Friday, October 11, 2019

Hong Kong, Imperialism and China

Hong Kong Protest  (Source: NBC News) 
Both right wing capitalist ideologues and sectors of the left that see the Chinese state as “socialist” (or a workers state) have come to a mutual agreement on the nature of the uprising in Hong Kong. For them, the uprising with its 5 demands (although they do not explicitly call for capitalist restoration) are portrayed as the drive to crush the communist or workers state. All these anti-worker tendencies see the actual mass movement as spearheaded by capitalist restorationists, Christians and adherents of the “color revolution,” all tied to the varied and numerous imperialist funded projects, be they evangelical capitalist/Christianity or NGO projects for ‘democracy.’ These anti-worker ideologues do not want you to see the actual features of the mass movement. They seek to convince you to slander it, to give military support to Carrie Lam and the crushing of the youth, as they do. The real, obtaining situation is as follows...

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

New Delhi’s Surgical Strike upon Kashmir is a Reckless Push to its Roadmap to a Hindu Rashtra and Big Power Ambitions in Asia!

Re-blogged from Worker Socialist Blog.  By Rajesh Tyagi/ 13.8.2019 

Amidst domestic and international outrage and in a complete military lockdown of the far northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, the hindu supremacist government at New Delhi under Narendra Modi, has stripped the only muslim majority state inside the Union of India, not only of its special privileges but also of its status as an ordinary state.

In what can be termed nothing less than a palace coup, the far right-wing Modi government, has demoted and bifurcated the state of J&K into two Union Territories- the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the UT of Laddakh- restricting their executive and legislative powers, while placing them under direct control of the Centre. While UT of J&K is given an Assembly with 110 seats, a High Court and the right over the land, the UT of Laddakh, geo-strategically more important being located on border with China, is given neither an Assembly nor the rights over its lands.

The move is part of fortification of India’s own territorial claims against its geo-political rivals. Purpose behind this palace coup, in the first instance, is to reinforce the military establishment of India as against Pakistan and China, the bordering states having rival territorial claims in the region.

Recent tensions in the region, due to escalation of war prospects between US and China in which India is being more and more integrated into the US led war alliance as a frontline state against China, constitute the main stimulus for this move.

Rival states of China and Pakistan have not taken it lightly. Pakistan was quick in responding to the move through snapping all diplomatic and trade relations with India. It has also approached the International Court complaining that the realignment is violative of Simla agreement. After China claimed that it is viewing the situation with concern, the Indian authorities assured China that the realignment of the border state would not affect the Macmohan line.

The clandestine move, carried out in complete stealth on the back of the people of J&K, is a covert attempt by the elite rulers of New Delhi to redraw the map of Indian Republic oriented towards and evolving into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.

The move, an extension of the politico-military war to which the state of J&K has been subjected for long by the Centre, is completely fraudulent in nature, besides being subversive of the very foundations of the Constitution itself.

The apparently illegal surgical strike upon federalism has been conducted by the ultra right-wing government under Modi, through the Constitution. Article 370 of the Constitution has been used to demolish Article 370 itself.

Twin Articles of the Constitution of India- i.e. Article 370 that recognised special status of the state inside Union of India, with special powers to have a separate Constitution, flag, legislature, an executive and judiciary and Article 35-A that had hitherto protected its lands against the intrusion of outsiders- have been rendered nugatory by the Central government at one stroke by enacting the Parliamentary law- The J&K State Reorganisation Act, 2019. The parliament in turn, has supposedly assumed this authority through a Presidential Order dated August 5, issued under Art. 370. Another Presidential Order issued in February this year, disbanding the Assembly has substituted the Governor instead of the elected Government and the Assembly, for purposes of Article 370.

The new law would come into force on October 31 this year, on birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, first Home Minister of India, a core right-winger inside the then ruling Congress Party, whose name is associated with crushing of peasant uprising of Telangana and merger of 565 princely states in Union of India. Patel commands immense support among the ranks of saffron hindu chauvinists.

Ironically, while Muslims comprised the broad mass of poors and toilers in Kashmir, Article 35-A was inducted in the Indian Constitution, under pressure from Kashmiri pundits who owned the major parts of the lands in the valley. It were the Pundits, the propertied lot, who wished to prevent the outsiders including the British, from acquiring landed possessions in Kashmir. Hari Singh, the then ruler of Kashmir himself was keenly interested in preventing the outsiders from purchasing lands inside Kashmir.

The law passed by Parliament and promulgated by the Central Government through a Presidential Order the next day, is patently illegal, chiefly on two counts: Firstly, that it threatens to demolish at one stroke, the federal structure of Union of India. If after imposing President rule in a state and substituting not only the local government but the state legislature too by the Governor, a state can be declared a UT by the President with consent of governor; or a law can be passed by the central legislature- the Parliament- to that effect, then all states at one go can be declared Union Territory overnight, throwing federal structure of the Union, to the winds.

Federalism being inalienable part of the basic structure of the Constitution, but cannot be altered through exercise of any executive or legislative power. Secondly, the Constituent Assembly in the State of Jammu and Kashmir at the time of adoption of the Constitution of J&K, with reference to Art 370, has specifically and unambiguously resolved, to keep the relationship between the state and the centre in suspended animation, forever. This means that no successive Assembly in the State could have varied this relationship in any manner whatsoever.

Neither the government acting through its executive head-the President, nor the parliament is able to rise above the Constitution, to subvert the federal character of the Republic and the Constitution. It cannot use the Presidential Rule in the state for oblique purpose of bypassing the elected Assembly to the detriment of the state.

Secondly, and even more importantly proviso to clause (3) of Article 370 makes the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly obligatory if the Article was to be later repealed. Initially inducted as temporary provision in the Constitution, subject to repeal on the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly, Article 370 has become permanent and ossified, upon demise of the Constituent Assembly in 1957. 

The Presidential Order has only empowered the Parliament to act in lieu of the Assembly, but as the Assembly itself could not have re-animated the relationship between the centre and the state, the Parliament putting its feet in the shoes of the Assembly, could have never done it. The disability of the State Assembly, could not have been overcome by the Parliament while importing its powers. On the contrary, the Parliament, while enabling itself with the powers of the J&K Assembly, would essentially import alongwith it, the disabilities under the disabling provisions and clauses. It cannot do anything that the Assembly could not have done and cannot scale over the legislative competence and powers of the J&K Assembly. Its powers would be circumscribed by the disability imposed by the Constituent Assembly of the state upon itself. Thus, as the Assembly itself cannot alter the relations between the centre and the state, the parliament cannot do so.

Lastly, the President or Governor rule, as the government of interregnum has a limited purpose to hold the power to meet exigency, between two Assemblies. It cannot take such strategic decisions to abrogate or completely alter the status of the state.

The impugned law, passed by the Central Legislature, not only alters the relationship between the centre and the state, but virtually overturns it, to the detriment of the state. This flies in the face of a recent judgement of 2018 of the Supreme Court. The decision, in no ambiguous terms had declared that the relationship between the state of J&K and the centre is unalterable and fixed as the Constituent Assembly had disbanded itself in 1957 without abolishing or altering Article 370. A 2015 decision by the J&K High Court lays down the same proposition.

