Class struggle

In defence of discussion groups

In the last two issues of World Revolution we have published articles concerning discussion groups: in WR 257 we reproduced a text on the Paris Commune of 1871 that introduced a discussion in the Midlands Discussion Group; in our previous issue, WR 258, we published a brief history of the MDG. In the following article we want to look at some more general aspects of what a discussion group is, what function it fulfils and what in our view a discussion group is not, and what objectives it shouldn't try to serve.

Union manoeuvres to isolate firefighters

For the first time in 25 years there is the threat of a national fire-fighters' strike. This prospect has been the focus of workers' attention in Britain for months. As with nurses and ambulance workers, fire-fighters are respected by other workers for doing an important job which can involve saving lives. This strong feeling of support for the fire-fighters has tended to take the form of sympathy for a 'special case'. The work of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has helped undermine prospects of sympathy being transformed into real working class solidarity. Attacks on the fire-fighters

A contribution to the history of the Midlands Discussion Group

The Midlands Discussion Group (MDG) has existed for more than two years now, involving people from Leicester and Birmingham from various political backgrounds - left communist, councilist, anarchist, environmentalist, leftist. The aim of the group is to discuss the proletarian alternative to capitalism, like other discussion groups that exist or have existed in Mexico, India, France, Spain, Switzerland and Australia. Discussion circles: important moments in the development of class consciousness

The discontent is real, and so are the union obstacles

In Argentina in the first five months of 2002 there have been more than 11,000 demonstrations as well as various others forms of mobilisation - rallies, hunger strikes, the blocking of main roads and workers’ strikes. In a very mixed social movement the working class has found it very difficult to defend its particular class interests, to struggle as an independent class when so many other social strata are acting in response to the austerity imposed by the economic crisis hitting the country.

Workers Power attacks No War But The Class War

In WR 249 we reported the return of the ‘No War But The Class War’ group in response to the ‘war on terrorism’ and the first attacks on Afghanistan. As the basis of the group is opposition to war on a class basis, the ICC thinks that its re-appearance is positive and our militants have participated in the majority of NWBTCW’s London meetings. As in its previous manifestations NWBTCW contains all sorts of people. Some call themselves anarchists, some anti-capitalists, some communists and some who would resent any label being put on their views. This means there are a number of different approaches to the ‘anti-capitalist’ movement, to activism, and to political discussion. One thing that is shared by all NWBTCW participants is a rejection of the leftist campaign of the Stop The War coalition. In response Workers Power have attacked NWBTCW - at a meeting, in their November paper and in on-line discussion.

The only answer to capitalist war - the class struggle!

In response to the horrible war crime of 11 September, new and equally horrible war crimes are now being committed by the USA, which has come under direct attack for the first time in nearly two hundred years. Even before the first assaults were launched on an already ruined Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghan refugees were being condemned to death by starvation and disease. The death list will increase dramatically now the military strikes have begun.

Zimbabwe: Government and opposition are both against the working class

The EU observer mission sent to watch the election in Zimbabwe were not happy about the "climate of fear" and that the "Zanu-PF leaders seemed to sanction the use of violence and intimidation". However, as the Movement for Democratic Change, lead by Morgan Tsvangirai, won 57 seats, despite being only able to safely campaign in 25 of the 120 at stake, political parties in Europe declared their satisfaction. In Britain, Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat all appreciated the work of Tsvangirai, a leading trade unionist often called a ‘British puppet’ by Zanu-PF. Such accusations are based on the reality that he was in constant contact with the British government throughout the campaign, and all British coverage of the Zimbabwe election campaign was devoted to the denunciation of violence and the demonisation of Mugabe.

Behind the 'recovery' of the economy: The hidden crisis and attacks on the working class

But when the Chancellor presented his November pre-Budget report it was against the backdrop of some apparently impressive economic indicators. Unemployment was at a 20 year low of 4.2%; the public spending budget showed a surplus of £9.5bn. The OECD produced a glowing report on the health of the British economy, holding out the prospect of higher economic growth of 2.7% coupled with lower unemployment and inflation despite strong increases in household wealth and pay. Indeed, "The forecasts paint a golden scenario for the Labour government moving towards the next election" (Financial Times, 17/11/99).

