Stand your ground” law, valid in a large number of American States, allows bourgeois repressive forces to kill anyone if they “consider themselves at risk” of being attacked. This is the law that Zimmerman’s lawyer used to acquit him.

    On the military side, the American army has established an urban training center 4 kilometers square in Indiana’s south center which boasts of more than 1500 “training structures” designed to simulate houses, schools, hospitals and factories. The center’s website confirms that it “could be adapted to reproduce foreign as well as domestic situations.”


    Demonstrators in France sustained irreversible eye injuries from Flash-Ball discharges (in Mureaux in 2005, in Clichy-sous-Bois in 2006, in Nantes in 2007, in Toulouse, Montreauil, Neuilly-sur-Marne or Villiers-le-Bel in 2009). And on the military front, the French army constructed a city and a village. The fake town of Jeoffrécourt was created entirely by the French army for training troops in urban guerilla warfare, the most common form of 21st century combat. Jeoffrécourt condenses all recent conflict scenarios, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, mixing suburban homes and abandoned buildings. Combat and war situations are standardized there. In this ghost town, soldiers in training can take over a town, a church or hide out in a cemetery. Sidewalks, public lighting, shutters that rattle, everything is reproduced to scale.

    As for the village of Beausejour, it consists of 63 houses, all different, many obstacles (fences, barricades, rubble), different types of roads (wide, narrow, winding or clear.) It is made up of different modules: the village in itself, a squatter area in which it is impossible for vehicles to enter, a campground made up of caravans (perhaps as practice for expelling Roma), a road created from scratch and a strategic hamlet.


    - The first Toronto cop to be prosecuted under criminal charges in the wake of protests against the G20 meeting in Toronto in June 2010 was recently acquitted. Constable Glenn Weddell was charged after the journalist Dorian Barton had suffered a broken shoulder, June 26, 2010. Dorian Barton had wandered onto the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario during a demonstration. In his testimony he said he’d been struck from behind while photographing police on horseback.
    - One month after a Toronto cop killed Sammy Yatim, the Ontario minister of Community and Social Services, Madelein Meilleur, announced that all police officers in the province will be equipped with Tasers.
    - Following the fierce and scandalous repression exercised against the students, the City of Montreal Chief of Police  and the director of Sûreté du Québec presented themselves before a bogus commission of inquiry into the events of 2012 Quebec. They claimed that the police did a “great job” under difficult and exceptional circumstances. Remember that there were over 3,000 arrests, many with serious injuries, (loss of an eye, a torn ear and head injury). Now they plan to use new chemical weapons. So far not one officer has so much as been charged.

    As Rosa Luxemburg said, over a century ago:
    Violated, dishonored, wading in blood, dripping filth – there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretense to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law – but the ravening beast, the witches’ sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form.

    Wake up and open your eyes to what bourgeois democracy is really all about.

    Steve (ICK) september 13

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Solidarity with our working class brothers Port Said and Egypt!

    Solidarity with our working class brothers Port Said and Egypt!

    We reproduce below a political stand of the International Communist Tendency we share analysis and policy guidelines and that we support.  Fraction of the International Communist Left  september 2013

    The Events in Port Said
    (Internationalist Communist Tendancy)

    We are publishing this position statement about what is happening in Port Said, Egypt with the warning that the news about what is going on is limited [ignored internationally by the official media] and not entirely consistent even if all the sources consulted agree on the fact that the Egyptian city is in ferment.
    Information is still scarce but some facts speak for themselves. After street protests, anger erupted following the 21 death sentences handed down for the massacre in Port Said. During a spontaneous protest against this Morsi's police left 40 more victims on the streets. After that the police were forced to abandon the city leaving it in the hands of the protesters. At the moment, all public order, traffic and production linked to the Suez Canal are in the hands of the insurgents. Port Said has become a kind of free zone where the state has had to temporarily raise the white flag. If it is true that the death sentences on the 21 youth and the subsequent forty victims were the tragic triggers immediately provoking the rebellion, it is also true that the devastating consequences of the economic crisis and the arrogance of the reactionary Islamist Morsi government have been a decisive element.
    Finally, after two years of tensions on the streets, of managed elections, of fraud and betrayal of the most basic expectations, something has snapped. The main fact, if confirmed, is that workers of Port Said were the first to trigger the revolt; including the port workers, those in transport and workers from other factories. Marine traffic has halted, factories have closed and the mobilisation of the city seems to be general and definitive. The movement, as well as guarding against the inevitable government reaction, must also deal with a number of internal problems
    A first danger is the risk of isolation. The workers of Port Said must actively ask for practical militant help from all Egyptian workers, from the factories of Cairo to those of Alexandria, Ismailia and Assiut. The only way to avoid the risk of isolation and the ability to continue the fight is to widen the struggle and open up greater opportunities. Any bourgeois government can wait. It can wait until the anger is exhausted in some act of protest, however powerful and violent, and then take back by force the situation that previously got out of hand. The manoeuvre is much simpler and more effective if the uprising is isolated, if it concerns only a sector of production or a geographically small area. Breaking this isolation, asking for proletarian solidarity is not only tactically necessary but it is the condition for the fight to continue, otherwise the axe of repression will fall heavily on the demonstrators.
    The more the struggle continues on the lines of a frontal attack, away from the conservative siren calls of reformism, whether secular or religious, the more it can serve as a model for proletarians in the whole area of North Africa, in the hope of giving an initial sense of class to the failure of the "Arab Spring ". At this point, the proletarians of the Egyptian Canal Zone must not fall into the trap of believing that reform can be a different way of managing public affairs within the framework of a capitalism that is everywhere around them. It is not only by demanding the fall of the Morsi government and respect for democratic freedoms, or by operating within the political framework of civil disobedience that things will radically change. The movement that has had the strength to rebel against the murderous authoritarianism of the Islamist government, to free itself from the chains of the traditional political forces, which is trying to present itself as politically autonomous, must continue on the path without falling back on the options that radical reformism offers, or be drawn back into the old worn-out democratic game.
    The European proletariat, which suffers the same exploitation on the other side of the Mediterranean, should do its part. Class solidarity, which despite a few episodes of struggle has recently sensationally absconded everywhere, has expressed itself here and there. It should now take this opportunity to reappear on the international scene. Europe’s streets have every reason to be full of disturbances against the various policies and heavy sacrifices demanded of us. If they do it should not be in single sectors or under the umbrella of this or that union policy, of this or that "left reformist" political force, but on the basis of real class solidarity, beyond nationalist boundaries and particularism, and this seems to be a good opportunity to start.
    One last point. Spontaneity, the determination of a struggle that arises immediately against a government, against its police, is doomed to failure if it does not elaborate a tactic, a strategy and a programme that goes beyond the traps of capital, to build a real social alternative, which is another way of producing and distributing that wealth of which the Egyptian proletariat, like the international working class, is the only creator. However, if we stay on the ground of civil disobedience, if the movement sets as its objective just the overthrow of the Morsi government in favour of "true democracy", subject to all the pressures of capitalism, as the movement in Tahrir Square did with Mubarak, the results will be the same, if not worse.
    FD (ICT) 6 March, 2013

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Rosa Luxemburg’s Junius Pamphlet

    Rosa Luxemburg’s Junius Pamphlet has its history and is itself a piece of history – thanks both to the circumstances under which it originated and to the life that emanates from it in a sparkling, glowing stream.

