Learn the lessons of struggles of the international proletariat
In the midst of deepening crisis of world capitalism
(Statement of Internasyonalismo on May Day, 2009)
Amidst the desperate moves of the international bourgeoisie to stop the continuing decline of the system by intensifying the attacks on the working class, May Day of this year is not simply an international day of protests and demonstrations against world capitalism but an opportunity to learn the lessons of proletarian struggles against capitalist attacks since 2007.
Right and Left of the bourgeoisie tried to hide these lessons. The former: by covering-up the spreading of the struggles in many countries. If they are oblige to admit them through media, they make sure to describe them as "riots, violence and the handiwork of few violent elements" to sow fear among the masses or justified the state's violent suppression. The latter: by distorting the lessons and the real dynamic of struggles.
Both the Right and Left of capital are afraid and tried to prevent the workers looking for solidarity and extension of struggles in as many factories and "sectors" of the class. That's why they are very desperate to prevent that the mass of workers know and understand especially in countries like the Philippines the lessons of struggles of the most militant fractions of the international class in Europe.
This May Day, we should again assert that the proletariat is an international class and the struggle for socialism is an international one.
Workers are looking for widespread solidarity in struggle
In an open class antagonisms, the proletariat is looking for widespread solidarity. The latest class resistance are seen looking for solidarity with other factories and "sectors" of the class. We witness this in Greece, Britain, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, USA, and other countries since the crisis exploded in 2007.
In Greece, the extensive and militant actions are initiated by the youth against the attacks of the state and ruling class. In 2007 street fighting and university and union head-quarters occupations took place. Thousands of youth and workers participated in street actions and fightings until now. The most well-known of these was the workers' occupation of the head-quarters of the central union in Greece - GSEE - expressing their rage in unions' sabotage to the struggle. This was followed by more occupations of union head-quarters. Occupations spread out to other countries - USA, Poland, Britain, and others.
In Britain also, widespread "illegal" (wildcat) strikes of the workers to defend jobs happened. It first occurred in the oil plant of Lindsey and extended to other plants of oil, power, construction sites and chemicals. The most well-known was the confrontation by the striking workers against the union manoeuvres to tie the struggles to nationalism - against the migrant workers under the slogan "British jobs for British workers". Instead, workers asserted the unity between British and migrant workers to defend jobs. Against nationalism, workers affirmed internationalism - "workers of the world, unite!" The latest was the occupation of the workers of the car plants of Visteon in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon. It gain support from other workers and the occupation was transform into mass meetings of different workers from different "sectors".
In France, last January thousands of workers participated in widespread strikes in Guadeloupe, Martinique and La Réunion for jobs, wage increase and other benefits. The workers truly won the struggle because the state gave in to almost all their demands without concessions. Despite the union control, the workers directly participated and monitored the negotiations through "full media coverage". This is in opposition with what the unions and capitalists want - negotiations should only between the bosses and union leaders while the strikers just waiting.
In summary, the recent workers' struggles have the following traits:
Unity through solidarity strikes, demonstrations, mass meetings and assemblies. They are calling the other factories to participate in the struggle. And they are not simply calling. The factory that is striking sent delegations to other factories to convince them to participate in the struggle. They were able to make this because they "defy" the anti-working class laws of the state in a generalized manner. "Illegal" strikes become powerful when they are launch simultaneously or one after the other in many factories. The international proletariat launched these in the 1970s and 1980s including the Philippines.
Occupations in the factories, universities and head-quarters of reaction. But these occupations were different in the past decades. Occupations in the past only isolate the workers from their class brothers/sister. They seem imprison themselves inside the factories. The class itself learn from its own experience. Occupations today become centres of widespread mass meetings and assemblies where they discuss and decide of their struggle.
International solidarity. The youth and workers in Greece, through their leaflets and internet were calling for international actions. Migrant workers in Britain solidarize with their British brothers/sisters while the latter support also the demands of the former. Slowly, the masses themselves saw the need for international unity if they want to be victorious against the attacks of capital.
