Today, throughout the world, capitalism in crisis is manifested in plans of economic management resulting in factory closures, massive layoffs, wage cuts for those wanting to keep their jobs, and intolerable attacks on retirement and pensions, thus further emiserating the working class, and let's not forget the two thirds of humanity perpetually starved by this system.
Today, here, there and everywhere, this very same capitalism disgorges its barbarism in every conceivable form, proliferating war and creating hotbeds of tension, propagating massive, savage acts of terror – not to mention the rise of ecological catastrophes that kill and maim thousands, each and every day.
Through the mass media, the ruling class conveys its endeavors to legitimize all anti-working class policies in the name of a supposed "imperative need", of an ideologically manufactured "globalization", as it seeks to whitewash the daily atrocities in its wake, while offering us up as local scapegoats, brushing us off or putting it all down to fate or "stroke of luck".
What it's looking to do here is to defend its sordid interests as best it can through increased exploitation of the working-class and by massively intensifying the massacre of human beings, as it sees fit.
Here nearly a century ago, the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg very clearly expressed this reality of the capitalist system and the class that wallows in it, when she spoke to workers of the time. "Business thrives in the ruins. Cities become piles of ruins; villages become cemeteries; countries, deserts; populations are beggared; churches, horse stalls. International law, treaties and alliances, the most sacred words and the highest authority have been torn in shreds (…) Violated, dishonored, wading in blood, dripping filth--there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretense to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law--but the ravening beast, the witches' sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form."
The truth is that capitalism, in spite of claims to the contrary, is a system historically at the end of its road, a decadent system, dissolute and bankrupt, which, for close to 40 years, has seen a period of overt economic crisis marked by convulsions, of dire consequences for the working-class. In just 20 years, we've seen the stock-market crash of 1987, then in 1990 the American Savings and Loans crash, in 1994 that of the US bond market, in 1997 and 1998 financial crises which affected countries like Thailand, Korea and Hong Kong then Russia and Brazil, and finally the bursting of the IT bubble in 2001-2003. In the past few months we've witnessed a new and terrifying shock, one appearing at the financial level with the bursting of the real-estate bubble, and a cascade of bankruptcies for many major banks and mortgage companies, with terrible economic and social repercussions (according to an eminent bourgeois pundit: "The worst of the financial crisis is ahead of us.") Today, this shock is accompanied by the awakening of the commercial war that delivers itself in particular to the great capitalist powers which manifests itself, amongst other things, in the competition between the dollar and the euro and in the explosion of oil prices. It is all this that the ruling class seeks to minimize but has already made the proletariat pay for heavily.
The truth is that capitalism is by far the most barbaric system that humanity has ever known. For the past century, it has spread conflicts all over the planet, going so far as to subject humanity to two world wars. And since the end of the Second World War, contrary to the phony façade of peace that the bourgeoisie tried to give its system, not a generation of the proletariat has known the capitalist world without warlike confrontations here or there. Even at this moment, Afghanistan, Iraq, the horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Darfur) and other corners of the globe (for which the bourgeois media have only contempt) are smoldering with fire and blood; the ominous thud of boots on the ground are felt on the border between Turkey and Iraq (where 100, 000 Turkish troops are amassed), around Iran, in ex-Yugoslavia around Kosovo and several countries of the Caucasus; not to mention the many hotbeds of tension, temporarily cooled, ready to erupt at a moment's notice (the Middle East).
And in all its warlike tensions, one finds the great capitalist powers (the USA, Germany, Great Britain, France, Russia, China…), on the front lines decked out in the hypocritical flag of "peace-keeping", or pulling the strings behind the scenes and fueling the engines of death (since 2006, the arms race has surpassed records made at the time of the Cold War). One thing is certain: it is the "elite" who are responsible for the massacres and destruction ravaging the world. In this world dominated by capital, they are the main culprits responsible for the future storms on the horizon. Because of major rivals who oppose them and assert themselves ever more openly, overall the logic of capitalism today has dealt a mortal blow, it's major confrontations that they are preparing themselves for (Cf. The proliferation of secret negotiations and other meetings, official or not – where the most contemptible bargaining takes place and where the drives of their true natures are expressed – in view of forming alliances and over the long term imperialist blocs), it's a new world war they want to impose on humanity.
Against the torrent of anti-working class measures everywhere, exacerbated by the intensifying economic crises, the working class is far from being without response.
To take for example only these last few months, let us cite, among others, the great social movement which until spring inflamed the whole town of Oaxaca (Mexico) and its area and which threatened to spread to other parts of the country, let us cite, at the end of summer, the illegal strike of the 27,000 Egyptian textile workers for wage increases (40% obtained), that of the 73,000 General Motors workers in the USA, for wages, social security and retirement benefits; let us cite as well the difficult struggle of Chilean copper miners (38 days of strikes this summer) and by coal miners in Peru for wage increases; let us cite finally, last July, the bus drivers in Iran, on strike for wages and better working conditions. The European proletariat is not to be left out here, notably (but not exclusively) in the transport sector: in Germany, recurrent strikes of railway workers in spite of being declared "illegal" and "prohibited" by the courts; in France, rail and public transport strikes (the RATP) for retirement benefits and with Air France for wages…
Thus, it is with great determination – and often with immense courage – the anger and distrust of workers finds some expression everywhere. These struggles show clearly that the working class is not ready to accept the sacrifices that capitalists and their state seek to impose on them.
Legitimate as these struggles are, will they be enough to drive back the exploiters? For its struggle to be effective, the working class initially must take the battle to the capitalists; and, for that it is
necessary to spread and extend its struggle by means of mass delegation to other factories, enterprises and sectors, and to do everything possible to unite them. To undertake this requires the workers to take their struggles in hand, through independent general assemblies, strike committees subject to immediate recall, and not to retreat back to the unions, which ceased to be organizations in defense of workers' interests long ago. Quite the contrary! It's the road the working class must take to effectively defend its interests today and to repel the relentless attacks of capital.
But this is also the way that tomorrow will enable it – through the development of its struggle and because it is the revolutionary class – to launch "the assault on the heavens" and to overthrow the system which, otherwise could lead humanity to a new (and surely a last) world war.
Internal Fraction of the I.C.C. and some internationalist communists, Montréal ICM
Internal Fraction of ICC - Communist Bulletin (Nš 42)