The patently illegal move of New Delhi met with conflicting responses among the sections of bourgeoisie as well as the Stalinist left. While many in ranks of bourgeois opposition and Stalinist Parties opposed the move, many others have supported it with open arms.

Opposition parties like SP, BSP and BJD stood support to it, while JDU from inside the ruling National Democratic Alliance, opposed it. Ranks of the largest opposition party-Congress- got split on the issue. Its front rank leaders like Janardhan Dwivedi and Jyotiraditya Scindhia supported the government while Ghulam Nabi Azad, an MP from Kashmir, opposed the same.

Stalinists put up a hypocritical and phoney opposition to the move. While continuing to support the claim and resultant coercion by New Delhi upon Kashmir on the ground of ‘unity and integrity of India’, Stalinists opposed the move on flimsy grounds. Stalinist parties had supported the Congress-led governments at the centre who had implemented the very same repressive policies in Kashmir.

Days before the law was introduced in Parliament, in an unprecedented move by the centre, the state was completely cut off from rest of the world, in anticipation of widespread public resistance to its action. All communications- including phone lines and social media- were shut off and curfew was imposed after cancelling even the pilgrimage of Amarnath shrine.

Kashmir, has a chequered history. For long, the region had reeled under medieval oppression of successive warlords. Amidst the disintegrating Mughal Empire, a century after death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh, a warlord and spoiled drunkard with 46 wives, after a failed attempt in 1913, conquered Kashmir in 1818, acquiring whopping annual revenue collection of 70 lacs, defeating Afghan ruler Jabbar Khan.

After Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839, British East India Company quickly took over his Sikh Kingdom, defeating his weakling successors.

In 1846, Gulab Singh, a local Dogra head, purchased the entire territory of Kashmir for Rs.75 lacs from the Company. Kashmir was sold at this specially higher price as Kashmiri masses, mostly muslims, were presumed to be docile and law abiding and hence amenable to exploitation and easy revenue collections.

Compounding the woes of Kashmiri people, the region with a populace overwhelmingly Muslim (around 94% of total) was placed under the sword of hindu warlords, who turned the region into a living hell for the poor and toiling masses of Kashmir. Hindu religious customs and culture was forced upon the masses. Beef was completely banned and death penalty was prescribed under law for cow slaughter, which was so customary among locals.

In line with their reactionary role in the colonial periphery of the East, British rulers had perpetuated and reinforced the rule of medieval lords.

Finally in August 1947, the British colonial rulers, divided their dominion on the sub-continent, through the India Independence Act, on communal lines in two parts- a declared muslim Pakistan and an undeclared hindu India, while leaving the princely states, including Kashmir, to decide their own destiny.

This resulted in three simultaneous and violent partitions of Bengal, Punjab and Kashmir. The right to self-determination, as granted by the British to around 565 princely states, however, remained illusive for two reasons: First that it were not the masses but the rulers of these princely states who were to take the decision about their fate and secondly in face of the two rival dominions of Sub-Continental bourgeoisie, supported by the British, majority of these states did have no real freedom of choice. In fact, no state despite its will and effort could have survived outside the two rival domains of India and Pakistan and none remained so. Even the border states like Kashmir, who had a limited but realistic option open to them, were burdened with the yoke of military power of the two dominions. They were intrigued, deceived, and lastly forced into one or the other dominion.

Hari Singh, the then ruler of Kashmir and a descendant of Gulab Singh, in his attempt to keep Kashmir independently in his hands, entered into a standstill pact with Pakistan. India refused to enter into a similar pact with him and Pakistan soon violated the pact.

Pakistani forces, suspecting Hari Singh’s sympathies to New Delhi being a hindu ruler, forced themselves into Kashmir in October 47, through a Pashtun tribal invasion, reinforced quickly through regular troops. After Pakistani invading forces, having captured good part of the territory, remained few kilometres away from Srinagar, alarmed New Delhi prepared for an armed intervention in Kashmir. Though Hari Singh was left with no option but to seek help from India through accession of Kashmir to it, yet by the time he took a decision to do so, Indian forces had already started to land in Kashmir. Finding himself in a situation of checkmate, Hari Singh was forced to sign the instrument of accession on 26 October 1947, handing over defence, foreign affairs and communications to New Delhi, while retaining residual powers with him.

Pakistani armed intrusion, however, divided Kashmir into two parts- an Indian occupied and a Pakistan occupied territory. Later, the Chinese aggression of 1962, carved out a third one, with China seizing upon and occupying Aksaichin region of around 50 thousand square kilometres. Kashmir thus stood trifurcated among big Asian powers- New Delhi, Islamabad and Beijing. 

The instrument of accession signed by Hari Singh under duress and compulsion and without consent of Kashmiri people, found its reflection in Articles 35-A and 370 of the Constitution of India in 1950, that granted the state of J&K special status inside Union of India.

Later, under pressure from New Delhi and the local movement led by National Conference, Hari Singh was forced to go for polls for a Constituent Assembly in the state. The Constituent Assembly while adopting the Constitution of J&K and ratifying Art 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution, resolved that the relationship between the State and the Centre, for all times to come, would remain un-animated and fixed. Thus, no successive Assembly or even the Parliament acting in lieu of it, or even the President can vary this relationship. Ossified, Article 370 has thus become one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution, despite the provision stipulating its temporary character. Both Supreme Court in 2018 and the J&K High Court in 2015 have confirmed it.

The Constitutional provision- Art 370 had existed for decades for namesake only. For long, the heavy deployment of central forces in Kashmir for alleged ‘defence’ of the border state from Pakistan and China, alongside frequent imposition of black laws like AFSPA, that give the central forces unbridled authority over locals, has made all autonomy nugatory. Sections of Kashmiri bourgeoisie, represented through the regional parties like National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, had been complacent in centre’s drive to subjugate the state and keep it in military stranglehold. Despite their demagogy, both NC and PDP have rivalled each other in clinging to the successive ruling parties at the centre. The new law merely recognises and gives a formal shape and legal character to this crude reality, existing for decades.

Apart from its natural resources and scenic beauty, valley of Kashmir is even more important for its geo-strategic location as a buffer zone surrounded on three sides by the rival states of India, Pakistan and China.

Medieval Warlords, Colonialists and then indigenous bourgeoisie had ruled Kashmir through methods of brute force. Kashmir, the victim of most savage exploitation and repression, continues to be subject of rival claims of the big Asian powers. It stands torn in three parts today through violence, intrigue, deception and bloodshed.

Sandwiched between the rival powers of Asia, Kashmiri people have suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the armed forces of the state as well as terrorists supported by rival states. Mass rapes, custodial tortures and deaths, and mysterious disappearances are the routine practices in Kashmir. Pellet guns, used by the Indian armed forces frequently on unarmed protests of Kashmiris, had lately acquired special fame after horrendous pictures and videos of their victims, mostly women and children, started to appear in international media and social sites.

A goldmine of natural resources- wood, fruits, dry fruits, a hub of handicrafts and handloom- pashmina shawls, raw wool, carpets- and one of the prime hotspots for international tourism and the scenic centre of natural beauty, Kashmir, has been in more and more focus of national and international big-business and investors. These profiteers looking at Kashmir as a potential hub of international tourism, prostitution and a virgin territory for speculations in real estate and exports, had been curious for long for crashing open its gates for unbridled exploitation of its human and natural resources.

