|Last update on 3 January 2020|
|WHAT DISTINGUISHES OUR PARTY – The line running from Marx to Lenin to the foundation of the Third International and the birth of the Communist Party of Italy in Leghorn (Livorno) 1921, and from there to the struggle of the Italian Communist Left against the degeneration in Moscow and to the rejection of popular fronts and coalition of resistance groups – The tough work of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and the party organ, in contact with the working class, outside the realm of personal politics and electoralist manoevrings|
In Hong Kong, Iraq, Iran, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Lebanon, Georgia, etc., the uprising of the middle classes overwhelmed by the crisis of capital manifests itself without the presence and weight of the working class. The proletariat, as a class, still appears absent from the social scene.
Only within its unions and its party could the proletariat impose its direction on these demonstrations of malaise, advancing its class interests, with the methods of the working class and for its superior historical objectives.
Only in this way could the proletariat turn these demonstrations, currently led by the middle and precarious classes, to turn it against the capitalist state, or at least to obtain their neutrality in the revolutionary clash. Otherwise, the ambiguous position of these intermediary classes, composed of small‑scale capitalists, traders and renters, makes them available to any orientation, up to the most obtuse nationalism and war‑mongering.
This current distance of the working class from the theater of civil war is the result of almost a century of counter-revolution, which has transformed everywhere the once strong and authoritative working class movement and its red unions into effective collaborators with the bourgeoisie. This work culminated in the liquidation of the World Communist Party and the Communist Third International, by Stalinism.
The reorganization of the working class around its loyal trade unions, and the intervention of the party to direct it, is today the most important task, in light of the current events, for Communists around the world.
This process will be long and difficult, as was the reconstitution of the destroyed World Communist Party. But it is an inevitable and necessary battle, which we fought even in the worst counter-revolution, against all the detractors and liquidators who have turned to the enemy’s side.
This reorganization will be fully expressed only with the return of the proletarian masses to the struggle all over the world.
Here lies the real fear of the world bourgeoisie, which today proves to be only clumsy in containing the desperate impatience of the crowds.
Today, with the same words and in the same centuries‑old historical line of the class, the Party, faithful to Marxist principles after so many decades of counter-revolution, and on the eve of the great global economic crisis, is preparing to lead the revolution of tomorrow, towards its final goal: full communism, which will sweep away all the misery and suffering of the world of Capital.
The wave of protests that has been shaking Iraq since the beginning of October represents a new factor in the panorama of the Middle East, squeezed in the grip of imperialism and tormented in recent decades by wars between states, and through ethnic and confessional rivalries.
But in this case, for the first time in decades, social struggles have overcome the sectarian barriers between Sunnis and Shiites, which once divided the middle classes during a phase of advanced proletarization. Hostility manifested itself towards the religious parties whose seats were assaulted and set on fire, expressing a rejection of the sectarian and confessional order of the existing state.
The demonstrations, which have been going on for two months now, have had as their theater the capital Baghdad, the important city of Basra, the Shiite religious centers of Karbala and Najaf, and numerous other urban centers, including Nassiriya, which has been the scene of particularly violent repression.
Protesters clashed everywhere with their bare hands against a security device that responded by shooting to kill. The casualties are estimated at around 420 dead and 16,000 injured, including as many as 3,000 mutilated.
But this daily succession of bloodbaths does not stop the desperate young people who have been trying for weeks in Baghdad to attack the so‑called Green Zone where the main government buildings are located.
Their demand is that the executive and the entire corrupt political class get out of the way. "The people want the fall of the regime" is the slogan that echoes in demonstrations in which the crowds defy the leaders.
Added to this are boycott actions such as the strike and the intermittent blockade of the port of Umm Qasr, on the Persian Gulf, where many commodities arrive from abroad, on which the country strongly depends. The motorway linking Basra to Umm Qasr has recently been blocked by demonstrators.
There are also reports of the involvement of oil and gas workers in the governorate of Basra, while according to a few unverified reports trade union aggregations have been formed in Baghdad and also in Basra, Najaf and Karbala. There is still a lack of information to assess how much the working class struggle is present in this wave of protests.
