Capitalism in Europe is marked by a growing class, political and social polarization with the possibility of mass movements breaking out anywhere.
We publish below a thesis on Europe by the International Secretariat of the CWI, which was agreed in late November.
[Note: the thesis was completed before the eruption of the ‘yellow vest’ mass protests in France, which are reported on and analysed elsewhere on socialistworld.net]
Capitalism in Europe is marked by a growing class, political and social polarization with the possibility of mass movements breaking out anywhere.
This is reflected, in general, by the turmoil and decline of the traditional parties of capitalism and the former workers’ parties, with the exception, as yet, of the Labour Party in Britain, the Socialist Party in Portugal and in some other countries. In general, a new era of political instability and upheaval is unfolding throughout Europe. As we have commented in previous articles and documents, this contains elements of revolution and also of counter-revolution.
Despite the absence of a generalized movement of the working class in the recent period, the situation facing capitalism remains politically and socially convulsive. However, sizeable trade union protests have taken place in Belgium, France and Austria. In some countries, we have seen very important social movements, such as the successful Repeal referendum in Ireland, in which our Irish comrades played a very important role, and the strikes of female and male youth called by the Sindicato de Estudiantes, in the Spanish State, against sexual violence and harassment.
The EU is facing growing internal conflict and tension of both an economic and geo-political character. Despite the continuing growth of the German economy, the overall Eurozone growth rate has slumped to its lowest level in four years. France, the second largest Eurozone economy, has seen its annual growth rate slip from 1.7% to 1.5%. Even in those countries which have witnessed economic growth, it has not resulted in an erosion of poverty or a rise in living standards for the vast majority. In Germany, the strongest EU economy, there has been a growth of ‘mini-jobs’ – marginal employment which pays less than €450/month – on top of their regular employment. There has also been a continuing growth in precarious employment.
Claims by the ruling class in the Spanish State of an economic recovery belie the deteriorating social situation. According to EU reports, youth unemployment remains at 33.8%. In reality, it is probably higher.
Throughout Europe, there is a devastating gap between rich and poor. Austerity and cuts have had a catastrophic impact on big layers of the population in most countries, while the super-rich have grown even richer. There is a generalized housing crisis in all the major cities of Europe, which is having particularly devastating effects for young people. Even in Germany, despite the economic ‘growth’, almost one in five of the population is now threatened by poverty or social exclusion. In southern Europe and Britain the situation is even worse, with hunger, homelessness and stagnation in life expectancy and the prospect of a future fall.
The gap between the ‘rich north’ and ‘poor south’ in the Eurozone has deepened and is aggravating the tensions and conflict. In the EU, as a whole, the gap between the west and the east has not been closed at all. The idea of ‘all boats rising together’ and establishing equality has been shattered. According to the IMF, GDP per capita in Germany jumped by 19% between 2010 and 2016. It rose by 14% in France and the Netherlands. Yet in southern Europe, it grew much more slowly: in Italy by 6%, in Portugal by 10%. In Greece it fell by 7%.
The EU and the Eurozone are facing growing tensions and crisis. Brexit has been the sharpest reflection of this. Yet, as one capitalist commentator argued, “Brexit is just a sideshow for an EU mired in crisis” (Daniel Boffey, Observer, 4/11/18). The outcome of Brexit still remains uncertain.
It is not in the interests of the decisive sections of the British ruling class or the EU for Britain to crash out. It remains most likely that some agreement of a ‘soft Brexit’ will be reached, however this is not a certainty. Yet Brexit is not the only crisis facing the ruling classes of Europe. The conflict between Italy and the EU now threatens the continued existence of the euro, as we have previously warned. Italy, in the same article quoted above, “is in meltdown”. With borrowing at 131% of GDP, second only to Greece, and the economy experiencing zero growth, the right-wing populist-led government has presented a budget which breaks EU spending limits, bringing it into direct conflict with the EU which is now demanding a reduced budget.
The hypocrisy of the two dominant EU powers, Germany and France, has been revealed again. As they have previously – because of their economic and political power – they have broken these rules without sanction. The crisis in Italy has the potential to provoke an even bigger crisis in the EU and Eurozone than the Greek drama did. The seriousness of the situation was underlined by France’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, who has warned that the future of the euro is now at stake. It is possible that the Italian government will try and secure some compromise deal, although this is far from certain.