As soon as the Bill was placed in Parliament by Modi government, thousands of the BJP supporters, applauding the Bill and rejoicing to the chagrin of Kashmiris, among whom are mostly Muslims, started to circulate the mock advertisements for purchase of lands in Kashmir and taking on the Kashmiri girls. Chief Minister of the BJP government in Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, is quoted to have said in address to a public gathering that now they would be able to take on Kashmiri girls as wives.

This strike upon the territory of Kashmir, largely inhabited by Muslims, serves the political purpose of Modi Government by appealing to and promoting the backward communal mass sentiments based upon hindu chauvinistic hype.

The bourgeois political states on Indian sub-continent still continue to be in a fluid, unsettled status with rival claims to territories and with big power ambitions of their ruling elites to annex more territories to their domains. Kashmir remains the chief battleground for such contentions and claims.

Special status of a state inside the Union, however, is not a peculiarity of Kashmir. In many countries with belated historical development, from China to Canada, where bourgeoisie has failed to establish its national states and instead multinational political unions have come into existence, such special status can be found.

Nonetheless, the special status of Kashmir within India, or even its independence from India or its inclusion in Pakistan, offers no real promises or prospects to Kashmiri workers and toilers. National question in Kashmir is offshoot of the suppressed and suspended democratic revolution. It emerges from the abortion of the anti-colonial movement in August 1947 going hand in hand with reactionary communal partition of the Indian Sub-Continent that took toll over two million lives with even more victims of rapes, loot, maiming and arsons and the resultant transfer of power to the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, on both sides of the border.

South Asian bourgeoisie has failed to resolve the tasks of democratic revolution, above all the question of nationalities. All bourgeois States in this region- India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, Sri Lanka, have turned into prisons for dozens and dozens of nationalities, pulverising the national aspirations of people under military boots. Historically deformed Asian bourgeoisie suffers from systemic disability that prevents it from accomplishing the political mission of fulfilling the tasks of democratic revolution, including forming the national states or uniting the nationalities into voluntary political unions. It knows nothing and relies upon only the methods of crude force and violence, deception and intrigues.

Thus, to the question- If the national aspirations of the poor and toiling masses, how much intense and pressing they may be, can be realized outside the ambit and framework of the united political struggle of the proletariat and its fruition in a socialist revolution, our answer would be a big No.

With merging of the tasks of two revolutions- democratic and socialist- into one in the backward periphery of the world, that includes South Asia, the national question has become part of the socialist struggle of the proletariat. The national struggle of Kashmiri people has thus become inalienable part of the struggle of the proletariat on the Indian Sub-Continent and in South Asia.

The task before the Kashmiri workers and toilers is thus not to fight to secede from or join this or that Union or even to create an independent statelet, but to fight for socialist revolution in South Asia that would overthrow all bourgeois regimes in quick succession to each other.

To do this, the Kashmiri Proletariat must decisively reject the sectarian agendas that support the rival territorial claims of sections of bourgeoisie over Kashmir or advocate balkanization of territories. At the same time, it must also reject the reactionary communal partition of 1947 and in tandem with other sections of South Asian proletariat must launch a fight for reunification of the Indian Sub-Continent into a Socialist Union as part of the broader struggle for establishment of the United Socialist States of South Asia, through a working class led revolution from below. This revolution in South Asia, is integral to the World Socialist Revolution.

As a transitional political program to achieve the aforesaid strategic aims, the proletariat and the youth in Kashmir and outside, must present their demands:

1. All armed interventions and hostilities in Kashmir must stop forthwith.

2. All armed forces be withdrawn from Kashmir.

3. All black laws in the region must be annulled forthwith.

4. Kashmir be declared a peace zone and kept under international observation.

5. Plebiscite/ Referendum be conducted under international observation in entire Kashmir.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Is Greta Thunberg a Sock Puppet for Green Capitalism?

Extinction Rebellion (XR) represents a new movement against climate change that promises to become a revolutionary force for change. Why is the most inspiring leader of the climate revolution, Greta Thunberg, now subject to intensive criticism which claims she is a mere trophy for green capitalists who will exploit her power to rally the masses as consumers for not-for-profit capitalism. Cory Morningstar in “Wrong Kind of Green” argues that Greta is the creation of NGO’s and not-for-profit capitalism and is being used to sell sustainable capitalism. Is there any truth in this claim, or is it a conspiracy theory, the symptom of a bankrupt Left failure to credit how social movements can erupt without being ‘manufactured’ by elites? Is Greta a tool of reaction or a key to survival and liberation?

Morningstar’s take on Greta is part of a wider world view shared by Morningstar and others who reduce global events to the actions of the big powers over pipelines, and treat the masses as dupes and pawns without agency. This a fake left conspiracy theory that lumps XR and Greta together with other ‘actors’ who are supposedly manipulated and duped by powerful elites into defending capitalism. Or worse, that XR and Greta are fronts for green capitalism and paid to colonise the minds of radicalising youth. The main argument is the NGOs have teamed up with the Rockefellers, Soros and Gates to sell greenwashed capitalism, ‘humanitarian wars’ and 21st century colonialism.

In a podcast with Vanessa Beesley and Forest Palmer, Morningstar reveals a full-blown conspiracy theory that neutralises the masses as objects rather than the subjects of history. They do not make history, elites make history. Significantly, they discuss the Syrian civil war. The war is all about the US and Russian blocs fighting over pipelines. As if the majority of Syrians see pipelines as the answer to their daily struggle for existence! What is on their agenda, is fighting a fascist dictator backed by imperialist Russia and its client states, Turkey and Iran, who will kill the last Syrian child to grab the oil.

So, in this conspiracy theory, Hamza al Khateeb a 13yr old boy who wrote a slogan against Assad on a wall in March 2011 was kidnapped, tortured, castrated and killed, is no different from Greta Thunberg, a 15yr old girl who wrote a slogan on a placard to launch a campaign criticising capitalism’s failure to stop climate change. Both are the portrayed as dupes of ‘elites’ rather than as individuals with their own capacity (interests, morality, intelligence) to question, oppose and challenge ‘elites’. The only difference is that Hamza died as collateral damage to Assad’s defence of Syrian democracy from the CIA or Islamic fascists, while Greta won’t run the same risk unless she rejects green capitalism and 21st century colonialism. She has been warned.

Deconstructing a Conspiracy Theory

Let’s deconstruct Morningstar’s argument. Since when can capitalism be not-for-profit? By definition capitalists expropriate surplus value for profit. NGOs serve capitalism by defending its basic interests, the growth of profits. But while they are parasitic on capitalism, they cannot hide from the fact that their host is dying and destroying everything that served humanity in the past, including the material culture of the workers who produce the wealth. It’s one thing to argue with Morningstar that capitalism will stop at nothing to block the solutions we need, many of us agree on that. But it’s another thing to condemn XR and striking school children as capitalist fronts because they may be ked by non-profits like AVAAZ or Greenpeace. It doesn’t follow that NGOs interests in selling green capitalism will succeed in winning XR acceptance of capitalist rule.

