|Last update on August 16, 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|
Two Months of Protests in Portland, Oregon
While there have been continuing protests and riots throughout the US, the largest and most continued protests have taken place in the country’s “whitest” city: Portland, Oregon. As of this writing, July 30, between 4,000 and 15,000 people have been attending nightly protests and riots.
The Trump administration has decided to use Portland – a port city in the Pacific Northwest with nearly 700,000 residents – as a demonstration of his “law and order” strengths. Federal police agents from various agencies have been deployed here. In an unprecedented move the Federal Police have been snatching suspected protest leaders off the streets and holding them without legal recourse.
"On the face of it, what these federal officers are doing is illegal and unconstitutional. It’s possible that they are acting under the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by Barack Obama, which legalized the detention of Americans suspected of being terrorists. If so, then the War on Terrorism has truly come home” – Willamette Week Newspaper.
A revolutionary’s consideration needs to be the powers the bourgeoise is directing for its class dictatorship. The protest movement on the Portland streets sees Trump, the police and the Republican party as a hegemony arrayed against them.
This is partially true, but arrayed against them are also the other factions of the ruling class. The “nice guy” Obama authorized the detention of Americans, Candidate Biden sponsored bills for mass incarceration on levels greater than the Gulag in the USSR.
Further left, social democrats, Senator Bernie Sanders, the DSA’s so called “Squad” of congress members – identified primarily with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – in Washington, DC, Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant and activists in their midst. All making amends with the various repressive forces of capital class rule – notably Sawant’s aid in passing police budgets used against later protestors.
So we can’t be surprised at the various political con games – from Trump’s bombastic law and order caricatures, the Portland Mayor’s “solidarity” appearance and tear gassing to jeers and mockery after 50 nights of protests.
The American bourgeoise is using the protests in Portland as a modeling for new responses in a new era of control over the working class.
Some observations on the plans of the ruling class:
-Increasing organization - instead of an ad‑hoc group, people with similar interests are starting to organize and form identifiable blocs with specific tactics – the well known Wall of Moms who lead; the Wall of Dads who use lawn equipment to return tear gas; a Health Care Workers Bloc as well as a Trade Unions Bloc, Brewery Workers Bloc as well as Unemployed Workers Bloc.
United States Attorney General William Barr wants to establish an “anti‑extremism” task force, supposedly in reaction to both leftist and rightist groups. Barr cites "anti‑government extremists of all persuasions" as a problem the current government has identified; directly citing the right‑wing group “boogalooers” as well as broadly encircling all self‑identifying anti‑fascists. Both of these groups have a massive presence on the internet, and have been blamed for much of the unrest across the country in following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. This in itself is erroneous, as it demonstrates the state blatantly ignoring the demands of black workers in regards to their treatment by the state. Still more, as far as our purposes go, the state does not identify an anti‑capitalist organization as a threat to the current order of the state: the class has not acted in the United states of America.
The current unrest, though persistent, has not seen the working class as a whole revolting against the regime of labor employment and production, epitomized by the forced reopening of the economy in the face of a rapidly worsening pandemic, without even minimal precautions or plans for the resulting outbreak of cases and deaths. Despite some attempts at class action – such as the recovery of two abducted children by a workers’ militia in a majority black neighborhood in Milwaukee as the police refused to respond – nationally, the class’s presence has been almost absent. Yet this does not stop the state, from the federal government to municipal officials, accusing the uprising of black workers across the country of being started by a mostly white “extremist” infiltration.
With a second increase in coronavirus cases, many of which have started in states where quarantine precautions were lifted only two months into the outbreak, what had already been a deteriorating situation can only get more severe. Many of these states resumed business as usual almost immediately. However, the U.S. has been open since the beginning of the outbreak, and this rise in cases will occur in many other countries, as they have started opening their economies more as well.
The lack of consumption has caused more overproduction, and it is being magnified by the pandemic. With a second rise in cases, we should expect intensification of the crisis further into the future. We already see corporations, from steel mills to airlines, restructuring and even making changes to what production is being done, thousands of workers losing their jobs in the process.
