Revolution or War n°22

(September 2022)

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Quick and Incomplete Response to Some Critical "Posts" about our Intervention

When we published our leaflet on the strikes in the UK, we received, among others, two critical posts. They raise, it seems to us, an important question about the intervention of communist organizations, tomorrow that of the party, in the very dynamics of workers’ struggles on the move such as the crisis and the war inevitably provoke them. The objections of the comrades are of two kinds:

- “I expect the situation to develop much more in the months ahead. I don’t think workers need to be told to strike since the situation will become dire but to know that the strike is only the beginning. I think we have to point beyond the wage struggle and link all the attacks.”

- “why only advance a salary increase? It is verified that if they increase the salaries to us, then will come the inflation. What is the use of fighting for so little?” Or still, “We need also to give a longer vision – asking for crumbs is not enough now – we need to take over the bakery. In other words we need to be more than super activists but inject into the struggle political questions which others do not.”

The first criticism is not from a point of view internal to the very strikes, their dynamics and successive battles that take place, but from the outside the struggle. Outside the movement and wait and see. It considers that, mechanically – without opposition of the bourgeoisie, therefore, of its unions and its left and leftist forces – the strikes will develop until the “hot autumn”... that the unions announce today. To wait therefore to intervene, as a political direction of party, that is to say without fighting already for it. But in the autumn, if this is not already the case, it will be too late, because the unions will have taken complete control of the strikes, if they have not already succeeded in stifling and extinguishing them by then. It is today that the battle is taking place, perhaps it has already been played out since July-early August; today that the dynamic of wildcat strike must, or should, open the way to the overflow of the unions and, to be concrete, of their day of action, sector by sector and sector after sector, in order to open a perspective of generalized and united strike. At the moment – August – when the bourgeoisie and its unions “called” the workers to strike in dispersed order, one after the other, in order to better control and stifle the rise of the strikes, the party intervention required to call the whole of the proletarians to strike all together and without waiting to oppose the current counter-offensive of division and sabotage of the unions, of salamiing [1] of the strikes by corporation or enterprise.

Here, to wait for the spontaneous development of the strikes and the autumn means to let the bourgeoisie, the unions in the first place, maneuver as they please, to establish their control of the struggle, to set up their tactics and to define its tempo without opposition; it is to abandon the concrete, real, immediate, political fight against the unions; it is to place oneself, not in the vanguard of the ongoing battle between the classes, but in its tail, as Lenin used to say.

The second criticism of the wage increase slogan – of which we do not make an absolute –, under the guise of radical anti-reformism, is in fact part of the same hesitation to assume the real confrontation, such as it is unfolding before our eyes, for the effective leadership of the struggle. Refusing, or underestimating, to put forward and fight for a central demand in which all workers can recognize themselves and which they can take up on their own, whatever their trade, their company, their corporation, leaves once again the unions free to define the demands by sector and, thus, free to “open negotiations” by company, each in its own corner; in short, to maneuver freely with the company managements and the government. This will allow them, if by any chance this or that sector obtains any specific demand, to call for the resumption of work in that sector without taking into account the other corporations.

More broadly, it is not indifferent to communists, as well as to the proletarians themselves, that workers’ struggles can “win victories”, or at least make the bourgeoisie back down on this or that attack on living or working conditions, even if we know that they can only be, besides rare, temporary as long as capital is not destroyed. It is true that a wage increase today would inevitably be recuperated by capital, especially in the period of inflation that is opening up because of the crisis and the preparation for generalized war. For all that, obtaining an increase would help to limit the aggravation of the immediate impoverishment of the proletarians. And the communists are not indifferent to this, in itself of course, but also to verify that their method of struggle, orientations and slogans, are indeed the most efficient ones to impose a more or less favorable balance of forces against the ruling class. Then, succeeding in making the bourgeoisie back down on a demand following a collective struggle can only be an encouragement to it and a positive experience that will be found in future fights and that the party will not forget to remind the proletarian masses. Finally, and even if these victories can only be very rare and that the workers’ struggles are mostly made of defeats, “there is defeat and defeat”. Some end in bitterness and a feeling of despair, impotence and sometimes division, others in a feeling of pride, solidarity and unity in the struggle that will only wait to be expressed again. In general, this feeling is linked to the way in which the strike or the struggle was carried out, in particular if the workers succeeded in imposing, even if only partially, their own collective and unitary dynamic against that of the division of the unions.

To believe that to put forward wage demands is to fall on the bourgeois terrain, or even so-called bourgeois reformism, is not to understand that the so-called economic demands will remain topical and an integral part of the struggle of the proletariat as an exploited class until the advent of communism. And it is especially, in the immediate, to consider the demands only as economic or protest without understanding that they can and must become a moment of the extension and generalization of the struggles, that they are object of a fight between the most combative proletarians and the trade unions, that they are essential to make of each strike a moment of the extension and the unity of the struggle. In short, they are as much political as economic.

In this sense, the communist organizations, tomorrow the party, must assume the fight for the adoption of the most unitary demands possible as much as to call for this or that form of fight according to the moments, here to call for the entry in strike of all the sectors. To oppose to these immediate demands, here the increase of salaries in front of the explosion of inflation, understood as crumbs of the cake, the appropriation of all the bakery as one of the two comrades proposes it, amounts to advancing as immediate orientation, in the strikes, the assemblies, the pickets, ... the workers’ insurrection, if one wants to be consistent with the proposal. But... is the proletariat in the UK already there? Seriously?

Really, should we call on striking workers in Great Britain today to take over the entire bakery while waiting for the hypothetical future development of strikes? Or should we not, on the contrary, call them to compete with the unions for the initiative, the control and the effective direction of the struggle by starting to call on them to join and extend the strikes without waiting? Which of these two orientations for a militant worker, or a group of combative, even revolutionary workers? Because it is in this spirit and this will, to provide a weapon for every combative worker, a text and concrete and immediate orientations that they can read and/or take back to their workplace, in assemblies, picket lines, etc. that we wrote our leaflet.

RL, August 30th 2022



[1“Saucissonner”, cut the salami or “saucisson” is an image of separating in diverse peaces the wave of strikes