A turning point for the class struggle in the US

The social uprising unleashed by George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis racist police has shaken the world. Its strength, breadth and the determination of the hundreds of thousands of african-american, latin, white, and asian youth, workers and left activists who have filled the streets in the US, has placed Donald Trump’s government against the ropes. Not only has it defied and invalidated the curfew and the repressive attempts of the 50 000 members of the National Guard that were mobilised to quell the uprising, the wave of protests has lifted the lid on the rotten north-american capitalism. The wave started by this marvellous movement, with mass demonstrations in the UK, France, Belgium, Australia, Spanish State, amongst many other countries, marks a turning point in the class struggle.

Class struggle unites the oppressed over any racial differences

The fury of the working-class and youth, compounded by years of social cuts, precarious conditions, low wages, racism, sexism, machism, authoritarianism and police violence- which are symbolised by Trump- has been extraordinarily intensified by the COVID19 pandemic and the outbreak of the economic crisis. The events in the US are just the forerunners of the forthcoming epoch which will bring class struggle back to the forefront across the world.

The scale of the pandemic in North America, with more than 115 000 deaths, images of mass graves dug in public parks, mile-long queues for food banks, and health collapse with more than 40 million people left without any health protection, has piled explosive material on the objective situation. Meanwhile, the Trump administration, with the help of Democratic Party, has offered millions of dollars for Wall Street bailouts and does not miss a chance to spread their message of hate and attacks on the working-class and oppressed.

Estados Unidos
"The events in the US are only a prelude to the coming epoch, which will put class struggle in the forefront."

The black population has been the most affected by COVID19 and the one which has suffered the highest death rate : three times more chance of getting ill, with a death rate that reaches 70% in the big cities such as Chicago. These are figures that reflect a reality of poverty and racial oppression which is embedded into the marrow of the system and oozes through every one of its pores: its institutions, the judicial system, the police, etc.

It is no coincidence that it was the black working-class and youth that has risen first . What is extraordinary is that their call resonated not only with the latin, asian and immigrant community in the US and beyond, but has been immediately and decisively supported by the white working-class, especially its radicalised and precarized youth, and also by layers of the impoverished middle classes. They have also been on the forefront of the mobilisations, united and brethren in a movement that is not divided by race but by class. A movement that directly aims at the heart of the system and that has demolished through action many of the petty-bourgeois prejudices of identity politics, uniting the oppressed over the barriers of gender and race.

This is the price that the north-american bourgeoisie is paying after decades of brutal social cuts and undermining its own social basis by causing the proletarianisation of wide sectors of the middle layers. By driving down the living conditions of the north-american working-class into abysmal depths, spreading inequality and poverty in order to keep the profits of the big companies, the Wall Street plutocracy and the White House have created a scenario of unprecedented social and political polarisation.

They have broken the american dream in a thousand pieces. This illusion, which has kept the situation under relative control for decades, has vanished. Now, those without a future are uniting to transform their reality and are doing it with unprecedented seriousness.

Trump’s war cry and his spectacular defeat

When Trump threatened to mobilise the army in order to quell the protest, he did nothing more than to declare a war from which he emerged defeated. Even renowned representatives of the bourgeois public opinion, such as Paul Krugman, accused him of putting the country on the brink of civil war. But neither curfews, tear gas, rubber bullets nor the violence of the National Guard have been able to stop the movement. The only result was to increase the indignation and fury and to give a mass character to the struggle. One after another, the main cities in the US have joined the protests in massive and unstoppable demonstrations, every time more radicalised.

Estados Unidos
"When Trump threatened to mobilise the army to quell the rebellion, he started a war that he quickly lost."

The pictures coming from Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington D.C. and New York have surprised the whole world. It is understandable, as they remind us of the great revolutionary mobilisations of 2019- in Chile, Ecuador, Sudan, Algeria, as well as the general strike in France of . If Trump wasn’t able to go as far as Piñera did in Chile it was due to the strength of the class struggle and for fear of a revolutionary upheaval of unpredictable consequences, a fear that has made a decisive layer of the ruling class- through the Pentagon, the Democratic Party and authorised voices on the Republican Party- to intervene and reject the president’s plans.

The bourgeoisie's fear has spread over the US borders and created big worries for the international ruling class. Trump was left completely alone and isolated in his strategy. The leaders of Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and New Zealand, as well as the spokespersons for the EU amongst many others, rushed to renege the positions of the US president and to show public “support” to the protests in an attempt to divert from their countries the expansive waves of these protests.