    Rosa Luxemburg wrote the pamphlet in April, 1915. A few weeks before she had been forced to enter the “Royal Prussian Women’s Prison,” where she was to serve the year of imprisonment to which she had been sentenced by the Criminal Court of Frankfort a.M., for her courageous fight against militarism. In the fight, the sentence, and the sequel was gathered as in a nutshell what soon appeared, full grown, virile, unconcealed – Rosa Luxemburg’s clear recognition of the imminent imperialistic tempest and the need of the hour for the proletariat to hurl itself against the onslaught with all the desperate energy of its protest; the courage and spirit of self-sacrifice with which she led the fight against the dangerous enemy in the name of International Socialism; the acute capitalistic class instinct, not to say the wakeful capitalistic class consciousness with which the bourgeois world so ruthlessly applied its instruments of power to protect imperialism and to which the historical evolution of society, with the rise of imperialism, had assigned new tasks and a greater significance for the existence of capitalism; the dishonorable surrender of the German Social-Democracy, or more correctly of its leadership, to militarism and imperialism.

    In truth, at that time great masses of proletarians burned with eagerness to go into the fight against militarism and imperialism. If their class consciousness did not yet clearly recognize the mortal enemy, their healthy class feeling sensed, anticipated that enemy. As though illuminated by a search light, militarism in its historic form had become visible on their horizon, glaringly exposed by Rosa Luxemburg’s condemnation and the reason for it – the conviction expressed by the courageous leader, that proletarians would not obey the command to raise the weapons of murder against their brothers of other nationalities. The rousing, fiery effect of the condemned words were intensified by the speech before the Frankfort Court, a classical document of political defense which in place of legal quibbling about “guilt,” penalty, and degree of punishment, set up the fight for the scientifically firmly established ideal of International Socialism. A wave of splendid, determined fighting spirit rose out of the proletarian masses. It should have been the obvious task of Social-Democratic leaders, if they had the least political insight, to take advantage of this fighting spirit, to intensify it, in order to give militarism and imperialism a fight on a large scale, to give them a staggering blow. The Executive of the Social-Democracy showed once again clearly that it was not convinced of the truth and worth of the great strong bulwark of that consistent Marxian standpoint which affords a free outlook over situations and their obvious development and thus determines the correct basis of judgment, of will, and of action.

    In the present situation it gave itself the certificate of weakness that it fell short of everything that makes for political leadership. It avoided the obvious, the natural, the necessary thing – to gather together the protest that was arising everywhere with elemental force against the judgment of the Frankfort Criminal Court, into a tremendous mass action against militarism and imperialism. The Party Executive went even further with its “Backward, backward, Don Rodrigo” to the proud vow of the Social-Democracy. It tried to dam up the current that had begun without its effort. And all this in the atmosphere of burning indignation not only about the Luxemburg case but also about the triumph of the sabre in the scandalous trial against the little lieutenant, Forstner-Zabern; about the sanguinary judgment of the Erfurt court-martial, which, treading on all that is human, banished proletarians to the prisons for years on account of mere bagatelles; about the numerous cases of terrible abuse of the soldiers that were to he brought to light out of the darkness of the drill-yards and the company rooms through an approaching second trial of Rosa Luxemburg – if recollection does not receive, more than 30,000 mistreated men volunteered to act as witnesses.

    But to be sure, by this time the Social-Democratic Party had already turned its misguided steps toward parliamentarism, it was fast becoming a bourgeois party, and its fear of mass action was already leading to its surrender to militarism and imperialism. It was the active and passive connivance of the Social-Democratic group of the Reichstag, and through them the connivance of the Social-Democracy as a whole, that made it possible in 1913 for the tremendous bluff of the “Jubilee gift for the Peace Emperor, Wilhelm II” to go across the political stage successfully, that enabled the Government to prepare unhindered the imperialistic war stroke of 1914, with the army bill – the most gigantic increase of the army which up to that time had ever been demanded and granted – and the defense contribution of billions – the first war credit for the intended marauding expedition across the Balkans to Bagdad and other “places in the sun.” The Party group in the Reichstag had made it easier for the bourgeois “opposition parties” to nod assent to the army bill, by having itself agreed to the separation of that bill from the general budget. It had given its blessing to the defense contribution and income tax bills as presumptive burdens upon the possessing classes. It had run after the delusive spectre of “modified finance” policies and had skipped the fight against the robust armored fellow called imperialism.

    But the sins of commission and omission of the Party faction in the Reichstag had begun to determine the attitude of the entire Party, a few small, criticizing and dickering groups excepted. The Social-Democracy had not collected its forces for a stand against the brazen advance of imperialism greedy for power. Thus it created on the one hand the confident assurance of militarism and imperialism that there was no fear of opposition to their plans on the part of the proletarian masses, and on the other hand a paralyzing dullness in the masses themselves, even a slackening up in the face of danger. In short, the Social-Democracy allowed that atmosphere of war illusion to gather which in the summer of 1914 broke down all the political and moral opposition of the working classes against the crime of the war. Let us not forget that in the attitude of the Social-Democracy at that time, the policy of the “Marxist center” dominated, the policy which Karl Kautsky in our times praises up to the proletariat eagerly as the prerequisite for its victory. Let us not forget, moreover, that it was this high priest of “pure Marxism” who with his extremely un-Marxian tax theory built the ass’s bridge over which the Reichstag faction had proceeded to accepting the defense contribution and income tax measures. Under the given conditions the Social-Democratic Party Executive would have had to jump over its own shadow, if it desired to brace up and make use of the mass sentiment created by the Frankfort decision for a serious fight against militarism and imperialism. In the events which forced Rose Luxemburg into prison during the latter half of February, 1914, the disgraceful bankruptcy of the German Social-Democracy on August 4, 1914, had cast its shadow before, but there was forshadowed in them as well, the loyal, self-sacrificing fight of this inspired pioneer of Socialism against its internal decay.

