Recently the Trotskyist Faction decided to change our name. This became necessary after the formal split of the Gerry Downing grouping/website that still calls itself Socialist Fight from the international tendency that we previously commonly adhered to, the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI). We came into existence as a faction to defend the previous programmatic positions of SF, and particularly the consistent hard anti-Zionist positions that SF had become known for over the past 5 years or so, from attack by the other side of the dispute. For the full background of this it would be useful for new readers to examine three documents.
The first being our January 2020 Platform within Socialist Fight. This codified our basic programmatic positions. In the text there are references to five basic documents of our tendency, which expand on the politics of the Platform in considerably more detail. They are available on the ‘Basic Documents’ section of our website, at https://www.socialistfight.org/basic-documents/, for convenience of readers.
The second document necessary to understand this is entitled Trotskyist Faction Takes on the Mantle of Socialist Fight, https://www.socialistfight.org/uncategorized/trotskyist-faction-takes-on-the-mantle-of-socialist-fight/, dated March 2020. It contains a full account both of the political reasons for, and the course of, the faction fight that took place in Socialist Fight in January-March 2020, which culminated in Downing splitting away from us, and the LCFI Secretariat in the Americas recognising two sections, Socialist Fight and our Trotskyist Faction/Socialist Fight, as dual British sections of the LCFI until the situation could be resolved.
The third document that needs to be read to explain this, is the document produced collectively by the LCFI itself, in the aftermath of the rump Socialist Fight grouping led by Gerry Downing formally splitting away from the LCFI, titled LCFI Statement on the departure of the Downing faction of Socialist Fight (Britain), https://www.socialistfight.org/uncategorized/lcfi-statement-on-the-departure-of-the-downing-faction-of-socialist-fight-britain/, in February 2021, it explains the overall context of the differences that led to this grouping splitting away from us. We will not repeat this here obviously but given that this grouping has left the LCFI and is using the name Socialist Fight, we are no longer a faction of anything, but just the British Section of the LCFI. So, we need a new name, which reflects our independent existence.
We have chosen the name Consistent Democrats, which we have been using as a provisional, alternative designation for our faction since last summer, knowing that the name Trotskyist Faction had a limited life. Why use this name? Well it is a name the Bolshevik Party used when the Russian Social Democrats (Bolsheviks) were formally illegalised under Tsarism. Obviously, we are not suffering from that problem. But we have been suffering from the hostility of the soft-left and pseudo-left and there has been a fairly systematic attempt by much of the left that is politically soft on Zionism and the Zionist lobby, not to engage with our politics, but to suppress them.
So, in a sense, our use of this name expresses the fact that we have been fairly systematically the target of attacks on workers democracy by the capitulatory left. Because of this, we are the only tendency on the left that has consistently opposed the Zionist-fuelled right-wing witchhunt in the Labour Party. Other trends on the left have refused to defend the whole left against the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign, always finding some left-wing tendency or individual (often, but not exclusively, ourselves) as unworthy of defence, suitable to be thrown under the bus and denounced as real left-wing ‘anti-Semites’ who can be sacrificed to appease the witch-hunters. Which it never does, of course, their attitude is that as soon as their adversaries give an inch, they immediately try to take a mile.
As well as that, the name has the advantage that it is distinctive; there are so many Trotskyist fragments around with very similar names as a result of the fragmentation of the Trotskyoid left, (a serious problem whose causes we have made a serious attempt to address) that this name is somewhat distinctive.
The name does have its dangers and drawbacks though. As Trotsky once noted regarding its use by the Bolsheviks in illegality:
“”the Bolsheviks were compelled to call themselves, at trade union meetings and in the legal press, not Social Democrats, but ‘Consistent Democrats’. True, this did not pass scot free; a considerable number of elements adhered to Bolshevism who more or less were consistent democrats, but not at all international socialists; however, by supplementing legal with illegal activity, Bolshevism overcame the difficulties.”
Writings, 1935-36, p156
There would potentially be an opportunist danger if we were simply operating under the banner of ourselves as Consistent Democrats; it would seem to dilute the socialist content of our political activity in a similar way as Trotsky noted above.
However, our journal, which we have been publishing since the inception of our faction just over a year ago, is called Communist Fight. This in our view counteracts the danger Trotsky referred to splendidly. Far from diluting the communist element of our politics, it highlights it very sharply.
So, we are now the Consistent Democrats. This is splendid in our view. Marxists are the consistent democrats, we seek to take up all struggles around genuinely democratic questions, all questions involving oppression, in the spirit of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party. As Lenin famously said in What is to be Done (1903):
“the Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.”
In the Batley and Spen by-election, called because the previous Labour MP, Tracy Brabin, vacated the seat after being elected as Mayor of West Yorkshire, there is currently no genuinely supportable left-wing candidate running, though there is still time should someone with the resources to run one, such as the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), decide to stand. In the absence of that, there is no one standing that is supportable by socialists up till now.
The Labour Party candidate, Kim Leadbetter, is the sister of the former MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a fascist during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. Notwithstanding that, she is an imposed candidate by the Labour Party leadership of Keir Starmer, who are beholden to the Zionist Board of Deputies and still on full pelt to purge the Labour Party of leftists and particularly those who oppose the Zionist genocidal project against the Palestinian people. The witchhunting of the Labour left, and the destruction of Corbyn’s leadership in the last period is a major attack on the working class, in which Zionists played the role of vanguard/spearhead, and no Labour candidate is supportable in an election to the Westminster parliament who is not prepared to stand up and denounce these attacks.
George Galloway is also unfortunately not supportable in Batley and Spen, where he is standing on the ticket of his ‘Workers Party’ organised jointly with the Maoist Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB (ML)). He has betrayed much of what he used to stand for. There was a time when he was able to boast that he was the most pro-immigrant MP in Britain, after his defeat of the pro-war Blairite MP Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow as the candidate for RESPECT in 2005, right in the middle of the Iraq war, after playing a crucial role in mobilising the mass anti-war movement that brought 2 million people onto the streets of London in February 2003. His defiance of the US/UK war in Iraq was legendary – his attack on the US Neocon Senate shortly after his election as a RESPECT MP in 2005 was likewise exemplary.
He was hostile to any whiff of anti-immigrant politics in those days, even though he could not oppose immigration controls in principle … having too much national-reformist baggage for that. But nevertheless in 2009 he refused to support Bob Crow’s No2EU left wing Eurosceptic election campaign because he did not like its implicit nationalism.
In the spring of 2014 he ran a principled, working class campaign (Just Say Naw) against Scottish separation, and correctly attacked the Labour Party for its ‘Better Together’ anti-independence campaign that was jointly organised with Tories.
But in 2016 he supported Brexit and even tried to work with Nigel Farage. In 2019 he called for a vote to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and even attempted to become a Brexit Party candidate. His bloc partners in the CPGB (ML) also called for Brexit Party votes. This crossing of class lines was not a one-off aberration – it has continued. In 2021 his ‘Alliance for Unity’ Campaign in the Scottish Holyrood Parliamentary Election called for votes for Tories against the Scottish National Party. There is nothing wrong with challenging the SNP but allying with Tories to do so is crossing class lines, as Galloway said sharply in 2014. Obviously there has been a major political shift in Galloway since 2014, and he is doing pretty much the opposite of what he did before then.
