Communist Party of Spain (M-L)

The European Union, the crisis and the peoples

To state and repeat that the workers, the working people, the petty and medium-sized bourgeoisie have provoked the crisis, as the reactionaries and their hacks and “analysts” for hire regularly do, is truly an insult to reason. But as we examine and think about the dramatic moments in which we are living (I am speaking of Spain and its nationalities, but how can one ignore the brutal plunder, disguised as a “rescue,” imposed on Greece?) we discover a reality, a bitter reality which is liquidating, eliminating and in the “best” of cases drastically reducing (“cutting back”, as those sons of whores say) what the working class and the working people won with their struggles over the last hundred years.

There are many analysts, economists and philosophers in the world who have attacked Marx; they wanted to bury the work of the German genius, Capital, as outdated, overtaken by events,. They deny its importance; they have labelled it antiquated, outdated, etc. But facts show that Marx’s analyses were completely correct, that they are completely relevant. This is seen in the current situation in which all measures to overcome the crisis, absolutely all, are to the detriment of the proletariat, of the popular strata essentially, but also of the petty and medium-sized bourgeoisie. The rights that were won, such as social security and the quality of education, have been eliminated. There is an increase in working hours and a reduction in wages. The number of years one must work to qualify for a starvation pension has increased, so that young people today, when they retire at 65 or 70 years of age, will barely meet the number of years required, because precarious jobs and the freedom to dismiss someone prevent them from working continuously.

The situation in Spain (with 47 million inhabitants in 2011) already borders on the catastrophic: there are 5,300,000 unemployed (23 per cent of the economically active population) with the prospect of reaching 6,000,000 this year. Unemployment among the youth is 48% (twice the European average). It is estimated that in one and a half million families all members are unemployed. 20% of Spaniards are below the poverty line, calculated at 7,800 euros a year (650 a month). In these circumstances, the pro-fascist government of Rajoy and his “Popular” Party are carrying out a still incomplete labour reform, directed openly and clearly against the proletariat, the working masses and the popular strata. It is the employers who impose their criteria and demands, which the government accepts (with slight nuances so that you do not see the hoof of the Franco beast) and which are taking us back to the 19th century. The Minister of Labour himself announced that the labour reform that he was preparing would be "extremely aggressive". Such reform, perfectly described as aggressive, was approved by the Council of Ministers on February10.

The Following Data on This Labour Reform Speak for Themselves:

1. The pre-eminence of the enterprise contracts above those of the sector (with 98% SMEs*), which means that the employer is in charge of the company without being subjected to any control). 2. It allows for wage reductions if during 9 months the company suffers a reduction in profits. It is not that the company has losses, but that it does not receive the hoped-for profits. 3. For enterprises with less than 50 employees (more than 95% of the total number of enterprises) it creates a new contract with a trial period of one year, during which the employer can dismiss the worker without giving any reason. 4. It establishes compulsory arbitration. 5. It eliminates the administrative control of the ERE**. 6. It eliminates the permanent contract with 45 days per year of severance pay (it puts it at 33 days) and allows the employer to dismiss an employee for objective reasons (20 days of severance pay) if the enterprise has a reduction in profits for 9 months. 7. It allows for the application of the same causes for dismissal for workers in the public sector (except for staff who are not entitled to collect unemployment benefits and therefore cannot be dismissed… for now). 8. It eliminates the extension of expired contracts: previously, when a contract was over, the most important normative clauses continued to be applied until a new one was signed. Now, if in two years (in the parliamentary procedure that is still current, it can be reduced to one year) another contract has not been signed, workers would have no contract and would be governed exclusively by the basic legislation. 9. It allows for the dismissal of a worker for absenteeism, even if it is justified, if during two months the worker is absent from work for nine days due to illness, with the exception of maternity leave and “domestic violence”.

* Small and medium-sized enterprises.

** Record of Employment Regulation.

Both Mrs. Merkel and other chieftains of the EU have applauded these measures and praised Rajoy, who had previously been removed to obtain the approval of the Chancellor of Germany, Merkel, for the measures that he was going to present but which had not yet been made public. What is clear is that this is an attack in any rule against the workers, an attack led by the employers’ organization, which still wants more drastic measures to be adopted...

