With Europe, Against Europe? For Class Struggle and Organisation!

The 1957 Treaty of Rome was a milestone on the European bourgeoisie’s road to create a unified imperialist pole that would keep up with the two dominant imperialist powers at the time: the USA and the USSR.

Since then, of course, many things have changed: the stagnation of the so-called countries of "real socialism” – which were really state capitalist – led to their collapse under the weight of their own contradictions. The Russia that came out of it is trying to recover its previous imperial role, or to insert itself into the new imperialist order, beginning with Europe.

Alongside the de-industrialisation and downsizing that affected many areas of the ''advanced West" there was a corresponding capital exodus to territories around the world where the workforce is paid very little, where the bosses' dictatorship, and therefore exploitation, is unlimited. The so-called opening of markets has placed the various segments of the global workforce in direct competition with each other, leading to a race to the bottom in terms of general working and living conditions. So far this decline in working class living standards and in that of other lower and middle social strata, has been unstoppable. It has been accelerated by the abnormal role played by speculation. This parasitic appropriation of wealth extorted from wage labour has become the real orchestrator of the international economy.

The keystone of this scenario is the structural crisis in capitalism’s accumulation process, which for over forty years has been behind everything that has happened in the capitalist economic order.

The euro was another significant moment in the bumpy ride to establish a European imperialist pole. It was one of the key instruments for countering US imperial hegemony, given the primacy of the dollar in trade and global financial movements. It is also a tool to best manage – or so the bourgeoisie think – a crisis that never goes away. And it is this crisis, not the actual currency which is forcing governments to impose economic and social policies – including the notorious “structural adjustments” to state budgets – which lower wages, cut the "welfare state", and have deadly effects on employment (job insecurity, unemployment). Wherever we look this crisis is exacerbating the conflict between opposing imperialist interests and pushing them towards open warfare. Its main victim is the civilian population whose one hope of survival usually lies in desperate flight.

Under present conditions, when there is no organisation which the working class can recognise as their own, the archipelago of the various left reformists, often heirs of Stalinism, who delude the "people of the left" (and themselves) with economic and social solutions which might have had some point – in bourgeois terms – in the post-war boom, have little credibility today. It’s not just the "banks" or "neo-liberalism" that are the problem, but capitalism as a whole: we have to break with the whole system. But this means going down a road that the Left, by its very nature, doesn’t even dream of advocating. The shameful, if unsurprising, story of Syriza in Greece –which should have been the tombstone of all reformist illusions – is instead being continually put forward as if it had been no failure.

On the other hand, the so-called populism of the extreme right is growing on a wave of despair, by way of the social devastation caused by the crisis. It is winning over substantial layers of the de-classed petty bourgeoisie and even confused workers who are disillusioned by a self-styled Left which is always ready to go along with the dictates of capital.

Paradoxically, although perhaps not surprisingly, apart from the vile quasi-fascist aspects (hatred against immigrants, authoritarianism etc.) the Right populist recipes to "get out" of the crisis are not, in the end, very different from those of the reformist left. Both are firmly based on capitalist premises: exit from the euro, protectionism, state intervention and a lot more incoherent stuff that would look great in a festival of the absurd. In any case, if these policies were even partially implemented, the costs would be enormous, falling most heavily on the classes that they claim to defend: the impoverished lower middle class and, above all, the working class.

Yet, recognising the fraudulent nature of the programmes of both reformist left and populist right does not mean that there are no alternatives; that we have to resign ourselves to an inevitable outcome. The alternative starts with awareness of the incompatibility of the ruthless demands of capital with our wage-dependent world of work (or lack of it). It moves on to taking up the struggle, something that is today more difficult than ever, against capitalism in all its economic and political guises. It ends with the formation of a revolutionary organisation which can pull together the anger against this inhuman system which has outlived its usefulness, and consistently channel that anger into overthrowing it. Otherwise, nothing will stop the lowering of our livings standards, the irreversible destruction of the environment, and imperialist wars with their tragic, and certainly not collateral, effects of death and suffering.

Communism or barbarism! There is no other choice.

Battaglia Comunista

Monday March 20 2017

Translated from the Italian. The leaflet was given out at the various demonstrations in Rome against the meeting to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the precursor to the European Union.

Saturday, April 15, 2017