The Balkan Socialist Center “Christian Rakovsky” & the RedMed web network
The world capitalist crisis that exploded in 2007 continues without any solution in sight. Rather, it is escalating after ten years of social devastation and political convulsions. A dangerous impasse has been created following a world crash comparable to 1929, a world slump – a Third Great Depression- with millions of unemployed and underpaid “flexible” labor slavery under a permanent regime of draconian austerity, with wars in the Middle East and even in the Eastern borderlands of Europe, in Ukraine; but also with a continuing social resistance and recurrent popular revolts, struggling for a way out of the crisis.
The international landscape looks like a volcano or a series of volcanoes in continuous eruption.
Wars and hunger are driving an immense, unstoppable tsunami of desperate refugees to the gates of the imperialist metropolis that has produced their destitution in the first place; regime crises are manifest everywhere with the decay of parliamentarianism and the near collapse of the major parties of the bourgeoisie in each country; social and political polarization, sharpening social conflicts, the rise of the far right, of racism, of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism in Europe and America, but also new waves of workers-popular rebellions: from the mass mobilizations in Southern Europe to the “Arab Spring” and then the descent to the inferno produced by imperialist intervention in Syria, Yemen, or Libya. From the Gezi Park popular rebellion in Turkey, the Kurdish uprising on the question of Kobani and the Turkish metalworkers’ wildcat strikes to the coup and counter-coup of July 2016 and the rise of Erdogan’s despotism; and in Greece, from the mass mobilizations of 2010-12 against the measures of social cannibalism introduced by the troika of the EU/ECB/IMF, leading to the electoral victory of the left reformist Syriza to the latter’s capitulation in 2015 and up to now.
New qualitative leaps are now reshaping the international situation:
the election of Donald Trump as a far right, ultra-reactionary President in the USA, calling for economic, trade and military wars with the rest of the world, but confronted immediately with unprecedented mass mobilizations of millions in the US, with women in the vanguard;
the shock produced by Brexit and a European Union falling apart, now under the thin disguise of a “multi-speed Europe”;
the threat by the rising far right in Europe, particularly in France, where the fascistoid Front National is disputing the Presidency, but where also the workers have manifested their unbroken combat capacity in the “ French Spring” in 2016 and its Nuits Debout.
It is clear that all the extraordinary measures taken by governments and central banks internationally after the Lehman Brothers debacle in 2008, the draconian “austerity” to the masses and the rivers of liquidity to the crumbling banking system not only failed but also produced conditions for a new escalation of the crisis, new explosions, wars, state repression- and new revolutionary confrontations. World politics moves in a most unpredictable, non-linear way, through feverish zigzags to the right and to the left, posing acute and urgent challenges to the masses of the exploited and oppressed and to their political organizations and social movements.
The EU in terminal crisis?
The EU in a process of disintegration meets, interacts and interpenetrates with the chaos in the Middle East and North Africa. This is manifested most clearly in two countries where these two processes merge: a Greece already devastated by the diktat of the EU and the IMF, living a twin tragedy, its own humanitarian disaster combined with the tragedy of thousands of refugees trapped under appalling conditions in a destroyed country ; and Turkey in deep crisis, already involved in the wars in the region and with the Kurdish people, ininternal civil strife and facing the rising despotism of Erdogan’s regime.
Undoubtedly, Europe, the birth place of capitalism now in historic decline, will become an arena of social battles superseding everything that happened in its historic past, full of blood and fury.
60 years after the launching of the project by the ruling classes in Europe for its economic union, the entire project proved to be a disaster in every sense:
a disaster for the working class and the poor popular strata in the member States of this imperialist Union, experiencing ever growing mass unemployment, an assault on wages and pensions and the destruction of health services, education and democratic rights.
a disaster particularly for the people in Central-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, where the eastward expansion of the EU and NATO to recolonize the former Soviet space and a Mafia-style restoration of capitalist exploitation led to de-industrialization, destruction of the living conditions of the absolute majority, enrichment of a tiny minority of oligarchs and corrupt politicians, and mass immigration of the impoverished people.
a disaster for peace, both in Europe, from the EU’s role in the Yugoslav wars to the current Ukrainian debacle and NATO’s belligerent expansion to the borders of Russia, as well as the series of European imperialist aggression in Libya, Syria, the Middle East and Africa.
