By Arsen Sabaté and Cynthia Lub
The November 14 General Strike in Spain is converging with a day of struggle in Europe, general strikes also in Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, possibly in Greece, a four-hour strike in Italy and mobilizations in the rest of the countries, against the austerity policies and the capitalist crisis. The historic attacks they are making against workers and young people, are taking place in other states as well, under the dictates of the Troika – the EU, European Central Bank and the IMF – and the implementation of the various governments.
We workers, young people and the poor of Spain state have already been paying for the capitalist crisis for the fifth year. Five years of crisis have not been in vain for the capitalists: they have led us to dramatic living conditions, with millions of unemployed, hundreds of thousands of evictions and young people without a future. In Spain, the only way to what the governments, PSOE and PP, are giving free rein to, is that of historic cutbacks and attacks, with snips and privatization plans. They have left us without public services, like health care: closure of hospitals, dismissal of staff, copayments, as well as the xenophobic measure that excludes immigrants or makes them pay extremely high prices. Or like education, that was already degraded; it is now deteriorating through cuts with a reduction of staff, a budget cut, an increase in fees, in class sizes, and the new educational reform (LOMCE) that refers us to education under Franco, with the imposition of the system of final exams, and a great many other things. The criminal labor reforms have also made us go back to dark periods in those conquests made by generations of fighters from among workers and the people, with their struggle and organizing. Dismissal has been made cheaper; they have made employment still more precarious; they have cut back union rights, and other big concessions to the demands of the employers. And, more recently, the already more than 400,000 evictions, that are now “express” in order to speed up profits to the banks that are taking homes away from hundreds of thousands of families that are, literally, in the street.
The social safety net and the mechanisms that could contain the effect of the crisis are reaching their limit: subsidies and benefits, assistance to canteens, to the needy, study scholarships, among others. Capitalist ruin is leading us to the ruin of our living conditions, so that “moderating or humanizing capitalism,” “gradually” through “participatory democracy,” to achieve “social equality” within this system, as a whole series of organizations, ranging from the major unions CCOO and UGT to the IU, are proposing, and municipal projects like the CUPs, as well as electoral projects like Syriza in Greece, are a reactionary utopia, in view of this widespread attack and its effects on the entire working class. Devastating effects on the standard of living of households, that come to light quickly and dramatically.
Dark prospects for the working class and the people
The prospects are as dark as the harsh effects of the current crisis. The budgets for 2013 envisage the reduction of more than 30 billion, to achieve a deficit that will not exceed 3.8% of GDP, in accordance with the demand from the EU. On the other hand, the cost of the public debt will become the second-largest item of the state budgets – after pensions – and exceeding personnel expenditures for the first time since, at least, 1995. The government will also pay more in interest than in unemployment benefits, or almost the same as all the ministries (39.722 billion). A 24% reduction in the items of agriculture, food, and the environment is anticipated, a 21.3% reduction in industry, energy, and tourism, and a 17.2% reduction in education, culture, and sports, in addition to the reductions already made in 2012. To all that are added the thousands of layoffs of civil servants and those that have been accumulating in the private sector, totally assisted by the implementation of the latest labor reform and massive recourse to the ERE (Records of layoffs and records of termination). It is estimated that the number of the unemployed will reach 26% in 2013, which is the highest rate in the EU, together with Greece. In this context, the social crisis has worsened. The problem of housing is one of the most serious tragedies, as is expressed by the suicides of those people who fall into despair, not only because they are without the house into which they poured all their savings and years of work, but also because they are indebted to the banks for life.
The groups most affected are, first, the most exploited groups of the working class, workers with uncertain employment, immigrants, the young people who can neither work nor study.
No more social peace! Everyone out, to the General Strike on November 14!
The November 14 strike will be a breath of fresh air that will strengthen a new wave of struggles in Spain and the rest of Europe, to break the stifling “social peace” that the union bureaucracy supports. It could be an impetus to respond more forcefully to the capitalist attacks that the Troika and the different governments are subjecting us to. Moreover, internationally, there are beginning to be harsh struggles of the working class not only in Europe – currently the epicenter of the crisis – but also in China or the miners’ strikes in South Africa.
So that this November 14 strike day will become a spearhead, it is essential to fight the policy of social peace that the CCOO and UGT union bureaucracy is supporting. With these leaderships, all the potential that the working class and the young people have shown, like 29M or the miners’ strike, the mobilizations of the civil servants and education, is wasted. Thus, it is necessary in this strike to promote workers’ organization in democratic assemblies from the rank and file, the unity of permanent employees and those facing precarious employment, the unemployed, native and foreign workers …. with the perspective of strengthening our class, recovering our unions as tools of struggle and putting an end to these union leaderships, to a large extent the ones responsible for the state we find ourselves in.
Against the Europe of capital and its regimes: A workers’ revolutionary alternative
On November 14, two Europes will be seen: that of the workers and the poor, and that of the governments that are rescuing the capitalist class and protecting its interests. This day of continental struggle must be a first step in forging the internationalist unity of the workers against the plans of the Troika.
The government of the PP has already said that it is not going to relent, an obvious sign of the anti-worker character of the Regime of 1978, and the same thing is true of the EU, that now clearly appears as an alliance against the workers of the continent. Therefore, it is necessary that November 14 be only the beginning of a sustained and forceful plan of struggle, that aims at those responsible for the crisis, the capitalists, their governments and the EU. We can expect nothing from them, and all the programs that will try to reform or modify this system, by “sharing the wealth” or “with fiscal reforms,” are ineffective and utopian. Our outrage cannot be contained within the boundaries of this system. It is necessary to fight for a program that makes them pay for the crisis, that proposes distribution of the hours of work without reducing wages, the expropriation under workers’ control of the enterprises they will close, or where they will fire people, nationalization of banking … and that directs the fight with the perspective of putting an end to the Regime of 1978, the capitalist system, and the EU itself.
The crisis demonstrates that they survive or we do, which ultimately comes down to either they, the representatives of the bankers and businessmen, rule, or we, the workers, will. It is necessary to fight to overturn these democracies for the rich and their inter-state, anti-worker pact, which is the EU.
It is about the political structure that furthermore guarantees the imperialist control of the European powers over the countries of Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America, and keeps the negation of the right to self-determination for nationalities like the Catalan and the Basque. The struggle against the austerity plans necessarily has to leave the framework of capitalism, if it does not wish to be led to a dead end.
The struggle to put an end to the deterioration that they are imposing on us, is a struggle against a system that, with its crises, threatens to repeat past forms of barbarism, as in the twentieth century. Spain, as in Greece and other countries of the EU, tendencies of the extreme right, of anti-immigrant and xenophobic racism, are beginning to appear. In order to save ourselves from being dragged down to poverty by the crisis of the euro and the EU, and to a spiral of new nationalisms and xenophobia that can only lead to new wars and catastrophes for the workers, we must fight for the revolutionary perspective of building a real, voluntary union of all the countries of the continent, on the ruins of the current political regimes and the imperialist European Union, by constructing workers’ governments that will freely federate and set up the Socialist United States of Europe.
Faced with these prospects, both at the national and continental and world level, we must pass from outrage to the struggle for a revolutionary transformation of this system. What is realistic today is fighting against capitalism, in order to overthrow it. Today, a revolutionary and class solution is less “utopian” than the reform of this rotten system that, while it is falling, appears ever more destructive for humanity.
Long live the November 14 General Strike!
For a European General Strike!
Against the democracies for the rich and the Europe of capital!
[From the Fracción Trotskista, ft-ci.org]