    Hardly had the acceptance of the war credit measure by the Social-Democratic faction in the Reichstag become known, than Rosa Luxemburg together with a few friends raised the flag of rebellion against this treason to the International, to Socialism. Two circumstances prevented this rebellion from at once becoming widely known. The fight was to begin with a protest against the vote in favor of the war credits by the Social-Democratic representatives, which would have to be so managed, however, that it would not be squashed by the tricks and wiles of the state of siege and the censorship. Besides this, and above all, it would certainly have been significant if the protest was from the start issued in the name of a goodly number of familiar Social-Democratic fighters. We therefore tried to put it into such a form that as many as possible of the leading comrades should declare their solidarity with its ideas who had uttered sharp, even absolutely destructive criticism on the policy of August 4th, in the Reichstag faction or within small groups. A consideration which cost much hard thinking, paper, letters, telegrams, and valuable time – and the result of which, despite all that, was nil. Of all the critics of the Social-Democratic majority who had expressed themselves in vigorous speech, only Karl Liebknecht dared, together with Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring and me to defy the idol of Party discipline upon whose altars were sacrificed character and convictions.

    Rosa Luxemburg had nearly completed the first number of the magazine Internationale, when she was made to begin her prison sentence on the eve of a trip to Holland which we had intended to take together to prepare the way for the projected International Conference of Socialist Women and in general to bind more strongly the ties of international relations and to encourage the attempts to combine internationally the men and women comrades who were still true to their principles. Now, instead of speeding to the Dutch border with her, I had to visit Rosa in the Barnim Strasse prison. The unexpectedly sudden execution of the sentence had crashed like a thunderbolt into our immediate fighting plans. Nevertheless barely two months later the Junius Pamphlet was finished. Rosa Luxemburg did not allow her imprisonment to be a “breathing spell” for the enemy. They would not let her fight. With stubborn courage she replied to the power attacking her, “Very well, now I’ll fight all the more!” Her indomitable will converted the place of severest restraint to a site of spiritual liberty. Writing of a political nature was strictly forbidden her. Secretly, under the greatest difficulties, narrowly watched by spying eyes, outside of the permissible occupation with literary and scientific work, she wrote her grand, penetrating final reckoning with the Social-Democracy, using every minute of time, every spark of light for the purpose. Weariness, illness disappeared before the force of the inner voice. That voice helped her to bear the most disconcerting, the most tormenting part of it all – that innumerable times she was wrested out of her train of thought, that she was never sure that she might not be caught at her task and prevented from completing it. It was a relief from the most tyrannical spiritual pressure when at last she was able to put the last stroke to her manuscript and, crafty as Odysseus, to send the last pages out of prison walls by the hand of loyal friendship.

    Outside the doors of the women’s prison lay the heavy atmosphere of the World War, reeking with destruction, commingled with the rotten odors of the unbridled passion of profit and usury of the respectable parasites and defenders of the bourgeois order; raged the “will to victory,” artificially inflamed and fanned to a white heat with all the means of perfidy, violence, despicability; waded the Social-Democracy month after month through the fratricidal sea of blood, repeating piously, like an obedient pupil, the sayings of the imperialistic bourgeoisie and its government, with merely a few clumsy variations, breaking every solemn oath of international solidarity, treading upon the ideals of Socialism; outside those prison walls, stood like a gray, oppressive nebular mass, the dullness and stupidity of the workers allowing themselves to be dragged by imperialism into death and ruin instead of resisting it with strength and consciousness of purpose. In the choking atmosphere of those days, the Junius Pamphlet came like the fresh, strong wind that hurries on before the purging storm.

    And its significance was even greater than that by far. It was even a part of that same purging tempest of returning consciousness in which German Social-Democrats and German workers began to find the way back to the historical task of, the proletariat – to overcome imperialism and capitalism through the international class struggle and to realize Socialism. It gave a mighty impetus to the awakening of the proletarians out of the social-patriotic war delusion and harmony delusion of civic truce, the process of their rallying to the class struggle and the banner of International Socialism. Clearly, firmly, scientifically, and penetratingly it gave expression and direction to an emotion, a thought, and a will that stirred within the proletarian’ masses, at first fearfully and scatteringly, then more loudly, more imperatively, uniting ever larger groups.

    Karl Kautsky, the official theoretician of the Social-Democracy, had changed from a leader into a misleader. In his supply-kit of “Marxian” formulas, he could find not a single one that would justify the miserable treachery of the Party majority. Ad usum Delphini he invented the famous two-soul theory for the Socialist International, which was “an instrument of peace and not of war,” and the principles of which therefore were, all according to the given situation, “Proletarians of all lands, unite” or on the other hand, “Proletarians of all lands, murder one another!” “Like a beast on the barren heath” he wandered vaguely back and forth between gay logical houses of cards and schoolmaster quibbling, in order to place himself with his authority protectingly before the policy of August 4th. His subsequent opposition was contradictory, uncertain as to principles, weak. Rosa Luxemburg, on the other hand in the Junius Pamphlet placed that policy on trial – consistently, mercilessly, annihilating it. She proved the bankruptcy of the German Social-Democracy, unparalleled in history, and her proofs were not formulas, but hard, stubborn facts. She knocked the bottom out of all the legends and slogans for the justification of Social-patriotism by revealing the causes and the impelling forces of the imperialistic war, baring its character and its aims.

    The keynote of the Junius Pamphlet is contained in the following sentence of the last chapter: “The history which gave birth to the present war did not just begin in July, 1914, but dates back decades, where thread was tied to thread with the inevitability of a natural law, until the finely woven net of imperialistic world policy had entangled five continents – a tremendous historical complex of phenomena whose roots go deep down into Plutonic depths of economic creation and whose branches point toward the vaguely stirring new world.”

