What was the significance of the recent strike movement in France, principally involving railway workers, health workers and other parts of the public sector? This was a movement which was undoubtedly a response to a direct attack on workers’ living conditions – the so-called “Pension Reforms” demanded by the Macron government. It was centred on the workplaces where the working class is most obviously a living social force, but at the same time, there was a very strong push towards solidarity between the different sectors.
Strikes in France
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The election of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, with a large majority, which meant the end of the parliamentary logjam and brought the UK’s formal departure from the EU on 31 January, would appear to mark a decisive break from the political crisis that has engulfed the British ruling class over the past few years. In fact, ‘Global’ Britain has plenty of political problems ahead.
The emergence of a new virus and the reaction of the bourgeoisie shows how the development of the productive forces has come up against the death and destruction caused by capitalism.
Defence of the proletarian milieu
The proletariat will only be able to free humanity from the increasingly suffocating chains of world capitalism if its struggle is inspired and fertilised by the critical historical continuity of its communist organisations, that thread that runs from the Communist League in 1848 to the current organisations that identify with the tradition of the communist left. Deprived of this compass, the workers’ reaction against the barbarity and misery imposed by capitalism will be condemned to blind, desperate actions, which may lead to a definitive chain of defeats....
Taken from the "extreme" end of the spectrum of possible US responses to continuing Iranian aggression, the hit against Iran/Solemeini was directed by Trump in true Mafia style. The President, who was calm and lucid throughout the whole episode, clearly laid his cards on the table, was open about those up his sleeve, and the Iranians, understandably, folded. There was no interest in a missile exchange, no interest from Iran in suffering further, greater losses and no interest whatsoever from Trump in getting engaged in a wider war.
The USA's assassination of the Iranian military leader Qaseem Soleimani threatens to bring an escalation of military conflicts in the Middle East. But the spread of war and destruction is not the product of US imperialism alone, and it won't be halted by getting rid of Donald Trump or the Republican Party. It is an expression of the advancing decay of the world capitalist system, which has no alternative to offer humanity. And as the missile strike that brought down the Ukrainian airliner in Tehran graphically illustrates, the first victims of capitalist war are precisely the civilian populations of the world.
UK Labour Party
In the December 2019 general election, the Labour Party got its lowest number of seats in the House of Commons since 1935. The British bourgeoisie has historically been one of the most experienced and effective in deploying its political apparatus, with Labour playing a key part, whether in opposition or government. The diminished position of the Labour Party echoes the situation in other European countries.
Sudan is a country that has been ruined by over 40 years of “civil” wars in which the big imperialist powers have been involved from the start. The various armed conflicts have left over two million dead in South Sudan and Darfur, and led to a general impoverishment which has given rise to numerous hunger revolts against the military and Islamist regimes which have succeeded each other since “independence”.
75 years on
The world’s leading heads of state have have been celebrating, in their own hypocritical manner, the liberation of the few thousand survivors of the Auschwitz death camp by the Red Army in January 1945. The main event was at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, and was dominated by the presence of Vladimir Putin who gave a version of the Holocaust that was so slanted against the role of Poland that the Polish president had already decided to boycott the august gathering. But while the spokesmen for “western democracy” may criticise Putin’s neo-Stalinist rewriting of history, we do not forget that it was these same western democracies which knowingly covered up the industrial massacre of Jews, gypsies and other undesirables in the Nazi concentration camps, did nothing to stop it while it was going on, and only came out into the open about it at the end of the war, using it as an ideological justification for the imperialist war of 1939-45 and an alibi for their own “crimes against humanity”, such as the obliteration of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives in Hamburg, Dresden or Hiroshima.
The idea that the Second World War was a necessary and just war is an article of faith in this society and the unparalleled horrors of the Holocaust have been instrumentalised to put this beyond question, not only by the right and centre of bourgeois politics, but also – and above all -by the left and extreme left who are the specialist exponents of the ideology of anti-fascism. It was only a handful of internationalist communists who, during the war, denounced the entire conflict as a war no less imperialist than the one that preceded it in 1914-18, and who called for the international struggle of the working class against both camps. And it was these same currents who, in the wake of the war, exposed the manipulation of the death camps as an alibi for democratic imperialism, as in the pamphlet Auschwitz, the Grand Alibi, published in 1960 by the Bordigist International Communist Party. This text has been vilified from right to left as a founding text of Holocaust denial or “negationism”– a complete lie, because it is quite demonstrably an attempt to provide a marxist explanation for the Holocaust, locating it as a direct product of capitalist society.
The article that follows, “Campaigns against negationism, Allies and Nazis jointly responsible for the Holocaust” first published in International Review 89 in 1997 was a response to a particularly virulent campaign against the internationalist tradition of the communist left in general and the Bordigists’ pamphlet in particular.
