A Rapid Press Overview
In the following we present a number of statements and press releases by groups, circles and authors claiming adherence to (proletarian) internationalism, mostly from US- or North American sources, apropos of the wave of international protests and riots sparked off by the police killing of Mr. George Floyd at Minneapolis (Minnesota). The concise ones have been adopted in full, the longer ones by extracting their conclusion.
The list does not pretend to be exhaustive and is supplemented.
(Last updated: Monday June 29, 2020)
- On Minneapolis: Police Brutality & Class Struggle (Flyer, IWG & Klasbatalo, 30 May 2020; Conclusion)
- LONG LIVE THE REVOLT! (Anonymous leaflet, 1 June 2020; Full text)
- 66 Days (Joshua Clover – “The New Era of Uprisings”, 2016 – 2 June 2020; Extracts)
- The Fire Next Time (The Internationalist, 2 June 2020; Full text)
- This is What History Looks Like (Brooklyn Rail’s Editorial Note, 3 June, 2020; Full text)
- Anti-police brutality protests in the United States: political implications and perspectives for the working class (Joint statement by GCCF and IGCL, 5 June, 2020; Conclusion)
- What should we expect from the demonstrations in the United States? (Communia, journal of the group ‘Emancipación’, 5 June 2020; Conclusion)
- WHY WE CAN’T BREATHE (Internationalist Perspective, 7 June 2020; Conclusion)
- “Defund the police” or what? (Fredo Corvo, 10 June 2020; Full text)
- The answer to racism is not bourgeois anti-racism, but international class struggle (Amos at ICC-online, 11 June 2020; Conclusion)
- Racism Protects the Capitalist System. Only the Working Class can Eradicate it (The international Communist Party – Florence, 17 June 2020; Full text)
- A commentary by ‘Arbeidersstemmen’ (19 June 2020; Full translation)
On Minneapolis: Police Brutality & Class Struggle
Flyer by the Internationalist Workers’ Group and Klasbatalo, May 30th, 2020 [Conclusion]
«While we’re encouraged to see sections of the class fighting back, the tendency for these riots is to die down after a week or so as order is restored and oppressive structures are rebuilt. In order for the power of the capitalists and their mercenaries to be truly challenged and abolished, what is needed is an international, revolutionary class party. Such a party would be a tool in the hands of the working class to organize itself and direct its pent up rage towards not only tearing down the racist state but building worker power and communism.»
Internationalist Workers’ Group and Klasbatalo
(affiliates of the Internationalist Communist Tendency in the USA and Canada)
Source and full text: http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2020-05-30/on-minneapolis-police-brutality-class-struggle (pdf available)
LONG LIVE THE REVOLT!
Anonymous Leaflet, June 1st, 2020
After another night of revolt in the streets of The United States due to the killing of George Floyd, president Trump, from a bunker in the White House, announced that he would designate “Antifa” as a terrorist organization. This finger-pointing seeks to frame a spontaneous and manifold movement (without capitals) as an Organization, not only assigning it an ideology but also a functionality that is hierarchical and in consonance with state logic.
Once again, terrorism is used as an alibi for the criminalization of wide sectors in the struggle, which at the same time completely exceed “anti-fascism”. But beyond denouncing and fighting against the repressive advance that this signifies, it’s necessary to reject the polarization that is sought to be introduced at the heart of the struggle.
The false choice between the economy and life that was imposed commencing from COVID-19 caused a resurgence of the classical bourgeois polarization between economic liberalism and state interventionism. This, in the same time, has been codified in different forms according to the region. Generally as progressivism vs. the right, and even arriving to speak of fascism, like in Brazil and the United States. We don’t see any coincidence in anti-fascism being appealed to for the channeling of a revolt that they cannot control.
Although street anti-fascism (Antifa), of the thug type that confronts the neo-nazi gangs, which is common in the United States and Europe, is not the statist and military antifascism (of “the good guys”) from the ’30s of the last century, it is its heir. The victorious defenders of official anti-fascism killed workers and raped women on a massive scale during the Second World War. And they directly formed a part of the triumphant governments that, in the name of the struggle against fascism, subjected so many countries to a capitalist democratic regime in which one must no longer protest because we’re supposedly free and we would have it much worse if the others had won.
