Report of the First Congress of Emancipation
On June 21, 22 and 23, the first Emancipation Congress was held with the participation of comrades and nuclei from three countries. The congress constituted Emancipation as a global and internationalist organization.
Situation of capitalism
Today’s capitalism is the product of a century of decadence. Since then it has slowed and deformed the development of the productive forces. After the fundamental expansion of the world market had been achieved, accumulation could only proceed in the midst of a maelstrom of war, waste, qualitative and quantitative destruction, and the degradation of the human element: social relations, freedoms and culture. Everything that was sacred to the bourgeoisie itself –the individual, science, arts…- has been destroyed by a system that only knows how to grow -when it can- on the rubble of the progressive slogans of the early bourgeoisie.
In 2007, an economic crisis only comparable to the first great economic crisis of the period of decadence broke out. The already massive and daily destruction of productive forces was not compensated by the exuberance characteristic of each restart of the accumulation cycle. The result was: gigantic masses of capital unable to be “put to work” while companies declared themselves bankrupt; millions of unemployed seeking work while factories and businesses closed en masse; empty houses while millions of people, from China to Spain, could only choose between crowding in or living on the street; abandoned technologies while the pace and hours of work increased. And finally, when -after more than ten years- the figures of capital performance showed a recovery -not without biting off a good chunk of the salaries of the workers- the saturation of the world market aggravated by aimless capital circulating in the void of fictitious capital translates into trade and currency wars and in the first outbreaks of a new recession.
In this decade, capitalism has been incapable of reinitiating the mechanisms that would make another escape through credit expansion possible. The markets that they hoped to find – or to boost – in Asia and Africa have proved illusory and the recovery of accumulation rates seems to have hit its limit.
The global situation is not even the same as it was ten years ago. Not only are the central bank mechanisms left with no room to manoeuver, but the capacity to create social cohesion around the needs of each national capital is significantly diminished by the internal battles of the bourgeoisie itself and the years of desperate – and sterile – movements of the petty bourgeoisie.
The only way in which the world bourgeoisie seems to find its way out is through the direct appropriation of the insurance and meager savings of the workers – pension, health and education systems – and the increase of exploitation in absolute terms: more real hours of work for lower total wages paid. Capital forces the realization of surplus value by using the state, which should cushion its contradictions but instead encourages them.
Situation of the working class
However, the fact that capital is increasingly encountering obstacles in its accumulation cycle does not mean that capitalism is in danger. Exploitation can always continue to worsen. The objective conditions that make the revolutionary transformation of society possible have been in place for a century. The subjective conditions, the consciousness of the universal class capable of imposing a system based on universal human needs, are independent of the course of the crisis.
In fact, since the crisis began, only during the last three years of -supposed- recovery, we have seen massive class movements (Tamaulipas in Mexico, Jerada in Morocco, Haft Tapeh in Iran) and some attemps to affirm universal human needs suffocated inside the general tide of petty bourgeois movements (Gilets Jaunes).
However, a fundamental idea that was partly a cause and partly an effect of the of the struggles of the 1970s and 1980s still remains: “the workers’ struggle is only viable when there are profits for capital”; that is, “the struggle is not viable in the face of a concrete use of capital that is not profitable”.
Concealed under this formulation is the subjection of human necessity to the results of accumulation, of Humanity and labor against capital. It is a deadly poison that is still active and that is strengthened by the illusion promoted a thousand times by the state, the bourgeoisie and the left: that the functional divisions of capital in companies and investments of capital are independent entities in of themselves, as if capitalism were something that happened in the company and not in society, as if the system was but the mere sum, the aggregation of particular exploitations. Neither accumulation and exploitation nor human needs are settled company by company, but rather on the overall economic, social and political outcome of the exploitation of one class by another as a whole.
At this moment that exploitation as a class is intensifying in the form of the direct appropriation of pensions, the abandonment of the health and training systems that formed part of the early conditions of exploitation, the increase in real working hours and the homogenization of wages downwards, an homogenization tending to reduce not only the percentage of production that can be accessed through wages paid, but also the total wages paid.
That is to say, the bourgeoisie and the state further compress the fundamental contradiction of the system: their inability to increase proportionally to the demands of accumulation the consumption of the workers, which is the form that has historically satisfied their needs in capitalism.
For this reason, the bourgeoisie needs more than ever to accompany this elevation of the degree of class contradictions with ideological palliatives that recover and reorient them. It organizes ideological campaigns to enclose workers around supposedly common causes that have secondary benefits for the bourgeoisie. It is a question of reinforcing its dominion by strengthening its bargaining position.