This development is still not inevitable for the dominant class, which will perhaps be able to divert popular anger towards nationalist objectives or a faded institutional secularism, a new Constitution to replace that of 2005, drawn up after the second Gulf War in the context of the US‑led military occupation.
As Marxists we are well aware that the trajectory of the class struggle will be imposed on the proletariat by objective economic conditions.
The forces which push the Iraqi proletarians and semi-proletarians to revolt are the lack of economic prospects, the considerable unemployment rate (around 25% among young people), low wages, the bullying of a political class designated by the confessional communities, and the armed militias rampaging throughout the country, especially pro‑Iranian ones.
It is precisely this cumbersome presence in the politics and economy of Iraq that feeds the nationalist and anti‑Iranian folds of the revolt. This resentment of part of the Iraqis emerged at the beginning of November in the assault on the Iranian consulate in Karbala, stopped by the security forces killing 4 demonstrators, and then in Nassiria, where the Iranian consulate was set on fire with more dead. It is a fact that some in the parades wave the national flag of a country that sees itself "humiliated by the foreigner" and that one would like "free and independent". All these are signs of how a classist maturation in the proletariat is still to come.
And it is precisely the lack of development of an independent role for the working class that, despite the dramatic situation, still leaves the bourgeoisie room to maneuver. At the end of November, a speech by the Shiite religious leader al‑Sistani, advocate of the emancipation of Iraq from cumbersome Iranian protection, invited the government led by Adil Abdul Mahdi to step aside, obtaining the immediate resignation of the premier.
Yet it is precisely the political and economic ties that unite Iraq and Iran that are causing popular protest to spread and infect its powerful neighbor. Objective factors lead to a rebellion that has already crossed borders.
Since the beginning of the Iraqi revolt, the attitude of the Iranian government has been ruthless, with the protesters accused by the so‑called Revolutionary Guide, the Ayatollah Khamenei, of being in the pay of Saudi Arabia and the United States, the latter a country with which Iran exercises a sort of condominium over Iraq. In fact, the Iraqi destabilization has assumed the character of an "internal problem" for Iran and for the theocratic regime of the Islamic Republic.
It is no coincidence that a large part of the victims of the repression in Iraq were caused by the "Forces of Popular Mobilization" (in Arabic, Hashd al‑Shaabi), a coalition of over 60 Shiite militias in arms, mostly pro‑Iranian, which contain up to 150 thousand men. These have acted on several occasions, usually at night, assaulting the gathering of demonstrators with automatic weapons and sowing death and terror.
In recent years, especially since 2014, the role of Shiite militias in Iraqi society has been greatly increased by the war against the Islamic State, thus opening a parenthesis of growing religious fanaticism, in some ways unprecedented in Iraq’s recent history.
Iran’s strong influence on Iraq is not only military but also economic. 45% of the electricity supplied to Iraq comes from Iran, the exchange between the two countries amounts to 12 billion dollars a year, while the Iraqi economy draws considerable resources from the Iranian pilgrims who visit the Shiite shrines of Karbala and Najaf in the millions every year.
But it is not only through imitation that in mid‑November a wave of protests also shook Iran, whose economy has to deal with the sanctions imposed by the US after President Donald Trump announced the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the failed Iranian nuclear agreement in May 2018. Although Iran has become a considerable industrial power on a regional scale in recent decades, its finances have been affected by a significant drop in oil sales, a figure that accounts for 40% of Iranian exports. Where before the sanctions Iran exported 2.4 million barrels every day, these have now fallen to 500,000. With sanctions and trade wars, the big imperialist countries are trying to pass their crisis on to the poorest countries and the second-rate powers.
It is not surprising that in Iran, in recession with an inflation rate of 35% and a devaluation of the rial against the dollar which was 60% in 2018, the protest was triggered by a 50% increase in the price of gasoline from 20 to just over 30 cents per liter and a reduction from 250 to 60 liters in the rationing quota above which the price rises by 300%. As soon as the government measure was announced in many cities of the country, tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, giving rise to demonstrations that immediately took on a very violent character.
