Revolution or War

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In the previous issue of the International Review, we underlined the importance of the new decade, which we called the "years of truth." In particular we emphasized that the bourgeoisie was taking a qualitative step forward in its prep­arations for a new world war:

"In a sense the seventies were the years of illusion... For years now the bourgeoisie has been grasping at straws trying to prove that the crisis can have a solution... Today the bourgeoisie has abandoned this illusion... (it has discovered in a muffled but painful way that there is no solution to the crisis. Recognizing the impasse, there is nothing left but a leap in the dark. And for the bourgeoisie a leap in the dark is war..

Today, with the total failure of the economy, the bourgeoisie is slowly realizing its true situation and is acting on it. On the one hand it is arming to the teeth... But armaments are not the only field of its activity... the bourgeoisie has also under­taken a massive campaign to create an atmosphere of war-psychosis in order to prepare public opinion for its increasingly war-like projects". (‘The 80's: years of truth')

Following the barrage provoked by the seizure of hostages in Iran, we emphasized the intensif­ication of the ideological campaign, especially in the USA:

"While one of America's objectives in the present crisis is to strengthen the inter­national cohesion of its bloc, another, even more important objective is to whip up a war-psychosis... A torrent of war hysteria like this hasn't been seen for a long time... Faced with a population that has traditionally not been favorable to the idea of foreign intervention... and which has been markedly cool towards adventures of this kind since the Vietnam war, the ‘barbarous' acts of the ‘Islamic Republic' have been an excellent theme for the war campaigns of the American bourgeoisie. Khomeini has found the Shah to be an excellent bugbear to use for reforging the unity of the nation. Carter -- whether, as it would seem, he deliberately provoked the present crisis by letting the Shah into the States, or whether he's merely using the situation, has found Khomeini to be an equally useful bugbear in his efforts to reinforce national unity at home and get the American population used to the idea of foreign intervention, even if this doesn't happen in Iran." (Behind the Iran-US crisis, the ideological campaigns).

A few days after we wrote these lines, the events in Afghanistan and their aftermath confirmed this analysis. On the one hand they highlighted the profound aggravation of inter-imperialist tensions; on the other hand, they allowed the western bloc to intensify its ideological campaign. But while the war-like campaign around the events in Afghanistan were a continuation of the one whipped up over Iran, the events that took place in these two countries were not of the same nature and didn't have the same function in the context of inter-imperialist rivalries.

The gravity of what's at stake

The Iranian events did not directly threaten the imperialist interests of the USA, despite the difficulties it's had to face since the fall of the Shah and the wave of anti-Americanism which has swept the country. This was confirmed when Russian troops entered Afghanistan and Bani Sadr announced that Iran would be sending military aid to the Afghan guerillas. In contrast, the intervention of the Russian armed forces really was an attack on US strategic interests, inasmuch as it:

  • permitted the installation of military bases in a country which stands between Pakistan, Iran, China, and the USSR;
  • represented a break in the growing encircle­ment of the USSR by the US bloc, an encirclement which has been further aggravated by the integration of China into the Western bloc;
  • allowed the USSR to come within 400 km, of the Indian Ocean, an outlet which it has always lacked;
  • represented a much more direct threat to the main sources of oil for the Western bloc and to the extremely important Ormuz straits.

This is why we cannot see this intervention merely as an operation of Russian domestic policy, as some have claimed, aimed simply at preserving order within its own bloc or its own frontiers against the threat posed by the Islamic agitation. The real issues are much more serious and have meant that the Russians are prepared to pay the price of the murderous resistance of the Afghan guerillas. In reality, the ‘pacification of the feudal rebels' was above all a pretext enabling the USSR to improve a military-strategic position that has been continuously deteriorating over the last few years. Taking advantage of the decomposition of the political situation in Iran, which used to have the mission of acting as the US gendarme in the region, the USSR took the risk of a grave international crisis in order to transform Afghanistan into a military base. This is why the ideological barrage in the Western bloc, especially in America, over the Afghanistan events was not simply hot air, as it was over the Iran episode. Even if it was part of the ideological campaign that had already got going, it expressed a real concern of the US bloc about the Russian advance, and thus constituted a real aggravation of inter-imperialist tensions, one more step towards a new world war.

