|Written by IWL-FI|
|Saturday, 30 October 2010 16:01|
|European Union declared war on the working class
“Sarkozy has declared war on us,” said French workers referring to the measures taken by the government, particularly the reform of the old-age pensions system, which is what caused the current tidal wave of demonstrations, the greatest since 1995.
In May it was the “socialist” Zapatero who did the same thing announcing his plan of adjustments stretching from cuts in the salaries of civil servants and the freezing of pensions up to a deep labour counterreform followed by a drastic reduction of the budget and the reform of pensions.
These days it was the British government who announced the destruction of 500 000 jobs in the public administration, a tremendous blow to the “Welfare State”. In Portugal, the austerity plan by the “socialist” Socrates has caused the summons to a general strike for 24th November. Earlier this year it was the Greek working class who walked out to confront the draconian austerity plans spawned in Brussels and applied by the “socialist” Papandreu. In German, Merkel has announced a plan of cuts of 80 billion euros. In Italy, the Berlusconi administration forces through some more of the same medicine. The whole Europe confronts this curse.
The European Union, under the baton of German capitalism endorsed by the IMF gets the plans through of the governments regardless their colour. It is a veritable social war who has been unleashed. In every case, the decision was taken that the public deficit and the debt spawned by 700 billion euros spent on the redemption of the banks, when the financial system was on verge of collapse, should be paid off by the workers. This is the meaning of the Adjustment Plans that all the governments are applying to the pension funds, the salaries of public servants, public services and social benefits. In this way, together with the massive impoverishment, they wish to increase the assistance for banks and investment funds in the administration and control of the systems of pensions, health service and teaching.
This is precisely a joint plan to put an end to the achievements of the European working class and force through historic retreat from to the standard of living and democratic rights achieved. In many of the states of EU there are still important achievements in the midst of a world beaten by the most savage neoliberalism. Such rights as paid holidays, decent salaries, practically universal social security, public pension system or even the right to go on strike are seriously jeopardised by the European bourgeoisie. To put an end to them is the prerequisite to compete with the other imperialisms for their share in the distribution of the world market affected by a historic crisis, unheard of since the Great Depression of the 30s.
Stemming out of this unity of all the governments against workers, another battle is being fought inside the European Union between those who belong to the “hard core” and those who have been left out in the cold. The crisis has forced everybody into their places under the German hegemony. The French-German axis surfaces as the unquestionable master of Europe while such peripheral countries as Greece, Portugal or the Spanish State are submitted to a regime of economic “protectorate”, not to mention the countries of the East, recently incorporated to the EU and deprived of any national sovereignty. This is nothing but a new European economic governorship. What is more, the brutal austerity plans inevitably lead to European recession and stagnation where the very perspectives of the euro and the EU are at stake.
The response of the European working class
It was the Greek toiling masses who, in December last year, first challenged the adjustment plans and this response spread to the rest of Europe. Great demonstrations and strikes cropped up in Italy, Spanish State, Portugal, Germany and the Eastern countries… and to the vanguard of it all, the French working class and youth who, with an impressive upward surge coming from the grassroots overflowed the contention dams imposed by the bureaucratic summits and cornered the Sarkozy administration, who militarised refineries and launched a massive repression with thousands of arrestees.
In all these cases, for all the unevenness, European working class and youth wield their fighting spirit. This spirit challenges the bureaucracy of the CES and its national organisations that try to halt the demonstrations, to prevent a direct clash of workers against the governments and the EU and to block out any joint action. The CES gets the shivers when they as much as hear the mention of a general European strike. In France, the summits of the unions refuse to centralise the movement and launch it into a prolonged general strike to achieve the abolition of the pension’s reform and the fall of Sarkozy. They actually wait for the movement to lose impetus and lose heart. The leadership of the British TUC refuses to summon for a nation-wide demonstration against the Cameron plans, facing the demands of the unions of transport and education. The leaders of the CCOO and UGT in Spain refuse to summon for a new general strike and vainly attempt at resuming the “social dialogue”. We could keep on mentioning such cases in different countries.
But in spite of the omnipresent capitalist propaganda harping on about the idea that there is no solution but the impoverishment and the loss of rights, we must say that it is possible to force the annulment of the adjustment plans using a general mobilisation confronting the governments directly and causing the forces of the entire European working class concur at a powerful joint response, breaking the barriers that spread state from state and nation from nation.
Consequently we demand that, instead of sitting at negotiation tables dealing with small changes that do not challenge the essence of these attacks, all the trade unions leaders should produce a consistent battle plan so as to defeat these anti-workers plans. We also demand to summon a general strike in their countries and a general European strike and so topple these EU’s governments and the IMF.
European workers are now in a historic period where we are facing an enormous challenge to defeat the plans that – as the Greek comrades say – “are meant to drive us back to the 50s” – and impose a proletarian solution to the crisis, clearing the horizon of the struggle for the destruction of the EU and the construction of a Socialist United States of Europe.
Imposing a proletarian solution to the crisis demands a resounding rejection of the adjustment plans, sharing out work through the reduction of working hours without any reduction of wages, unemployment insurance lasting till the workers finds a job, old-age pensions at 60, initiation of ambitious and lasting plans of public works to satisfy the great social needs, heavy taxes on the rich, put an end to the privatisation of public services and revert the process of privatisation that has already taken place, nationalisation under workers’ control of all the great industries and strategic services, expropriation of the banks and placing all the resources of the country in the service of reorganizing the economy so as to benefit the immense majority and non-compliance with national debts.
Imposing a proletarian solution to the crisis demands the most energetic confrontation with the re-emergence of racist and xenophobic alternatives that serve as a parapet behind which the extreme right is concealed, whose services the bourgeoisie is already beginning to consider as a weapon for the future.
Actually, what we are now going through is a social war by employers and governments against workers and nations. Consequently, imposing a proletarian solution to the crisis demands not only confronting these plans but also the governments on duty who are making workers pay for the crisis that we did not cause. We shall never pull down these plans unless we fight directly against these governments, whether they are of the right or social-democratic ones.
After all, what this crisis has done is just to highlight in the crudest possible way the barbarism of the capitalist system which can offer those who live of their work nothing but super-exploitation and poverty. It is a system that tumbles from crisis to crisis and is deeply rooted in the exploitation of man by man. It deprives us of our life and dignity making us work till we die and so sustain the luxury of top-notches, and endanger the existence of the planet and even of mankind. That is why IWL-FI regards this crisis – the greatest since 1929 – should place the eviction of not only the governments’ plans but also of the entire capitalist system on the agenda.
Make headway in the political and trade union reorganisation of the workers’ movement
French workers and youth display enormous strength and also the urgent need to group the fighting forces that, from the grassroots, would raise an alternative confronting the bureaucracies that constitute the main obstacle for mobilisation. Right now, the most pressing task is grouping the trade union left and coordinating it within the scope of each country and of Europe as a whole.
All the steps in the trade union reorganisation of trade unions are inseparable from political reorganisation, from the struggle of putting up a revolutionary leadership to confront the institutional left, which long ago has stopped being left in order to turn into an instrument of European capitalism. This is the task to which all the European organisations of the International Workers’ League – Fourth International are stoutly committed.
28th October 2010
IWL-FI International Workers’ League – Fourth International