The Ayatollah regime responded to the attacks on banks and state institutions with an angry repression that caused perhaps more than two hundred deaths, to which was added a propaganda that, as in Iraq, tried to pass the protest off as an orchestration by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to the abused script aimed at denying everywhere the social character of the riots in order to smuggle them as internal facts to the conflicts between states, ethnic groups and religions. The state media also showed images of a looted mosque in a suburb of Tehran where demonstrators allegedly set fire to copies of the Koran. This circumstance, if not a staging of state propaganda, would be another sign of growing intolerance towards those who claim to rule by divine investiture.
The propaganda of the Shiite clergy in power in Tehran could also rely on the stances of the US administration which, through the mouth of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said it supported those who demonstrated in the square. After a speech by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the alleged foreign conspiracy, the regime called its supporters together in pro-government demonstrations.
In the meantime, however, the executive has been forced to quickly mitigate the social effects, granting subsidies to about 60 million citizens (out of a total population of 80 million) deemed most in need. But this measure did not stop the demonstrations, which were only sedated after a bloodbath. The government has also totally blocked the Internet, cutting Iran off from the world. The death penalty has already been announced for the leaders of the protest while mercenary militias have been unleashed everywhere inside and outside the country, including in Iraq and Lebanon.
In fact, in Lebanon, the inter-classist, but also inter-confessional demonstrations that are agitating the country are questioning the sectarian order of the State, and for this reason they are clashing with the pro‑Iranian Hezbollah squads.
The wave of Middle Eastern discontent that is overflowing beyond the borders between the States is confronted everywhere with the worn flag of religious obscurantism, utilized with ever more brazen arrogance by both Iran and its regional arch‑enemies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
But it will be up to the Middle Eastern proletariat to reject every ethnic and religious flag as well as bourgeois nationalism, which alternately presents itself as secular and liberal or totalitarian and confessional, but which is nevertheless devoted to the nauseating idolatry of the money fetish.
The working class will then recognize itself for what it really is, above all frontiers, in war against the power of the bourgeois class, in all its infinite social components cloaked in their multiform and iridescent ideologies, superstition,s and empty illusions.
Then the red flags and the clear, unmistakable and proud words of the working class and communism will once again rise above the crowds.
Since October 17, there have been protests in the streets of Lebanon. This time it is not a new bloody civil war fomented by the various imperialist forces, nor is it the armed intervention of any state in the region. The proletarians and the middle class, in a rapid process of proletarization, have taken to the streets with unusual demonstrations and calls for unity and solidarity among the various ethnic groups and religious groups, to denounce their living conditions, constantly threatened by the economic and governmental crisis into which the country has plunged, expressing hatred for all the politicians and their corruption.
Lebanon, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, home of various ethnic, religious and national groups, holder of a glorious past, a place of constant conflict and maneuvering of the various regional imperialist interests, is now in a new situation.
The past governments of Lebanon in recent times, due to the composite subdivision of its people, are unstable and the result of sectarian agreements between the different ethnic groups, and in turn of these with whatever imperialism is currently dominant. This is the case of the current government, led by President Al Harari, which is the result of the consultation of various bourgeois political sectors, including Hezbollah, Christians, Sunnis, under the aegis of the international bourgeoisie.
But the economic situation of the country – with a debt among the three largest in the world, 152% of GDP, with unemployment of up to 37% among young people, still in the reconstruction phase after the bloody civil war – is unloaded on the young Lebanese proletariat.
The government, in constant deficit, resorts to the usurers of global capitalism, who in turn demand guarantees. This "help" is for the benefit of a bourgeoisie fully consenting and participating in the capitalist chess game; it is not for the improvement of the living conditions of the proletariat against which the measures of the cuts are directed "for the good of the country".
The austerity measures imposed by the government, such as the cut in pensions, in the salaries of civil servants and, the last straw, the tax on WhatsApp of 6 dollars a month, drove the revolt. In a country where most of the working class does not earn more than $300 a month and unemployment among the youngest is so great the explosion was only a matter of time and opportunity.
Capitalism on a global level is showing the beginning of a new great general economic crisis, the bourgeoisie is desperately trying to raise the rate of profit, through various measures that worsen the living and working conditions of the proletariat, the working class, the class that produces surplus value. Instead it is constantly falling.