The war-like campaigns of the USA and the Western Bloc

However, despite the gravity for the US bloc of the massive installation of Russian troops in Afghanistan, the American bloc wasn't able to do anything to stop it. Today it's trying to make up for and utilize this partial set-back by a deafening intensification of its war-like campaigns, so that, when necessary, it will be able to send in its expeditionary corps without fear of internal dissent. Carter's official decisions to set up an expeditionary force of 110,000 men and to re-register young people for an eventual mobilization -- decisions taken when the campaign was reaching its paroxysm-- are a clear expression of this policy. The unfolding of the events in Iran and Afghanistan leads to the following conclusion: everything happened as though the USA foresaw the Russian intervention in Afghanistan (its ‘experts' and observation satellites have some uses after all!) and consciously provoked the seizure of hostages in Tehran by letting the Shah into the States when they knew what reaction this would stir up. This allowed them to let the situation in Iran decompose even further, in order to isolate the extremist elements and force the ‘moderates' to take things in hand in favor of the US (the ‘anti-Russian' turn of events being guaranteed by the USSR's intervention against a brother Islamic country . This is what Bani Sadr is trying to do now).

What's more, the events in Iran allowed the campaign to be mounted in two stages:

  • first, you stir up war hysteria in the name of defending American citizens or of responding to an ‘affront against national honor';
  • next, when the USSR goes into action, you give a new push to a campaign that's beginning to wear out by pointing to the real enemy: the USSR (the US bourgeoisie simply used Khomeini as a bugbear to set its campaign in motion).

But even if we have to guard against too Machiavellian a view in the analysis of political events -- the bourgeoisie always being at the mercy of imponderable elements -- and even if the whole operation wasn't planned with such precision, it's important to point out the breadth of the present ideological campaign. This was in no way improvised and had been in preparation for many months, notably since the sudden and showy ‘discovery' of Russian troops in Cuba -- troops which had already been there for years.

And everything indicates that the USA and its bloc are not prepared to abandon this campaign, that they have decided to make maximum use of the present situation in order to tighten their ideological grip on the population and achieve the ‘national solidarity' which is so precious and so necessary in all wars. Thus the embargo on grain and the boycott of the Olympic Games are not so much directly aimed at putting pressure on the USSR (which can buy what it wants from elsewhere and can live without the Olympic Games) as at keeping up this war-like tension, at ideologically mobilizing the population of its own bloc.

Even though the role of revolutionaries isn't to make a choice between the imperialist blocs, even if it's not up to them, as Bordiga and his followers once did, to say that one is ‘More dangerous' than the other, and to ‘consider preferable the defeat of the stronger' (sic:), they must still denounce the lies and dangerous ideological campaigns of the bourgeoisie, especially their most mystifying elements, as they did between the wars on the question of ‘anti-fascism'.

Today one of the battle-cries of the US bloc is its alleged military ‘weakness' vis-a-vis a USSR which is becoming better armed and more and more ‘aggressive'. In reality, the military ‘superiority' of the Russian bloc is a pure lie, a creation of propaganda, The authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which can hardly be suspected of pro-Russian sympathies, dealt with this question in its 1979 report, calling it a "particularly successful propaganda exercise" on the part of the Western countries. It's true that armaments expenditure in the USSR and its bloc have continued to grow over the last few years: in 1958, Russian expenditure on arms made up 20.3% of the world total. In 1978, it was up to 25.5%. But even at the latter date they were still slightly less than the USA's share: 25.6%. On the other hand, the total expenses of NATO in 1978 made up 42.8% of the world total, as against the Warsaw Pact's 28.6% (figures from SIPRI).

Although these figures are significant, they have to be completed by the following facts:

  1. They don't take into account the accumulation of arms in the previous period, which was much greater in NATO than in the Warsaw Pact (in 1968, NATO expenditure made up 56.2% of the world total, as against the Warsaw Pact's 25.3%).
  2. They only include the two official military alliances and thus exclude countries like China (which alone accounts for 10.5% of the world total) which undoubtedly belong to the American bloc, whereas the only important Russian-bloc country which isn't affiliated to the Warsaw Pact is Vietnam.
  3. They say nothing about the quality of the arms themselves nor about their quantity: the USSR's enormous technological inferiority to the USA means that Russian weapons are much less perfect, effective, and viable, that they are more expensive to produce and demand more manpower to put them to use, for equal effect.