Other important aspects of conflicts between the EU powers are also being played out, as we have previously commented. Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for an accelerated political and financial integration of the Eurozone have been frustrated by Angela Merkel and German imperialism. Even Macron’s proposals for a bank rescue deal have been frustrated by Germany’s more cautious approach – opposed to ‘bailing out the rest of Europe’ in the event of new crisis.
At the same time, the EU is facing increasing conflicts and clashes to its east, with Poland and Hungary and the right-wing populist governments which rule them, and also growing tensions with Russia. There are major changes taking place in many countries of Eastern Europe. It is now nearly 30 years since the collapse of the former Stalinist regimes. Vicious right-wing populist, authoritarian governments have come to power in Hungary, Poland and some other countries following the economic crisis in 2007/8. Although starting on a very low political level, we have also seen significant movements against corruption and gangster capitalist regimes and class struggles waged for example in the Balkans, as well as in the Czech Republic. In January, a mass protest rocked Romania, resulting in the downfall of the third Prime Minister in a year. In March, the Slovakian prime minister was forced out by mass protests. Lithuania has witnessed mass protests, as have other countries. Although at an early stage in terms of political consciousness, these movements are extremely significant. They are reflected in the emergence of small but potentially significant new left groups, like Razem in Poland and Radnicka Fronta in Croatia.
Added to these crises is the threat of the eruption of clashes over trade with the US. All of these strains and clashes are a pointer to the likelihood of the breakup or re-configuration of the Eurozone, and possibly the EU itself, at a certain stage.
As the CWI anticipated, these developments have underlined that, despite the process of globalization and integration of the world economy, and the degree of integration of the capitalist states which took place in the EU and Eurozone, capitalism has not been able to totally overcome the limits of the nation state. In the current era of renewed capitalist crisis, powerful centrifugal tendencies have partially reversed the tendencies to integration which took place in the period immediately following the collapse of the former Stalinist regimes.
The far-right populist parties which have gained momentum and support in Europe in the recent period have used this crisis in the EU to whip up nationalism and racism. It is important that the CWI confronts this politically, on the basis of opposing the capitalist EU but stressing the need for the working peoples of Europe to come together and struggle for a democratic, voluntary, socialist confederation of Europe as an alternative.
Historic erosion of support of capitalist parties
Since the last International Executive Committee meeting of the CWI, in 2017, there has been an intensification of the European political crisis. This is reflected in a historic erosion of the base of support of the traditional capitalist parties. The crisis facing the Conservative Party in Britain, the CDU/CSU in Germany, along with what has developed in Italy, are among the most acute reflections of this. The collapse of the former traditional capitalist parties in France led to the ruling class, in effect, relaunching a new capitalist force around Macron’s La République en Marche (LREM – Republic on the Move).
The striking feature now is the crisis facing the 3 Ms – Macron, May and Merkel. Merkel suffered a big rebuff in the German general election in September 2017. This was similar to that inflicted on Theresa May in the British general election. Since then, May’s decline has continued.
Recent polls gave the CDU/CSU only 26% support. Now, after a collapse in support in the recent elections in Bavaria and Hesse, Merkel has been forced to step down as of the conservative CDU and announced she will not seek re-election in 2021. This opened a political debate within the inside the CDU about her successor, with two right-wing candidates challenging the political position defended by Merkel. It is likely her government will fall before the end of its term. These developments signify a major change in the political and social situation in Germany.
Similarly, Macron has seen support for the LREM fall to a mere 19%, while his own approval rating has fallen to 28%. While there have been important battles by the railway workers on a national scale, the role of the trade union bureaucracy has ensured that this movement did not develop into a generalized struggle against the government. The government was able to score a partial victory, although at a cost to Macron. His support fell below that of the previous, ‘socialist’ president François Hollande, at the same stage of his presidency. While strikes among other sections of workers have continued, these have been isolated and are more fragmented at this stage.
May’s hated government has stumbled from crisis to crisis, each of which in a previous historical era would have seen her government come crashing down. She has clung to power by her finger tips due to the fear that right-wing Tories moving against her would trigger an election which the Tories could lose, resulting in a Corbyn-led government coming to power.
At the same time, the weakness of Jeremy Corbyn in not seriously launching a mass campaign to force a general election, has also allowed her to cling on. However, so explosive is the situation that she could be forced from office and an election could be called, at any time.