None the less, the ruling class identifies an organization which pines for the Civil War era, a reactionary tendency who calls themselves such names as Boogaloo Boys, the Big Igloo, or the Big Luau, or anyone claiming to be anti‑fascist as threats to the fragile hold of the situation the bourgeoisie may have. Both of these groups, unsurprisingly, are not proletarian in character, and consist of a nebulous cross section of different classes; and for the most part their specters are chased across the internet by state agents, while little material improvement is made for the working class off the web by any of the groups mentioned, for or against the state.
What is most remarkable about Attorney General Barr’s June 26 memorandum is the acknowledgement of needing a long‑term approach to dealing with "anti‑government extremists” and the heavy focus on policing internet activity, as indicated the people he has appointed to lead this task force.
Even with this focus on internet presences, nothing the capitalist state can prepare will be a match for the might of a united working class. The class has power outside of what words are spread about this or that political figure in speech or in text, or if platforms are allowed to remain unregulated by state agents.
The class has moved in small examples. The working class is in a position to take steps to organize itself against the bourgeoisie and their state agents. Yet this organizing is, as of now, nonexistent.
So when the state does not announce plans or the creation of a task force to help these sections of the working class that are placed into precarious or impoverished conditions, much like how no plans or process was put in place to deal with the pandemic, it becomes increasingly likely that the struggle the working class faces will become even more unbearable. The state continues to show its priorities openly, as the alliance of private property at work for itself. And we will see the working class continue to be abandoned to fend for themselves during the pandemic and into the intensification of the economic crisis.
Industrial development and the exploitation of wage labor inevitably lead to the development of large industrial and service concentrations. Here the production process concentrates human masses from which it draws the workforce that alone generates surplus value.
In this way, the districts where proletarian families live, made up of active workers, pensioners, and the unemployed, are segregated in the cities: in all the metropolises of the world, the division between bourgeois and working class is also expressed in the occupation of territory.
The residential neighborhoods of the bourgeoisie are opposed to the working-class neighborhoods and shantytowns where the unemployed, those who live on irregular jobs, and the underclass are housed.
Sometimes immigrant neighborhoods are formed, divided by country of origin: in the United States the ghettos of Asians, Irish, Latinos, Blacks.
But often, in the proletarian neighborhoods, families of different skin colors or nationalities are mixed. In Latin America the separation of the proletariat according to race is not the rule as in North America.
Racial differences have their social weight among members of the bourgeoisie and part of the petty bourgeoisie, but in the proletariat they count for little because it is largely a mixed population with a significant presence of Blacks and natives.
In the Caribbean a large population is black, as in Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Curaçao, Grenada, Guyana, as well as in some regions of Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.
In Central and South America there is also a large presence of crossbreeds of whites, blacks and natives.
In countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay the indigenous population is significant.
In most countries on the American continent, the supply of labor significantly exceeds demand.
In addition to the unemployment measured by statistics there is the hidden unemployment of workers in the so‑called "informal economy."
This is why wages are low: the bourgeoisie has huge reserve armies of labor in America that allow it to pay the "minimum wage" and even much less.
Here the social conflict arises, mostly because of the competition between a country’s indigenous wage earners and immigrants. Even workers from different regions of the same country may compete for jobs.
The same commodity in different containers
This contrast between employed and unemployed proletarians is a structural component in the functioning of the capitalist system, which allows the bourgeoisie to keep wages low and defend its profits.
Everything is instrumental to divide the labor supply market by opposing class brothers and sisters: gender, race, nationality, religious faith, age, political opinion, etc.
The bourgeoisie encourages and exasperates every slightest difference within the labor force commodity.
They apply unequal wages and working conditions while saving on costs. This also delays unitary organization and union struggle.
The bourgeois media never fails, on the other hand, to superimpose a particular non‑class motivation on every proletarian struggle. If farm workers in northern Mexico strike for better wages, the press paints them as natives in revolt.