Increasing role of mass meetings and assemblies in decision-making and decreasing influence or more difficulties of the unions to control the class struggle.
Role of the union: sabotage the struggle
The struggles are advancing today in world scale not because of unionism or leadership of the Left but despite of it. The proletarian struggles in Europe since last year have a tendency to resist and defy the directives of the unions that "lead" them or asserting the decisions of mass meetings and assemblies.
The recent sabotage of the union happened in Visteon when the former stopped the occupation of the workers so that the Ford bosses negotiate with it. The result: a proposal not favourable to the workers. Workers recognized it an "insult" to them.
In the Philippines there is also a similar incident of union sabotaged in the past months: union declared "victory" and the Left made it a "model" the defeat of the workers of Giardini del Sole in Cebu. In the first day of the strike workers defended their jobs against the redundancy of their boss. The strike ended in a "victorious" negotiation between the union and the boss: laying-off of almost 200 workers!
If there is victory that should be learned in the struggle of Giardini del Sole, it is their militant resistance by "defying" the laws of the state. The "illegal" strike of Giardini del Sole workers was a militant resistance against retrenchment and for preservation of jobs. In the "illegal" strike resides the true power of the workers in times of deepening crisis of the system. Workers were defeated because they were isolated not for their "illegal" strike. They were not able to convince other factories since first of all, it was not the objective of the union and the Left party that "leads" them. The unions where they put their hope and depend on follow the anti-working class laws of the state and have no interest in launching solidarity struggles or struggle in their "own" factories. They were defeated because the decision-making in their struggle was controlled by the union and the Left party and not in their own hands. Finally. the "sympathy" of other factories was not transform into solidarity actions.
Generally, the objective of the union is negotiation with the bosses based on the "capacity" of the latter for the preservation of the national economy. Thus the "pro-worker" line of the unions is "defend national economy" against its rivals.
Proletarian struggle advances against capitalist crisis firstly, the class tried to control the struggle in its own hands despite the union's control and secondly, it defies the anti-working class laws of the state. The more militant and more effective struggles of the international proletariat since 1970s happened outside the control and leadership of the union and "defied" state's laws. Filipino workers are rich on this experience at the time of Marcos dictatorship.
Filipino workers especially the advance elements must know, study and discuss the lessons of the struggles of our class brothers/sisters in other countries particularly in Europe since Filipino workers are part of the international class and the struggles of the former are part of the international struggles of the proletariat against its common enemy - all factions of the capitalist class and their states. In relation to this, revolutionary minorities in the Philippines must expose the distortions of the Left and unions of the lessons of the struggles in the current crisis and the analysis why there is a crisis.
The state will not and cannot save us
The ruling class tells us that the current crisis is the consequence of the greediness of the bankers and speculators for profits. "Economic experts" say it came from "wrong management" on world finance. The Left also, despite its lip-service that the crisis is "crisis of capitalism" defend the system by declaring that "the state must strengthen its intervention and control of the economy and social life".
The crisis today is not the crisis of "globalization" or "neo-liberalism" but the crisis of the system itself accumulated for 40 years. It did not begin in 1980s or 1990s but in 1960s. The current crisis is a proof that state capitalism did not resolve the crisis of over-production exploded 40 years ago. It is an accumulated convulsions for four decades since the permanent saturation of world market. Since 1914 there is no new markets as capitalism completely conquer the world. The dying system is able to breathe by intensifying the exploitation of the existing markets, creating artificial ones through credit and maximization of the labour-power of the mass of workers.
This May Day, the Left drums-up the "anti-globalization" line in which it affirms that "globalization policies" are the causes of crisis (ie, liberalization, deregulation and privatization). This is in essence of their "crisis of capitalism". It only means for pro-capitalist demand of "bring back state control and regulation" of economy. Basically, the "anti-globalization" line has nothing uncommon with what actually the imperialist powers are doing today to "save" the decomposing system - "neo-Keynesianism". The only difference is the language used: For the Right: state capitalism for the "whole people". For the Left: for the "working class" or "exploited people".
