The Return of the “Era of Crises, Wars, and Revolutions”

The 12th conference of the Trotskyist Fraction — Fourth International (FT-CI) discussed the prospects for the internationalist revolutionary Left

On May 13 and 14, the virtual session of the 12th Conference of the Trotskyist Fraction for the Fourth International (FT-CI) was held. A version of the document presented below served as a basis for discussion, along with other articles and contributions, and we have incorporated the contributions and conclusions resulting from these discussions.

As we have laid out, a period has opened up in which the deep tendencies of the era of imperialist wars, crises, and revolutions (Lenin) are again in focus. On the military and geopolitical level, they express themselves in the war in Ukraine, the growing tensions between the U.S. and China, the tendency to create blocs of opposing forces, etc. In the economic field, they are shown in the uncertain prospects of the international economy, with threats of new banking and debt crises. In regards to class struggle, it’s a new cycle driven by the consequences of the pandemic, the war, and the toughening up of the bourgeoisie and its states. We will address these main tendencies one by one.


An Uncertain Economic Outlook

In April 2023, the IMF once again raised a period of uncertainty in its latest update on its outlook for the global economy, with trends towards low growth of around 3 percent for the next five years, the lowest medium-term projection since 1990.

The IMF lists a number of elements that explain what it calls the “anemic outlook”: 1) inflation, and the monetary policies of raising interest rates to lower it; 2) the banking and financial turmoil revealed by the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and other medium-sized banks; 3) the consequences of the war in Ukraine, in particular, the impact of economic sanctions; 4) the growing fragmentation or tendency to regional blocs as a result of the crisis of globalization and supply chains, especially the dispute between the United States and China.

This does not include “extra-economic” factors such as the feud between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. over the debt ceiling, which revived discussions about a possible default and paralysis of the U.S. state due to lack of financing. 1Translator’s Note: Since the original document was published, a debt ceiling agreement has been reached.

Within the context of these trends, accelerated by the end of the pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine-NATO war. As well as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, followed by the Signature Bank and the First Republic Bank (later bought by JP Morgan), which once again put on the horizon the ominous possibility of a banking system crisis. Although these are medium-sized banks, and in the case of SVB, with a client portfolio dominated by tech startups and cryptocurrencies, the possibility of a bank run without intervention of the state threatened to affect the banking system as a whole. In fact, the contagion effect crossed the Atlantic and reached Credit Suisse, the second Swiss bank, which had to be rescued by the Swiss National Bank after its shares plummeted.

This crisis exposed the vulnerabilities of the banking system, which in 2018 under the support of the Trump administration and a sector of Democrats was freed from the regulations (although timid for the magnitude of the crisis) that followed the Great Recession (Dodd-Frank), such as so-called “stress tests” for banks the size of SVB. Added to this is the startup bubble, particularly tech startups, which received large venture capital investments, even before they made any kind of profit. After a great expansion at the peak of the pandemic, large tech companies have been responding to the crisis with an increasing tendency towards monopolization and laying off tens of thousands of their workers.

To avoid the possibility of a generalized banking crisis, and given the speed of the bank run (deposits of 42 billion dollars were withdrawn from SVB in only ten hours), the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government decided to rescue all deposits, including uninsured deposits that exceeded the legal FDIC limit of $250,000. Politically, the bailout was very unpopular (“socialism for the rich” as Bernie Sanders put it). For this reason, President Biden, who has already announced that he will seek re-election, tried to present this bailout as “paid for by Wall Street” and not by taxpayers, because the resources come from a fund financed by the big banks. However, it is clear that this is a massive transfer of wealth to the big investors and capitalists of Silicon Valley, among which are the main contributors to the Democratic campaigns, as well as far-right libertarians sympathetic to Trump.

The swift response from the Fed and other central banks contained this round of crashes and bank runs for the time being, with a combination of bailouts shielding banks’ balance sheets and a new boost to concentration of banks, given that large banks like JP Morgan bought out failing banks at ridiculous prices. However, the fact that it has not led to more catastrophic outcomes does not mean that the danger of a new banking or financial crisis has been avoided for sure. 

The immediate cause of the collapse of SVB was the impact of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates on the exorbitant financial business that operated on the premise of the near-zero cost of money. In this sense, it is only the first manifestation of the consequences of the end of low-interest rates over the last 15 years. The Quantitative Easy programs injected huge sums of money into the economy, prevented bank failures and maintained so-called “zombie companies,” at the cost of that large amount of money going mostly to inflate assets, as well as the exponential growth of state and private debts.

The relationship of the crisis to rising interest rates has similarities to the Savings and Loan (S&L) crisis of the 1980s, which collapsed with the sharp rise in interest rates implemented by then Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. Although now, the increases are moderate compared to the beginning of the Reagan administration, when the Fed implemented the fastest rate increase in 40 years in just one year. The same goes for European banks.

The war in Ukraine has deepened structural trends that have been developing, combining economic, political and geopolitical aspects in the context of the deep crisis of neoliberal globalization, manifested with the Great Recession of 2008, and more generally of the hegemonic decline of the United States and the emergence of China. It exacerbated inflationary trends that had arisen as a result of the pandemic, such as policies that injected money to stimulate the economy and bottlenecks in supply chains. The economic sanctions imposed by Western powers on Russia aggravated the situation with the rise in energy and food prices, bringing inflation to record levels that haven’t been seen in decades in the imperialist countries.

The protectionist tendencies that have been developing, or the partial relocations of supply chains, should be read in this more general context. U.S. imperialism has responded with the trade war against China which was initiated during the Trump administration. The trade war is largely continued by the Biden presidency which passed the CHIPS Act in 2022, providing funding and stimulus to the U.S. semiconductor industry to ensure the United States’ technological advantage over China and other competitors. In relation to the CHIPS act, there is a discussion among various analysts, which also came up in debates at the FT Conference, about the scope and consequences of this type of “industrial policy,” focused for now on technological production in the context of the growing disputes between powers, green energy, and the arms race.

Governments and central banks of the imperialist powers applied the monetarist prescription of raising interest rates to cool the economy and thus lower inflation, while trying to avoid “stagflation,” that is, the persisting combination of inflation and recession. The Marxist economist Michael Roberts argues that this recessionary scenario in the central imperialist countries could be combined with a sovereign debt crisis in the periphery, especially in countries heavily indebted in dollars such as Argentina, Pakistan, and Egypt. The events in Sri Lanka could be a preview of what’s to come.

The monetarist solution to inflation represents a significant attack on the working class, a recession that would schematically lead to an increase in unemployment in order to achieve a substantial drop in wages, which weakens the ability of workers to negotiate, organize, and fight. However, the Volcker policy implemented at the beginning of the Reagan administration was not the product of monetary policies but in order to enact major defeats for the working class, for example the air traffic controllers’ strike in the United States and the miners in Great Britain. This is the context within which a new wave of class struggle is developing.