The series of demonstrations all over the world appear in reaction to austerity, claiming better living and working conditions, showing a tendency to awaken the proletarian class, which does not distinguish between nation, race, or religion. Ecuador, Chile, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Haiti, now Lebanon.
In the case of the Middle East, in a small country that has experienced an endless and bloody civil war, fueled by the tactics of dividing the bourgeoisie into groups of sectarian unity, the unity of action that workers today show around the defense of their common economic interests is a step forward. This in somewhat new "national unity", however, sees Palestinian Arab proletarians, Christian Arabs and Muslim Arabs, and others, side by side around the same needs.
The former unity of Arab capitalism, pan‑Arabism, is today showing itself as a forgotten fraud of the past, which is giving way to the real and only progressive struggle: that of the classes, first claiming better living and working conditions, then a revolutionary political future.
Popular mobilizations are going on in several Latin American countries: Chile, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. Even in their diverse situations they have a common denominator: proletarians, semi-proletarians and petite-bourgeois take to the streets to express their discontent, heedless of repression, sometimes even of death.
Governments have to face the public, in their main function of guaranteeing social order, based on the domination of the large bourgeois and large landed classes and the extraction of surplus value.
They are economies based essentially on the imperialist division of labor, the production of raw materials, mining and agriculture. Yet the treasures under and above the ground, although they appear to be an inexhaustible source of wealth, are insufficient to guarantee acceptable living conditions to a population exuberant with respect to the local productive needs of capital.
This also applies to countries that seemed capable of fostering social peace in the shadow of a largely fictitious prosperity. Chile is an example of this. There, after six weeks, there is no sign of appeasement.
As we write yet another general strike is paralyzing the country and barricades along the main arteries are blocking traffic. Among the protagonists of the strike were the dockers of the important seaport of Antofagasta, through which a substantial part of the copper exports pass, that is the main resource of Chile, which alone extracts 28% of world production. But for a long time the drop in copper demand, caused by the world stagnation of the manufacture, had caused a drop in the price of copper.
In the hinterland of Antofagasta there are numerous mines, including that of Chuquicamata, the largest in the world, from which 1.5% of world copper production is extracted. There, last June, a strike lasted two weeks. Codelco, the state mining company, had offered the ridiculous 1.2% wage increase, explaining "the reality of the mining sector and future prospects, threatened by the worsening trade war between the United States and China".
The crisis in Chile therefore assumes characteristics that have a general value, a country that in its social structure and history has been and remains a political laboratory that has influenced the last decades of Latin American history.
What has happened in Chile in recent weeks has shattered its image as the most economically and politically stable country on the continent, triggering a sort of social chain reaction in other countries, which has accelerated with the revelation of the virulent and insoluble character of the Chilean crisis.
The fact that the "Chilean model", based on the dictates of the most extreme and consequential neo‑liberalism, had seen sustained economic growth for three decades, accompanied by relative "well‑being" and also with wages among the highest in Latin America, contributes to this amplification of the popular uprisings.
The pride of the oligarchy that had governed the country, first in the shadow of the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, then in a no less ferocious and dictatorial democracy, was to have achieved a low rate of inflation and a public debt reduced to less than a quarter of GDP.
They called these successes of "liberalism". For capitalism, neo‑liberalism is the cure‑all for the Keynesian cure‑all, in turn passed off as a panacea capable of countering if not annulling the recourse to overproduction crises. Both treatments are incapable of curing the sick, but only of prolonging or hastening their agony. Neo‑liberalism has only made it possible to increase relative surplus value by intensifying productivity and depressing wages, while the privatization of state assets and public services has favored the inflow of capital.
In Chile, as the accumulation cycle matured and the preconditions for economic growth were broken, the rough sides of this "model" began to emerge: the concentration of wealth in a few hands and the progressive impoverishment of workers and middle classes. Even if at official exchange rates wages in Chile are among the highest in Latin America, they are not higher than the cost of basic necessities, so that a high percentage of workers find themselves permanently close to the line of brute survival.
In addition, a further plundering occurs for the cost imposed on essential services, water, electricity, transport, health care, pensions, all managed with capitalist logic and, although "private", de facto monopolies.
