France: Cheerful and quarrelsome 1st-of-May Days?

Some findings on the present

state of emergency

“This May 1st, 2020 is like no other. Today, no gathering in our cities to celebrate, as we have done for so many years, International Workers’ Day (…). And yet, the spirit of May Day, this spirit of solidarity among workers, has perhaps never been so powerful, so alive. For it is indeed thanks to the work, celebrated on this day, that the Nation holds.”

“Deprived of the rituals (sic) of this day, we feel today all the value, all the meaning. With this strong will: to rediscover as soon as possible the cheerful, sometimes quarrelsome, first of May Days, which makes our Nation. My dear compatriots, we will find them again, these cheerful first of May Days!” (i) [Little red book of President M. .., to be published?] (ii)

i Tweets section, La Croix, May 1st, 2020.

ii With a little imagination, one can easily give meaning to this mysterious M… The reading of “La P… respectueuse” (The Respectful Prostitute) by Jean-Paul Sartre can be a clue. This play is very contemporary since it is about a dominant class which acts in the name of the “common good” and finds a majority only concerned about its survival, without questioning the acts that are imposed on it.


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Capitalism, Wars and Epidemics

What is behind the calls for national unity against the Corona-virus pandemic?

As the Corona-virus pandemic rapidly extends its devastating effects over the globe, government leaders have successively declared themselves “at war”, and impose “sanitary emergency measures” at different grades of “lock down”, varying from restricting social life and imposing self-isolation (as in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands) up to establishing veritable military curfews (as in Italy, Spain and France). They all call upon “national unity and solidarity” to combat the “invisible enemy”, while trying to enforce state control over the population, as a new global recession is unfolding.

The following contribution develops on the relation between the wars and epidemics of capitalism, drawing some parallels with the plagues in the early stages of its emergence (the 14th Century) and with the Spanish flu during World War 1. It situates the stakes of the present “Corona-virus crisis” in an ideological preparation for a global war.

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Revolt to carve out an individual existence within Capitalism?

Some necessary criticisms apropos of “Social Contagion – Microbiological Class War in China” (Chuǎng)

At the end of February, the Chuǎng collective published an elaborate article on the Corona-virus pandemic in China, Social Contagion. Microbiological Class War in China, that develops their reflections on its origins and societal significance along two axes: 1. “how capitalist production relates to the non-human world at a more fundamental level—how, in short, the “natural world,” including its microbiological substrata, cannot be understood without reference to how society organizes production”; “how capitalist accumulation produces such plagues” and 2. on the present state of Chinese society; on how the pandemic itself is “a contradictory instance of political crisis, making visible to people the unseen potentials and dependencies of the world around them, while also offering yet another excuse for the extension of systems of control even further into everyday life.”

Being one of the first publications that invite its readers to delve deeper into the structural and societal questions posed by a rapidly expanding, overwhelming virus pandemic, it has found a widespread interest in certain political milieus, as is shown by the variety of languages in which it has been translated, from Spanish to Russian.

The following statement by the French blog Pantopolis criticizes the group’s conception of the class character of Chinese society and its main contradictions, for showing a remarkable attachment to the state capitalist visions of Maoism.  One that we can find in their “Conversations with Lao Xie” (A State Adequate to the Task” in Chuǎng issue no. 2, 2019) as well.

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Corona-virus Pandemic: Legitimate Mistrust of the Governments

A statement by ‘Arbeidersstemmen’ (March 15, 2020)

The sudden succession of emergency measures taken by all governments in the Western hemisphere, presumably to counter or “control” the spread of the Corona-virus pandemic, as the stock-markets repeatedly crash, a recession of the world economy is underway and public life is increasingly disrupted, pose many questions.

In a first statement the ‘Arbeidersstemmen’ blog tries to take up the most urgent of them, relates the first manifestations of workers’ reactions to the state of emergency in crisis- and virus-ridden Italy, and puts forward some points of reflection to encourage workers of engaging in a collective struggle.

 

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From Corona to Crisis, Capitalism is the Plague of Humanity

A rapid overview of press releases from the internationalist milieus

After some hesitation, publications of the communist left and other internationalist groups were quick to publish about the questions that the ‘Corona-virus’-crisis poses to the working class and humanity, now that our exploiters and oppressors urge for national solidarity in the face of what in fact already is a pandemic.

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‘Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution’ (G.I.C.,1935)

The first complete German and English editions

Habent sua fata libelli.”
(Books have their fates.)

The G.I.C. may be known to many for its main work, which first appeared in Germany in 1930 in the press of the A.A.U.D. Only few, however, are aware of the subsequent two revised and supplemented editions in Dutch language, in which the group has  integrated its replies to contemporary criticisms from diverse quarters. The second one appeared in 1935 and would be the final version redacted by the group.