Fascism and democracy have always been complimentary political systems to the service of the interests of the rich. When democracy can no longer contain the struggles of the exploited and oppressed, or to simply keep them in line, Capital resorts to more brutal forms. Today these methods, which it is supposed are exclusive to the fascists, form a part of any government that declares itself to be free and anti-fascist, which on their part are openly totalitarian: killings such as that of George Floyd or the millions of deaths at the hands of the police of every country, slave labor as the necessary compliment of the labor market, and discipline in the schools, jails and mental hospitals. However, no president calls himself fascist – all to the contrary!
Now that democracy has turned into totalitarian control of social life, fascism as a system of domination has lost its meaning. Obviously there continues to be nazis and fascists but they aren’t the ones pulling the strings, they are a problem of the street and there [they?] must be fought against day by day. But anti-fascism as a political option is a farce. Now just as before it only serves to befriend the oppressed and the oppressors, exploiters and exploited, governors and governed. In the name of anti-fascism they call on us to unite behind the genocides of today: the progressive or leftist rulers of whatever country, who also have their hands stained with blood. Or the heirs of genocidal Stalinism and Maoism.
The problem is not the right or the left. It’s capitalism, it’s democracy. It’s not needed to unite behind the antifascist front in order to fight the fascists. What unites us is common action everywhere against what exploits and oppresses us, against the root of the problem: private property, money and the State.
In the streets of the United States there mix black proletarians, together with whites and Latinos. They have challenged the oppressive everyday normality in less than a week. To want to attribute this to one sole movement as does Trump and his entourage, or to want, like his opposition, to score a point by these declarations, expresses the commonality in political mentality that these two opposing factions have, but only in how to manage this mercantile world.
May neither Trump nor the executioners from any part of the world mark the objectives and developments of our struggles for us!
The State is the real terrorist!
Found at: PANFLETOS SUBVERSIVOS, June 3, 2020 (4 languages, pdf available).
A statement by Joshua Clover (Verso, June 2, 2020) [Extracts]
«It took 66 days to get from the first shelter-in-place order to the first riot. Alongside the absolute outrage over the murder of George Floyd, we might also register some small sense of hope that it remains possible for people to struggle against the arrangement of the world that is for them always a source of violence, to struggle for the very possibility of their flourishing, to struggle together and in the streets. Certainly, during the interval, the possibility that this potential had been eclipsed gnawed at everyone I know. It has not.
Events are still unfolding and I don’t want to draw easy conclusions. There should be real humility in the knowledge that all theory comes from struggle, it doesn’t precede much less pretend to direct it. It feels important, for those of us who can’t be out there, to be attentive to what is intolerably familiar: the police murder of a black person, the lie that the police were acting in self-defense, the revelation that this crudest of lies covers over a lynching. The familiarity of this does not in any way diminish its intensity. The extrajudicial killing of black people is central to the ordering of United States society, central not just to how power maintains itself but how it knows itself. And the legitimacy and necessity of black rage is in part an attempt to survive this order, to make an order against it. For all the desperate bleats from news sources and politicians regarding chaos in the streets, there is disorder only in the most literal sense: an attempt to unmake the order founded on racialized violence.» […]
«The striking image from Minneapolis of a police station in the United States being overrun, abandoned by its forces, and burned is entirely new within modern memory. Think of the sacking of Minneapolis’ Third Precinct as our internationalist turn; after all, nine years ago in Egypt, 99 police stations were put to the flame in a single night. So much for American exceptionalism. Seeing images of the neighborhood, the police entirely pushed out, provided a reminder that the blockade and the barricade — so fundamental to riots and other forms of circulation struggle — want to move from being interruptions of traffic or commerce to being defense of territory. One echo hovering in the Minnesota night on May 28 was perhaps the ongoing insistence by the Oglala Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux people on forming and maintaining checkpoints to protect traditional lands, at one point even effectively banning the governor of South Dakota from entering. While the rationale offered for the checkpoints is medically clear and legally persuasive, it is not difficult to see also the afterimage of the checkpoints that protected unceded Wet’suwet’en territory from the RCMP’s incursions on behalf of the Canadian petrostate earlier this year, and behind these a host of similar struggles. Nick Estes and Glenn Sean Coulthard reminded me the other night that the American Indian Movement was founded in Minneapolis and began, as did the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, with community patrols. This history, of a land-based struggle for self-management that must begin by setting itself against the police, hovered around the burning of the Third Precinct. If there was ever a time to set up a neighborhood as an autonomous commune, managing itself without reference to the colonial state, this was it. Or, almost. We all knew more thugs would arrive armed with guns and flag patches, as the President dreams his imperial dream of martial law. But we must also suspect that this leap toward asserting a collective process that keeps state violence out, not new but for many made visible through indigenous struggles, is on the table if police murder is to stop and any sort of collective autonomy is to begin.»