"There is a many-sided attack to reform the reasons for dismissals (...) and to put an end to any trade union presence in the mass dismissals, leaving them at the mercy of the companies, allowing the ETT* to enter all sectors, permitting wages to be negotiated at the enterprise level, knowing the weakness and helplessness of millions of workers in small enterprises, as well as allowing the extension of expired contracts to end if there is no new contract in two years. […] This attack (...) will not create jobs; it is to discipline the workers so that they will accept any job without complaining, so that the worst business sectors have absolute availability of labour, which will be low-paid and without rights, and to relegate the class unions to an almost nominal role.” (Salce Elvira, of the Executive Confederation of the Workers’ Commissions, Member of the Critical Sector)

* Temporary work agencies.

The EU, or rather, those who manage it, decide and impose its criteria (particularly the German Chancellor, Mrs. Merkel, always with the help of her groom, Sarkozy), has acted in Spain through the intermediary, first of Zapatero who in four days amended the Constitution to respond to the demands of the EU, and now with Rajoy and his team of late-Franco supporters, full of patriotic European fervour who have drawn up the brutal labour reform demanded by the EU. This is a reform that satisfies the interests of the capitalists and financiers to the detriment of the workers and the peoples who are getting poorer to the same degree that those who are already rich are getting richer. Of course, this is one of the theories developed by “outdated” Marxism…

As our party declared in its statement of February 11:

“Once again it is clear who holds the power in this country: the business and financial oligarchy, which uses institutions and authority of the regime to impose its will on the vast majority of society, with tragic social consequences. It is a system infected by tyranny and corruption, constantly losing prestige among the popular masses, unable to maintain the most elementary democratic forms and with structures inherited from Franco that reward the corrupt and thieves, and punish those who dare to question the Franco regime and those who perpetuate it.”

It is clear that the measures that the EU is imposing to overcome the crisis, they say, correspond to the objectives of the big bosses, of the banks and the large financial centres, to increase their profits, by eliminating the social rights of the peoples, because they do not report profits, benefits, in the final analysis, to strike a blow at the world of labour and – for what they are worth – the class unions. Who gives a damn about the future of coming generations (and the present one)? Misery, repression and exploitation, this is the future they are preparing. But they are forgetting the class struggle, or rather, they are not forgetting, they repeat it relentlessly (they are pouring it into the minds of the workers and the popular classes with a funnel) that there is no reason for it, because the interests of the workers and employers are the same and it is the task of everyone to get out of the crisis... There may be candid souls who believe this, but facts show that such identity of interests is pure nonsense. It is one thing to say that the class struggle is not widespread, with all the strength that it can have, and another to say that it does not exist: isn’t this just what employers do?

"It is the task of everyone to get out of the crisis”... those who created the conditions for this crisis are those who are profiting from it; the peoples are the ones who are paying the cost of the crisis that they have not caused. The huge profits of the banks are not being cut, they are being given scandalous loans and aid of all kinds, such as decreasing their contribution from taxes; they are not raising wages, they are decreasing them along with social rights, first of all, health care and public education. The real wage (the government is falsifying the data) is constantly decreasing, and of course, the purchasing power: in the 1980s the compensation to employees made up 53 per cent of the GDP; in 2007 it was 48%, and now it is 46%. Together with the decrease in wages, there is the continuous rise in prices imposed by the eagerness of businesses to continuously increase their profits, despite the crisis...

The economist and Professor of Public Policy Vicenc Navarro, expresses this very clearly in various articles. Here are only a few paragraphs:

“The evidence that has accumulated shows, however, that such measures not only do not contribute to getting out of the crisis and the recession, but they make it worse. The data clearly show that such policies are further reducing the demand needed to stimulate the economy. And since the demand generated in the private sector is stagnant (in Spain resulting from the huge hole created in the economy by the bursting of the housing bubble), the only sector that could stimulate the economy is the public sector and public spending. Therefore the reduction in public spending is a big mistake, because it makes it impossible to get out of the crisis. […] This situation is untenable and unacceptable. It is condemning several generations to a miserable future. Therefore we should consider the hitherto unthinkable: Spain’s pulling out of the euro.” ("Publico", January 12, 2012)

