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No one can deny that 2018 was an intense year. Imperialism and the national bourgeoisies have not ceased in their attacks, standing firm in their intention to make the working class and the exploited people of the world paying for the economic crisis, which they generated.

By Daniel Sugasti

More than a decade ago, the world goes through an economic crisis that is expressed in a “downward curve” of the capitalist system as a whole

This means that, although there may be weak and ephemeral “recoveries” in one or another country or region, the general tendency is the deepening of the crisis, and this can only be translated into more unemployment, poverty, migratory crisis, regional wars, frontal attacks by governments against the historical rights conquered by our class, etc. In short, in more exploitation and deterioration of our living conditions.

There are economists who even predict a possible global recession in the next year; a fact that could provoke unforeseeable social and political consequences.

The working class and the peoples of the world resist

Even though, not only capitalists act. The working class and the oppressed peoples have also shown, as in previous years, an enormous willingness to fight. There were defeats and victories, advances and setbacks, but the working class, in general, resists the plans to unburden the weight of the crisis of the rich on their backs.

This panorama, which ultimately synthesizes the ups and downs of the fundamental confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution, normally generates a huge political instability and an increasing polarization / radicalization of the class struggle, which covers almost all countries and continents.

The social war that the capitalists declared to the working class does not yet have a winner. This fight is ongoing. It is not possible to predetermine the outcome of this very tough social and political struggle. But, if we take into account the course of this year that ends, it is possible to assume that 2019 will be a year as much or more intense and even decisive for the course of many major battles.

In 2018 there were gigantic mobilizations, many of them radicalized. At the time of writing these lines, for instance, we are witnesses of the fierce struggle of the French “yellow vests”, which face – at the cost of dozens of wounded and arrested – the police in Paris. The “yellow vests” already put the arrogant Macron on the defensive, forcing him to retreat on some issues. In addition, the Gallic demonstrators have 70% popular support, even when they exhibit the guillotine in the middle of the avenue of the Champs Elysees. The struggle of the “yellow vests” -which is still not resolved-, echoed in Brussels, Madrid, and other cities. This is an important incentive.

On the other hand, the Hungarian people recently put on the ropes the government of the extreme right-wing and xenophobic Orbán. Thousands have mobilized to defeat the decree they rightly called the “law of slavery”. Recall that the year had begun with the impressive strike of German metallurgists for the 28-hour work week. In Portugal, stevedores and dozens of sectors are on strike or sustaining intense struggles. In Albania, the streets shout against university fees. In Serbia, against the State violence.

There is political instability in the US itself, hegemonic imperialism. Trump’s election and the result of the “mid-term” elections, held in November, showed, albeit in a distorted way, an important political polarization, as well as an electoral setback by the current US government.

In other words, this situation of greater clashes between classes and of polarization does not only occur in the poorest, semi-colonial countries, but affects, evidently unequally, also some central imperialist countries.

And speaking of semi-colonial countries, in 2018 we have witnessed real insurrections that confronted dictatorial and bloodthirsty regimes. In the end of 2017, an insurrectional process against the dictator Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) began in Honduras, which continued in 2018 marked by mass actions and by bloody repression.

In April, another revolutionary process broke out against the corrupt dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, in Nicaragua, which, although it was also brutally repressed, is not defeated. Central America, in fact, was at the center of Latin American political events in 2018, either because of these insurrectional processes, because of the savage repression exercised by the dictatorships questioned in the streets, and also because of the enormous migratory crisis that led thousands of people to undertake an unprecedented caravan up to the Mexican border with the USA, the result of which remains to be seen.

Argentina, after the fighting days of December 2017 against the adjustment plans of the Macri government, also deserves an important highlight. It was a reference for the whole world in the fight against the oppression of women. Thousands of Argentine women, bravely went out to the street demanding the legalization of abortion and the right to decide on our own body. This process inspired women from other countries in the region. Also, women fighting the dictatorship in Nicaragua, protesting in Iran, in Ireland, in Chile, and in that fight for legal abortion in Argentina are part of a generalized rise in struggles against oppression. An ascent that also highlights the countless struggles of blacks and LGBTI, all supported unconditionally by the LIT-CI.

There is a process of very strong struggles in Latin America. And also, more unequally, we could say that there is a process of reorganization. The recent victory of the “ORO” list in the elections of the miners’ union of Huanuni, in Bolivia, against the entire MAS apparatus of Evo Morales, is a sample of this. Those skeptics of the working class, or outright defeatists, who spend their days bragging about a supposed “conservative wave”, focusing only on certain electoral results, are finding themselves face to face with reality.

In Africa there were intense struggles in the Central African Republic. On the other hand, in August the dictator Mugabe fell from an important process of popular mobilization, although the struggle to end once and for all with the dictatorial regime of Zimbabwe is still pending. In South Africa, the great news is more recent. In the first days of December, the Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party was founded, with the participation of representatives of our current. This is, undoubtedly, a step forward in the process of political reorganization in a country of great importance for the African continent.

In the Middle East, polarization was expressed, mainly, in the hard confrontations that took place during the March of Return, which this year had a special addition to the 70th anniversary of the Israeli occupation.

This generated an important and radicalized mobilization process, with hundreds of Palestinian dead who, once again, showed courage by confronting with stones and burned tires the power of the Zionist State of Israel.

The “from above” repress and the far right gains ground

This struggle of the peoples, pray to the offensive now on the defensive, evidently had and will have its counterpart. It generated a resurgence of the extreme right and an upsurge of repression and the criminalization of social protest.

Hundreds of fighters were killed in Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua and Palestine, to name a few examples. The massacre against the Syrian people continues at the hands of the Assad-Putin-Hezbollah-Iran axis. Every day, hundreds of people die in Yemen, in the context of a bloodthirsty aggression by the theocratic dictatorship of Saudi Arabia to the poorest country in the Middle East. In Europe, hundreds have been arrested in France and Hungary.