Anyone who claims to belong to the communist left has the responsibility to know and to make known the history of this component of the workers’ movement, its origins in reaction to the degeneration of the parties of the Communist International, and the different branches which compose it (the Italian left, the German-Dutch left etc). It is above all important to draw out very precisely the historic contours of the communist left and the differences which separate it from other left currents of the past, notably the Trotskyist current. This is the object of the present article.
Working Class History
150 years ago, in the early 1860s, the workers’ movement internationally was still in its infancy, and its different components had not yet acquired much experience in setting up and defending political organisations. At the same time the working class in Germany was going to be faced with one of the most difficult political challenges, that of confronting the activities of political adventurers, as the following article explains.
The Argentinean Cordobazo - May 1969, a moment in the resurgence of the international class struggle
Fifty years after the workers' uprising in the city of Córdoba, it is still necessary to reflect on its meaning, because throughout those same fifty years the left apparatus of capital has been presenting distorted versions of its origins and the political responses it generated, preventing the working class from recovering the experiences left by those days of struggle.
ICC Leaflet on French strikes
After years of weakness, the social movement against pension reform shows a re-awakening of the combativity of the proletariat in France. Despite all its difficulties the working class has begun to raise its head.
Turkey's invasion of northern Syria shows the complexity of inter-imperialist antagonisms in this region - and the willingness of all sides involved to use the local population as cannon-fodder.
Local militias, supported by regional and international imperialist powers, have turned Libya into a chaotic war zone and a veritable slave market for refugees
Windrush workers are faced by RAF officials as they arrive in the UK
During election campaigns political parties often turn to questions of immigration, with false alternatives posed over “freedom of movement”, with arguments over the deportation of “illegal” immigrants, but also a warm welcome given to skilled workers who will benefit the economy. The article that appears here, first published on our website in French, is a reminder that the Windrush scandal is not a matter of historical interest but shows the long-held approach of the bourgeoisie: for the exploitation of labour power, the attempt to intimidate sectors of workers, the sirring up of xenophobia, and also the thin humanitarian veneer.
Ninety years ago, the stock market crash of 1929, which announced the economic crisis of 1930, confirmed what the First World War had meant: that capitalism had definitively passed into its period of decadence. In a few months, tens upon tens of millions of people fell into total destitution. Of course, during this period, the bourgeoisie learnt to attenuate the violence of the crisis but, despite the lessons drawn from it, this crisis has never really been surmounted. This confirms that, in the period opened up by the First World War, the contradictions of capitalism could only lead to a degradation of the living conditions of the great majority of humanity.
All around the globe, capitalism's growing economic crisis is presenting the working class with a series of attacks on its living standards and posing some fundamental questions for the present and the future.
Today, if you walk the streets of the towns and cities of Britain it seems that a permanent feature of city centres are desperate people, young and old, squatting in shop doorways begging for change...
We are publishing a contribution from one of our sympathisers, Mark Hayes, which criticises a number of formulations contained in the resolutions from our recent 23rd international congress, together with an initial reply to the comrade’s critcisms. As we say at the end of the reply, “it is the duty of any revolutionary organisation worth its salt to shine the starkest possible light on the reality of the challenge facing the proletariat. We are convinced that the analysis we are developing is best equipped to do this, but this discussion will certainly continue. We are still at the beginnings of fully understanding all the implications of the unfolding period, and criticism and debate is the only way to develop the clearest way forward for our analyses of the world situation”
This resolution, adopted by a conference in January 2019, seeks to draw out the main perspectives for the British situation in the coming period. This takes on even more importance when the whole social situation is dominated by the ruling class’s unprecedented political crisis around Brexit - a crisis that is going to continue to worsen in the coming period.
With or Without Brexit
At the end of May, a report into austerity in the UK by the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty was issued - to the accompaniment of protests by the British government.
The movement against pension reform in France was from start to finish under the control of the unions. They called the strike, they chose and organised the days of action, they led the rare general assemblies. And it was the unions who led the movement to defeat. And for two years the unions worked together with the government ... to prepare and manage to pass this reform!
Work of the 23rd ICC Congress
We are publishing a number of documents emanating from the 23rd ICC Congress: reports that were discussed and ratified (or extracts from them) and resolutions that were adopted. This now includes an article on the overall work of the Congress and the report on the historic course with a short introduction. We add to this collection a report aimed at updating our analysis of decomposition which was ratified by the 22nd ICC Congress and which provides a framework for some of the reports to the 23rd Congress.
Communism is on the agenda of history
Militants of the GCF, Paris 1945: left to right, Chirik, Bricanier, Mousso and Evrard
This article, continuing our long-running series on the communist goals of the workers' movement, looks at the contribution of Marc Chirik, a comrade of the Italian Fraction , the Gauche Communiste de France and the ICC, to the debate on the post-revolutionary state and the problems of the period of transition from capitalism to communism.
