Faced with crisis and austerity, the working class is raising its head all over the world!

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After decades of attacks and a retreat in the class struggle, the strikes that erupted in Britain last June are demonstrating a clear change of mood inside the working class: "Enough is enough!"  Moreover, the huge demonstrations against the pension reform in France and the multiplication of strikes and demonstrations all over the world confirm the reality of a real rupture, with workers refusing to put up with the current barrage of attacks any longer. Faced with inflation, redundancies, "reforms", precarious work, and the  continuous degradation of living and working conditions, the working class is making its response.

The working class is regaining its fighting spirit internationally
In France, thinking it would bury the movement quickly, the bourgeoisie is facing a widespread mobilisation and a deep and lasting anger.
In Spain massive mobilisations continue to take place against the collapse of the health care system and the worsening of working conditions, with struggles and strikes across different sectors.
In Germany, public sector workers and postal workers are demanding pay increases. The transport sector has been paralysed by a “mega streik” and the situation is becoming more serious in the wake of ongoing negotiations between the employers and the IG Metall union, which is having to contain a growing anger.
In Greece, the working class has expressed its indignation in an explosive way following a railway accident that cost the lives of 57 people, revealing the shortages of funding and personnel and the cynicism of the government that wanted to absolve itself of the responsibility for massive and deadly budget cuts and place the blame on a station master.

In Denmark, strikes and demonstrations broke out against the abolition of a public holiday in order to finance the increase in the military budget for the war effort in Ukraine.

As these social conflicts are so widespread and present on all continents, a much longer list could have been compiled.

Gradually, the division between exploiters and exploited, which the bourgeoisie had claimed to be obsolete, is becoming visible to the workers, even if it is still quite embryonic. The deepening economic crisis, in an increasingly fractured world, is producing a more and more brutal exploitation of labour power; and, in response, the struggles are promoting solidarity and reflection. Faced with working conditions whose clear injustices have become simply unbearable, workers, whether in the public or private sector, blue or white collar, behind a cash register or a desk, in the factory or on the dole, are beginning to recognise themselves as victims of the same system, sharing a common destiny in struggle. In short, workers are taking their first steps towards recognising themselves as a social class, the working class, without yet being really conscious of it.

Better still: proletarians are starting to reach out to each other across borders, as we saw with the strike of workers in a Belgian refinery in solidarity with workers in France, or the strike of the "Mobilier national" in France, before the (postponed) visit of Charles III to Versailles, in solidarity with “the English workers who have been on strike for weeks for wage increases”. Through these still very embryonic expressions of solidarity, the workers began to recognise themselves as an international class: we are all in the same boat!

But if many countries on all continents are affected by this profound wave, it is still unevenly spread, with very different levels of mobilisation and consciousness. The current situation is in fact fully confirming the distinction that must be made, politically and qualitatively, between the old proletariat of the central countries, notably Western Europe, and that of its class brothers and sisters in the countries of the periphery. As we've seen in China or Iran, the lack of historical experience of the struggle, the presence of more important intermediate social layers, and the more marked weight of democratic mystifications, puts the workers in the latter regions more as risk of becoming submerged within the anger of petty-bourgeois and highly pauperised intermediate layers, or even of getting embroiled behind a bourgeois faction, exposing themselves to repression, as the situation in Peru has shown. [1]

If the struggles are leading to a slow re-emergence of class identity, it's in Western Europe that this is most clearly on a class terrain where we are seeing a greater development of consciousness, certainly still weak, but more advanced in its slogans and methods of struggle. Here the maturation of consciousness is taking the form of the emergence of minorities in search of proletarian political positions and in the reflection which is growing more widely within the working masses.

The proletariat is thus taking its first steps in a movement of resistance against the growing barbarism and the brutal attacks of capital. Whatever the immediate results of this or that struggle, whether victories (always provisional as long as capitalism has not been overthrown) or failures, the working class is today opening the way for other struggles all across the world. Spurred on by the deepening crisis of capitalism and its disastrous consequences, the working class in struggle is leading the way!

A race to the bottom as capitalism plunges into crisis and chaos
The historical responsibility of the revolutionary class in the face of the dangers that the capitalist system poses to the whole of humanity (climate change, war, nuclear threats, pandemics, extreme pauperisation...) is becoming more urgent and dramatic. The capitalist world is plunging into an increasingly bloody chaos, and this process is not only accelerating sharply, but is now visible for all to see [2]

Already one year of war and massacres in Ukraine! This barbaric and destructive conflict continues with endless fighting, as shown by the deadly mobilisation around Bakhmut, testimony to a tragic stalemate. By accumulating ruins at the gates of Europe, this conflict has already succeeded in surpassing the human losses of the "Red Army" soldiers killed during the ten-year war in Afghanistan (from 1979 to 1989). For both sides, estimates already put the death toll at at least 300,000! [3] The murderous insanity in Ukraine reveals the ugly face of decadent capitalism, in which militarism permeates every fibre of its being.

After the terrible seismic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, against a background of chaos, crisis of overproduction, shortages and massive indebtedness, this war in Ukraine has only reinforced the worst effects of the decomposition of the capitalist mode of production, leading to a phenomenal acceleration of the putrefaction of society.
War and militarism, the climate crisis, disasters of all kinds, the disorganisation of the world economy, the rise of the most irrational ideologies, the collapse of state structures for health care, education and transport... this cascade of catastrophic phenomena seems not only to be dramatically worsening, but also to be sustaining itself, pushing the one against the other into a kind of deadly "whirlwind", to the point of threatening civilisation with outright destruction.

Recent events only further confirm this dynamic: war also accentuates the already deep economic crisis. In addition to high inflation, fuelled by the arms race, there has been further turbulence in the banking sector in Europe and the United States, marked by the failure of banks including the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in California and the rescue of Credit Suisse in a forced takeover by UBS. The spectre of a financial crisis once again hangs over the world; all this against a backdrop of heightened global disorder, unbridled competition, and merciless trade wars that push states into adopting policies with no foreseeable outcomes, precipitating fragmentation and disasters, not least the ones linked to global warming. [4] These disasters can only lead to further convulsions and a headlong rush into crisis, with unpredictable consequences.

While the working class is returning to the terrain of the class struggle, the capitalist system can only plunge society into bankruptcy and destruction if it is not overthrown by the working class. These two poles of the historical situation will now collide with and confront each other much more in the years to come. This evolution, in spite of its complex dynamics will, in the long run, reveal more clearly the only possible historical alternative: communism or the destruction of humanity!

WH, 5 April 2023

[1] See our article on the situation in Peru, https://en.internationalism.org/content/17326/peru-dead-end-protests-and...

[2] Including to the bourgeoisie who, in the "Global Risks Report" for the last Davos forum, exposed in a very lucid way the catastrophe towards which capitalism is dragging humanity.
[3] The UN has even revealed the facts about summary executions in both camps.
[4] At the end of March, in Spain, new "typical summer" fires have already forced the evacuation of 1500 people!