The Current State of the War in Ukraine and Military Pressures for Greater US Involvement

As we have been developing in various discussions, the war in Ukraine is not just another war. It represents the beginning of the open (even military) questioning of the current world order, even though the rhythm of events will not necessarily be linear. This coincides with the limits of “bourgeois restoration,” understood as a third stage of the imperialist epoch that includes the neoliberal offensive (as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall and capitalist restoration in the former workers’ states), which found its limits with the capitalist crisis of 2008.

The situation regarding the war in Ukraine still remains open, which is a central element for the evolution of the next stage in the global situation. As Claudia Cinatti noted in “One Year of the War in Ukraine: A Socialist Perspective”: “First, despite the underlying logic and threats of escalation, the war is still confined to Ukrainian territory. However, as the involvement of the United States and NATO powers in the conflict deepens, the risk of further escalation — whether it is by intended military action or an accident — grows as the war drags on.” The future of this war will continue on a knife’s edge. An example of this was the incident last March with the American MQ-9 Reaper drone near Crimea (about 37 miles from the port of Sevastopol) where a Russian fighter plane, even if the details are murky, ended up shooting it down. As we know, the fog of war and the fact that information from the battlefield is part of the conflict makes it difficult to predict what the next steps will be, leaving us only to speculate. Though a necessary speculation, since everything indicates that we are approaching a new moment in the war that has been discussed in terms of the over-anticipated “spring offensive.”

So far we can distinguish three stages on the battlefield:

1) First, at the beginning of the invasion, where the Russian army developed a kind of blitzkrieg, a deep battle, which included the massive advance of tanks towards Kiev. Over time it has become clearer that, at that moment, Putin’s intention was never to occupy the city but, based on intelligence reports, was based on the assumption of Zelenskyy’s government collapsing, which obviously did not happen.

2) A second stage, marked by the withdrawal of the siege of Kiev abd the reorganization and deployment of Russian troops to the south and east of Ukraine. At this stage, Russian advances allowed its forces to conquer the main port of the Sea of Azov and the Donbas, establishing a land corridor from the Crimean peninsula to the territories of the Donbas region under Russian control. At one point, it was speculated that these conquests would expand to Odessa, but this was not the case.

3) A third stage — or part of the second as we see it — was marked by the declaration of the annexation of Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporiyya and Kherson. This was followed by a Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson Oblast, forcing Russian troops to position themselves across the Dnieper River on the southern front. They also retreated into Kharkiv Oblast on the eastern front. A fight for the consolidation of positions in the east developed, through massive use of artillery from both sides, with an important Russian advantage, and a leading role of the Wagner Group in the hottest areas.

This is a long phase in the war of attrition, which is represented symbolically by the battle for the city Bahkmut, which is where the war is currently at. The question, of course, is what happens next. Although the information needed to answer this question is insufficient, and much of that information is clouded by the fog of war, it is appropriate to speculate. In this sense, it is necessary to distinguish between two levels: one more tactical and the other more about warfare strategy.

a) The first level is more tactical. A harsh “war of attrition” has been taking shape, one that has not been seen in a long time. Importantly, a distinguishing feature of such wars is that each side attempts to wear down the other by gradually destroying war materials and troops; strength versus strength. 

No “knockout blows” are expected, but rather hand-in-hand fighting. The question is who gets worn out first.

This war of attrition has been very costly for both sides, but due to the asymmetry between Russia and Ukraine, the relative weight of losses for Ukraine could be much greater. This is the main comparison, because while Ukrainian forces have extensive Western military aid, for both U.S. imperialism and NATO it is a proxy war, which implies, among other things, not putting their own troops on the ground. The soldiers, as well as those killed and wounded, therefore correspond to the Ukrainian forces.

Zelenskyy appears to be gambling on launching the spring counter-offensive, which could be Ukraine’s last chance to recapture some territory. Looking at the big picture, it seems extremely unlikely that he will succeed in driving Russian forces out of occupied territory. In this scenario, tactically the balance of forces appears more favorable to the Russian forces, despite their own attrition.

b) The second level is more strategic. The strategy of U.S. imperialism, schematically defined, is to wear down Russia by using Ukrainian troops as “cannon fodder.” This policy is supported by Zelenskyy under the objective of recapturing all Ukrainian territory, which, in military terms, far exceeds the capabilities of Ukrainian forces, in the absence of a radical change in current conditions.

U.S. imperialism has been carrying out this plan with some success regarding Russian attrition. The question at this point is what’s the limit of strategically using Ukrainian forces to wage a war of attrition by proxy against a power like Russia, a war that depends, beyond all military aid, on the exclusive war effort of  worn-out Ukrainian forces on the ground.

In this sense, faced with the attrition of Ukrainian troops, U.S. imperialism has two options. One is to continue to further its intervention and bet on greater Russian weakness. The other is to prepare for some type of scenario next year that reduces the intensity of the fighting, taking measures aimed at promoting some type of medium-term armistice, in which neither party denies its claims but the conflict is “frozen.”

This is an ongoing discussion internal to U.S. imperialism on the limits of what it can achieve in terms of its goal in wearing down Russia, which will be returned to later. For U.S. imperialism, continuing the war has, among other things, the benefit of further weakening Russia and continuing to reduce the economic dependence of its allies on Russia, in particular, “decoupling” Germany from Russia. Among the costs of a long war, there is the increased risk of escalation which directly involves NATO members and the decreased ability of the U.S. to focus on its priorities regarding China, along with increased Russian dependence on China. 

From the strategic point of view, and without a great turn of events in the war (which is not in sight today), any partial tactical victory of Russia in which  there are territorial conquests is a Pyrrhic victory in the face of attrition, which even sustaining such conquests implies. In any case, Russia will have less freedom of action, no more than before the war, and it will have to rely more on China, as Finland became a member of NATO and Sweden is preparing to follow the same path. However, the magnitude of this remains to be seen.

Now, in global terms of “grand strategy,” the weakening of Russia is not said to result in strengthening the U.S.. In the immediate future, Russia is increasing its dependence on China. However, China, as will be addressed later, despite its growing imperialist features, is not in a position to successfully contest global hegemony vis-a-vis U.S. imperialism today. Therefore, the global consequences of this whole configuration remain open.

These elements make the scenario more volatile in the context of a war that is most likely to be prolonged and whose effective outcome is not yet in sight.

The Evolution of the War in Ukraine and Our Political Definitions

As we have pointed out, the main concern of the current situation in terms of war is the eruption of interstate war with the involvement of powers on both sides, despite the United States and NATO acting by proxy.