An underlying problem with anarchism is its lack of a class analysis - a kind of original sin of anarchism, which has always tended to express the standpoint of the petty bourgeoisie or other intermediate strata rather than that of the working class. Extinction Rebellion – like the trade unions or the Labour party – is a bourgeois organisation, linked directly to the capitalist state, and thus incapable of being “transformed” into something that serves the class struggle. Its function – like the New Green Deal or the Youth for Climate campaign - is to recuperate genuine concerns about the future of the planet and to steer them away from questioning capitalism.
greatest lie in history: Stalinism equals communism
Thirty years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall demonstrated the bankruptcy of the reviled Stalinist regimes. Lyingly labelled ‘the death of communism’, this event was in reality the symbol of the implosion of the Eastern Bloc, a pivotal moment in the decomposition of capitalism. But its thirtieth anniversary has seen the bourgeoisie regurgitate the same lies today as yesterday. The working class has to permanently reject and fight back against this ideological assault.
Protesters wave the national flag in Lebanon
We are currently seeing a wave of popular movements against the endless sacrifices demanded by capitalism and implemented by governments which are often gangrened by corruption, discredited and hated by the population. Such movements have taken place in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Iraq, Iran, Algeria and Lebanon. But while the working class is present in these "popular revolts", it's never as an antagonistic class to capital but one drowned within the population. Far from favouring a future riposte from the working class and, with it, the only viable perspective of a struggle against the capitalist system, these popular, inter-classist revolts serve to reinforce the idea of "no future", which can only obscure such a perspective. They strengthen the difficulties experienced by the working class in mounting its own response to the more and more intolerable conditions that are the result of the bankruptcy of capitalism.
The continent of Australia is a harbinger and a microcosm - a particularly significant microcosm being as large as the whole of Europe or the United States - of the Earth being turned into a desert through the rapacious and unquenchable thirst of capitalism for profit. Everything about man-made climate change, global warming and capitalism's absolute inability to even begin to deal with this mortal threat to humanity, as well as the phoney solutions proposed by the likes of the Greens, is here in "Oz" today.
Supplement on Ecology
The following article forms part of a Supplement on Ecology with other articles appearing elsewhere on this site. The Supplement itself can be read in full by downloading the attached file or by clicking on the Supplement on Ecology issue in the right hand Latest Issues column. If you agree with the content, you can actively contribute to its dissemination by distributing the Supplement at demonstrations and meetings.
The Green New Deal proposes to save jobs and the environment. This is impossible within capitalism.
'Handing yourself over to the police'
For a serious critique of the theory and practice of Extinction Rebellion (XR) it is necessary to use the tools of marxism, understanding social phenomena in the context of capitalist society, in the clash of interests between the ruling capitalist class and the working class - a class that is exploited, but has the capacity to overthrow capitalism. We aim to show that despite its claim to be opposed to reformism and even capitalism itself, XR is an obstacle to a real fight against the capitalist system.
No solution to the ecological catastrophe without the emancipation of labour from capitalist exploitation
It is not enough to examine the mounting threat to life on this planet through the lens of ecology, or the natural sciences, alone. To understand the underlying causes of ecological devastation, and the possibility of reversing it, we have to understand their connection to the existing social relations, to the economic system that governs the earth: capitalism. And for us that means using the only really scientific approach to understanding the structure and dynamics of human society – the method of marxism. One excellent point of departure here is Engels’ 1876 essay ‘The part played by labour in the transition from ape to man’, an unfinished movement that has been included within a broader unfinished symphony, The Dialectics of Nature".
There is no question that the present system is dragging humanity towards an environmental catastrophe. The wave of protests organised by Youth for Climate, Extinction Rebellion, the Green parties and the parties of the left are presented as a way forward. But those who are currently following their lead should ask themselves: why are these protests being so widely supported by those who manage and defend the present system? Why is Greta invited to speak to parliaments, governments, the United Nations?
Millions have taken to the street in protest against a law that could mean Hong Kong citizens being extradited to China. But while the threat of increasing repression is very real, a "citizens" movement based on democratic illusions cannot advance the cause of the working class.
We are publishing a contribution from a sympathizer in the US which aims at exposing the empty but dangerous ideology about ‘the elite’ which is being used more and more by different factions of the capitalist class today.
The working class has no stake in the Brexit imbroglio, no camp to choose among the many factions or the umpteen ‘solutions’. All the arguments in the Brexit debate are ultimately to do with the best conditions in which to manage the capitalist economic crisis, the best way to compete with other capitalist swindlers on the world market.
In the first part of this article we looked at some of the most important developments in the international proletarian milieu after the events of May 68 in France. We noted that, while the resurgence of the class struggle gave a significant impetus to the revival of the proletarian political movement, and thus to the regroupment of its forces, this dynamic had begun to run into difficulties by the beginning of the 80s. Here, we take up the story from this point.
In the two previous articles in this series, we have looked at the historic significance of the reawakening of the class struggle after decades of counter-revolution. In this article we want to look specifically at the evolution of the proletarian political milieu since 1968.