Do you think for one minute that Greta is “going to let them [i.e. NGOs] get away with it”? If she can get support from NGOs to promote her message of ‘system change’, why not? Here is her message:

"If there really was a crisis this big, then we would rarely talk about anything else. As soon as you turned on the TV, almost everything would be about that: headlines, radio, newspaper. You would almost never hear about anything else. And the politicians would surely have done what was needed by now, wouldn’t they? They would hold crisis meetings all the time, declare climate emergencies everywhere, and spend all their waking hours handling the situation and informing the people what was going on. But it never was like that. The climate crisis was just treated like any other issue or even less than that… And we must admit that we are losing this battle… Most of us don’t know almost any of the basic facts because, how could we? We have not been told. Or more importantly, we have never been told by the right people. You cannot rely on people… to read through the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, track the Keeling Curve, or keep tabs on the world’s rapidly disappearing carbon budget. You have to explain that to us repeatedly, no matter how uncomfortable or unprofitable that may be… This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced… For too long, the people in power have gotten away with basically not doing anything to stop the climate and ecological breakdown. They have gotten away with stealing our future and selling it for profit. But we young people are waking up. And we promise, we will not let you get away with it anymore.”

Young people ‘waking up’ are not the unconscious tools of capital. Imagine when facing mass sackings, we are inspired by one teenage worker who refuses to be sacked. She appeals to labour law (i.e. law which reproduces the exploitative social relations of capitalism) but quickly realises that labour law blocks workers from fights and winning their jobs. Instead of accepting her fate dictated by the law, and neutralised by politicians and bureaucrats, she argues for all workers to unite, strike, occupy the work place, and fight for workers’ control. It’s called class struggle, where isolated workers express their energy and agency in workers’ solidarity and workers’ power. Let’s credit the XR youth with the same agency as workers who are can learn from their experience and choose to act against extinction all the way to the overthrow of capitalism.

Why does the left resort to conspiracy theories and not join youth in a united front against extinction? 

The answer is that the liberal Left is bankrupt. One characteristic of the moribund, defunct left that never recovered from the end of the Soviet Union, is that it is extreme in its dogmatism. One part of this doctrine is that the failures of socialism are not due to the failure of leadership already sold out to capitalism, but the ideological ‘backwardness’ of workers. So, let’s blame the workers. The ‘XR-as-dupes-of-green-capitalism’ conspiracy is an attack on the radical agency of XR incapable of learning from its experience that capitalism has to go. Instead they should to listen to those who “know better” (given their sorry history of abject failures and retreats from the class struggle – some record) that for now, the “truth”, the “reality is”, that we are being “progressive” in tinkering with “business as usual”.

In other words, ‘middle class’ kids cannot be revolutionaries unless they follow the doctrine of the bankrupt Left. Otherwise they are doomed to be the dupes of this or that new reformist movement which sucks out all their youthful energy.

OK, XR members may still be novices testing out radical means of pressuring capitalist governments to respond to their demands. We don’t expect them to hit the streets as born-again revolutionaries. And for that we have blame the bankrupt Left for failing to build a viable socialist movement. They abandon class analysis for careerist postmodern fantasies that replace class struggle with personal consumer preferences. This softens up working people for the right’s attacks on science and rationality and the siren songs of fake populist, nationalist, racist, sexist movements.

Thus, the conspiracy theory of the Left ‘manufactures’ workers as fodder for the reactionary appeals of populism and fascism. Far right movements are now going ‘environmental’ because there is no denying the weather bombs that hit them and the need to compete with the cosmopolitan, globalising, liberal, centre-left and left for recruits to boost white ‘ethno’ nationalism. France’s Rally National (RN) under Marine Le Pen now has a climate program. Of course, it is reactionary nationalism.

‘“Borders are the environment’s greatest ally,” twenty-three-year-old National Rally (RN) spokesperson Jordan Bardella told a right-wing paper in April. “[I]t is through them that we will save the planet.” Le Pen herself has argued that concern for the climate is inherently nationalist. Those who are “nomadic,” she said, “do not care about the environment; they have no homeland.”’

Why capitalism left, right, or centre cannot save us from extinction

Here is what we think can happen. XR will go through climate emergencies and climate general strikes to then discover they must lead to social revolution. Most already know that despite the hype greening capitalism won’t work. A recent study of the potential of Green Capitalism rejects it as a contradiction in terms. Capitalist ‘growth’ is the problem. It is necessary to substitute socialist planning of ‘growth’ that stops the exploitation and destruction of nature.

Hence the XR demand: “Change the System, not the Climate”. Enlightened capitalists can shift their shares into renewable energy, but they can’t shut down big oil and gas and keep the carbon in the ground. The market is part of the problem because the solution has to be profitable. NGOs green-washing, alt right ‘climate nationalism’, and tons of other hot air, becomes exposed by the deepening climate crisis as a diversion from climate revolution.

The next target for XR is the big polluters themselves who also happen to be those with the power to directly control and use the states to serve their interests. So how to shut down the polluters? Here we arrive at the critical point where climate justice demands a socialist revolution. But what is a socialist revolution? Will it not end up just like capitalism, with an autocratic elite in charge and carbon emissions just as great or greater? What about a revolution from within to reclaim the ‘commons’ – building a cooperative alternative society within capitalism? Here we need to learn the historic lessons of earlier attempts at building socialism to evaluate which system will work best.

At this point we have return to Marxism as the scientific basis for understanding capitalism as the Capitalocene. We get rid of Anthropocene which holds humanity responsible for destroying nature rather than the capitalist ruling class. A Marxist workers’ party and program is needed to bring to life the lessons of the Capitalocene in destroying nature, and how to make a revolution to build socialism. We should remember the existential question posed by Rosa Luxemburg – Reform or Revolution? and the slogan of Vladimir Lenin – “All power to the Soviets”. In a sentence – to take the power from the polluters we need to smash the capitalist state and plan for a workers’ state.

Yet before people are ready to accept that reforms won’t work and that we need socialist revolution to survive, they need to be convinced of the bankruptcy of capitalism in every sense. And that something called ‘socialism’ is the answer. We have to be sure that no reforms driven by green capitalism such as the Green New Deal will work. On the contrary, delusions of this kind only delay and weaken the ability of the movement to break from bourgeois ‘growth’ ideology that only capitalism (and its market) can find the solutions to the threat of extinction.

Let’s deal with the most delusionary. These are those who claim to be socialists or anti-capitalists who clearly think that capitalism can be taken over from within, modifying existing institutions with minimum disruption by simply acting to defend and extend bourgeois democracy. As if a democratic state can somehow override the laws of motion of the dying capitalist economy. Let’s start with the current Green New Deal.

The Green New Dealers

The Green New Deal (GND) proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is a left social democratic document that proposes to clean up 100% of energy by 2030; a 50% cut in the military budget, full employment and comprehensive public health, and the end to war. It proposes to do this by redirecting state subsidies from carbon to a ‘green’ economy.

The Green New Deal is supported by left liberals and social democrats. Of course, Sanders has signed up to the GND (see below). What does it offer that is different from new deal liberalism (Sanders) or even left Labourism (Corbynism)? New Zealand’s recent “wellbeing budget” comes nowhere near to the GND as ‘wellbeing’ under capitalism means coping with alienation, wage labour and a neo-colonial state. What it offers is the ‘hope’ that capitalism is not doomed as long as there is the potential for citizens to mobilise to throw out the elites and introduced sustainable growth without eliminating capitalism. This is exactly the ‘hopium’ that Morningstar accuses Greta of pushing. So, it is important to compare the GND to XR.