The undermining of the social base of the traditional parties of the ruling class has been a major feature of this era and is extremely dangerous for the ruling class in the medium term. It has been mirrored by an even more devastating collapse in support for the former workers’ parties with the exception of the Labour Party in Britain, the Socialist Party in Portugal, and some other countries. There is a historic and possibly terminal decline for these parties, reflecting how far they have swung to the right and accepted neoliberal policies and capitalism. The electoral slaughter of Pasok, in Greece, was repeated in France, with the devastating defeat of Hollande and the Socialist Party in 2016.
This process has been repeated across Europe. In Germany, the SPD is showing support at a mere 14%. In a desperate bid to try and shore up its dwindling base, there is pressure to break from the coalition with the CDU and CSU. This would weaken the government further and possibly trigger fresh elections.
In Sweden, the Social Democrats had their worst election result since 1908, winning just 28.3% of the vote. The Swedish ruling class has still not been able to get a government formed. The difficulty in forming government coalitions after elections has become a common feature, reflecting the political instability which exists. There has and will be a tendency towards increased parliamentary Bonapartist methods of rule.
Offering a fighting socialist alternative?
As a result of the decline of the traditional parties, a massive vacuum has opened up in a number of countries. In many, the far-right populist and nationalist parties have been able to step in. The growth of these forces is, potentially, a very dangerous development given the unstable character of these parties, which are not reliable representatives of the interests of the ruling class. The growth of these parties has partly been a consequence of the weakness and failure of the new left formations to offer an alternative.
In some countries, new left forces did emerge and, initially, won a large basis of support. We should not forget that the mass movement and revolt of the Greek workers and youth against austerity, and the betrayal of Pasok, paved the way for Syriza to win mass electoral support, for a time. It was the betrayal of Alexis Tsipras and the Syriza government which has now resulted in the collapse in Syriza’s support and the possibility that even right wing New Democracy – now ahead in the polls – will be returned to power.
In Spain, the revolt of the ‘Indignados’ and the mass movement against austerity gave rise to the emergence of Podemos. In Portugal, the Left Bloc has passed through a series of ebbs and flows in its support. In Britain, it was expressed in the election of Corbyn as Labour leader and a sizeable growth in Labour membership.
However, all of these formations in different ways have shown their incapacity to offer a fighting socialist alternative. As the crisis has deepened at different conjunctures, these formations have been exposed as failing to offer an alternative and have been compromised. This reflects the extremely limited programme of these organisations and leaderships which, at this stage, are not even comparable to the left reformists and centrists of the 1970s and 1980s. They often defend a programme which is formally to the right of the former bourgeois workers’ parties, as well as the old left reformists. In some respects, the new left is the old right! Even the old right-wing reformists referenced arriving at a socialist society, eventually, in the dim and distant future. Most of the ‘new left’ fail to even do this. Die Linke, in Germany, on paper has formally moved to the left and formally stands for democratic socialism. This is partly as a result of our German comrades’ demanding public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy and expropriation of, for example, the big housing companies. However, Die Linke has not consistently campaigned on this aspect of its programme.
Yet, to the new generation, the policies advocated by the new left have seemed extremely radical, even ‘revolutionary’. This is a measure of the relatively low level of political consciousness today, compared to the 1970s and 1980s, in many countries.
The betrayal of Podemos during the revolutionary events in Catalonia was a clear reflection of the weakness of these forces. Now, Podemos has taken this a step further by seeking out an agreement with the new, pro-capitalist PSOE government. The same is true of the leadership of the Left Bloc in Portugal, which has moved ever closer in propping up the Socialist Party government on a rotten basis. These are a warning for a Corbyn-led government in Britain.
Appeasement to the Blairites.
In Britain, the ‘revolution’ in the Labour Party has reached an impasse as the Corbynistas have continued to seek peace with the Blairites and right-wing, refusing to act against them by introducing a compulsory system of automatic reselection of Labour MPs, on a regular basis. The ‘revolution’ is bogged down in the swamp of appeasement to the capitalist right in the party. As a result, the right-wing still dominates the parliamentary Labour party, a bloc of which may even take the step of propping up May over securing a deal on Brexit. A wing of the ruling class is urging the Blairites to remain in the Labour Party, to sabotage Corbyn in the event of him winning an election. At the same time, the political weakness of the Cobynistas is revealed in all the main cities, as they justify Labour councils carrying out brutal cuts because ‘they have no alternative’ and will not adopt a no-cuts budget strategy. We are compelled to oppose them constantly. At local level, in some areas, we will stand against right-wing Labour councilors who are implementing vicious cuts.
