South America and Syria have been the two main scenarios of a week in which both the path of Brexit seems to be cleared out and the recession is flashing its teeth more violently than announced.
The Syrian War’s end
The agreement reached between Putin and Erdogan in Sochi materializes the Pence-Erdogan agreement, establishing Russia as an imperialist patron in Syria. Russia pledges to keep PKK-YPG troops thirty kilometres away from the border. Joint Russian-Turkish patrols, 10Km inside Syrian territory, will guarantee that Turkey will not be attacked by the PKK-YPG army now subdued by Al-Assad and Putin. And Turkey will formally recognize the territorial integrity of its neighbour’s pre-war borders. The agreement will have two outcomes:
On the immediate front, the proposal of Merkel’s “dolphin” and German defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), is cut to the chase. AKK sought to establish a “safe zone” under NATO control, introducing Germany and its allies into the last wound of the Syrian war. Today, we can say that Europe -unable to reenter the conflict after France’s departure– and the US -which has withdrawn its troops– have lost the Syrian war.
Because within this broader framework, what the Putin-Erdogan agreement sets out is the end of the war in Syria with a return to its original borders and a reinforced Al-Assad dictatorship at home and aligned with Russia abroad. More than half a million dead, and over 5.5 million refugees and displaced persons and a productive apparatus destroyed at the root were left on the war’s wake.
First assessment? In the case of an imperialist war, all participants have a common enemy and a common casualty. The main productive force, the workers, are slaughtered, physically and humanly destroyed, mobilized in the army and militias, or exploited in infamous conditions in the sweatshops that flourished during these years. What comes next is no better and would not have been different had any other side won. The political defeat of the workers, to be played out by one or the other side of the imperialist war, only leads to their own slaughter and to a savagely increased exploitation.
The “Chilean Effect”
The Chilean explosion and Piñera’s rapid reaction, partly alerted by the revolt in Ecuador, has alarmed the bourgeoisie throughout the continent. From the fear of immediate extension and the conspiracy theories that blamed everything on the imperialist rival, one is moving to the expression of a deeper and more well-founded fear.
This very week Argentina’s former president, Duhalde, clearly warned about two dangers for the ruling class: social explosions reacting to government measures to save the profitability of capital and and trying to instrumentalise the internal problems of neighboring countries by a “lack of cooperation”, when these problems are identical to one’s own. Synthesizing: these two dangers are class struggle and the development of imperialist tensions between the countries of the continent.
In Argentina, where the IMF is beginning to accept the idea that a 40% discount on the public debt is inevitable, the dollar goes up consuming the reserves of the Argentinian Central Bank… meaning that the fear of a new “corralito” is already the central theme of the end of the campaign.
The idea that the election of a new Peronist government is going to be a social balsam, renewing confidence in the state is beginning to crumble. Both the current concerns in Argentina and the regional example point in this direction: the Bolivian revolt, which has not yet been exhausted, will surely end up being inconsequential, but it has made it clear that the left is not immune to the revolt of sectors it considered to be “safe”; moreover, the dislocation of the Chilean left, which is racing towards the idea accepted even by the most rancid businessmen of the “new social pact,” offers quite a glimpse of what could happen to Peronism in government.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Boris Johnson seems to be overcoming the fracture of the British bourgeoisie in order to “deliver” the Brexit: a long extension -until January 31- and elections on December 12. The tug-of-war will continue until the end but at least the agony seems to have an end in sight. The EU has not only taken a good bite at British sovereignty in Northern Ireland, it has also made it clear that if leaving the EU has been – and still will be – costly for Britain, it would be suicidal for any other country in the Union.
However, the EU isn’t in any state to celebrate any “triumphs” either, the German unemployment data wreck the forecasts of a “mild recession”. The European outlook is increasingly similar to the South American present: everything makes a renewed wave of revolts of the petty bourgeoisie predictable when the previous one -see Catalonia- has not yet been exhausted. And the most feared by all states: a resurgence of working class demands. It is there where, despite the generally banal framework of electoral proposals, the appearance, for the first time in Spanish electoral programmes, of the transition to the 32-hour week makes sense.
In a broader perspective
Taking the last month in perspective, we can see how:
- the global recession is imminent and looks even worse than expected;
- states confess that, when it bursts, they will have fewer resources to mitigate its effects than in 2008;
- Wherever the bourgeoisie undertakes “emergency” measures to save capital accumulation -a rise in the price of basic services, fuel, a direct attack on pensions, etc.- it unleashes an immediate social response which, although generally led by the petty bourgeoisie, in many cases raises working class demands;
- both the crisis and the movements of the petty bourgeoisie -unlike those of the workers- feed a drift of confrontations between the national bourgeoisies whose perspective -in the long term in Latin America and in the short term in the Middle East- can only lead to new wars.