The opportunist parties, the current regime unions, the media, the church, the film industry, the entire capitalist superstructure impose an ideology that pushes the proletariat towards division and economic and social submission.
Traditions of history, ethnicity and nationality are superimposed onto physical characteristics to create the myth of racial difference. But in the increasingly interconnected capitalist society these racial and cultural determinations would tend to lose more and more importance.
If this does not happen, if on the contrary the division is often exasperated by forcing us to relive "a past that does not pass", it is for precise class interests, for social reasons.
If capital had an interest in treating men with red hair, which is a hereditary characteristic, as it treats Black people in the United States or the Rohingya in Burma, there would be the race of the red‑haired.
This even if for the functioning of the mode of production and for the accumulation of capital race and nationality are irrelevant. What is relevant is that one social class has control of the capital and means of production, and another has only labor-power to provide in exchange for a wage.
The workers, male or female, child or adult, with any skin color, of any ethnicity or nationality, are all carriers of the same commodity, but for capital everyone has their “price".
Against this capitalist monstrosity that has reduced man to a commodity, the ideal and material revolt of the working class must impose itself, which in the end, in a communist society that is no longer a wage society, will disclose the banal evidence that a person, without mercantile mediation, is simply a person.
Today, instead, the bourgeois and false working-class parties and the regime’s trade unions do nothing, if not recriminations, to overcome these divisions of the proletariat.
Several times in the history of the workers’ movement, in the phases of weakness and dispersion of the general class organizations, movements have arisen aimed at the defense of workers of only a certain race or nationality, to oppose mistreatment, harassment and exploitation by the bourgeoisie and their state.
In addition to strictly trade union defense, there are inter-classist associations for the protection against police harassment or the defense of the interests and rights of, for example, Black communities in the United States, or Native Americans, or immigrants.
Clearly, a trade union that thus arises separately by ethnic group, by company, by branch of industry, by trade, is totally inadequate to deal with the general class of bosses, just as a trade union that leaves out the retired and unemployed.
A class union tends to group together all workers without distinction of race, nationality, occupation, gender, religious faith or political opinion. And it is organized by location and not by company, so as to embrace the entire class of workers.
The International Communist Party, among its militants and in its worldwide organized structure, knows no distinction and is composed of communists without any other specification.
The party promotes action of the united proletariat above all borders against the bourgeoisie, and tends to resolve the reasons for division in the ranks of the working class, from economic struggles to the political struggle for power.
And the party denounces as opportunist and counter-revolutionary any other party that calls itself worker or communist but admits the clash between workers for religious or racial differences, or national differences for the defense of the homeland.
Must we communists be indifferent to the mobilization of Blacks, immigrants and indigenous people in the face of repression and oppression by bourgeois governments? The answer is certainly no; we are not indifferent to these expressions of resistance against cowardly and odious discrimination, which are always instrumental in preserving the present regime.
In the case of purely workers’ movements, even if guided by opportunism and used to give vent to pacifist, democratic, inter-classist ideologies, the party must engage with its militants and give its clear direction that, without denying any struggle, even weak and partial, opens it to the prospect of mobilization and general class union organization.
In this we know we will clash with all the positions that distort the struggle of the proletariat and keep it trapped in dispersed actions by distracting the workers from the central confrontation with the capitalist masters and their governments.
Instead, in the face of real movements, of the inter-classist type, against equally real subjection, such as that of Blacks in the United States – which are limited to the demand for civil rights and respect for the constitution, and for democracy against fascism, for some legal or electoral reform or a different president or parliament – the party, depending on the circumstances, may feel that it does not have to oppose and fight them, when mobilizations are really directed against the harassment of the present regime. But the party keeps strictly outside, in its clearly distinct and visible structures, and invites the workers not to join them, and those involved to leave them, to organize themselves independently in their exclusively proletarian formations.