The White House blackout, the first since 1899 and the news that Trump had to hide in his bunker show the exceptional and historic character of these events. The reliance of the movement in its own forces has grown day after day, as well as the political conclusions reached by thousands of participants

Surveys made in the heat of the protests shows that 64% of the population supported them. But it is evident that streets filled with people are more eloquent than any figure. In contrast to the tiny demonstrations by Trump supporters, clamoring for the end of lock down, rifles in hand, just a few weeks ago, we have seen in these days millions shouting that without justice there will be no peace.

The experience of the movement: a decisive factor

The leap of consciousness in millions of youth and workers in the US is not only a product of the last two weeks, but the result of a process in which the movement has passed through valuable experiences, with lessons and conclusions that are now translated into practice.

We cannot understand the dimension of what is happening without taking into account the path that the working-class and youth has made since the beginning of the 2008 crisis. From Occupy Wall Street to the birth of Black Lives Matter, the historical Women’s Marches against Trump, the movement behind the support for Bernie Sanders, including the strike wave- with the teachers and General Motors strike- to the wave of solidarity for the migrants imprisoned in detention centres, north-american society has been upheaved by the class struggle.

All these movements have made giant strides, propelled by militant left activists and organisations, overtaking the structures of the democratic Party and the traditional labor unions. They have been built from the ground up and have had the youth in its vanguard. They have proclaimed themselves “socialists”, have faced of the 1% of millionaires and have demanded public and universal healthcare and education, have fought for the $15/ hour minimum wage an have achieved it in many cities, and have also accumulated victories in the electoral front, with the election of left-wing councilors in Seattle an example. All this has led to this upheaval, but its conclusions keep moving forward at extraordinary speed.

If something has characterised all these struggles is that they had to overcome many barriers and difficulties. The last and most notorious was the claudication of Bernie Sanders to the Democratic Party establishment, which although it upset many of its followers, was not able to stop this process. This is also a lesson to those shallow observers that see politics and class struggle only through the narrow eyes of the bourgeois electoral dispute.

The Democratic Party is already moving to try to contain and neutralise this struggle. After Democratic governors approved curfews in many cities, the party leadership is now manoeuvring by keeping in mind that to appear against this struggle is the worst possible strategy. The calculated declarations of Biden and Pelosi seek to take advantage of the struggle and, above all, take control of the streets for their electoral benefit. Unfortunately others supposedly “left” personalities which are now in the ranks of the Democratic Party, such as Ocasio Cortez, do no more but be accomplices in this farce.

The last polls give Biden an 11 point lead over Trump for the November elections. But if the movement thought Biden was the solution they would not have come out defying the police state and filling the streets every day. Obviously, the class struggle will benefit the Democrats, but not because they are trusted and even less because people are enthused by them, but as a sign of the clear rejection of Trump and his criminal policies.

The fact is that the situation is out of control even for that safety net of the north-american bourgeoisie called Democratic Party. Their actions and words, meetings with Floyd’s family, pictures taking the knee...do not cut it anymore. Precisely this Party, with Obama on the White House, made “police reform” to end racism and police violence one of its flagship policies. But the promise of legislation was nothing but a fraud that allowed racism to keep festering and growing in the police, justice system and all other institutions of the capitalist state. We cannot forget that it was exactly the Obama administration, loved by social democrats all over the world, that increased to unprecedented levels the deportations and arrests of migrants and black people.

The masses in the US have learnt a lot. Its vanguard has struggled to raise its own alternative around Sanders and has been abandoned, with the message that it is not the time to “play at revolution”, but the time to be “responsible”. Well, the same people that filled Sanders rallies, and many more, are showing that the struggle is not a game and their lives are not to be played with. The genuinely important thing about Sanders was not him but what he represented.

Estados Unidos
"The US masses have learnt a lot. Their vanguard has fought to raise an alternative around Sanders and has been abandoned by him."

In the last Minneapolis protests the Mayor was booed and expelled by the participants. This action symbolises what we have said above and shows the lessons learnt. It also shows how difficult it is for the democrats to take control of the movement. It is undeniable that The movement has more than enough strength to expel Trump before the November rallies, In any case we have to underline that a democratic victory will not solve any of the pressing problems of the millions that are now leading this social uprising.

For a party of the working-class and youth to fight for socialism

One of the slogans which has been at the forefront of the movement is “Defund the Police”, dismantling the police by taking away its funding. The millions that have taken to the streets have clearly identified that the police’s function is none other than to undertake repression and violence against them. The profoundly reactionary character of this armed body of defense of the capitalist state, and the total impunity it enjoys, has led to an overbearing indignation.

