Brazil: Break with the Popular Front!
Why is Russia in Syria?
Defense Against Racist Cop Terror
Defend Zimbabwe Street Vendors!
Economic Crash Ahead
International Labor Defense
Friday, December 25, 2015
|Members of MTST march in support of President Dilma Rousseff against impeachment in Sao Paulo, August 20, 2015|
In Brazil the political situation is degenerating rapidly, with the economic recession and the government's austerity policies. On the 2nd of December, the president of the Congress, Eduardo Cunha, began a process of impeachment against Dilma in the Congress. Cunha belongs to the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party,) the PT (Workers Party’s) main ally in the Popular Front government. It is a bourgeois party known for having various wings led by oligarchs, the so-called “colonels” from various states and regions of the country. The main movers and shakers behind a coup are within the Government ranks. The PT, allied to the bourgeoisie through the Popular Front, ties workers to the bourgeoisie and has abandoned class independence, weakening the workers and opening the way for fascism. To stop any coup it is necessary that workers break with the Popular Front.
One day after the commencement of the process of impeachment was announced, the Minister of Civil Aviation, right arm of the vice-President Michel Temer (PMDB), resigned for allegedly personal reasons. In relation to the movements of “allies”, Dilma said she had no reason not to trust her vice-President. By way of reply, the vice-President wrote a challenging letter that was announced in the media as a break with Dilma. While Dilma implicitly trusts her government “allies” to approve the austerity measures, the PT and CUT (Unified Workers Central labor federation) stop workers' strikes, shut down the battles and demobilize the class, leaving the road to an actual coup open.
On the 29th of October 2015 the PMDB released a programmatic statement called “A bridge to the future”, the motives for which became clear after the announcement of the impeachment process. The program says:
“All the initiatives announced here constitute a necessity, and almost a consensus, throughout the country. Political inertia and immobility have prevented them from being realized. The present crisis, of revenue but principally economic, with a fall of the GDP, high inflation, extremely high interest rates, increasing unemployment, the paralyzation of productive investment, and the complete absence of a positive outlook, is forcing society to confront its destiny. In this hour of truth, in which nothing less than the future of the nation is at stake, we need to form a political majority, even if transitory or circumstantial, capable in the short term of making all these decisions both in society and in the National Congress. There is no other way than obtaining the understanding and cooperation of all. The nation has already shown itself capable of confronting and overcoming great challenges. We will submit it to a new and decisive test.”
The program, after noting “inertia and political immobility”, outlines the effects of the capitalist crisis on the country and says it is necessary to “form a political majority, even if transitory or circumstantial”. Taking into account a possible impeachment of Dilma, this proposal serves as a call for a coalition government, including the right that has been in opposition, such as the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) and DEM (Democrats), as well as the right that has been “allied” to the PT for the last 12 years.
Later on, remembering the political and economic situation of the country, the program states “Modern popular democracies do not appear to be capable of surviving passively with the end of economic growth and opportunities, nor with limitations on the growth of government spending. Even in the developed world, with generous social welfare systems, the interruption of economic growth and a pause in the expansion of money transfers and state services are generating a weakening of political authority and a profound social dissatisfaction.”
The bourgeoisie is right to concern itself with social dissatisfaction. Brazilian workers and youth, as in the entire world, have demonstrated their willingness to fight against paying the price of capitalist crisis. The marches of June 2013, when millions went to the street in answer to the calls of the youth movement that fought against increases in the price of public transport and for better health and education, marked an upswing of struggles in Brazil. This movement was preceded by strikes involving teachers nationwide, federal public servants, and construction workers both private and governmental. Their worksites included huge government projects such as the Belo Monte, Santo Antonio, and Jirau dams and hydroelectric stations that are destroying indigenous communities and the Amazon rain forest. In 2014 we saw a movement against the World Cup, numerous strikes such as teachers and sanitation workers in Rio de Janeiro, metro workers in São Paulo, and bus drivers in Rio Grande do Sul. In 2015 there were various strikes with metal and petroleum workers, the struggle of public servants in Paraná, public service strikes in Rio Grande do Sul, and student occupations of secondary schools in São Paulo.
In all these struggles, the CUT, CTB (Confederation of the Workers of Brazil), and other bureaucratic union organizations have intervened to isolate the participating workers, keep the emphasis on economic matters, and demobilize the workers. In the public service strike against the time-payment of salaries in Rio Grande do Sul, which united a record of more than 30 thousand workers in one meeting, the CUT united with the Police Union and the right wing bureaucrats of the “Unified Movement”, arguing for a limited 4 day strike and putting off a general strike for an undetermined time. In the teachers' union, the largest and strongest, the CUT-aligned leadership closed the meeting and declared the end of the strike against a majority vote. The Rio Grande do Sul state government is run by the PMDB. The PT and the CUT know that the financial crisis in Rio Grande do Sul is the same as that affecting the federal government and act to defeat the working class, all in the name of governability.