This attitude of the party derives from its century old experience: inter-classist parties and political groups, no matter how subversive or even violent they may appear, in the end will never yield to proletarian views and needs, and when confronted with the decision on which side of the struggle is to be supported, they inevitably, and also obviously, choose the bourgeoisie. But in the meantime they will have diverted precious proletarian energies from the real struggle. Which after all is the historical function of opportunism.
The party must therefore be ready, from its firm working class stance, to orient towards communism, and to thrust against the bourgeois regime, any real movement, even if interclassist but provided it is a consequence of actual social submission, such as those of women or of national or ethnic minorities.
Only with the resumption of the defensive class struggle will it be possible to oppose, in the working-class environment, racism and xenophobia and all expressions and movements of division and mutual distrust.
But only with the overthrow of the political power of the bourgeois class and its state, and in the communist society that will be able to emerge from it, will all hostile sentiment of man towards man be definitively overcome.
Street demonstrations in Hong Kong have never completely subsided.
Numerous protests followed the vast demonstrations last summer, interspersed with days marked by violent clashes between police and protesters, such as the first of October, on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The height of tension occurred with the occupation of the Polytechnic, soon besieged by the police, between the middle and the end of last November, an operation which ended with over a thousand arrests. Although there were violent marches, which also recorded some deaths, there were no other impressive demonstrations similar to those of June 2019, in part because they were prohibited by the authorities. But not on December 8, when, for the first time since August, the police were unable to prevent a large gathering, in which, according to the organizers, 800,000 took part.
Until the beginning of 2020, the stubborn struggle of social strata continued, identifying their defense in maintaining the autonomy of the ex‑colony, in anti‑Chinese and pro‑western attitudes. It was dominated by half‑classes that find support in the "young" and "students" in the streets, and in large sections of the population in the ballot box, as demonstrated on 24 November by pro‑democracy candidates who won 390 out of 452 seats, while in the last the 2015 elections they had obtained about a third (moreover a completely symbolic victory, since the powers of the district councils are local, irrelevant to the Legislative Council, the small town Parliament).
Not even the spread of the epidemic has completely stopped the ongoing social conflict. The quarantine measures were the pretext that brought out autonomist and localist tendencies: small anti‑Beijing groups called for a total closure of all connections between Hong Kong and mainland China, protesting against the four corridors left open. To this end, there was also a strike by doctors and paramedics in early February to demand the total closure of the border. In general, between February and April there was no lack of action, but less participation.
But protests have resumed with virulence since May. The trigger was a recent law passed by China: The National People’s Congress, the legislative branch of the Chinese Parliament, approved a law on national security in Hong Kong which punishes, in a very general way, acts of separatism, subversion, terrorism, or foreign interference. Obviously the pro‑democracy camp denounces the end of the "one country, two systems" principle. Thousands took to the streets clashing with the police and hundreds were arrested.
The Hong Kong crisis is not confined to the big metropolis but, as we had highlighted in issue 397 of Il Partito Communista, the game is part of the far‑reaching conflict between China and the United States. To the Beijing offensive against Hong Kong autonomy, the United States responded with the threat of revocation of the special status of the metropolis. So far Hong Kong has played an intermediary role for the movement of capital: on the one hand China uses it both to attract foreign capital and for its financial investments abroad, on the other hand foreign capitalists use it as a bridgehead for economic penetration in mainland China. In addition, Hong Kong is among the main commercial areas of the world; they load a significant portion of Chinese goods to the United States and vice versa in the port of Hong Kong. So the American retaliation, which would make the metropolis completely similar to the rest of mainland China and would put the threat of customs tariffs and other sanctions on the economy of Hong Kong, is an act of the ongoing trade war between the two super-powers.
Added to this is the growing tension in the waters of the South China Sea, and in general in the entire Pacific area, where the weapons of the Chinese and United States fleets face each other. The Hong Kong game is therefore not an internal Chinese affair, as stated by Beijing, but a front in the clash between the major imperialisms, which the progress of the capitalist crisis will make inevitable.
