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(en) anarkismo.net: ESE, Let's not go back to normalcy by International Confederation of Labour
Sat, 23 May 2020 12:04:12 +0300
Only the people save the people. We will save ourselves. The common and global issues we need to address are many and complex. We all need
to be at the table. Now we are not looking at the other way. This time become a fighter. ---- Announcement of ICL (International
Confederation of Labour | International Labor Confederation) ---- Coronation: Let's not go back to normal ---- It is difficult to write
about COVID 19 from Madrid, one of the cities that received the hardest blow in the world. The death toll in the region alone is higher than
in China as a whole. Officials say there is a slow improvement, but the result is that people continue to die every day. People I know from
my neighborhood have died. Others are seriously ill, including union members. It's hard. We all want it to end.
Feelings of isolation and frustration are common to lockdown. The children have been locked in for more than a month. Their stress and
anxiety are manifested in various ways. At the very least, they don't understand what's going on. The quarantine was imposed severely and we
really did not save it. Many families live in crowded apartments or lack sanitation and experience it even worse. It's really hard and we
all want it to end.
Our jobs and lives are gone. More than 3,000,000 workers in Spain have been temporarily laid off, with 800,000 jobs being lost in March
alone. Critical areas of the economy (tourism, hotels) are collapsing and the outlook is bleak. The picture is similar around the world.
This will become even more difficult and it does not seem to end quickly.
Meanwhile, the issues of our society that we faced before the current crisis are still here. Inequality, poverty and exploitation exist
uncontrollably in the universe, the regime of power and populist xenophobia are not gone. Also, global warming and its consequences continue
When this is over, when COVID 19 finally leaves, we need to get back to the task of repairing this shattered world. The years we have spent
and the collective experience is a wake-up call. It is now clear that ignoring or denying these global issues is dangerous for us. We can
try so hard to keep them out of our minds, to keep going as if nothing is happening, but they will come back to knock on our door.
There is no going back to normalcy. We should not return to normalcy. We do not believe that the state and politicians (any state and
politicians) will give us security, because it is obvious that they will not do it. Throughout the liberal economic bourgeoisie of eternal
development, we do not sting, because there is nothing like it. We do not exchange our lives for meaningless work for endless hours. We do
not hand over our collective decisions, enabling bureaucrats to be elected to the polls.
The fear is strong and the pandemic is frightening. There is a chance that many will be ready to surrender their rights and freedoms, hopes
and aspirations to promises of security and health. But the only way to cure fear is through trust. Confidence in ourselves, in our
collective strength, mutual aid and solidarity with each other. To make mutual aid and solidarity effective, to feel this warmth in our
lives, to bond to tackle global issues, we must build strong organizations that will bring us together. These can be grassroots unions,
rental associations, anti-austerity groups, a revolutionary environmental campaign, feminist collectives, or anything else. All this and
much more is needed to equip the opportunities in the revolutionary base we need. Only the people save the people.
Well, we're not going back to normal. Become a fighter this season!
Miguel Perez, ICL's secretary
1. Social control and authoritarian regimes
In recent decades there has been a growing number of authoritarian regimes, more or less mixing political freedoms with the capitalist
market. Examples of this assessment are China, but there are others, such as Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc. At the same time, populism
is on the rise everywhere. Not only in developed countries where the etiology of immigration is often used as a general shift in the
political spectrum of the right, but also in places like India.
Meanwhile, the state and companies are monitoring the citizens, while consumers have accepted this normality all over the world.
The crisis of COVID 19 has other implications for these developments. It is clearly obvious that the ability to reduce the spread of the
disease is very different across countries. Probably no one has succeeded as much as South Korea, perhaps even China, given their data and
official management. Unlike Italy, Spain and the USA. which are the opposite and expect a higher number of deaths than anywhere else in the
There are many reasons for this and each case is unique. An in-depth discussion is beyond the scope of this text. However, what can be said
with certainty is that many will point to the surveillance and control that many Asian states impose on citizens. Also the fact that an
authoritarian government like that of China can quickly introduce and impose tougher measures at the beginning of the escalation.
