Revolution or War n°17

(January 2021)

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In The Midst of Widespread Confusion, The Compass of The Proletarian Struggle

“The criteria that guide us in the examination of social antagonisms limited to a sector of the capitalist world are of two kinds: first of all, it is a question of identifying, from an international point of view, the elements that generate the modification of social relations in order to bring out the fundamental antagonism governing the class struggle of a given period; secondly, it will be necessary to discern, through appearances, secondary and contingent facts, surface contradictions, the tendencies that dominate social evolution, the elements that characterize the nature and function of the classes in question” (Communisme #20, 1938, bulletin of the Fraction belge de la Gauche communiste internationale [1]).

The historical break that occurred in early 2020 with the global spread of Covid-19 is no longer questionned today. The before and after is clear for everyone, whatever the class point of view of the ones and the others, bourgeois and proletarians. Only the various petty-bourgeois strata who are powerless, and for many today desperate, can still delude themselves about a return to yesterday’s situation. The open economic crisis, which was smouldering and was bound to erupt, exploded in an unexpected form as a result of the pandemic. The paralysis of a large part of world capitalist production was unprecedented in its suddenness, simultaneity and magnitude. Ten months later, company closures are multiplying, layoffs exploding and unemployment intensifying. And for the proletarians who still keep their jobs, the conditions of exploitation deteriorate brutally and dramatically. Yet the bill for the trillions of dollars and euros issued and thrown on the markets to avoid the even more brutal paralysis of the economy and the financial sector is not yet presented to them. It will be painful. For all of them, miseries and widespread sufferings are the future. In addition to the cost of the crisis, there will also be the one of imperialist and war tensions, military spending, inevitably destined to increase and presented under the guise of various so-called ’recovery’ plans, ’major works’ or ’relocation’ of national production.

Let’s admit it, like many, we thought that the pandemic would only be a parenthesis, a contingency, the match that had set fire to the powder keg that was just waiting to explode. But it has become an integral part of the crisis and of the exacerbation of social antagonisms, one of the elements “that generate the modification of social relations [allowing] to bring out the fundamental antagonism governing the class struggle” of the current period. As a contingent and sudden factor, it led to the rupture of the international dynamic of workers’ struggles which was just beginning to prevail and develop, and of which the two months of strikes and violent street demonstrations in France in the winter of 2019-2020 had been the advanced point. The proletariat then found itself disoriented and powerless in the face of the first outbursts of the crisis, unable to respond to it on its own class ground because of health fears and generalized confinement. The bourgeoisie was able to use the pandemic to its political advantage against the proletariat by sowing both confusion and fear in its ranks, preaching national unity and developing as never before its social and police control over the populations. To this day, and even if some struggles are beginning to emerge here and there, particularly against the redundancy plans, there is no significant proletarian reaction to the crisis that can indicate a real workers’ recovery.

Nevertheless, the fact that the bourgeoisie felt the need to launch, from the United States, a successful large-scale ideological and political offensive, including at the international level, on identity and racialism aimed at sowing confusion and division in the proletarian ranks according to origin and skin colour, indicates that the instrumentalization of the pandemic will not be enough to postpone indefinitely the proletarian reactions to the scale of the attacks. For, whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the international proletariat, there is no doubt that there will be massive confrontations of historical dimension between the classes. The real questioning is rather : will the proletariat be able to thwart the traps of any order that will be set up on its road and clear a minimum the way to its insurrection, to the destruction of the capitalist state and to the exercise of its class dictatorship?

And this is where the sticking-point actually lies. The dispersion and weakness of the revolutionary minorities of the proletariat, sometimes even their sectarian failings, do not allow us to envisage in the immediate future an effective dynamic towards their grouping in party. Now, who else than a party, if not at least communist groups speaking with a united voice on essential questions, to thwart the traps and obstacles of all kinds and to light the way towards communist revolution? To orient and direct the class struggle against the world bourgeoisie and capitalism? For our part, this is our main concern and priority.

December 25th 2020



[1. The FBGCI was the Belgian group of the minority of the Ligue des communistes internationalistes who split with it and joined the Italian Fraction in 1937.