The programme of the new left formations has amounted to proposing a ‘reformed’, ‘more humane’ capitalism. It is a relatively moderate, centre-left Keynesian, utopian policy, aimed at taking Europe back to the ‘golden era’ of post-1945 capitalism. Yet, despite this, the ruling class fears a Corbyn-led government or other left formations coming to power elsewhere. However, in some countries were the new left formations have demonstrated their reliability for capitalism, sections of the ruling class are becoming more open to allowing them into government to defend the interests of their system.
Capitalism is so precarious that, after 30 years of neoliberalism, even a relatively limited programme which opposes neoliberalism but remains within capitalism, appears extremely radical. The ruling class opposes even the limited reform programme advocated by the new left. It also fears that these parties and leaders will not be reliable props for capitalism. Under the intense pressure of mass social movements and upheavals, the ruling class fears that these parties may be pushed in a more radical direction and be compelled to strike blows against the interests of capitalism.
As we have commented before, the limited nature of the new left parties reflects in part the petty bourgeois and mixed class character of most of the forces involved in them. While some, like Podemos, attracted a layer of workers, especially electorally, in the main they have reflected a radicalised layer of sections of the petty bourgeois who were affected by the 2007/8 crisis and who have begun to embrace some methods of the working class in struggle. These new left forces have not been based directly on powerful movements amongst their ranks of the working class. They also reflect the still relatively low level of political consciousness, compared to the 1970s and 1980s, and how far expectations have been lowered, temporarily.
Despite the political and social crisis which has opened up in Germany and a series of mass mobilisations against right wing populism and against climate change, as well as growing protests against the housing crisis and strikes in hospitals, Die Linke has failed to capitalise on this in a serious way. Recent polls give it approximately nine to eleven percent, nationally. Significantly, however, the party has won votes in the west of the country, albeit in a limited way, where it has a more radical and activist outlook, and lost in the east, where it is largely seen as part of the establishment. The reaction against the growth of the right-wing populist, AfD, and against the SPD’s policies, is largely reflected electorally by a growth of the Greens who stand at 23 percent in opinion polls. Despite more than 10,000 new members since the beginning of 2017, this shows that Die Linke leadership has failed to seize the opportunities by offering a credible alternative and building roots amongst the working class. The growth in support for the Greens is a reflection of a petit bourgeois and youth layer, plus parts of the better earning working class, seeing the Greens as more credible on eh environment and standing against racism.
The collapse of the French Socialist Party has been mirrored by the rise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s France Insoumise (FI). This has many of the features of a ‘movement’ rather than a political party, a common feature of many of the new left formations.
Die Linke has been one of the exceptions to this, in terms of party structure and a relatively democratic party structure and membership involvement. However, the chairwoman of the parliamentary group, Sahra Wagenknecht, who was the main figure of the party’s left wing in the past, has moved massively to the right on migration policies. She launched a new movement called “aufstehen” (stand up) which is politically to the right of the party and has the aim to bring together sections of Die Linke, the SPD and the Greens. It is increasingly likely that this will lead to a split in Die Linke and the emergence of a radical left formation, which will contest the election with some characteristics of PODEMOS in Spain. Our comrades in Germany correctly have spoken out against the formation of “aufstehen”, defend Die Linke, and, at the same time, fight for a more left socialist turn to be taken by the party.
In Belgium, the PTB/Pvda has continued to make some electoral advances, but with a limited reformist programme and without being open to other forces and democratic debate and with the party leadership wanting to maintain control. At local level, after failing to reach agreement in negotiations in a handful of municipalities in the Walloon area and Brussels, the PTB/PVDA finally entered into a majority in Flanders, without questioning the budgetary straightjacket that exists in local government.
Despite the political weakness of the FI, Macron and the ruling class have taken steps to strike a blow at it by unleashing raids on the party offices, allegedly to deal with a misuse of party funds from the EU. They clearly fear the potential for the FI to make further gains as support for Macron falls.
In Europe, there was a radicalization to the left and an explosion of struggle following the 2007/8 crisis. However, it did not result in the emergence of a strong socialist consciousness. This was due to a number of factors, most notably the lingering effects of the collapse of the Stalinist regimes and the ideological offensive against the idea of a planned economy and ‘socialism’. It was also due to the political weakness of the new left, which acted as a brake and did little to assist the new generation who had entered struggle drawing more far-reaching socialist conclusions. These movements came up against the reality of capitalism and the determination of the ruling class to defend its interests and attack the working and middle classes.
