Europe: Capitalist austerity must be met with workers’ action!

Victory to the Greek and all European workers! Solidarity with Greek general strike on 5 May! For an international day of action!

The recent period has seen the launching of a brutal offensive by capitalist governments, along with the international money markets, aimed at savaging the public services and living standards of working people to pay for the crisis of capitalism, and the massive cost of bailing out the banks and the financial system. This situation, described as “war” by Greek Prime Minister, Papandreou, has seen a new phase in this austerity offensive, particularly in Southern Europe, in response to the spreading contagion triggered by the Greek debt crisis. This raises in a dramatic fashion, the need for a united response by the workers of Europe. A united Europe-wide day of action on 5 May would be an important first step forward. Workers’ leaders should use May 1 to call for this international solidarity action

This week’s down-grading of S & P (Standard & Poor) credit ratings for Greece (to “junk bond” level), Portugal and Spain has given further impetus to the crisis. Capitalist institutions, like the EU and IMF, as well as capitalist governments are demanding faster, deeper and more devastating cuts and austerity measures to assuage the “gods” of the market and the credit ratings’ agencies. The IMF’s proposals for Greece, involving the slashing of wages across the board, and a complete abolition of the “13th month” in public sector wages, are a recipe for further devastation.

The Portugese Socrates government has raised the possibility of bringing forward its already savage programme of cuts and privatisations in response to the situation. In Spain, the Zapatero government earlier this year announced an austerity plan to cut €55 billion from public spending. The Greek PASOK government’s plan of attack represents a devastating blow to workers and youth. If the government succeeds they are threatened with a decade or more of austerity and declining living standards, all to live up to the obligations of the country’s capitalists and speculators, who crashed the economy and were bailed out by their friends in the EU and IMF.

Sections of the ruling classes in Germany and Greece have used nationalist rhetoric aimed at dividing the working class. For example the German ruling class have launched a slanderous campaign against the workers of Greece. The main European powers are anxious to speed up and intensify attacks in the countries of Southern Europe to protect their position, as far as the Euro and the international financial markets are concerned. This agenda, aimed at setting worker against worker, throughout the continent, must be fought against by the working class movement and the left. The sentiments expressed by capitalist governments in Greece and Portugal, who seek to wholly blame the situation developing in these countries on the international markets, represents only one side of the situation. These nationalist sentiments are also articulated in an attempt to mask the fact that it is the capitalist system and logic upheld by these national governments, as well as the international sharks of the financial system, which are to blame.

It is clear that governments of the stronger powers, such as Germany, which presently are attempting to force through an assault on the Greek and Portugese working classes, have the same menu of attacks planned for the working class and youth at home.

This raises clearly the need for working class unity and internationalism in response to the attacks of national and international capitalism. Greek trade unions have called a general strike on 5 May, in opposition to the cuts being imposed by the Papandreou government and the capitalist vultures of the EU and IMF. This is an example which should be followed by the trade union leaders in Porugal and Spain and other countries, where massive anger and militancy has been displayed by workers and youth. The national transport strike in Portugal on Tuesday 27 April, which saw over 95% participation, along with the massive demonstrations in Spain in February against the government’s pension attacks, is a glimpse of the response that would meet with a general strike. In Germany, where the government is gearing up for a whole-scale assault on the health system, the question of a militant escalation of the fightback there is also posed. In every country in Europe, similar attacks are either being planned or implemented, which by their very nature, demand a generalised response.

As Greek workers lead the way into battle on 5 May, an important opportunity is presented for a European-wide day of action, as a first step towards a campaign of international united action against the crisis and the attacks of capitalism. This would provide workers throughout Europe with a crucial opportunity to feel the collective strength of the organised working class, mobilised across national boundaries. This call must be taken up by trade unions and the left across Europe. The CWI will enthusiastically campaign for this objective, to unite the resistance and cut across the poisonous, divisive attempts at nationalist division by the capitalists and their governments. The 1 May, International workers’ day, must be used to champion the need for international action by the workers’ movement, in the face of the international crisis. A clear call for united workers action on 5 May should be a first step to further protests and action on an all-European basis

  • No to cuts and privatisations! Make the bosses pay for their crisis!

  • Victory to the Greek workers!
  • No payment of debts to the capitalist vultures in the banks, EU and IMF! No to the dictatorship of the financial markets, credit ratings’ institutions and the IMF! Nationalise the banks and financial sector under the democratic control and management of working people!
  • No to mass unemployment! Share out the work with no loss of pay! For massive state investment in public works’ programmes to create socially useful work for the unemployed millions!
  • No to a Europe of the bosses! For a Europe of working people’s solidarity and struggle! For a democratic socialist federation of Europe as an alternative to the capitalist EU!

The CWI links these demands to the struggle for the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy, under workers’ control and management, to develop a socialist plan of production to end the crisis and to develop the economy, in the interests of workers, consistent with the needs of the environment. The only sustainable, viable solution to the current crisis is the socialist transformation of society internationally.

The present situation represents a profound impasse for the capitalist EU. There is no stable solution for individual capitalist countries. The CWI stands against the Europe of the bosses, and in favour of a socialist federation of Europe, on an equal and voluntary basis.

Signed by

Xekinima (CWI in Greece)

Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Portugal)

CWI members in Spain

SAV (CWI in Germany)

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April 2010