  • with less land and submarine missiles (1700 against 2400) the USA can launch two or three times as many nuclear war-heads (7700 against 3100) than the USSR (an American rocket can carry up to 14 atomic charges);
  • the 415 American ‘strategic' bombers can carry 5400 atomic bombs whereas the 180 Pussian bombers can only carry 1,800;
  • of the 12,000 American nuclear rocket-launchers, 10,400 are mobile (submarines or planes) and thus practically invulnerable, whereas only 3000 of the 5000 Russian rocket launch-pads are in the same situation;
  • in order to use these nuclear arsenals, 75,000 American soldiers are needed as against 400,000 Russians, even though, contrary to the legend, NATO has always had more men under arms than the Warsaw Pact (despite the fact that Russia has more soldiers than America).

The American bloc's enormous superiority also applies to classical armaments: is it by accident that Israel, using American arms, has always won its wars against the Arab countries armed by the USSR? That, in 1973, Israel stopped the 2,000 Syrian tanks bound for Faifa after they'd moved only 10 km -- the same tanks with which the Warsaw Pact is equipped and which have been presented as the threat to Western Europe; Or are we to believe that Jehova is stronger than Allah?

In reality, the crushing military superiority of the western camp doesn't have any mysterious origins. As Engels said a long time ago, military superiority is always an expression of economic superiority. And the economic superiority of the West is equally crushing.

For example:

  • in 1978, the gross production of the Warsaw Pact countries was 1,365 billion dollars;
  • in the same year, the figure for the NATO countries was 4,265 billion.

And if we include the gross production of the other important countries of the Western bloc we arrive at 6200 billion, whereas the Eastern bloc is more or less made up of the Warsaw Pact countries. It's hardly worth counting Vietnam's 8.9 billion or Ethiopia's 3.6.

Another fact: among the twelve economically most powerful countries in the world, only two belong to the Eastern bloc: USSR (no.3) and Poland (no.12). All the others are entirely integrated into the Western bloc.

It is precisely because of this enormous economic weakness that the USSR appears to be the ‘aggressive' power in most local conflicts. As was the case with Germany in 1914 and 1939, it's the country which has come off worst in the dividing up of an already limited imperialist cake which tends to put the whole division into question.

This is a constant reality in the decadent period of capitalism. It expresses both the ineluctable character of imperialist war and its absurdity even from the bourgeois economic standpoint (not to mention its absurdity for humanity).

Last century, when capitalism was in the ascendant, wars could have a real rationality, especially colonial wars. Certain countries could throw themselves into a war with the guarantee that this would pay off on the economic level (new markets, raw materials, etc). In contrast to this, the wars of the 20th century are expre­ssions of the impasse in which capitalism finds itself. Since the world is entirely divided up between the major imperialist powers, wars can no longer lead to the conquest of new markets, and thus to a new field of expansion for capitalism. They simply result in a redivision of the existing markets. This isn't accompanied by the possibility of a great new development of the productive forces, but, on the contrary, by the massive destruction of the productive forces, because such wars

  • no longer take place simply between the advanced countries and the backward countries, but between the great powers themselves, which involves a much higher level of destruction;
  • can no longer remain isolated but lead to butchery and destruction on a global scale.

Thus, imperialist wars appear as a pure aberration for the whole of capitalism, and this absurdity is, among other things, expressed by the fact that it's the very bloc that's condemned to ‘lose' -- because it's weaker economically -- which is forced to push hardest for a war (if it makes sense at all to talk of losers and victors in today's conditions!) This ‘suicidal' behavior on the part of the eventual loser isn't the result of its leaders going mad. It's an expression of the inevitable character of war under decadent capitalism, of an ineluctable juggernaut which is completely out of the control of the ruling classes and their governments. The march towards suicide by the so-called ‘aggressive' powers simply expresses the fact that the whole of capitalism is marching towards suicide.

The fact that, in general, the most ‘belligerent' imperialism loses the war, gives a semblance of credibility to all the post-war masquerades about ‘reparations', trials of ‘war criminals', of those who are ‘responsible' for the holocaust (as if all the governments, all the bourgeois parties, all the military leaders weren't criminals, weren't responsible for the orgy of murder, for the massacre and destruction of imperialist wars). Through these masquerades, the victorious imper­ialism can cover up its attempts to cash in on its own military expenditure, and to install in the defeated countries a ruling political team which corresponds to its interests.

All is fair in bourgeois propaganda: the deaths at Auschwitz are used to justify the deaths in Dresden and Hiroshima; the deaths in Vietnam are used to justify those in Afghanistan; past massacres are used to prepare future massacres. Similarly, the arms expenditures (real or exagger­ated) and the imperialist maneuvers of the ‘enemy' bloc are used to justify the military expenditures, the resulting austerity and the imperialist maneuvers of one's ‘own' bloc -- to prepare the ‘national solidarity' needed for the next holocaust.