    Imperialism, born of capitalistic development, confronts us as an international phenomenon in its radiations and influences, accomplishing with its brutal unscrupulousness of conscience, its gigantic, insatiable appetites, its tremendous means of power, very different wonders from “the construction of the Egyptian pyramids and Gothic cathedrals,” as expressed in the Communist Manifesto. It gives new and deepened content to the difference between Germany and France created by the war of 1870-71; it extinguishes old differences familiar to world-politics between the great powers of Europe and creates new fields of conflict between them; it is tearing the United States and Japan into its powerful current. Dripping with dirt and blood it traverses the earth, destroying ancient civilizations and converting entire despoiled nations into slaves of European capitalism. International imperialism is heaping up fagot upon fagot for the devastating world-conflagration – in Egypt, Syria, Morocco, South and Southeast Africa, in Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, and China, on the islands and the coasts of the Pacific Ocean, and on the Balkan peninsula. But it was German imperialism, late-born and madly aggressive, which, by way of the provoking ultimatum of Austria to Serbia in 1914, carried out the war stroke that lit the pyre of capitalistic civilization. It was driven on irresistibly by the gold-hunger of German finance – represented in particular by the German Bank, the most concentrated, best organized institution of capitalistic finance in the world – which longed to exploit Turkey and Asia Minor, and the lust of profit of the armament industries; it received its ruinous fool’s liberty from the barely curbed despotism of Wilhelm II and the voluntary weakness of the bourgeois opposition.

    Rosa Luxemburg succeeded so well in portraying within the narrow limits of her Junius Pamphlet the imperialistic nature of the World War and its aims, because in her extensive scientific work on the Accumulation of Capital she had traced down in an exposition as thorough as it was brilliant, the last roots of imperialism, as well as its political branchings. But in divesting the World War of its ideological dress, exposing it in its nakedness as a business venture – the business venture, the deal for life and death – of international Capital, she also mercilessly, piece by piece, tears the ideological wrappings of the Social-Democratic policy of August 4th from its body. In the fresh morning atmosphere of scientific examination of the entire historical phenomenon and its associations, the hollow phrases of the “fight for civilization,” “against Czarism,” “for the defense of the Fatherland,” etc., crumble away. Convincingly Rosa Luxemburg proves that in the present imperialistic environment the conception of a modest, virtuous war of defense of the fatherland has forever flown. The Social-Democratic war policy reveals itself in all its primitive ugliness as outright bankruptcy, as the inner expression of a social-patriotic labor-party imbued with bourgeois ideals, a party that has sold the proud revolutionary birthright of the proletariat for even less than the mess of pottage demanded by Kautsky – for the empty words of a Kaiser, “I recognize no parties, I know only Germans,” for the “honor” of a place in the ranks of nationalistic delusion.

    The Junius Pamphlet is introduced by observations on the duty and importance of Socialist self-criticism, observations that are among the most wonderful things that have ever emerged out of the depths of pure and strong socialistic feeling and thought. Here the sincerest, most glowing conviction demands the highest and severest standards for our actions as Socialists, directing our glance with prophetic force to the great resplendent perspectives of the future which Socialism opens to us. The approaching heroic hour of the new world-epoch must find a heroic race in the proletariat which during the up and down of victory and defeat of its revolutionary struggles shall train itself through unsparing self-criticism, for the triumph of Socialism. The conclusion of the Junius Pamphlet links on to the beginning, closing the ring. It views the World War as the pioneer of the World Revolution. Victory or defeat in the present gigantic struggle must be equally fateful for the conflicting imperialist groups, and incidentally for the proletariats of the different lands, leading inevitably to the collapse of the capitalistic order and capitalistic culture, to its world-trial before the judgment seat of the Revolution. Rosa Luxemburg wrote this in March and April of 1915 – long before the heroic Russian proletariat led by the determined Bolsheviki gave the storm signal for the social revolution, long before the slightest ruffling of the waters in Germany and in the Habsburg dual monarchy announced the approach of a revolutionary flood. What we have since experienced, what Rosa Luxemburg herself was still permitted to experience in part, is a splendid corroboration of the sharpness and correctness with which she had in her Junius Pamphlet seen the historical lines of development.

    Perhaps on this very account some reader may regrettingly or fault-findingly inquire why the author did not show in perspective the possibility of a revolution in Russia, why she neglected to indicate the possible methods and means of fighting in the revolutionary period that was just dawning. It is true that in 1915, already out of the roaring chaos of the world struggle more and more clearly and visibly the giant form of the Revolution was emerging. But there was no indication of when and where it would begin its triumphal course. The Russian Revolution was to be the subject of a second Junius Pamphlet, some of whose outlines had already been hastily sketched by Rosa Luxemburg. The murderous hand of the German culture-bearing military has deprived us of the projected work, which would also have discussed and evaluated the fighting means and methods of the Russian Revolution – not in Kautsky fashion, certainly, according to a hard and fast scheme to which the actual development had to fit itself. No, Rosa Luxemburg’s view is that of a living, creative stream following out the historic development. “The historical moment each time demands the appropriate form of the people’s movement and itself creates new means, improvises hitherto unknown fighting instruments, enriching the arsenal of the people, unheedful of party rules.” The essential thing for the Revolution, then, is “not a conglomeration of ridiculous rules and prescriptions of a technical nature, but the political slogan, the clear consciousness of the political tasks and interests of the proletariat.” In accordance with this view, Rosa Luxemburg at one time investigated an already tried fighting instrument of the working class – the general strike, which she recognizes as first in historical importance and as “the classical form of the movement of the proletariat in the periods of a revolutionary ferment.’ Her pamphlet on this subject – a pioneer work in the proper estimation of this fighting instrument – has been given a new significance by present events; today it should find millions of readers and sympathizers, rally millions of active fighters, ready for revolutionary deeds.

    The Junius Pamphlet is a particularly sparkling treasure of the heritage which Rosa Luxemburg has left the proletariat of Germany, of the world, for the theory and practice of its struggle for liberation, a treasure whose sparkle and glow are a painful reminder of how great and irreparable is the loss we have suffered. What is said of this treasure, here, compares with it as a dry table of classification of plants compares with a garden full of blossoming, resplendent, fragrant flowers. It is as though Rosa Luxemburg, in anticipation of her sudden end, had gathered together in the Junius Pamphlet all the forces of her genial nature for a great work – the scientific, penetrating, independently searching and pondering mind of the theoretician, the fearless, burning passion of the convinced, daring revolutionary fighter, the inner richness and the splendid wealth of expression of the ever struggling artist. All the good spirits which nature had lavished upon her stood by her side as she wrote this work. Wrote – merely wrote? No, experienced in the depths of her soul. In the precisely coined words that mark both her iconoclastic criticism of the Social-Democratic betrayal and her inspiring vision of the expiation and the resurrection of the proletariat in the Revolution; in the sentences that seem to rush on to their goal; in the extensive chains of thought welded together with iron firmness; in the brilliant sarcasms; in the plastic figures of speech and the simple, noble pathos – in all this one feels that it is suffused with the heartblood of Rosa Luxemburg, that in it speaks Rosa Luxemburg’s that behind it stands her whole being, every fibre of it. The Junius Pamphlet is the outlet of a great personality that has devoted itself wholly and singly to a great, to the greatest cause. So, out of this work, the same Rosa Luxemburg greets us from beyond the grave who today more than ever is leading the world proletariat, going before it and leading it upon its way of Golgotha toward the promised land of Socialism.

