Support the struggle against anti-democratic attacks and for expansion of the public health service!
Statement by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 2 October 2020, www.thecommunists.net
1. In late September, Madrid’s regional authorities imposed a draconic lockdown in 45 districts, most of them low-income working class neighborhoods. People are not allowed to leave the area except for work, school or for medical care. Social gatherings are limited to six, public parks are shut and all establishments must close from 10pm. Nearly one million people are affected by this lockdown.
2. The conservative regional government justifies these measures with the rise of the infection rate. This is utter cynical and nothing but a pretext for a reactionary bonapartist policy. First, there are areas with higher infection rates which are not put under lockdown. Second, when people go to work they have to join the crowded public transport. So this is less dangerous than social gatherings of more than six people?! Obviously, double standards are applied. Third, Spain is a well-known example that the lockdown regime is a completely useless instrument against the Corona Virus. It imposed one of the most draconic lockdown regimes in spring and still had one of the highest mortality rates in the world! Compare this to Sweden which had no lockdown and, and the same time, a lower mortality rate than Spain. (In fact, as we demonstrated in other works, Sweden had no excess mortality at all if one compares the figures of the total first half year 2020 with that of the past 2-3 decades!)
3. In response to these draconic lockdown measures directed against Madrid’s working class, spontaneous mass protests have erupted. In Vallecas and other working-class districts, thousands of people demonstrated against the lockdown. They shouted slogans like “Long live the fight of the working class,” “Vallecas defends itself,” “police leave our neighbourhoods,” “Madrid always anti-fascist,” and “less police and more health care workers.” They stated their support of the national healthcare system and called for the resignation of the regional premier, Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the conservative Partido Popular. There were banners which read “more hospitals and less military” and “this is not confinement, this is the class struggle.”
4. Spain’s coalition government of the social democratic PSOE and the left-populist PODEMOS criticizes Madrid’s regional authorities for half-hearted measures and wants to impose a lockdown in the whole of Madrid as well as other cities. This has provoked protests not only of the Madrid authorities (who want to limit the lockdown to the low-income working class districts) but also of other regional governments including that of Catalunya. Reflecting the bonapartist and militarized nature of the capitalist COVID-19 policy, Prime Minister Sanchez has even threatened to deploy 7,500 soldiers to the streets of Madrid to impose the lockdown!
5. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) strongly welcomes the spontaneous working class protests in Madrid! They show that more and more people are no longer frightened and paralyzed by the governments’ systematic campaign to utilize the COVID-19 crisis for their political and economic interests. We have already seen spontaneous workers and popular rebellions against the bonapartist Lockdown regime in various countries in Africa and Latin America as well as in China. However, the protests in Madrid are the first of such kind in Europe. These mobilizations contrast positively from various demonstrations in Europe and North America against the governments’ COVID-19 policy. Until now various demonstrations in Britain, Germany, U.S. and other countries had a petty-bourgeois populist character. This offered space for right-wing provocateurs and weirdos in tin foil hats who try to exploit the legitimate popular outrage against anti-democratic attacks for their reactionary policy. This shows that if the leadership of the workers movement and left fails to take up the cause of the democratic struggle against the bonapartist Lockdown policy, it opens the field for reactionary populist forces. The rebellion in Madrid however demonstrates that even the worst treachery of the reformists can not break the spirit of resistance of the workers and poor!
6. It is not only the ruling class in Spain which is promoting a bonapartist anti-democratic and pro-business agenda by creating a regime of fear and hysteria. Similar public campaigns followed by draconic Lockdown attacks are taking place – or are in preparation – in Britain, France and other countries. Another actual example can be seen in Israel where the ultra-right-wing government of Netanyahu imposed another Lockdown which also bans all demonstrations. This development does not come as a surprise. The RCIT has already warned in July that the ruling class will again wipe up a campaign of fear and hysteria in order to justify a second wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution in form of local Lockdowns.