The result of this general picture is a high percentage of Chileans condemned to debt as long as they are employed, to sink into poverty once they leave work with starvation pensions. In Chile, the proletariat and the middle classes have thus been able to better see the face of their bourgeoisie, rapacious and insatiable.
For now, the Chilean bourgeoisie is taking its time, promising wage concessions, pension increases, and electricity tariff blocks. At the same time, it is offering a role to the false‑left parties sitting in parliament by convening a Constituent Assembly to draft a new fundamental law of the State to replace the one written at the time of Pinochet.
This is yet another "anti‑fascist" diversion that cannot satisfy the workers who already feel the methods by which the democratic security forces repress demonstrations in the streets. If the proletariat really wants to defend itself it will not go in the direction of the "democratization" of the bourgeois regime, but towards its class economic claims in the "red" union and its independent political expression in the Communist Party.
The case of Bolivia is somewhat different from that of Chile because of its less transparent social relations and the polarization between the classes.
The government of Evo Morales and the "Movement for Socialism", with its populist demagogy abusively tinged with red, has not been able to protect the country from the present crisis, again due to the fall in the prices of raw materials, including oil, gas, and lithium. However, it has managed to do its job of confusing the workers, who have so far been caged in the dispute between two rival bourgeois lobbies.
To the alleged electoral fraud warped by the President’s partisans, the right reacted with a coup d’état supported by the armed forces that compelled Morales to take refuge abroad.
Some sectors of the proletariat follow the Indigenous peasantry, which represented a conspicuous part of the social base of the Morales regime. It will therefore take some time before the decline of the illusory "socialism of the 21st century" allows the working class to find its way back.
For the bourgeoisie, getting rid of Morales and his false socialist party may cost them the loss of one disguise in their defense against the class struggle, a masquerade that has so far proved to be quite effective. In Bolivia, as in Venezuela, it was the bourgeoisie that wanted to give itself a patina of red to contain the discontent of the workers. But the despicable deception of fake socialism will not put the regime of capital under shelter from the proletarian fire, which we hope will envelop the entire continent, above the borders of states.
Colombia, too, proves not to be immune to the riots in the streets. The bourgeois right that has dominated the country for decades points to the economic failure of Chavism in neighboring Venezuela as the inevitable outcome of "left‑wing" policies.
But it will not be a bourgeois right‑wing or "left‑wing" policy that will save the workers from the catastrophe of the capitalist mode of production. Rather, it will be the red tide of workers from every nation, framed in the same single class front, which will finally overthrow the ignoble regime of capital.
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We can only present a short comment on the recent UK election. We promise a proper discussion on what it means in terms of the “bread” rather than reviews of the “circus”.
Our attitude towards elections should be well known to our readers. As we said about the 2019 election in Italy:"That it is the electors who choose [government] is just a cock-and-bull story: the whole of the mass media, which easily shapes so‑called public opinion, is owned and controlled by big capital, who use it to spread their lies; and if they quarrel among themselves it is just for show or due to internal conflicts within its colossal interest groups". In all bourgeois elections there are lies on all sides. But in this election, the lies and false promises were particularly egregious. And the biggest liar of all won the day. What is most striking is those who voted for the winner accepted that everything he said was a lie. Their attitude was “all politicians lie, so let’s vote for the biggest liar”.
The media has been on about the defection of Labour voters to the Conservatives in England’s North and Midlands. It would be too easy to write something trite, misleading and dangerous based on a relatively small number of votes cast. But there is a lie at the heart of this too, the lie that the historic decline of British industry is due to membership of the EU and that Brexit will change all that.
The demise of the Corbynist project should be seen as the last gasp of Stalinist popular frontism in the UK.
Moreover, the outcome of the election indicates further trouble ahead for British capitalism, which is taking a harder stance towards the EU, with the clear intention of sidestepping certain aspects of the bloc’s regulatory environment.
Finally, the huge majority vote for Scottish nationalism and the first ever nationalist majority in the North of Ireland mark the further political fracturing of the UK.
We are back on the streets against yet another reform of the pension system, supposedly the last! This is what the Balladur government said back in 1993, when it increased the contribution period from 37.5 years to 40 years; then the government of Sarkozy in 2010, then that of Hollande which passed a law that progressively increased the contribution period to 43 years.
