Against the “Class War” of the Rich:Time to Fight!

There’s class warfare,all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning...

declared billionaire Warren E. Buffett to the New York Times in November 2006.

That was two years before the outbreak of the so-called “sub-prime crisis”, which burst the financial bubble and with it so much neo-liberal self-assurance. The bankruptcy of a few financial institutions (some with funny names like “Fannie Mae” or “Freddie Mac”) proved to be the prelude to a gigantic mess. Billions-strong “rescue packages” and state guarantees of liabilities had to be served up to prevent a total collapse of the financial system.

Since then one expert after another has declared the crisis over and done with. Predictions which a series of events have proven wrong time and again. The problems are getting worse. The “sub-prime crisis” became a “banking crisis”, the “banking crisis” became a “financial crisis”, the “financial crisis” became the “sovereign debt crisis” which threatens to blow the Eurozone apart — with unforeseeable consequences for the world economy. By contrast with previous recessions, this crisis is not limited in time or space, it has penetrated into the deepest innards of the system and it defines our lives. It turns career ambitions into a utopian dream, jobs into treadmills, finding somewhere to live into a struggle for survival, pension contributions into a gamble on an uncertain future, the search for work into a lottery. The crisis has intensified on all levels, and, with it, the “class war” against the poor that Warren E. Buffett spoke about.

Every day we acquiesce in the various “rescue packages” of our rulers. One programme of cuts quickly follows another. Their solution to the crisis is the simplest possible and is everywhere the same: cuts in pensions, in welfare and education, more work, less wages, sacrifices and belt-tightening for the “good of the country”.

Crisis? What Crisis?

“Banking crisis”, “debt crisis”, “financial crisis”, “credit crunch”, there were and are many names and descriptions for misery. We are not facing a series of accidents to individual firms, but a structural crisis of the whole system which has developed over decades. When, at the start of the 70s the post-war boom came to its end, an accumulation cycle without parallel was exhausted. To compensate for the low rate of profit, capitalism turned to restructuring the production process (e.g. through the introduction of microelectronics) and massively increased the rate of exploitation. Production facilities were shifted to low-wage countries and the core sectors of the industrial working class in the metropoles were thoroughly reduced. Through the spread of ‘flexible’ and casual employment capitalism tried to reinvent itself as a “service economy”. At the same time, the wealth created by wage labour has been shifted to the financial sphere, where money miraculously “works” (without, however, creating new value), and speculation flourishes. This attempt by capitalism to meet the crisis through the creation of fictional sources of profit brought handsome returns for a few super-rich, but nevertheless leads, in the long run, to growing indebtedness, enormous speculative bubbles and increasing instability. Today we can see the results. In the crisis, it’s everyone for themselves. Across the world, imperialist rivalries and conflicts are sharpening. The struggle to dominate areas and zones of influence is becoming more serious, arms races and armed conflicts are taking on more and more drastic forms. Of course, war is no solution, but it is the only one capitalism has to offer, in order to emerge from its valorisation crisis.

Fear No-one!

Mounting job insecurity, unemployment, poverty, hunger and social exclusion are becoming the daily reality of life for more and more people. These are the anxieties which dominate our daily life. Anxiety about work, anxiety about coming off the rails and falling out of society, anxiety about being unable to escape the competitiveness of this society. Instead of the happy bourgeois promise of the “end of history” in “freedom and well-being”, a resigned hope has appeared. There is the “hope” of at least not being the first to be brought down, the “hope” that the crisis somehow will pass one by, the “hope” of an individual solution, of a bolthole. This “hope” is irrational and treacherous, it divides and isolates, it makes you ill. Some flee to alcohol and drugs and the manifold virtual worlds of the capitalist spectacle. Others compensate for their weakness with aggression against those who are weaker, getting bogged down in the racist and nationalist ideologies of our rulers and thus make themselves bulwarks of the bourgeois order. Reactionary ideologies are gaining ground and in them sexism finds an outlet in daily violence against women, gays, lesbians and all those who do not adapt themselves to the ruling sexual morality.