In this context, as long as the struggle in Hong Kong will be conducted by the middle classes with the aim of autonomy from China, whatever the outcome, both staying under the heel of Beijing and maintaining political autonomy under the protective umbrella of the Western imperialisms, nothing will change for the proletariat of the metropolis except different master ready to squeeze it. Only an autonomous intervention by the Hong Kong working class, united with the proletariat of mainland China in its ends and in the social war, under the leadership of its revolutionary party, will be able to overthrow any imperialist plan.
Trade Unions in Hong Kong
The proletariat of the city has a long tradition of union struggles and, given the history and characteristics of the colony, has always played an international role.
In the 1920s, when the wave of the communist revolution spread around the world and the class struggle in the western metropolises merged with the double revolutions in the colonial countries, according to the great perspective of the Third International, the proletariat of Hong Kong fought not only for political emancipation from British rule but directly against the oppression of capital, which had made the city a capitalist monster that exploited tens of thousands of workers.
Unlike China which, excluding some centers such as Shanghai, Canton and a few others, was dominated by a boundless rural world of over 300 million peasants, in Hong Kong the proletariat was directly aligned against the bourgeoisie, involved in major struggles: the seafarers’ strike of 1922, and one together with Canton workers between 1925 and 1926.
With the defeat of the proletarian revolution in China in 1927, the strong unions were destroyed, and the revolutionary movement started again from the backward countryside. But it abandoned the revolutionary perspective that had inflamed the country: the affirmation of Maoism represented the submission of the struggle of the Chinese proletariat to the bourgeoisie, which undertook the conquest of its political and national independence and the free accumulation of capital.
In Hong Kong, the rebirth of workers’ organizations after the Second World War occured in an international context that saw the CCP’s victory in China in 1949 in the civil war against the Kuomintang nationalists and the founding of the People’s Republic, but with Hong Kong remaining a British colony. In this situation, the workers’ movement found itself trapped in the polarization between two opposing bourgeois blocs: the pro‑CCP faction and the pro‑Kuomintang faction.
On the union level, this division manifested in the emergence of two adverse union centers: the "communist" Hong Kong and Kowloon Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), which has now become the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU), and the Hong Kong and Kowloon Trades Union Council (TUC), today HKTUC, formed by supporters of Kuomintang.
In October 1956 violent clashes between supporters of the "communists", nationalists too, and those of Taiwan provoked the intervention of colonial troops, who killed 59 people.
This political division, a reflection of the clash between opposing international bourgeois fronts, is at the basis of the weakness of the Hong Kong workers’ movement, a feature that has persisted over the decades and, although in different forms, has come down to the present day.
The FTU in the 1950s and 1960s operated as a mutual assistance company for the benefit of associates suffering from unemployment and low wages.
Following the turbulent Chinese events of the Cultural Revolution, the FTU waged a series of struggles in factories and other sectors, particularly in transport, and tensions with the colonial government were growing. In 1967 the repression of a strike by the colonial police, with numerous injuries and arrests, produced a widespread reaction from the workers. The colonial government responds to these determined protests with violence, arrests, and the imposition of a curfew. The People’s Republic suggested of military intervention to take control of the colony. The riots lasted for months, but eventually the order came from China to stop them. The final toll was dozens of dead, hundreds injured, and thousands arrested. The working class demonstrated its generous willingness to fight the British oppressor and capitalist exploitation, but remained under the control of organizations linked to Chinese nationalism.
Starting from the late seventies, following the economic reforms launched in China, the FTU’s attitude towards the colonial government began to change: the economic transformations taking place in the Chinese hinterland required capital that transited through Hong Kong. This pushed the union to collaborate with the colonial government. Furthermore, negotiations had been opened between Great Britain and the People’s Republic in view of the return of the city‑state to Chinese sovereignty. It was in this context that the FTU was granted the opportunity by the colonial government to participate in elections for the Legislative Council, also in order to counter emerging democratic parties.
