Since the capitalist economic crisis struck in 2007-08, hundreds of millions of people around the world have had their lives go “to hell in a handbasket.” There were three news events in Europe the last week in May that exposed three levels of misery in capitalist inferno.
The worst misery is taking place in the once-colonial countries that are still dependent economically on the imperialist centers in the U.S., Europe and Japan. In particular, the imperialists have imposed starvation on Africa and waged war in West Asia. Since May 23, as thousands of people fled a life where there are no jobs, food or security, seeking only the outside chance of finding bread and hope in the imperialist centers that scorn them, 700 people died in three shipwrecks.
The next level is in Greece, a country geographically in the Balkans, militarily in NATO, politically in the European Union and economically in hell. Up until a few years ago, workers in Greece were called “hard-working fellow Europeans.” Now the European bankers call them lazy, guilty of 25 percent long-term unemployment and worthy only of being squeezed further by austerity.
The European bankers approved an austerity bailout for Greece’s $333 billion debt on May 25 with terms so onerous that the normally anti-worker New York Times wrote an editorial five days later chiding the bankers for squeezing Greece when “Greece can’t be squeezed any harder.” It was these same European, mainly German, bankers who, searching for guaranteed profits, pushed the loans on Greek governments during the first decade of this century.
What the European (and U.S.) bankers and bosses do to labor in Africa, Asia and Greece, you can be sure they’ll eventually try at home, as their need to keep increasing capitalist profits drives them to squeeze the working class ever tighter. (See article, page 2.)
And now, France
Now we reach the third level. France is a relatively prosperous capitalist country with a long past as a colonial power and continued economic dominance in much of West Africa. Its workers’ struggles have, however, wrested many concessions from its imperialist ruling class. Now the capitalist class wants to take it all back — all the wealth the workers create.
The French government is currently in the hands of a party that calls itself Socialist. This is a gross misnomer, as this party has served French imperialism faithfully for over 80 years. Currently it has taken on the task of forcing a new “labor reform” law down the throats of the workers. Under this new law, France will be hell for the workers. The regime and the capitalist state are moving to restrict and ultimately take away the rights of the unions — to break unions and jail their leaders.
The workers in France are in turn giving the bosses hell, shutting down factories, railroads and gas stations. The class battle is on. (See article, page 1.) These workers have roots from all over Europe, Africa, West Asia and the Caribbean — wherever French colonialism conquered — as well as from within its borders.
A look at FaceBook pages of unions in the United States shows that workers here are watching what’s happening across the Atlantic. They are cheering on their class sisters and brothers. Those who know some history are hoping that this battle, like the historic class struggles fought in France in 1789, 1848, 1871 and 1968, will help spark a fightback that inspires the world.
Revolutionaries want to take on the ruling class whenever hell is being imposed on the workers. And right now in France there is a chance our side can win. What workers and revolutionaries in the U.S. can do is act in solidarity with the French working class. The next “day of action” across the ocean is on June 14, and any act of solidarity from here will surely encourage the French working class. When you’re fighting in hell, such solidarity might help lift and turn the battle in favor of our global class.