With regard to the austerity project, the PMDB program says “The solution will be harsh on the entire population; it will require emergency measures, and most importantly, structural reforms.” The austerity program has had costs for the government, with the political crisis a sign of the difficulty of proceeding with the changes and advancing the structural reforms. In reality, these are just attacks on health, education, workers' rights, and pensions that the bourgeoisie needs as its way out of the crisis.
“...we will have to change laws and even some of the Constitution, so that the fiscal crisis doesn't keep returning, each time harder to solve, until we finally end up in a type of collapse”....”The other question of equal importance is government superannuation.” (PMDB program)
Further on: “For this the first thing necessary is that we do away with established constitutional links such as requirements for spending on health and education”....”Another part of the new budget will have to be the end of indexation, whether of salaries, pensions, or anything else.”
The PT united with the bourgeoisie to form a government, and over the last 13 years has applied imperialist policies, with privatizations, superannuation reforms, concessions, PPPs, restructurings, and attacks on workers' rights like the PPE (Employment Protection Program). While bankers and business people are making more money than ever before in the history of the country (like the owners of construction businesses who profit enormously from government programs like Minha casa Minha vida - My house, My life) while living conditions, health, education, transport, workers' rights, youth, and the poor are under attack due to the “reforms”, “restructurings”, and “reorganizations” which are part of the structural “reforms” that the bourgeoisie claims are necessary to go forward.
Education is a great example of an area being attacked by the government and the bourgeoisie. It has been suffering through reforms insisted on by imperialism and the World Bank and implanted through the PNE (National Education Program), and which transform education into a market commodity. These affect everything from primary to tertiary education, implementing salaries related to teacher evaluations, destroying career progression, opening public education to the private sector, shutting schools, etc. The PNE was approved by the federal Congress in 2014, but its implantation had begun long before this. In Rio Grande do Sul we saw overcrowded classrooms, reform of secondary education, private foundations in the schools, etc. In São Paulo, pay dependent on evaluations is already a reality and workers have had part of their salary transformed into a “bonus”. The recent reorganization measure, shutting schools and only allowing for student evaluations every three years in São Paulo, is just another facet of the World Bank's reform of education in Brazil, the PNE.
The government's main weapon in discussing and approving the PNE was the National Education Conference, set up to legitimize the attacks on public education and widely supported by the CUT, the National Union of Students, and various leftish organizations. Whilst the PNE signifies a structural reform in national education, the “left” wants to “improve” things by having 10% of the GDP spent on public education.
Education is a great example of resistance and workers' struggle and also of how the government bureaucracy acts to defeat the struggles in a way that defends the government. Since 2010, strikes and worker mobilizations have increased throughout the country and the union bureaucracy has acted to keep strikes isolated and focused on economic issues, impeding national mobilization and the fight against the PNE. In the school occupation movement in São Paulo against the “restructuring” of basic education by the PSDB government, the organizations aligned to the federal government tried to negotiate an agreement with the state government on behalf of the students, and end the occupations. The students, organized in more than 200 occupied schools in a genuine United Front, resisted the bureaucratic maneuvers, maintaining the occupations and winning an annulment of the government privatization decree. The students know that the fight goes on and restructuring is still a threat. The struggle needs to advance until students and workers from the whole country are occupying schools and workplaces to combat the educational reform of the PNE (applied by all municipal, state, and federal governments), the coup, and capitalism itself.
Later still, the proposed PMDB program explains why the austerity program and structural reforms are necessary: “The main objective is a policy of fiscal responsibility to interrupt the growth of government debt, to start with, so that we can to begin reducing debt as a percentage of GDP. The normal means of achieving this is by achieving a budget surplus high enough to cover interest payments. In third place it is up to the State, run by a majority in agreement with the objectives of this growth, based on free enterprise, free competition, and the desire for integration with external markets, to achieve legislative change in critical areas.”