Rover/Ford: When workers are under attack, class struggle is our only defence

The threatened massive redundancies at Rover would destroy up to 50,000 jobs in the West Midlands. The threat to cut car assembly at Dagenham (or even close it altogether) would cause similar devastation, on a smaller scale, in East London and Essex. Tens of thousands of workers face the misery of unemployment and poverty.

Struggles in UK, USA, France: The class war is not over

Despite the wishes of the ruling class, the class war is not over. In fact over the past 18 months there has been an intensification of the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Our television screens have not been full of pictures of struggling workers, but, then you’d hardly expect the capitalist media to tell you the truth. An obvious example of this is the nurses strike in the Irish republic. Involving 27,000 workers, it’s the biggest strike since the 1920s and yet has hardly been mentioned in the media.

Rover workers 'stabbed in the back' by bosses, unions and the state

BMW’s decision to break up the Rover Group is a massive blow to the working class, with some 9,000 job losses expected at the Longbridge plant and up to 50,000 jobs to be lost throughout the region. Since BMW bought Rover in 1994 it has pumped in £3bn into the group, but the losses have only mounted, totalling £647m in 1998. In response the bosses announced more investment, measures to improve productivity and 2,500 redundancies. BMW also managed to squeeze a £1.5m pledge of support from the government, while the unions bent over backwards to successfully push through the deal. Sir Ken Jackson, of the AEEU, said at the time, "This excellent result puts Rover on course for success and the workforce on course for stability" and Roger Lyons, of the MSF, said "This is a vote of confidence in the future of the car industry and shows that partnership is now the central focus of British industrial relations." (BBC Online, 11/12/98). Far from defending the interests of the workers, the unions again revealed their real role as the servants of the bosses and the interests of capitalism.

Ten years after the fall of stalinism: Communism is the only perspective for humanity

The fall of the Berlin Wall led to a media orgy on a scale not seen before in this century. For 3 days there was an almost uninterrupted flow of images, showing nearly 3 million East Germans crossing the wall and invading the West of the city of Berlin. In this first phase there was no need for propaganda. The images spoke for themselves; the bourgeisie’s message was directly attached to them and hammered home implicitly: "This historic day marks the total and definitive victory of democracy over totalitarianism", "People of the world, rejoice in this glorious day when capitalism has demonstrated its absolute superiority over the socialist regimes".

Workers strike against ANC austerity

Over the summer South Africa has been rocked by the largest wave of strikes since the ANC took power in 1994. With economic growth stagnant at 0.6%, unemployment running at 30%, and inflation at 7.3%, the new ANC administration led by Thabo Mbeki have committed themselves to "fiscal discipline", which can only mean attacks on the living and working conditions of the proletariat.

Strikes on French railways

There has been a real development of workers' militancy in recent weeks. Strikes have broken out in all sorts of places against the violent attacks directed at the working class. Numerous sectors have been affected: private and public, industry and sed public, industry and services. To refer only to the ones that got some mention in the daily press: the strike at Alcatel against 12,000 job cuts; the strike at Elf in Pau against the plan to get rid of 1250 jobs; strikes at Nice airport against the introduction of short-term contracts; a series of strikes against the introduction of the 35-hour week; at Elf Atochem, at Cegetel, but also in cleaning firms; in bus companies, food and distribution. Walk-outs at Peugeot against the new shifts involved in the 35-hour week. The TV and the daily papers have said nothing about these last struggles. Or about the numerous strikes that have been breaking out on an almost daily basis in the hospitals and the postal service against job cuts and worsening conditions of work.

Class struggle in the USA

In the last issue of WR we carried an article on the railway strike in France. This strike took place against a background of growing discontent and agitation in numerous sectors of the working class. This movement was particularly significant in that it has developed during the Balkans war and despite the campaigns of the ruling class to strengthen the ideology of "national unity" around"national unity" around the war effort. In early June, there was a further expression of this combative mood in the working class: a spontaneous strike around the question of safety in the metro, which rapidly spread to the whole of the metro system and the urban railway in Paris, and also to transport workers in Marseilles and Lyon. Although quickly isolated by the unions, the speed of the workers' reaction was above all an expression of an exasperation with deteriorating wages and working conditions that is common to wide layers of the working class.

