The following is a statement issued on November 11, 2015 originally published in La Izquierda Diario . The recent attacks in Paris on November 13 will no doubt be used as an excuse to push for more anti-immigrant laws and to bombard native workers with nationalist propaganda (as we saw after Charlie Hebdo). This will be used to undermine the ability of workers to resist the attacks that are made against them — resistance that the pilots of Air France exemplified of when they ripped off their CEO’s shirt for firing them by the hundreds.
The growing xenophobia against immigrants and refugees as well as the strengthening of reactionary national borders are glimpses of the preparation of new attacks against both native-born and immigrant workers. In the midst of the downfall of the so-called “European dream,” new sovereigntist proposals have emerged – from both the “left” and the right – that aim to recreate the reactionary utopia of “national salvation” along different paths.
This is just more proof that Europe is under stress from Germany’s efforts to preserve its hegemony, through which it has effortlessly subordinated other EU member-nations and accelerated the semi-colonization of peripheral countries (ie. Greece). But trends towards the disintegration of the Euro as a common currency have not yet disappeared. The barely hidden clashes between Germany and the United States over who will pay the cost of the global crisis and who will take up leadership regarding Eastern Europe and Russia add more tension to the EU. These contradictions reveal the imperialist project’s limits, which continue to manifest again and again through new crises.
With these dynamics in mind, it is increasingly urgent to push for an internationalist and working class perspective that offers a real alternative for the workers and masses of Europe amidst capitalist crisis — an alternative to the nationalist xenophobia, social crisis, and environmental disasters to which capitalism condemns us each day.
Xenophobic and Nationalist Tendencies Grow with the Migratory Crisis
The extended journey of thousands of men, women and children who traverse the Balkans and the Mediterranean Sea is a consequence of the capitalist crisis and its barbarity. We are witnessing the biggest refugee crisis Europe has faced since World War II.
So far this year, over 700 thousand refugees and migrants have sought entry into Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. According to official statistics, more than 3,200 have died or disappeared, but the real numbers are probably higher. The desperate situation of refugees will worsen when winter arrives, as they are forced to sleep in precarious conditions in refugee camps and walk thousands of miles through the wilderness.
The European imperialist powers and the United States, with their policies of systematic, economic pillaging and political and military interventions in the Middle East and Africa, are responsible for this situation. NATO’s role in these disasters — just recently having had the biggest military exercises in a decade in Southern Europe — is further proof.
The EU imperialist governments’ response to the crisis is a “distribution” of refugees throughout the continent and simultaneous reinforcement of national borders. The tightening of border controls is now a fact in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary — where Viktor Orban’s government built wire fences. Germany, the UK, Denmark and other countries have strengthened their migratory laws to achieve faster deportations and cut down refugees’ rights. At the same time, the migratory crisis has revived animosities in the Balkans that were considered long buried.
The hypocritical rhetoric of “European solidarity” seeks to hide the return of a reactionary ideology of strengthening national borders against the massive influx of immigrants and refugees. An example of this is the creation of “hot spots” or de facto concentration camps in the EU’s peripheral countries to justify the reactionary policies of classifying migrants according to their place of origin and their individual characteristics, artificially separating “refugees” from “economic migrants” who are denied entry. Those accepted through the quota are to be used as cheap labor.
The growing xenophobia is stoked by far-right parties like Law and Justice, which recently won elections in Poland, or by conservative sectors inside and outside of Merkel’s Great Coalition in Germany. Violent actions against refugee centers by far-right groups have risen and the Pegida islamophobe movement has once again rallied thousands in the streets. In France, the growing presence of Marine Le Pen’s National Front and the UMPS’s reactionary speech is further proof.
The EU has designated Turkey’s Erdogan as its “best ally” to contain the wave of refugees and impede their arrival in Europe. They have agreed to dedicate 30 billion euros to finance Erdogan’s murderous government to achieve this goal. Erdogan’s regime does not hesitate to use the most sinister methods to maintain power, as shown by its role in the brutal terrorist attacks in Ankara and Suruc, its war-mongering campaign against the Kurds, and the persecution of opposition organizations, the press, media and all leftist tendencies.
Another important ally the EU has in the Middle East is the terrorist state of Israel, which is carrying out a new repressive offensive against the Palestinian people — mainly the youth — by ordering their soldiers to “shoot to kill” anyone suspected of answering the so-called “intifada of knives.” The “Oslo Generation” of the Palestinian youth is resisting the occupation heroically. It is necessary to strengthen the solidarity movement with the Palestinian people across Europe.
In this scenario, it is urgent to recreate a working-class internationalism that advances a program for both the native-born and foreign working class, to halt the payment of the costs of the crisis, and to support the people oppressed by imperialism. These efforts can constitute a political alternative capable of intervening with its own tools of material and political solidarity for refugees, oppressed peoples, and the working class – regardless of legal status..
Greece and the Bankruptcy of Reformism
Syriza’s capitulation to the Troika signals the bankruptcy of European reformism, eight years after the start of the capitalist crisis. The “left” and “anti-austerity government” strategy gave birth to a class-conciliation government between Syriza and the xenophobic nationalists of ANEL — one which in a matter of months would completely surrender to the Troika’s demands. The policy of channeling and pacifying the discontent of the workers and masses — discontent which expressed itself through numerous general strikes and insurrections against the previous governments of PASOK and New Democracy — led to a political defeat of the Greek masses before the creditors without any real struggle.
