For more than a year now the ruling class everywhere has been gripped by the Corona virus epidemic without any end to it really coming into sight. Up to now it was the poorest and undeveloped countries which paid the heaviest tribute to sicknesses, epidemics or endemic illnesses. It is now the most developed countries which are being rocked to their foundations by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Below we are publishing substantial extracts from a letter from one of our readers, followed by our response. This letter criticises our "Report on the question of the historic course", adopted at the 23rd ICC Congress and published in International Review 164. The comrade also addresses another issue: that of the prospect, still possible, of a generalised nuclear war."My multiple readings of the report on the historic course published in the International Review number 164 have left me very perplexed and doubtful. I find it very difficult to form a precise and definitive opinion on this text. Rather than taking a position, I prefer to share with you some somewhat disjointed and disparate remarks. I hope that these remarks will help to move the debate forward, possibly in letters from the paper's readers.
The present article follows on from the ones we have already published which denounce an attempt to falsify the real origins of the communist left, emanating from a blog called Nuevo Curso (recently rebaptised Communia). This attempt is orchestrated by an adventurer, Gaizka whose aim is in no way to contribute to the defence and clarification of the positions of this current but to “make a name for himself” in the proletarian political milieu. Following our exposure, Gaizka remained totally silent: refuting the reality of the turpitudes we proved was a “mission impossible” for him. Furthermore, he received very little support; virtually the only one, and the most explicit, coming from the International Group of the Communist Left (IGCL), which before changing its name in 2014, called itself the Internal Fraction of the International Communist Current (IFICC). This is a group whose prime vocation, for the last 20 years, is to slander the ICC, and their statement of position in favour of Nuevo Curso is accompanied by a new hate-filled attack on our organisation.
Late last year the ICC held two ‘virtual’ discussion meetings with invited contacts and sympathisers in Europe and America on the theme of ‘The Pandemic and the Working Class’, examining issues in their historic and current aspects.
In the last year, the world has been shaken by two unprecedented events of extreme importance in the life of capitalism: the Covid-19 pandemic and, most recently, the assault on the Capitol in Washington after the American elections that sanctioned the defeat of Donald Trump. These two events are neither insignificant nor separate from each other. They can only be understood in a historical framework that we will present in this introduction.
We are publishing this article written by a close sympathiser, of the ICC in the US, which defends our general analysis of the significance of the events of January 6 in Washington, and points out the role of those ardent apologists of bourgeois democracy – the Trotskyists, “Democratic Socialists” etc - in helping to strengthen the repressive apparatus of the state.
Every major country has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the crisis has not had a uniform impact. The UK, with more than 100,000 deaths, has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world and, throughout 2020, the shadow of Brexit hung over the economy, with negotiations continuing for months until the British bourgeoisie finally broke the “shackles” of the EU at the start of 2021. The combination of pandemic and Brexit is hitting an economy that already had one of the weakest recoveries from the 2008 financial crisis.
The following article was written before the current "vaccine nationalism" row between Britain and the EU over supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca inoculation. But it shows “vaccine nationalism” is precisely the way that nations and companies are going because they cannot escape the laws of profitability and the sharpening tendency of “every man for himself” in international relations.
The British Conservative government's disastrously incompetent handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, its incoherent undertaking of the Brexit negotiations, its U-turns over the health crisis, the economic crisis and growing conflicts with the EU, have not been met with an oppositional onslaught by the Labour Party. The British bourgeoisie has been losing control of its political apparatus and one of Labour's historic roles is to pose as an alternative to a government that has pursued populist policies that have undermined the effective functioning of British state capitalism. It has largely failed to take up the task.
The International media always try to depict Sweden as a “paradise on earth”, a Welfare State with almost total equality among the citizens. Nothing could be further from the truth. For more than three decades, privatisations and outsourcing of schools, hospitals, GP surgeries, as well as other sectors, like the elderly care, has created a situation where the health sector has suffered from increased cuts. The corona crisis has clearly shown the cracks in this illusion. Today, the number of hospital beds in Sweden has decreased to one of the lowest levels in Europe.
Colored National Labor Union Convention, 1869
The campaign around “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) has led many people to look for references in the history of the struggle against the oppression of and violence against black people. Among the most well-known black activist are Marcus Garvey, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King. But communists do not base their political orientation on activists fighting for equal rights within capitalism.
The past year has been marked, once again, by a series of disasters, including a global pandemic that has so far claimed more than 2 million lives and has meant a significant deepening of the economic crisis of capitalism, plunging millions of people into misery and precariousness. The year 2021 has only just begun, but it was immediately marked by a new event of historic significance: the assault on the Capitol by fanatical Trumpist hordes. These two events are not separated from each other.
As 2020 draws to a close, the health crisis continues inexorably. As we have already affirmed, our organisation continues its intervention towards the proletariat and its most politicised minorities. Indeed, we must fight against the isolation and atomisation imposed on us by the bourgeoisie with lockdown measures and curfews. We therefore held an online meeting on 21 November 2020, following on from an earlier one that took place on 17 October. There were fourteen people present at the earlier meeting, who were very keen for the discussion to continue.
“This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic”. This declaration followed the January 5 invasion of the Capitol by several hundred Donald Trump partisans, who had come to interrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. You might think that such a severe judgement of the political situation in the US might come from someone who is viscerally hostile to America, or from an American “leftist”. Not at all: this was from ex-president George W Bush, a member of the same party as Trump. This tells us a lot about the gravity of what happened in Washington that day.
St Louis USA, 1918: The 'Spanish Flu' was the first pandemic of decadent capitalism.
The link between the development of an infection on one hand, and the organisation and state of society on the other, doesn't only concern the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-20. This article explores how the decadence of capitalism - like that of class societies preceding it - fosters plague and poses the necessity of a revolution in social relations.
It is astonishing how countries with the most advanced technologies are unable to control and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Supporters of conspiracy theories say that there must be something behind this and indeed there is something behind it, but not a conspiracy. It's the decline of the capitalist method of production that's the cause and it is increasingly hindering not only the development of the forces of social production but also threatening the very survival of mankind.
We publish here the third of the reports on the world situation written for the Congress of our section in France. This one focuses on the situation of the international working class prior to and during the global pandemic.