* * *

The crisis is striking the whole world, perhaps particularly harshly in Europe where, together with the extreme case of Greece, there are a number of countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and several of the formerly socialist countries, that are subjected to control, adjustments, cutbacks and other measures, to the detriment of their sovereignty, and particularly the impoverishment of their peoples. At the same time, this situation is being used by the right wing and its fascist gangs covertly protected by the governments, to undermine the forces of the left and particularly the communists. Once again, the old “spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism,” but now it is not only Europe, it is practically the whole world. Against this organized “spectre,” which has resisted and is resisting the repression, slanders, betrayals and desertions, the thousand blows of the class struggle. There are united today as yesterday the backward forces, the financial sharks, broad sectors of social democracy, etc., etc.. It is true that the communist parties, in general, have been weakened, have suffered splits, but they have not disappeared; rather one can say that we are gaining ground, we are regaining influence.

We talk about the suffering of the peoples, of the working class, of the petty bourgeoisie... and one often forgets or relegates the immigrant workers who are also part of the population. In Spain, the so-called "undocumented" or illegal suffer an exploitation bordering on slavery, literally with a starvation wage, living overcrowded in seedy shacks; they are subjected to all kinds of discrimination, without any rights. Obtuse human beings, people with less vision than their blinders allow, blame the immigrants for unemployment, not the greed of the bosses who pay them half of what they would pay a Spanish worker. They blame the immigrant who has the audacity to work practically to barely buy food instead of dying from starvation… And they are often victims of the “hunts” organized by fascist gangs that come out in search of the "reds", the "panchitos", the “dark-skinned ones”, the "greasy ones", etc.

Europe is moving to the right, it is becoming fascist. There are many cases: Hungary, Austria… and without looking farther Spain, where the Supreme Court, ruling by way of falsehoods and manipulations to expel Judge Garzon from the judiciary, has worked as in the best of Franco times. Given Garzon’s personality and some of his questionable actions, there are people who do not understand that the attacks against him are fascist, Nazi attacks that cannot be supported.

The German writer Thomas Mann, in a talk with students in Hamburg in 1953, encouraged them to fight for a “European Germany, not for a German Europe”, as Hitler's Reich III tried and was on the verge of achieving. Today, when we see the carryings on of Chancellor Merkel in the EU, it seems that this lady has understood in reverse what the famous Thomas Mann advised. The economist Juan Francisco Martin Seco noted:

“The European Union as you see it today has become, paradoxically, the best vehicle for Germany to return to the imperialist plans and the dream is re-emerging of establishing its hegemony in Europe. Merkel is the embodiment of the Fourth Reich. Of course it is now not a matter of military domination, but – according to the new historical parameters – an economic one, which is just as or more effective.

“[...] The European institutions are being overridden and are simple puppets under the orders of Germany. The governments of the other nations are mere frontmen limited to giving their acquiescence to the proposals that the Chancellor presents them at each meeting of the Council and that have been decided on previously in a conclave with Sarkozy and publicly announced without any shame. […] The German Chancellor does not have any shame in saying that she is the one who gives the orders in Europe. […] Under her pressure governments are changed and the citizens of the various States are subjected to all kinds of adjustments and reforms that solve nothing but destroy the social gains of centuries.” ("The Republic of Ideas," January 19, 2012)

Perhaps some will finds the words of our economist exaggerated, but facts are stubborn things, they show that not only did he not exaggerate, but he falls short before the homage that Rajoy and his peers show to the Chancellor.* Sarkozy himself is playing a disgraceful role of servitude or groom to “his superior”. "His bumbling collaborationist attitude reminds one of the Vichy government" (ibid.).

* We have written “Chancellor” in order not to offend those who practice an incorrectly understood feminism, but Chancellor (cancillera), in Spanish means specifically "drainage gutter or channel in the boundaries of arable land"... (Spanish Royal Academy)

The uneasiness of some European governments with the blatant economic and political meddling of Mrs. Merkel is obvious. She has demanded that the Greek budget be permanently controlled by an envoy of the EU (that is, Merkel), with the right to veto State expenditures and to intervene with decision-making power over public accounts; that is, a governor over the Greek government...