    But within the circle of light that surrounds her form, there stands a second great personality, which it is necessary to draw out from the obscurity in which it has purposely remained with that modesty which is a sign of real worth and the complete merging of all personal characteristics in a great ideal. This personality is Leo Jogisches. More than twenty years he was united with Rosa Luxemburg in an incomparable community of ideals and fighting purpose which had been steeled by the most powerful of all forces – the glowing, all-consuming passion of the two unusual souls for the Revolution. Not many have known Leo Jogisches, and very few indeed have estimated him according to his great significance. He appeared usually only as the organizer, who translated Rosa Luxemburg’s political ideas into practice, as an organizer to he sure of the first order, as a genial organizer. However, this does not exhaust his accomplishments. Of a far-reaching, thorough general education, a rare master of scientific Socialism, a penetrating dialectic mind, Leo Jogisches was the incorruptible critical judge of Rosa Luxemburg and her work, her ever-waiting theoretic and practical conscience, at times too the one who saw further, the one who stimulated, just as Rosa on her part was the more penetrating and the one who created. He was one of those still very rare great masculine personalities who was capable of living side by side in true and joyous comradeship with a great feminine personality, without feeling in her growth and development a bond and a limitation upon his own ego; a gentle revolutionary in the noblest sense of the word, without any contradiction between belief and action. So, much of Leo’s best lies enshrined in the life-work of Rosa Luxemburg. His increasing, impetuous insistence and his creative criticism contributed their full share in causing the Junius Pamphlet to be created so soon and so masterfully, just as it is due to his iron will that it could be printed and distributed despite the extraordinary difficulties caused by the state of siege. The counter-revolutionists knew what they were doing when, a few weeks after the murder of Rosa Luxemburg, they had Leo Jogisches assassinated too – “in an alleged attempt at flight” in the same Moabite Prison from which it had been possible to abduct Rosa’s assassin, in an elegant private automobile in broad daylight.

    The Junius Pamphlet was an individual revolutionary deed. It must give birth to revolutionary mass action. It is of the dynamite of the spirit which is blasting the bourgeois order. The socialistic society rising in its place is the only fitting monument for Leo Jogisches and Rosa Luxemburg. And this monument is being reared by the revolution for which they lived and died.

    Sunday, August 25, 2013

    Letter to the Autonomous People's Assembly of Montreal (APAM)

    We have serious questions about APAM’s very existence, on its activism and its strong leftist composition. APAM arose amidst the stagnation, if not the very retreat of a mass movement. It was formed by a tiny minority without support from the majority of the Popular Assemblies Autonomous District (APAQ). Here, we’re talking about a ‘city-wide’ organization, not a neighbourhood assembly.

    In the text The organization of the proletariat outside periods of open struggle which is attached to our brochure, The Student Struggle and the Neighbourhood Assemblies, we call into question this type of committee in a period of decline or absence of real mass struggles. These committees tend to descend into activism as shown by the participation of APAM in the May 1 demonstration or that of May 22, with predictable results. This is why they, the committees, circles, and proletarian groups must be careful to avoid them.
    They also tend to fall into the following traps :
      * imagining that they constitute a structure which can prepare the way for the appearance of strike committees or councils ;
        * imagining themselves to be invested with a sort of ‘potentiality’ which can develop future struggles. (It isn’t the minorities who artificially create a strike or cause a General Assembly or a committee to appear, even though they do have an active intervention to make in this process) ;
      * giving themselves a platform or statutes or anything else that risks freezing their evolution and thus condemning them to political confusion ;
        * presenting themselves as intermediate organs, half-way between the class and a political organisation, as if they were an organisation that is at one and the same time unitary and political ;
                - Extract from the organization of the proletariat outside periods of open struggles

    The APAM could have been very useful in spring /summer of 2012, while there was still a mass movement. In spring 2012, members of Klasbatalo (CIK) and APA-RPP (a Montreal neighbourhood Assembly) proposed the creation of APAM but the majority of the assembly, influenced by anarchist political positions, refused. As individuals, and with scepticism, we still participated in APAM in December, as it came at the end of the period of open struggle .

    In short, for the moment, it is more important to our members and our group to focus our energies towards the consolidation of internationalist communist forces worldwide. We won’t be participating in APAM.

    Two militants (ICK) and members of APAM

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    The Difficult Path to an International Workers’ Fight-back

    We publish this text from the Internationalist Communist Tendency (CWO) because we are in agreement with its contents even if we have no organizational link with ITC.

    Slowly Deepening Crisis

    The so called “Great Recession” is now in its sixth year and is acknowledged, even by the capitalist class, as the most serious economic crisis since World War Two. Although the crisis now appears to have stabilised it is in fact slowly deepening. The violent gyrations in global stock markets of recent months indicate a nervousness and uncertainty, not a return to confidence. The fact that markets can collapse when the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank announces that money printing will be scaled back because the US economy is improving indicates the upside down world which global finances now inhabit.

    The strategies of the capitalist class for overcoming the “Great Recession” whether they base themselves on reflating demand, or austerity and balanced budgets, both rely on achieving economic growth as the only escape route. Growth is, however, proving elusive. The World Bank expects the global economy to grow by only 2.2% this year but this is almost entirely due to higher growth rates in China and India. For the UK, the economy has actually shrunk by 3.9% from its level of 2007 and for the EU as a whole growth has been negative with European Commission predicting only 0.5% growth in 2013.

    Attempts at balancing budgets have also been unimpressive. The EU has a budget deficit target of 3% of GDP for all EU members. The UK deficit is now 8.2%, which is the highest since 2008, and the target date for achieving a balanced budget has been pushed back from 2015 to 2018. The EU bailout countries have all been given extended periods to cut their deficits. Portugal and Ireland have each been given another 7 years beyond the original bailout terms. The US budget deficit, though falling, is still expected to be 6.5%.

    The strategy of “Austerity and Balanced Budgets” is itself now being questioned by one of it architects, the IMF, which now admits mistakes have been made in earlier bailouts particularly Greece and the medicine dished out with the loans has made the situation worse.

    A completely opposite strategy is being attempted in Japan. After two decades of deflation a massive programme of Quantitative Easing has been initiated. Money is being pumped into the economy at a rate of 1% of the GDP per month which is double the maximum ever undertaken by the US. The government aims to increase the rate of growth at the price of allowing inflation to rise to 2%. At present Japanese taxes cover a mere 46% of government expenditure and these measures will increase Japanese debt; a debt which stands at 245% of the GDP and is the highest of any country in the world. These measures reflect a sense of desperation.