The revival of class struggle and the dangers of radical unionism

We are seeing the return of the wildcat strike, with unofficial walkouts in the post and the civil service, by fire-fighters and by BA workers at Heathrow. In the context of the developments in the struggle of the working class internationally this year, and particularly the large strikes and demonstrations against the attacks on pensions in France and Austria (see WR 266 and IR 114), this is a small sign of increasing militancy.

The bourgeoisie uses 'popular protest' to hide the class struggle

The crisis of capitalism is making living conditions worse for virtually everyone, causing a great deal of anger among workers and other sections of the population. This growing discontent has been channelled into a number of protest demonstrations. In particular we have seen the ‘anti-capitalist’ demonstrations outside the World Economic Forum in Melbourne and the World Bank and IMF in Prague; the opposition protests against Milosevic in Serbia; and the blockades of oil refineries in Britain and various European countries.

Massive workers' unrest in Belgium

In addition to its breadth, an extremely important feature of this movement was that many of the strikes broke out spontaneously, and in some cases there were signs of direct conflict between workers and the trade unions, whose job it is to control the working class on behalf of the capitalist state:

After 20 years: Lessons of the miners' strike are still relevant

There have been a number of TV programmes and newspaper articles over the last month commemorating the British miners' strike of 1984/85 that began precisely 20 years ago in March. They all, either directly or indirectly, pay lip-service to the great courage and endurance of the miners in their battle to defend their jobs and living standards. Nonetheless, they in effect write the strike off as politically na�ve faced with a ruthless right wing government, economically pointless once the coal industry had been exposed to the laws of the capitalist market, and undemocratic, insofar as it is perceived to have rejected the ballot box and resorted to physical violence in trying to stop the movements of coal. The logical conclusion they draw from this is that the defeat of the miners' strike effectively signalled the death knell for the class struggle in Britain and by implication, beyond Britain too. 'Anti-globalisation' guru George Monbiot made this explicit recently in one of his big Guardian articles, saying that the last 20 years have seen the "collapse of the proletariat as a political force". The historical context

Daimler/Chrysler: The answer to the capitalist crisis, workers' solidarity

In mid-July Daimler-Chrysler in Germany posed an ultimatum to 41,000 workers in Sindelfingen (Stuttgart) to agree to wage cuts and changes in working conditions or have production of a new Mercedes transferred to South Africa. This lead to strikes and demonstrations by 60,000 (out of 160,00) Daimler workers across Germany, with great expressions of anger and solidarity from other workers. The IG Metall union and Daimler soon stitched up a deal which provoked further anger from workers shouting that the union had no right to sign such a deal in their name. This was a defeat for the workers, but they do know that the union was involved. This article is from Welt Revolution 125, the ICC's publication in Germany, and was distributed as a leaflet when company/union negotiations were still going on. The ICC in Germany has never had such an enthusiastic reception to a leaflet, which confirmed that the question of militant solidarity is really being posed in the working class.

Strikes in hospitals in Buenos Aries

The Argentinean public employees who work for the state at national, provincial or municipal level are divided up by the artificial separation imposed by the constitution of the bourgeois state in 1853 and the various reforms that followed; but they are also divided by the activities of those other agents of the capitalist state, the trade unions. The public employees are affiliated to a myriad of union organisations, and this division has been institutionalised by capitalist legislation itself, such as the law on professional associations.

A turning point in the class struggle

The acceleration of the world crisis of capitalism is more and more reducing the margin of manoeuvre open to the bourgeoisie, which, in the logic of capitalist exploitation, has no choice but to attack the living standards of the entire working class head-on and with increasing violence.

Class struggles in France, spring 2003: the massive attacks of capital demand a mass response from the working class

Faced with the head-on attack on pensions in France and Austria, all sectors of the working class have joined the struggle with a determination unknown since the end of the 1980s. In France, weeks of repeated demonstrations brought together hundreds of thousands of workers from both public and private sector: 1½ million workers were in streets of the main cities in France on the 13th May, almost one million took part in a single demonstration in Paris on the 25th May, and on the third of June 750,000 more people mobilised...
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