Fighting Capital’s Assault Against Labor—and Winning!
In Turkey, Greece, Brazil, Egypt, England, the United States and throughout the world, labor—union and non-union, the unemployed and underemployed—are beginning to rebel against the effects of ever more-demanding “austerity” measures. Led by the hub of world capital, the United States, the capitalist governments of the world have been increasing the cutbacks and reinforcing those measures by the use of violence and oppression against protesters.
Yet these movements are growing and spreading and becoming more mature, more experienced and more organized.
In this issue of Socialist Viewpoint we try to present the breadth of this new upsurge.
Included are discussions from the socialist left analyzing what must be done next such as Paul Le Blanc’s “Leninism for Dangerous Times,” a speech given to a gathering in London that launched the new “Peoples Assembly Against Austerity” conference in London on June 22 attended by over 4,000 delegates. And a report of the June Assembly by Graham Durham, a representative of England’s largest labor union, UNITE, and a London Labor Representation Committee Organizer.
Two reports on the emerging struggle in Brazil are included—“Brazil, Report and balance sheet of the first big rally in Joinville,” by Johannes Halter, and “A Brazilian Autumn?” by Miguel Borba de Sa.
Also included is a detailed analysis by Alan Woods of events in Egypt titled “The Second Egyptian Revolution.”
Two articles on the uprising in Turkey, “Turkey: from Occupy Gezi to War Zone,” by Kerem Nisancioglu, and “Rebellion in Turkey,” by Claudia Cinatti shed light on that uprising; as well an article on recent youth protests in Sweden by Diego Sacchi titled, “Stockholm is Burning.”
We also have extensive coverage of the struggles of political prisoners such as Lynne Stewart, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson who have challenged the rule of capital and are suffering the consequences of their struggle to defend all of us. And of the persecution of the whistleblowers, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, who have revealed the extent of the unconstitutional invasion of privacy and the measures of repression, violence and outright murder to which U.S. capital will go to maintain their world financial hegemony.
We continue our coverage of the prisoner hunger strikes from Guantánamo Bay to Pelican Bay against the torture of solitary confinement, the lack of healthcare, decent food and living conditions that plague all inmates—poverty, oppression and injustice—who have fallen victim to the giant U.S. prison industrial complex. These protests expose the true intent and purpose of U.S. mass incarceration, i.e., to serve as a constant threat to all working people of the brutal consequences of independent political struggle and revolt against capitalist injustice. Their struggle is our struggle!
Labor’s fightback is inevitable
Labor has no choice but to organize a fightback just as the capitalists have no choice but to rev-up secret surveillance of, not only its “enemies on foreign shores,” but of ordinary working people who are just beginning to stir against U.S. capital’s “austerity measures.” These are just the beginning of the draconian measures capitalism must take in order to discourage, by any means necessary, any signs of independent labor organizing, to silence dissent, and to maintain their dictatorship over us in their never-ending quest to increase their rate of profit. The capitalist “war on terror” is a “war of terror” against working people at home and abroad and labor must defend itself!
Independent political action and organization of working people
What has been missing from these spontaneous, massive outpourings of protests around the world is the independent voice of a democratically organized, united labor movement to defend the right to protest austerity, and to become a political force powerful enough to stop and reverse these cutbacks!
To be effective, such a movement would have to represent a clear labor majority. And in order to truly represent that majority, such an organization would have to be independent of capital, profoundly democratic and international in scope.
There can be no alliance with capital
A united labor movement against austerity and oppression must be just that, labor organized together and independent of the capitalist parties—the parties of the bosses. A movement in defense of labor’s rights to freedom, democracy and economic security can’t include those in power, or those who represent them, who would deny these rights through the use of violence, illegal surveillance, mass incarceration and death against those who protest the rule of capital—the rule of a tiny minority over the masses. This movement must be profoundly anti-capitalist. Any compromise to capital is a defeat for labor.
A democratically organized United Front of Labor Against Austerity
The formation of a United Front of Labor Against Austerity is a vehicle that would allow diverse groups—organized labor, the unemployed, students, ethnic and religious groups, independent worker’s political and socialist groups, those speaking out from behind bars, etc.—to discuss common needs, interests and goals and to make democratic decisions on how to achieve them without the interference of capital.
It’s not necessary for everyone to agree on everything. But it is necessary for everyone to have a voice and a vote on the final outcome of any proposals. The focus must be clear, simple and to the point—roll back austerity measures and increase spending on human needs such as jobs, housing, healthcare, education and infrastructure. Demand democracy, justice and equality for all.
The movement must be international to be truly democratic
These goals and issues are the threads that tie labor together across the globe. Labor does all the work but, according to the commanders of capital, has no say in where the fruits of our labor will go. Labor gets only as much as we can win through united struggle against the bosses. This is the way it has been and still is under capitalism.
Capital crosses all borders. Their private interests are staked in the driest deserts; in the highest mountains; off the shores of the iciest coasts; in the deepest, darkest rainforests; in the dingiest, most dilapidated industrial ghettos. Corporations are international. Their profit-interests—both domestic and international—are protected by the mightiest militaries money can buy.
Labor can’t protect our own common interests without defending and protecting the same interests of our brothers and sisters across all borders—many who even work for the very same corporations! The power of labor is dependent upon our internationalism. This means we need an International United Front of Labor Against Austerity.
The inevitable voice of the majority
Taking the protests a step further by beginning to set up independent structures for discussions and debate and decision-making to deal with these common assaults is inevitable. And it is beginning to happen in different forms in different countries. The goals are the same—to organize a common labor fightback against austerity, oppression, and injustice.
In this age of the Internet and cell phones we can see for ourselves what others are fighting for and can immediately identify with them. The assault is the same everywhere—to try to make labor, especially the poorest among us, accept austerity without a fightback.
The austerity assault is perpetrated by the same villains everywhere—the commanders of world capitalism.
The commanders of capital have, and will continue to use, any means necessary to prevent such a movement from forming and growing.
But they stand no chance against a well-organized, democratically structured, international majority of labor united to defend our common interests. If such a movement can form, take hold, and grow, there’s no stopping it!