The government tirelessly proclaims that it is committed to the austerity program and the objective of reaching a budget surplus are openly defended by the Minister of the Economy. The PT is compromised by imperialist policies and even with the economic crisis and the threat of a coup, continues to defend the bourgeois attacks on workers as the solution for the economy. It's worth remembering that the request for the impeachment of Dilma isn't because of corruption, but because she has broken the Law of Fiscal Responsibility, a law passed by the PSDB government to guarantee the payment of public debt before investing in health, education, housing, etc. The PT defends the existence of this law. The government aligned movements such as the CUT, UNE and MST (a rural proletarian movement) are against austerity and, along with various social movements and bourgeois elements, have formed the Frente Brasil Popular (Brazilian People's Front) against any coup and in favor of a new political economy, although they support the government and act within the working class movement to demobilize true united fronts and their struggles, even though these are the only force capable of fighting a coup.
"We will carry out this program in the name of peace, of harmony, and of hope, that are still among us. We will obey the institutions of the democratic state, strictly follow the law and protect order, without which progress would be impossible. The country needs all Brazilians. Our promise is to reconstruct a modern, prosperous, democratic, and just state.” (PMDB program)
It is possible that the PMDB would lead a coalition government if Dilma and the PT were defeated and the “Bridge to the Future” program seems designed for this. Despite their intentions and the promise of a democratic state, the PMDB and other right wing parties are involved in corruption scandals and would need to apply the same austerity measures that are making Dilma and the PT lose support. The absence of a left wing alternative and the deepening of the economic crisis cause the growth of extreme right wing reactionaries who have their own intentions and are a threat to the working class.
In this way, the Popular Front ties workers to parliament and opens the way for fascism. There is no way out for workers inside the bourgeois parliament. Workers must break from the Popular Front and fight both the coup and fascism with their own methods, the general strike, workers' committees, and self-defense organizations. The main necessity is a revolutionary party to give a perspective of working class victory against capitalism, and for socialism.
A large part of the left sees the rise of the imperialist China/Russia bloc as progressive compared to American imperialism and defends the Popular Front in Brazil and the Bolivarian governments as a “lesser evil” with respect to the traditional right. In a dispute among imperialists, no matter who wins, the working class pays the price with their jobs and their lives. Workers must maintain class independence and fight against both imperialist blocs and their agents in the semi-colonies, such as the Popular Front and the “Bolivarians” in Latin America.
PSOL: mostly defends the government
PSTU: calls for new elections (a PSDB senator also defended this idea in an interview) http://www.pstu.org.br/node/21834
MRT (PTS Argentina): calls for a Free and Sovereign Constituent Assembly (the PMDB program insists on the necessity of constitutional changes)
MTST : Movement of Workers without Fear
“Uma ponte para o Futuro”: http://pmdb.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/RELEASE-TEMER_A4-28.10.15-Online.pdf
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Saturday, December 12, 2015
The terminal economic crisis of capitalism is evident in the growing level of destruction of wealth; of the many wars and the massive human destruction caused; and the inevitable onset of climate catastrophe. These are all the terrible consequences of the capitalist class that cannot help but destroy nature on which it is parasitic. The capitalist class cannot survive without destroying the popular opposition to its rule and with it nature; the working class cannot survive without overthrowing the ruling class and imposing its own solution: survival socialism.
Society vs Nature?
Most analyses of this mortal predicament cast ‘evil’ capitalism against ‘good’ nature. This idea is now highlighted in the term Anthropogenic that refers to the changes brought about in climate (nature) as a result of industrial society. For climate warriors society has to ‘return to nature’ to survive or otherwise suffer the pain of extinction. Marx did not agree. For him, society and nature were one. The contradiction between society and nature was not that of capitalism versus nature, but one that runs through the heart of capitalism.
It is the contradiction between the class that uses its natural labour power to meet its social needs and reproduce itself as part of nature - the working class in the widest sense, and the capitalist ruling class that expropriates workers’ productive value as its private property, destroying all that is natural in society to increase its wealth. This is not about the neo-liberal 'financialisation' of healthy capitalism. The whole capitalist class is parasitic on the natural labour power it exploits. Therefore the concepts of class struggle, of class war, refer to the fundamental contradiction between nature as use-value and capital as exchange-value that permeates the whole of capitalism as the motive force of the historic rise and fall of capitalist society.
The Dialectics of Nature
We can call this the dialectics of nature, which recognises that the Marxist concept of dialectics is not confined to ‘society’ as separate from ‘nature’. For Marx, dialectics was a method of analysis which took as its starting point the reality of social change as a material process driven by humans producing to meet their basic needs. Before the birth of capitalism in Europe in the 16th century human society was seen as dominated by nature because its ability to ‘control’ nature was limited. Change occurred when new technologies allowed greater control of nature, that is growth in the forces of production and the growth of a social surplus.