a disaster for millions of refugees, victims of European and US imperialism, who, searching for decent conditions of life in their quest for survival, face a “Fortress Europe”, a cynical EU closing the Western Balkan road, signing an infamous deal with Erdogan’s Turkey and then with a non existing “Libya”, condemning the refugees to drown in the middle of the Mediterranean and in the Aegean sea, or to be interned in new concentration camps, or to be victimized by racists, fascists, the police and the military, or to be forced to “return” to their destroyed homelands a disaster for the capitalists themselves as the world capitalist crisis gravely hit their attempts for an economic and monetary union, gave a fatal blow to the euro-zone, led to an undeclared bankruptcy not only in the case of Greece but of the entire European banking system, including Deutsche Bank, the biggest bank on the Continent, ignited poisonous nationalism, xenophobia, fascism and racist hatred, fed all national and imperialist antagonisms, and intensified the centrifugal forces of disintegration, starting with Brexit.
America, as the most powerful capitalist country in the world, is the center of the world capitalist crisis. Metropolitan Europe is a most vulnerable victim, a first target, together with China and Iran, of US capitalism’s efforts to export its own crisis.
We have to organize, resist, fight, and win!
The election of a hideous monster like Donald Trump to the White House is both a manifestation of the decay and crisis of the global capitalist system and a powerful, unpredictable factor for its acceleration. Protectionism, economic nationalism and “America first” policies under Trump could give a fatal blow to the crumbling edifice of the EU. The intensification of all contradictions produce conditions – despite the prevailing pessimism, particularly among the fragmented, confused and retreating Left- for new class confrontations, even revolutionary developments on the European Continent.
We saw it already in the first phase of the crisis, with the mass mobilizations in 2010-12 in Southern Europe, in the Spain of the “Indignados” or in Greece, where even now, although immersed in an abyss of social misery, the pauperized people is still resisting, despite the setback after Syriza’s betrayal.
A new wave of struggles is coming. Its prelude is the revolt of the French Spring of 2016 against the El Khomri anti-Labor Law. It has demonstrated that the real protagonist in history is the working class, the heirs of the Paris Commune, of the 1936 general strike and of May 68, a protagonist capable of both defeating “la peste bleu marine” of the Front National and bringing down capitalism.
In Central-Eastern Europe and the impoverished Balkans, destabilized by the overall crisis of the EU and the standoff between NATO and Russia, we see mass unrest, national conflicts, rise of far right governments in Hungary and Poland – but also recurrent massive social rebellions in Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia. Even in Poland, a victorious “Black Strike” of women took place against the extension of the anti-abortion law by the ultra-conservative regime. The “integration” of the region with the EU has been transformed from a pipedream to a nightmare.
The European bourgeoisie has proved historically its absolute incapacity to unify the Continent either by means of war or by a “peaceful” economic process. The call by right wing populists or “left” nationalists for a return to the straitjacket of the bourgeois Nation State is a recipe for disaster. The poisoning of economic life with nationalism leads to fascism and it is condemned to fail in overcoming the capitalist crisis.
Only the working class can put an end to the crisis and unify the Continent on new, socialist bases, fighting to build, on the ruins of the imperialist EU, a United Socialist States of Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
Τhe workers and the poor in Europe cannot emancipate themselves without solidarity and a common struggle together with all the oppressed against all forms of discrimination of gender, ethnic-national origin, religion or sexual orientation. A common struggle with the immigrants and refugees, as well as with all the peoples in the Middle East, Asia, Africa or Latin America oppressed by imperialism is necessary.
Already in the first round of struggles, after the eruption of the world crisis, this interconnection has become very clear around the Mediterranean: la Puerta del Sol in Madrid was connected with Tahrir Square in Cairo and then with Syntagma Square in Athens and Gezi Park and Taksim Square in Istanbul.
From the Arab revolution to sectarian nightmare
The Arab revolution, in particular the partially victorious revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, put an end to a long era during which there was no victorious revolution internationally. The last victorious revolutions the world had seen were those in Iran and Nicaragua, both in 1979, which themselves unfortunately turned sour later. The Egyptian revolution in particular was one of the most powerful mass uprisings in modern history, fighting three different power structures successively. Two of these it managed to bring down, but it was finally stopped by the Bonapartist regime of General al Sisi in mid-2013. The recent release of Hosni Mubarak from prison is an affront to the heroic struggle of the Egyptian people and shows that the revolution has been beaten, at least temporarily, It is important to point out that one of the major reasons for the defeat of the revolution is the absence of a revolutionary proletarian party, the creation of which is a burning question in all of our countries.
