1. Autonomous Class Struggle

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Whether in the advanced countries or the Third World, the only way forward for the working class today is to wage an intransigent, autonomous class struggle. This implies not only an independence from all those forces which attempt to divert the struggle of the class and to tie it to one capitalist faction – whether trade unions, leftist parties, or national liberation fronts – but also a fierce struggle against all these forces, against frontisms of all kinds. The workers must fight not simply against one imperialist bloc and its local agents, but against all imperialisms and all their agents. The only front open to the working class today is the international proletarian front against capital.

To those who try to terrorise the proletariat into allying itself with some ‘more progressive’ or ‘less evil’ bourgeois faction by advertising the extreme murderousness of another rival faction, communists can only reply by pointing out how little such alliances can in fact protect workers from bloodshed and massacre. Far from defending workers against a ‘greater evil’, such alliances have only served to disarm the class, leaving it helpless against the attacks of its erstwhile ‘allies’ when the latter attempted to ‘restore order’ and set up their own regime. This is the lesson of China in 1927, and the working class has paid heavily for not assimilating that lesson since then. The workers of Barcelona in May 1937 were shot down by the Popular Front, which was supposed to save them from the ‘greater evil’ of fascism. Likewise in 1943, the Allied bombers taught a salutary lesson to the Italian workers whose strikes and uprisings against the fascist administration threatened to get out of hand. For the proletariat there are no ‘lesser evils’ in capitalism. The working class cannot rely on its deadly enemy, the bourgeoisie, for protection. Even in the epoch of genuine bourgeois revolutions, Marx insisted that the workers should retain their arms and independent organs of struggle throughout the revolution, to defend themselves against the inevitable bourgeois backlash against the threat to capitalist order (the lesson of the Paris insurrections of 1848). In the era of capitalist decay, when the bourgeoisie in all its colours can only advance by attacking and massacring the working class, the only possible defence of the proletariat is its independent action against all bourgeois factions, leading to their eventual overthrow by the armed workers’ councils.

In the rising wave of class struggle since 1968, the workers of the Third World have shown a capacity for autonomous class struggle no smaller than that of their brothers in the more industrialised countries. In Argentina, Venezuela, India, Burma, Thailand, Angola, China, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, and elsewhere, massive strikes and even semi-insurrectional struggles have hurled the workers into direct confrontation with the police, the unions, the ‘workers parties’, and with governments of ‘national liberation’. As in the advanced capitals, workers in these countries have organized themselves in autonomous general assemblies and wildcat strike committees to direct their struggle. In Argentina in 1969 the workers defended their neighbourhoods against the army with Molotov cocktails and guns, organising committees to co-ordinate their fight, which can be seen to be the direct precursors of the workers’ councils.

Just as the capitalist crisis is international, so the response of the working class is also international in scale. The deepening of the crisis opens up the possibility of a growing unification of workers’ struggles all over the world. It is in this process of deepening and ever-widening class struggle that the working class will develop the consciousness and capacity to mount a revolutionary offensive against the capitalist state in all countries.