7. It is important that the workers and poor in Madrid build workplace and neighborhood assemblies which meet regularly and elect delegates in order to discuss and decide about the next steps in the struggle. This could encourage workers in other parts of the country in order to build a national movement against the lockdown policy and for an expansion of the health system as well as for a program against the economic depression. It will be also important to advocate the formation of self-defense units in order to defend the people against the police repression and to drive the repression forces out of the working class neighborhoods. Revolutionaries have to advocate a program focused on the expansion of the public health sector under workers control which must include, among others, free mass testing and special protective measures for people in nursing homes (who constitute by far the largest segment of vulnerable people). Furthermore, revolutionaries need to advocate nationalization of the corporations under workers control, a public employment program for the unemployed, and the abolition of all anti-democratic measures.
8. The RCIT has elaborated in numerous documents from early February onwards that while COVID-19 is a serious pandemic it is, however, not unique. The world has experienced several pandemics in the past decades which resulted in the death of millions of people (e.g. the so-called Asia Flu in 1957-58, the so-called Hong Kong flu in 1968, HIV/AIDS, severe Influenza seasons, etc.). In addition, one should not forget to view the COVID-19 crisis in proportion to other diseases and preventable health risks (respiratory infections, tobacco, alcohol, etc.) which also cause millions of death every year. In other words, COVID-19 is not “the worst pandemic” (as the fear-mongering governments and media tell us) and it definitely does not justify in any way draconic lockdown regimes, imposing a stage of siege and wide-reaching attacks on democratic rights. In fact, this pandemic is utilized by the ruling class as a pretext to promote specific political and economic interests of the ruling elite. Their real goal is to justify the expansion of the police and surveillance state, to find a scapegoat for the Third Depression of the capitalist world economy, to use it as an instrument against Great Power rivals, to help creating extraordinary business opportunities for capitalist corporations in industries like drugs, biotechnology, robotics, Artificially Intelligence and the whole IT industry, the online retail sector, etc.
9. It is a scandal that large sectors of the so-called “left” – the Stalinists, Bolivarians, left social-democrats and most “Trotskyists” – fully support the bonapartist Lockdown policy. In Spain, the Partido Comunista de España – the historic party of Spanish Stalinism – and its ally Izquierda Unida are even part of the pro-Lockdown government coalition which has ordered the army on the streets in spring. It reflects the total degeneration of large parts of the so-called “left” that they openly support the historic attack on democratic rights which has been taken place globally since half a year. This policy which the RCIT characterizes as social-bonapartist – “socialist” in words but bonapartist in practice – underlines that the Lockdown Left is isolated from the masses of the working class and rather adapts to the prejudices of the liberal middle class and the labor aristocracy which, in turn, are tied to the bourgeoisie’s apron strings. Hence, the workers and poor uprising in Madrid is not only a warning shot against the government but also a slap in the face of the Lockdown Left which pathetically repeats the “Stay at Home!” phrases of the ruling class in order to isolate and atomize the popular masses. Any struggle against anti-democratic bonapartism and militarization and for a social and health program must go hand in hand with an intransigent fight against the treacherous reformist leadership of the workers and popular organizations and its social-bonapartist policy.
10. It is to be hoped that the encouraging example of the Madrid workers and poor spreads to other countries and helps to prepare a global uprising against the COVID-19 counterrevolution. The RCIT repeats its call to revolutionaries for close collaboration and, if possible, fusion of their forces on the basis of an unambiguous socialist, internationalist and democratic program against the Triple Crisis of Third Depression, chauvinist state bonapartism and COVID-19 pandemic! This is the road on which the RCIT hopes to fight alongside other revolutionary forces in building a new World Party of Socialist Revolution!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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We refer readers to the RCIT’s extensive analysis of the COVID-19 crisis. Starting from 2 February we have published more than fifty documents which are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/.
In particular we refer readers to the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-a-cover-for-a-major-global-counterrevolutionary-offensive/.
Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/.
Michael Pröbsting: The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. On the ruling class strategy in the current conjuncture, its inner contradictions and the perspectives of the workers and popular resistance, 20 July 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-second-wave-of-the-covid-19-counterrevolution/
Yossi Schwartz: Israel: Draconian Law against the Right to Demonstrate, 01.20.2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/draconian-law-against-the-right-to-demonstrate-in-israel/