Pablo Iglesias of PODEMOS and the Unified Left in Spain, the Bloco and the CP in Portugal (which just agreed to form a majority with the Socialist Party) all went down the same road that Syriza attempted — a road celebrated by other sectors of the reformist left like Die Linke in Germany and the French CP.
The new European reformisms’ failure in power is a key lesson that the youth and workers across Europe must learn. What failed was the idea that it was possible to “pressure” the “European partners” to moderate austerity. The idea of a “social Europe” that neglected to question the Europe of Capital resulted in these governments kneeling before the Troika’s blackmail. At the same time, the institutional gradualism strategy (which preached that slowly but surely the masses would achieve complete democracy) failed as well, politically disarming the mobilization of workers and the masses in the years prior to SYRIZA’s electoral success.
Left “Sovereigntism” and its “Plan B” is a New Trap
Instead of learning from their own mistakes, the elements of Syriza that split off to form Popular Unity now proposes an “anti-euro” reformism as an alternative to Tsipras’ capitulation.
This new political formation demonstrated its complete impotence during the crisis, having no structural presence in important sectors of the mass movement due to a strategy that centered on building a parliamentary left with a reformist program. Its proponents mix radical rhetoric with a project that ultimately calls for rebuilding the Greek economy on “healthy” foundations, meaning the construction of a “national capitalism” that is “more social,” with less corruption and extravagance. Their plan of an “orderly exit from the Euro” (i.e., negotiating with creditors) and returning to the drachma to achieve a more competitive economy is based mainly on the devaluation of currency and the decline of the purchasing power of wages — an indirect attack on workers: different, but no better than austerity. We as workers cannot choose between two instruments that the exploiters will use to behead us.
Popular Unity’s complete lack of self-criticism regarding the months they were in power, holding ministerial positions, and their late split (after Tsipras gave them no other option) did not allow them to present themselves as a credible alternative to Syriza. Popular Unity continues calling for a class-conciliatory strategy which has already been shown to lead to catastrophic consequences.
Internationally, this party, along with other European politicians like Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France, Stefano Fassina in Italy, Oskar Lafontaine in Germany, and Yanis Varoufakis in Greece (all four of them former ministers of capitalist governments), have promoted a “Plan B for Europe” since early September. On November 14/15 their first “meeting” will be held in Paris. Arguing that their Plan B is not some isolated vision within their national borders, but an internationalist plan for the European peoples, its real objectives show the limited capacity and misleading nature of their project. Its promoters speak of “many Plan Bs” since there is not a definitive agreement between its different component parts to exit the Euro. As some of them say, “All possible scenarios will be debated, whether it is exiting the Euro or another way. At first, we will speak of what modifications we can contribute to the Euro zone.”
In the end, behind their rhetoric of a Plan B is the old repetitive position of Plan A, now backed by the threat of a future Plan B. These people think they can make the Troika change its mind with better sophistry!
In their most left-wing vision, they seek to make a European version of the Foro de Sao Paulo, which according to Jean-Luc Mélenchon “led to power 11 progressive governments in Latin America.” In other words, the governments responsible for channeling the popular revolts in Latin America — the Caracazo in Venezuela, the “away with them all!” in Argentina, and the semi-insurrection of El Alto in Bolivia in the late 90s to early 2000s — that re-legitimized the capitalist state. Now that the rise of raw commodity prices is over, these governments are in all countries they govern allowing conservative and pro-austerity currents to grow. In many cases, such as Brazil and Venezuela, they are enforcing these austerity measures themselves. Plan B is a dead end.
Recreating a new working class internationalism
Neither the pro-euro reformism, nor the many faces of the Plan B, nor the euro-sceptical reformisms are real alternatives for millions of workers, youth and women. It is necessary to forge an internationalist, class struggle, revolutionary and anti-capitalist wing that can present a different Plan: an internationalist Plan “I”.
The only way to truly combat the austerity measures so that the workers no longer pay for the crisis is by making a new Plan that on a European level is taken up nationally to advance measures like nationalizing the banks and putting them under workers control, expropriating the big capitalist industries, trade and transport, ceasing payments on foreign debt, redistributing labour shifts, full political and social rights for refugees and immigrants, defending the rights of women and LGBT sectors, and for the unity of the working class. A program that questions the big profits that capitalists and bank-owners earn.
We stand against the Europe of Capital, which cannot offer anything more than misery and social tragedy for the workers and people, we support the struggle for workers’ governments aiming to forge a United Socialist States of Europe.
We call on the NPA and Lutte Ouvriére in France, ANTARSYA in Greece, the SWP and many groups of the radical left in Great Britain and all tendencies that proclaim themselves to be anti-capitalist throughout the continent — as well as to the unions and trade union tendencies that refuse to choose between the Europe of Capital and a withdrawal to the narrowness of national borders — to discuss and organize an alternative of this type.
Both against the reactionary Europe of capital, with its national borders, as well as the dead end represented by the so-called Plan B, together we can push forward for an Internationalist Plan to contest pro-european reformism, the left “sovereigntism” and more importantly, the xenophobic far right and its influence on workers.
We face the challenge of making the revolutionary anti-capitalist left and rank-and-file class struggle union tendencies a viable alternative in the eyes of the workers and youth who have since the beginning of the crisis struggled to stop capital’s destructive logic.
Revolutionary Communist Tendency (CCR) of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), France
Clase contra Clase (Class versus Class), Spain
Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO), Germany