With the return of Hong Kong to China, a new rift opened up within the workers’ movement in the former colony, the clash between the pro‑Beijing faction and the pro‑democracy faction. The latter in 1990 created its own trade union organization, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU).
But still today the largest trade union organization is the FTU, with more than 400,000 members and around 250 federated unions. Since its founding, it has been an arm of the official All‑China Federation of Trade Unions and has opposed "democratic" and autonomist demands. CTU is the second central union by number of members, with about 160,000 members and 60 affiliated unions; it refers to the trade unions of western countries, is linked to the "democratic" parties of Hong Kong, and is actively deployed in the "battle for democracy". Then, the third trade union confederation, with about 60,000 members, is the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labor Unions (HKFLU), founded in 1984 with a neutral position with respect to the other two major unions; today it is deployed in the pro‑Beijing field. HKTUC, historically linked to the Kuomintang and Taiwan, is the fourth organization by number of members, to date with only slightly more than 6,000. These four unions collectively frame around 70% of unionized workers; other organizations collect the remainder.
Although there are over 900,000 union workers, the working class in Hong Kong is in a state of weakness, because of the long decades of the counterrevolution, and because its organizations are subject, after the initial conflict between the PRC and Taiwan, to the one today between Great-Chinese nationalism and autonomy. The Hong Kong workers’ movement is therefore now framed in unions that pursue bourgeois interests, intent on deploying proletarians on opposite fronts but both belonging to its enemies.
Proletarians Defend Bourgeois Interests
The protests that have been going on in Hong Kong for a year now repeat what happened in the past and should also be a warning to the proletarians of the metropolis. Following the directives of the current centers of power, the proletariat is led not to the struggle for its interests but for bourgeois objectives, and risks spilling blood in a clash between its exploiters.
This is confirmed by the attitude that the two main union centers still hold today: the FTU supports the Beijing government; the CTU takes sides with pro‑democracy protesters. It was therefore CTU that called some general strikes, on August 5 and September 2‑3, in support of the protest movement. But the demands for which it called to strike are flattened by the demands of the democratic movement: withdrawal of the extradition bill from China; resignation of the chief executive; an investigation into police violence against demonstrators; release of those arrested; more democratic freedoms. No workers’ claims have been made; indeed there are fears that strikes will deteriorate the "normal functioning" of the "productive life" of the former colony.
In fact, the manifesto calling for the strike of 2‑3 September says: “Hong Kong has reached a critical point and we have no choice but to intensify the workers’ strike since this is our last resort (...) We must issue a warning to those in power: when the fundamental values and systems of Hong Kong crumble, the economic order will sink with them, we are determined to quit our jobs and unite on the streets with all the protesters who fight for our common future!”
The "values and fundamental systems of Hong Kong" are nothing more than bourgeois freedom and the capitalist system that make Hong Kong a paradise for the bourgeoisie and a hell for the proletarians; the threat of worsening economic performance is the classic warning that all the saboteurs of the class struggle are waving to push workers to defend the national economy.
Inevitably, the recent Hong Kong security law is opposed by CTU, as, the union believes, it will harm "the freedoms of Hong Kong" and "the rule of law", destroying the already damaged formula of "One country, two systems" and the "High degree of autonomy" from the metropolis. A recent union manifesto in commemoration of the 1989 events in Tiananmen Square links the current situation with what happened then and deploys the union movement in the struggle for democracy: "In today’s Hong Kong, the working class of all backgrounds organized and created new unions, determined to fight tyranny from the union front. It is truly a new wave of the trade union movement seeking democracy. This resembles the trade union movement in 1989, when autonomous unions were popping up all over China. Although trade unionists have been subjected to large-scale detentions and repression, they have planted the seeds of workers’ struggles everywhere. After thirty‑one years, the flame has not gone out and the fight will continue. The independent workers’ movement in Hong Kong will certainly carry on this spirit. We aim to free ourselves from dictatorship, to achieve a truly democratic system and equality”. It is therefore to be expected that the union will be able to call workers to a fight against the Hong Kong security law, which will surely be used by the city authorities and by Beijing to repress workers’ organization. But against the attack of bourgeois powers the working class must not fall under the illusion that the solution lies in the establishment of a democratic system, since the essence of every bourgeois power, be it “democratic” or “totalitarian”, is to keep the proletariat submissive and guarantee the survival of the capitalist mode of production.