To many, bourgeois order seems untouchable. The bourgeoisie has perfected the art of division, the manipulation of repression and social exclusion. For them, any means is justified if it maintains their domination. They have a lot to lose. We, on the other hand, must learn how to overcome our anxieties, to unite, to talk, to say ‘No’.

For Class Autonomy!

Capitalism can only work so long as we fall into line. Social relations are made by people and can be changed by people. Every struggle, every strike, no matter how limited, shows — at least in embryo — the capacity of the working class to turn this society upside down. The bourgeoisie know this only too well. It has developed a comprehensive repertoire of methods to isolate and split struggles, tame them or send them down blind alleys. If we are going to defend our immediate and vital interests we have to free ourselves from this pincer grip. We need to find ways and means of overcoming the lines of division and to assert solidarity and resistance just where this system draws the line. This demands a political break with the unions and parliamentary parties, which are without exception ensnared in the logic of this system. The dream of a socially tamed capitalism is exhausted, having been dreamt too long.

Time and again those political bodies which claim to represent our interests through negotiations and compromises with the ruling class unmask themselves as especially perfidious defenders of this system. We must take up the struggle from below, in a self-organised fashion and against any compromise with the capitalist system, outside and against the logic of the unions, uniting beyond the borders of firms and branches of production, and on the basis of independent bottom-up democratic structures. No matter whether in factories or offices, at the workplace or in residential areas — it is a question of resisting the arrogance and barbarism of capitalism and taking up the struggle for a different society.

The Freedom We Mean

None of humanity’s global problems, like hunger, poverty and the destruction of the environment can be solved, or even alleviated, within the framework of the capitalist social order. It is not a question of “controlling the banks”, “taxing the rich more heavily” or “nationalising industries”. A capitalism organised on the basis of the state is just as little a possible alternative. The experience with Stalinism in the Soviet Union and elsewhere should be sufficient proof of this. Without breaking with capitalism’s logic of profit, without taking power away from the ruling class, without a completely different mode of production, no new society will be possible.

The only solution is a society where production is for the satisfaction of human needs, and not profit. A society in which production stands in harmony with humanity and the environment. A society in which the means of production are socialised and not in the hands of private or state capitalists. A society based on social equality. A society in which human beings can be different without anxiety. Such an “association of the free and equal” is not a state institution! It is not a condition or programme which can be put into practice from above, by a party or state decree. Social liberation can only be fought for from below, through taking our own initiative, self-activity and solidarity, in a social movement for the conscious overthrow of relations of domination. The communism we mean, is not a social indoctrination programme, but, in its aims and its methods a struggle for the realisation of freedom. It will not take shape by itself. It is up to us!

Time to Organise

The traumatic experience of Stalinism and social democracy have left their mark. Resentment and confusion are as great as ever. But those who want to defend themselves against capitalism must first undertake organisational steps to overcome their isolation. We have to reflect on our weaknesses, learn from each other. We reject the Stalinist model of a monolithic apparatus of order-takers just as much as the reformist concept of a parliamentary party since the net _effect of both is to act in the service_ of the state. We are communists! We have no intention of hiding our positions and views. We are neither _“tactical” nor instrumental in our_ approach to people. We reject all politics of representation. The ICT is an organisation of people who have decided to oppose capitalism on the international level. Controversies and critical debates are our lifeblood and, to the same extent, a pre-condition for reaching our aims. The task of revolutionaries is to keep the overall class interests of workers in view whilst developing and supporting their struggles, criticising their limitations and trying to strengthen consciousness of their own power. This demands an organisational framework, an indispensable weapon of the class struggle: an internationalist organisation with an international structure and implantation. We do not pretend to be “the Party”, or even the sole nucleus of such an organisation. Rather, we seek discussions and common work with serious revolutionaries across the world, in order to encourage the construction of a new international revolutionary organisation. We are conscious that this will be a long-term and difficult process. But it is necessary to give an adequate response to the “class war” of the rich. It is time to wake up! It is time to organise! It is time to struggle!

For the stateless and classless society!

The Internationalists (Internationalist Communist Tendency)

This article is the May Day statement of the ICT and has appeared in several languages

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.