There is talk of two speeds, of reforming the European treaties, of sovereignty, of creating a new Europe, of prohibiting public deficits, that the European Commission would control State budgets (which they are already doing with Spain). Sarkozy, always full of “ideas,” as well as advocating for some time “reconstituting the European Union” (just as he previously pointed to the need to reconstitute capitalism), is taking up the German plans, which, as you can see, are leading to the subjection and, in many cases abandonment, of aspects of national sovereignty. For example, on the "fiscal union". In this regard, Martin Seco writes:

“…The words and language are upset once again and the term fiscal union is used in a absurd and distorted form. Mrs. Merkel does this when she reduces it to mere control of the public deficit. How can one speak of a fiscal union if countries have quite different tax systems, with exemptions, deductions and various types, and play fiscal dumping among themselves? Moreover, even if harmony is achieved, we would still be very far from a fiscal union.

“[…] The maintenance of the same exchange rate between Germany and the rest of the countries impoverishes the latter and enriches the former. It creates a huge surplus in Germany’s balance of payments while it creates an unsustainable deficit in the other nations. It creates jobs in Germany and destroys them in the other member countries.

“In spite of what one believes, Germany and the other northern countries are not the ones who pay for this situation. They have not contributed a single euro more than what corresponds proportionally to their size. That is exactly the same as France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, etc. No one has given the rescued countries (rather than rescued, sunk) such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal anything, they have been lent money at a very high rate, and all this in exchange for losing popular sovereignty and for the only reason that the ECB, under pressure from Germany, does not act as a real central bank. No, Germany is not the one who pays, but is the beneficiary and recipient of funds. In the first place because, thanks to having the other countries tied hand and foot to, it is being financed at a privileged rate, which is compensated for by the high interest rates that the others have to pay. In the second place and above all because, by keeping the exchange rate fixed, the German economy gains competitiveness while the rest of the countries lose it. The problems do not come from extravagance and waste in the countries of the South, as the German Chancellor claims, but from the foreseeable implications of a contradictory and senseless project, the Monetary Union.” ("Merkel’s Deceitful Discourse," December 8, 2011)

* * *

German arrogance, Sarkozy’s servility and submissiveness, the repression of labour and the social gains of the peoples, the aggressiveness of most of the governments of the EU, their intervention in Libya, and possibly now in Syria (Sarkozy is already demanding it); the “understanding” towards Israeli Nazi-Zionism that has to “defend itself” against the attacks of the evil Palestinians, by which that State justifies by law torture and selective assassinations, the usurpation of land and thousands more abuses; the threats of aggression against Iran that can occur at any time, etc. are examples of the rightward movement bordering on fascism in the EU.

Perhaps the most blatant case of fascistization is the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban, which has measures against freedom of expression, persecution of the forces of the left, mainly of course of the communists. In the first half of 2011 Orban presided over the European Union. One of his first measures was to establish a "gag law" for the press in Hungary, as well as to promote a backward, reactionary constitutional reform:

“To claim that the crisis is sufficient reason for having ignored the birth of a monster with anti-democratic tendencies is like accepting that one must be satisfied with a merely commercial institutional framework [...] To remain unmoved by the authoritarian measures that the club has already agreed to is a double standards that it distorts the nature of the EU and that erodes it beyond the political reason for its existence [...] Such a mistake was made against Silvio Berlusconi and it acted too indecisively toward Austria (...) in the case of the ultra-rightist Jorg Haider. The Hungarian case joins a growing stream of Euro-scepticism, favoured by the European financial difficulties.” ("El Pais" January 18, 2012)

Another example of the reactionary measure is the support of the EU governments that generously finance the churches, centres of primitive swindlers, peddlers of the worst drug, religion, the opium of the people according to Marx. In Spain, whose Constitution declares that the State is non-religious, the Catholic Church receives a whopping 13,266,216 Euros a month, (159,194,592 Euros a year), plus aid for the conservation of cathedrals,  churches, etc. To this amount, which we repeat is monthly, which comes out of the treasury (which is always public), one must add 248.32 million Euros from people who check this off on their income tax return. Millions are given in subsidies to private schools (90% of which are in the hands of the Church), while the budgets for public schools are cut more and more. The Church in Spain does not pay taxes, neither on its profits, nor on its properties; for example, 60% of the land in Segovia province belong to the clergy. This is the case not only in Spain; see Italy, the Czech Republic, (where the government will pay the churches 2,300 million Euros over 30 years, as compensation) and other countries.

