This week the Anglo-Saxon media focused on Trump’s impeachment, a process considered the first installment of the U.S. election campaign in almost all the world’s press, which gave much more coverage to the “green” show in Davos, the spread of Wuhan’s pneumonia and the “Luanda Leaks”. However, the week has had many more fronts, which were certainly more important.
The Libyan powder keg
The week started with a fragile ceasefire in Libya. Its limits became apparent almost immediately. When the Tripoli government announced the resumption of civilian flights, Haftar threatened to shoot them down.
The Berlin summit, however, resulted in more than just a ceasefire: an Algeria that is back on its feet in the regional imperialist conflict and that this very week has organized a parallel summit with Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Niger–the countries bordering Libya–to reject “outside interference,” that is, together with Egypt to assert a regional entente.
Not only are the areas involved in the Libyan and Sahelian wars increasingly overlapping, but, as UN Secretary-General Guterres noted, they are tending to merge and expand into Benin, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. This is a scenario in which the announcement of new French military operations in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and the initiation of levies in Burkina give news of the acceleration of the imperialist conflict from coast to coast of the continent.
The other avenue of development is, obviously, the Mediterranean. The possible Turkish-Italian entry into Libyan oil and the verbal escalation between the governments of Greece and Turkey do not bode well. Greece is mobilizing its think-tanks and lobbies abroad to denounce the trajectory of Turkish imperialism with forced similes on the Germany of the thirties… forgetting, as it could not be less, its own.
Through the Arab Spring movements (which we now know were financed by Qatar and instigated by Turkey’s main intelligence agency, MIT), Erdogan tried to install the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of the states that were part of the former Ottoman Empire. After the failure of the Arab Spring, neo-Ottomanism entered a new stage known as the “Blue Fatherland”. Turkey has determined that the Eastern Mediterranean is its Lebensraum.
In Turkey, on the other hand, the official discourse points against the United States and Germany. While the Americans are required to discipline the Arab godfathers of Haftar (Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt), the EU is portrayed as a dangerous hindrance. In the words of the editor of an Erdogan newspaper:
In the last thirty years peace has not emerged from any negotiating table where the EU countries were sitting. The further away they are, the better.
In this unpromising environment, today, Erdogan and Merkel will negotiate a new treaty for the containment of migratory flows.
Further reading (in Spanish)
Meanwhile in Europe, the presidents of the Council and the European Commission signed the Brexit agreement on the European side, which was finally approved by the British Parliament. The scale of the blow is inversely proportional to the space occupied on the front pages of the continent’s news and newspapers.
The truce in the commercial war between France and the USA reached in Davos and the German alert about the growing germanophobia in the French public opinion, did not take away the focus of the continental “big press” from Merkel’s speech in Davos presenting her strategy for Germany and Europe. The continental strategy is centered in the “green deal” and the massive renovation of fixed capital that follows … well regulated, of course, so that the transfer of income from labor to capital does not decline. In foreign policy, the recipe finally found and now celebrated by the German corporate bourgeoisie as if it were a magnificent discovery: a balance that combines maintaining ideological alliances and declarations with the US, with a “prudent” trade alliance with China. Germany wants to avoid the trade war as much as possible but above all, to be on the winning side of the technological war, whoever the winner may be.
Further reading (in Spanish)
In Mediterranean Europe, however, the spotlight remained on the political apparatus in crisis. In Italy, di Maio resigned from the leadership of M5S and hinted at the creation of a new force.
In Spain, Sánchez deployed the first “social” measures of his government: the promised updating of pensions to prices for one more year, the 50 euro increase in the minimum wage and the incorporation of “gender perspective” into the general state budget… while announcing that he was studying the possibility of doubling the VAT on precooked and industrial foodstuffs and that, at the request of the independentists, he was considering reviewing the criminal code with regard to penalties for rebellion and sedition. This, for the first time, threatened to break the PSOE itself apart, revealing that under the pretense of Sanchist dynamism, the rift between state and petty bourgeoisie continues opening fissures in the Spanish state and bourgeoisie.
In case there was any doubt that this crisis is a deep one, as it is already traditional in all the Spanish historical crises of the last century, Morocco modified its maps to claim waters that Spain considers exclusive in the Canary Islands.