This is not a new kind of green. As well as referencing the original New Deal of the 1930’s all these various shades of green ‘solutions’ are basically Keynesian. They rely on state spending on social investment in jobs, infrastructure etc to incentivise capitalist investment. One fashionable current version is MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) which supports the state printing money to see the investment-growth cycle going. But MMT cannot escape the dilemma of Keynesianism. Under capitalism state spending to stimulate capitalist growth fails unless capitalists are assured of a sufficient profit. Basically, the Marxist critique of MMT is that underconsumption is not the problem. The crisis is caused by falling profits. So, what pretends to be a left social democratic solution (‘socialist’ even) actually requires austerity attacks on workers to drive down the costs of labour to make it work. This is called ‘socialist pragmatism’ (see below).

Related to the GND and MMT is the movement to ‘reclaim the ‘commons’. It is dependent on a social democratic government to enable it to legally create ‘commons’ and collectively owned property, and Keynesian policies to implement it.

“My argument boils down to this: In order to save and preserve what we have in common, the earth, we must transition to a form of society that respects the commons. It is not about passively waiting for such a society to miraculously arise: the commons is already here, although hidden from view by the ideologies and structures of existing society. By fighting to reclaim the commons—which includes not only the land but also the social powers at our disposal to collectively organize our lives without recourse to hierarchical forms of domination—we can transition to a new society, at the same as saving the earth itself. It seems to me that working for this would be worth the effort.”
What is the Marxist critique of socialism in one commune? First it is not anti-hierarchical because it assumes the existence of the capitalist nation state which defends private property. It faces the same problem of previous revolutions which proved incapable of ‘changing the system’ without overthrowing the state. Second, in a globalised capitalist world, any isolated socialist revolution would not be able to enter into an international division of labour and economic plan that harnesses sustainable energy as a global project to restore nature. By adapting to global capitalism, any new system to stop climate change would be aborted.

If the Green New Deal and its variants cannot work because it remains dependent on capitalism’s survival, is there another solution to the crisis of the capitalocene that does not require the urgent transition to socialism?

Sanders, & ‘socialist’ pragmatism

Long-time ‘democratic socialism’ Bernie Sanders wants a new, New Deal and has signed up to the GND. But that is no advance on the ‘hopium’ offered by AOC as it fails to get to the root of the problem – ‘progressive’ capitalism. But ‘progressive’ for which class? Trotsky critiqued the ‘progressive’ tradition in the US as a left form of ‘pragmatism’, the popular philosophy which holds that what ‘works’ for capital is good for all. Remember what is good for General Motors!

Then, after decades of trying to redistribute wealth Sanders recognised that new taxes to pay for it were universally unpopular. Acting on advice from others he now wants to shift the focus from distribution to workers ownership of production. He wants to build on earlier attempts to legislate capitalists giving shares to workers in a wealth fund managed by the unions. Workers will also participate on the boards of companies to share in co-management.

Note that this is a pragmatic proposal because it may work and it may derail XR into another ‘wrong kind of green’. It is popular with workers and some employers. But it would take the passing of the Green New Deal in Congress to implement it. It is not a proposal based on principled socialism, that workers who produce the wealth should independently determine what their share is, not Congress doing pragmatic deals with bosses! Can Sanders’ reforms be turned into a real socialism within 12 years to rescue humanity from extinction?

Peter Gowan has suggested a Sanders Plan that includes workers ownership, and moves to nationalise the banks, finance and fossil fuel industries. However, there is nothing new in the means for achieving this. Sanders as President could do a ‘socialist Trump’ and use his executive power to sideline a hostile Congress and Courts to legislate these reforms. Ironically, Gowan calls this the ‘Salvador Allende’ strategy. This may be a pragmatic ‘socialism’ that could work for capital, though it hasn’t elsewhere, notably in Allende’s Chile! But what about the principle of class struggle. The ‘system change’ we and XR needs right now is not creeping state socialism along the historic lines argued by Mensheviks, but an international socialist party leading XR that has world socialist revolution at the top of its agenda.

Marx on Socialism and Ecology

While many people are convinced that capitalism is doomed, they are so hostile to socialism they continue to look for a mythical ‘third way’ – neither capitalist nor socialist. The main objection is that ‘socialism’ – the ‘actually existing’ socialism of the USSR. China or Cuba – are as much responsible for climate change as the capitalist world.

Here we are talking about Socialism as conceived by Marx as a stage between capitalism and communism where workers’ revolution creates a workers’ state based on workers councils and plans production and distribution of goods for need not profit. We reject the bogus ‘socialisms’ attached by various bourgeois and petty bourgeois currents to parliamentary socialism. We reject the use of the term to describe the degenerated ‘socialist’ states that failed to build real socialism because they were surrounded or invaded by global capitalist powers.

For Marx, socialism already exists in embryo trapped inside capitalism (workers produce the wealth as a force of nature and struggle to control or plan production) so that logically to return to nature it is necessary to remove capitalism and allow the socialist embryo to develop. The only way to reverse climate change and at the same time plan for society to return to nature is real socialism based on democratic workers councils backed by workers militias on a global scale.

The modern concept of Ecology didn’t exist in Marx’s time because for him nature and society were symbiotic as a contradictory historical mode of production in which the forces of production (nature) and the relations of production (society) were locked into a fight to the death. Humans were on both sides of this contradiction, as members of antagonistic classes – as capitalists vs workers. Workers sold the use of their physical energy to work for a wage as the commodity ‘labour power’. Labour power had the special property of producing more value than its own value when the employer owns and controls the means of production. Workers did necessary labour to create enough value to exchange for the means of subsistence (food, energy, transport etc) but also worked additional hours of surplus labour to create surplus value as the basis of profits.

Therefore, Ecology as a concept explains nothing unless integrated inside the general theory of capitalism and its logical successor, socialism. Ecology is already subsumed in the contradictory unity of nature and society. Ecology, as a practical problem, always existed in people’s heads to ‘explain’ the daily struggle of humans as part of nature. But this ecology is not a ‘given’, or universal constant. It is a ‘taken’. It changes with every new mode of production from slave society to capitalist society that ‘takes’ from nature by exhausting its bounty. Marx’s analysis of capitalism explained this fact.

Nature is continuously changing as a result of class struggle between workers and capitalists. Nature-as-labour struggles against society-as-capital constantly, as workers contest capital over the share of value they create. Why? Because for labour, its share, in the form of the wage, is materially necessary to reproduce labour power. This natural process becomes hijacked by capital when it exploits labour to produce more value beyond that of the wage. Therefore, the reproduction of ‘nature’ specific to the production of profit is determined by the ‘use-value’ of labour power to the capitalists – i.e. producing more value than its own value. Workers are reproduced only as wage labourers, not as humans.

The dynamics of ecology today are defined by nature and capitalist society that leads inevitably to the destruction of nature (including human nature) with the extreme consequences of the threat of extinction of most species on the planet. Thus, Marx’s theory predicted the inevitable destruction by capitalism of the forces of production (including labour-power) as the pre-condition for the socialist revolution.

