Editorial 2 — July 2018

At the time of writing, the working class pulsates to life faced with the brutality of capital. The various identity hustlers — who promote a uniformly capitalist politics predicated on divisions of blood, culture, and fatherland — would have us believe that class antagonisms are no longer the driving force of society. Yet the bleak reality of the modern nation-state, as well as the sheer scale of repression it is periodically compelled to unleash in order to defend the present order, with all of its myriad contradictions, suggests otherwise.

Earlier this year schoolteachers in West Virginia fired the opening salvo, signaling the resumption of class war. This set off a massive strike wave, in defiance of both the bosses and the unions. So far the latter have done everything in their power to dissuade the teachers from this course of action, attempting to reroute their unrest to the safety of the ballot box, where it could be effectively neutralized. These unsanctioned (and by all accounts illegal) strikes have not only succeeded in paralyzing the school system at the state level; they have also provoked widespread anxiety in the ruling class and its political lackeys, who have grown unaccustomed to workers putting up a fight. The heroic struggle of the West Virginia schoolteachers has inspired their peers in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado to follow their example, with others elsewhere in the US contemplating similar measures. The possibility of a national teachers’ strike, perhaps joined by the many disaffected workers employed throughout the public sector, is being taken very seriously by the powers that be. In the state of Florida, for example, the teachers’ union has advised its rank-and-file not to strike, making abundantly clear it will not condone, much less support, any sort of militancy.

A similar process appears to be underway in Iran, France, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, where the situation for the working class has deteriorated considerably since the start of the economic crisis. The governments of the Right and the Left display the same disregard for our lives, which they see as expendable. Time and again, they shed the blood of those workers who have demonstrated against the deterioration of their living conditions under capitalism. Deliverance from these situations will depend above all on the extent to which the working class is able to extricate itself from capital and assert its political independence. The working class must respond to the violence of the exploiting class, exercised openly or covertly, with their own self-organization for the revolutionary conquest of power.

The capitalist class sits atop a mountain of corpses. Syria continues to serve as a battleground for imperialist interests scrambling to gain a foothold in the region, as well as a potential site for the start of World War Three. Already the conflict has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people, sacrificial lambs of rival powers struggling to maintain profits at the expense of the global working class. It is this dynamic, embedded within capitalism, which propels hostilities between different nation-states. And this struggle for control of the planet has only intensified with the economic crisis, for which, it is crucial to note, they have no solution. Only one lesson can be gleaned from all this: no faction of capital is progressive in the decadent phase of the system. Those who look for a progressive actor in conflicts between the various factions of capital will be sorely disappointed. In place of this hedging, we affirm that the way to put an end to imperialist carnage is not to line up on one side of it, but to organize ourselves as a class and fight our exploiters everywhere, who are responsible for engineering it in the first place.

As we speak, Cuba, one of the few standing beacons of the Stalinist Left, is undergoing a profound crisis. No end to this crisis appears to be in sight. The present issue dives into the history and basic functioning of the Cuban economy, demonstrating its capitalist underpinnings. It further challenges the claim, made by both the ideologues of the regime and its critics on the Right, that what was established in Cuba bore any resemblance, even remotely, to socialism. Recent attempts to reform the country’s economic model have stalled out, due to the inability of the private sector to absorb all those laid off by the state. Meanwhile, a generational transfer of power is underway within the ruling circles. The new leaders face significant pressure, both from above and below, to restore dynamism to the Cuban economy within a global economy where profitable investment opportunities are increasingly scarce.

Simultaneously, the United States has been tending more and more towards militaristic enforcement of its exclusionary immigration policies, exploding under the Obama administration. In this issue, we look into the conditions of undocumented sweatshop workers in the Fashion District of Los Angeles, California as a case study to help us better understand the process of legal precaritization, as well as the many hurdles and difficulties involved with organizing workers who have no legal status.

With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States on a virulently racist and xenophobic platform, militant elements of far right politics — neo-Nazi groups and adjacent formations, the KKK, the so-called “alt-right” — have doubtless been emboldened. Many on the Left have warned of an impending fascist takeover, which supposedly can only be combated through a temporary alliance of the working class with the “progressive” wing of capital. This line of argument falls apart on closer examination, however. Fascism, and dictatorship more generally, is an immunological response by capitalism to an existential threat, which can be internal or external in nature. Aligning with the progressive wing of capital in order to restore capitalist democracy achieves nothing, because democracy itself can be readily transformed into fascism as soon as it becomes necessary to do so. In this issue, we include a newly-translated article from the Italian Communist Left on the role antifascism has played in disarming workers ideologically, if not materially.

Finally, the IDF’s recent massacre of unarmed protesters along the Gaza border has reignited the debate over Israel and Palestine. While leftists rush to signal their support for Palestinian nationalism against the Zionist state, the current issue prefers to look at the deeper roots of the conflict. By ascertaining its relationship to the Jewish question and the national question — two questions which have long vexed Marxists — it becomes clear that each expresses a contradiction of capitalism. Jews in Eastern Europe, most of them workers sympathetic to socialist ideas, adopted various forms of nationalism before 1945. Zionism eventually won out, following the Nazi genocide, even earning the support of official communist parties as a “nationalism of the oppressed.” In light of Israel’s subsequent and ongoing atrocities against the Palestinians living in the occupied territories, however, it should perhaps be seen as Exhibit A in the case for why supporting any kind of nationalism is always a mistake, no matter how sympathetic it might seem at the time. That includes, among others, Palestinian nationalism (but also Kurdish, Catalan, etc.). Resolution of the Jewish question, as well as the national question, can only come through the revolutionary overthrow of capital on a global level.

Internationalist Communists reject all cross-class coalitions and mobilizations, which subject the working class to the will of capitalists, preparing it to become cannon fodder for their wars. The goal of this publication, as stated in the inaugural issue, is to regroup those individuals within the class who defend, without any compromise or hesitation, these internationalist and revolutionary positions.