He appears to have suffered a major loss of political coherence, and left-wing commitment, since then. It is obvious that the change occurred after George was outrageously beaten up by the Zionist fascist, Neil Masterson, in August 2014, after the Scottish referendum and during Israel’s Protective Edge massacre, and was betrayed by the entire parliamentary left, who ALL (including Jeremy Corbyn) failed to publicly condemn the terrible, violent attack on a 60-year-old man and elected MP by an assailant 20 years younger.
That was a terrible betrayal by a left that capitulated to Zionism, which also included most of the cowardly far left. Apart from individual leftist bloggers, such as that run by one of our political predecessors Communist Explorations, (see https://commexplor.com/2014/11/11/state-collusion-jewish-extremist-escapes-trial-for-religious-assault-on-galloway/) hardly anyone on the far left even made a fuss about it. Unfortunately, those events politically destroyed the old George. The new George, the husk of what once was, is still acting politically and inadvertently trampling over his own honourable past by doing things like this. A tragedy. But in the wider interests of the working class, we cannot indulge him.
It would have been excellent to give electoral support, still critical of course, to the old George in current circumstances. But the old George Galloway no longer exists. Instead, we have someone who supports Tories, and Farage, and gives a platform to the proto-fascist celebrity Laurence Fox, who really needs to become better acquainted with the pavement, on his media show.
George Galloway is not supportable in Batley and Spen because of these things. Nor is Zionist New Labour, beholden to the racist BOD, who really would have considerable common ground with Laurence Fox since they praised Donald Trump for his Jerusalem policy.
George Galloway’s still-fervent anti-Zionism is commendable. But it is not enough on its own to merit electoral support. Supporting Farage and Scottish Tories is incompatible with basic class independence, which is a sine qua non for supporting a candidate in an election. Sayeeda Warsi and Sir Alan Duncan have both been fiercely critical of Zionism, but they are still Tories and not supportable by socialists. George is now politically promiscuous across class lines in a way that the old, pre-Masterson George would not have been happy with at all.
The following letter was a creditable and supportable initiative of Class Conscious, a leftist trend based in Australia, which we are pleased to endorse and publicise.
To Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President
We defend the right of the Vermont AFL-CIO to have passed a motion authorising a General Strike if the 2020 election results had been overturned in a coup. This motion voted on by the rank-and-file delegates at the Vermont AFL-CIO 2020 Convention was in the proud tradition of labor fighting together against the threat of fascism and dictatorship. We defend the right of workers and the organised labor movement to strike together to defend their democratic rights.
We therefore stand in solidarity with the Vermont AFL-CIO and demand that you immediately drop the vindictive and retaliatory “misconduct” investigation into the Vermont AFL-CIO
Jews Against Fascism (Australia)
Liaison Committee for the Fourth International and its national groups: Consistent Democrats (Great Britain) Frente Comunista dos Trabalhdores (Brazil) Tendencia Militant Bolchevique (Argentine) Socialist Workers League (United States)
Socialist Fight (UK)
Trotskyist Platform (Australia)
United Front Committee for a Labor Party (US)
Workers Power (USA)
Charles Dineen, AFSCME (retired). (Direct action gets the goods!)
Steve Early, NewsGuild/CWA member and former International Representative, Communications Workers of America.
Michael Eisenscher, Alameda Labor Council Climate and Environmental Justice Caucus
Mike Gimbel, Retired Executive Board Member, Local 375, AFSCME
Andres Gonzales, (formerly) United Steel Workers of America
Daniel Guza, Admin FB group Labor and Politics
Davey Heller, classconscious.org and Australian Services Union member
Heather Harman, IWW, & Socialist Party USA
Leslie Hight, VSEA rank and file
Klaus Helms, Member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Germany (Hoch die internationale Solidarität!)
James Marc Leas
Traven Leyshon, President of Green Mountain Labor Council
Dave Levi, Jews Against Fascism (Australia)
Brandon Marsden, Member of Reform and Revolution Caucus of the DSA
Bob Montgomery, AFSCME DC 93 (retired)
George Montgomery IBEW 2222 (As a proud lifelong (35 years now retired) member of an AFL-CIO union, I urget you to drop the misconduct investigation.
The recent retreat of Israel from 11 days of bombing Gaza, the unconditional ceasefire effectively imposed on it, is a major defeat whose implications are very damaging for the entire Zionist project. An article in the Middle East Monitor (24 May) by Dr Amira Abo el-Fetouh characterised the outcome very sharply:
“Nuclear-armed Israel, and its army equipped with the latest weaponry, has been defeated. It’s much-vaunted and hugely expensive “Iron Dome” missile defence system failed in the face of rockets fired by the Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip. The result was that the rockets could reach all parts of 1948-occupied Palestine, as well as Israel’s gas platforms in the Mediterranean Sea, and the country was at times almost under curfew.
It was a strategic defeat, which saw the myth of the invincibility of the Israel Defence Forces destroyed, despite its strength, technology, resources and unrivalled foreign support. Tanks deployed to the nominal border with Gaza went no further, even though the politicians had claimed that they would get a swift victory. The ground invasion didn’t happen”
Furthermore, the same article captures the element of mass Palestinian politics that has emerged through this struggle:
“Moreover, probably for the first time since the 1936 “Arab uprising” during the British Mandate era, the people of occupied Palestine united across religious and political boundaries, and the imposed “borders” separating those in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip. This will go down in history as a key moment, and will not be forgotten by Israel. Cracks have appeared in its domestic front and it really does face an intifada from the river to the sea.
“It is clear that the Israeli plot to separate Gaza from the rest of occupied Palestine has failed, and it was all down to the resistance groups linking the coastal territory to Jerusalem in the rules of engagement. In doing so they placed the occupied city, and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, under Gaza’s protection. Indeed, I would go further and suggest that all of occupied Palestine is now under Gaza’s protection. Not for nothing were victory celebrations and the flag of Hamas seen on the streets of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Lod, Nablus and the other occupied Palestinian cities. This is an achievement that would not have been possible without the resistance victory in the Saif Al-Quds — “Sword of Jerusalem” — battle.
This is remarkable, and points the way to the possibility of Israel being cracked open by the Palestinian working class, organised across the various barriers that the Zionists have imposed on them in an attempt to slice them up like so many pieces of salami. As we noted in our own LCFI statement on this recent explosion:
“But even more shocking from the point of view of the Israeli ruling class was the unified General Strike of Palestinian workers across the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel ‘proper’ within the ‘Green Line’ (the 1948 ceasefire borders). The Palestinian population within Israel, those who escaped the 1948 Nakba and were not expelled (but spent decades under military rule, and then as second-class non-Jewish citizens of a Jewish state), acted in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren right across occupied Palestine between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, underling that despite the Zionist fiction that designates this population as “Israeli Arabs”, they are Palestinians, part of the dispossessed Palestinian nation, and part of a integral Palestinian working class and oppressed population despite the division of this population by borders, checkpoints, separation walls and the Gaza fence. […] Palestine is one nation from the River to the Sea, and the Palestinian working class has considerable power, beyond its formal industrial muscle, which is limited as Israel limits its exposure to Arab labour with the long-term aim of dispensing with it. The political impact of such an act of the proletarian and oppressed masses is what frightened the Israeli ruling class into cutting their losses in this situation and accepting a ceasefire that only days earlier they had ridiculed”
The enforced nature of these concessions and Israeli bitterness at them is shown clearly by Israeli actions after the capitulation, with mass arrests and detentions of ‘Israeli Arabs’ who demonstrated and fought the Zionists during the upheaval, to ‘punish’ them from having defeated the Zionists. This requires continuing, ongoing solidarity from the left, the working class, and oppressed minorities in the West. It is also a sign of Zionist weakness. The mask whereby Israel pretended that it had an ‘Israeli Arab’ minority who were supposedly treated well, had democratic rights, is slipping, and its is becoming obvious to all that these are Palestinians, and are being treated as such by the Zionist usurpers. They are being victimised because they are feared.