The pressure around this demand has been so strong that the Minneapolis councillors approved days ago the dismantling of the city’s police force. They were not the only ones forced to make similar gestures. Two weekends ago the L.A. and New York authorities also announced new regulations to its own police force and a significant budget cut.

But none of these manoeuvres can deceive us. The police, the army, the justice system and the Congress, among others, are part of a state apparatus that serves the interests of only one of the social classes. The north-american bourgeoisie, pressured by the mass struggle, might proclaim its devotion for black lives and promise reforms, but the racist and classist character of the police will remain whilst we do not abolish the capitalist system.

The idea of cutting funding to the police and using those resources in community organisations, with a social focus that is actually able to fight poverty, drug addiction, gender violence, etc, is rightfully making great and forceful stride, but we have to clearly recognise that this will not happens whilst the pillars of power are on the hands of the ruling class.

These ideas, which were already present in the slogan “Abolish ICE” (abolish the border police that represses and impressions the migrants in detention camps) and that have acquired a great popularity in the heat of the struggle against Trump’s anti-imigration measures, have a clearly progressive role and aspiration. They reflect that the role of the state apparatus has been made clear to the eyes of hundreds of thousands. But we need to get to the essence of the problem: north american capitalism and how to demolish it in order to establish a society free of any class, race and gender oppression.

Instead of retreating or deflating, the movement has grown in strength, confidence and extension. Although it was the african american families and the white youth who have led the explosion, the labour movement has shown tremendous empathy and enthusiasm with every step of the struggle. Not only as spectators but actively joining it.

The show of support by collectives such as the bus drivers, who refused to transport arrested protesters to jail, have not been isolated. The dockworkers have called for a solidarity strike in all the US ports against police violence. Organisations such as the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) have joined this call. Supermarket and postal workers in Minneapolis have also undertaken similar actions. Although they are symbolic strikes, they are a show of class solidarity that is spreading like wildfire and shows the enormous pressure put on the union leadership.

The international impact of the class struggle in the US has also been extraordinary. It shows, better than anything else, the fight against the heart of Imperialism, the struggle in the heart of the flagship of capitalism, a power that is now in complete decay. It is a powerful example which is inspiring millions across the world. As the Arab Spring has shown in 2011, we will see a future movement arising at a much superior level.

The perspectives for this movement are completely open. It is true that the mobilisations cannot be indefinitely kept at the same level and that the bourgeoisie will declare its fervent willingness to enact cosmetic reforms in order to quieten the situation. But the economic catastrophe that looms over the north american working-class will only fan the fire and deepen this confrontation. There is no doubt. The US is a decisive link in the global revolutionary process.

Estados Unidos
"The international effect of this class struggle has also been extraordinary. It is a powerful example that has captured the minds of million."

The movement will open new channels, but it needs to achieve political clarity. Spontaneity is not enough, there is the need to build a party of the working-class and youth with a coherent socialst programme, revolutionary methods and based on the strength of the labour movement, A movement that advocates for the complete purge of reactionary and racist elements from the police, which in many cases would lead to the complete dissolution of these bodies as they stand today in many counties and cities. Police departments need to be put under the control of the community and neighborhood collectives and labour organisations, starting with the combative unions, the social collectives like Black Lives Matter and others who are in the forefront of the fight against racism and for democratic rights.

But these measures will not end the issues and will not solve the underlying problem. To fight against racism we need to fight against its cause: the capitalist system. It is essential to direct the strength of the movement to conquer the demands that will protect the living conditions of the people: the wage increase to $15/hour; The immediate creation of free, universal and high-quality public healthcare and education; the integral reform of poor neighborhoods, equipping them with affordable, accessible and dignified public housing and with the necessary cultural and social equipments; a free, high quality, environmentally friendly public transport and transit system; the approval of a federal unemployment subsidy for all unemployed workers of 4000 dollars a month until they find a job…. A socialist programme that seeks to elevate the political aspirations of the movement with a solid and consequent revolutionary programme,

We need a party of the working-class that does not adopt sectarian ideas nor methods, that audaciously works in the social movements, in the big unions defending a genuine socialist policy, that clearly explains the need to nationalise the banks and big monopolies and democratically plan the economy to save the people and not the plutocrats. This is the only effective way of fighting against racism, police violence and the catastrophe that looms over the north-american working-class and youth.

To build this revolutionary alternative is the main task right now. And for many decades that there has been no better time and conditions to do it.As Malcolm X rightly said “ We live in a time of revolution and the revolt of black americans is part of the rebellion against oppression and colonialism that characterises this epoch….It is false to classify the revolt of the black people as a simple racial conflict of blacks against whites, as a purely american problem. What we are seeing today is a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressors, of the exploited against the exploiters.”