In Argentina, the fight against the austerity plans increased the repression by Macri’s government. In this case, our party in Argentina, the PSTU, is being seriously persecuted. Since the beginning of this year, our comrade Sebastián Romero is being hunted by the State for the simple fact of having participated in a protest that defended pensions made in December of 2017; and for the same reason, our fellow worker leader Daniel Ruiz was arrested and remains in prison.

However, far from intimidating us and intimidating the social movement as a whole, the struggle continues in Argentina. This was demonstrated in the protest against the G20 that took account of Buenos Aires in December, despite the huge operation of police-military repression mounted by the government of Macri and his guests “of honor”, the greatest imperialist bandits on the planet.

In the fight against the G20, we were proud to participate as LIT-CI, in the streets, together with the Argentine working people.

The social and political polarization; instability and crises, the betrayals of reformism and the rotten traditional union bureaucracies; added to the lack of a revolutionary political leadership strongly rooted in the working class, contributed to the emergence of new phenomena, which caused great debates on the left.

In Brazil, after the constant increase in fuels, there was a strike by sectors of the middle class and self-employed workers that paralyzed the country. What was known as the Truckers’ Strike, a new fact of reality, with much similarity to what we witnessed in France. In October, the huge crisis opened by the process of gigantic mobilisations in 2013, which worsened in recent years, was expressed electorally in the victory of the far-right and former military Jair Bolsonaro. Not because now the majority of the workers or the ruined middle class of Brazil has turned from the extreme right, or, suddenly, it became “fascist” – as some sectors claiming the “conservative wave” theory say – but because the majority of the population broke deeply with the governments of the PT, which betrayed in a grotesque way all the hope that a large part of the Brazilian people deposited in that party.

The PT of Lula governed the country for 13 years, without changing anything structurally and becoming enmeshed up to the neck in scandalous cases of corruption. The vote in Bolsonaro was, to a large extent, a “punishment vote” to the PT and, in a certain sense, to the entire “corrupt Brazilian” system. He expressed, first of all, a huge crisis of the decadent bourgeois “democracy” and its institutions. It also unfortunately showed the lack of a revolutionary leadership with decisive weight in the working class and among the popular sectors.

Thus, the working class in Brazil, the largest in Latin America, is under constant attack on their standard of living. The neoliberal counter-reforms were promoted, in fact, by all the governments of the PT, then by Temer -that, let’s not forget, he was Dilma’s vice president -, and now it is very likely that they will deepen through the ultra-rightist and ultraneoliberal government of Bolsonaro, who incorporated several military ministers in his cabinet.

But the Brazilian working class and people are not defeated. And in the next year decisive confrontations are coming. The class struggle will give its verdict.

As we have shown, this situation of polarization, besides opening up crises in the traditional reformist parties, generates larger spaces for more radical positions, from the revolutionary left to the most rancid ultra right. And, we repeat, nothing is defined. Everything will depend on the class struggle.

The crisis of neo-reformism and space for revolutionaries

With the economic crisis, with no signs of solution in the short term, reformism and neo-reformism have shown less and less ability to deceive and contain social movements, or to “control” the new phenomena, most of them spontaneous.

There is no more the same “fatness” to burn or the same space to make “concessions” that existed before. Classical reformism, the old social democracy, has long since uncritically incorporated the bourgeois state apparatus and the direct management of austerity plans, and neo-reformism (Syriza, Podemos, PSOL, etc.) does not offer – or does – anything different.

This has generated a huge crisis in these parties in recent years. The crisis of the Brazilian PT; the unmasking of Syriza, which the government assumed in Greece to apply the same adjustment plans that the “traditional right” applied to the Troika command; the deflation of the ephemeral phenomenon “PODEMOS” in the Spanish State [20], which now supports the government of Pedro Sánchez; or the bloodthirsty repression exercised by Maduro and Ortega in Latin America, are some examples of this crisis and the growing discredit in these devices. The reformist or neo-reformist parties, which are more discredited and have more difficulties in containing the struggles – when they do not govern and attack the class directly – open up more space every day for the revolutionary organizations, like our current. There is no clear avenue, of course. But there is more space and a higher audience for revolutionary proposals to get out of the crisis.

However, we are not and will not be alone in this struggle for the consciousness of the working class. In addition to “old” and “new” reformism, there is the phenomenon of certain extreme right-wing expressions that also grow, often embracing flags, generally abandoned by reformism and Castro-Chavismo, such as the break with the EU in Europe, or the fight against the atrocities of the dictatorships of Maduro and Ortega in Latin America. Thus, they do nothing more than facilitate the advance of the most reactionary sectors and amplify their smear campaign against “the left” and against “socialism” before the working class. The fight against the extreme right must be implacable, in all areas.

The only way out: to build a world revolutionary leadership

The only way out to resolve this economic-social crisis in favor of the working class and the oppressed peoples goes through, besides facing the governments and their agents in the streets and from our organizations, to build a revolutionary, working-class political leadership, socialist and internationalist. There is no other way.

This means building national parties, as part of a revolutionary and centralized democratic International, strongly rooted in the industrial working class and anchored in Marxist theory. Build strong parties and an International with the strategy of the seizure of power by the working class and the construction of socialism worldwide.

This International, without denying our limitations of any kind, for us is and will continue to be the LIT-CI, which, in turn, was never conceived as an end in itself but as a tool for the reconstruction of the Fourth International, founded 80 years by the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky as the embryo of the World Party of the Socialist Revolution.

This is the great task, comrades. For a 2019 of many struggles and victories for our class.