Imperialism intervened and spread chaos in the Middle East to stop the Arab revolution: the inferno in Syria and Libya, the al Sisi dictatorship in Egypt, the atrocities in Yemen. The so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” or Daesh is a Frankenstein created by imperialism itself and its regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Erdogan’s Turkey in the forefront, in their quest to transform the Syrian uprising of 15 March 2011 into a civil war on sectarian bases. Racism and discrimination against Muslim and Arab marginalized populations, as well as the consequences of the economic crisis that creates large pockets of unemployment and misery in the metropolitan centers, themselves feed into the nihilist terror practiced by Daesh.
The heroic Kurdish people, the only force which really resisted Daesh victoriously in Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan, faces new dangers emanating from the intrigues of US imperialism, secret diplomacy, and the intransigent denial of Kurdish rights even beyond its borders by the Turkish state.
The new Trump administration, combining the most vicious anti-Semites around the president in the White House with ultra-Zionists, will escalate the horror. It covers up the far right Netanyahu government in Israel, expanding the settlers’ colonization of Palestinian land and even planning for the annexation of the West Bank, to complete the Nakbah (Destruction) of the Palestinian people. Plans are also being advanced for the exploitation of the natural gas off the coast of Palestine, implying that the Palestinian people is going to be robbed of a lucrative resource that rightfully belongs to it. This year is the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration, that sinister profession de foi on the part of British imperialism that provided Zionism with the opportunity of establishing a “Jewish home” in Palestine, thus establishing the historical basis of the enslavement of the Palestinian people. Let us rise to defend the rights of this persecuted people in order to make self-determination possible for them.
Furthermore, the strategy of the Trump administration is to exploit the reactionary Sunni-Shia divide to form a war alliance of the oligarchic Arab regimes in the region, under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, with the warmongers in Israel, for a confrontation with Iran and its regional allies. This will play into the hands of the Saudi kingdom, probably the most reactionary state on the face of the earth today ruled by a band of rentiers, in its quest to seize ever greater sources of fossil fuel, and the AKP government in Turkey, in its obsessive effort to make its leader Erdogan the “Rais” of the entire Sunni world.
However, we believe that the momentum of the Arab revolution and its sequel in other countries has not been totally exhausted. The experience of the uprising of the Tunisian working class youth, of the “people’s festival” that Tahrir Square was, of the brave resistance put up by the peoples of Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, or Morocco to unsavoury rulers, of the dizzying burst of creativity and the heroic resistance of the Gezi popular rebellion in Turkey, of the joy of liberation that was in the air in the early stages of the foundation of Rojava – all this experience will no doubt leave behind traces on the basis of which new struggles will come forth and flourish.
Urgent response necessary for an urgent situation
The drive to generalize the imperialist war is more dangerous than ever, it threatens all the peoples of the world- and we have to fight everywhere to defeat imperialism and war. Even before the advent of Trump, US imperialism in collusion with its European allies was feverishly working through every means available towards the encirclement of both Russia and China with the purpose of bringing them down on their knees when circumstances permit. This dogged policy, accompanied by the drive to control the Middle East because of its energy resources, will, in all probability, lead the world to the catastrophe of a Third World War, sooner or later. The dramatic alternative posed by Rosa Luxemburg during the First World War is more topical now than ever before: Socialism or barbarism.
Under these burning conditions, an Emergency Conference of all militant forces fighting for emancipation from imperialism, capitalist barbarism, and all forms of exploitation and oppression, is needed to discuss the changes and challenges in the international situation and elaborate a common international program of action.
The Balkan Socialist Center “Christian Rakovsky” and the RedMed web network have already organized successfully three international conferences in recent years. Now, conscious of the urgency of the situation and the necessity for internationalism in action, we call allmilitant workers and popular organizations and social movements in Europe, the Middle East and internationally, as well as the forces of the revolutionary Left, coming from different traditions, to join us in an Emergency 4th Euro-Mediterranean Workers Conference in Athens, Greece, on May 26-28, 2017.
This year is the Centenary of the Great October Revolution, which created the first durable workers’ state in history. All the rest of the revolutions and other types of transition to the abolition of capitalism in the 20th century were, to a considerable extent, the offspring of this fountainhead. Let us take our inspiration from the October Revolution, strive to create anew an international movement that will lead all the struggles for emancipation, avoid the mistakes of the past, and create the bases of a classless society on the international scale that will forever rule out the barbarism that capitalism in decline is driving us into once again.
March 25, 2017