    The issue of debt in general is, of course, not limited to Japan. The UK government debt, which was £700bn in 2010, has doubled to £1400bn and is expected to rise to 85% of the GDP by 2015. This is just the government debt, once the corporate debt and personal debt are added the total figure is £7500bn or approximately 500% of the GDP.

    While this indicates little success in finding a route out of the “Great Recession” it does suggest things could get dramatically worse. A significant rise in global interest rates would be a catastrophe. The figures for rescuing the financial system in the present conditions would be measured in trillions not billions as in 2008. These amounts would be beyond the capacity of the nation state. What the capitalist class would do then is a matter of speculation but, writing down debts, confiscation of deposits, as occurred in Cyprus recently, nationalisation of pension funds, as occurred in Argentina 1990, or devaluing debts by inflation of currencies could occur. All these things would produce a massive financial crisis and loss of “confidence” which in its turn would produce a social crisis.

    Accompanying these manoeuvrings in the financial sphere the ruling class has followed a strategy of trying to shift the burden of the crisis onto the working class. There are indications that this strategy on its own is proving insufficient. A hint of this was the so-called “bail-in” of large depositors, namely sections of the bourgeoisie themselves, in the case of the Cyprus rescue. The decisions of the European Union at the end of June established the “bail in” of bank shareholders and creditors as a policy to be followed in future rescues. The signs are that this strategy isn’t working, even though the working class has not yet been able to successfully oppose it.

    Far from indicating that a route out of the crisis has been found, these developments only indicate that the underlying problems of capitalism continue and that the ruling class is unable to either understand them or address them.

    Attacks on the Working Class

    The attempts of the ruling class to impose austerity on the working class have generally been successful. Before considering why this is the case we wish to briefly outline the extent of burdens which have been heaped on workers’ shoulders.

    Since 2008 the attacks have been on two fronts, a direct attack on wages and an indirect attack via social benefits. The severity of these attacks can be illustrated by many statistics, but probably the most dramatic are those from Greece. Here we find that;

    Average family income has fallen by 38% from its level in 2007
    Wages and pensions have fallen by 35 – 50%
    Unemployment is 28.6% and 40% of youth are seeking employment abroad.
    Collective labour agreements have been revoked
    Pension age has been raised to 67
    Vat has been increased to 27%
    One of the results of all this is that 37% of all children are now living in poverty.[1]
    Infant mortality has increased by 40%.

    In the other EU bailout countries there have been similar, but smaller, attacks on direct wages with reductions of 5-10%. Minimum wages have similarly been reduced. For the UK, the Institute of Fiscal Studies reports that there have been falls of 4.8% and 9.9% in wages in the private and public sectors respectively since 2008.

    At the same more flexible conditions have been enforced with workers having to give up previous entitlements such as holidays, bonuses as well as having to sign individual contracts with employers or accept zero hours contracts.

    Reduction in the social wage have been imposed through reduction of benefits and services. For example in the UK, disability benefit has been cut, the bedroom tax introduced, workfare, which means working for free, has been imposed together with increases in the pension age and reductions in pension payments etc.

    This has been coupled with restructuring of the economies and speed-ups which, of course, has led to massive unemployment. In the EU as a whole the rate is 12% but in certain countries it is much worse. 12% unemployment represents 18.8 million workers!

    For the capitalist class this has resulted in a net reduction in labour costs. For Greece this amounts to some 14%. Why has the working class proved unable to resist all this?

    Working Class Resistance in Metropolitan Countries

    The working class in the so-called “developed”, or metropolitan, capitalist countries, particularly Europe, the US and Japan, has proved unable to resist these attacks. In general the capitalist class has succeeded in enforcing most of the attacks on wages and conditions of workers it wanted. We consider two factors need to be considered in explaining this, firstly the reorganisation of global capital which has been carried out under the banner of “globalisation” and secondly the confinement of workers’ struggles in the prison of the trade unions.

    During the last 25 years globalisation has changed the material situation in which the metropolitan working class is forced to struggle. It has given the capitalist class a flexibility they did not previously have, and an ability to outmanoeuvre working class resistance. Richard Freeman, a Harvard economics professor, estimates that the entry of China, India and the former Soviet bloc into the world economy resulted in 1.47 billion additional workers becoming available to global capital. This resulted in a doubling of the size of the size of the workforce to approximately 3 billion. These additional workers brought very little additional capital with them, and as a result cut the global ratio of capital to labour which decreased to between 55% and 60% of what it would otherwise have been_[2]_.

    Richard Freeman himself makes the obvious point that:

    “The capital/labor ratio is a critical determinant of the wages paid to workers and of the rewards to capital. The more capital each worker has, the higher will be their productivity and pay. A decline in the global capital/labor ratio shifts the balance of power in markets toward capital, as more workers compete for working with that capital.”[3]

    The additional workers who have become available have been made use of by the metropolitan capitalist class by exporting production and service industries to the areas where they are available. This has resulted in massively cheaper labour power becoming available to capital. Technical developments in communications and the internet have, obviously, greatly assisted the exploitation of this new labour force. Much of the surplus value generated by these global operations has, of course, been returned to the metropolitan countries and in part been used to fund those service industries which cannot be exported.

    For the metropolitan workers, globalisation has as its corollary a tendency to fragmentation of the entire working class. Large factories are split into smaller units forming a small section of a global production process, or simply closed down and production moved to peripheral countries. In the wake of the defeats of the bastions of working class resistance in the 80s the metropolitan capitalists have succeeded in reforming much of the organisation of labour under the banner of “flexibility”. This has resulted in workers working in smaller units. For example, construction workers working for “labour only” subcontractors, or being “self-employed”, or being on flexible contracts such as the infamous “zero hours” contracts[4]. The workforce is thus split into smaller units with apparently differing interests.

    The sector of the economy which illustrates the decline of large scale production and large concentrations of workers most brutally is manufacturing. This accounted for 40% of the UK economy in 1955 employing 8 million workers and today accounts for just under 10% and employs only 2.5 million.[5] UK coal mining which employed 470,000 workers at the time of nationalisation in 1947, had contracted to approximately half, 200,000, by the time of the miners’ strike in 1984, and today employs a mere 6000. The same type of reduction of employed workers applies to the steel industry. In 1951 it had 450,000 workers and today the figure is 18,500[6]. Similar figures could be produced for other industries, but these industries are instructive as their decimation followed bitter strikes, strikes which failed to prevent either the plant closures or lost production being replaced by imports. They indicate how the previous methods and particularly the extent of struggle, which had won battles in the 60s and 70s, were no longer effective. Today steel making, vehicle production and whole swathes of manufacturing industry are owned by international capitalist corporations. They are thus able to transfer production elsewhere in the world in response to local profitability, or in response to strikes. Globalisation of production has given the capitalist class the ability to outflank previous methods of struggle.