The imperialist policy being continued by US-NATO in the war in Ukraine is that of “encircling” Russia through NATO’s eastward expansion, albeit without direct military confrontation. Along with this, the interference in the so-called “color revolutions,” that seek to capitalize on revolts against authoritarian regimes in order to expand US influence.

Putin’s continued policy with the invasion of Ukraine consists of reestablishing Russia as a military power, by underpinning the national oppression of its neighbors. It acts as a kind of “military imperialism” even though it does not qualify as an imperialist country in the precise sense of the term, as it does not have a significant international presence of its monopolies and capital exports, and that it essentially exports gas, oil and commodities, etc. Its more permanent “status” on the global stage will depend on the outcome of the war.

The policy of the Zelensky regime that is being continued is to subordinate Ukraine to Western powers. The political process that Ukraine has been going through for decades cannot be understood outside a pendular trajectory marked by the confrontation between the local “pro-Russian” and “pro-Western” capitalist oligarchies. This included the “orange revolution” in 2004 and its continuation at Euromaidan in 2014. Around these confrontations, the divisions formed by the interests of different fractions of the local oligarchy deepened. All of this is exacerbated by the existence of a significant Russian-speaking minority (about 30 percent of the population) and the rise of far-right nationalist groups — a low-intensity civil war dating back to 2014. This Russian-speaking minority was the target of oppressive measures, including restrictions on the use of their language and attacks by far-right groups organized by the State.

Ukraine is a key partner for U.S. imperialism and NATO for the “containment” of Russia and weakening it as a power. The ultimate goal would be to resume the plan of subordinating Ukraine to the U.S. order that had begun with the capitalist restoration. Since 2014/2015, NATO has commanded the reform process of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including armament and financing. In 2020, NATO granted it the status of “Enhanced Opportunity Partner,” and the 2021 NATO summit reaffirmed the strategic agreement that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance, without going so far as to finalize it. U.S. imperialism, through NATO, plays a role of political-military leadership of the Ukrainian side according to its own interests: weakening Russia and aligning its allies in its dispute with China.

In this context, we distinguish between sanctions (economic “war”), in which Western powers are the direct actors, and war itself as a “battle in a field between men and machinery” that can decisively affect the international order. This is where the U.S. and NATO have been expanding their influence (intelligence, armament, command, training, financing, etc.) but without directly and openly involving themselves on the ground.

It is important to note that this definition is not definitive and that there are factors of war itself that push for greater U.S. involvement. If the course of events changes in a significant way, our position should, with the necessary caveats, be closer to that indicated by Trotsky in Remarks on Czechoslovakia in the case of the Sudeten crisis of 1938. There, faced with Hitler’s annexation of what was then part of Czechoslovakia, on the grounds of protecting the German population in that territory, Trotsky puts forward a directly defeatist policy on both sides, in what would be one of the prolegomena of World War II. (In the end, the main European powers, without Czechoslovakia, signed the Munich Agreements and recognized the Sudetenland as German territory). At the same time, as opposed to those with a “democratic” imperialist discourse who spoke of the defense of democracy in Czechoslovakia, Trotsky highlighted the oppression, within the country, by the Czechs against the Slovaks and the Germans of the Sudetenland, among others.

Our policy from the beginning of the conflict, which we consider correct, as put forward in the FT statement, was, “No to the war! Russian troops out of Ukraine! NATO out of Eastern Europe! No to imperialist rearmament! For the unity of the international working class! For an independent policy in Ukraine to confront the Russian occupation and imperialist domination.” Thus, we pointed out the relevance of the element of national self-determination, highlighting, at the same time, the oppressive measures against the Russian-speaking minority within the factors to be taken into account for an independent policy in the conflict, marked by the Russian invasion and the intervention by proxy of the U.S. and NATO. However, as direct U.S. and NATO intervention expands (and has already expanded), that element of national self-determination is increasingly pushed into the background in determining our policy, as it is subordinated to military confrontation between powers.

Against Militarism and Bourgeois Pacifism in their Two Variants: Pro-NATO and Pro-Russian/Chinese

In the center-left and the left we can identify, to varying degrees, four groups of positions that have taken sides in the conflict. On the one hand, currents that defend intervention in the war from one or the other “camp” and, on the other hand, those that defend some kind of imperialist “democratic peace” based on diplomacy from one or the other camp.

The majority of the center-left at the international level is heeding the propaganda promoted by the vast majority of Western media since the beginning of the war, which tries to use the repudiation of Putin’s reactionary invasion of Ukraine to present NATO as a defender of peace and democracy. A significant sector of the left, to varying degrees and with different nuances, has bowed to this viewpoint (LIT-CI, UIT-CI, Usec, etc.). Since the beginning of the conflict, we have developed diverse polemics regarding this stance. Some of these currents have made a banner of the slogan “arms for Ukraine” outside of any class delimitation, placing themselves, in fact, in the pro-NATO camp.

On the other hand, on a smaller scale, some communist parties and sectors of Latin American populism present Putin, and a bloc with China, as a kind of alternative to imperialism and argue that the invasion of Ukraine is a necessary measure of “national defense” on the part of Russia against NATO.

Another position, quite widespread, is the one taken by most of the reformist left in Europe, which includes sectors of Die Linke in Germany, La France Insoumise, Syriza in Greece, Podemos and the PCE in Spain, etc. In these cases, they criticize the Russian invasion, as well as partially criticizing the reaction of NATO, and propose a cease-fire and the mediation of the EU to facilitate peace negotiations. The class content of these proposals is the articulation of “another foreign policy,” more effective for the defense of the interests of the EU states, i.e. of their own imperialisms.

Finally, a variant of this pacifist policy is based on the idea that China would represent a sort of alternative, if not progressive, at least more benevolent, to the hegemony of U.S. imperialism. Rafael Poch de Feliú, who advocates “multilateralism,” criticizes European subordination to the U.S. and extols a “non-hegemonic” tradition of China, which is currently propagandizing with its “peace proposal,” or is pinning its hopes on a supposed multilateralism of the “non-aligned” in the style of Brazil with Lula. Maurizio Lazzarato, with whom we debated in “Beyond Bourgeois Restoration,” although he states that “peace is not an alternative,” slips in an idea of a “lesser evil” which is oriented in a similar direction under the argument that U.S. imperialism “is much more dangerous than that of China, Russia or any other country, which does not yet have the military and financial ability to plunder the world as the U.S. does now.” On the other hand, there are those such as Gilbert Achcar, who has advocated a camp aligned with the Ukraine/NATO camp and, more recently, denounced the Biden administration for obstructing the Chinese proposal as a path to “peace.”