Alienation from Self, Society and Nature

In developing a theory of the Capitalocene, some Marxists revise Marx in the name of nature. Jason Moore is one. He is among those who claim to be Marxists but who play around with Marx’s basic concepts, even dropping the labour theory of value. Ecology as the nexus between nature and society must be based on the labour theory of value. It is that which predicts capitalism’s finite existence, necessary decline, and massive destruction of nature. And that which predicts why it is the working class, that produces value, acts for nature when it revolts against capitalism to bury it and build socialism.

Take John Bellamy Foster, a well-known Marxist writing about ecology. He argues Marx accounted for the damage capitalism does to nature and predicted increasing environmental destruction. This is clear in the concept of ‘Metabolic Rift’. One can go too far and reduce the social relations of capitalism to an objective metabolic/physical process. The whole point of Marx’s work was to show how capitalism alienates workers from nature and yet nature fights back as class war to redeem itself. Only by ending capitalism and building socialism will alienation be overcome.

The concept of alienation is central to any Marxist analysis of climate collapse. First, workers’ control over their labour-power (nature) is alienated by the owners of the means of production who dispossess peasants of their means of subsistence. Workers figure as no more than statistics in the capitalist books as part of the Price of Production. Second, capitalists, by depriving workers of their means of subsistence (nature), can make them work for longer than is necessary to earn a wage (necessary labour) to buy their means of subsistence (nature).

All exploitation of nature requires the active agent of labour-power. Thus, big oil and gas exploit nature by employing workers to extract and burn carbon. This alienation of the value they create separates workers from the product of their labour and makes them appear as the equals of capitalists as buyers and sellers of commodities. The exploitation and alienation of labour during the production process now appears as an equal exchange relationship in the market.

The end of alienation therefore means the end of class society, specifically capitalist society. The capitalists insert themselves into a natural non-exploitative process to exploit nature for profit and create the Capitalocene. That is why Marx viewed capitalism as a historically limited form of exploitative society. The contradiction between nature and society would force workers, as part of nature, to revolt against its destruction and unite to overthrow capitalism. To end alienation workers must break with this exploitative social relation and restore the harmonious unity of nature and society!

What must be Done!

The trick today is to reject lip-service to greening capitalism from the right, left and centre. They are equally suicidal. Within the new social movements that profess to fight climate change, Marxists need to be part of the mobilisations with a program that warns of the duplicity of capitalism in all its forms, and explicitly states and wins the argument for survival socialism.

Instead of writing off the masses who are mobilising against climate collapse as dupes, we have to warn them of the many various attempts to neutralise class struggle. There are many would-be leaders of XR on both Right and Left who preach capitalist reform rather than socialist revolution.

As we wrote in “Are YV and XR the new Reds?” these movements are reacting to an unprecedented world-historic existential crisis. For the first time humanity faces a terminal crisis of capitalism which cannot survive without the genocide of working people and the ecocide of most life forms. This poses the question point blank as human extinction or socialist revolution. That is the objective reality. XR is learning the lessons of climate science and rising spontaneously against their fate as slaves or corpses in the future horror story of capitalism. Will the bankrupt Left rise to this challenge? No.

What is missing from the Morningstar critique of Greta and XR is the Marxist science of society about which most people remain ignorant. Not because they are ‘backward’, but because of the bankrupt Left failed to make Marxism the science of workers’ life and culture. Marx called this science ‘dialectics’ as it explains that nature and society are a contradictory unity in motion, motivated by the class struggle to resolve that contradiction, revolutionising society in the process to restore a harmony with nature.

The bankrupt Left has no understanding that the same forces that are causing the terminal crisis of capitalism today are those that incubate the embryonic socialist society emerging within capitalism to replace it. The old world is dying, but the new world has yet to be born. It will not emerge miraculously as the result of some external agency. Only conscious class struggle can resolve the contradiction between embattled nature and dying capitalism in a new socialist world.

It is class struggle that will prove that capitalism has to be overthrown by its alienated subjects waking up and organising mass movements. And as their demands are heavily repressed by the state, fascism, and paramilitary gangs, these social movements will transform themselves into revolutionary councils and militias capable of overthrowing capitalism and creating a socialist society where the contradiction between society and nature is replaced with harmonious unity.
Reblogged from

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Brazil: Break with the PT and the Popular Front!

The national education strike or more than 1 million on May 15 was the biggest mobilisation against President Bolsonaro's regime since his election. 

The following is translated from our Brazilian comrades of the Grupo de Trabalhadores Revolucionários do Brasil (GTR-BR)

In order to defeat Bolsonaro and fascism, the workers must break with the PT and the Popular Front and defeat the trade union bureaucracy: the example of education and public pensions

It is not possible to combat Bolsonaro, fascism and imperialism, supporting the PT (Workers Party) and the Popular Front. After the workers said NO to the neoliberalism of the FHC (Fernando Henrique Cardoso) government in the 1990s, they elected Lula and the PT in hopes of a better life. The PT spent more than 13 years in power ruling with the bourgeoisie and applying the neoliberal policies of imperialism. Bolsonaro’s victory and the threat of fascism show that the Popular Front is incapable of defending workers’ rights and fighting fascism, on the contrary, it demobilizes and demoralizes the struggle and paves the way for attacks against the working class!

While the commodity sales boom, especially for China, brought a flood of money, and as Lula said: “never before in that country did the bankers make so much money,” the PT was advancing in privatizations, in the dismantling of public services, of forestry, built the notorious Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, implemented education reform, auctioned pre-salt oil, etc., etc.

The financial market crash in 2008 marked the beginning of the biggest capitalist crisis in history. Capitalist crisis means that the bourgeoisie can not maintain its rates of profit and needs to attack the working class hard. These attacks have generated resistance on the part of the workers not to pay the price of the crisis, the Arab spring being the largest to date. However, there is no country in the world today that is not experiencing economic, social and political crises. On the other hand, fascism grows throughout the world as the only way for the bourgeoisie to crush the working class and make it pay the price of the crisis.

In Brazil it was no different, while Lula said that the crisis was a “marolinha”, he made appropriations of billions of reais to save the big companies like JBS (Brazilian meat-processing corporation) and GM. When Dilma assumed the presidency in the second term, the country already suffered with the end of the economic boom of commodities sale and the country went into recession; her government did not resist the crisis. Of the alms and credit that the PT gave to the working class, only the debts remained. The opposition bourgeoisie also did not speak of the global crisis of capitalism and its campaign to overthrow the government declared that the PT was the cause of the crisis.

Now the far right has come to power with their anti-PT discourse, but obviously the economic crisis is not over. On the contrary, the country has a high rate of unemployment and the public accounts do not balance, causing a risk of a crash. Bolsonaro’s populist government, which is rapidly advancing its Bonapartism, is a necessity for the bourgeoisie to crush the working class and ensure that it pays the price of the capitalist crisis. For the workers there is no other way forward than to end illusions in the bourgeois elections and capitalist state, no other way but to step up the independent struggle of the class to destroy capitalism and the construct the workers’ and socialist state.

The Bolsonaro versus Popular Front polarization is a trap for the working class because it puts before it two bourgeois options and eliminates a class independent alternative for the workers.

The neo-liberal reform of education: from FHC to the PT and the current government

In education, the subservience of the PT governments and their bourgeois allies to the plans of the World Bank and imperialism were no different. For decades education has suffered neoliberal attacks with small reforms that have been condensed and legalized in the National Education Plan (NEP). The National Education Plan, which represents imperialism’s plans to transform education into a commodity, was approved in 2014 under the Dilma government. Bolsonaro’s offensive against education and public universities can only be fought if workers are aware that it is necessary to combat all the neoliberal measures of the last years, including those of the PT, which have paved the way for the current attacks.