    As the surplus value producing industries, in particular manufacturing, have been cut back industries which generally appropriate surplus value produced elsewhere in the economy, have increased. This in turn has been made possible by globalisation. The service industries, now employ 81%[7] of the workforce in the UK, according to the 2011 census. The sectors included in “service industries” are government employees, health and education workers, transport, tourism and, of course, the famous financial sector, which, employs 17% of the workforce and which, until 2008 was supposed to be the saviour of UK capitalism[8]. Despite the obvious parasitism of the financial sector, not all of these sectors are totally unproductive in value terms and increasing numbers of ‘service sector’ workers are finding their service work is being turned into commodity production. It is no accident that these sectors have borne the brunt of the latest round of attacks on wages and conditions. However, in these sectors strike action is more difficult than in manufacturing, mining or steel-making and is less effective as so many key commodities are imported from abroad.

    The second obstacle preventing any effective fight-back in the metropolitan countries is that struggles generally remain controlled by the trade unions. The conditions in which the trade unions operate have also been changed by globalisation, as described above, and the more general change in capitalism’s profitability which has occurred as the system moved from a phase of reconstruction, following World War Two, to one of crisis which started from the early 70s. Whereas the trade unions were able to negotiate some improvements in conditions and pay in the post-war period this was possible because capitalism was in a period of growth, caused by increased profitability brought about by the destruction of capital during the Second World War. As soon as the crisis set in the capitalist class tried to restore profits by reducing workers’ wages and benefits. In the changed circumstances trade unions’ principal activity became about negotiating redundancies, speedups and worse conditions.

    This should not surprise us since trade unions do not in any way oppose the wages system which is the basis of capitalism. They locate themselves within the capitalist system and are therefore a part of it. Their principal task is to negotiate the rate capital pays for labour power and to assure its availability. This is a negotiation within the system, and it accepts the conditions and premises of capitalism. Trade unions therefore accept the need for a profitable economy and logic which goes with this. They consequently accept such things as the need for flexibility, speedups, redundancies and the rest. They stand for a healthy national economy and their vision of socialism is an entirely statified economy, that is to say, a system of fully integral state capitalism. Trade unions are consequently agents of capitalism and, as such, they will sabotage any effective fight against the system itself.

    For workers in the metropolitan countries, the situation is thus one in which they are under a general attack because of structural changes in the global economy, changes which are bringing about a slow equalisation of global wage rates, and a specific attack resulting from the financial collapse of 2008. We expect these attacks to intensify as the economic crisis deepens. At the same time resistance remains generally organised by trade unions who advise workers to knuckle down and submit to these attacks otherwise their situation will get worse and could reduce their conditions to those of workers in the peripheral countries. This is the background to the current failure to halt the wave of attacks which the capitalist class is launching on workers in the metropolitan countries.

    Resistance in the Peripheral Countries

    The situation in the peripheral countries is more or less the inverse of that in the metropolitan countries. Here we find huge concentrations of workers in large factories, reminiscent of the situation in Manchester in the Nineteenth century, but many times larger. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this is Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics company producing such things as smartphones, tablets, computer servers etc. which employs 1 million workers worldwide. Its 3 production facilities in China employ approximately 700,000 workers[9]. The biggest factory in Shenzhen employs 390 000. Similar massive concentrations of workers in production plants are found in India, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa and other peripheral countries. The conditions which many of these workers suffer are similar to those described by Engels in his study The Condition of the Working Class in England. In China some 250 million workers earn less than $1 per day and 700 million live on less than $2 a day. Workers often have to work 60 to 70 hours per week.[10] In Bangladesh clothing workers are locked in the factories, have pay deducted for toilet breaks and work in notoriously unsafe conditions for a pittance. In November 2012 a fire in a factory burned 117 workers to death, and this year the collapse of a single factory crushed 1100 workers to death. These few examples give an indication of pay and conditions in the “Brave New World” which capitalism has constructed in the peripheral countries, conditions which revolutionaries can only brand as an outrage.[11]

    In most peripheral countries the role of the trade unions is not so entrenched in the capitalist apparatus as in the metropolitan countries. China, of course, is the exception where the unions are visibly integrated into the state. This means that much of the class struggle takes place outside union control. Strikes are wildcats and often do achieve some concessions but a price is paid, frequently in blood.

    A majority of the workers in the peripheral countries are first generation workers without a previous tradition of class struggle. When class struggle breaks out it is with elemental violence on a local level often leading to violent clashes with the police. In China, for example, while there are no statistics, it is estimated that there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes every year. All of them are wildcats.[12] These have recently led to clashes with the police and army leading to deaths of workers. One of the most brutal examples of violent suppression of workers’ struggles in a peripheral country is that of the strike at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa in 2012. Here the police simply gunned down 34 striking miners.[13]

    In the periphery, therefore, it is generally the case that workers are struggling against the savage exploitation and achieving minor concessions in wages and conditions. These struggles remain local and are generally contained by the repressive forces of the state. There is, however, no perspective that this struggle is part of a general struggle against capitalism itself.

    Globalised Resistance

    While globalisation has provided the capitalist class with the means to undermine local and even national workers’ struggles it has also, as predicted by Marx in the Communist _Manifesto_, created a global working class and a global system of production, which lays the basis for the international unity of the working class. While the capitalists are able to outflank strikes in a single industry or in a single country, strikes which generalised to many industries or became international could not be defeated. It is clear that workers need to unite worldwide exactly in the way the Manifesto states. This has become necessary to achieve even immediate economic demands. The capitalist crisis, however, makes economic gains short lived since the capitalist class will always find ways of taking such gains back or introducing other changes which compensate for these concessions. The real problem is the capitalist system itself which, because of its exploitative nature, is leading the world to catastrophe. The real issue is the replacement of the capitalist system with a communist[14] one, and future struggles need to be given an orientation towards this goal. The question is how can this be done?

    The working class owns nothing but its ability to labour. It is a property-less class in capitalism and is thus forced to sell its labour power to survive, and this sale of labour power is the basis of the entire capitalist system. To free itself from this condition it has to break the wage labour-capital relationship and, of course, doing this means exploding the whole capitalist system. It is for this reason that Marx described the working class as a class held in “radical chains” since it cannot break the chains without breaking the entire system apart and reorganizing production and society globally. In these circumstances the working class has only two weapons on which it can rely, its consciousness and its organisation.