Yes, social security is still in deficit and the deficit is likely to get worse, but not, as the propaganda tells you, because there are too many old people and not enough young people, or because we live too long – Ah, how happy the bourgeoisie would be if a worker would die quickly after a long life of labor for capital!
No, it’s not because there are not enough young people; more young people in this economic system means more unemployed today. The real reason is that this moribund mode of production, capitalism, is incapable of giving work to everyone. This obsolete system, which relies on the exploitation of wage labor, has been in crisis for almost 45 years now.
Since the 1974‑75 crisis – which put an end to the post‑war expansion that followed 50 million war deaths – world capitalism has experienced a crisis of overproduction in a 7- to 10‑year cycle. And from cycle to cycle the general situation worsens: there is the colossal debt of states, companies, and families; frantic speculation in housing, raw materials, etc.; restructuring and relocations at a glance; and endemic unemployment. And of course, with each crisis, the social security deficit, and therefore the pension system, explodes: there are company bankruptcies, mass layoffs, and therefore a reduction in contributions, hence the deficit of social security funds and pensions!
After the recession of 2008‑2009, which saw industrial production fall by 17% in Germany, by 22% in Italy and by 15% in France, to name only these countries, we had a small recovery of production in 2017‑2018. But since mid‑2018 there has been a global slowdown, which is now turning into a recession: from China to Germany, via the United States and Japan, no country is spared. While in previous cycles, after 2 or 3 years of recession, there was a recovery in production that led to a higher than the previous maximum, today the level of production is still lower than that reached in 2007: -8.5% in France, based on official indices, but if one had to take into account massive relocations to low‑cost countries, one could double or even triple this figure!
In this context, the deficit of social security and pension funds is inevitable. What needs to be corrected is not social security and its pension system, but the capitalist mode of production, which has become a parasitic organism that no longer has any historical function and is leading humanity towards a new catastrophe: an economic crisis more serious than that of 1929 and which in the end will push the various bourgeois and imperialist states to a new world confrontation, the premises of which we already see today.
The great historical role of capitalism has been to socialize the productive forces by substituting for the small family and fragmented production of the small peasant and the artisan the mechanized and centralized production of the big industry, whose machines are set in motion by millions workers who function as one and who have neither ownership of the means of production nor ownership over the product of labor. Here we have the economic base of communist society. However, this base conflicts with bourgeois property relations, hence the repeated economic crises.
The industrial, financial, and landed great bourgeoisie, with the help of their state, are doing everything possible to maintain its economic system in a condition of survival which assures it of immense class privileges; it does not shrink from any measure, no matter how much suffering it engenders for the great mass of workers.
It has used high unemployment to put pressure on wages, and increased the precarity of the labor force by resorting to the limited-duration contract and by bringing the CDIs (indefinite-term contracts) closer to the fixed-term contracts, thanks to the modification of labor legislation, massive recourse to subcontracting and relocation, etc., etc.
And of course there is also a question of reducing the deficits that its economic system provokes, by modifying the pensions and unemployment insurance, although at the same time the different governments, right or left, are not embarrassed to make tax gifts to the big bourgeoisie. These gifts are now worth several tens of billions, and are, from an economic point of view, totally counter-productive: the big bourgeoisie does not invest, on the contrary it uses these sums in pure speculation, raising the price of housing, which allows it to grow even more on the backs of workers.
The solution exists: it involves the overthrow of the big bourgeoisie and its state, its expropriation, the abolition of wage labor and capital, passing to the communist management of production and distribution.
You must therefore prepare yourself morally and politically for confrontation with the bourgeoisie and its state.
But for that you have to organize yourself first and foremost at the union level by founding a real class union that will seek to unify your struggles and centralize them. This means getting out of regime unions that pretend to organize you and sabotage social struggles, spreading discouragement and demoralizing workers.
One way to begin could be the organization of grassroots committees, bringing together the most radical elements and the most determined to unify the struggles and centralize them, thus exceeding the limits of categories and companies. Such committees could unify the struggles of Hospital Workers, SNCF, RATP, Teachers, etc.
