On May 1 this year, the Trotskyist Fraction (FT) — an international revolutionary socialist organization spanning multiple countries and continents — came together for a virtual international rally to celebrate May Day. Over 7,000 people across the world joined the livestream. Socialist leaders from 14 different countries spoke in 6 different languages to address a wide variety of topics, but they had one singular message: the current crisis is caused by capitalism and we will not pay for their crisis. Instead, we must build our own independent, international organizations that will fight for the working class and oppressed when they come under attack and that will join together in the fight for socialism. Left Voice is publishing transcripts and videos of each speech. Watch the entire livestream on Left Voice.
Santiago Lupe is a historian and member of the Revolutionary Workers Current (CRT) in the Spanish State. He is an editor for La Izquierda Diario, Spanish State.
The coronavirus crisis has dealt another blow to the European Union, showing the world that it is nothing more than a reactionary agreement between different imperialist states. They have once again played the role of Boards of Directors for their respective capitalists. Each of them has taken measures without the slightest coordination or collaboration. Germany and France even went so far as to ban the export of respirators and other medical equipment at the peak of the healthcare crisis in Italy and the Spanish State. The Northern axis, led by Germany and the Netherlands, wants to capitalize on this crisis again, as it did in 2008, to strengthen its position at the expense of the workers and peoples of Southern Europe. Meanwhile, the governments of Italy and the Spanish State plead for Corona bonds and debt mutualization. But they aren’t doing it to save us. They’re doing it to rescue Italian and Spanish capitalists.
This new crisis has hit the EU after Brexit and in the context of the growth of strong nationalist tendencies, which are being capitalized on by the extreme right. These are reactionary trends fueled by years of austerity policies spearheaded by the Troika. And by the institutional racism of the different governments against immigrants, who they continue to let drown by the thousands in the Mediterranean Sea, who they imprison in detention centers for foreigners -like the ones we have here in the Spanish State- or in refugee camps in Greece, in squalor and with a complete lack of sanitation.
There is no possible reform for the EU of capital. But the projects of the extreme nationalist right or the sovereignist proposals that aim to limit us to old national frameworks are not an acceptable alternative. The debacle of the imperialist EU lays bare the need for the continent’s working class to fight for a Europe of workers and peoples. Against the Europe of capital, we are fighting for the United Socialist States of Europe.
In the Spanish State, we have become one of the epicenters of the health crisis. We have watched hospitals collapse, as well as morgues. The government took too long to act, failed to conduct mass testing and is still not conducting it today. It’s concealing the actual number of deaths from us; they are estimated to be far higher than 30 thousand. This was not just a health catastrophe. What we’re experiencing is a true social crime. It’s a social crime perpetrated by the governments of the Popular Party and the Socialist Party, who privatized important parts of health care system and nursing homes, and cut the health care budget by 20 billion in the last decade. It’s a social crime that has also been perpetrated by the so-called “progressive” government of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos, along with all the autonomous governments. This entire time, they have failed to take the most basic measures, like the effective intervention without compensation of the private health care system, which had thousands of unoccupied ICU beds at the peak of the crisis. Nor have interventions been carried out in corporations, in industries that could have been converted to make the much needed protective equipment or the respirators that were lacking in hospitals.
This disastrous response to the health crisis has also included attempts to rehabilitate the armed forces and the police, militarizing our streets and accelerating the State recentralization process. The government intends to exploit this situation to strengthen its position vis-à-vis Catalonia and the democratic aspirations of its people in their struggle for self-determination, after they carried out protests and street confrontations for several days last October that called into question the legitimacy of the regime established in 1978.
This health catastrophe has been followed by an economic and social crisis the likes of which have not been seen in this country since the end of the Spanish civil war. There were 4 million suspensions and 1 million layoffs in March alone, in addition to the 3 million unemployed before the pandemic, 1.5 million self-employed workers who are also unemployed, and hundreds of thousands of small producers who have gone bankrupt. And in response to all this, all the government has to offer is paltry subsidies, while it leaves intact the millions in profits made by large corporations and the wealthy. It provided the bank with a preventive bailout, with 100 billion euros in guarantees. All this has been financed with more public debt, by mortgaging the future of new generations with austerity measures and budget cuts throughout the coming years.
And this new bailout for capitalists is being carried out once again by the liberal social government of the PSOE, like in 2008. But this time it’s doing it with Podemos, a left party that presented itself as a new political force but that aims to apply the old formula of reforming capitalism. Today, thousands are witnessing how the very people who rose to power by opposing the 2008 austerity measures are now overseeing even more extreme austerity policies. Because they have decided to be part of a government of the fourth largest imperialist power in Europe, which effectively means acting as lawyers for Spanish multinationals that prey on the resources of our brothers and sisters in Latin America or other continents. They have decided to be another party loyal to His Majesty, paying homage to the reactionary monarchical institution, in which more cases of corruption were exposed in the middle of this crisis. The Crown has appropriated millions that are now crucial for the public health system.
But there are many sectors that distrust this left-wing manager of capitalist business. As our comrade Asier, a Telepizza delegate, previously said, many precarious workers hold the government responsible for their complicity with the corporations. Because it allowed employers to force them to work without measures to prevent infection. The workers of Telepizza are an example to follow, because they stood up against the lack of protective measures, because they organized strikes against the company’s repression, and because they are demanding that these large restaurant chains be intervened under the control of their staff, so they can stop selling junk food to line their bosses’ pockets and guarantee quality food for the families that have been most affected by the crisis.
The fact that Podemos, along with Izquierda Unida, the force led by the Communist Party of Spain, are now part of the Spanish imperialist government is a confirmation of the political bankruptcy of this reformist left, which, as already demonstrated in Greece with the government of Syriza, can only offer us the same anti-worker austerity plans aimed at making workers and low-income sectors pay for the crisis.
So to fight against the economic and social catastrophe that the capitalists are preparing for us, we need to build another left, a revolutionary and working class left that is radically opposed to the illusion that it’s possible to discipline corporations and the market by managing the capitalist state. A left of the working class, of women and youth that is independent of all parties that govern for corporations, with a program aimed at making the capitalists pay for the crisis.
The Revolutionary Workers’ Current proposes that the revolutionary left groups of the Spanish State who share this perspective join forces with us in this crisis, under a single program, and that we start a discussion on how to move forward in establishing a united party of the revolutionary left. A revolutionary left organization, with class independence, to call organizations like Anticapitalistas, which has just broken with Podemos, or the CUP of the Catalan pro-independence left, to definitively abandon any illusions with regard to the management of the capitalist state or an alliance with the Catalan pro-independence bourgeoisie.
Because we are facing a crisis for which there can be no intermediate solution.
Either the capitalists impose their program on us to rescue their State, their companies and their profits, or the working class and the poor people impose our own, based on the expropriation of the expropriators, to build true workers’ republics on the remains of the democracies for the rich.