Davos wasn’t the only ideological stage of the week. The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz extermination camp prisoners by the allied Russian army has given rise to a rosary of sermons against “hatred”. The problem is that the origin and the current state of anti-Semitism has little to do with an abstract “hatred” that would spread invisibly like Wuhan’s pneumonia. One cannot even strictly say that the genocide of the Jews was carried out by “the Nazis”, it was carried out by the German state, which had turned anti-Semitism into a state ideology. This is not to mention the active collaboration of other states such as France and Italy, the anti-Semitic policies of Stalinist Russia, and the passive collaboration with both of them of practically every other state on the planet. To take the state, and with it the counterrevolution, the nationalism of the petty bourgeoisie and the historical strategies of the bourgeoisie out of anti-Semitism, is to decaffeinate it until it becomes anecdotal, irrelevant and necessarily counterproductive.
That is why the apostolic emptiness of Macron and Merkel’s speeches legitimizes Salvini by presenting the closing of borders to Muslim migration as a way of fighting anti-Semitism, and even worse, the instrumentalization of the then anti-human and anti-Semitic state crime to justify tomorrow’s war by Netanyahu and Pence.
The struggles in France
In France, rejection of pension reform remains high in surveys, with 61% of respondents calling for the reform to be withdrawn. However, the wear and tear of over 50 days of strike action makes the continuous transport strikes unbearable for the strikers, who find themselves without pay and with an “empty fridge”. This has led the transport sectors, such as the UNSA union of the RATP ( Paris metropolitan transport ) to call off the continuous strike in order to start intermittent strikes.
As a result, public transport in the capital has been back to normal since last Monday. To compensate for the decline of the strikes, unions and movements suggested “alternative actions”: launching of costumes by striking lawyers, torchlight marches, power cuts, concerts… A whole series of actions to get the attention of the media circus. This has given an interclassist color to the mobilization this week, quite marked by the fact that the category of “lawyer” includes quite a few petty bourgeois who complained of not being able to pay their salaried employees and accentuated by the proposal of CGT leader Philippe Martinez to divert the mobilization to the terrain of the struggle against the climate emergency.
On the side of the workers, in the southern city of Toulouse, an inter-professional general assembly has been formed this week to coordinate the struggles among different sectors with delegates both affiliated and unaffiliated to any union, as well as workers:
The main part of the debate has focused on the perspectives of the struggle and the actions to come. A debate that was irrigated by the questioning of the role that this central inter-professional assembly could and should play, bringing together right now strikers and militants, union and non-union ones, those most determined to end the pension reform and the Macron government. Because in a context where the union leaderships are calling for a return to work or are content to call for increasingly spaced out “days of action” without attempting to extend and reinforce the dynamics of a re-conductible strike, it is indispensable that institutions such as this assembly set out to organize a real battle plan for victory.
While the workers who have been on strike since December 5, like railway workers, spoke of the difficulties they have encountered in continuing to mobilize, others – like lawyers, teachers, masons… – said they were ready to “take over”.
This interprofessional general assembly is the first and it was successful. This institution constitutes a real point of support to continue the struggle in Toulouse. Different sectors of the strikers were able to meet to initiate a framework of discussions on the scale of the city, called to be renewed. The need to strengthen the general assembly was emphasized with a call to develop local and sector assemblies.
A week between Davos and Toulouse
From the perspective of the bourgeoisie, this has been the week of the definitive acceptance that Trump is not a passing phenomenon but the symptom and agent of structural change… a change that it is not bad at all for investments in the U.S. even if it is short-sighted to the great promise that is the “green deal”. A promise that has been definitively consecrated as a project in progress – and this was highlighted by the entire German press – with Merkel’s speech and Davos in general.
From the workers’ perspective, however, the focus can only be on France. The resistance of the French proletariat is all the more important because the pension reform alone would mean a transfer of 1.5 billion from the workers to the companies. Between the ‘green deal’ and the ‘productive deal’ in which the pension reform is framed, the transfer of income from labour to capital that macronism is proposing is on such a scale that it makes France the centre that will mark the class struggle in Europe during this decade.