This social power of the Palestinian working class needs to be linked to that of the working class in the (predominantly) Muslim Arab and other Middle Eastern states in the countries surrounding Israel, such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, whose struggle to win state power in the struggle against imperialist domination supplements the democratic struggle against Zionist racism and for the right to return of millions of Palestinian refugees. This can drive forward the programme of permanent revolution in the Middle East, the only process that can resolve all the manifold democratic questions that plague the region, with the dispossession of the Palestinians in the first rank. Only under proletarian rule, though a multi-ethnic Palestine as part of a regional federation of workers states, can this question be resolved.
The mass upheaval nature of Israel’s defeat in the “Sword of Jerusalem” battle had its counterparts elsewhere, including in some Arab countries that have recently signed treacherous deals with Israel, such as the UAE, where the popular sympathy is overwhelmingly with the Palestinians no matter what the various dictatorial regimes may say.
And in the West, including in Britain. In fact, the two biggest solidarity demonstrations in the world took place in London. On 15 May 150,000 marched: on 22 May, after the Israelis had agreed to the ceasefire, 180,000 marched. That is somewhat at variance with the experience of previous wars in the Middle East, where the end of overt hostilities tended to result in a reduced attendance. Here it actually increased. The demonstrations were also remarkable because Britain is just in the process of slowly and hesitantly loosing restrictions on mass assemblies aimed at mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mass movement in Britain and left weaknesses
Our comrades attended four major London demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians during that 11-day period. It is notable that on the first three of those, the British left was very much underrepresented compared to its attendance on events where other issues were the focus. The demonstrations were overwhelmingly of Muslim, South Asian and Arab, composition and our literature (in our first outing, as our distinct group was formed during the pandemic) sold well, as there were relatively few leftists selling their literature. But on the largest demonstration, on 22 May, there were many more leftists present, which while welcome, somewhat swamped those present with leftist literature and our material was much more difficult to sell among the other left publications on sale.
The reluctance of the bigger battalions of the British left to turn out on these demonstrations while the rocket-firing and mass actions were going on, reflects a certain dismissiveness towards a movement that was very much composed of Muslims, and a degree of latent Islamophobic backwardness on the British left, which needs to be overcome politically.
One other unfortunate by product of the Israeli setback is that there are signs of unease by some seemingly stalwart pro-Palestine leftists as to the sheer power of this mass movement, and its potential to undo Zionism. In one recent case – we will not name names here, as a personal polemic is not the point – a long time leftist, himself unjustly suspended from the Labour Party, removed a Facebook comment by one of our comrades containing references to remarks by some prominent Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide, comparing Israeli behaviour to the Nazis. Such comparisons were deemed to be anti-Semitic. But this fits not the definition of anti-Semitism in the dictionary, but the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) pseudo-definition with its fraudulent ‘examples’ (which it turns out were never actually endorsed by the IHRA!) one of which deems such comparisons of Israeli behaviour with that of the Nazis as ‘anti-Semitic’.
There have been other incidents of a similar type, where dedicated Palestine campaigners have pulled up others for using ‘tropes’, like the idea that Jews are a ‘privileged’ group today. But whether Jews are a privileged group relative to other ethnic groups in today’s capitalist society, or whether Israel behaves in a genocidal manner comparable to the Nazis, are matters that can be empirically investigated, and the answers are matters of factual determination. Nothing to do with racism or anti-Semitism, and the facts speak in favour of both propositions.
We hope that this weakness can be overcome. There is considerable rage among Arabs and Muslims about Zionist crimes, but nothing among them that is comparable to the anti-Semitism of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. There are good material reasons for this. Hitlerian and Tsarist anti-Semitism were imperialist ideologies, reflective of the bigotries of pre-revolutionary Russian imperialism and the reactionary attempt to preserve the Tsarist autocracy, or German imperialist hostility to Communism and the then-widespread belief, now dispelled (largely by Zionism, ironically) that Jews were in some way inherently revolutionary and hostile to capitalism and imperialism.
Whereas there is no imperialist power in on Earth, in the modern, monopoly capitalist sense, that has an Islamic culture, and never has been. Even those elements of ideology among Muslims that in some ways conflate Zionism with being Jewish, are not ideological expressions of a predatory, imperialist project like Nazism, but simply one-sided expressions of experience of oppression at the hands of Zionist Jews, who claim (with the support of virtually the entire imperialist bourgeoisie) to represent Jews in general.
Our attitude to this movement, and in particular its large component with a Muslim culture, should be similar to that laid out by Trotsky in a small but very important letter from 1932, on the approach of the Fourth International to militants from nations oppressed by imperialism:
“When ten intellectuals, whether in Paris, Berlin, or New York, who have already been members of various organizations, address themselves to us with a request to be taken into our midst, I would offer the following advice: Put them through a series of tests on all the programmatic questions; wet them in the rain, dry them in the sun, and then after a new and careful examination accept maybe one or two.
“The case is radically altered when ten workers connected with the masses turn to us. The difference in our attitude to a petty-bourgeois group and to the proletarian group does not require any explanation. But if a proletarian group functions in an area where there are workers of different races, and in spite of this remains composed solely of workers of a privileged nationality, then I am inclined to view them with suspicion. Are we not dealing perhaps with the labour aristocracy? Isn’t the group infected with slave-holding prejudices, active or passive?
“It is an entirely different matter when we are approached by a group of Negro workers. Here I am prepared to take it for granted in advance that we shall achieve agreement with them, even if such an agreement is not actual as yet. Because the Negro workers, by virtue of their whole position, do not and cannot strive to degrade anybody, oppress anybody, or deprive anybody of his rights. They do not seek privileges and cannot rise to the top except on the road of the international revolution.
“We can and we must find a way to the consciousness of the Negro workers, the Chinese workers, the Indian workers, and all the oppressed in the human ocean of the coloured races to whom belongs the decisive word in the development of mankind.”
Leon Trotsky, Closer to the Proletarians of the Coloured Races, July 1932
Differences of time, location, situation, and even some archaic 20th Century language in the passage, do not obscure the point. This movement is not to be feared, but to be embraced, politicised, and revolutionised. The latent softness on Zionism and fear of masses of Muslims that is widespread on the British and Western left must not be allowed to get in the way of pushing this movement forward, a movement that has huge class potential for the struggle to defeat Zionism and imperialism and push forward the struggle for socialism and revolution.
The cease fire between Israel and the Hamas Palestinian government in Gaza after 11 days of bombardment is the result of a major failure of Israel in the face of multiple facets of resistance to Netanyahu’s deliberate provocation of this phase of the Zionist war against the Palestinians. The ceasefire was conceded very reluctantly, and no sooner it had taken effect than the Israelis launched another provocation at Al Aqsa, but the public climb down was still significant and allowed the leaders of Hamas in Gaza to claim a victory.