Joshua Clover, 2 June 2020.
The Fire Next Time
Statement by ‘The Internationalist’ (Blog under construction, June 2, 2020)
The assassination of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police sparked massive protests all across the USA, and rioting, and looting ensued. Millions take to the street to express their anger and frustration, but the masses do not revolt simply because Floyd’s murder. Floyd’s murder was only the spark that lit the fuel of frustration, ruthless exploitation, structural injustice and general disenfranchisement produced by the current state of things. As the COVID-19 crisis left millions of proletarians unemployed and without means of sustenance, many commentators fall into the moralist trap, condemning the protesters who burn and loot buildings. Implicitly siding with the bourgeois State who enforces the violent conditions of living creating a violent response, but as French sociologist Emile Durkheim observed, a crime reveals a need, an underlying social issue. The looting reveals the general lack of access to goods & the fire is the fire that burns in the hearts of millions of oppressed and exploited folks. All are being sacrificed to save the capitalist economy left battered by the COVID crisis, either by being pressed back to work risking infection by coronavirus, or the masses of workers fired to compensate falling rates of profit.
“The bourgeoisie of the whole world, which looks complacently upon massacre after the battle, is convulsed in horror at the desecration of brick and mortar!” (Karl Marx)
It is expected from the bourgeois press and political commentators to condemns the tide of insurrection rising against their masters. But it is less expected to see the leftists activists, not only condemning the riots but spreading conspiratorial rumors and misinformation about the violence being instigated by outside agitators. Some outright stating that it’s a fascist plot to discredit the protest. It only speaks to the petty bourgeois and managerial bureaucratic ambitions of many activists, when they decry the burning of small businesses, shops and familial enterprises: it is clear now that they are enemies of the working class.
However, we do not simply wish for cathartic violence, as observed in Greece and France, the insurgency could not reach the places of production, and thus have no revolutionary outcome. We wish for the insurgency to reach places of production and link up with already struggling workers, springing up Struggle/Strike committees, strike assemblies and factory councils; the objective being a new General Workers Union. For that the insurgency must become aware of itself as a political force of class-based change, for that, revolutionary communists everywhere must join the protest, defend communists’ positions and critique. We have no doubts that the insurgency has already created radicals, but as observed in France, it was not enough, they need critical support, to identify clearly the root systemic injustice leading to the insurgency.
“The weapon of critique cannot replace the critique of weapons” (Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Rights)
Racism is not a calamity fallen from the sky, or “human nature”. It takes roots in capitalists relations of productions and will only die with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the socialization of the means of productions. It is the ruthless mercantile competition which forms the framework of this system and models our consciousness and pitches us one against another. It is on this compost that racism prospers.
The Internationalist, 2 June 2020.
This is What History Looks Like
Brooklyn Rail’s Editorial Note (June 3rd, 2020)
As I write this, it has been eight days since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off non-stop, and growing, demonstrations of anger throughout the United States and abroad. Surprisingly many city and state officials, and even some police chiefs, have endeavored to moderate the growing movement by expressing disapproval of Floyd’s murder. But the police in general, unable to learn from history, have as so often before accelerated the movement by their brutal response. They have little choice, incarnating as they do the domestic face of Max Weber’s maxim that the state is defined by its claim to a monopoly of violence. Their governmental masters face a more difficult quandary, as their legitimacy depends on combining some supposed regard for ideas like justice and equity with the use of force to maintain public order. Hence the rather narrow range of responses, from Trump’s threat to unleash “very vicious dogs” and his call to the nation’s governors to “dominate” the protestors or “look like a bunch of jerks” to Biden’s compassionate-liberal advice to the police to “shoot ‘em in the leg, not the heart.” The strategy of moderation, allowing the protests to burn themselves out, or the strategy of terror, using violence and legal persecution to crush them, have the same goal: the restoration of business as usual. But we were far from business as usual to begin with.
No one expected this week’s uprising, though George Floyd’s murder was no anomaly. All spring, COVID-19 has, quite naturally, been the focus of attention. A week ago the big issue roiling the media and government apparatuses was the push to get the American economy up and running, despite the threat this poses to human life and welfare. But beneath the surface, Marx’s “old mole”—the forces of social disruption that are a natural product of the status quo—was working its way out into the open.