No doubt education workers have been among the most attacked in recent decades. The scrapping of schools and the precariousness of the teachers is felt by all. Every year education suffers from budget cuts. The education cuts carried out by the current government are the same as the left government made to comply with the Fiscal Responsibility Law or the “fiscal adjustment” Rousseff made in 2015.

It was in the PT governments that pushed the ‘Educational Reform’ the most. The private education college has grown exponentially, possible only with the billion in public money intended for entrepreneurs of the education sector, known as the “school of sharks.” Government programs that finance jobs in private institutions created the world’s largest education company in the world! Lula has created several new federal universities and institutes, which is the biggest rhetorical claim of his government. However, existing public universities continued in the process of scrapping and “reform”, while the new Universidades and Federal Institutes created by PT governments were born into the new system, where the curriculae and funding are geared to meet the private sector’s needs: low cost for school maintenance and the preparation of cheap and qualified labor to supply the markets. The fact is that universities remain an elite space that few have access to and the new universities created by Lula were part of the implementation of educational reforms dictated by the IMF and World Bank established in the NEP.

Bolsonaro has announced the cut of funds of 30% for the public universities. One of the arguments against government attacks is that public universities generate the most research and technology in the country. This is true, but it is important to remember that in recent years these researches are increasingly dependent on external funds, that is, on the foreign companies and multinationals that control and define what will be researched, according to their interests.

Another argument used by the PT government’s naysayers against the current government is the lack of democracy and autonomy in universities, when the chosen elector of the Triple List is not the one that received the most votes in the elections. However, it is worth remembering that before the PT came to power, one of the great promises was to end the Triple List, which includes the three names most referred by the university community, and from which the government chooses one name. During his thirteen years in power, the PT never ended this undemocratic method of choosing the rectors; what it did was to choose the one with the most votes, while the system remained the same!

High school reform is another example of the educational reform demanded by imperialism from semi-colonies like Brazil. It transforms secondary education into vocational education, with the justification that young people leave ready for the job market. This reform removes training and broad knowledge of secondary education and channels the training of young people to specific areas as a way to generate cheap and specialized labor for the market. On the other hand, it benefits private educational institutions, which lower their costs and increase the demand, since the young person who does not get space in the labor market needs to go back to school and retrain. The PT spoke against the reform of high school when this was approved by Temer, but were silent when this same reform of the NEP was approved by their government or when it was implanted in the states by PT governors, as happened in Rio Grande do Sul during the Tarso Genro government.

In universities, the same privatization logic and training of skilled and inexpensive labor for the market is observed. The old, long and comprehensive courses of entire areas of knowledge have been dismembered in several degree programs. Thus, the basic cycle was created, lasting 2 years, where students matriculate in these various courses. After completing the basic cycle, the student has to do two more years of the course he has chosen. For the student who in the old model leaves college with broad training, she or he now comes out enabled to work only in one branch of the area of knowledge chosen. For private initiative, it means that you no longer need to fund a long and comprehensive course, but only the basic cycle, or the specific modules of each course. It also means a greater demand, because every module that the student wants or needs to do, requires them to go back to the educational institution for it, and obviously to pay for it!

Before the arrival of the PT, the trade unions and the National Union of Students (UNE) fought hard against this reform that had already been demanded by the World Bank since the 1990s! In 1998 the federal universities engaged in a 90-day strike against the University Autonomy of FHC, which was nothing more than autonomy to seek financing in the private sector! This practice began with the foundations of private initiative within the universities, which not only has not been reversed, but made great strides with the PT governments.

What about basic education that suffers from the scrapping and immense precariousness of schools!? One of the main focuses is the attack on education workers, which serves both the interest of private Capital and the end of public servants. The “National Education Floor” was the great tool to end the careers of the teaching profession. While the government was promising a salary floor, which was actually the CEILING, the same floor law established the end of teachers’ career plans. The state of São Paulo is one of the most advanced in the privatizing reform of education. There, the teachers already “won” the floor so much defended by the PT and its syndicalists, but they lost their career plans and other benefits. The state is known for the precariousness of teachers, who worked on a temporary contract, with no ties to the government and earn by the hour, true day laborers! With different stages of implementation, this is the reform applied in ALL states and municipalities of the country. In this sector, the presence of the private initiative dates back to the FHC governments and has remained in the Lula and Dilma government. Private-initiative foundations, such as the AirtonSenna Foundation, Bradesco Foundation, etc., elaborate, apply and control pedagogical projects in public schools, taking away the autonomy of teachers in the classroom.

In Rio Grande do Sul, education has suffered the same dismantling for decades. The hardworking servants of education like doormen, lunch servers, etc., were almost all replaced by private initiative workers through outsourcing; there are only the few waiting for retirement. In recent years, the number of teachers hired under the new scheme equals the number of veteran teachers, whose indefinite period contracts are now the government’s target. The government attack advances to the privatization model already implanted in São Paulo. And during all these years of dismantling, the union policy directed by the CUT (Unified Workers’ Central) / PT is to deceive the masses claiming that the Law of the Floor and the NEP were the solution to all problems of education!

The example of Public Pensions

Today, the media, business people and the government are engaged in a massive campaign for the approval of the Pension Reform. They say it’s the only way out of the crisis. Social security is the largest income distribution in the country, which is one of the most unequal in the world! Reform is a requirement of the financial market, as it is from pensions that the country can draw more money to pay its debts to the bankers. Dilma in 2016, during her “fiscal adjustment” spoke of the need for reform. Temer’s “A bridge to the future” program identified pension reform as its main objective. The “democratic” bourgeoisie and its regime of the 1988 constitution were never able to meet the demands of the workers properly at any time. The different governments that operated under the constitution of 1988 have slowly withdrawn all the rights conquered in 1988. Like education reform, pensions have undergone several reforms since the Collor administration, with further reforms under Lula and Dilma.

The reform presented by the Bolsonaro government to Congress foresees the end of the current policy of public pensions replaced with a private capitalization scheme; the new scheme increases the time of service required, the amount of the contributions and includes a reduction of benefits. Several populist measures of the PT governments were instrumental in reaching the proposed reform of today. In the boom period of the international economy and sales of commodities and credit during the Lula government, the campaign of “valorization of the minimum wage” was launched. The untying of the increase for retirees earning more than one minimum wage led to a flattening of wages paid by social security. The pension ceiling had already led many workers to turn to private pension plans to try to keep their salary level in retirement. In practice, the private sector workers retain very little of the rights of the current pension system. The civil servants were targeted by Lula’s pension reform in 2003, but they are the ones who have managed to maintain most of their rights and are now the most threatened by the current reform, which foresees the end of public servants’ pensions for a single pension scheme. It is worth remembering that the public servants, while they were able to maintain their rights, unfortunately lacked solidarity with the workers of the private sector and the defense of their social security system. This balance is fundamental so that public servants can receive support from other workers in the face of the attacks they are suffering from the bourgeoisie and the Bolsonaro government that wants to end public service and advance privatizations.