Just as revolutionaries have to denounce the mystifications which accompany the imperialist policies of the Eastern bloc, notably the myth of ‘national liberation' (something we've always done in our press), so they also have to unmask the hypocrisy of the ideological campaigns of the Western bloc.

The division of labor between sectors of the bourgeoisie

In no.20 of the IR, we dealt at length with the main features of the present ideological offensive of the bourgeoisies of the American bloc in preparation for imperialist war: the creation of a war-psychosis aimed at demoralizing the population, at making them accept with fatalism and resignation the perspective of a new world war. We have just been examining another aspect of this offensive: the development of an ‘anti-Russian' feeling, through such things as the lies about levels of armaments, campaigns about ‘human rights' and the boycott of the Olympics. This is still an incomplete list of the methods being used by the bourgeoisie of the Western countries to prepare the population, and above all the exploited class, for the ‘supreme sacrifice'. We must add a campaign that is less noisy but more insidious and dangerous: the one aimed more specifically at the working class.

The first type of campaign has mainly been carried out by the right and centre parties of the bourgeoisie, whose language consists in calling on ‘all the citizens' to realize a ‘national unity' in the face of the dangers threatening the ‘country' or ‘civilization'. Behind the creation of an ‘anti-Russian' phobia which completes the first kind of campaign, you will find the same parties, to which should be joined the social democratic parties whose arguments are more nuanced and less hysterical, but who won't pass up an opportunity to denounce Stalinism and the violat­ion of human rights in the east. Obviously, the ‘Communist' parties don't participate directly in this variety of ideological campaign: despite the fact that some of them have been obliged to condemn certain actions by the USSR in order to pacify the bourgeoisie and ‘public opinion' in their respective countries.

On the other hand, there is one aspect of the ideological offensive of the bourgeoisie which is common to both parties whose specific function is to contain the working class -- the SPs and CPs. The language of the left of capital is presented as the opposite of the language of the right: in fact it is complementary. This language consists of a denunciation of the alarmist campaigns of the right, of an assertion that there is no real danger of war at present. In some countries, like France, we've even seen the left declaring unanimously that the alarmist campaign of the right has the aim of diverting the attention of the workers and imposing additional austerity on them. The language of the left is obviously connected to the fact that, at the present time, they have been compelled to carry out their capitalist function in opposition, the better to sabotage the workers struggles from within. Since they're not in government, they don't have the job of creating ‘national unity' around the leaders of the country[1]; their task is to radicalize their language in order to win the confidence of the workers, so that they can lead the class into a dead-end and wear out its combativity.

But this isn't the only reason why the left parties are sticking to their soothing words. Their language has the aim of filling in the gaps left by the ideological campaign of the right. The right is more and more emphasizing a partial truth: that war is inevitable (obviously without making it clear that such a fatality exists only in the framework of capitalism). The aim of this is to demoralize the whole population, to make it accept with resignation the sacrifices of today in order to prepare for the still greater sacrifices of the future. But this half-truth has the inconvenient feature of being a recognition that capitalist society is now in a total impasse. In certain sectors of the population, above all the proletariat, the class which is best equipped to put the whole system into question, this propaganda runs the risk of having the opposite effect to what was intended. It could help the workers to see the necessity for a massive confrontation against capitalism, in order to stay its criminal hand and destroy it. The soothing words of the left allow capital to run the whole gamut of mystifications, to plug up any gaps which might let the working class develop its consciousness.

Already the left and right have divided up the work concerning the economic crisis: the right saying that the crisis was world-wide, that nothing could be done about it, that austerity was the only resort; and the left replying; that the crisis was the result of bad policies, of the wicked doings of the monopolies, and that you could overcome the crisis by applying policies which really corresponded to the interests of the nation and of the workers. Thus, the right was already calling for resignation, for accepting austerity without resistance, while the left got down to the job of derailing working class discontent into the electoral dead-end of the ‘left alternative' (the Labor government in Britain, the union of the left in France, the historic compromise in Italy, etc...)