If on one hand CTU calls the workers to a struggle "for democracy" without making any claim concerning the harsh conditions of the proletariat of Hong Kong, on the other the major union of the city‑state, the FTU, follows the directives of Beijing and, like the official union in China, collaborates in the maintenance of social peace and instills nationalistic sentiments in the working class by placing "patriotism" first. It is therefore no wonder that the FTU stated in a press release that Hong Kong’s security law can help ensure a stable social environment for millions of workers in the city to live and work in peace.
Against this bourgeois policy, the proletariat will return to make claims in defense of its living conditions, to be imposed with the tools of class struggle. It actually happened in Hong Kong a few years ago: in 2013, dock workers went on strike for 40 days for wage increases and improved working conditions. This strike, by resorting to pickets and with the solidarity of other categories of workers, obtained those wage increases.
At the moment, the living and working conditions of the Hong Kong proletariat are becoming unbearable, with long hours and poor wages, in the face of the high cost of living on the peninsula, especially in housing. But it will be precisely the condition of misery that will bring the proletarians back to fight for their own interests and rekindle the fire of class struggle, certainly in union with the hundreds of millions of proletarians in mainland China.
The Necessity for Class Autonomy
What happens in Hong Kong, the crossroads of the traffic of imperialism, cannot fail to have repercussions on the world stage. The capitalist mode of production has reached the apex of its parable, showing all the characteristics of putrescence by now and showing its catastrophic destruction. But the abatement of a now anti‑historic mode of production can only take place through a ferocious struggle of the working class, the only one "which is not a class of this society".
In Hong Kong, on the other hand, the uprising, even at times sensational, extended, prolonged and violent, has an interclassist character and seeks the aims of the petty bourgeois classes. These in themselves do not aim for the goal of the destruction of bourgeois society, and with their desperate struggle they try to defend their precarious existence within a mode of production that they cannot and can never really question.
The petty bourgeois rebellion that explodes almost everywhere in the world is not parallel to the revolt of the working class. And the noisy protests of Hong Kong confirm the impotence of these classes without history and without a party, which can only be the anti‑historic and now empty democratic and micro-national demands.
The working class must avoid taking sides in a struggle between late nationalisms destined to lead only to the deployed imperialist war, and to become an instrument of propaganda.
In Hong Kong, as in other parts of the world, the uprising of the half‑classes overwhelmed by the crisis of capital occurs without the presence of the organized force and political consciousness of the working class. Although still absent from the social clash with distinct objectives and organizations, the proletariat is the only truly revolutionary class, the only one to threaten the bourgeois social order, and which, framed in class unions and led by its own party, is able to break down the dominion of capital. Against the illusions of the multiform half‑classes, the proletariat can break down the bourgeois regime only by finding itself, its autonomy of movement and its program, that is, its party.
After long decades of counter-revolution, which subjected the working class and its organizations to collaboration with capital, its reorganization inevitably passes through the reconstitution of class unions and the revolutionary leadership of the communist party. Only in this way can the Hong Kong proletariat avoid a certain and perhaps bloody defeat.
When the working class presents itself on the social scene in all its historical stature and framed in the discipline of its extensive organizations, then it will also be able to drag behind it the plethora of half‑classes in ruins, or at least to make them neutral in the social war. It will do this not by enticing them with the myth of "democracy" and local autonomies, but by offering them the liberation from the yoke of big capital that ruthlessly crushes them.
Historical Relations between Imperialist Powers
On June 15th, a brawl erupted between Chinese and Indian soldiers in the disputed territory of Lakadh along the Chinese-Indian border, resulting in dozens of deaths on both sides. This was the result of increasingly heightened tensions over the last several months, which after 45 years have once again spilled blood.
