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Faced with the financial crisis of 2007/2008, the main European imperialist countries, in order to avoid financial bankruptcy, the collapse of the euro, and the fall into an economic depression, turned to the public rescue of banks and the looting of the periphery, and initiated strong attacks on social achievements in some important countries, such as Great Britain.

Statement of the IWL-FI organizations in Europe

 

The periphery’s debtor countries, intervened by the Troika, were subjected to a rushed treatment. Their public budgets were expropriated, and savage plans of adjustment and counter-reforms were imposed on them, which installed a new pattern of exploitation in those countries, emphasizing their dependence, taking the modification of the national status of countries like Greece and Portugal to the extreme, reducing them to semi-colonies of the German and European imperialism.

Structural and Offensive Crisis against the Working Class and the Periphery

However, the plundering of the peripheric countries was not enough. The recovery of the main imperialist countries of the EU was anemic and the essential problems persist, with the European economy caught in a downward spiral opened in 2008, with weak and speculative growth, and deep recessions.

That is why the great European capital, while maintaining the offensive on the periphery, has attacked the working class in the main countries, starting with France. This is the meaning of the labor code reform of Hollande’s government, which Macron wants to continue as for to change the pattern of exploitation of the French working class. It is also the reprimand on the “Belgian social model”, the heavy attack on labor rights in Italy, or the capitalist offensive in Great Britain (with the National Health Service and municipal services brutally affected and with “zero-hour contracts” reaching 7.1 million people).

The widening of the breach between countries has gone hand in hand with a great leap in social inequality in each country. Meanwhile, since the implementation of the euro, Germany has become the great European industrial and financial power and has reaffirmed its overwhelming political and institutional hegemony.

In this process, the EU has shown itself to be a war machine of the European financial capital against the working class and the Europe’s peoples. Its action before the refugees and undocumented migrants’ crisis, as well as its measures in the “rescued” countries, particularly in Greece, are part of the nefarious history.

Its most recent action was the imposition (with the complicity of Tsipras, facing his sixth general strike) of the “fourth Greek memorandum”: the last and brutal package of measures demanded by the Troika, which includes a new blow to public pensions (the 13th, already!), a new tax increase targeting sectors of lower incomes, and new cutbacks in social benefits and labor rights. The plundering is completed with new sales, at bargain prices, of what is left of the national public patrimony, and the transfer to foreign “vulture funds” of the defaulting loans of the Greek banking.

The French President-elect, Macron, has announced that he is planning to approve, before summer and by decree – without any debate or approval in the National Assembly, a new labor reform and other shock measures against the French working class

Brexit and Trump: Everything Turns Upside Down

The great European capital, led by Germany, redesigned its project before the crisis, emphasizing the strategy applied so far. The “five presidents’ report” of 2015 talked about “reestablishing” the EU in 10 years, centralizing more powers and preventing any “deviation” by any government, as well as fully subjecting the periphery. This policy was combined with the TTIP[1], the “free trade” agreement to be signed with the US, which eliminated restrictions on the European and American multinationals’ access to public services and contracts and safeguarded their rights in private courts.

But, the Brexit and Trump’s victory disrupted everything. The British referendum, as result of an inter-bourgeois confrontation, took place in the middle of a deep social crisis, with massive unemployment in the cities of the North, a high degree of labor precariousness, and deep attacks on fundamental public services. Obtaining a very heterogeneous vote, the majority pronounced for the Brexit, hitting the EU harshly, and so, weakening it: the exit is not a taboo, anymore.

On his behalf, Trump’s victory puts in crisis the strategy of supporting the “European construction”, held by the US imperialism since World War II, and supported by a privileged alliance with Germany: Trump prefers to deal with each country separately than with a German Europe.

On the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the EU is experiencing its worst historic moment, with a crisis that threatens its very own existence.

Governments and Regimes in Crisis

The EU crisis is not only the crisis of the great European capitals’ main project but also the crisis of the political regime of decisive countries, where a period of great political instability has begun. This is the case of the French Fifth Republic, in an evident crisis, with the main bourgeois parties that supported it (the Gaullists and the socialist party) wounded; with a widespread popular rejection of a regime where the voice of the people does not count; and with a social polarization that was expressed through a vote on the extreme right of the Front National and Melénchon. Macron’s victory is a temporary oxygen balloon, but it does not stop this crisis.