This division of labor between the right and the left, aimed at subordinating the whole of society, and above all the working class, to the needs of capital, is nothing new. It was put to use during the ideological preparations for the First World War. On the one hand, the right wing of capital was shouting the loudest about patriotism and openly calling for war against the ‘hereditary enemy', on the other hand, the opportunists and reformists who were helping to push the parties of the II International into the carp of capital, while attacking the chauvinist hysteria, continuously minimized the dangers of war. The left of the International (notably Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg) was insisting that imperialist war was an inevitability within the logic of capitalism, that the workers had to mobilize themselves on a massive scale to prevent capitalism from having a free hand and to prepare for the destruction of the system. The right, on the other hand, whose influence was growing, was developing a whole theory about the possibility of a ‘peaceful' capitalism, able to resolve conflicts between nations through ‘arbitration'. As long as the working class was mobilized, notably through mass demonstrations in response to the various conflicts which broke out at the beginning of the century (Franco-German confrontations over Morocco, conflicts in the Balkans, invasion of the Tripolitaine by Italy, etc...); as long as the left had a preponderant influence within the International (special notions against war at the Congresses of 1907 and 1910, Extraordinary Congress in 1912 on the same question) , the bourgeoisie could not allow these conflicts to degenerate into a generalized war. It wasn't until the working class, lulled by the speeches of the opportunists, ceased to mobilize itself against the threat of war (between 1912 and 1914) that capitalism could unleash a generalized war following an incident that was seemingly trivial in relation to previous ones (the Sarajevo assassination).

Thus the ideological preparation for world war wasn't simply a matter of chauvinist, war-like hysteria. It was also made up of the soothing, pacifist sermons disseminate by the political forces who had most influence on the working class. These sermons helped to demobilize the class, to make it lose sight of what was really at stake, to tie it hand and feet and deliver it over to the bourgeois governments and the whole war hysteria; in sum, it served to prevent the class from playing its role as the only force that could prevent world war. The mobilization for imperialist war demands the demobilization of the proletariat from its class terrain.

What perspective: War or Revolution?

We can clearly affirm that the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and its aftermath express and accentuate the acceleration of the drive towards generalized imperialist war, capital's only solution of its crisis. Should we therefore question the analysis that the ICC has put forward since it was formed, concerning the historic course, our conclusion that what is on the agenda is not a generalized imperialist confrontation, but massive confrontations between the working class and the bourgeoisie?

The answer is no. In fact, the determination with which the bourgeoisie is going about the ideological preparations for war itself indicates that the subjective conditions for such an outcome to the capitalist crisis have not been met. For some, if world war hasn't yet broken out, it's because the objective conditions -- economic situation, military preparations, etc. don't yet exist. This is the thesis defended, for example, by the International Communist Party (Programme Communiste). In reality, if we compare the present situation to the one existing in 1939 or 1914, we can see that, from the standpoint of the gravity of the crisis, the level of armaments, and the strengthening military alliances within each bloc, the conditions for a new world war are even more ripe today. The only missing factor -- although a decisive one -- is the proletariat's adherence to bourgeois ideals, its discipline and submission towards the needs of the national capital. This adherence, discipline and submission did exist in 1939, following the most terrible defeat in the history of the working class; a defeat that was all the more terrible because at the end of the first world war, the proletariat had risen to its greatest heights, a defeat that was both physical and ideological, a long list of massacres and mystifications, especially about the so-called socialist nature of Russia; a procession of defeats presented as victories. These were similar to the conditions which existed in 1914, although the defeat of the working class then was much less profound than it was in 1939, and this allowed for the resurgence of 1917-18. The 1914 defeat was essentially on the ideological level. It took the form of the opportunist gangrene which more and more infected the IInd International, culminating in 1914 with the treason of most of its parties. When they went over to the enemy, these parties, as well as the trade unions, were able to hand the proletariat over to the imperialist appetites of the bourgeoisie, dragging; it into ‘national defense' and ‘the defense of civilizations' - precisely because these organizations still retained the hearts and minds of the working class. And this mobilization of the proletariat behind national capital was facilitated by the fact that, with the exception of Russia, there was no important development of the class struggle just prior to 1914, and that the economic crisis had not had time to really deepen before it had broken out in war. The situation is very different today. The mystifications which were used to mobilize the class for World War II, notably anti-fascism and the myth of socialism in Russia, have long since lost their old force. It's the same with the belief in the unending progress of ‘civilization' and ‘democracy' which existed in 1914, but which after over half a century of decadence have been replaced by a general disgust for the system. Similarly the parties of the left, which betrayed the working class a long time ago, no longer have the same impact on the class as they had in 1914 or the 1930's. Furthermore, capitalism's deepening slide into the crisis since the mid-sixties has provoked a historical resurgence of the class struggle. Thus, instead of announcing to the proletariat that the game is up, that, whatever it does, it can't prevent the outbreak of a new holocaust, it's the task of revolutionaries to indicate to their class that the historical situation is still in its hands, that it depends on its struggles whether or not humanity will go down under a deluge of thermo­nuclear bombs.