It is a significant victory for the Palestinians against Netanyahu, despite the death of over 200 Palestinians, half of them women and children, and the destruction of numerous buildings, homes, and infrastructure. Israeli casualties from the Palestinian fire were, as is normal, tiny. The Israeli barbarism extended to the destruction of Gaza’s only Covid testing centre, the blowing up of high-rise residential blocks, rendering many homeless, and the destruction of a building housing the international press, from Al Jazeera to Associated Press, simply to stop accurate reporting of Israel’s massacres. Netanyahu had intended to resolve the impasse of his three-times failure to form a stable government coalition after three indecisive elections, and the threat of jail for corruption hanging over him, by flattening Gaza, and a new victorious ethnic cleansing of Al Quds/Jerusalem, even the destruction of Al Aqsa.
Israel is the most enduring and main dictatorship of imperialism over the oppressed peoples of all Asia
Imperialism and Zionism are hegemonic controllers of the world media and bourgeois public opinion. With this propaganda power, they sell the ideological myth that Israel is the only and true democracy in the Middle East. But in this confrontation Israel was unmasked and once again it is proved that in fact Israel is the most enduring and main dictatorship of imperialism over the oppressed peoples of all Asia, even when compared to the worst dictatorships such as those in Indonesia and Myanmar. Recently, this same Zionist imperialist media, at the service of the campaign in favor of Netanyahu, presented Israel as one of the countries that best conducted the fight against the pandemic, even vaccinating more than half of the Israeli population. Here, too, the condemnation of the Nazi-Zionist state is reinforced by the discovery of the increase in the Palestinian holocaust during Israel’s vaccination campaign, which was based on the denial of the Palestinian right to defend itself against the covid, with only 4.2% of Palestinians have been fully vaccinated so far.
The unconditional ceasefire was the result primarily of the resistance of the Palestinians, and particularly of that of the population of the Gaza strip, whose militant defenders fired hundreds of home-made rockets, hitting parts of Israel they had previously been unable to reach. Even though the damage from these home-made weapons was light as they do not have the billions of dollars of military technology and weaponry that Israel has, it was still a crucial act of solidarity with the victims of ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrar, and against the outrageous communalist attack on the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site to billions of Muslims around the world, whose destruction and replacement with a ‘third temple’ is one the key goals of the Zionist right, who are now dominant in Israel under Netanyahu.
But even more shocking from the point of view of the Israeli ruling class was the unified General Strike of Palestinian workers across the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel ‘proper’ within the ‘Green Line’ (the 1948 ceasefire borders). The Palestinian population within Israel, those who escaped the 1948 Nakba and were not expelled (but spent decades under military rule, and then as second-class non-Jewish citizens of a Jewish state), acted in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren right across occupied Palestine between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, underling that despite the Zionist fiction that designates this population as “Israeli Arabs”, they are Palestinians, part of the dispossessed Palestinian nation, and part of a integral Palestinian working class and oppressed population despite the division of his population by borders, checkpoints, separation walls and the Gaza fence. This section of the Palestinian population also fought back hard in mixed Israeli cities such as Lod/Lydda.
Palestine is one nation from the River to the Sea, and the Palestinian working class has considerable power, beyond its formal industrial muscle, which is limited as Israel limits its exposure to Arab labour with the long-term aim of dispensing with it. The political impact of such an act of the proletarian and oppressed masses is what frightened the Israeli ruling class into cutting their losses in this situation and accepting a ceasefire that only days earlier they had ridiculed. This recalls the words of Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto of 1947 when they wrote that:
“Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another.”
In other words, the potential of such a political strike action is in its ability to inspire further such actions, to create and expand a movement around itself, and to thus shake the stability of bourgeois rule itself. It has the potential to inspire other sections of the masses ground down by Zionism and its imperialist supporters around the world, and to endanger the precious ‘stability’ of Israel itself, which still uses its significant Palestinian minority as a fig-leaf to try to disguise the ethnocratic nature of the state. Not only that, but it is capable of inspiring international solidarity actions that further strengthen it. The actions of Italian port workers in refusing to load arms shipments for Israel, and South African dock workers in boycotting Israeli cargo in solidarity with the Palestinians are examples of the huge potential for international workers’ solidarity over this issue and no doubt played a major role in this Israeli setback.
It is no doubt this potential for radicalisation of the struggle that produced the volte-face not only from Israel, but from Biden, who though his Trump appointee and fanatical Zionist UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, had defied earlier pressure particularly from China, Russia and eventually even France in the UN Security Council and vetoed draft resolutions calling for a ceasefire. Yet suddenly the weaselly US calls for ‘de-escalation’, while insisting on Israel’s supposed ‘right’ to defend itself against its victims, appeared to produce a ceasefire. Evidently it was the resistance that caused this, not anything Biden did.
However, the outspoken statements of Turkish leader Erdoğan and particularly Russia’s Putin, threatening unspecified reprisals against Israel for its blatant killings of civilians, may well have added pressure. In addition, the radicalisation of the Palestinian struggle and the increasing exposure of Israel’s crimes has produced something of a schism in the US Democratic Party, with Biden’s overt support for Israel during this attack coming under fire from what seems to be a growing, more radical layer, from Bernie Sanders to the ‘Squad’ of Black, Palestinian/Muslim, and Hispanic members in the House of Representatives, but not confined to them.
The contradictions involving this layer are potentially quite explosive, as the Israel lobby is not marginal but embedded in very powerful positions within the US ruling class and overlaps with the Israeli ruling class itself through dual citizenship and material investments in many cases. The Zionist lobby is likely to strike back hard through AIPAC, as indeed they already have tried to do, and that could produce a very bitter conflict within US bourgeois politics as Sanders and the Squad now have a considerable social and electoral base among partially radicalised layers of the US working class and oppressed. It could produce something like the confrontation with Corbyn’s supporters in Britain.
This confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians has produced a much larger movement of support around the world, with demonstrations of hundred of thousands in some places despite the pandemic. This needs to be built and strengthened much further into a movement that can generate much more powerful, class struggle actions and interact with the liberation movement within occupied Palestine and the wider Middle East region. To deepen the potential that evidently exists for working class struggles to radicalise, regionalise, and internationalise, pointing to the perspective of Permanent Revolution, the force of the primarily Arab proletariat that can crack Israel though placing itself at the head of the struggle of all the oppressed, for a multi-ethnic workers state in Palestine as part of a region-wide revolutionary struggle, with a world-revolutionary perspective.
● For the end of the Zionist Nazi state and for the extinction of the colonies expanding this imperialist policy!
● For a Multi-ethnic and multi religious Workers’ State of Palestine in a Socialist Federation of the Middle East of Workers’ Councils!
● For the international political strike and For Workers Sanctions against Israel!
● Unconditional Defence of Hamas against the Zionist state!
● For the military victory of the anti-imperialist guerrilla organizations Hamas and Hezbollah in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria!
Today Bukele has fallen out of favour with Biden-Harris and is coming into conflict with American imperialism in Central America, approaching China. Bukele is a bourgeois politician who passed through the FMLN (Farabundo Martí Front of National Liberation), being mayor of the capital San Salvador in 2015, from which he was expelled in 2017. From there he approached the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA),with which he took advantage of weariness with the bipartisanship constituted by the FMLN and ARENA, being elected president in 2019 and thus ending almost 30 years of bipartisanship in El Salvador.