For example, the campaign on climate change -organized directly by the educational apparatus of the state- has as its main function to sell a new sacred union for the climate… but it also serves as an ideological battering ram for the European bourgeoisies in their struggle against China and the United States. The campaign that has been establishing feminism as a state ideology for the last three years not only divides the workers in the workplace itself, asserting that workers have opposing interests based on sex, but it also serves the purpose of offering a subsidized rebellion and a new placement opportunity for the rebellious petty bourgeoisie.
The support and collusion of the left for these campaigns, their use by the remnants of Stalinism (including Stalinized Trotskyism), as a form of ideological updating, is by no means accidental. The prophets of state capitalism recover leading roles as the prophets of the new state ideologies – as can be seen from Syriza to the Argentinian FIT, passing through those of La France Insoumise, Podemos, and Bloco de Esquerda- .. when state capitalism – now universal – needs extraordinary forces in order to maintain, applying pressure, the entrapment of the workers. This generates the illusion of an already impossible social cohesion.
The situation of the revolutionary party
Since the Manifesto of 1848, we communists have called the party the group of small conscious minorities that make the historical perspective of the class their own: communism as a universal, decommodified and abundant society. Outside of revolutionary moments – and even within many of them – the party can only be a party in the making, a party in formation that tends to become the centralized and universal expression of the class struggle.
These minorities are not born out of nowhere or from scratch. Emancipation was born from the meeting of a group of workers who, faced with the emergence of a pre-war situation that led to the declaration of Catalan independence, reacted to the absence of internationalist voices that declared out loud what millions of workers thought: we are not prepared to go to a civil war between bourgeois groups, we are not going to die either for the Spanish homeland or for the Catalan one. The development of such a basic starting position, so apparently elementary, was nourished after we re-appropriated the work and positions of the main historical current of internationalism.
Since then we have sought relations with other internationalist minorities in the rest of the world, aspiring to coordinate common actions with a view to a global regrouping of revolutionaries.
Tasks of the revolutionaries
In a moment of class struggle like the present one, where a new wave of attacks against the living conditions of the workers is brewing and in which, at the same time, the past imposes a true generational hiatus, a loss of memory of the last wave of struggles. The main task of the revolutionaries departs from the slogan:
- Our needs do not depend on the profit of capital nor on the coffers of states, it is the other way around: the struggles only advance when they impose the criterion of necessity over that of profit. We will not “do the math” for them. Our fight will cost them.
This means confronting the unions from the very first moment, that of the most basic forms of organization of the class struggle. That is why the revolutionaries must wage a leading battle around calls for union strikes. Affirming clearly that:
- There are no strikes that get anywhere without an assembly leading them. The strike is not an opinion poll that can be adhered to or not individually, but a collective decision of all.
- For real and sovereign assemblies of all the workers of the company, without divisions by the type of contract or contracting company and the commitment of all to upholding the decisions made by the assemblies.
In the neighborhoods and wherever the productive structure is of small service companies, hospitality, commerce, etc. we will fight for neighborhood assemblies of all the workers, including precarious and temporary ones.
Slogans and immediate stances
The general program that leads from the immediate struggle for the most basic universal needs to the process of abolition of wage labor and the liberation of the productive capacities of Humanity, is still as valid as the revolutionaries had affirmed in the 1940s. For this, we refer to the section “Task of Our Times”, of For a Second Communist Manifesto, a fundamental text of our current.
Refining the slogans and lines of intervention, Emancipation will immediately permeate these slogans in workplaces:
- Reduction of the immediate working day to 30 hours with the same monthly net salary and progressive reductions until unemployment ends.
- No pay-as-you-go, nor capitalized pension systems. For a system based on solidarity. For pensions that are sufficient and calculated exclusively according to the individual needs of each person.
- Against timekeeping, new forms of piecework, temporary work agencies and short time work intermediaries.
In the neighborhoods, we call for:
- The closure of gambling joints, the “We buy gold” shops, churches and cults, narcopisos (drug-flats) and all agents that promote the decomposition of our neighborhoods. For the opening of community centers for workers that are independent of the state, the trade unions and the mafias.
In the public political debate and in the face of ideological campaigns that are intended to entrap workers, we will fight:
- Against any struggle that divides us into categories, such as sex, origin, age, race, mother tongue or anything else, or pretends that our interests and those of capitalism -national or global- are equal or convergent.