A possible result of the health crisis in general is a widespread acceptance of the most authoritarian regime and, of course, more state
surveillance. There are already voices pointing in that direction. The use by the South Korean government of face recognition, monitoring
applications, mobile phone registrations, etc. to find infected people, they can make these developments more digestible to many in the
future. When life is in danger, discussions become inactive and fear becomes a powerful motivator.
But these surveillance tools are some of the backbone of the modern system of government. The others are time-tested, such as the physical
repression of opponents. Combined with the rapidly growing nationalist policy of xenophobic populism, miserable maintenance,
pseudo-communist dictatorships and theocratic governments, the barrel of gunpowder is about to explode from time to time.
It seems that we need to get information from the Hong Kong insurgents about how we need to protect our movements against mass surveillance
and state repression.
2. Discovering the old ways
There is no question that the health crisis is going to impose a global economy. What has already begun, we will see it expand in the coming
months. The predictions are horrible. You don't have to be a Nobel Prize-winning economist to understand that millions of workers lose their
jobs and companies that go bankrupt around the world can quickly lead to the collapse of banks, stock exchanges and the financial world in
This perspective scares governments, following in the footsteps of the 2008 recession. So many were ready to gamble their lives for the sake
of preserving the economy. Think of the United States, the United Kingdom, etc. This failed and everyone ran to get the check checks of the
trillions of packages. The money that could not be found in the period of the last years of cuts and authoritarian measures was suddenly
found and is ready to be generously distributed. Our comrades from USI in Italy have already pointed out the effects of the cuts in the
health system in their country and the effects of the current crisis. The same can be said for other countries.
We have experienced this again. After the 2008 financial crash in the midst of a solemn call for capitalist reform, millions were used to
rescue banks and other businesses. Discussions quickly faded from memory, the owners of large companies raised money, thanked and let the
workers lift the weight of their own rescue through cuts and authoritarianism. Nothing happened beyond the worst working and living
conditions for workers.
Most likely all of these billions of rescue packages will be used to save on oil wells, air travel, shipping, coal-fired power plants,
cattle farming in tropical forests, cheap plastic factories, holidaymakers, celebrations hitec production companies, "providing" more and
more advanced products. as before.
Indeed, that is the plan. Let's go back to normal as soon as possible, pretending that COVID 19 did not exist and ignoring the global
problems that existed. However, this pandemic has shown that closing our eyes to the fact that our societies are good does not really work.
Going out into everyday life and work, hoping that experts and politicians will keep us safe is not a viable strategy. It never was, but now
no one can deny it. The health crisis is a wake-up call to realize that we are in deep shit!
3. Funding the next crisis
Some have pointed out the benefits of the environmental crisis. Infection levels are low, animals and plants use natural spaces deserted by
humans during quarantine. Certainly, if everyone tends to consider these developments good news, in a humanitarian crisis it is rather
short-sighted. The end result may be worse than that.
These changes are only temporary. States and governments already have plans to relax environmental protection, that is, to reject
sustainability plans, for the sake of economic recovery. That means new coal-fired power plants will quickly boost cheap energy for
factories or more oil rigs and subsidized fuel for air travel and shipping, to name but a few. Furthermore, calculating the reduced demand
due to the economic downturn, the health crisis could be very detrimental to the environment.
The point is that global warming and the collapse of the environment continue unabated. They didn't stop with the quarantine, because no one
cares. The ice continues to melt slowly, the sea level rises and the forests burn. Some study the link between increased pandemics and human
encroachment on natural areas and their degradation.
But the immediate environmental consequence is not just desertification. Economic inequality, poverty and exploitation continue to be a
scourge for all communities around the world. The effects of the health crisis can be devastating for them. Not just in terms of access to
medical care, although this is definitely a factor. For example, COVID 19 has already become widespread and is deadly in the slumped
communities, mostly blacks, in the United States. the world. From North America to South America, from Europe to Asia, there is a working
class that will feel (already feel) the effects of the economic collapse.