One of the battles that the Vatican State, headed by the charlatan Benedict the whatever number, is waging is for the EU to insert into its key documents the “Christian” origin of Europe, which leads it to ignore the Jewish and Muslim influence (Arab domination in Spain lasted for eight centuries), not to mention the influences prior to Christianity that influenced Europe at that time, such as the Greek divinities and later those of the Roman Empire. Christianity in Europe (and other continents) is the expression of an ideological (and economic) policy of colonization of the peoples. The Vatican State today is an imperialist power whose armies, with a variety of uniforms, do not use weapons directly but they are used by people they influence and through its economic power.

* * *

They talk about and discuss steps to take to get out of the somewhat delicate situation facing the EU, which in recent weeks has given rise to an attempt at rebellion by twelve of its members against the German arrogance with a letter whose content has not been disclosed; there is talk of establishing different “speeds,” of control over the States to reduce their deficit, of punishing those that do not meet established plans, etc. In reality they are problems that arise from the unequal development of different states, of the severe economic contradictions (and also political ones, although apparently less severe) against the strong by the weak, who have no other recourse than to protest.

The EU does not know how to deal with a disastrous situation: 23 million people unemployed, equivalent to the total population of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland (Spain is at the head of the unemployed with five and one half million...), the “sick” banks are swallowing thousands and thousands of millions of Euros, "injected" by the European Central Bank (ECB) to unfreeze credit and tackle the debt crisis, something that the banks do not do because their priority is to ensure their profits. The President of the European Commission, the Portuguese Durao Barroso, a former Maoist, contradicts Merkel, stating: “Now we must invest in order for Europe to return to growth as much as what we are investing to get Europe out of the crisis.” But for Merkel to soften the policy of cutbacks and give priority to growth is not acceptable, even though the recession is looming.

But the truth is that the reactionary and anti-popular European Union, despite its contradictions, is still there. Yes, it is a “colossus with feet of clay,” but if it is not pushed, the colossus will not fall.

To the peoples of Europe, and the whole world, starting with the members of the ICMLPO, it is an urgent matter to overcome all kinds of difficulties to achieve greater practical and organizational unity to deal with the situation, to try to bring together the trade union struggle (no easy task given the attitude of the trade union leaders) to consciously develop and activate the class struggle. It is necessary to boldly organize and develop the struggle of the proletariat and the popular strata against capitalism in its imperialist phase, against reaction and the reactionary bourgeoisie itself.

To talk, as some forces of the left do, of building a “Europe of the peoples” against the EU, is to divert attention from the real problem, is to confuse the people; it is at best a case of acute myopia, or something worse. In situations that we are going through, and we repeat not only in Europe, it is establishing a breeding ground for fascism, for sterile anarchism, and also for raising the consciousness of the proletariat. But the proletariat by itself cannot organize itself properly; it needs the conscious element, the objective factor, the Leninist party. It is worth recalling Lenin:

“One of the necessary conditions for preparing the proletariat for its victory is a long, stubborn and ruthless struggle against opportunism, reformism, social-chauvinism, and similar bourgeois influences and trends, which are inevitable, since the proletariat is operating in a capitalist environment.”

And this is not at odds with the need for alliances and common fronts against the common enemy. Situations encourage various reactions. Let us not forget that one of these can lead to spontaneous movements, unprepared, badly led and poorly controlled struggles. Despair, misery and super-exploitation and prolonged unemployment, in sum, all terribly negative consequences for the popular classes, and the more unfavourable the worse the consequences, favour the desperate struggle. Therefore one cannot minimize or underestimate the so-called spontaneous movements. To fail to give them a conscious leadership, to raise them to a higher plane by inserting them into politics, can often have serious and severe consequences, Gramsci warned, since “this occurs almost whenever a spontaneous movement [...] coincides with a reactionary movement of the right wing of the ruling class.”

Lenin was right when he said: “from the standpoint of the economic conditions of imperialism [...] a United States of Europe, under capitalism, is either impossible or reactionary.”

Raul Marco
Madrid, February 2012

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