Bukele will not be the first or last puppet of imperialism to fall into disgrace with his master in the North. In Panama, the dictador Manuel Noriega, received millions of dollars from U.S. imperialism, for 31 years participating in the crackdown of his country’s government, was a CIA agent for a long time, and was central to the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. Noriega supported U.S. military operations against Nicaragua’s Sandinista Front and the FMLN in El Salvador itself. But despite this explicit history of services to imperialism, Noriega was overthrown by an American military invasion of Panama in 1989, when it was discovered that Noriega was playing a double game and, only since then, was he accused by the U.S. of trafficking drugs and weapons. Noriega played a double game because he also maintained close relations with staunch enemies of the United States, including Cuba, Libya and Nicaragua. Noriega smuggled weapons from Cuba and the USSR to the Sandinistas, charging much silver for that. Noriega sold thousands of Panamanian passports to the Cuban government for use by its intelligence services. Cuba also used Panama to triangulate the purchase of computers banned by the U.S. embargo. In return, Cuba provided Panama with weapons and military advisers.
Very more recently, in Guatemala in 2015, Pérez Molina, which although having nothing left-wing about him, came into contradiction with U.S. imperialism for proposing the decriminalization of drugs, thus affecting the interests of drug traffickers that stands behind the “war on drugs”. As we noted in 2018 in a document, http://tmb1917.blogspot.com/2018/11/crisis-migratoria.html). The case of Pérez Molina in Guatemala is that of another government that entered into some contradiction with imperialism. It was the international context of the time that stopped his government from approaching the Russian-Chinese pole.
Bukele learned from the experience of Central America and the Latin American group of bourgeois governments that had some contradiction with imperialism. Thus, judicial coupism such as lawfare (legal war) was prevented as in the cases of Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil, with Bukele himself moving forward in judicial “cleansing” taking advantage of his official majority in the legislative assembly. This was achieved in early May this year, displacing the judges from the constitutional chamber of the supreme court of justice, and also the attorney general. This preventive maneuver by Bukele was explicitly condemned by the sector of US imperialism represented in the Biden-Harris government.https://www.cronista.com/internacionales/estados-unidos-tiene-grave-preocupacion-por-la-destitucion-de-jueces-en-el-salvador/
It should be noted that the attitude of imperialism, as we said, is aimed at not losing influence in Central America, not only in El Salvador. Immediately El Salvador would be relevant to the whole gulf of Fonseca, a geographical point constituted by an inlet on the Pacific Ocean formed in an archipelago that constitutes one of the best natural ports in the world, where three Central American countries have ports: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golfo_de_Fonseca. The anti-China hysteria of U.S. imperialism sees in this a threat from China to its interests in the Gulf of Fonseca
This is a sign of the times, of the decline of the U.S. and its overcoming by China and its allies: In Honduras, in 2011, Zelaya suffered a coup d’état of imperialism led by the Obama-Biden Democratic Party government, because he flirted with Venezuela and the Eurasian pole. In El Salvador, in 2021, a decade after Zelaya, Bukele flirts with the same Eurasian pole so as not to suffer a coup d’état of imperialism. Both in the Area of the Americas (Central America) which constitutes the area of direct geostrategic dominance of American imperialism.
In accordance with the revolutionary tradition demonstrated by the exploited and oppressed of El Salvador in the 80’s when they became a fighting reference point for much of Latin America and the world, It is necessary to point out the limitations of the contradiction with imperialism that a bourgeois leadership like Bukele manifests today. It must not be forgotten that workers in El Salvador and Central America need to be independent of the Bukele government and all capitalist forces to advance their anti-imperialist demands, uniting democratic with socialist tasks in a process of permanent revolution, part of revolutionary struggles in Central America and all Latin America.
Workers in Colombia are fighting in a series of struggles against the adjustment policy, the “model” of the semicolonial state that imperialism seeks to impose in Latin America.
Faced with protests provoked by the tax package that Duque’s government wants to impose, the government is responding with a deep repression that already has had at least 156 people disappear according to international organizations of which on May 11, it is still unknown where 125 are in the city of Cali alone.
Urubism refers to former President Uribe, paramilitary and agent of the CIA and drug trafficking. President Duque belongs to this ilk, with Uribe being the power behind the throne in Colombia’s current government. Workers in Colombia are directly repressed by the official military apparatus and indirectly by para-military groups.
As of today, May 11 at least 37 were already counted dead, a figure that is above the officially recognized number of fatalities due to the repression of popular protests in Colombia.
Meanwhile throughout the country both the prosecutor’s office and defence attorneys pointed out that they have received 548 reports of “alleged missing” people, and that 189 people have already been located, so there are still 359 “in the process of verification and location”.
The “model” of polity represented by the Colombian state is the model that imperialism seeks to impose in Latin America with its paramilitarism, its unpunished pressure on the judicial and military system, in practice annexed to imperialism, coexistence with drug trafficking, etc. In this sense in Colombia popular struggles face a state model imposed by imperialism on the region. A neocolonial model that is not linked to a particular administration of Trumpists or Democrats, but which is part of imperialist state policy.
A defeat of this political “model” by Colombia’s workers and all the masses of people will bog down the repressive politics and attacks of workers’ living conditions on the South American continent. The defeat of this “model” is one of the transitional tasks of the struggle for a permanent revolutionary process to overthrow the whole of imperialist and capitalist domination in the heart of Latin America. For this, workers in Colombia must organize independently, while the most advanced must have to have for their objective the construction of the party of its vanguard to lead all of Colombia’s exploited and oppressed against adjustment and repression policies, as part of the struggle for a working-class government.
The house seizures and evictions in Sheikh Jarrar, East Jerusalem/Al Quds, the attacks on worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque/Dome of the Rock, and the murderous attacks on Gaza by Netanyahu’s ‘caretaker’ government, are a further escalation of the genocidal Zionist project of destroying the Palestinian people. One obvious purpose of this is to prolong Netanyahu’s own personal rule, facing a real possibility of jail for corruption, and having failed for the third time to form a stable government after an election, provoking a conflict with the Palestinians is no doubt a deliberate ploy to stay in power.
The Israeli regime took advantage of Ramadan to brutalise worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque while at the same time the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, given a green light by Trump’s move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem (which the US will not reverse under Biden), has escalated as Palestinian homes are confiscated to be handed over to more Jewish settlers, part of the annexation plans which the US okayed. The Sheikh Jarrar issue is now tied up in the Israeli Supreme Court, but no one should have any illusions as to the outcome of that; it is the latest episode in the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people since 1948. The attack on Al Aqsa is even more serious, as it prefigures what Zionist extremists have long planned to do: destroy Islam’s third most holy site and erect a ‘Third Temple’ on the site; an incredible provocation against the world’s Muslims and an index of Zionism’s vanguard role on the Western far right in trying to foment more predatory wars using religion and a supposed ‘clash of civilisations’ as a weapon.
