On the 2 December Strike in Italy: Especially In Times of War "Normal" Strikes Are Not Enough

For many years now the grassroots or base unions (sindacati di base) have called a strike at this time of year appealing to workers from all sectors of production to mobilise, and as usual, we will once again take part.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that this seasonal mobilisation has become something of a ritual. There are certainly plenty of good reasons to organise strikes and protests: inflation is dramatically lowering our purchasing power in front of our very eyes; wage deals when they are struck are based on a price index which bears no relation to the real increase in the cost of living; according to official statistics, the only figure that is increasing is undeclared and precarious work, in spite of electoral promises – so recently repeated – about putting jobs back at the heart of the agenda.

Environmental disasters are no longer even news, and now a ferocious war is being fought with the blood and on the backs of the workers in Ukraine, financed in the name of self-determination of the Ukrainian people, with money that can never be found to meet the needs of the majority of the population – the workers – who would gladly live in peace with their neighbours, whatever language they spoke. Indeed, this is the first time that refugees have been welcomed with open arms … as long as they come from Ukraine. Meanwhile a battle rages against all the others, ship by ship, considered awkward and tiresome "leftovers", as if they were refugees of a lesser god. The only guiding light for the society we live in comes from the interests of the bosses and their ferociously hypocritical way of seeing the world.

So far we have said nothing new, but something new has happened: the war in Ukraine is not a mere episode. It shows that the old recipes like squeezing wages, job insecurity, globalisation, financialisation, plus the looting and devastation of the environment, are no longer enough for capital: what is now being prepared is a fight between the ruling classes of the dominant powers at an international level, i.e. between opposing imperialist forces, a fight where only the dominated will pay, and indeed are already paying for it.

If this is the scenario – and unfortunately it is – the idea that calling strikes well in advance, in conformity with the law and accompanied by a list of objectives that would make a message to Santa Claus look more realistic, will not make us take even one step forward. If there has to be a struggle, then let it be a real economic struggle, and not a pale imitation of past struggles only remembered as part of a ritual. At the moment virtually the only sectors that struggle seriously are mainly made up of immigrants who work in logistics. Striking back to resist the attacks of the bosses, and their state, on our working and living conditions is a necessary step in moving from defence to attack. Having the necessary determination is the first step; overcoming industry divisions is the next step; and the one after that is setting up strike committees that take the initiative away from the multiple, competing, union churches. If the initiative to fight ever starts, it will start from the bottom, certainly not from the top of the union hierarchies, but in order for it to have any hope of success it must remain in the hands of those who initiated the fight by means of delegates elected by the striking workers, who can be recalled if they no longer represent anything other than themselves.

Finally – although talking about it right now may seem pure fantasy – we cannot hide the fact that the situation in which we find ourselves did not arise on a beautiful spring day, nor is it the result just of greed and cupidity of the bosses (although that may be true), nor of a neo-liberalism that could be reversed with the right social democratic policies. On the contrary, the situation we find ourselves in today is the result of precise and fixed economic laws, so much so that its main features can be found at all latitudes. In particular, it is the offspring of a law already identified almost a century and a half ago which is called the "tendency of the rate of profit to fall". Therefore, we, the working class, cannot expect to definitively emerge from the shallows in which we find ourselves, if we do not change the political and economic order on which current society is based, if we do not free it from the slavery of the enlarged reproduction of capital. Only a war like the Second World War can restart a new economic cycle for capital, and we don't want another war like that – or worse.

For this reason we have launched an appeal aimed at those who, adopting the principles of internationalism and against all forms of nationalism, move together against the wars of the bourgeoisie, agitating within the working class for the need to fight against capital and its wars by building committees whose banner reads: NO TO IMPERIALIST WAR, YES TO CLASS WAR (No War but the Class War); our weapons are not bombs and rifles, but class consciousness, proletarian struggles, and the organisations that arise from them to guide them.

However, if real proletarian class struggle is indispensable, it is not enough on its own; what’s also needed it the presence of an international revolutionary party, fuelled by the struggle to which, in its turn, it gives political direction, in order to bury this system based on exploitation and oppression, which produces misery and death, once and for all. It's them or us, there's no alternative.

Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista)
22 November 2022


For our previous comments on the base unions, see the tag Base Unionism on our website.

Saturday, November 26, 2022