The truth is that China, although its access to Eastern Europe has been hampered by the war, aims to benefit from the situation left by obtaining cheap fuel and new conditions for the acquisition of military technology, for example, and by advancing along the Silk Road by land over Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Its “model” is based on a one-party regime and statized and bureaucratic trade unions that guarantee a harsh discipline of its huge working class, an unavoidable basis for economic growth that benefited large foreign and national companies, following the rules of the international capitalist system (IMF, WTO, etc.).

All these positions end up placing themselves behind one of the contending reactionary “camps,” either postulating a victory of the Ukraine/NATO or Putin’s camp, or creating illusions in an imperialist “peace” solution, either articulated by the EU or by China, while warmongering by the large powers is in full swing. The task of revolutionaries is to constitute a pole against the war in Ukraine that raises the international unity of the working class with an independent policy, for the withdrawal of the Russian troops, against NATO and imperialist armament, for a working class and socialist Ukraine, in the perspective of a United Socialist States of Europe.

We’re coming from decades of imperialist globalization led unquestioningly by U.S. hegemony. That is why it is important, in the face of growing disputes between powers, to go against all illusions in “multilateralism”; there is no left multilateralism.  The struggle to put forward a proletarian internationalist policy is of primary importance against illusions that place hopes in the balance between powers and regional blocs of capitalist states. Our proposal is to oppose those illusions with an anti-imperialism and internationalism that unites the working-class, which makes up the more than three billion workers of the planet, together with the oppressed peoples of the world, to put an end to the capitalist system.

Domestic and International Politics: Growing Frictions Among the Bourgeoisie 

In the context of the limits of advancing U.S. hegemony, the contradiction between the international integration of productive forces and the return of militarism between powers is exacerbated. The war in Ukraine, as well as growing geopolitical tensions in general, are increasingly crossing the internal politics of different states at a much higher level than we were accustomed to in previous decades, especially the imperialist ones. If the war is prolonged and militarism advances, as everything indicates it will, not to mention if there are increasing military confrontations, this will only deepen.

Thomas Friedman, in a lunch with President Biden, said that he understood between the lines that while Biden “has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America.” Sectors of Republicans are increasingly in opposition to US intervention in the war in Ukraine. Trump says the war could have been avoided and is running to “avoid World War III,” with more isolationist rhetoric. Ron DeSantis — the mild-mannered Trump that the Republican establishment is betting on — went so far as to say that Ukraine is not a strategic interest of the United States, and that the U.S. should not take sides in a dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The consensus of the ruling classes is in favor of the war in Ukraine, although according to the polls is still the majority, some support is starting to fray. Further Ukrainian setbacks in the theater of operations may further contribute to undermining support. This also speaks to a delicate moment regarding the war in Ukraine in relation to the U.S..

In regards to the confrontation against China, there is true consensus among the ruling classes in the U.S.. Trump had already deployed a more aggressive “trade war” policy as part of a process of strategic readjustment of value chains that continues with Biden setting the stage for further confrontation. Regarding this economic “decoupling,” the U.S. also wants to push Europe, starting with the decoupling of Germany from Russia, by taking advantage as much as possible of the war in Ukraine.

The US involvement in the Nord Stream pipeline attack puts on the table something that is more or less obvious to a part of the German ruling classes: the escalation against Russia favored by the U.S. is clearly intended to prioritize US interests to the detriment of Europe and those of Germany. An element that, for example, is increasingly being used by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). AfD MP Steffen Kotré in an interview to a Chinese media outlet had called the blowing up of the pipeline an act of state terrorism perpetrated by the U.S.. Behind the scenes, it expresses the tensions in the German ruling classes where, on the one hand, there is an alignment with the U.S.. On the other hand, several of Germany’s main multinationals such as Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank, Siemens or BASF, among others, seek to shore up the relationship with China, whose economy they are widely integrated into and on which they depend, while others go to the U.S. to escape the higher energy costs.

In this context, the tensions between different sectors of the bourgeoisie of each imperialist country, between the most multinational and the least, between those whose businesses are more linked to the Chinese or North American platform, etc., will be transformed into increasingly open disputes as military and geopolitical tensions increase and the formation of blocs progresses. That is to say, national politics will no longer simply involve different policies for the management of local capitalism and its better or worse location under the U.S. umbrella, but in actuality, real substantive realignments, of friend/foe confrontation in the international arena. This is an important question that makes politics within the bourgeois regimes also acquire more “classical” tendencies in terms of the imperialist epoch.

The Dynamics of Alignments 

Opposite the U.S.-led bloc, there is a less consolidated and more fluid “bloc under construction,” with an alliance between Russia and China at the center. This alliance has begun to take more shape and has been acting as a pole of attraction for several “emerging” countries. In the context of the war in Ukraine, China supports Russia but publicly takes a position of purported neutrality. Exchanges between the two countries have been increasingly strengthened. In 2022, Chinese exports to Russia increased by 12.8 percent, heavily weighted towards machinery, cars and spare parts. Russian oil exports to China increased in dollar terms by 44 percent, while gas exports more than doubled. In this context, with the war in Ukraine and the growing China-US tensions in the background, Xi Jinping recently made his official trip to Russia. Xi’s agenda not only included the war in Ukraine (where China postulates itself as a “promoter of peace”), but also the deepening of strategic ties between the two countries and the panorama of the “Eastern front” in the Pacific where the U.S. has an increasingly hostile policy to encircle China.

While the U.S. managed to align Europe and the bloc with Japan, Australia and South Korea behind it, and a whole sector of countries voted in favor of sanctions against Russia, a whole other sector did not support them at the UN. As Claudia Cinatti points out in the article cited above, unlike during the Cold War, most countries have developed a “cross-dependence” on the United States, China and Russia. Thus, they are changing their positions and managing their alignments according to economic, security or even political affinity interests. Russia and China, as we were saying, act as a pole of attraction for several countries of the so-called “Global South.” This includes regional powers such as India, a large part of Africa, Asia and Latin America, and even historical allies such as Saudi Arabia (and even Israel), which for various national interests, not always convergent, have not aligned themselves with the U.S. in UN votes.

In this context, Chinese diplomacy has taken the U.S. by surprise by acting as a mediator in the relationship between none other than Saudi Arabia and Iran. The latter, counting on the thinly veiled support of China to evade “Western” sanctions for the sale of its oil, and advancing in the arms trade with Russia. On the other hand, in Africa, China has recently become the main trading partner of several of its countries to the detriment of the U.S., the UK and France. Moscow has gained increasing influence in countries such as Mali or Burkina Faso, to the detriment of France, as shown by Lavrov’s recent tour, which can be seen in juxtaposition with Macron’s eventful tour in which he faced public criticism from the president of the Congo.