However, this situation is not fixed in a definitive manner. If today the road is not open to the bourgeois solution to the crisis, that shouldn't lead us to believe that nothing can change this situation, that the historic course cannot be reversed. In reality, what could be called the ‘normal' course of capitalist society is towards war. The resistance of the working class, which can put this course into question, appears as a sort of ‘anomaly', as something running ‘against the stream', of the organic processes of the capitalist world. This is why, when we look at the eight decades of this century, we can find hardly more than two during which the balance of forces was sufficiently in the proletariat's favor for it to have been able to bar the way to imperialist war (1905-12, 1917-23, 1968-80).

For the moment, the potential combativity of the class, which began to manifest itself after 1968, has not been destroyed. But it is necessary to be vigilant, and the events in Afghanistan are a reminder of this necessity. This is because:

  • the more slowly the proletariat responds to the crisis, the less experienced and prepared it will be when it enters into decisive confront­ations with capitalism;
  • whereas the proletariat has only one road to victory -- armed, generalized confrontation with the bourgeoisie -- the latter has at its disposal numerous and varying means with which to defeat its enemy. It can derail its combativity into dead-ends (this is the present tactic of the left); it can crush it sector by sector (as it did in Germany between 1918 and 1923); or it can crush it physically during a frontal confrontation (even so, this remains the kind of confrontation most favorable to the proletariat).

This vigilance which the working class must keep up, and which revolutionaries must contribute to as much as possible, involves the clearest possible understanding of what's at stake in the present situation and in the struggles it's engaged in today. The contribution to this made by revolutionaries can't consist of the assertion that nothing can be done about the threat of imperialist war. If they did this they would become auxiliaries to the campaign of demoralization being waged by the right. Neither can they go around saying that there is no real danger of an imperialist war, of a reversal of the balance of forces between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. If they did, their ‘contribution' would simply add grist to the mills of the left. If revolutionaries are going to be able to denounce both the campaigns of the right and of the left, they can't do this simply by affirming the opposite of what either of them say. No! We must be able to throw the bourgeoisie's various arguments back into its face:

  • it's true that there is no way out of the crisis and that there is a threat of war, as the right says
  • it's true, as the left says, that the alarmist campaigns are being used to impose austerity...

In both cases, this is ample reason not for resigning ourselves, but for launching ourselves into a resistance against austerity, the prelude to the struggle to destroy the system. In its coming struggles the working class must develop a clear understanding of what's at stake, of the fact that today's struggle isn't simply a blow-for-blow resistance against the growing attacks of capital, but that it is the only rampart against the threat of imperialist war, that it is the indispensable preparation for the only way out for humanity: the communist revolution. Such an understanding of what's really at stake is a precondition not only for the immediate effectiveness of the struggle, but also for its capacity to serve as a real preparation for the decisive confrontations that lie ahead.

On the other hand, any struggle which is restricted to a purely economic or defensive level will be defeated all the more easily, both in an immediate sense and as part of a much broader struggle. When this happens the workers are deprived of that vital weapon, the general­ization of the struggle, which is based on an awareness that the class war is a social, not a professional phenomenon. Similarly, if they lack any broader perspectives, immediate defeats will be a factor of demoralization instead of fruitful experiences that assist the development of class consciousness.

If the new wave of class struggle that is now underway is to avoid being worn out by the maneuvers of the left and the unions -- which would leave a free rein to the war-like ‘solution' to the crisis -- if it is to be a real step towards the revolutionary offensive for the overthrow of capitalism it must contain the following three inter-linked characteristics:

  • a rejection of the union prison and a direct taking-in-hand of the struggle by the workers themselves;
  • a growing use of the weapon of generalization, the extension of the struggle beyond sectoral categories, enterprises, industrial branches, towns and regions and, finally, national frontiers;
  • a growing awareness of the indissoluble link between the struggle against austerity, the struggle against the threat of war, and the struggle against this moribund, dying society and for the creation of communism.


[1] Where the left is still in government, its attitude isn't clear. In Belgium we've even seen the Socialist foreign minister making alarmist speeches, while his equally Socialist colleague, the minister of social affairs, was saying the opposite.

Historic events: