Ecuador: Against the Attacks of Capital and the State

For around a decade and a half the usual leftist motley crew have been proclaiming the virtues of “socialism” and “anti-imperialism” in Latin America. If it was not Chavismo in Venezuela[1] or the electoral success of the Workers’ Party in Brasil then there was always Morales in Bolivia or the Correa government in Ecuador to point to the possibility of social change without changing the capitalist mode of production. Today those social democratic voices have largely gone quiet as these regimes share the general problems of the crisis of capitalism. The collapse of the speculative bubble in 2008 eventually fed through to a collapse in commodity prices which has seen the economies of the so-called “emerging markets” not just stagnate but even begin to shrink. The collapse in oil only underlined the general chaos of the Maduro regime and has led to the political crisis in Brazil (where a bevy of corrupt politicians have impeached the Workers’ Party President (Dilma Rousseff) … for corruption!). Whilst the impoverished masses welcomed the regimes of Chavez et al as bringing some degree of “social justice” they were also functional for the old capitalist elite as they bought the social peace which allowed them to enjoy the fruits of their exploitation. But in a global capitalist crisis the hopes of the left wing of capitalism have been shattered on the mountain of debt which has to be refinanced. With a slowing Chinese economy there is no alternative but the international financial capitalists and so the left have once again become expendable. The illusions peddled by the Latina American left and their social democratic supporters in the dominant capitalist states have been largely shattered. Capitalism cannot be made to work for the mass of humanity and its time is past.

It is thus with some pleasure that we received the following antidote to leftist reformist illusions in the following statement from Proletarios Revolucionarios a group which describes itself as “anarcho–communist”. It is available in their free on line journal Ruptura Proletaria[2] which covers the “Territory dominated by the Ecuadorian State”. Based on this article alone, it is obvious that the group bases itself on an internationalist understanding of the capitalist crisis, and its universal tendency to ramp up exploitation whilst at the same time increasing unemployment or subemployment which is ever less capable of satisfying the needs of the workforce. The article also reveals an understanding that the official permanent bodies claiming to defend the workforce by negotiating with capital are incapable of fulfilling such a role and in fact propagate ideas and slogans which prevent a real understanding of the problem of capitalist crisis, which they correctly ascribe to the tendential decline in the rate of profit, and the need to go beyond the purely defensive and momentary issues and take up the slogan which Marx put forward;

“Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work!’ they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: ‘Abolition of the wages system’!”

In translating this work we hope to bring a little news of what is going on in Ecuador to a wider audience and encourage a debate between such groups who presently look to the anarchist and anarchist-communist tradition, to consider the Marxist positions we defend and to carefully evaluate the theoretical lessons the Internationalist Communist Tendency has defended and developed in the face of Stalinist and Trotskyist attempts to palm off state capitalism as communism.


On labour reform in Ecuador

Correa’s “progressive” and populist government can no longer hide the existence of the capitalist crisis and avoid taking “belt tightening" measures against the working class. Thus, on 17 March this year the "organic law for optimising working hours and unemployment insurance" was passed. Its central theme is that companies that can demonstrate losses will be able to reduce the working day from 8 to 6 hours daily (from 40 to 30 hours per week), but also the value of those wages to 6 hours. However workers’ social security contributions (to the State) will still be based on 8 hours of work, alongside other contributions for "unemployment insurance", "youth employment" and maternity benefits. That same day, there was a protest outside the National Assembly protected by the police and, hours later, a massive march of labour unions "without incident".

This is taking place within an international and local context marked by economic recession and rising unemployment and inflation. Specifically, in Ecuador, GDP this year will grow only 0.1%, the state budget was reduced 17%, the current unemployment rate is at 5.7% of the economically active population, that of "inadequate employment" (underemployment, etc.) 53.9% and inflation at 4.05%, according to INEC[3]. In short, in this country there are increasingly more unemployed people (including those writing this), underemployed (especially in the informal sector) and, to top it all the cost of living is increasingly high.

Therefore, this reform is a government austerity measure to manage the capitalist crisis. It is further attack to make the current working conditions and existence of our class even worse. Reducing working hours and wages, whilst increasing prices of basic goods, involves increasing the pressure and intensity of work during this new 6 hour day, while depreciating wages below their real value; i.e. it involves super-exploiting or increasing the rate of exploitation of the working class to counter the falling rate of profit of the ruling class. Rather, for wage workers this measure means more work and less money to survive, whereas for capitalists it means making us pay for their crisis as they continue to enrich themselves at our expense. Undoubtedly, this is a historic attack of the capitalist state against the proletariat living in this territory. It shows that the real thieves and aggressors here are the capitalists, with their economic and legal, democratic terrorism.

Not content with this, the government and employers are lying to us with talk of "decent employment protection" and "avoiding layoffs and closures." In this time of crisis, faced with this new "job insecurity", unions will oppose it with the naive and reformist talk of "job security" and "collective bargaining". In reality, the distinction between “decent work" and "precarious work" does not exist, because wage labour is poorly paid and unstable by nature. This is mainly because it is exploited labour and the exploitation of one human by another works only for the exploiters and their various ideologues. Nor is it true that this measure will avoid layoffs, because that has obviously been the real trend from late 2015 to the present; and, above all, because unemployment is not "circumstantial" much less "under the new law of tax increases" to certain companies, but is structural or necessary for this mode of production, since it allows an increase in the rate of exploitation of non-redundant workers and, consequently, the rate of corporate profit. There is no capitalism without unemployment and vice versa.[4]

Against such a bourgeois state attack and false union/Social Democratic opposition what then is to be done? Fight back as a class. Respond. Protest, think about how to overcome the limitations and contradictions of a protest like that of March 17. Not, therefore, by negotiating crumbs from the bosses and their state (such as the "13 alternative proposals" or the "claim of unconstitutionality" of the law by the unions). Not a fight on their grounds, but on our own class terrain. So, rather than just defending precarious jobs and our already deteriorating living conditions (which, for our survival, we absolutely have to do, but this is not and should not be the only thing). It is about defending our labour power (e.g. our health), its real value (don’t pay us less or increase prices) and mainly it is about defending our human needs (e.g. food and housing) against the needs of the capitalist economy, which is not worth any sacrifice on our part.

These class demands have to be fought for by collectively organising on the streets, but without intermediaries or representatives: outside and against not only capitalist and state institutions but also of parties and leftist unions, for the former exploit us whilst the latter just negotiate our exploitation. Fight autonomously as antagonists, at the same time generalise and radicalise the conflict. Strong protests and riots by thousands of proletarians – as those against the current labour reform in France show – is a good concrete example.

Whilst it is worth fighting for better conditions of life for us and our offspring - now and in the future; we need to have a clear understanding, first, that under the capitalist system work is the only socially imposed way that we proletarians can provide for our needs and, in that sense, to have no job means simply dying of hunger ... So we must understand the demand for employment by the employee as the demand of human necessity to feed, dress and reproduce oneself and one’s family[5]. On the other hand, the slogan "work for all" (or of "decent work" or "suitable employment", whatever) is utopian. The evidence for this is that if capital failed to realise "full employment" worldwide in a period of prosperity, it is impossible to do so in times of crisis. Such a slogan is reactionary ... because it is the idealisation and denial of the contradictory nature of capital, which can only develop work whilst simultaneously developing unemployment and misery ... So instead of the reformist slogan: "A fair wage for a day fair labour ", Marx told us to unfurl the revolutionary watchword," Abolition of wage labour"!

This is the true content of that historic and universal May 1,1886 we are commemorating today by fighting. The abolition of wage labour, however, does not mean we will stop producing or do nothing, but on the material base of the community of goods and cooperation between equals, we produce only to satisfy our human needs and desires and no longer for the valorisation of inhuman and ghoulish Capital; that is, in a society without exploiters or exploited.

Proletarios Revolucionarios

May Day 2016


The first three have been added by the CWO the last two are from the original

[1] For our critique of the so-called “Bolivarian Revolution” see

[2] The original can be found at their blog An account of the workers rising in Guayaquil in 1922 was translated by Trini Valka (Czech Republic) and can be found on libcom at

[3] Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos or State statistics agency

[4] Now if this reform and those who dispute are so concerned about the high youth unemployment in this country (14.75%), and instead want to "promote youth employment" rather than for obvious economic reasons, it is because they are terrified that eventually that proletarian youth surplus to the requirements of the productive apparatus can become a threat to bourgeois social peace and society.

[5] Only the well cared for, ideologically blinkered, petty bourgeoisie, the lumpen and the "pure" do not understand this and allow themselves the adolescent luxury of "rejecting" this fact.

Friday, May 13, 2016