If the 2008 crisis is over, jobs and livelihoods will be lost, wages will fall, evictions and homelessness will increase and working
conditions will get worse. Poorer communities in developing countries face the prospect of starvation, while social exclusion can spread to
all parts of the world. Meanwhile, bosses and business owners will receive generous subsidies from governments and taxpayers' money and will
certainly find ways to pocket them. Undoubtedly, inequality rises after every economic crisis.
4. Only the people save the people
Our comrades from FORA Argentina said it clearly ( https://www.icl-cit.org/argentina-about-coronavirus-and-the-working-class/). Don't give
exorbitant amounts to support packages to our bosses. Give employees the money and we will take care of ourselves and our communities!
Faced with the prospect of economic and ecological disaster, communities can use the money to set up alternative ways to manage resources,
not according to the interests of shareholders, but according to those who respect the environment and fight inequality and social
exclusion. At this time no one disagrees with the fact that people need a better health system, adequate housing and hygiene for all,
guaranteed access to education, sustainable forms of energy, decent living conditions.
None of this will be achieved by rescuing competing companies, which benefit from environmental pollution, exploiting workers and
distributing bonuses and dividends. Nor by giving money to consumers so that they can go out and spend. The "go and do something nice on
your own" approach, which follows Trump's management in the face of a deadly crisis system, is the best example of a market mentality that
downplays social problems in individual consumer choices. It's like exorcising the virus by buying new clothes or cars.
No. Social and structural issues require social and structural solutions. None of this will happen if governments manage uncontrollably and
throw three trillion to save a weak economy directly or through the encouragement of consumers to spend. Dramatic and lasting changes must
be made. So drastic that they could be revolutionary. A revolutionary transformation without a state, governments, company owners or
politicians, who are reluctant or unable to implement.
In the coming months and years, it is up to us workers around the world to come up with a way out. Considering the many issues we need to
address, this seems daunting. Collaborating by building integrated decentralized movements, based on solidarity and mutual aid, developing
strong organizations, international links and networks, is something that the collective intelligence of millions of people can accomplish.
We are a strong force. With tools at our disposal for interconnection, communication and sharing, nothing stops us. In the current situation
we feel scared and depressed about the future, it is natural, if we only see the solution in politicians or businessmen. We workers, the
unemployed, the retired, the students, the immigrants are collectively able to chart a path forward.
However, solidarity and mutual assistance need appropriate organizations to go beyond individual charitable action and become a social force
in itself, with unlimited potential for transformation. Environmental protection cannot be based on consumer choices, such as "green"
laundry companies and governments want to make us believe. Radical ecological groups are needed to take action. Women's equality is not just
about passing laws. A proper culture is required of women and men in the fight against sexism in everyday life. Xenophobia, racism and
aggressive nationalism will not go away until we chase them out of our streets.
Finally, the deadly viruses of inequality, poverty and exploitation will continue to dominate the international order as long as we allow
ourselves to be dominated by the forces of capitalist globalization. With respect, anarcho-syndicalist and revolutionary unions, which are
the tools at our disposal, we must counteract and defend workers' rights. This will be crucial in the coming months of the economic
slowdown, but workers are not ready to bear the burden of the crisis once again. Not only that. They are also a key part of any movement for
social and economic transformation. Parts of the revolutionary trade unions in the workplace from the ground up, from these workers who can
reshape production, make it serve their real needs.
Only the people save the people. We will save ourselves. The common and global issues we need to address are many and complex. We all need
to be at the table. Now we are not looking at the other way. This time become a fighter.
International Confederation of Labour
International Confederation of Labor
* International Confederation of Labour is an international anarcho-syndicalist organization in which the ESE also participates.
** Related link: http://eseioanninon.squat.gr/
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