In the years since Occupy focused attention on the mutually exclusive interests of the 1 percent and the 99 percent, inequality has become not only a “problem” of concern to sociologists and economists but an unbearable lived reality for the army of workers who serve the needs of the re-urbanized wealthy, not to mention the millions toiling precariously in the hinterland outside of America’s global cities. COVID-19 both threw that inequality into deadly relief and illuminated the stupidity, incompetence, and cupidity of the rulers of society. At the same time, the shut-down of the economy, intended to mitigate the effects of the virus but now morphing into a depression of gigantic proportions, showed us all that a society dominated by the needs of capital accumulation is incapable of dealing with a genuine social emergency. This was already obvious to anyone aware of the accelerating movement towards climate catastrophe, or indeed to anyone taking a moment to contemplate the destructiveness of normal, everyday life, with its stress, bad food, pollution, and industrial accidents. But the medical emergency focused our attention on it, forcing people to act in response. People discovered powers they might not have been aware of: hundreds of strikes by workers of all sorts demonstrated a refusal to accept passively their employers’ disregard for their welfare; people all over the United States organized to help feed their communities. There was already talk—and some action—about rent strikes, putting a positive spin on the inability of people without jobs to pay the ever more exorbitant prices demanded for housing.
It is widely expected that landlords and banks will begin to crack down, nationwide, in coming weeks. Will the police segue from gassing, beating, and shooting racial-justice protestors to enforcing eviction notices on the tens of millions whose continuing unemployment makes it impossible to pay rent, or to buy food? What of the teachers, medical personnel, and city and state workers now being fired because there is no money to pay them, the newly minted trillions having been spent to ease the path of corporations already flush from tax cuts? While white supremacy is its initiating cause, the movement now in the streets is already wider in its participants and grievances than the analogous uprisings of the past. A friend who lives in Minneapolis wrote me to say that on some occasions a majority of the demonstrators have been white. Likely many of them understand that racism is a problem for which White people must take responsibility and action, but also their own discontents clearly vibrate in sympathy with the anger of their Black fellow-citizens. In New York yesterday doctors and other medical workers, recipients of weekly street tributes from grateful survivors of the emergency, used the occasion instead to express support for those contesting the police. Trump spoke truly when he told the governors, “It’s a movement, if you don’t put it down it will get worse and worse.”
The United States has joined a long list of nations with people in rebellion these days against their rulers, from Lebanon and Algeria to Bulgaria and France. Each place is different, and in each place the insults that finally drive people to rebellion are various, but these are differences within a common system. In Paris yesterday 40,000 people, inspired by the American demonstrations, marched to protest French police brutality against Africans, Arabs, and other people of color and immigrants, but this was the continuation of a struggle that has taken many forms over recent decades, from opposition to degradation of the schools to the Yellow Vests’ protest against the social destruction of the French hinterland to the fight to preserve pensions the government is seeking to cut. In the US, larger and less centralized economically and administratively than France, the connections between disparate movements can be harder to see. But the recent teacher strikes in various states are responses to the same underlying condition as housing occupation actions in Los Angeles and the Bay Area—or the refusal, this week, of bus drivers in Minneapolis and New York to transport people arrested by the police to jail.
The current wave of protests may well subside, thanks to a combination of armed repression and some mollifying gestures—a cop or two may even be sent to jail, at least for a while. Attempts will be made to use the protests to drum up interest in an election that ever fewer people seem to care is around the corner. But just as the economic collapse occasioned by the coronavirus only revealed the deep systematic weakness of contemporary capitalism, the movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd is a major step towards the epochal rebellion that the current crisis of humanity calls for.
Paul Mattick, June 3, 2020.
Anti-police brutality protests in the United States: political implications and perspectives for the working class.
Joint statement by GCCF and IGCL, June 5th, 2020 [Conclusion]
«These protests have a particular significance in the present context of a crisis of historic scale, and share some features with other recent revolts like the Yellow Vests or Chile 2019. At the time of writing, the unemployment rate in the US is approaching 25%, with more than 40 million Americans having applied for unemployment insurance. By adopting a dismissive approach to these and other inter-classist movements, the vanguard would be ceding the terrain to the reactionary, identitarian, and bourgeois orientations that are already present. However, to provide the correct orientations, it is not enough to merely repeat the talking points of the bourgeois critics of police brutality; we must challenge these critics and contest their leadership in order to lead workers onto an explicitly proletarian terrain. The task is to encourage mobilized workers to pass from riots to the mass strike organized by general workers’ assemblies that resist police-repression/violence and racial discrimination on a unified-class basis, outside the union framework. We see some tendencies towards this in New York and Minneapolis bus-drivers refusing to transport arrested protesters, and in Ohio food service workers refusing to fulfill orders for police; although the action by the bus-drivers was quickly overtaken by the union framework, which can only reduce the struggle to the dictates of the Democratic Party. (1) The orientations that are characteristic of the proletarian terrain in the present period are class solidarity without separation by race, an affirmation of workers’ needs, refusal to work in unsafe conditions, seeking to connect with the wave of wildcat strikes that have spread in different parts of the world, and refusal to pay the price of the crisis by working more for less.