This is also the case of Italy, where Renzi lost the constitutional referendum and had to resign. His Democratic Party, heir to the old PCI[2] and sectors of the Christian Democracy –main bourgeois party of the country– is immersed in a serious crisis; just like Berlusconi’s party, with polls placing Grillo as the winner if elections were held today – although, under the current legislation he would have great difficulties in forming a government.

It is also the case of the Spanish State, where Rajoy’s government is involved in many corruption scandals. As the minority, he governs thanks to the PSOE and the official unions’ compliance. Also, it is also facing Catalan independence, in a conflict that challenges the very heart of the transition agreement that led to the current monarchist regime.

The Workers’ Resistance

We have experienced powerful struggles of resistance, with peaks such as the great mobilizations against cutbacks in the Spanish State between 2012 and 2014; the great Greek struggle, with its decisive moment in the referendum of July 2015; and, finally, the battle of the French working class against Hollande’s labor law, in the first half of 2016.

These mobilizations, with a strong impact across the continent, were not unified in each country and remained nationally isolated at a European scale. The union bureaucracy played a decisive role preventing the unification of struggles in general strikes, which along with a European mobilization would have made possible to setback the attacks, to overthrow the governments, and to defeat the EU and the Troika. This nefarious action of the union bureaucracy went hand in hand with the majority of the European left: can anyone imagine the parties “friends of the PASOK”[3] and “friends of Tsipras” calling for a European mobilization supporting the Greek people?

However, the mobilization has shown the force to struggle of the European working class and made evident that, beyond national disparities, the working class as a whole is not ready to accept resignedly the offensive of the capital, and that despite the blows received, it is not defeated and will raise again to confront the attacks to come.

Reformism and Neoreformism: Friends of the Pasok and Tsipras

There is a severe crisis and a decline of the old social-democratic parties converted since long ago into social-liberal parties, co-responsible for the capitalist offensive against the European working class. The most notable and recent case is the Hollande’s PSF,[4] with clear symptoms of “Pasokization“: abandoned by its bases, it sunk in popular discredit by its belligerence against the workers’ conquests, and with its right wing passing over to Macron.

Corbyn’s rise in Great Britain reflected a crisis of the Labor Party coming from way back, which includes confrontations between the party apparatus and the union bureaucracy, and above all, the repudiation of a great portion of the working class and British youth towards the “New Labor”, established by Blair. However, despite regaining the support of important segments of the youth and workers, since he was elected as the Labor leader Corbyn has shown his rejection to break with the party’s right-wing, widely hegemonic in the parliamentary group and municipal offices.

His electoral program proposes to partially rebuild the welfare State, by raising the taxes to the wealthy ones and proposing some limited nationalizations, but saying very little about the billions of pounds looted from municipal services. All of this, of course, without questioning the ownership of banks and large corporations; the British political regime and its institutions; and the international pacts and commitments of British capitalism (such as NATO[5] or the imperialist deployment of British troops throughout the world) – not even the atomic armament. Regarding the EU, he looks for a friendly agreement within the framework of a single market and the customs’ union. It is a program in search of a “(imperialist) capitalism with a human face,” which would be implemented in a “pragmatic and reasonable” manner, properly “supervised by the Office for Budgetary Responsibility.”

However, as long as the great capital controls the main economic and state resources, not only the social points of Corbyn’s program will not be viable as also, if they were imposed by social pressure, his continuity would have the days numbered. In fact, there is no way to recover the benefits of the welfare State unless expropriating the capital and with the working class taking the power. After all, if the welfare State was achieved after the World War II, it was only because of the bourgeoisie’s fear of a social revolution.

The most astonishing of this all is the unconditional alignment of the British left with Corbyn, who has come to save the Labor. From Left Unity and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to the Socialist Party (SP) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), they all gave up on presenting an independent revolutionary alternative. For all of them, as Left Unity says: “the reconstruction of the Labor Party as a social-democratic mass party is vital“.

But this “evolution” has been even more stunning with Tsipras-Syriza, who the majority of the European left (Podemos, Izquierda Unida, the Portuguese Bloco, Mélenchon, Die Linke, etc.) presented as a hero of the struggle against austerity, and as a model of reference to a social democracy at the service of the Troika and in free fall. However, just after reaching the government, Tsipras and Syriza went from being the “radical left against austerity” and the “curse” of the PASOK to become its substitute. They betrayed the Greek people in the referendum and became the new executors of the Troika and the managers of the EU’s criminal policy against refugees.