The national question is an important issue in many parts of Europe, including in Catalonia, Scotland, Ireland, Cyprus, Macedonia/Greece and elsewhere. It is re-emerging as an issue between Austria and Italy, and between Hungary and its neighbours, as well as in some other countries. As we have explained in other articles, the CWI stands for the democratic rights of all peoples, including their right to independence should they demand it. Where it is appropriate to raise the demand for national independence, we call for this on a socialist basis. We explain the need for the unity of all working people, and the need for the struggle for independence to be linked with breaking with capitalism and establishing a socialist confederation of the relevant states. On a capitalist basis, in the modern era, there is no solution to the national question. The failure of the new left forces to put forward such a programme is one of their key weaknesses.
The betrayal by Podemos during the mass movement in Catalonia opened the way for the PSOE government to now announce more repressive measures against the leaders of the independence movement. This was despite the massive pro-independence rally in support of political prisoners which took place in Barcelona, in September, on Diada (Catalan independence day). This illustrates that the national question in Catalonia, and elsewhere in the Spanish State, remains unresolved, as is inevitable on a capitalist basis.
The new left forces, in general, have a completely wrong approach towards the national question. Corbyn’s refusal to even support the right for a further referendum on independence for Scotland can result in Labour losing the next general election in Britain.
The vacuum which has opened up and the failure of the ‘new left’ to fill this with a real alternative, has allowed far-right populist forces to step in. Playing on the real fears of the working class, sections of the middle class and some of the most downtrodden layers, the far right has whipped-up racism in a populist manner, as a means of winning support, along with nationalism, and a fake opposition to the ‘elite’. In Germany, the AfD hovers around 16% in the polls. In France, we have seen the RN (Rassemblement National) which succeeded the FN, overtaking Macron’s LREM in voting intentions for the EU elections in May 2019. In Italy, the Lega has also strengthened its support, and the FPÖ in Austria has maintained its base. In Sweden, the racist Sweden Democrats got their highest vote ever in the general election, winning over 17%. This has been echoed in other Nordic and Scandinavian countries. Even in the recent Irish presidential election, the right-populist, Peter Casey, managed to win 20%.
In Eastern Europe, the issue of migration has been used by the far-right. In many countries, the influx of migrants fleeing Ukraine has been whipped up and used to sow division. Between 2002 and 2017, an estimated 6.3 million Ukrainians emigrated ‘with no plans to return’. Many headed to countries like Poland and the Czech Republic. Where they have passed through the countries of Eastern Europe on their way to Western Europe, the far-right has whipped this up, for example, in Hungary.
The racist propaganda of the far-right parties has also been taken up by some of the right-wing of the traditional capitalist parties, such as in the German CDU/CSU and the British Tories.
This is a burning issue for the CWI and the working class. We need to raise demands and fight racism and defend the rights of migrants. But we also need to give answers: with concrete demands on social issues, housing, education, for equal pay, trade union rights etc, to address the genuine fears of workers and to defend the idea of the unity of the working class. While not underestimating the threat posed by the far-right, it is important that we also see they can act as the whip of counter-revolution, producing a backlash from other layers in society. The tremendous demonstration in Berlin of up to 250,000 against the far-right, in which our comrades had an effective intervention, was an illustration of this.
These developments in Europe, taken together with Donald Trump in the US, and now Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil, have led a layer of activists and youth to conclude that there is the prospect of ‘fascist’ regimes coming to power, in the next period. It would be a mistake for us to ignore these fears, especially among the inexperienced youth. However, the social base for mass fascist forces, with the objective of crushing the organisations and democratic rights of the working class, do not exist in the modern era. This does not mean, of course, that should far-right parties manage to come to power, in some countries, they would not attempt to introduce extremely repressive measures. As we have seen, fascistic forces and groups can exist and grow to an extent, but as an auxiliary force. There is an element of this in Hungary, at this stage. In Germany, some of the smaller fascistic groups have been emboldened but more significantly the right-wing populist AfD has swung to the right, with its right wing becoming more openly racist and even fascistic. The anti-racist and anti-far right struggles need to continue to assume one of the key aspects of the CWI’s work, especially our youth work, in many European sections of the CWI.
The growth of the far-right has reflected a certain impasse in the class struggle and the failure of the new left to build a solid base of support among the working class. In some countries, it is based on the desperate situation which confronts sections of the working class and the fear of the impact on social conditions arising from the migration crisis.