We call on all workers and those who defend the communist program who want to really struggle against capitalism to gather around these proletarian orientations and the groups of the international Communist Left that put them forward.»
IGCL/GCCF, June 5th, 2020.
1 The Root, May 30, 2020: Minneapolis and New York Bus Drivers Stand Up To Cops; Fox News, June 3, 2020: Ohio taco shop employees stage walkout, refuse to fill large police order.
What should we expect from the demonstrations in the United States?
Communia, journal of the group Emancipación, 5 June 2020 [Conclusion]
«Let’s add it all up: we are facing a movement with massive corporate support, identified with the interests of the black petty bourgeoisie and its political organizations, which is “joined” by the lumpen and actively supported by the unions.
Its great success has been to ensure that, while the aid to workers is being cut off to force a full reopening as soon as possible, despite the fact that the epidemic continues at a fast pace in the workplaces, the “anti-racist” movement suddenly becomes the central political question in the USA.
The movement’s message is that workers should no longer protect themselves at home from the virus, they should go out to protest… against police racism… or, if they are white, to apologize for their “privileges”. Workers should no longer fight for their safety and the safety of their loved ones, putting their needs above those of capital, but should support a “new civil rights movement” that helps the “less fortunate”…the black bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie. In other words: the message of the movement is that workers must stop fighting as workers and support what is completely harmless to capital… so harmless that capital actively supports it.
The reality? It cannot even be presented as a “temporary sacrifice”, as a pause in the class struggle to obtain a victory over racism that will later revert to a greater unity of the working class. Because the truth is that the “movement” cannot even be expected to achieve anything against racism. There is no point in a mass “awakening” in condemnation of racism, because racism is not a problem of “individual consciousness” that can be separated from social structure and class division. Nothing will ever come from the trade unions, the bourgeoisie or the identitarianists bent on maintaining this same class structure. The struggle against all discrimination is inseparable from the social question and therefore inseparable from the centralization and independence of our struggle as workers.»
Communia, June 5, 2020.
Source and full text: http://communia.blog/what-should-we-expect-from-the-demonstrations-in-the-united-states/
WHY WE CAN’T BREATHE
Internationalist Perspective, 7 June 2020 [Conclusion]
«This movement is a big step forward but there is still a long road ahead of us. Many illusions will have to be shed. Those who expect that, as a result of this movement, the police will become nice, the poor will be treated with respect, and racial discrimination will end, are in for a rude awakening. Of course, a lot of respect will be paid to the idea that black lives matter. Most major US corporations have posted messages claiming they’re devoted to it. Scores of politicians have ‘taken a knee’ in support of it. But in reality, lives only matter in capitalism to the degree they are useful for the accumulation of value. Many millions in this world are not, and their lives don’t matter very much. That won’t change. Capitalism always has used racism and xenophobia to cut off the poorest part of the working class from the rest. That will not change either.
The normal we are returning to after this movement is a world of pain and misery. Capitalism makes it impossible to use the human creative powers directly for human needs. Generally speaking, needs are only met if it is profitable to do so. But that profit mechanism is in trouble. Capitalism is in crisis and will remain in crisis after the present pandemic has ended. The normal that awaits us is a world of soup kitchens, evictions, anxiety and depression, of high unemployment while social wealth gravitates from the working class to the rich and governments prepare for war.
Crimes of poverty will increase. Remember why the two men whose last words are now so famous were arrested. Eric Garner was accused of selling loose cigarettes (stealing tax money from the state) and George Floyd of paying in a grocery store with a counterfeit 20 dollar bill (a sacrilege). Crimes of poverty. They died because they were poor and black.
Social unrest will increase. Class contradictions will become more glaring.
And the police will be the police. Despite the reforms that now may be implemented, the laws that may be concocted, the confederate statues that may be taken down, the police will do what it has to do, protect the capitalist law and order. That’s what it is for. It will be violent, and it will be brutal.