There is no more glaring clarity with the similarities of the Right and Left of the bourgeoisie as far as state capitalism is concern than the declaration of Hugo Chavez, the current president of Venezuela and promoter of "21st century socialism" and idol of many Left currents around the world as "new model" of "socialist construction". This is what the "socialist" and "anti-imperialist" Chavez said on George Bush Jr in saving the crisis of American capitalism last year:
"Comrade Bush is about to introduce measures associated with comrade Lenin. The United States will become socialist one day, because its people aren't suicidal".
The "21st century socialism" of Chavez has nothing dissimilar with the Stalinist state capitalism. For Chavez: State interventions of the economy are steps for "socialist construction".
The advance section of the Philippine labour movement must end and reject this bourgeois line disguising itself as "Marxist". The state is not the instrument to achieve socialism. On the contrary: the state must be smashed to create a society without exploitation. The explanation of Engels is very clear in his ‘Anti-Duhring" of what is the nature of the state as long as capitalism reins the whole planet:
"And the modern state, too, is the only organisation with which bourgeois society provides itself in order to maintain the general external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments either by the workers or by individual capitalists. The modern state, whatever its form, is an essentially capitalist machine; it is the state of the capitalists, the ideal collective body of all capitalists. The more productive forces it takes over as its property, the more it become the real collective body of all the capitalists, the more citizens it exploits. The workers remain wage-earners, proletarians. The capitalist relationship is not abolished; it is rather pushed to an extreme." (emphasis ours)
The crisis today is the crisis of over-production. It becomes permanent in decadent capitalism and cannot be resolve except by destroying the system. When the crisis exploded in 1960s, the "solution" of the bourgeoisie is state intervention and control (ie Keynesianism and Stalinist totalitarianism) both of the imperialist Bloc of the West (led by USA) and imperialist Bloc of the East (led by USSR)1. This sank the states into credits and brought intense systemic convulsions in 1970s and 1980s. State regulation and control in 1970s and 1980s did not bring recovery of the crisis of the 1960s but worsening crisis of over-production.
In 1980s, the bourgeoisie changed its "strategy": "Thatcherism" and "Reaganomics", the basis of "globalization" in 1990s. This was in recognition the futility of Keynesianism and succeeded by "neo-liberalism". While the Eastern Bloc was collapsing (imperial USSR disappeared in 1990s) because of its continuing adherence to Stalinist totalitarianism.
Was the change of strategy of the bourgeoisie really loosens state's control of the economy and handed it over to the private capitalists? Anti-globalization forces answer this in affirmative. This lie only exposes them that they have no interest in smashing the state but to strengthen state capitalism in the name of "socialism" or "anti-capitalism".
"Neo-liberalism" did not come from the initiative of private companies or push by market laws. This policy was jostled by the states to try save themselves from foundering and prevent the worsening inflation. State's control of the economy did not loosen or disappear. Instead its grip is getting tighter. For more than 100 years, the role of the state and its intervention on social life are continually increasing since it is the only hope of the ruling class to prevent the system from disintegrating. State capitalism whatever its forms is the only kind of rule since the system entered its decadent stage at the beginning of 20th century.
Keynesianism, "neo-Keynesianism", Stalinist totalitarianism or "neo-liberalism", these are forms of state capitalism. It means, the state is not the saviour of the working class. It will not save and it cannot save the proletariat and other exploited sectors of society because its only role is to defend the decomposing capitalism. In state capitalism, it maximizes its exploitation of the mass of proletarians to maximize surplus-labour for competition in an increasingly saturated market. This is the role of the state, whether the Left named it a "workers' state", "socialist state" or "people's government".
If in 19th century, in ascendant capitalism (epoch of free enterprise) the state's role is like a "referee" in "harmonizing" the inevitable social antagonisms, in the beginning of 20th century, it openly intervenes and control the social life struck by worsening crisis and convulsions of its internal contradictions.
For 40 years the state is inept in saving capitalism's crisis. The only hope of the ruling class is increasingly losing manoeuvres to prevent the continued decline of the system.