In response to Israeli attacks on Al Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrar, Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired hundreds of their home-made rockets at Askelon, at Jerusalem itself and Tel Aviv, as a show of force in solidarity with those under attack. Giving rise to agonised calls from the Biden administration and from UK Labour’s Keir Starmer for ‘de-escalation’. Biden will do nothing to stop Israel, of course. Even if the current US administration finds this inconvenient, it has to reckon with Israel’s supporters in in the US ruling class, and at best will most likely continue to vacillate before falling into line with the Zionists. They are, after all, the strategic allies and supporters of US and Western imperialism, which will not lightly cross them. Meanwhile the UK Johnson government has condemned the ‘attacks’ on Israel from Gaza. Openly supporting the genocidal Zionists, of course they say nothing to condemn the ethnic terrorism in Jerusalem, or the murderous ariel bombardment of Gaza that has already led to 24 dead today, including nine children killed.
We in the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International condemn these barbaric attacks and call on the working-class movement and all oppressed peoples to express solidarity with the Palestinians. This must include where possible political strikes and labour movement boycotts directed at the Zionist regime. The Zionist state must be overthrown by the working class of the region, with the Palestinian masses in the lead, and Israel’s population of colonial-settlers must be subordinated to basic democracy. For the unconditional right to return of all Palestinian victims of Zionism! Smash Zionism and all its racist laws and impositions! The Zionist state must be replaced through a process of permanent revolution, mobilising the oppressed masses behind the working class as the champion of all the oppressed, with a multi-ethnic state of Palestine, part of a wider, regional revolutionary offensive.
Communist Fight issue no 5, paper of the Consistent Democrats, British Section of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, is out now. Including in hard copy, it is on sale for £2.50 (£1 concession) It contains the extensive May Day statement of the LCFI, which addresses the issues posed for the world working class by the pandemic, the economic crisis that accompanies it, and the continued conflicts in the world occasioned by the decline of US hegemony and the challenges to it, as well as a section on the current situation in Britain.
Also it features:
a major article from our Brazilian comrades on Navalny, who evidently aspires to be the Guaido of Russia and is a truly sinister, far right figure that the workers movement should not be defending.
a united front statement signed by ourselves and other left forces denouncing imperialist threats against Russia over Ukraine.
our statement on Biden’s escalation of US aggression in Syria, and his continuation of Trump’s anti-China campaign.
An article on the recent campaign for unionisation at Amazon at Bessemer, Alabama, also from our comrades from the Americas.
Our statement and political account on the break of the rump Socialist Fight group from the LCFI, and consequently why the British Section of the LCFI is no longer a faction and has thus changed its name to reflect that.
And an account of the fight waged by one of our comrades against being purged from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign by its Starmer-loyal leaders, who effectively act as just another arm of the Israel lobby.
Amazon is the largest online retailer on the planet. The company currently employs about 1.3 million people worldwide, placing it among the top 10 employers in the world, along with the US Department of Defense, the Chinese Army, the UK National Health Service, and private corporations like MacDonald’s and Walmart.
Amazon is a U.S. multinational company that focuses its business on a global e-commerce-based postal service and secondarily in cloud-computing, streaming and artificial intelligence. It is considered one of the five major global technology companies that control almost everything that is digital, commerce, internet searches, information about all users and even more their employees.
Amazon composes the acronym “FAGA”, along with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. These trusts are responsible for technological imperialism, based on the exploitation of labor, obviously information control, fake news, trade wars, dumping, currency evasion for tax havens and scheduled obsolescence.
The largest contemporary capitalist private company
During the pandemic, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos increased his fortune by nearly 30 percent, adding $34 billion since January 2020. Bezos began the year 2020 owner of “modest” US$ 115 billion. But with the pandemic and increased sales during social isolation, the company’s revenue and shares skyrocketed.
The company’s slogan is “work hard, have fun, make history.” In fact, Amazon’s 1.3 million employees took the hard, hard work, while Bezos has fun and makes history and could become the first trillion-dollar employer on the planet, achieving a dizzying social ascent with a company founded in 1994. His net worth has grown 34 percent on average over the past five years. In 2012, Amazon bought Kiva Systems to automate its inventory management business. In 2017, Amazon bought Whole Foods Market, a multinational natural products supermarket. The acquisition cost $13.4 billion, expanding Amazon’s physical retail. Amazon Prime is a 48-hour delivery service that has surpassed 100 million subscribers worldwide in 2018. In addition to Whole, Amazon’s trust groups Alexa, CreateSpace, Kindle, Audible, Audible.com, DPReview, Box Office Mojo, Goodreads, Twitch.tv and AbeBooks, among many other companies and technologies. In 2019, Amazon became the most valuable company in the world, surpassing Microsoft.
Intense exploitation of work and anti-unionism
The untheoretical growth of Amazon’s largest retail e-commerce network relies on a really hard work regime. To this end, it dismantled all attempts to form trade unions in the U.S. or to unionize their workers into existing unions, with persecution and layoffs, terror and blackmail, meetings, and anti-union training courses. However, Amazon has not been able to prevent strikes, including savage strikes in both the US and the European Union. At the plants of Germany and Italy the workers have carried out powerful strikes and plucked conquests.
The company establishes journeys of up to 36 hours in a row, shifts from 10h-12h, during which, the selectors are practically all the time working standing; 30-minute intervals between shifts, restriction and monitoring of bathroom use, drinking water and changing work gloves and paying $15.30 per hour. Many workers have been dying because they have been forced to work under these massing rhythms and unhealthy conditions at Amazon’s facilities during the Pandemic.
In early 2020, Amazon fired JFK8 shed manager Christian Smalls because he was organizing workers not to contract coronavirus in the shed after seven confirmed cases, he claimed to close the shed for 2 weeks and establish paid sick leave during that period. After his resignation, the company’s executives immediately began a secret plan to turn him into a villain, accused him of the opposite of what he claimed, to put his co-workers in danger upon returning to the building and possibly exposing them to Covid-19.
The union defeat in the battle of Bessemer
One of the first struggles for the right to unionization at Amazon took place in Minnesota in 2010. However, this struggle failed to boost an internal vote for unionization. In 2014, it was the turn of the workers of the sheds of Delaware. This fight was stronger, managed to impose a vote for unionization but was defeated. In November 2020, workers at the Bessemer Distribution Center, in a poor suburb north of Birmingham, Alabama, where about 6,000 people work, filed a lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a unionization vote.
In one of the U.S. states with the largest anti-union tradition, Republican-controlled Alabama was where one of the largest recent battles for the unionization of Amazon workers developed. The battle took place through a vote among workers who will decide whether or not to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which represents 100,000 members across the United States.
“Alabama is one of 27 ‘right-to-work states’ where workers don’t have to pay fees to unions that represent them because employer’s legislation ‘freed’ workers from the union tax. In fact, the state is home to the only Mercedes-Benz factory in the world that is not unionized.”
In 2019, Bessemer with a poverty rate of 30% of the population was named “The worst city to live in” in the State of Alabama, (https://247wallst.com/special-report/2019/07/22/worst-cities-to-live-in-every-state-4/2/)
Alabama was one of the largest slave states in the Southern Confederacy. Today, blacks make up 25% of the population, while the national average is 13%. More than 70% of the city’s population is black. In the Bessemer shed 85% of workers are black, much more than the 22% for workers in other distribution centers in the country. Then, after the year 2020, marked by the largest wave of protests against racism in U.S. history, the union struggle united with the struggle for dignity and respect of black workers in opposition to the racism contained in capitalist exploitation.