Yet the growth in support of far-right parties will bring its own contradictions and increasingly expose them. Divisions have and will open up among them. When in power, at local or national level, their economic and social policies will be tested and exposed. The introduction by the ÖVP/FPÖ in Austria of a legal 12-hour working day, provoking a mass protest by workers, is a reflection of this. The trade union leaders refused to call a strike on this issue despite polls indicating clear support for it.
Yet the massive social and political polarization developing across Europe and globally will not just melt away. It could be a semi-permanent feature of the situation, reflecting the objective reality of capitalism today. The far-right parties and racist moods and sentiments among a layer will inevitably ebb and flow. But they will remain a factor in the situation until the working class builds powerful new mass parties that can put their decisive stamp on the situation and offer a socialist alternative.
A crucial element in our perspectives will be the impact the next recession/slump will have on the political outlook of the working class and youth. 2007/8 led to a radicalization in the mood of a section of the youth and working class who began to question capitalism. However, this did not result in the development of a broad socialist consciousness.
Despite the contradictions and complications which have developed in the present situation, it would be a big mistake for us to conclude that a renewed economic crisis will simply have the same effect on political outlook. Following the experience of the last decade, a new crisis, accompanied by big social and political upheavals, can with our intervention lead to an even greater radicalization than previously and the crystallisation of a broader socialist consciousness. The CWI, in many countries, can play a decisive role in helping this process to develop.
In all countries, the trade union bureaucracy has, in the main, acted as a massive brake holding back workers’ movements. This has been a major factor in the recent period, contributing to the absence of a powerful movement of the working class in Europe. Despite the weakening of the traditional working-class sectors in manufacturing and industry, this layer still exists. Powerful sections of workers are concentrated in transport, logistics and, in some countries, still in manufacturing. When these layers move into struggle they will have a decisive effect. In addition, we have seen new layers of the working class in the process of formation and sections of the former middle class beginning to take up the methods of working-class struggle.
The small, embryonic but very significant initial movements have led to the McStrike and strikes and actions by precarious workers at Deliveroo, Wetherspoons and TGI Friday in Britain, Lloyds Chemists in Ireland, Foodora, Deliveroo and Just East, in Italy, Hyatt rue de la Paix, in France, and others including in Germany. These are a harbinger of how these layers can begin to move in the next period. More recently, the global strike against sexual harassment and racism by Google tech workers in the US, Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and other countries, was extremely significant. This is the first movement of the ‘new skilled working class’ which, potentially, has immense economic power. Following this strike, the first tentative steps at forming or reforming unions are beginning to take place, as has been the case in the airline industry.
The concrete situation in the trade unions is very different in each country and our exact tactics and orientation will need to take this into account. While in the private sector in many countries the level of trade union organization has declined, in the public sector it remains much stronger. However, it is extremely important that we recognize the important role of the trade unions for Marxists, and the working class, as whole, even in sectors with currently low levels of organization. Without having a fetish about the official structures, it is important that we avoid an ultra-left or sectarian approach on how we engage and raise our demands. At the same time, where necessary, we should be ready to go directly to the workplaces and, where relevant, argue for unofficial ad hoc groups and campaigns to be formed in opposition to the trade union bureaucracy, while placing demands on the official unions to take action.
This aspect of the work is of crucial importance for us to build a firm and solid basis among the working class.
The ruling classes of Europe are conscious of the prospects of mass social explosions by the working class in the coming period. One of the features of the recent period is the tendency for increased repression and more authoritarian methods of rule and policing to be adopted. This is certain to increase. The question of defending basic democratic rights to organize, protest and strike is something we need to feature in our propaganda and demands. In addition, the growing crisis in the environment, reflected in the heatwave and subsequent droughts in some countries, will increasing emerge as an issue which can provoke big movements.
The general conclusion we need to draw from this analysis is that greater class divisions and social and political polarization are taking place. This is accompanied by a decline or even collapse of the traditional parties and instruments of rule by the capitalist class. The CWI needs to be prepared for further abrupt changes. New opportunities and prospects to build our parties will be posed. We need to be prepared for big struggles of the working class and other layers of society, especially the youth who face a disastrous situation on the basis of capitalism. To seize hold of the possibilities we will need to be ready to undertake bold and rapid changes in our tactics and interventions, and struggle for our principled socialist programme with the aim of strengthening our base and support among all sections of the working class, youth and all those exploited by capitalism.