The Increase of Imperialist Militarism and the Eastern Panorama

The clash between global integration under U.S. hegemony, currently in crisis, and the redoubled challenge to this world order by the so-called “revisionist” powers, defines the framework of the policy being pursued in the war in Ukraine. It’s a matter of questioning this unipolar order, where each one does so, for the time being, in the terms in which the U.S. has presented the conflict to them. In the case of Russia this is in directly military terms, and in the case of China still in terms of economic “war,” although with growing tensions on the military field. 

While in the case of Russia we had pointed out that it acts as a kind of military imperialism, in the case of China we assess that it has imperialist traits. This can be seen in China’s case in the financial and trade agreements in exchange for privileged access to the plundering of raw materials and the exchange of credits for resource exploitation rights made by Africa and Latin America. Other examples are seeking to have political influence in internal decisions in some countries of the capitalist periphery, and the Belt and Road Initiative itself, among many other aspects.

It is important to differentiate between the current strengthening of China’s imperialist features and the constitution of an alternative global hegemony by China, which would result in a much higher level of confrontation. The possibility of any kind of “succession” of U.S. hegemony will certainly not be peaceful or evolutionary, that is to say, it will not happen without wars on a large scale. This also involves thinking about the position of great powers such as Germany and Japan in this dispute.

What’s new in the current moment is that the dispute between China and the U.S., which was initially framed in terms of “economic warfare,” is increasingly going hand in hand with rising geopolitical and military tensions over Taiwan and control of the South China Sea, becoming one of the most serious manifestations of an eventual confrontation between the two major powers of today. Adding to the increasing militarization of the area was the AUKUS military agreement (which seeks to prepare Western military presence in the Pacific) between the U.S., the UK and Australia on nuclear-powered submarines. This gives Australia access to this secret US technology, but clarifies that the submarines will not carry nuclear weapons. The first objective is to deploy, starting in 2027 and on a rotating basis, four US submarines and one British submarine at the Australian military base in Perth.

At the present moment, neither the U.S. nor China seem to want a war over Taiwan. However, a succession of hostile actions (Pelosi’s visit, a Chinese military exercise in the vicinity of Taiwan, advance of the AUKUS agreement, joint military exercises between China, Iran and Russia in the Gulf of Oman, etc.) are taking shape. This also includes relevant trade measures such as restrictions on the international microchip market against China since October 2022 (the CHIPS Act). In late January of this year Biden reached an agreement with the Netherlands and Japan to join the semiconductor export controls. The incremental course of these measures means that we have be prepared for the eventual possibility of a military confrontation around Taiwan. Of course, a conflict of such magnitude, even in theory limited to the Taiwanese Matsu islands off the coast of China, not only militarily but in terms of global capitalism, would have the potential to “destabilize” the world. It is worth noting that Taiwan, home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), is the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, and China is the world’s largest chip importer. This is a market in which it is very difficult to replace production and in the event of war, would be seriously affected. This is an important element in the calculations of all potential players, starting obviously with China.

A conflict of this type does not appear to be probable in the immediate future, and it is not out of the question that in the midst of tensions there may be moments of détente. However, what we can be certain of is that many of the measures mentioned above are part of preparations for an eventual conflict, which increases the prospects of military conflict, even beyond the original intentions of the parties. The concrete form in which such a military conflict could break out depends on multiple factors that make any conclusions impossible to verify beyond speculation. The initiation of military conflict could take different routes, from the aforementioned invasion of the Matsu islands to a blockade of the island by China in retaliation for some kind of action, such as a declaration of independence or a breakthrough in Taiwan’s military partnership with the U.S.. The important thing in this context is to define the criteria to position ourselves, as internationalist socialist revolutionaries, in the face of a potential armed conflict between China and the U.S. over Taiwan.

With this objective in mind, we have to start from the policies that each side would pursue in the war. In the case of the U.S., it would be the continuation of its imperialist policy of globalization based on the subordination of capitalist China and Russia. And, more specifically, of its attempts to prevent China from continuing to advance as a power by calling into question U.S. hegemony, which is in obvious decline.

In the case of China, it is a continuity of the CCP policy that restored capitalism. This was carried out throughout the previous period under the auspices of international financial capital, especially that of the U.S.. However, due to the increasing importance that its economy was gaining on the world stage, the CCP needed — and increasingly needs — to expand Chinese capitalism in imperialist terms. Far from the viewpoint that presents China as a more benign, “non-hegemonic” power, the current imperialist tensions with the rest of the powers is the more or less inevitable course of the emergence of capitalist China in the 21st century. That is to say, an eventual invasion of Taiwan would not in any way be a defensive measure. This, as opposed to, for example, that of a workers’ state that is about to be attacked, as Trotsky pointed out with respect to Finland in 1939, although the action of the bureaucracy at that time, from his point of view, brought more harm than good. Instead, it would be an expansion of restorationist politics, where today’s capitalist China seeks to break the encirclement to amplify its own imperialist traits by transforming its global economic influence into political-military might.

In the case of Taiwan, since the emergence of China as a capitalist power and China’s growing disputes with the U.S., its politics have been increasingly polarized between the two powers. This can be traced back to 1986, with the creation of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which brought together a large part of the currents pushing for Taiwan’s independence. In 2014, the Sunflower movement happened in the context of which about 200 students occupied the parliament against the free trade agreement with China (Trade in Services Agreement). This agreement was promoted by the Kuomintang government of Ma Ying-jeou and supported by a large part of the Taiwanese bourgeoisie. The agreement didn’t materialize and finally, in 2016, Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP assumed the presidency and was re-elected in 2020. Currently, Taiwan’s policy embodied by Tsai Ing-wen’s DPP government consists of an increasingly offensive alignment with U.S. imperialism, an alignment not without internal tensions. Recently, while Tsai Ing-wen made her trip to the U.S., Ma Ying-jeou traveled to China, exposing these internal tensions running through the island and its own bourgeoisie — between business with China and political, economic and military dependence on the U.S..

In summary, in the event of a military confrontation between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, and based on the definition of China’s imperialist traits, it would be a reactionary war in which we could call for  defeatism on both sides. The concrete development of the war will offer additional definitions as necessary. This basic position of internationalist socialists in the face of an eventual conflict of this type is fundamental today.


War, Crisis, and Class Struggle

This new cycle of class struggle is being driven by more general conditions. The consequences of the war and the pandemic have already had an immediate effect on the objective conditions behind the development of class struggle. Rising prices of fuel and fertilizer was a key factor in both the Sri Lankan and Peruvian uprisings. In Europe, historic levels of inflation have influenced growing strikes in the UK, and is one of the factors in the fight against pension reform in France. In Greece, the train crash at the end of February has been a catalyst for a more general crisis after years of structural adjustment. If the international economic crisis continues, these trends will continue and be exacerbated.