However, in the vote inside the factory, the struggle for unionization to the RWDSU was defeated by a ratio of 2 votes to 1. Only 738 of the factory’s 5,800 workers voted in favor of the union within a total of 3,215 voters, 1,798 voted against, not counting spoiled and disputed ballots. The fact that less than 13% of workers voted for unionization at RWDSU is a defeat that needs to be explained.
The causes of defeat point to the conditions necessary for victory
Like almost everything in life, several contradictory determinations have combined for a phenomenon. One of the causes of the defeat was the fact that Amazon played hardball in its campaign, resorting to different forms of persuasion, from intimidation to conducting sympathetic anti-union indoctrination meetings, betting on different modes for different audiences, thus involving coertion, threats of layoffs, surveillance and also the appeal to individualism, the distrust of workers with the union that would only be interested in discounts on paychecks.
The company also distributed anti-union bottons “Vote No” and “asked” its employees to display them on the cords of their functional badges: “Almost everyone uses them,” said Daniel Tarvese, a 36-year-old Amazon worker. Many young workers were also seduced by the company’s demagoguery at anti-union meetings conducted entirely by gentle black instructors,
“They were nice, they were just telling us what the union was doing,” said Jeremiah Okai,19. It was the presentation on union contributions that helped persuade him to vote against the Amazon union in Alabama – The union] will take money from me – Okai said – I don’t want any money taken from me.”
As part of the arsenal of this corporate hybrid warfare, Amazon also appealed to the so-called Hawthorne Effect, developed in a light bulb factory in Australia a century ago. It is about instilling in workers the belief that they were valued, cared and that someone cared about their workplace, even when they are being subjected to the risk of dying by Covid (!). In addition, anti-union seminars were made a theater that workers were having the opportunity to discuss changes to increase productivity in the company, while collaborating with the denial of their elementary labor and union rights.
One of the main ballot boxes was installed in front of the company and managers insisted that workers fill out ballots and deposit them at the ballot box in front of them as an open vote.
But this was already expected by the bosses and it is only the purest fatalism justifying defeat just because the other side was stronger and used all its legal and illegal weapons to win, as they try to justify the union. Moreover, it is also not new that it was from corporate espionage against the political and trade union organization of workers, through Pinkerton detective agencies, that were born, in the early twentieth century, the powerful international spy agencies of the United States.
“Jeff Bezos would not be the richest man in the world if he were not versed in the fundamentals of maximizing profit – among them, the suppression of labor costs and the flight of regulations. Unionization is antithetical to this goal because unions exist to ensure better wages and safer and more comfortable working conditions, which raises labor costs and lowers profits. If Bezos gets what he wants, there will never be a shed with even unionized workers on Amazon.”
(Companies like Amazon hire spies to crack down on union formation all the time, https://jacobin.com.br/2020/10/empresas-como-amazon-contratam-espioes-para-reprimir-formacao-de-sindicatos-o-tempo-todo/)
The problem is that if on the one hand it was the largest valuable of the world’s exploitative workers’ companies, on the other hand, a bourgeois and bureaucratic campaign was carried out by the leadership of the movement for unionization. This other side merely held an identity struggle against racism but did not establish a single concrete claim of workers against Amazon, which is an essential function of the union, “forgotten” by RWDSU and the arch-bureaucratic central trade union AFL-CIO. They also did not try to build a national movement and work with other unions to try to reach various Amazon facilities across the country at the same time.
The campaign for unionization was supported by the Democratic Party, including the explicit support of “Socialist” Senator Bernie Sanders, U.S. President Joe Biden and even Republican senators like Marco Rubio. But America’s working class is too disgusted with the politics of Democrats and all their traditional political representatives, including unions. Not by chance, Trump was elected in 2016 and was voted most in Alabama in 2020 because a part of the working-class electorate, historically voters of Democrats who protested in a reactionary way, seduced by Trump’s false “apolitical” appeal and rejecting traditional establishment politicians, including the AFL-CIO that integrates the regime and supported the spin on the financialization of the economy, industrial relocations, factory closures,wage reductions that have caused one-third of industrial jobs to be destroyed in the U.S. in the last 50 years.
One of the progressive reactions to this rejection of the establishment was the “socialist” wave unheard of in the US, headed by Bernie Sanders in 2018-19, which was also soon betrayed and buried by Bernie Sanders himself.
So, it is no wonder that, on the basis of the very alienation of labor, the individualism stimulated in bourgeois society, and especially in the decadent American society, Amazon’s campaigns against unionization have worked. Even so, from this filter of demoralization and employer indoctrination, 1/3 of the workers willing to face the consequences of corporate espionage and the risk of dismissal itself still escaped. And this 1/3 is due a lot to the organization of workers in the workplace:
“Without a strong organizing committee, already involving the boss in the factory floor action, the workers did not have the ability to see the potential positive side of the union because they never saw the union in action on the factory floor before being called to vote to join it. … the organizing committee already acts as a union, winning workplace campaigns to change things and defending co-workers who face unfair discipline. … In huge facilities with thousands of workers like Amazon, the process of building a strong organizing committee and trust in the organizing committee through combined actions can sometimes take years. RWDSU had begun its campaign last June when outrage over unsafe working conditions during COVID was high. Although they showed great momentum and initial interest, they never developed a strong organizing committee that was concerned with building trust through actions on the shop floor and organization against the boss. Instead, they precipitated a union election, or did what is known in the union organization as “hot shopping,” where union organizers hope to take advantage of an outburst of anger at a facility over things like poor COVID working conditions to force and win and a fast-track union election. However, initial support for union enthusiasm collapsed under the weight of Amazon’s sophisticated anti-union campaign, which combined threats of job loss with promises of improvement if workers rejected the union. Many workers in interviews who voted against the union admitted they knew little about unions. This allowed the company, through anti-union meetings, to create fear about the change that unions could bring about, warning workers that their wages may actually decline due to a contract or, worse, that their facilities may close.”
Despite the defeat in Alabama, the fight continues and internationalizes outside and inside Amazon.
A win in Bessemer would boost a domino effect on all Amazon plants in the US, with workers feeling encouraged to put a stop to these degrading working and low-wage conditions. After the union’s defeat, many workers are likely to face retaliation. But this defeat also stimulates the construction of union and political work to organize the class patiently by ad hoc workplace. While the results were being counted in the battle at Bessemer, even not unionized, Amazon workers from Chicago began a new battlefront, with a wildcat strike, claiming wage increase of $2 per hour, division of costs of transport to and from work and modifications in the shift of 10.5 hours. They organize under the name Amazonians United Chicagoland:
Unionizing is not a moment, it’s a process. Unionizing is a moving process when workers meet to formulate claims and a plan to sign most co-workers. Unionization is happening when uninvolved coworkers join class actions against management and when a new member of the organizing committee distributes Amazonians United newsletters during the break. We’re unionizing as we develop a sense of family among ourselves as we gather for barbecues and kickbacks while helping each other through times of need. That electricity in the air after we roll up a manager, making him nervous when he delivers our petition and expressing our demands as a group, knocking him and us up. … That feeling is our union, a workers’ union, coming to be.
We’re building a real union, not a useless business union, which is simply an extracting organization of law firm employees for workers to call. We are not interested in handing over our collective power to a bureaucrat who appears every three years to ′negotiate′ a concession contract through backroom agreements with our bosses. We don’t need the recognition of the NLRB or the Amazon to form our union, grow our union, or fight as a union. Our union is us workers, organized, acting collectively, building unity, growing in solidarity, fighting as one.