What we hope that will happen, after this movement ends, is that many refuse to return to normal. That the fighting spirit survives the mass demonstrations.
What we hope is that the understanding grows that racial discrimination, poverty and police brutality will only end when capitalism ends.
What we hope is that the struggle will spread from the streets to the working places. Only then will it gain the power to change the world.
What we hope is that the sheer absurdity of the world will agitate the imagination to the point where we are compelled to ask a collective question: what does the world we want to live in and leave behind look like?»
Internationalist Perspective, June 7, 2020.
Source and full text: https://internationalistperspective.org/why-we-cant-breathe/
“Defund the police” or what?
Fredo Corvo at ‘Left wing communism’, June 10th, 2020
Defund the police has been the most important slogan in the last week. The mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco have announced to cut the Police Department’s budget. In Minneapolis, a majority of the City Council pledged to dismantle its Police Department and instead create a new system of public safety from the ground up.
- Why are these proposals adhered to by many in the protest movement?
- For what reason are they supported by a part of the political apparatus?
- What will be their effect?
- How can we defend ourselves against police violence?
The proposal to shift budget from police to investment in communities and resources of deprived populations sounds like a simple solution. But most participants in the demonstrations and riots are skeptical. Past efforts to reform the police have proven to be ineffective in reducing police violence towards proletarian neighborhoods. We can see that whenever a movement develops its power to a level that it can become a threat to the state, all kinds of reforms are proposed to bring the movement to the terrain of electoral party politics. With nearing presidential elections, that is exactly what is happening.
We can see in the last days that the police were more reluctant in using violence. Finally, it was understood by local authorities that the police violence was counterproductive in the sense that it has only brought more people in the streets, in what has become the largest wave of protests ever in the USA. In some cases, the police hardly showed up during day time demonstrations. In Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles curfews have been lifted because people massively disobeyed. Trump retired The National Guard from Washington DC, not surprisingly after the Army declared not to be willing to take action against citizens in protest.
The restriction on the use of police terror and the announcement of reforms through democratic institutions like the budget process is not only closely linked, but both are means to calm a mass movement that could become a threat to the state. We can learn from this that the bourgeois state, in the interest of maintaining capitalist production relations, depends upon a delicate balance between democracy and violence. No state can maintain itself in the shorter of longer run by depending only on terror, exercising an open dictatorship of an infinitely small minority over the vast majority of society. The bourgeois dictatorship must be hidden behind democracy.
This is the more true when – as in the actual beginning depression – the reigning exploiters are forced by the capitalist system to attack the living standards of a population that is completely dependent upon wage labor or unemployment benefits. The corona pandemic, and even more the police terror against demonstrations, have brutally revealed the class character of capitalist society and its state.
Nobody knows if the promises of reform will calm down the wave of protests and for how long. The economic depression had only started now in the USA, after its first signs in weaker economies. South America has seen massive revolts of its proletariat in autumn 2019. More crises and revolts will follow all over the world. But for now, the movement in the USA seems to have reached its limits. Not able – for the moment – to bring forwards slogans and demands that express the interests of the proletariat, the movement seems to accept what are in fact false perspectives, brought forwards by the left faction of the state, from Democrats and BLM to Trotskyists and Stalinists.
Even a radical reform of the police will end up with only more effective power of the state over proletarian neighborhoods; the more effective the more local ‘leaders’ have committed themselves to the reformed police and exercise police functions themselves. Before these effects of eventual reforms will show, the economic crisis will have devastating effects on all segments of the proletariat: mass redundancies, more unemployment, lower wages, and lower unemployment benefits, worsening education, health care, etc. There will be demonstrations, revolts, and confrontations with the police, reformed or not. How can we defend ourselves?
For the proletariat, this is not only a question of violence. As an exploited and oppressed class with a historic future it depends even more than the historic outdated capitalist class on its capacity to present itself as representing society and humanity as a whole. Yes, the proletariat can realize another society, another mode of production and distribution, that has been called socialism or communism. When the struggle of the proletariat embraces workers in production, when places of production are occupied and controlled by workers, organized in general assemblies, elected and revocable committees and centralized on town and regional levels in workers’ councils, we will have another situation.