    Workers’ Consciousness

    At present the working class accepts the ideas of the capitalist class since, as Marx noted in The German Ideology

    The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas*[15]*.

    In general workers accept that the present crisis is a temporary interruption in the operation of a system to which there is no alternative. For the present, for most workers, it seems best to hold onto what you have, keep your head below the parapet and wait for the better future, which our rulers are always promising. However, as Marx also notes in the Preface to a Critique of Political Economy:

    The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being what determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production or – what is but a legal expression for the same thing – with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution.[16]

    As workers’ lives become ever more difficult and the promised glorious future never comes, it is this which will determine their consciousness. This is, of course, in direct contradiction with the ideas propagated by the capitalist class through their media, their education system and their ideological apparatus. It is in this situation that ideas of wider class struggle and international struggle can take root.

    The “social being” of the working class, which Marx talks of, is, of course, enmeshed in the social being of capitalist society at large. The present phase of the crisis has produced a general dissatisfaction with capitalist society which has expressed itself in social movements in which workers have participated as individuals. We have witnessed mass struggles in peripheral and central countries; social uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt; occupations of central squares in major cities in Greece, Spain, US, UK and elsewhere; followed by social movement in Turkey, Brazil and once again in Egypt[17]. While movements are interclass movements without any clear objectives they undoubtedly do express a dissatisfaction with capitalism at a fundamental level and also a dissatisfaction with the formal structures of capitalism such as bourgeois democracy, political parties and trade unions. The crisis has, therefore, brought about an incipient challenge to bourgeois ideas in which workers have participated as individuals.

    The CWO argues that capitalist relations of production are a “fetter” on the forces of production in the sense used by Marx in the passage quoted above. Although it is undeniable that the forces of production have grown enormously since the Second World War we argue that this growth depended on the massive devaluation and destruction of constant capital which the war brought about. This destruction of previously produced wealth has become an essential and integral part of capitalism’s survival because of the systemic problems of accumulation which cause a tendency for profit rates to fall. When it is understood that the historical cycle of modern capitalism entails general destruction of wealth through global war it is clear that capitalist social relations are indeed a “fetter” to the forces of production. At present we are at the stage in the present cycle of reproduction where general destruction of constant capital through war is appearing again as the only solution to capitalism’s impasse. However, since the conditions for general war are not yet developed, the present impasse is characterised by ever increasing attacks on the working class.

    This is the material background to the working class’ situation. However, the “social being” of workers within capitalism does not directly raise questions such as these. What workers experience are increasingly difficult conditions until it becomes impossible to continue living in the old way. The issue will them be confronting immediate problems, but problems, which when they try to solve them, will necessarily lead to the confrontation of the more fundamental historical questions. Both the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 moved from initially trying to confront essentially bourgeois nationalist issues to world historical tasks, and there is no reason why this should not recur.


    The material conditions exist for the working class to become conscious that its immediate struggles need to be generalised and made international if they are to succeed. There is however no automatic trigger that will make that happen. At the moment the most widespread hope amongst many workers is that capitalism can be made “fairer” despite all the evidence that the wealth gap around the world continues to increase notwithstanding the crisis. This is a necessary stage we have to go through. In the course of their continuing exploitation the wider working class will be faced with the impasse that capitalism has created. It will be faced with the recognition that the system is no longer compatible with the future of humanity (and we have not even raised here the environmental destruction it is creating[18]). Its struggles will become wider and more collective. Street movements may bring impressive anti-capitalist masses out but it will be the mass strikes of the future which will really threaten the system. Only by paralysing the old system of production can we pave the way for a new one. It is worth noting in this respect that, where the struggles have had any success in the “Arab Spring”, strikes by the local working class have provided the force required to achieve the capitulation of the authorities, notably in Tunisia and Egypt. This indicates that the only real power able to confront the capitalist authorities is the working class.

    At present workers’ struggles everywhere are largely in the hands of the trade unions which, as has been argued above, form part of the capitalist system of control of labour. For future struggles to have any chance of success it is therefore necessary to take their organisation out of the hands of the unions.

    Struggles need to be organised democratically through workers’ assemblies which delegate members to strike committees who would give themselves the task of extending strikes or struggles to other industries and, where possible, internationally. These delegates are answerable only to the assemblies and are recallable.

    But this alone will not be enough to defeat the system. In this process a historical consciousness will have to arise which will take many forms but will find its political voice in an international party. This will be a necessary instrument for the working class to be able to build a new world. We are not talking here about a party of government but a party of the working class, in the working class, whose task is to fight for the spread of international communism.

    Such an organisation needs to be embedded in the struggles of the working class as this is the only way it can influence them. Without a clear political aim even the most determined workers’ struggles will ultimately end in confusion and failure. To fight for the construction of such an organisation is the key task of the present period for revolutionaries who understand the historical lessons of the class struggle and the stakes of the present situation. How to engage in workers’ struggles and propagate the revolutionary way forward is the key challenge to everyone who sees that only the working class can forge an historic alternative to capitalism.

    [2]“Labour Market imbalances” Richard Freeman, Harvard University paper. Richard Freeman
    [3] See Richard Freeman
    [4] These contracts allow employers to retain workers but only pay them for hours they work. Often they are informed when they are required to work by text to a mobile phone. In the UK in 2012 there were 200,000 workers on these contracts with 100,000 of them in the National Health Service. This system has been extended to professionals such as doctors, engineers, lecturers, journalists and others and the numbers increased by 25% in the last year. It represents a way of cheapening the costs of labour and making employment more precarious. Figures from Financial Times 8/4/13.
    [5] See Guardian
    [6] See Financial Times 14/05/13
    [7] See
    [8] The City of London produces 9% of GDP but generates 27% of government taxes.
    [9] See Financial Times 4/01/13. For an article on Foxconn see
    [10] Reported in Financial _Times_ 9/12/05
    [11] See
    [12] See
    [13] See
    [14] When we speak of Communism we mean production for human needs, where the means of production are socialised and society will be organised so that each person will contribute according to their ability and each will receive according to their needs. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the state capitalist societies which existed in Russia, China etc.
    [15] Karl Marx The German Ideology
    [16] Karl Marx Preface to _A Critique of Political Economy_
    [17] See articles which follow this one.
    [18] See our pamphlet Capitalism and the Environment by Mauro Stefanini or

    Saturday, August 3, 2013