The state has no effective solution to the crisis of its system
The "effective solution" the bourgeoisie boasts about is nothing but the futile solution since 1960s - credit. Since 1980s credits made into speculative credit for high interest. At the beginning, it accumulate high profits but should be disposed immediately if there's opportunity because sooner it cannot be paid. At first, these credits were like "shining stars" in the market where bankers, speculators and governments are competing. But these were rapidly transform into contagious disease that every investor desperately evading. And it happened: credit triggers unprecedented implosion of the rotten system in 2007.
"Bailouts" and "stimulus package" of the states are additional credits to badly prevent the continued decline of the system. Credit shouldered and paid by the miserable population. Credit is not the solution of the saturation of the market and crisis of over-production. On the contrary: it worsens the crisis of over-production which is the root-cause of the current deepest crisis of capitalism.
The Left that previously calling for "regulation" and "control" by the state in the market and economy in "anti-globalization movement" before the implosion of the crisis in 2007 has the same line today: the state should save the workers ("bailout the workers"), the state should help the proletariat to "own and manage" the bankrupt companies ("workers' control") and the state should directly own the basic industries and enterprises ("nationalization"). Different languages, same meaning: alter the "anti-worker" state capitalism by "nationalist" or "socialist" state capitalism. And since next year is elections, the line that the state should save the proletariat will be used to make the mass of exploited participate in bourgeois elections and bound the class in a front always favourable to exploiting classes - the parliament.
It is also an illusion the demand of cancellation by the states of the "First World" the debts of the "Third World". Or in other words, the powerful states should declare all the debts of the world cancelled! These people do not really know the role of credit in the period where the system is in permanent crisis: only credit makes industry and commerce continues to operate. This is the only one that gives breathe to the rotten system and even the state itself.
Smash the state: solution to the capitalist's crisis
Wage system is the root-cause of the crisis of over-production. Because of wage slavery, the proletariat cannot consume (buy) all the products they created. In capitalism wage is only a small part of the total value created by labour-power. From surplus-value or value without pay comes the profit of the capitalist class. In 19th century the crisis of over-production had been resolved through looking for new markets (colonization of non-capitalist societies). When capitalism completely dominated the world and the market already saturated at the beginning of 20th century, the crisis of over-production becomes permanent. The state, whatever its name the Left want to call it, is the defender of wage system.
Unions and parties of the Left are against the working class to destroy capitalist state and establish socialism. The alibi of the Left: "minimum" or "transitional" program should first be accomplished before the communist program be realized through the "two-stage revolution" of the Maoists, "continuing revolution" of the "Leninists" or "permanent revolution" of the Trotskyists. Whereas the non-internationalist anarchists are muzzy of their "local autonomy" and "self-management".
The intensity and deepness of the current crisis is a confirmation that for more than 100 years capitalist system is objectively ripe to be overthrown. The crisis today and its chronic effects into living conditions of toiling masses teach the class what is the exact solution to end the crisis of the system: there is no future the system and state can offer to humanity other than more misery, chaos and destruction of the environment. Capitalism and all factions of the bourgeoisie are completely reactionary. The current crisis and the more intensified crises in the future teach and will teach the class that it is possible and necessary to overthrow the system and the state that defends it.
For the communists in the Philippines and searching elements looking for alternative in the current crisis, May Day this year is important. The lessons of the international struggle that the Filipino proletariat should acquire must be firmly upheld for the next struggles to come. The class should prepare for fights they can control and not the unions and the Right or Left. If this will not manifests in widespread strikes and militant actions in the streets, this could manifests in workers' groups discussing their condition and how to resist capital's attacks. Groups that should not end up in unionism but in forming mass meetings and assemblies for generalized solidarity and struggle.
The solution to the crisis is in the hands of the international proletariat, the class that has the historic mission to create a society where there is no wage slavery, no classes, no exploitation and no crisis of over-production - the world communist society. #
1 This does not mean that Keynesianism and Stalinist totalitarianism only begun in 1960s. These were already implemented by the international bourgeoisie in 1930s in the time of the world crisis of decadent capitalism in 1929.