So, what does it take to unionize Amazon? It will take perseverance, humility and struggle. It will lead many workers with a deep commitment to organize the spread throughout the Amazon facilities, forming OCs that face issues that resonate with co-workers. Every time we gain a change through the organization, co-workers see the power to act collectively. This is how we begin transformations across the workplace from the standard individualistic mindset to a collective mindset. This is how we create a culture of militancy where we all put our incompetent managers in their place instead of bowing our heads to their disrespect. Each organizing committee, committed to the principles of the United Amazonians, is the foundation of our union, and we grow from there, collectively developing our strategy and vision as we go. ”
Not only was the trillion-dollar slave boss, capitalist racism, the imperialist White House becoming an ally, the Democratic trade union bureaucracy, not only all these obstacles against their emancipation, some “Trotskyists” who appear to help, hinder even more. The ICFI organization, which owns the WSWS website, campaigns against unionization by releasing pamphlets that say they are not organized in the unions, organize with the WSWS (!?). Bezos thanks them and even more thanks the imperialist Democrats because with this sectarian policy the most conscientious workers will repudiate the “Trotskyist” sterility and continue to be deceived by Sanders and Biden.
Even empirically, Amazon’s most combative and conscientious workers know they need to organize for the fight against bosses, and if bosses pursue union activity, even if most unions are bureaucratized, it is necessary to boost the union’s class organization. And in this sense follow the struggle the workers of Amazon of Chicago, or Germany and Italy.
A capitalist post office, as a model of a socialist institution
As Lenin believed, the union is a school of class struggle, the first single front of workers against their employers. From this school of economic and immediate struggle it is possible to move on to the political and strategic struggle. From the struggle against an individual capitalist or corporation, to the fight against all capital, against the system of assembly and thus, advance in the consciousness of the proletariat by the expropriation of expropriators, by a new social and economic order. The communist consciousness is not only built after the passage of trade union struggle, but there is no communist organization with proletarian work of the masses, with renunciation of immediate and economic work.
Soon, soon, even the most conservative sectors, but the rearguard of the proletariat of Amazon is going to realize that they were cheated with lies and techniques of persuasion. Illusions will pass, fear will pass, only work overload, slavery and misery will remain. The fight against Amazon is a contemporary class struggle school.
The company seemed politically stronger than the manifest will of the U.S. president and his party. As it was the interests of the workers, the support of the Democrats and Biden was nothing more than proselytizing. Biden was so vehement in defending the unionization of Amazon workers when disinterested in their victory. You could have used any state device to pressure Bezos, but you didn’t. “It wouldn’t be ethical,” in their logic.
Bezos acted as if the president’s words were a dead letter, and the White House too, to the anguish of the “socialists” and Democratic unionists and the next big deal demonstrated how windy were the words of Biden’s statement. On April 13, Blue Origin, an aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, ran a lucrative business with the U.S. State. Bezos signed a $2.5 million contract with the Pentagon to design a nuclear-powered spacecraft. The commander in chief of the Pentagon is Biden. The outcome of this dispute also points to those who are in charge of the relationship between the imperialist state and the increasingly powerful global monopolistic corporations.
Amazon and USA; Alibaba and China
In this sense, it is a good benchmark for the contradictory relationship between the Chinese state and the Alibaba conglomerate, whose businesses, like those of Amazon, are based on electronic commerce. Alibaba accounts for 60% of the volume of deliveries in China.
The Chinese capitalist state well knows that it needs to maintain control of the market and corporations in order not to lose control of the economy if its plans are to follow its U.S. outperform route. Against Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, owner of Alibaba, the Chinese government imposed heavy fines and blocked the opening of capital of the Ant Group on the Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. With more than 1.2 billion users, Ant Group is in practice the world’s largest fintech.
According to the Chinese government and press, Ma was slowed by making acquisition agreements contrary to antitrust laws and having announced that he would hold the largest IPO (the initial public offering of shares) in the history of the Stock Exchanges. ‘If they leave the company uncontrolled, their own control can be eroded.’ Prevent disorderly expansion of capital’.
The Chinese techno-bureaucracy, which claims as a reference its formation in dialectical materialism (under Maoist vices), knows that controlling the growth of an individual multimillionaire is fundamental to continue with the planned advance of Chinese capitalism. So while the U.S. is bitter at the unstoppable if not world war of its hegemony on the globe, Chinese capitalism is still thriving for the time being. China’s economy grew by 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. It was the largest increase in gross domestic product (GDP) since quarterly data began to be collected in the early 1990s. 2021 surpassed the previous record increase of 15.3% in the first quarter of 1993.
Victorious today, Amazon prepares the conditions for its strategic defeat tomorrow.
The owner of Amazon is the richest individual capitalist on the planet. Amazon is the largest online retailer. Amazon with all its weapons offers us the most sophisticated conditions of contemporary capitalism to learn how to fight it. So far, the parasite Bezos and his entourage have fared better in battles. But our sidelearns, strengthens in number, before the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020, Amazon announced that it would hire 100,000 more workers for its sheds in Canada and the USA. And equally important is that the experience of battles better selects the commanders of the fight on ourside, making the Democratic bureaucrats be overcome by new combative leaders. We learn how to beat their secret agents, their technological pitfalls, their cyber espionage. Amazon won the battle of Alabama, but the private post-office company, now dominated by the dictatorship of the capital, will one day lose the class war.
The dynamics of global corporations like Amazon imposes the need for the organization of the international struggle of workers, which transcends the corporate activity of local unions. The very global character of these capitalist corporations generates the material premises for this organization of international struggle to be possible.
Referring to the post companies of his time, Lenin indicated in his work State and Revolution:
“Around 1870, a witty social democrat regarded the mail as a model of a socialist institution. Nothing fairer. Currently, mail is an organized administration, according to the type of monopoly of the capitalist state. “
However, the mail-like companies known to the socialists of the beginning of the century were state and national monopolies. Amazon is a private and multinational monopoly, that is, subject to an organized global administration, which merges e-commerce and production. Lenin continues:
“Imperialism gradually transforms all trusts into organizations of the same kind. The simple workers, hungry and overworked, remain subjected to bourgeois bureaucracy, but the mechanism of social enterprise is ready. Once the capitalists are overthrown, once broken by the iron hand of the armed workers, the resistance of their exploiters, once the bureaucratic machine of the current state has been torn down, we will be faced with the admirably perfected mechanism free of the ‘parasites’ and that the united workers themselves can very well put into operation by hiring technicians, masters and accountants and paying them all for their work as all ‘public’ employees in general, a worker’s salary. This is the concrete, practical and immediately achievable task for all trusts, aimed at freeing workers from exploitation; this task has already been initiated practically, in the governamental domain, by the Paris Commune.
We must take this experience into account. All economic life organized the way of mail, in which technicians, inspectors and accountants all employees will receive a salary that does not exceed the salary of a worker on the direction of a control of the armed proletariat – this is our immediate goal. This is the state, this is the economic basis we need. This is what will annihilate parliamentarism, while maintaining representative institutions; this is what will make these institutions, currently prostituted to the bourgeoisie, institutions at the service of the working classes.”