You can push back the bourgeoisie and its government, as the yellow vests have shown about the price of gasoline, or youth demonstrations under the Villepin government, and the great strike of the SNCF under the Juppé government in 1995. It all depends on your will and determination.
However, to confront the bourgeoisie and its state, the trade union organization is a first step, but not enough in itself; we must organize ourselves politically with a clear and coherent program and a clear view of the goals to be achieved. To accomplish this we must join the ranks of the International Communist Party, which against all odds, through the post‑war upheavals, has maintained the continuity of the revolutionary communist program.
Long Live the Class Struggle,
Long Live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!
41 billion dollars in merchandise per year, passing through a gigantic bottleneck, the power of the Port of Montreal’s dock workers is their ability to block this crucial point. That is why they laughed at the bosses during the lockout in 2010 and in five days brought the employers to their knees. So the bourgeoisie is trying to take away the Dockers freedom to strike.
Faced with a strike mandate on April 2, 2019, port employers decided to appeal to the Canada Industrial Relations Board to declare the port’s activities as essential services. Since then, the union has postponed the strike, waiting for the board’s decision. This decision would be very serious for the workers as it would limit the freedom to strike for all Canadian dockers as well as for large sections of logistics workers.
Because it must be understood that this attack places it in a moment of repositioning the Port of Montreal and its surroundings as a logistics hub on the east coast. There are investments of $1.65 billion which provide for the addition of a new container unloading facility and the construction of a new logistics hub focused on online purchases. To make its investments profitable, the Quebec bourgeoisie intends to use its privileged relations with France, and therefore with the European Union. But that potential profitability needs to be guaranteed with reduced labor costs and stability, particularly to face increased competition from the Port of New York and New Jersey. This reality must also be seen in the growing role that logistics plays in the reproduction cycle of capital, while consumption is increasingly based online ordering and deliveries.
The argument for restricting the freedom to strike is medical equipment is shipped through ports and a strike would be harmful to patients in the health care system. This fabrication is particularly tasteless when we know that Port workers unload necessary medical equipment during strikes and for 30 years hospitals have never been affected by the port work stoppages. Also, if the board were to agree with the employer, this would be legal precedent against any job actions at transportation companies which transport medical equipment. This is a pure and simple attack by the bourgeoisie on the freedom to strike which will be followed by an all-out offensive on working conditions.
It is not surprising that the bourgeoisie would want to take the working class’ weapon – the strike – from its hands. The regime union’s response is also unsurprising. For almost eight months the Port workers union has patiently waited for bourgeois legality to give the green light for a strike. The delay giving all plenty of time to the bosses to organize. The union has remained committed to a strategy of symbolic protests and lawyers offices.
Workers need to take control and leadership of their strikes as the only way to defend the freedom to strike is to use it, and to employ it as extensively as possible. Also necessary is go beyond the limitations of workplace and category. For dockers a natural step would be to try to involve workers from the entire logistics sector in the fight. A group of dockworkers from Genoa, the Collettivo Autonomo Lavoratori Portuali (CALP), has tried to do this in Italy by participating in recent strikes in the logistics warehouses organized by the rank and file union, SI Cobas.
To see one of the most potentially powerful unions in the country powerless awaiting bourgeois legalities only screams the need for autonomous fighting bodies of the working class.
On January 11, 2019, the workers at the Bécancourt Smelter celebrated a sad anniversary, that of a year of contempt and arrogance by employers, state sabotage, judicial intimidation and social isolation. In short, they were celebrating a year of lockout.
The story of the ABI lockout may be the first we cover in our newspaper pages, but anyone interested in labor disputes in factories across the province could describe it to you as almost standard practice. It started with a request to modify the pension fund, which was rejected, then the declaration of a lockout. Then comes an injunction limiting the picketing, itself followed by a declaration of contempt of court, and a strengthening of the employers’ offensive, which now proposes, among other things, to cut jobs, to underpay workers, and to redo the whole organization of labor at its convenience. We can add to this the fact that Hydro‑Quebec (the provincial electric company) is particularly cooperative with Alcoa, or point out that this conflict demonstrates for the umpteenth time the ineffectiveness of the anti‑scab law. While the strikers have repeatedly identified the presence of scabs, the inspectors, having to announce themselves in advance at the factory gates, can only be ineffective in their attempts to find them, while the managerial lackeys have plenty of time to hide the strike-breakers. In short, the workers have all the rules of the game against them. Their determination is exemplary in the face of such vicious attacks from one of the great capitalist institutions.