The previous cycles of class struggle that began in 2010 and 2019, although marked by the historic crisis of capitalism in 2008 that furthered inequality, did not occur in the same context as the catastrophes of the magnitude as those during the first half of the twentieth century. With the war in Ukraine and the residual effects of the pandemic, that situation is beginning to change, and capitalism is progressively approaching more and more “classical” scenarios in terms of more class struggle — even more so if the contradictions throughout the global economy deepen. It is worth clarifying that by “more classical,” we are obviously not referring to a return to the beginning of the 20th century as the current world is very different in many ways (see, “Beyond the Bourgeois Restoration“). 

Regarding the subjectivity of the working class, there is a huge gap between the current situation, where we come from decades of “bourgeois restoration,” and that of the beginning of the 20th century, which was marked by the emergence of the great workers’ organizations (workers’ parties, trade unions, etc.) and then by the Russian revolution. As a whole, this implies that we have to prepare ourselves for new forms of class struggle, more radical than what we have seen in recent decades, and, in turn, put forward  interventions that respond to the concrete situation (for example, around the fight for the united front and tactics such as “action committees,” to which we will discuss below).

Current geopolitical and economic conditions also encourage governments to be harsher in confronting the challenges of this wave of class struggle. One example of this is Peru, where the regime, in spite of the number of deaths, maintained its initial plan for Boluarte to finish the presidential term of the ousted Castillo, as well as the refusal of immediate elections, the call for a constituent assembly or diverting revolutionary processings into “democratic” means. In this case, it was possible because the massive uprising was largely confined to campesino and precarious sectors of certain rural regions such as Puno, Cusco, etc. Though the struggle of these sectors radicalized the process of struggle, the working class of the most strategic sectors remained straitjacketed by the leadership of the trade union bureaucracy of the CGTP. The harsh stance of the bourgeoisies can also be seen in the response by Prime Minister Sunak to the strike wave in the UK. The most striking example in this regard is Macron using a totally Bonapartist mechanism such as Article 49.3 to pass pension reform without a vote, despite the vast majority of the population not supporting it.

In this context, this new wave of class struggle brings several important developments that potentially can contribute to overcoming the spontaneous character of the previous waves: 

1) Although it’s developing in both peripheral and central countries, this new wave is centered in Europe. 2) Sectors of the mass movement tend to radicalize in the face of the repression of capitalist governments and their ruling classes. 3) Both the context of the war in Ukraine and inequalities in the global economy tend to aggravate these conditions. 

4) We see a greater centrality of the working class: In the UK, with strikes including nurses, paramedics, postal workers, railroad employees, firefighters, bus drivers and university professors, among others. In France, with the struggle against Macron’s pension reform, which has transformed into a real mass movement of broad layers of the working class on a national scale. In Greece, the class struggle that developed from the train crash that left 57 dead and laid bare all the consequences of years of structural adjustment. In addition to the demonstrations in Greece, there was a strike that included transport, health, port workers, etc. (see, “The European Strike Wave and the Potential of the Working Class” by Josefina L. Martinez).

In Latin America, the most radical struggle was the uprising in response to the coup in Peru, which involved a bloc of campesinos, indigenous people and informal workers from the rural interior of the country. There were tendencies to converge with sectors of the urban working class that did not end up developing, and the regime managed to keep the movement isolated, which led to the movement retreating. This wave also included the rebellion in Sri Lanka and the struggle against the coup in Myanmar, with South and Southeast Asia emerging as a “hot” zone of the class struggle.

France as the Center of Class Struggle Today

The current center of class struggle is France, and Europe more generally. Macron aspired to strengthen the reach of French imperialism in the international arena, in addition to promoting a series of structural reforms within the country. If in the international arena, Macron has failed to play a significant role in the context of the war in Ukraine and has lost influence in Africa, internally, his authority was fundamentally challenged by the massive movement against pension reform. In the National Assembly he was isolated and beaten from both the left and the right by the NUPES and Le Pen. As Juan Chingo points out: “As for the current crisis, it is taking place in an international context of increased competition that is putting French capitalism in difficulty. In this sense, I believe that the war in Ukraine also plays a role in the hardening of the French bourgeoisie. Contrary to an earlier period when there was the illusion of a peaceful development between the imperialist powers, the increase in the defense budget shows that this is no longer the case.”

Much of repression toward the working class in France has to do with the markedly Bonapartist character of the Fifth Republic itself, in a country that is the very cradle of the concept of Bonapartism. Macron appeals more and more to these mechanisms of the Fifth Republic devised by de Gaulle in 1958. At the time, France was on the brink of civil war, was losing its colonial control over Algeria and had just lost the Suez Canal. General de Gaulle assumed full powers and drew up the draft constitution which, with some modifications, still governs France to this day. According to the Constitution itself, the President of the Republic is the person who “shall ensure due respect for the Constitution. He shall ensure, by his arbitration, the proper functioning of the public authorities and the continuity of the State..” In turn, he is the head of the armed forces, and presides over defense and foreign policy. His powers include extraordinary powers in the event that institutions, independence, territorial integrity (colonies) and even compliance with international commitments are threatened. Article 49.3, which gives the Prime Minister the power to consider a law approved unless a vote of no confidence is passed in parliament within 24 hours, is one more piece of this structure.

The fact that after several days of strikes uniting different professions, and almost two months of mobilization, the mobilization has continued, both in large cities and medium and small towns, which shows the depth of the movement. The fact that a new dimension of the struggle has not yet been opened, that is to say, a general strike in the perspective of a mass strike, is the central responsibility of the union coordination Intersyndicale. It refused to incorporate a whole series of demands that would change the current conditions of millions of exploited, especially the most precarious, and at the same time it would have demonstrated a determination a hundred times greater than that of the capitalist class. In a second moment of conflict, several strategic sectors of the vanguard called for a “renewable” strike, i.e. one that can be prolonged. 

Macron’s Bonapartist measure with the use of Article 49.3 of the constitution, passing the law without a parliamentary majority, called this stalemate into question. With Macron increasingly weakened and isolated, in response to the decree, thousands immediately took to the streets in Paris and several cities throughout the country. Then a “pre-revolutionary moment” opened up. After the failure of the motions of censure against the government, the strike on March 23 once again showed the dynamics of the movement. In particular, there was a qualitative reinforcement of the presence of the youth, which was combined with the continuity of the renewable strike in different strategic sectors. The increase of spontaneous actions testified to important subjective changes taking place.

