In the first issue of On The Brink, we asked: “Are we descending into a new dark age?” The working class worldwide is under threat from an emboldened enemy, more dangerous than at any time in living memory. But we concluded: “The workers’ movement is not defeated; it is gathering its forces, poised for its next offensives.”
it is once again the French workers who are showing the way forward. Having risen up against their oppressors every two or three decades for the last 230 years, today once again they are striking fear into the ruling class worldwide. It is significant that Egypt’s dictator General al-Sisi’s instant response was to ban the sale of hi-vis yellow jackets.
For the “Arab spring” is still alive and kicking! In this issue we have articles on the magnificent revolutions in Sudan and Algeria. And last year in Jordan workers staged a general strike and spontaneous uprising. The protest continued for four days until the prime minister had resigned and its austerity measures withdrawn.
The workers of Iran are also fighting back. In October, general strikes took place in over 300 hundred cities. In November, after police had arrested striking workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar mill, workers at the HEPCO engineering factory, the Ahwaz steel works, Ilam petrochemical workers, teachers in Kermanshah, and truck drivers, raised banners in solidarity. In December, workers at the Ahvaz Steel Company workers continued their own indefinite strike, demanding: Down with the oppressors, long live the workers! Threats and imprisonment won’t stop our protests! No to slavery, we will take back our rights! Exploitation and unemployment is the logic of the capitalist system! The workers would rather die than succumb to a life of indignity!
The thieves in parliament are free but the workers are in prison! Free all jailed workers! And in March, teachers staged a two-day strike in more than 100 cities, demanding the abolition of class divisions, no to exploitation, no to discrimination and inequality, free education, free nutrition in schools, no to privatization. Among their slogans were: Free all imprisoned teachers! Teachers and workers, unite! The only solution is unity! Don’t be frightened, we are all together! Our table is empty, enough exploitation! Bread, jobs, freedom, councils! Students, workers, unite!
Turkey: In the grip of recession, with unemployment at 14% and youth unemployment 24%, amid growing protests at corruption, Erdogan’s regime suffered a serious setback at local elections in March. Despite using fake documents to accuse the opposition parties of representing “foreign powers and terrorists”, it lost control of most of the country’s major cities, including the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul (where the government is contesting its defeat). One provincial capital, Tunceli, was won for the first time by the Communist Party.
Hungary: Enraged by the new so-called “slave law” which forces workers into long hours of unpaid overtime, to be compensated only up to three years later, thousands of workers Including metalworkers, miners, meatpackers, chemists, teachers and industrial workers, along with their families, students and others, have been blocking the roads, and surrounding the state television headquarters, cursing Orban as they marched down Andrassy Boulevard. The government has responded with racist poison, blaming the agitation on its customary Jewish scapegoat, the financier George Soros. Its spokesman Zoltán Kovács has called the resistance a “revolution”.
Poland has witnessed the biggest demonstrations since the collapse of Stalinism, in protest against repressive government laws, low pay and environmental issues. “We can’t live from pay cheque to pay cheque… Our families are starving,” said one trade union leader, demanding rises to match inflation since public sector wages were last indexed in 2010.
And in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with a tradition of revolution stretching back two centuries, price rises and disgust at government corruption have brought the workers back on to the streets, attacking the luxury vehicles of the elite, throwing stones at the president’s residence, breaking open a prison, and staging a general strike.
Worldwide, the workers are fighting back!