As of this writing, the Covid-19 pandemic has claimed more than one million lives globally. But this official figure represents only the tip of an iceberg of devastation whose true magnitude will only be known in the future. Moreover, the pandemic and its effects have accelerated the deepest crisis of capitalism in nearly a century. Already tens of millions of people around the world have fallen further into extreme poverty and are suffering from hunger. Unemployment has spiraled everywhere. State repression is undermining democratic rights while consumer debts and those of nations to international lending institutions like the IMF are burgeoning. The wealthy, meanwhile, continue to get richer and richer.
The world is changing at a rapid pace and the challenges facing socialists are complex. The current crisis of capitalism has brought about a contradictory situation, a paradox. On the one hand this current crisis has created an opening for the introduction of socialist proposals while at the same time engendering adverse conditions for the working class. Still, opportunities exist and these are only going to expand, since the bourgeoisie is discredited and their political servants stand exposed.
Proof of this is illustrated by the social and political upheavals that continue to shake the foundations of the regime in the U.S. Flames of the rebellion against racism continue despite attempts to extinguish protest by channeling discontent into the presidential election. Mobilizations of the most oppressed and exploited continue to question the dominance of the imperialist regime in its very heartland.
In CRIR we believe that there are no shortcuts in the struggle against capitalism, but we consider that a first step is to synthesize our understanding of the key aspects of the current situation.
What are the main features of the international situation?
1. The international situation has become increasingly politically polarized. As a result, the conflicts between social classes have intensified. This was inevitable since the most widespread response of the various countries to the pandemic has been to protect the bourgeoisie and leave to fate the lives and jobs of the proletariat and the oppressed. Millions of families find themselves stretched to the limit as they face increasing poverty and inequality. However, mass struggle has begun to revive since capitalism’s failure to address the current crisis is clear and its power to convince the workers of its ability to lead is irreparably damaged.
2. The various degrees of quarantine and confinement that still exist increasingly engender violence against women. The purpose of this violence, an expression of patriarchy and sexism, is to quell the wave of feminist struggles for freedom and equality sweeping around the world. How can the working class mount a serious challenge to capital when half of its ranks are facing a daily attack by the patriarchal-capitalist system to the point of extermination?
3. The cruelty of the various capitalist states is no accident. On the one hand, the response of the bourgeois democracies has been shameful, concerned more with administering death rather than saving lives. On the other hand, the ability to contain the pandemic in countries like China is no less worrying since success there has bolstered authoritarianism in the state. Overall, democratic rights won by the working class stand in the direct line of fire of an increasingly despotic bourgeoisie worldwide.
Where to begin
A. The deepening of struggle depends on the degree of organization of the masses in the streets and in workplaces worldwide. Where adversity and strict quarantine still predominate, the priority is to revive the internal life of the worker, feminist, and community organizations. Where conditions of confinement have been relaxed, it is urgent to defend the conquests of the past, as well as to demand policies that will rescue the millions of unemployed and precarious workers.
B. In other CRIR statements, we have offered a list of demands, but today we must prioritize feminist demands.
Only to the extent that we combat macho violence in the domestic sphere and attacks against women by the forces of state repression and criminal gangs, will we be able to strengthen the anti-capitalist struggle, since the specific demands regarding gender oppression, such as access to abortion, and those of working-class and poor women include resistance to hunger, state tyranny and the attacks on the gains made by workers in every country. In the same sense, the pandemic is burdening women with an increased number of tasks, such as the increased weight of childcare demands for mothers working from home and the necessity of taking up the education of children due to the closure of schools, in addition to the care of the sick and elderly. These tasks that burden women today would under socialism be performed by institutions run by women and workers. All this only illustrates the limits of capitalism. The bourgeoisie will be no better prepared to face the next pandemic than it is doing today.
C. The bourgeoisie, since the time of Marx, has stopped being revolutionary. Today, moreover, it has abandoned any allegiance to a democratic identity. In fact, the bourgeoisie never was democratic, but was forced to grant a series of freedoms that the working classes achieved through struggle. The present deterioration of bourgeois democracy is an opportunity to insist on the alternative that our tradition has long since raised: a true democracy, which can only be achieved by overturning capitalism and establishing majority rule in a socialist society.
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Since the beginning of the imperialist epoch of capitalism, conditions capable of guaranteeing lasting concessions to workers and the oppressed have disappeared. To win concessions, however small, from the system or to preserve those won, it is necessary to defeat the entire bourgeoisie and advance toward revolution. There is no solution to the current crisis under capitalism. Socialist revolution is an immediate goal, along with the struggles for jobs, wages, democratic rights, and freedoms.
For all these reasons, we invite all fighters of the working class, the women’s movement, and the popular sectors to discuss this statement with your comrades and send us your comments. Likewise, we invite you to contact CRIR so that we can find ways to collaborate in the construction of united fronts and revolutionary parties, the seeds of new leadership for the current opportunities that exist.
Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR)
Partido Socialismo y Libertad – Argentina
Movimento Revolucionário Socialista – Brasil
Freedom Socialist Party – U.S. and Australia
Partido Obrero Socialista – México