Instead of providing itself with the necessities of life by looting, or even a collective distribution of looted goods, the proletariat can decide what to produce and for whom, that is how it will be distributed. In that context, the proletariat will have to be armed to defend itself against those elements that want to restore the old ‘order’. From defense against the bourgeois state, its police, its national guard, its army and its [weaponized] gangs, the armed proletariat, organized in production and territorial councils, will finally destroy the state and all its repressive institutions, ripping off from the state institutions with a social function that will be integrated into communist economic life. From that moment the abolition of money and the market (of exchange value), will begin by organizing production and distribution on the basis of the working hour, giving the exercise of proletarian power by council democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat an economic foundation.
Understanding how the present revolt can develop into a proletarian revolution, the next step is clear. The proletariat can
- organize (already) unemployed in mass assemblies in the streets or in conquered buildings, in
- elected and revocable unemployed committees, in
- mass marches to places of work where redundancies are announced and
- unification with the (still) working proletarians.
Fredo Corvo, June 10, 2020.
The answer to racism is not bourgeois anti-racism, but international class struggle
Amos at ICC-online, 11 June 2020 [Conclusion]
«For several decades at least the working class has been losing the sense of itself as a class opposed to capital, the result both of vast ideological campaigns (like the “death of communism” onslaught that followed the collapse of the Stalinist form of capitalism) and sweeping material changes (like the dismantling of traditional centres of working class struggle in the most industrialised countries). But just before the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world, the strikes in the public sector in France had begun to show us that the working class is not dead and buried. The arrival of the pandemic and the global lock-down blocked the immediate potential for an extension of this movement. But even then, in the first phase of the lock down, there were very militant reactions by the working class in many countries against being treated like “lambs to the slaughter”, against being forced to work without adequate safety equipment simply to protect the profits of the bourgeoisie. These struggles – again not least in the USA – already cut across racial and national divisions. At the same time, the lock-down has laid bare the fact that the functioning of this system is entirely dependent on the “essential” labour of the class it exploits so ruthlessly.
The central question for the future of humanity is here: can the capitalist minority continue to divide the exploited majority along the lines of race, religion or nation, and thus drag it behind its march towards the abyss. Or will the working class, in all the countries of the world, recognise itself for what it is – the class that, in Marx’s terms, is “revolutionary or it is nothing”.»
Amos, June 11, 2020.
Racism Protects the Capitalist System. Only the Working Class can Eradicate it
A statement by the ‘International Communist Party’ (Florence), 17 June 2020
The severity of the crimes committed by the representatives of the bourgeois State in recent weeks and the strength of the proletariat’s response to them certainly prompts a search for historical comparisons. The protests and riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 come immediately to mind, as do those that followed the acquittal of the police who beat Rodney King in 1992.
In the more recent past, one can turn to the uprising in Baltimore in 2015, prompted by the police murder of Freddie Gray (for which, it should be noted, no cop was ever convicted).
These events and others like them are connected by the intensity of the black proletariat’s response to persecution. Yet the same type of events continue to occur, the same cycle of brutality and murder, despite vigorous responses like the one in the present moment. Why does bourgeois violence continue, and what will stop it?
Rosa Luxemburg commented in 1919 that “the best defense is a strong blow”. This was in her final essay, written only hours before she was abducted and murdered for her role in the failed Spartacist uprising.
The bourgeoisie appropriate labor power by forcing the proletariat to sell it for the minimum possible wage in order to survive. This is the foundation of racism in the United States.
Workers of color earn far less than white workers for the same labor, which makes labor in general cheaper to buy and increases profits for the bourgeoisie. So long as workers, divided by race, are forced to compete against each other, everyone’s wage is kept low, and workers’ power is limited. The police enforce this social order within the country, and the military enforces it abroad through imperialist wars. Whites are taught a pack of racist lies, preached from the very top of society, to dissuade them from recognizing their common cause with workers of other races.
The present anti-racist movement makes a serious mistake when it separates itself from the class basis of racism, continuing political action solely along racial lines in hopes of appealing to the bourgeois State. It has stopped short of openly declaring the role of law enforcement and the military in the maintenance of the capitalist State and the political domination of the bourgeoisie. For people of color, and for the proletariat as a whole, the solution lies in the conquest of political power away from the State, not in appealing to it.
The proletariat’s ownership of labor power holds the solution to its misery. Labor action is the answer to racist violence. As an old IWW song says, “without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn”.
The wheels that keep money pouring into corporations must be jammed. Strikes and other workplace actions do this by removing the labor component of the accumulation of capital.