Lakadh, which is adjacent to the territory of Kashmir, is disputed between the three powers of China, India, and Pakistan, as it is vital to the national interests of these states and of their respective national capitalist classes. The region has been unstable and contested among these nations for several decades, with the first major clash between the state militaries occurring during the Sino‑Indian War of 1962, in which India lost much territory. This era’s events follow in part as repercussions of this historic conflict, which led to the establishment of the Line of Actual Control along which the recent conflicts have taken place, as well as other similarly motivated skirmishes such as the 2013 raised tensions at Daulat Beg Oldi.
The Present Situation is Unstable
China, as a rising imperialist power, has made inroads to establish a relationship with Pakistan with the establishment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2013, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Additionally, reliable control over energy is vital for the maintenance of territorial markets which are personified by the national-capitalist states, and especially for a rising imperialist power. Since the 1970s, China has shifted from being a net exporter to a net importer of oil, with the majority of oil coming through the narrow Straits of Malacca, thus China is reliant on sea routes for the majority of its energy, a fact that is unacceptable as the United States continues to have naval superiority, as well as the fact that India has fortified military bases on the nearby Andaman and Nicobar islands. The Chinese ruling capitalist class views this as a major strategic vulnerability, being labeled the “Malacca Dilemma” by then‑President Hu Jintao in 2003. Since then, China has made efforts to diversify its energy supply, with the goal of ultimately bypassing the need to travel through the straits of Malacca altogether. The CPEC is crucial to this, as part of CPEC involves the construction of the Gwadar-Xinjiang Pipeline. The pipeline would be linked to the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, which would allow oil tankers from the Middle East which dock at Gwadar to supply oil that would reach China. Furthermore, the pipeline could be linked to the Iran‑Pakistan pipeline, establishing a secure and reliable continuous flow of oil for China. India, which is currently the second-largest importer of oil from the nearby Iran, has invested in Iranian ports and shipping routes in the hopes of both gaining strategic control over the physical flow of capital in the Arabian Sea and freeing themselves from Chinese influence in Central Asia. To allow China free access to Gwadar, thus, would mean that the fruits of their labor have been diminished.
One must not submit to capitalist myths that this was an isolated event, or that this was only a lingering aftereffect of a decades‑over war fueled by ethnic tensions alone. In fact, even official statements from both nations make it clear that this is not the case, each accusing the other of attempting to change the status quo – i.e. making attempts to modify the current balance of power in their own interests. China and India are the world’s largest oil importers, and India does not currently suffer from the same geographical restrictions as China on the import of oil from the Middle East. As liquid energy, oil is a means of production and a weapon and is thus very clearly a crucial commodity – it is unthinkable to the Indian capitalist class that their national interests and thus their state be further threatened by increased Chinese ease of access to energy and hence increased production and military capacity. The conflict was a direct response to India building a road to a remote airfield, which would make it easier to support and reinforce Indian troops along the border termed the Line of Actual Control, which in a conflict could then cut off the Gwadar-Xinjiang pipeline and thus cripple the Chinese capitalist and imperial machine. This conflict is, at its core, fueled by the interests of the national capitalists on both sides.
It is well worth mentioning that this conflict may also be fueled by the potential flow of human labor. China, being the world’s center for inexpensive labor, has good reason to fear that Western industry may attempt to relocate to the runner‑up India in the wake of Covid‑19 related retaliatory economic policies (which, it should be noted, have yet to appear as of now). This barren land, which is of strategic importance, may also be leveraged in efforts to convince the West that India, in its current period of military and economic instability, is an inferior source of cheap human labor, securing the future of the Chinese industrial capitalists and entrepreneurs.
The nationalist posturing on both sides only serves to distract and divide the Chinese and Indian proletariat, who have been hit hard by both the economic crisis and Covid‑19, to prevent them from realizing their international interests. The enemy is at home!
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