Thus society evolved by a series of ‘revolutions’ in social relations to create new classes of owners and producers. Men overthrew women in lineage societies to privatise the surplus and create patriarchal class society; then some men became slave owners to privatise the labour of other men and all women; then some men became landowners in tributary or feudal society, privatising the labour other men and all women as rent; finally, some men who started as merchants became capitalists by creating the factory system to privatise the labour of landless labourers. Each revolution enabled the new class to proclaim its historic superiority in developing the forces of production to new heights only to be replaced by a new revolutionary class capable of even greater feats until they too become defeats.
End of Class Society
Each historic class society harnessed nature for private wealth. The socialised forces of production clashed with the privatised relations of production that formed a barrier to their further development. So too capitalism, which long ago ceased to develop the forces of production without first destroying them. The contradiction between social labour and privatised property that runs through capitalism has reached bursting point. Thus capitalism is overdue to be replaced by a new revolutionary class, this time one that is genuinely superior because it is represents universal humanity.
A socialist revolution is necessary to restore those forces of production to nature by removing the parasitic capitalist ruling class. Capitalism has terminated the pre-history of class society and created the pre-conditions for real human history where the privatised surplus is is expropriated by social labour, not under a condition of scarcity, rather of plenty. The contradiction between potential humanity/nature to reproduce itself and the ruling classes that expropriated the social surplus, can now be resolved (the negation of the negation) by the working class, no longer an oppressed class, but as universal humanity, ending the privatisation of social relations and socialising production as part of nature. The Age of Plenty replaces the Age of Scarcity.
Social revolution for humanity/nature
Quoting from the article ‘Why is Russia in Syria’: “How do we want to die? Ground down by a terminal crisis of global capitalism? In one or other of the proxy wars that fosters national, religious or tribal divisions, slaughtering 100,000s of workers to smash their democratic or socialist revolutions? Surveilled and executed in our streets in the mayhem of global terror? Or will those who survive these, then face death by climate or nuclear meltdown? Of course these are all in the last analysis manifestations of the decline and collapse of global capitalism. Economic crisis makes wars necessary and the massive waste and destruction of war-torn capitalism makes climate collapse more certain. It should by now be obvious that capitalism has to die for the working masses of the world to survive!”
The question then is “how”? As in all historic crises of modes of production that stagnate, they fall when a new class overthrows an exhausted and defunct ruling class. Today we face a terminal crisis. If the working class does not rise up in time to replace capitalism with survival socialism, humanity and many more species will become extinct. This time the stakes are higher than ever before. It is not just about breaking barriers to the further development of the productive forces, but overcoming the barriers to our survival as humans. The ruling class must be overthrown, not simply because it destroys the potential for future development, but because it is capable of destroying humanity/nature embodied in all past and future social development.
Can we do it?
Can we do it? Yes, capitalism has created its own gravediggers. Everywhere, it has abandoned bourgeois democracy and the rule of law and now rules by naked force, militarising society to destroy all political opposition. Its weakest point is US imperialism whose productive capacity is now devoted to the military destruction of humanity. The US is forced to confront its rivals directly through invasions, occupations and ongoing wars. In its desperation to contain its old rivals Russia and China, whose demise as ‘communist’ states allowed them to emerge as new imperialist rivals, the US turned the triumph of global capitalism into its own nemesis.
This explains why the US and its EU and Japanese allies must act to contain their rivals by expanding NATO and building economic trade blocs like the TPP and the TTIP? It also shows why growing popular opposition to war forces the US to use proxies like al Qaeda and IS to create an ‘Islamic’ mortal enemy in the ‘clash of civilisations’ to divide and rule the global working class and shift the blame from capitalist terrorism to Islamic terrorism.
The proletariat stands for humanity
Capitalism has outlived its use-by date. It openly destroys humanity/nature by dividing and repressing the working class globally. It has to be overthrown by actively resisting its destruction at every point. The class war is being fought everywhere by Arab and Kurd warriors resisting military dictatorship and imperialist bombs, by anti-austerity and anticapitalist youth, by unions defending casualised workers, by hackers and whistleblowers, by social mediaphiles using the internet as a weapon, and by climate warriors opposing fracking and deep sea drilling. This is an international class war where the arsenal combines ideas, high tech, civil disobedience and military resistance.
However, the class war will be disorganised and fragmented by imperialist memes of nation, Islam, terror, violence, etc until the working class becomes conscious of itself as the class that represents humanity and fights for itself as humanity. Essential to this task is the international organisation of the working class as a united anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist force with a program for socialist revolution that can counter and defeat the organisation of the imperialist ruling classes. That program must empower the working class in its historic mission of restoring humanity/nature. Its victory in the class war will open the way to a future communist society. The victory will be sweetest for women workers who were the first representatives of humanity to be socially oppressed.