Strikes in certain critical parts of the economy can have a disproportionate impact on the whole. Logistics and transportation strikes are especially damaging to capital because they prevent commodities from getting to market. It is no coincidence that those who work in warehouses and make deliveries are some of the most exploited people in the country, and that their efforts to unionize at companies like Amazon have been suppressed. Workers in stores can also have a powerful impact because their absence prevents commodities from being sold. Many of these workers are people of color from the same communities that the police constantly terrorize. Educators also have an important role to play. Their strikes impact the entire economy because the bourgeoisie relies on schools to provide childcare while parents are at work. Teachers have suffered from the police invasion of public schools over the past 25 years, and see firsthand how the racist policing system impacts young people. They have every reason to strike against it.
The regime trade unions will certainly resist these actions. They exist to diffuse the workers’ struggle by directing it in legalistic, electoral, and bureaucratic directions. New working class bodies need to be formed against these collaborationist trade unions.
Workers’ assemblies should form in every workplace and within every existing trade union.
Workers themselves will coordinate their response to the oppression they face, not union bureaucrats. The role of the International Communist Party is to build upon these immediate struggles so that the workers are prepared when the revolutionary moment arrives.
Witness how workers protected themselves from the pandemic
The labor actions that took place early in the Covid19 pandemic show the power that strikes have in effecting immediate change. A wave of strikes broke out in March and April as employers put workers’ health at risk. Most of these were wildcat strikes, organized without union approval or in non-unionized workplaces. Because workers in over 300 workplaces, involving tens of thousands of workers dared to walk off the job to protect themselves and their fellow workers, the strikers rapidly won concessions from their bosses, including safer working conditions and sick pay.
Form Workers’ Assemblies
Labor actions need to be coordinated in order to tackle serious threats to workers’ interests. Workers’ assemblies are necessary to organize efforts to fight racism and its capitalist foundations. The effects of strikes and other actions in individual workplaces are mostly limited to those specific places. Strikes by teachers and auto workers in the past two years have shown that large, well coordinated actions are effective far beyond the workplace or the region in which they occur, even influencing other industries. At the same time, coordination can only grow from specific workplaces and locations, as it did in those cases. Workers’ assemblies are venues where people come together as members of their class to plan and act for its interests.
Support the protests
The extent of the protests that emerged following George Floyd’s murder shows that workers across the country recognize that his death was one example of the present system’s general tendency to abuse people of color. Not everyone recognizes that this system is capitalism, and that racist violence is a component of the bourgeoisie’s war against the proletariat, but they recognize the different instances of police brutality are in no way separate. Communists’ role in times of protest is to show the masses that capitalism is the root of the problem against which they are demonstrating, and that revolution is the only means to stop it.
The working class has the power to transform society
What the COVID 19 quarantine proved was who generates wealth in capitalist society: workers. When we stopped working capitalist wealth collapsed. If we generate the wealth, doesn’t it make sense we build society? And if we build it, can we not transform it in any manner we decide to?
Your only defense is in organization and struggle as a class
The answer to racism is communist revolution!
International Communist Party (Florence), June 17, 2020
A commentary by ‘Arbeidersstemmen’
This text comes from one of several organizations that all call themselves International Communist Party (this specific one is often referred to as [of] “Florence”). As council communists, we do not agree with the “Bordigist” position of all these groups on the function of the party and the trade union question.
Thus, we do not believe that “workers’ assemblies should be formed in every existing trade union”. Only in certain situations, when workers militantly participate in trade union meetings or demonstrations in greater numbers than otherwise, can we, as communists, demand that these be transformed into workers’ meetings, open to all workers, trade union members or not.
Neither do we advocate a policy of “trade union opposition”, which aims to transform the trade unions recognized by the state into “workers’ unions”, which at most leads to “communists” ending up in (mis-) “leading” trade union positions.
Also the way to establish or be part of ‘alternative’ trade unions, such as the IWW or the Cobas, is not ours.
Nor is there any reason, in the current historical situation, to form revolutionary workers’ unions on the model of the AAUD, which came into being around 1920 after the mass movement ‘Leave the trade unions’.
We believe that today’s tiny communist minorities must unite on the basis of some basic positions in order to be active within the class as a whole in the sense of self-organization in the struggle to defend proletarian class interests.
Occasional cooperation with other internationalist proletarian groups is desirable on the basis of an agreement on what can be put forward as the next step in a given situation. In this sense, we believe that the preceding text neglects the question of current unemployment and the mass redundancies that will come under the pressure of depression.
Arbeidersstemmen, 19 June 2020
[We note our agreement with the foregoing commentary. H.C., June 21st, 2020]