In Portugal, the Bloco de Esquerda (Left Block) integrates (together with the PCP[6] and the CGTP[7] bureaucracy) the parliamentary base of the PSP government, arguing that it is the only possible policy to prevent the return of the right-wing. Like this, they support the austerity policy of the Troika, applied by Costa; they anesthetize the movement, and they feed the illusion that a solution for the country is possible within the framework of the EU, via the parliament.

In Germany, Die Linke already rules with the SPD[8] in the lands of Thuringia and Brandenburg, and it aspires to become its smaller partner in an improbable federal government. In the Spanish State, Podemos, which has already lost many of the illusions it rose, is exposed as an electoral apparatus that associates its future entry to the government to a coalition with the PSOE.[9] In France, Melénchon’s program – former minister of Jospin and candidate of France Insoumise, has a markedly nationalist bias (including xenophobic statements and an imperialist bias towards the French Guyana, as seen in the last presidential elections) – does not approach the matter of the property of large corporations and banks nor breaks with the French imperialist policy.

None of them – Melénchon, Podemos, Bloco de Esquerda, Die Linke, and Syriza, propose a rupture with the EU, but to “modify the treaties” for its “re-foundation”, instead.

To Raise an Internationalist Response to the Capitalist Offensive and Work to Build an Alternative to the Union Bureaucracy

Something that should not repeat is that, in situations such as the Greek referendum or the mobilization against the Labor law in France, there is no European response of the workers’ movement.

Currently, the “fourth Greek memorandum” is still hot; there are decrees announced by Macron for July (radicalizing the labor counter-reform and attacking other basic benefits of the French labor movement), and the attacks in progress in other countries continue.

This is why it is urgent, from combative unionism, to begin the preparations to call a European Day of Struggle that gives a united response to the offensive of the EU, coming to the defense of the French working class and the Greek people, and unifying the ongoing struggles in each country, in confluence with the existing unitary struggling movements.

It is necessary to give all support to combative unionism and to the unitary bodies of struggle that emerge in different parts of Europe, like the Marches of Dignity in the Spanish State, or the No Austerity Front in Italy. It is necessary to strengthen the combative unions and to organize them at the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles. We must work relentlessly to raise a union movement alternative to the bureaucratic Centrals.

We need a supportive response against the reforms that destroy labor and union rights and attack the public pensions system; for the non-payment of the illegitimate debt; in defense of free and quality public services; for the establishment of a decent European minimum wage; for action plans against unemployment, based on work distribution without wages cuts; for the demands of working women; against the repression of struggles, and in defense of the democratic freedoms already under attack.

To Build a Revolutionary International in Europe

For us, the International Workers League – Fourth International (IWL-FI), the struggle to organize a European internationalist response is inseparable from the struggle to build an alternative revolutionary leadership in Europe. This is our commitment and our battle.

Tsipras has shown that, if we submit to the European Union and the Euro – no matter how many promises and speeches he makes as opposition, once he reaches the government he becomes the executor of the Troika. We repudiate this neo-reformism that does not go beyond the bourgeois elections and its institutions, full of empty phrases about the “radicalization of democracy” and the “re-foundation” of the EU, just to end up ruling for the capital at the expense of the people’s misery.

The struggle and commitment of the IWL is to build a militant organization, independent of the bourgeoisie, the social democracy, and neo-reformism; of the friends of the PASOK and Tsipras; a classist and internationalist group to confront the governments of the Troika, even if the right-wing parties – Hollande or Gentiloni, Costa in Portugal or Syriza in Greece, are part of them. A group for the European Socialist rRvolution, where the institutional work is only an auxiliary element of the extra-parliamentary struggle. A group whose strategy is to break with the EU and open the way to a new political and social regime, based on workers’ democracy and social ownership of the great means of production, for a Europe of the workers and the peoples, which is the Socialist United States of Europe.

Partito di Alternativa Comunista (PdAC), Italy

Corriente Roja, Spanish State

Em Luta, Portugal

Ligue Communiste des Travailleurs (LCT-CWB), Belgium

International Socialist League (ISL), Great Britain

**

Translation: Misty M.

Notes:

[1] Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

[2] Partito Comunista Italiano (Italian Communist Party).

[3] PanHellenic Socialist Movement, known as PASOK.

[4] Parti Socialiste Français (Socialist Party of France)

[5]  North Atlantic Treaty Organization

[6] Partido Comunista Português (Portuguese Communist Party)

[7] Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses (General Confederation of Portuguese Workers)

[8] Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party of Germany)

[9] Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party)