Subsequently, as Paul Morao develops in this article, although the size of the demonstrations was sustained, strikes in several sectors began to decrease within the context of the policy of attrition of the union bureaucracy. The key that explains the continuity of the unity of the Intersyndicale is in its attempt to prevent the “pre-revolutionary moment” after the vote of 49.3 from changing the balance of forces, since the struggle against Macron had acquired an openly political character. If unity between the different unions, which at the beginning of the movement played a progressive role by encouraging workers tired of the divisions to enter the struggle, it became an obstacle and a barrier to radicalization, given the decisive weight of the CFDT in its leadership, vetoing any tendency towards a renewable general strike. However, Macron has not achieved a return to normality, despite the impasse and retreat of the mobilization as a result of the defeatist strategy of the Intersyndicale, as shown by the demonstrations, protests with pots and pans, and different struggles for demands that are taking place.

In these events, Révolution Permanente has been playing a very important role in the organization of the most advanced sectors. Both the NPA and LO have defected from the struggle for the self-organization of the workers’ vanguard in order to be able to influence the course of the strike, against the union bureaucracy’s strategy to wear down the movement, and to impose a real general strike that could bring down Macron in a revolutionary way. Révolution Permanente has taken the lead in this objective by appealing to tactics of regrouping the sectors in struggle by promoting the Réseau pour la grève générale (Network for the General Strike). Their meeting on March 13 at the Bourse du Travail in Pari was a great political success, attended by more than 600 people and some 900 following it live virtually throughout the country. The Network appears as a genuine pole of attraction for the vanguard and for sectors in renewable strikes or on strike for wages, hence the great impact it had.

On March 21, after the approval of the reform by decree and the defeat of the motions of censure, the Network met again, reflecting on the impact of the phenomenon of strikes, especially in the strategic sectors, along with the participation of students, journalists and important intellectuals. Within the context of the toughening up of the bosses and the government, imposing themselves with increasingly less “democratic” and more openly Bonapartist methods, sectors of the workers’ movement appear to be advancing in their consciousness through experience in the class struggle.

The reality of the Network is that it is much broader than Révolution Permanente, of a different character than the “SNCF-RATP coordination” (railway workers and bus drivers of a region of Paris) that we pushed for in the 2019 struggle, made up of many activists, at most local leaders of the bus depots. The current network includes union leaders from the electricity sector, delegates from nuclear power plants, important activists from the garbage and sewer cleaners’ sector in the Paris region, leaders from the Roissy/Charles de Gaulle airport, leaders from some important private sector factories, and also from the Total refinery in Le Havre (Normandy), the largest in France, which remained on strike after the first legal victory against the requisition on April 7. In this port and industrial city in northwest France, the Network brings together several leaders who are in strategic structures in a strategic industrial zone where they have carried out strikes and blockades.

In Paris, on the other hand, the Network brings together some 300 independent activists from four areas of the city and has been at the forefront, particularly among railroad workers, of a series of strikes which combined the struggle against pension reform with their own demands, in particular wage demands. Those demands won on that basis, both among the signalmen of the Bourget and the central post of Saint-Denis, and the “wildcat strikers” of the train maintenance center of Chatillon. We have also received some occasional reports from people in inland towns who are organized and consider themselves part of the “Network.” We continue to establish links with local struggle collectives, as we did recently with a group of trade unionists from Toulon and maintaining links with environmentalist collectives such as Alternatiba and Les Amis de la Terre (very involved in the brutally repressed mobilization of Saint-Soline). In addition, it includes leaders of the struggle of undocumented workers, such as Mariama Sidibe of the Collectif des sans-papiers de Paris, who is an active part of the Network.

The Network is becoming more known and gaining sympathy, and is the only group that openly criticizes the Intersyndicale on national radio and TV. It organized a column with more than a 1000 in the May Day march as well as an act denouncing the return of the union leaderships to dialogue with the government. At this moment, despite the decline in the struggle, the Network is maintaining and playing a role, in particular in supporting the wave of strikes for wages that continues to take place, in which the union bureaucracy refused to join with the fight for pensions. While at the same time the Network presents a balance of the struggle so far, denouncing the role of the Inter-Union in the failure to develop the most radical elements. In the context of a situation that remains open, it will be necessary to continue to strengthen coordination and self-organization, for which the militants of Révolution Permanente will continue to bet on the construction of the Network, while opening a debate on the need for a political organization, an anti-capitalist, socialist and revolutionary party that will be a tool to take up these fights and fight for an alternative to the current crisis.

This pole that constitutes the “Network” is part of our fight to set up “action committees.” This suggests the fight to achieve grassroots participation in the places where they are developed, or at least activism. This is an important battle, taking into account that neither in France, nor in general, are there experiences of self-organization in the workers’ movement already incorporated, which shows the importance of the role of revolutionaries to push these tendencies to achieve the creation of bodies such as the action committees. This is key, both for our development in France against the labor bureaucracy, centrism and the neo-reformists, but also for our more general strategic hypothesis as FT-CI and for the possibilities of advancing in the construction of a revolutionary party in France.

This, in turn, is a distinctive feature of the FT-CI that we have sought to put into practice at every moment where the class struggle has allowed us to do so. This is also what the PTR did in the Chilean uprising of 2019 in the different areas where it had to intervene, as well as promoting the Emergency and Safeguard Committee in Antofagasta that came to organize a good part of the vanguard of the region and conquered an important united front during the strike of November 25 of that year.

It should be noted that the tactic of the “action committees” was recommended by Trotsky to the French Trotskyists in order to take advantage of every element of radicalization that appears, to organize the vanguard and the mass sectors that go out to struggle in organizations of coordination and unification, as the only means to break the resistance of the apparatuses of the trade union and reformist bureaucracy, and to impose the United Front. At the same time, he maintained that those institutions were the way to increase the authority and influence of the revolutionaries and the most advanced and determined sectors. The action committees are not the same soviets. “In question here is not the formal democratic representation of all and any masses but the revolutionary representation of the struggling masses,” said Trotsky. But at the same time, he added that “under certain conditions the Committees of Action can transform themselves into soviets,” and clarified that the Russian soviets, in their first steps, “were not at all what they subsequently became and in those days they were often called by the modest name of workers’ or strike committees.”

