This issue is adorned with a picture of the Spartacus uprising in celebration and reflection of one of our class’ most notable battles. Indeed, we are in the process of passing many centennials from October to Kronstadt in which we look back on our class’ most triumphant moments and ultimately, our greatest defeat. In wake of the October proletarian revolution, the international working class mobilized against the bourgeoisie. Soldiers abandoned trenches as workers across Europe formed soviets. General strikes in Winnipeg, Seattle and São Paulo turned militant and put in question capitalist rule, while across the largest ocean, Japan witnessed the largest strike in its history. In the spirit of the proletariat’s greatest hours and most tragic defeats, we have included ‘Socialism as foreign policy’ by Liebknecht in this issue, appearing for the first time in English, a text he wrote just before being carted off to jail.
Today, the working class finds itself afflicted by a series of defeats and communists are scattered across the globe in small groups. Living conditions are marked by a steady decline, regional wars scathe the world as great and medium powers are driven to militarism in the face of crisis. Across the globe, workers flee violence and deteriorating living standards in mass migration to which the “national” bourgeoisie drum up the muck of racism to divide our class. To comment on this phenomenon, we have included an article on the recent ‘migrant caravan’, which was brutally tear gassed on the American border. In many parts of North America in particular, processes such as suburbanization have smashed any sense of working-class community. Unaware of their common struggle with their fellow workers, many find themselves soaked in political nihilism. But despite this darkness, the proletariat is an inextinguishable light. In the past few years, from West Virginia to Los Angeles, American teachers have emerged as a section of the class prepared to fight back against decades of cuts. On an international level, thousands of European Amazon workers walked out en masse against the slave-driving intensity of the Black Friday rush. Only a month later, Canadian postal workers declared a strike against the Christmas rush in which an increase in parcel packages has caused an increase in injuries. The Spanish state did not hesitate to unleash their mercenaries as police charged the striking workers flailing batons and knocking out teeth. Across the Atlantic, the Trudeau government immediately shoved through a back-to-work bill threatening workers with fines for disobedience. More militant struggles have erupted in Iran and Mexico. In Iran, the workers at Haft Tapeh called for soviet organization in December in the face of mass repression, as bosses lined their pockets while workers had not received pay in three months. In Matamoros, Mexican workers in revolt against their horrendous conditions disrupted the capitalist order through wildcat walkouts, which were outside of union control. What revolutionaries must take away from these struggles is that the working class can fight outside the union and parliamentary channels of the bosses; that the working class can fight through its autonomous organs and from its own programmatic standpoint.
The recent wave of working-class militancy cannot be understood separately from the ongoing and deep crisis of capitalism. The truth is, no matter how much the political voice boxes wish to speak of jobs and recovery – since 2008 – capitalism remains in unsettling turmoil, unable to overcome its own logic. In order to stave off the grim reality of the crisis, states have injected trillions of dollars every year to keep the bourgeois order afloat (through tax breaks and hand outs to banks). Fictitious (or interest-bearing) capital has become the dominant pole of the capitalist economy, as the rate of profit has sharply declined in the productive sphere. As much as figures like Trump have been able to peddle illusions to the workers about “job-creation”, a cursory glance at the data behind new jobs reveals that most of them are precarious. Is this supposed stimulation of the job market really indicative of recovery when real wages are decimated and the new prospects for labor are found in the gig economy and temp work? The increase in Uber-style jobs is less of a sign of stability for capital than it is a glaring indication of the deepening of the crisis. In light of this situation, militarism is on the rise. Countries like Venezuela have become a battleground for rivalries between imperialist powers hoping to advance their positions within capitalism. The seriousness of such a situation requires an uncompromising call to proletarian independence, a position taken by Klasbatalo comrades in their article on the political fiasco in Venezuela. Regional conflicts have reduced citadels of civilization into rubble, Europe and Russia practice their tank manoeuvres, American fleets strafe the far pacific staring down their Chinese rival.
Each action having its opposite reaction, the chaos that the bourgeois order has produced has been met with a spontaneous outburst of new proletarian struggles, after decades of defeat and atomization. After such a long period of class struggle being kept in a dormant state, the working class is finding itself no longer able to stand back in the face of such massive assaults. It must now organically produce a new leadership out of these struggles, one capable of carrying the lessons from the past, critiquing the struggles of today, and always pushing the fight onto our own terrain. It is no secret that currently, our forces are well behind in this task, but to push it off for more “ripe” conditions is the suicide of opportunism. While Intransigence is a modest effort, we wish to be a part of the process that ties Berlin 1919 to Mexico 2019.
I shall be
With the deepening of working-class struggle on the horizon, communists cannot sit on their hands. In connection to the lessons accumulated since the revolutionary wave of Rosa Luxemburg’s epoch, the proletariat is a class that emanates its own program. Revolutionaries today cannot reduce their activity to book clubs and cocktail parties. We cannot proclaim ourselves to be revolutionaries on theory alone. We must fight for the communist programme inside the newly emerging struggle, tying the lessons of the past to our immediate conditions, thus allowing us to draw new lessons. In this issue, we publish a riveting account of one of our comrades organizing in their work place. Set in the drab backdrop of cubicle labor, it highlights the grind, the old traps, and the insurmountable antagonisms between capital and labour. As well, next to a historical account of the US labour movement, we publish ongoing debates from communists across the world, from a critique on “lumpenization” by Prometeo, and a response by one of our readers on the period of transition based on a piece we previously published by Kontra Klasa.
What is the sound of the sabers rattling? What are these crises and assaults on the working class? Nothing but the evidence that this order is built on sand. The proletariat’s combative efforts weigh like a nightmare on bourgeois rule. Again, the working-class steps on the world-historical stage as the class with the capacity to emancipate all of humankind. No longer does humanity have to wander in the foggy swamps of class society, with all its mystifications and illusions. As the capitalists desperately scrounge for profits, our class sees its enemy and draws a line of demarcation. All traps, all mediations are abandoned, and the proletariat finally realizes its autonomy and historic task. With this crisis, the proletariat prepares to once again blow its trumpets and declare itself as the thunderclap of history. We shall be.