On 12 and 19 April, two overloaded boats carrying migrants fleeing from the most extreme misery sank in the Mediterranean, taking with them up to 1200 lives. These tragedies have been repeating themselves for decades: in the 1990s, the well-guarded fortress of Gibraltar was already a tomb for many migrants. Since 2000, 22,000 people have disappeared while trying to get to Europe by sea. And since the Lampedusa drama in 2013, in which 500 perished, the migrations and their fatal consequences have been growing at an unprecedented rate. With nearly 22,000 crossings and 3500 deaths, the year 2014 broke all records. Since January 2015, the sea has already claimed 1800 migrants’ lives.
“In Syria, every day brings new massacres. The country has joined the other theatres of imperialist war in the Middle East. After Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, now it’s Syria’s turn. Unfortunately this situation immediately poses a very disquieting question: what’s going to happen in the period ahead? The Middle East seems to be on the verge of a conflagration whose limits are difficult to foresee. Behind the war in Syria, it’s Iran which is the focus of imperialist fears and appetites, but all the main imperialist brigands are ready to defend their interests in the region. This is a part of the world that is on a war footing - a war that could have irrational and destructive consequences for the whole capitalist system”. Thus began the article “The threat of an imperialist cataclysm in the Middle East” in International Review number 149, written nearly three years ago to the day. The situation, the militarisation and decomposition of the Middle East, has since worsened and the threat of a generalised conflagration has become even greater.
Having read on the website of the Internationalist Communist Tendency the communiqué of 12 April 2015 entitled A proposito di alcune infami calunnie (‘Response to a vile slander’), the ICC expresses its total solidarity with the ICT and with those of its militants who have been particularly targeted in these attacks by former members of the ICT’s section in Italy, the Partito Comunista Internazionalista.
In Greece the triumph in the January elections for the left-wing Syriza party produced a pleasing symmetry in the response of the right and left of the political spectrum. In the UK, from the right, the Times declared “Far-left firebrand races to victory”, joined by the Daily Mail’s “Shock waves across Europe as the far left sweeps to power in Greece”.
We are publishing here the resolution on the social situation in France adopted at the 21st Congress of RI. This document goes back over our analysis of the balance of forces between the classes, with the aim of arriving at a better understanding of the underlying reasons for the relative social calm which has existed since the movement against pension reforms.
The ICC’s section in France recently held its 21st Congress which took place over two sessions. The first, devoted to debates about the organisational problems of the oldest section of the ICC, took place during our Extraordinary International Conference last May. The second session of the Congress was devoted to two questions:
- The analysis of the balance of forces in the social situation in France, on the basis of a critical examination of our difficulties in analysing the movement against pension reforms in the autumn of 2010. The debates on this question led to the Congress adopting a ‘Resolution on the social situation in France’ which we publish in this issue of WR.
- The defence of the organisation faced with pogromist and police-type attacks (fuelled by certain social networks, blogs and websites) which targets us as the main internationally organised current of the communist left.
Today, in a world fraught with imperialist wars - Iraq, Syria, Libya, East and West Africa, Sudan and Yemen, tensions in the Far East and terror attacks in Europe - Ukraine has become a serious focus of confrontation between Russia and its western rivals. Even if the current war is taking place on the periphery of Europe it nevertheless indicates a striding militarism and a growing threat of war coming to the capitalist heartlands.
In Britain, the electoral season is upon us once again. And the ruling class is a bit worried that a growing number of people aren’t that interested. That’s why, along with the usual arguments about the personalities of this or that political leader, followed (usually in order of importance) by arguments about the policies of the different parties, we are hearing a great deal about voter apathy and even the threat to democracy that it poses. The scandal caused by Russell Brand in his interview with Jeremy Paxman in October 2013 summed it up quite well: after Brand’s shocking admission that he has never voted and never will, because he is sick of the lies and dishonesty of the entire ‘political class’, Paxman came back with the classic response: if you don’t vote, you have no right to say anything about the political system. And he was backed up in particular by various celebrities and commentators on the left, who sometimes threw in further arguments about the vote being something that workers and oppressed women fought for to make sure they would have a voice in society. So either you vote and take part in electoral politics, or you are shamefully advocating political indifference and apathy, and even betraying the memory of the fighters of the past.
The bloody and barbaric attacks in Paris last month gave rise to a massive indignation and disgust. All this was shown in the gigantic gatherings in all the major towns of France and in numerous cities of the world. Millions of people and hundreds of thousands of workers all wanted to express their total rejection of these barbaric terrorist acts. Solidarity spontaneously took hold in the streets and in the squares. But this healthy and necessary reaction was immediately confronted with calls for patriotism, “national unity” and the “sacred union” from almost all wings of the French bourgeoisie.