The war between the United States, NATO and Russia in Ukraine has lit a fuse in the powder keg of world class struggle. In the space of just a few weeks, the war and the unprecedented US and EU sanctions against Russia have profoundly destabilized the world’s productive forces, disrupting already fragile global supply chains, reinforcing inflationary tendencies. and crippling global food and gas production.
A social and economic crisis that was deepening before the start of the war has metastasized, plunging billions of people into the precipice of misery and hunger.
Shock begins to give way to action. Massive strikes and demonstrations are breaking out across the world in the biggest wave of social protest since before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The imperialist politicians and geo-strategists who have spent years crafting the war plans find that despite all their careful planning, they have set their bloody plans in motion atop a massive social fault line.
The protests are heterogeneous in terms of race and religious background, international in scope, and based on a larger, more urban, and more interconnected working class than ever before. In both more advanced and less developed countries, the protests revolve around the same demand: the rising cost of living is intolerable, conditions must change, and they must change now.
It is the social force that has the power to stop the march towards world war and prevent a nuclear catastrophe. This worldwide movement is taking place hour by hour.
On Thursday evening, a large demonstration blocked the road leading to the private residence of President Gotabaya Rajapakse in the suburbs of Colombo, calling for his resignation. The right-wing government is implementing a ruthless IMF austerity regime as masses of people struggle to find medicine, food, milk and gasoline.
Diesel fuel is running out, currency is scarce, and long blackouts darken the country. A 31-year-old teacher in Batticaloa told the Indian Express“I was in a gas queue from 4 a.m. on Sunday. There is a shortage of powdered milk. You have to fight for rice and dal. There is no more candles and many medicines have disappeared I have a salary, but can we eat money?
Similar movements are growing in the Middle East and North Africa, where Ukraine and Russia supply most of the wheat and cooking oil and where Ramadan, the Islamic holiday of fasting and feasting, is about to begin.
The United Nations said on Thursday that social conditions were “at breaking point” across the region due to food shortages. the New York Times wrote Thursday that scarcity and rising prices are “crushing household and government budgets in countries with nothing to spare, raising the possibility of the kind of mass popular unrest not seen since the protests in Arab Spring ten years ago, which stemmed in part from soaring food prices.”
In Egypt, the Times noted nervously, “videos of ordinary people speaking out on food prices have gone viral on social media under the hashtag ‘starving revolution'”.
The US-backed dictatorship of al-Sisi deployed the military to distribute food and control bread prices. Al-Sisi addressed the nation and urged people to “rationalize” food consumption during Ramadan.
In Tunisia, where workers first sparked the Arab Spring, the Middle Eastern Eye wrote Thursday that “strikes escalated in the past week,” and as a result, “Ezra Zia, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, surrendered in the country”.
Food riots involving thousands of people took place across Iraq last week as the country, still reeling from a US invasion and occupation that killed a million people, was in plagued by a severe shortage of food and flour.
Protests are also growing in the southern Maghreb, in African countries where the working class has exploded in size and social weight and whose backbone includes many young people with the Internet in the palm of their hands. The average Sub-Saharan African spends 65% of their household income on food. On Wednesday, the head of the African Development Bank said of the spike in food prices caused by the war in Ukraine: “If we don’t deal with this very quickly, it will destabilize the continent.
Protests in Sudan over war-aggravated shortages have coincided with powerful strikes by teachers and youth. Yesterday a mass protest took place in Khartoum against the military government’s failure to stop the spiraling cost of living and where a 23-year-old protester was killed.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a report published Thursday by AlJazeera“rising fuel prices, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have raised fears of increased social unrest,” forcing the government to reshuffle the cabinet to anticipate social anger .
In South Africa, where major riots took place last summer, the head of a major youth association described the social situation as “a ticking time bomb that could explode in our faces any time “.
This movement is also developing in the imperialist centers of the world. In Spain, a week-long strike by truckers has crippled international shipping and galvanized broader working-class support in the face of rising living costs. The PSOE-Podemos government has ordered grocery stores and retailers to limit what customers can buy as major trade confederations demand action to prevent an impending social explosion.
In Germany and Austria, diesel will now be rationed. Large demonstrations against the cost of living took place last month in Albania.
In the United States, the cockpit of world imperialism, the nascent strike movement is above all motivated by inflation and the soaring cost of living. Five thousand teachers are on strike in Sacramento, California, following a two-week strike by teachers in Minneapolis, Minnesota in March.
In an ongoing strike by 600 workers at an oil refinery in Richmond, California, workers say they can’t afford to fill their own cars with the gas they refine.
Fifty thousand grocery store workers in California are expected to strike in the coming days, while a contract for tens of thousands of West Coast dockworkers expires in weeks.
In the United States and Canada, the government banned or blocked major strikes by BNSF and Canadian Pacific railroad workers.
Rising prices in the major imperialist countries will intensify the class struggle as the war continues. According to data from the US Commerce Department on Thursday, inflation will cost households an average additional $433 each month, or $5,200 next year. With half the country having less than $500 in emergency savings, workers will be driven to struggle by urgent necessity.
The impact of the war on living conditions will intensify dramatically in all countries over the coming weeks. Strategic food reserves are woefully insufficient in all countries except China.
Worse still, Ukraine and Russia are not only the main producers of staple foods and oil, but Russia and Belarus also lead the world in the production of most fertilizers, which, according to Putin , will be subject to strict export restrictions in response to the United States and the EU. punishments. This could halve global crop yields.
With the pandemic and the threat of world war as the immediate backdrop, a social toll of historic proportions is no longer necessary. Since the Arab Spring and the global protests of 2018-2019, the ruling class response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prioritized profits over lives and resulted in the deaths of 20 million people.
Ending war means ending capitalism, and that requires political leadership. Unlike an earlier period, the international working class owes no political loyalty to the parties of Stalinism, social democracy and bourgeois nationalism, which are seen as directly responsible for the existing conditions of poverty and inequality.
In every country, unions are standing in the way of this growing movement, serving governments and capitalist corporations by isolating workers, preventing them from striking and demanding that they support the war campaign between the United States and the United States. NATO, regardless of the dangers and costs to workers.
Representatives of the middle-class pseudo-left who once professed verbal support for socialism are now cheerleaders for the NATO wars and zealous defenders of the unions.
The dangers of a world war are great, but the way is open for the Trotskyist movement to transform this objective movement into a conscious movement of socialist revolution.
Spontaneous protests, however militant, are not enough to change social conditions. The Socialist Equality Party must be built in each country and the historical experiences of the international working class must be integrated into the developing struggles so that they acquire a consciously socialist and anti-war character. On this basis, a workers’ strategy of socialist revolution can develop even faster than the imperialist strategy of destruction of the ruling class.