That the lockouts of ABI have shown the maximum fighting spirit in the current framework, trying to slow production as much as possible, demonstrating in front of the houses of the company leadership, and trying to put pressure on the government to abolish the preferential treatment that Hydro-Québec gives to ABI. However, what must be put on the table is the question of respecting the traditional framework of a trade union struggle. Indeed, with the globalization of markets, the intensification of international competition between capitalist groups inevitably has repercussions on the working conditions of the proletariat. Profit can only be extracted by compressing variable capital and therefore working conditions. Alcoa has already, in recent years, closed many factories in Spain and the USA; we can therefore see that the offensive against the workers of Bécancour has more complex origins than just the factory itself.
So this causes us to wonder: is the strategy of the United Steelworkers the right one? Can the strike against a multinational can be summed up as stopping production in one place? Especially since, staying within the limits of legal action, the stopping of production can only be partial. As the lockout drags on, the question of extending the strike to other Alcoa sites in the province seriously arises, so why not in the world? And with this question, the workers movement that must absolutely reflect on its practice in the last decades. Is the search for the "negotiated compromise" a good tactic when fierce competition forces companies to compress more than the concessions matter? Does respect for legality, the Labor Code, and the systematic expectation of state action as a ’’grand arbiter ’’ of the social question still remain a possible path at a time when capitalism is sinking into a structural crisis?
A brief look at
the past teaches us the opposite. Social rights were not acquired
and defended by compromise and media respectability, especially
not in times of economic downturn. It is through solidarity, the
hard and extended strike, sabotage, blockage, and challenges to
capitalist laws that the proletarians win. It is by our own means
that we win, not by the hope that politicians or "mediation"
professionals will settle our fate. It is by taking charge of our
collective means of action according to our own rules and
objectives that we can change things.
Los Angeles, California, USA: Workers at a McDonalds went on strike against sexual harrasment by management (Sept 25, 2019).
Detroit, Michigan, USA: Members of the International Brotherhood of Electricians refused to cross GM Autoworker picket lines despite it being against their contract. One Electrician told “organizing.work” website: “The jobs were specifically at the GM Tech Center [a GM office complex] – that’s what this whole situation was regarding. They are construction and maintenance jobs. The main concern of GM was there was an office building that was being renovated, and they wanted that office building done so that they could bring their employees there. That’s why this job site had more pressure than other jobs sites, because they really wanted these buildings done so that they didn’t have to lease another building for their employees” (Oct 18, 2019).
Portland, Oregon, USA: 100 Workers at 4 Burgerville Fast Food Restaurants went on a 4 day strike winning better pay and benefits (Oct. 23, 2019).
Dedham, Massachusetts, US: Teachers are on an illegal strike after voting 248‑2 (out of 280 members) over health insurance costs more out of class work at the same pay as well as real enforcement of sexual harassment policies.. The school district caved after a one day strike (Oct 25, 2019).
Saanich, British Columbia, Canada: 600 Teachers are refusing work in support of 500 School Support Workers – Education Assistants, Clerical, Library Techs, Youth and Family Counsellors, Custodial, Grounds, Maintenance, Transportation, Trades, and District Support workers. At writing the strike is in its third day in the school district of 7000 students and 14 schools (Oct 30, 2019).
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA: 607 of 1800 teachers went on strike to defend organizating rights and against school privitazation (Nov 14, 2019).
Indiana, USA: 15, 000 teachers called in sick for a one day strike for higher wages (Nov 19, 2019).
San Francisco, California, USA: Several hundred subcontracted catering workers struck/blockaded American Airlines check in counters (Nov 26, 2019)
Ontario, Canada: 15,000 teachers went on a day long strike across the Province (Dec 4, 2019).
Sacramento, California, USA: 36 of 100 “last mile” workers walked off the job to demand that Amazon give all Amazon workers paid time off. In addition to walking out a petition with over 4000 signatures from Amazon customers and workers was presented to management (Dec 23, 2019).