Although we have developed this point in other writings, it is important to keep it in mind because the development of institutions like action committees are currently the way in which the workers can advance in taking the struggles into their own hands. In the case of France, to overcome the bureaucrats’ policy of demonstrations and more demonstrations without a strong political perspective that the Intersyndicale puts forward, and fight to impose a real general strike. In the face of the development of the situation in a revolutionary sense, the development of action committees is in reality the emergence of “soviet” type organizations, there is no wall between the two forms. The fight for the development of institutions like “action committees” of coordination and regroupment of the sectors in struggle is key to strengthening the political influence of the revolutionaries in these events and for the programmatic struggle. At the same time, it can allow us to win to the revolutionary program important sectors of the vanguard, establish a new tradition in class struggle and strengthen the perspective of building a revolutionary party in France in struggle against the attempts at political capitalization of both the neo-reformism of Mélenchon/NUPES and the far-right party of Le Pen.

Some Conclusions for the FT

Trotsky stressed, regarding Lenin’s thought, that internationalism “is in no sense a formula for verbally reconciling nationalism with internationalism. It is a formula for international revolutionary action” And he added that, in this conception, “the world’s territory … is regarded as a unified arena where a gigantic struggle occurs, whose component elements are constituted by the individual peoples and their respective classes.” It is from this internationalist perspective that we in the FT-CI conceive of the different interventions that we have been developing in each country in very dissimilar situations.

From recent events, as the FT, we have intervened in the uprising in Peru, where, starting from the fact that we are a new force, we have been fighting to establish traditions and expand the CST, to advance in installing the group in Lima and to strengthen LID Peru. To collaborate in this objective with the comrades of the CST, comrades have traveled from different groups of the FT (from Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina including national deputy Alejandro Vilca and legislator A. Barry). Since the end of 2022 the center of the Latin American class struggle has been in Peru. Currently we are facing a partial retreat of the struggle.

In Argentina — where the PTS is the largest organization of the FT — although the country is in deep crisis and there is the possibility of greater confrontations, there are still no big movements of class struggle such as those we have been mentioning. It is in these conditions that we are carrying out a fundamental preparatory struggle to increase the political influence of the revolutionary left on strata of the masses. This is not only through great political agitation “from above,” where dozens of national and provincial leaders of the PTS — who have been protagonists of multiple struggles and experiences — act as “tribunes of the people” seeking to influence the most advanced sectors with aspects of our program and strategy. But also, advancing in party building oriented towards the strategic structures of the working class and the student movement, with assemblies of the PTS and groups, in order to, as a whole, amplify our capacity to articulate “volumes of forces” in the class struggle. As part of the Workers Left Front (FIT), we just fought an important political battle in Jujuy, where Alejandro Vilca (PTS) won 12.8 percent of the votes as candidate for governor, placing us as the third largest political force, in spite of the fraudulent maneuvers of the regime. At the same time, we have been waging an important political struggle on the program, strategy and political practice within the FIT-U.

As already mentioned, the current center of the class struggle is in France. The whole FT must follow it closely in order to learn and draw conclusions from this experience. Beyond the fact that the pre-revolutionary conjuncture that was outlined after the approval of the pension reform through the Bonapartist mechanism of article 49.3 has not developed, the situation in France has been accumulating a whole series of pre-revolutionary elements in recent years. From the movement against the labor law in 2016 through the rebellion of the Yellow Vests in 2018 and all the struggles have developed in recent years, through reaching the current movement against pension reform. Pre-revolutionary elements, experiences and changes in the consciousness of vanguard and mass sectors have been consolidating, marking what we could define as a broad stage of class struggle in France that transcends the current moment.

This definition is crucial since it raises the possibility of advancing in the building of a true revolutionary party in France at this stage. This situation is also behind the very development of Révolution Permanente, which seeks to be part of the process of  constructing such a revolutionary party in France. RP is currently the most dynamic organization of the FT with hundreds of militants, coming from the struggle in the NPA, which has cadres and leaders in the workers and student movement, referents like Anasse and new outstanding referents like Adrien, Elsa and Ariane, relationship with important intellectuals like Frédéric Lordon, cultural personalities like Adèle Haenel, figures of the anti-racist movement like Assa Traoré, among others, etc. On these bases we plan to take advantage of the most radical elements of the situation and boldly exploit the possibility of advancing in setting up a revolutionary, socialist and internationalist organization.

In turn, the situation in France raises a whole series of strategic questions for our intervention. These include the importance of re-grouping the different sectors in struggle with tactics such as action committees that underpin the struggle for the united front, and act as a link between the practice and construction of a revolutionary organization, as well as the perspective of building councils or soviets. As well as programmatic issues, such as the need for a common list of demands to unite the struggle against pension reform with the fight for the sliding scale of wages in the face of inflation. And, after Macron’s decree, going on the offensive with our radical democratic program, no less than in the country for which Trotsky himself originally formulated it. All of this, with the working class as the protagonist with its methods (strike, picket lines, etc.), with a vanguard that comes from previous experiences in class struggle. At the same time, clashing with an entrenched labor bureaucracy united to wear down the movement, in addition to politically neo-reformist currents (NUPES) and right-wing populists that seek to take advantage of the current struggle.

Our international network of publications (currently 15 publications in seven languages) needs to play a major role, not only of spreading the news of the events in France and of Révolution Permanente, but also in explaining clearly the course of events, the contradictions it has, why the strategy of  the labor bureaucracy fails, etc, and what our program in France consists of. All of this, explained in a way that audiences in different countries can understand, as well as going on the offense to intervene with the periphery of our groups. This is very important because it can help us bring new comrades closer to revolutionary militancy. Comrade Clément Allochon’s (of Révolution Permanente) trip to Argentina, including his May Day intervention at the Plaza de Mayo, was very important for the PTS in this way, in addition to talks given by comrades of Révolution Permanente in the Spanish State which occurred in earlier stages of the conflict. We intend to develop these types of internationalist activities in the main organizations of the FT-CI, and these discussions strengthen the groups we are building. Just as Trotsky in 1931 called on all the sections of the International Left Oppositions to prioritize following the struggle in the Spanish State, today all our organizations should follow what’s happening in France.

As France has begun to show, when deep struggle develops that hints at the possibility of a general strike, groups of a few hundred like ours, with a correct program, can play a role in reorganizing the vanguard and playing a big role in political influence and construction of a revolutionary party. The events in France can have international consequences from a subjective point of view as the elements of a pre-revolutionary situation develop. We need to look for ways to take advantage of it in each country as the FT-CI.

First Published in Spanish on May 21 in Ideas de Izquierda.

Translation by Molly Rosenzweig.


1 Translator’s Note: Since the original document was published, a debt ceiling agreement has been reached.
Claudia is an editor of our sister site La Izquierda Diario and a leading member of the Party of Socialist Workers (PTS) in Argentina.
Matías is a sociologist at the University of Buenos Aires and a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party (PTS) in Argentina. He is co-author, together with Emilio Albamonte, of the book Estrategia socialista y arte militar (Buenos Aires: Ediciones IPS, 2018).