Despite a certain revival of interest in the council communist current at the end of the 1960s and during the first half of the 1970s, the G.I.C.’s main work would hardly find recognition among internationalist political milieus, and certainly not in its most developed version.

Two brand new publications at hand at last present the first complete translations of this final version in both German and English languages. The editor has focused on assuring an accurate text edition that is faithful to the original, and has largely abstained from interpretations or commentary, except for a succinct foreword.

We warmly recommend our readers to familiarize themselves with this fully developed version, which takes up the approach of Marx and Engels in the light of the dire defeats of the worker’s struggles in the initially successful October revolution in Russia, that ended in the disaster of Stalinist counter-revolution, and of the contemporary proletarian uprisings in Central and Western Europe that were defeated by both the (social-) democratic and the fascist varieties of bourgeois counter-revolution in addition.

H.C., March 5, 2020

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Syria, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, Libya

The world held prisoner by permanent imperialist war

The following article analyzes the economic backgrounds of capitalism’s drive to war which, over decades, has turned ever more countries in the geostrategically important region of the Near- and Middle East, and beyond, into an open battlefield between, ultimately, the world’s biggest imperialist powers and their respective alliances, be it directly or by proxies.

It treats the economic difficulties experienced by the USA to counter the historic erosion of the US dollar as the dominant currency of world trade, especially in the vital energy sector – and notably in the oil and gas markets – as a pivot of their policies of ‘financing’ astronomical levels of both national debts and military expenses. In so doing the article sheds light on the difficulties of the USA’s offensive to export oil and gas, specifically their shale gas to the EU countries (the North-Stream 2 project with Russia), and on their quarrel with Russia and the OPEC countries about the price of crude oil.

Last but not least, it provides a background to the exacerbation of the US-Iranian antagonism in the region, exemplified by the gangster-style assassination of the Iranian top general Soleimani and his company at Baghdad international airport on January 3, behind which it identifies China as the veritable target.

In short, the article develops arguments for the thesis that “a truly global confrontation is underway. It’s a monetary, economic, geopolitical and military clash. No one can lose it but paradoxically, ‘rebus sic stantibus’, neither can win it without risking, in turn, a collapse that would almost be as severe as a defeat.”

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From the Maghreb to the Persian Gulf – How to struggle against war and poverty?

Public Discussion Meeting

organized by

A Free Retriever’s Digest and arbeidersstemmen.nl

 

Saturday 29 February 2020

Utrecht, The Netherlands

 

The wars in Syria and Libya do not only affect the population of these countries but the workers and jobless proletarians of Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt as well. The consequences are riots and revolts in these countries against the local oppressors and exploiters, sometimes strike movements that can open the perspective of a revolution.

The United States, Russia, Turkey and the countries of the European Union are implied in these wars as well. Sometimes by direct military intervention, more often by supporting local regimes, their oppositions or certain armies and militias. They all fight against each other for the control over the rich oil and gas resources. In addition, we see the attempts to draw profit from the flows of refugees caused by wars and poverty.

The workers, both those at work and the growing army of jobless worldwide, are the first victims of what in fact are wars between imperialist states. They are killed, wounded, traumatized and are left behind totally impoverished.

In the wealthier countries they ‘pay’ for the expenses of the imperialist war with a decline of their wages (at first with regards to the profits, subsequently in absolute terms), allowances, pensions, the degradation of medical and social care, and of education. Certain taxes and dues creep up slowly, work pressure rises, unemployment drops … on paper. Every new generation of youngsters in North Africa and the Middle East (about 30% of the population) serves as foot soldiers and cannon fodder, or rots away in slums. In wealthier countries the reintroduction of the draft service is being prepared; in the Netherlands it has never been abolished, since this year it applies to women as well.

After a brief introduction we discuss about the causes of these wars, their consequences, and in which way these can be put to an end.

 

The exact modalities are indicated in the attached invitation leaflet

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An answer to “Questions without answers”

Anti-critique of a leftist book review of

The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900-1968)

The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900-1968)

In Vol. 1#2 (Try-out issue, May 2017) of this Digest, we briefly presented this elaborate work of political history in its first English translation, that has appeared with Brill (Leiden/Boston) in 2016. This was followed by the introduction of a review on Libcom titled “Council communism or councilism? – The period of transition”.

Since, we have had occasion to present its 3rd, revised Edition in French (June 2018) in Vol. 2#4 (August- September 2018) and on pages of this blog, in a more extensive way.

Unfortunately, serious reviews of this important work, in either language, and notably by adherents of the communist Left, or of proletarian internationalism in a broad sense, are very rare. When we discovered a rather extensive review of the English edition in a bourgeois left-wing, Trotskyist, periodical appearing in the Netherlands, our curiosity was raised. What follows is the result of a considerate examination.

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