|Written by Ronald León Núñez, IWL-FI, August 7th 2012|
|Friday, 24 August 2012 04:42|
In Europe we are experiencing social warfare: brutal attacks of the imperialist bourgeoisie against all the historical conquests and rights of the working class and peoples from the “old” continent. And the background of this reactionary crusade is the biggest economic crisis of the capitalist system since 1929.
This crisis has no way out unless one of the two primary social classes defeats the other. The Europe of capital, through the known Troika (IMF, European Central Bank, European Commission) is proving this by pushing forward “adjustment plans” that are destroying all the social conquests that the proletariat with the longest tradition of struggle has won in the last 150 years. The so called European “Welfare State”, the pride of the world social democracy, is showing its total failure and is losing ground rapidly before the economic crisis.
The attacks to the rights and the standard of living of the working class have led to a popular and sustained resistance, but with an uneven pace and intensity. There are fights against the cuts and the plans of the Troika in all countries, even in the central ones of the European Union: Germany and France. These struggles, in many cases, are led by the poor or precarious working class youth and by popular sectors.
But in the last months, we are seeing a crucial element that can change the political landscape: the appearance of the organized working class. Up to now we had seen it more clearly in the wave of general strikes in Greece. Now, the organized working class is emerging strongly in the Spanish State through the eruption of the impressive struggle of the Asturian miners. The Spanish miners, as a part of the European proletariat, are leading a struggle that has not only national but also international impact.
The combination of cuts and repression
As the economic crisis is deepening and the social resistance is rising, the European capitalists and bankers are responding by increasing the repression. And the tendency is to extend to the whole working class the daily repression practiced until now primarily against the most exploited sectors, such as neighborhood raids and police check points against undocumented immigrants.
With nothing to offer in terms of concessions, the ruling class will increase the criminalization of social struggles. This means that the labor and popular movement must be prepared to face the worst conditions for struggle.
This is especially true in a situation of increasing social polarization, where, in addition to the traditional mechanisms of repression of the bourgeois State, we are seeing a relative strengthening of the far right wing with the appearance of openly fascist groups. A recent example is the appearance of Golden Dawn in Greece, who has started attacking immigrants with its violent squads but whose real objective is to launch an offensive on the whole workers’ movement and its organizations.
In the Spanish State, the Rajoy government is pushing forward very harsh adjustment plans in order to reduce a deficit of more than 90,000 million euros. These plans are linked to a labor law reform that will eliminate fundamental rights of the workers (in terms of striking, employment protection, collective bargaining etc). The neoliberal government of the Partido Popular (PP) knows that this reactionary package will only produce more strikes and social struggles. The new wave of cuts and austerity plans has already affected millions of workers, and they won’t sit back and let the attacks go on. The question that is really worrying Rajoy and the Troika is how to defeat the popular resistance.
As a first measure, we are seeing that the direct repression of the struggles intensifies: the miners were received with clubs, rubber bullets and tear gas, same as the students in Valencia that were fighting against the cuts to public education. During that struggle of the high school students, the police charged brutally, injuring among others elderly people and women.
But the guardians of the Troika need something more than direct repression, they need to deepen the preemptive surveillance and the judicial net that can strangle resistance. In this direction, the Spanish government created the Department for National Security (DNS) as a surveillance arm of the State, based on the one that George W. Bush created after the attack to the Twin Towers. In the US it is known as the Department of Homeland Security and it was created in 2002 with the mission of “protecting the american soil from terrorist attacks”. Its task is to carry on internal intelligence activities without any legal guarantees or restrictions.
This new Spanish institution will be composed by more than 100 members of the old sub-secretaries of security. According to the Official Bulletin of the Spanish State, the tasks of the DNS include “analyzing situations that involve or could result in a threat of national security” and “designing government actions that could lead up to the declaring a “state of emergency” situation.”
This new directive of the Moncloa (Spanish President Office) will be accompanied by a reform of the Penal Code that will even punish, among other things, mobilizations called from the internet and will dictate jail sentences for “passive resistance” in the streets against the police, a peaceful method used very often by the “Indignados” movement.
After the last general strike in Barcelona last April, the Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernández Díaz announced that the new Penal Code will consider calls for any protest that is “violent” or “violates public order” through the internet or any social network as a “crime belonging to a criminal organization”.
By “violent demonstration” the government means any demonstration that does not have prior authorization or whose participants do not disperse when ordered by the police. The minister Fernández justified this change claiming that the country is experiencing a “spiral of violence” coming from “anti-system groups” that use “tactics of the urban guerilla.”
Even clearer was the Minister of the Interior of the Catalan Government, Felip Puig, who said, “We want to reform the law so people will be more afraid of the system” according to the argentine newspaper Clarín.
The British lion shows its claws too.
In the UK, the liberal-conservative government of David Cameron, after wasting thousands of millions of euros to save the banks, launched the most brutal attack to social rights in the history of the country: public healthcare, student scholarships, public transportation, university fees etc.
These attacks led to the first popular reactions. In August 2011, after the murder of a 29-year-old black man by the police in Tottenham (London), a round of riots and violent protests spread throughout the city and the country reaching Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Liverpool and other cities. On Nov. 30th 2011, huge demonstrations of 30,000 in London, 20,000 in Manchester and 15,000 in Liverpool marked the day when 2 million public sector workers went on strike. Even though it was a public sector strike in defense of retirement plans, it had huge support from the youth, who are seeing their situation worsen with rising unemployment and lack of prospects for the future. The strike last November was a clear message of the working class against the intentions of the government to make the workers pay for the crisis.
It is important to note that this struggle managed to overcome the draconian anti-labor law that was imposed by Thatcher to the British working class, which forbids voting for a strike in general assemblies. Instead, it instituted a convoluted consulting mechanism, where all workers vote isolated at home through mail. The whole process is totally controlled by the union leadership and overseen by the government.
As if this law wasn’t enough, Cameron established new measures to combat protests, including tripling the number of policemen in the streets, and ordered the “exemplary punishment” of activists that use the social networks to mobilize in order to increase the control of the social tools.
The democracy of the rich is exposed
The popular and working class movement needs to not only defend its economic conquests, but also fight for the democratic rights that are now under attack by the servile governments of the Troika.
The criminalization of the social movements is a tool of the ruling class to prevent the development of struggles, be it through direct repression or through “legal” mechanisms of the capitalist State. We cannot forget that the bourgeoisie imprisons, tortures and kills in the name of the law.
The bonapartist measures that are deepening in Europe are only the beginning. European capital and banks will show even more clearly their true reactionary and undemocratic face, as the struggle and the organization of the working class advances.
The reaction of the rich in Europe against social struggles proves that under capitalism even the most sophisticated “bourgeois democracy” is only a dictatorship of capital against the poor.