World Perspectives 2016: Chapter IV.8. The Political Situation and Class Struggle in Europe

 

114.        From the perspective of class struggle, currently the three most important countries in Europe are Spain, Portugal and Greece. These countries have seen a significant shift to the left, reflecting a rising political consciousness of the working class and particularly that of the proletarian youth. The elections in Spain on 20 December 2015 saw the defeat of the conservative party and the spectacular rise of the petty-bourgeois left-populist PODEMOS party (as well as of the far-left pro-independence Candidatura d'Unitat Popular party in Catalonia, in the earlier regional elections). At the moment it is unclear if the social democratic PSOE will succeed in forming a coalition, which would most likely constitute a popular-front government, or if new elections will take place. Revolutionaries in Spain should advocate preparing a general strike to repeal the past attacks of the Rajoy government which were directed against social gains and women’s and democratic rights. They should also advocate the abolishment of the reactionary and corrupt monarchy and support the Catalan and Basque peoples struggles for independence.

 

115.        In Portugal, the recent elections also resulted in the defeat of the ruling right-wing alliance and a victory for the Socialist Party, as well as the centrist Bloco de Esquerda and the Stalinists. Here, too, revolutionaries should call the workers’ movement to organize mass demonstrations and strikes up to a general strike in order to repeal the regime of austerity. Revolutionaries should utilize such mass strikes to demand from the “left-wing” government the immediate implementation of a number of measures like nationalization of the banks and corporations. They should combine this with calls for the formation of action committees in the factories, neighborhoods and schools, in order that the struggle be controlled by the rank and file workers and not the bureaucrats. [1]

 

116.        Greece experienced in the past year the first political cycle of a popular-front government. After the spectacular electoral victory of SYRIZA one year ago, it formed a coalition with the right-wing ANEL party. After a series of compromises with the EU, it was forced under popular pressure to hold a referendum over the EU Troika memorandum which resulted in a massive victory for OXI, i.e., rejection of the memorandum. However, the Tsipras government soon betrayed this vote and capitulated to the EU. The resulting split of the left wing and the formation of the new LAE party failed to achieve a breakthrough because of its inconsistency, hesitation and adaption to petty-bourgeois Keynesianism and nationalism. In Spain, Portugal and Greece it will be crucial for revolutionaries to combine a flexible united front tactic directed at fighting shoulder to shoulder with workers and youth who still support reformist parties, while clearly criticizing these parties’ bureaucratic leaderships and investing energetic efforts to advance the formation of a revolutionary workers’ party.

 

117.        France has been at the forefront of the counter-revolutionary wave in Europe in recent months. “Socialist” President Hollande presents himself as a mixture of a Bonsai-Napoleon and Bismarck and expands the Bonapartist elements which always have been present in France’s political super-structure. The three month state of emergency is qualitatively a new form of attack against democratic rights not seen in Europe since the downfall of the dictatorships in southern Europe in the mid-1970s. Until now it has resulted in 3,000 house searches, some 1,000 people have been arrested and 51 people jailed, mostly related to illegal weapons or drugs. Nearly all of this state repression has been directed against Muslim migrants. Add to this the repression of the anti-COP21 protests. [2] Underlying this reactionary tendency is the fact that the extreme right-wing racist Front National has become the strongest party both in the European as well as in the regional elections. The pathetic capitulation of the “Communist” PCF and the Front de Gauche (part of the ex-Stalinist Party of the European Left) who supported Hollande’s state of emergency decree demonstrated, once again, that such social-imperialist parties invariably join the camp of the counter-revolution in every difficult situation. It is also shameful that a FO trade union in the North-West region of France, led by right-centrist Lambertists, adopted a resolution supporting “national unity.” The centrist NPA and LO correctly opposed any call for “national unity.” But they are organically incapable of calling for the defeat of the French imperialist invaders in Mali or in Syria and supporting the anti-occupation resistance. Neither are they capable of defending the Muslim migrants against the wave of repression. The task of revolutionaries in France is to mobilize for the defense of the Muslim migrants against repression and to call the workers’ movement to fight against attacks on democratic rights. [3]