The media and government say the country will collapse if the reform is not approved. To deceive the population, they compare the expenses of social security with those of health and education, showing that for the latter the expense is much lower. But they do not show that spending on debt repayment for bankers is astronomical. The workers should have no illusions, the money the government intends to take out of pensions will not go to health and education, but to the bankers!

It is not possible to defeat Bolsonaro’s final coup against public services and pensions by defending the PT and the Popular Front as “lesser evil”

Undoubtedly, the reforms of the last decades in education, health and social security follow the logic of privatization: increasingly scrapped, these services will remain public only for the very poor who can not afford to pay, the others will have to look for these services in the capitalist toilet. It is worth remembering that private does not mean quality, because in Brazil we know the poor quality of private schools, universities and health care and that we pay dearly for them!

After Lula’s first election, all workers’ struggle and awareness against the privatization of education project suffered a great setback. The unions and militants began to be integrated into the state institutions and defend this project, giving a “democratic” face through the “National Conference of Education,” a tripartite sphere with businessmen, government and workers, where this project was endorsed. Educational reform was implemented through the co-optation of trade unions and workers’ organizations by the Popular Front.

The capitulation of the Left to the Popular Front is general, as can be seen during the bourgeois elections, when most currents called for voting for the PT against Bolsonaro and Fascism. Even organizations that had stood in opposition to PT governments, such as PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party) and PSTU (Unified Workers’ Socialist Party) took this position.

PSOL, PSTU and combative unions such as ANDES (National Association of Teachers of Higher Education), who in the past were against the NEP, all denounced the maneuvering of the ‘Law of the Floor’ and tried to unite the struggle of teachers demanding the full rights of contracted teachers who have been in the public service for more than 3 years. Now they have NO policy different from that of the PT and the Popular Front. Instead, they are part of the National Conference on Education and are agents in the application of these neoliberal attacks.

The global crisis of capitalism and the resistance of the working class

The deepening of the crisis shows that the impeachment of Dilma was only the beginning of a great instability of the institutions of the Brazilian bourgeois state. After the fall of the PT and the unpopular Temer government, we went through a stark and growing crisis of the State institutions, with disputes between the powers and within the Bolsonaro government itself, which show that not only the executive power, but the bourgeois democratic regime is not able to carry forward the interests of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. Bolsonaro needs to deepen his bonapartism more and more, putting himself above institutions, with populist and authoritarian measures. Unlike the PT and the reformist left, we say that the fascist methods and military blows of the bourgeoisie remain the same that the impeachment of Dilma was a maneuver of the bourgeoisie to overthrow her government, and that Brazil suffers with a threat of a real coup. The PT narrative helps demobilize, misinform and disarm the working class for this fight.

The global crisis of capitalism demonstrates the destructive character of this system. The decadence of American hegemony and the intensification of the dispute with the imperialist bloc of China/Russia lead the great world powers to another imperialist war. Obviously Bolsonaro has no sovereignty allegiance and has already shown himself to be the doormat of Trump and American imperialism, even willing to go to war to defend imperialist interests, as in the case of neighboring Venezuela. But the PT governments were never “anti-imperialist.” What the PT and the popular front did was to bring the country closer to Chinese and Russian imperialism through the BRICS. For workers, there is no difference in being exploited and paying debt to the IMF or the BRICS bank.

The PT, PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil) and its allies are traitors to the working class. Contrary to what they claim, the workers and the youth have staged a great resistance. Youth in 2013 in the fight against rising public transport fares mobilized millions who went to the streets asking for health and education, andtoday the PT accuses them of having been a fascist movement! Teachers have for years held strikes in every state and municipality in the country. The need to unify these strikes forced the CUT / CNTE (Teachers Union) to carry out 3-day general strikes in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. All of them serving the trade union bureaucracy to destroy the movement from the inside, controlling and diverting it into illusions in the elections and programs of the PT government. In 2019, in the face of all the Bolsonaro government attacks, the CUT / CNTE was forced to call another general education strike for May 15. The question is: why do the trade union centrals that have been talking about “building the general strike” for years not unify all workers, taking advantage of this moment of the struggle of the education workers? They will certainly answer us: because the general strike against the Pension Reform will be June 16.

We do not sing the chorus with the ultra-leftists and centrists who criticize the trade union centrals over how much “time is needed to build a general strike. For the working class that has listened to the Bureaucratic Block of Trade Union Centers (of which Conlutas is a part) that it is necessary to “build” the General Strike for 30 days, this is not the question. Our critique is the role of bureaucratic misdirections in intervening in the movement to bar it, bureaucratize it, and divert it to the interests of its opportunist parties and its strategies of Popular Front and bourgeois elections. We warn workers that this example shows how opportunist mis-leaderships try to divide the working class. Why can’t other workers make a general strike in defense of education and the specific demands of each sector? Why can’t the General Strike against Social Security Reform unify with the other branches of the movement? We have come to answer those questions: because the PT, CUT and its allies do not want to bar the pension reform, as exposed by their governors and parliamentarians; they want a “better” reform. They want to exhaust the government before the upcoming elections and they fear that the strike movement will get out of their control. These are the reasons why the workers’ reformist leadership does not advocate an INDEFINITE General Strike.

We support and will be part of the general strikes of education and against pension reform. But we warn workers that the strike and movement is in the hands of a union bureaucracy and reformist parties who want to divert our struggles to their interests in elections and in Parliament. We say that a united front (UF) is required among workers and left-wing organizations, including opportunistic ones. We do not ignore the fact that the CUT/PT are the majority leaders of the Brazilian working class. But UF means that they are a part, and not the only leaders; that also the rank and file has its leadership role. That is why we call the Central bloc a bureaucratic front, in which only the leaders decide between four walls the direction of the movement. We regret the fact that CONLUTAS are part of and sustain this bureaucratic bloc and we call on it to break with the union bureaucracy. Only the indefinite general strike, organized and controlled by the rank and file committees and self-defense organs of workers is able to defeat the government, imperialism and put in check the bourgeoisie and capitalism in Brazil!

The strategy of dividing the movement of the working class is also carried out in the international field of class struggle. It is no wonder that social democrats, Stalinists, “RT socialists” and faux Trotskyists when faced with the biggest economic, social and political crisis worldwide, with mass upheavals and openly revolutionary processes such as the Arab Spring and the Syrian revolution, with support for bourgeois regimes, ultimately abandoning the struggle for socialism.. They have not advanced an independent struggle to support and provide class solidarity. The only way out for them is the Popular Front, that is, alliance with “progressive” sectors of the bourgeoisie, supporting dictatorships such as Assad in Syria or Maduro in Venezuela. These opportunistic and reformist directions are said to be “anti-imperialist”, but only when imperialism is American. They are allies of Chinese and Russian imperialism, in a large popular front, taking sides in the inter-imperialist dispute.

Faced with the deep capitalist crisis in which the bourgeoisie needs fascist methods to crush the working class to “solve” its crisis, the growth of fascism in the world shows that only the struggle of the workers and the socialist revolution is capable of defeating fascism. Socialist revolution is required to prevent the recurrence of inter-imperialist wars and to save mankind in the face of the destruction of the environment caused by the capitalist mode of production. For this it is necessary that the workers, leftist currents, militants and activists break with the opportunist leaderships and the Popular Front and advance in the direct struggle of the working class and in the construction of the World Party of the Revolution.