Fri Mar 01, 2024
March 01, 2024

International Courier: France, Britain The Working Class is Back

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This special issue of International Courier presents a recent synthesis of the heterogeneous situation in which the European proletariats find themselves, although they share a context of economic and social crisis in the midst of the war in Ukraine. We place special emphasis on the waves of struggle that have taken place in Great Britain and France this past year. Both countries are experiencing important workers’ mobilizations, while the rest of the continent maintains a climate of “social peace”. In France the wave of strikes against the pension reform, organized by a broad trade union front, in which the industrial proletariat and the transport workers played a key role, has been generalized. In Britain the vanguard of the struggles have been the public workers, first the railway workers and government officials, and now followed by health and education workers.

At the national level, in both countries we see that union bureaucracies have been a real obstacle to moving towards greater coordination and self-organization among workers and leading to resoundingly victorious general strikes. Macron has managed to impose his reform for the moment, but he has not managed to convince the 90% of the French who reject it even today, nor to completely disarm the social movement. The French president is politically isolated, and sympathy for the French workers’ struggle is spreading throughout Europe. At the continental level, the heterogeneity of the social mobilization and the lack of true international solidarity is due to the actions of the European trade union bureaucracies, aligned with the neoliberal apparatus of the European Union (EU), which seek to stifle internal struggles and prevent unified European responses.

The different articles show how the proclaimed “European values” of the EU have become hollow, and the election of Meloni in Italy, who perfectly integrated himself into the European institutions, is the best expression of this. Another example we cannot ignore are Macron’s actions against the welfare state and labor rights in France, the brutal repression of protests, and the EU’s support for far-right governments and their racist immigration policies. But the half-baked policies of the Sanchez government in Spain and Costa in Portugal also show that neither the bourgeois governments nor the EU framework can give a real answer to the growing problems of the working class. Moreover, to overcome the current economic crisis, the EU plans to impose new austerity policies, which will especially affect the heavily indebted peripheral countries, and will mean a brutal lowering of the living standards of the workers.

The war in Ukraine has had important geostrategic implications. It has derailed the German-Russian energy pact, benefiting US energy companies and weakening Germany’s economic dominance in the EU. It has also strengthened NATO and increased U.S. military and political influence in Europe. From the LIT we have supported from the beginning the Ukrainian resistance, with special emphasis on the role of workers’ resistance and the importance of international solidarity with it. Both Zelenski’s neoliberal counter-reforms and the EU and IMF loans are a threat to the present and future independence and welfare of the Ukrainian people. That is why we affirm today more than ever the need to build an independent working-class leadership in the resistance and reconstruction process, which advocates a resounding victory of the Ukrainian workers in the war, and a workers’ and socialist reconstruction that lays the material basis for real national independence. 

The only way out of the war, the galloping inflation and the environmental crisis threatening the planet is to advance in building an organization that can coordinate struggles to bring them to question the common origin of these problems: the capitalist system. The resistance in Ukraine to the Russian invasion is both proof of the need for world socialist revolution and its possibility. In the face of growing social polarization, and the strengthening of far-right movements, we must build socialist, revolutionary and internationalist parties of the working class that defend class independence, workers’ democracy and put themselves at the service of organizing struggles that can win, and to build the necessary steps to advance toward socialism. With that goal in mind, we present this edition of International Courier, as an instrument to help unite those who are willing to fight for the construction of a socialist, revolutionary and internationalist project together with us.

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