 

118.        In Germany in 2015 we witnessed a number of important strikes (rail drivers, postal workers, kindergarten workers, etc.). However due to the treacherous role of the bureaucracy of the trade unions as well as that of the social democratic and LINKE parties these economic struggles could not be transformed into a political working class offensive against the conservative / social democratic coalition government. An important political movement has been the pro-refugee movement, which challenges an essential pillar of the imperialist state – its ability to completely control who is allowed to enter the country and who is not. This movement reflects an important politization of sectors of the working class, migrants and youth. (The same is true for Austria which also has a similar movement.) However, right-wing forces are intensifying their racist offensive which already began more than a year ago with the PEGIDA movement and which is now escalating after the events of Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Again, like in France, the LINKE (part of the Party of the European Left) has failed to consistently defend migrants. Their party leaders Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch have threatened refugees (allegedly) involved in criminal actions with deportation. [4] Likewise, the left responded pathetically against the participation of German soldiers in the occupation of Mali and the war in Syria. Revolutionaries in Germany should call for a broad united front of the trade unions, reformist parties, migrant and Muslim organization and pro-refugees groups to fight back against racist mobilizations and fascist provocations. Likewise, it is important to forge links between the pro-refugee movement and industrial struggles. At the same time, revolutionaries should advocate a socialist transitional program which includes the struggle for open borders and complete equality for migrants, as well as a consistent anti-imperialist position of solidarity with the resistance against the imperialist crusaders.

 

119.        The general situation in Britain during the past year was characterized by the clear defeat for the Labour Party and an electoral victory for David Cameron and his Tories. Nevertheless, Britain has already seen several important mass mobilizations against austerity organized by the TUC and the People’s Assembly. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands people – amongst them many youth – have recently joined the Labour Party and helped the left-reformist Jeremy Corbyn to become the new leader despite the resistance of the huge majority of the party’s bureaucracy. Revolutionaries in Britain are right in looking for opportunities to work side-on-side with these left-moving workers and youth inside the Labour Party on the basis of a revolutionary platform. Likewise revolutionaries in Britain support mass mobilizations against the government’s decision to bomb Syria. However, contrary to the Stalinists and centrists leading the Stop the War coalition, they do not combine this with support for Assad and Russian imperialism but with support for the Syrian Revolution against the Assad dictatorship.

 



[1] See Johannes Wiener: Portugal: For a Workers’ Offensive against Austerity! 17.12.2015, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 45, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/portugal-austerity/

[2] See on this e.g., Burhan Wazir: From Charlie Hebdo attacks to a state of emergency. Majority of raids have been conducted on Muslim homes, businesses and places of worship using emergency powers, 06 Jan 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/01/charlie-hebdo-attacks-state-emergency-160106125210613.html; Almedina Gunić: Verhaftungen von Öko-Aktivisten in Frankreich: Stoppt endlich den Ausnahmezustand! Weit mehr als zweihundert Aktivisten festgenommen, 24 Aktivisten schon vor den Protesten gegen den imperialistisch dominierten Klima-Gipfel in Paris unter Hausarrest gestellt, November 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/home/deutsch/ausnahmezustand-frankreich/

[3] See on this RCIT: Terror in Paris is the Result of Imperialist Terror in the Middle East! Stop France’s and other Imperialist Powers’ Warmongering! No Mobilization of the Army inside France! Defend the Muslim Peoples against Chauvinist Hatemongering and State Repression! 14.11.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/terror-in-paris/; RCIT: Increasing Instability and Militarization in the European Union. On the Tasks of Revolutionaries in the New Political Phase which has Opened in Europe after the Terrorist Attack in Paris, 08.12.2015

[4] See Bundessprecherrat der Antikapitalistischen LINKEN: Nein zu allen Abschiebungen! Asylrecht ist kein „Gastrecht“ sondern Grundrecht! 13. Januar 2016, http://www.antikapitalistische-linke.de/?p=1130