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Updated 30-5-2023, 29-5-2023

Wildcat strike at a Russian army-supplying plant and the first mass armed desertion in Donbass

Very interesting incidents take place in Russia towards the end of spring. Let’s hope this is just the beginning!

On May 17, reports appeared in the media about a strike and protests by several dozen workers at the Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant (UAZ). Plant workers gathered for a rally in the workshop and complained about low wages, according to the Baza Telegram channel, which published a video from within. Over the past month, the employees received an average of 20 thousand rubles each, the report says. According to the post, the workers demanded an increase in wages, but dispersed by the evening of the same day.

It happened an hour before the end of the shift. The workers of the new conveyor, about 50 men in overalls, around 16.00 stopped the work of the entire line for the production of “Patriots”. Noise all around. Some men climbed onto the cars.

– The plant is on strike! No salary! – comments one of the employees.

To reassure the people, the new general director of UAZ, Alexei Spirin, came out. According to him, from July the level of payment will increase by 12%, there will be another wave of indexation.

Seven active participants of the protest were taken to the police department of the Zasviyazhsky district and threatened with criminal charges. The reason could be a Spirin’s statement on the fact of “illegal actions”. Insiders said that not only the activists who drafted a collective letter demanding higher wages were asked, but also the plant management. UAZ is an enterprise of the military-industrial complex. In this regard, actions that can lead to the disruption of the state defense order can be presented as sabotage. In other words, the war, as usually, serves as an excellent means for the authorities and capital to suppress the class struggle.

Ulyanovsk governor Alexei Russkih visited this enterprise on May 24. He stated that agreed to raise the wages for workers, also asked the plant management to remain in dialogue with the collective. At the same time, he believes that workers are paid above the average in the region. Is there such an idiot in the world who, in all seriousness, believe in the phrase “salary is above the average for some territory”? Ulyanovsk is one of the poorest regions on Volga, if the average salary is not enough for a month, then what does it boast about?

But the hottest things happened near the front line. 39 ex-prisoners escaped from the “Storm Z” training camp in Lisichansk (the so-called “Lugansk People’s Republic”). The law enforcement forces of the Rostov region received an orientation on the deserters: [image, see original]

During the escape, the overseer died. It took place on May 24, writes Baza. The fugitive criminals are reportedly armed with automatic weapons and can travel by two vehicles: a KamAZ truck and Mitsubishi L200. The source from Russian-controlled part of Donbass said to the Rostov news portal:

“Indeed, reports have been sent to internal structures that interact with the internal affairs bodies in the Rostov region. In addition, a number of heads of administrations who neighbor us in the border areas received information. Those who left the territory of military facilities on May 24 are former prisoners who were here under a contract. Only one serviceman of the Ministry of State Security of the LPR was killed. He tried to stop the deserters from escaping.”

On May 27, it also became known about the escape of 7 armed ex-prisoners from a Russian military unit near Soledar in the Donetsk region. Soon, three of them were captured near Bryanka, two ones were detained very drunken in a cafe in Bryanka, another one was shot dead by his “comrades” for desire to surrender.

We are monitoring the situation and will update this material as soon as there is more news.

From other hand, we recently told that the general mobilization and the large-scale getaway abroad led to a labor market crisis in the economy of Ukraine.

Also you may be interested to read about the ways how Ukrainian workers liable for military service break out through the closed borders despite the ban on leaving the country.

Complete text, see original for hyperlinks

DC, 25-5-2023

Il “circolo vizioso” delle lotte economiche

The “vicious circle” of economic struggles.

The reformists’ script reads, “impart a new impetus for growth and jobs.” But meanwhile, darker and darker clouds are gathering in the sky of global capitalism. Money steers clear of “productive investments” that do not guarantee profit; it finds no possibility — as capital — of useful uses for extorting sufficient surplus value from the only source capable of producing it, labor-power. There is more fear of a “deterioration of the situation” than a “recovery,” while the drums beat on maximum flexibility and “moderate wages” for employed workers. Toward the Banks, they do not go beyond a few calls for “macro-prudential supervision” with calls for “virtuous behavior.” They would concern the value adjustments to be shown in balance sheets, bad customer debts and other inevitable loan losses. A mountain of hedge funds, securitizations, real estate bonds, etc., overwhelms the system and alarms Banks holding bundles of toxic securities (“radioactive securities”).

Having drugged the economy, trying to re-establish a stable relationship between production (of goods) and their shrinking paying consumption, credit has ended up “valuing” a wealth that has become entirely fictitious. That is, a credit detached from the fundamental production process, deluding itself as capital that automatically increases in predominantly speculative transactions. Money understood as fetish capital, not only that, but one that eventually became volatized in the form of securities without any hedging.

An abstract multiplication in paper duplicates of a non-existent capital and in any case deemed always independent – according to the interested “intentions” of Bankers and financiers – of the surplus value actually extorted in production processes. And this is precisely when the average industrial profit essay tends to continue to decline or at least to be in great difficulty.

On the crisis that is gnawing at the heart of global capitalism, there is now no doubt even by the “experts” in the service of bourgeois society: the crisis is structural, to the point of calling into question the entire productive and social system in which we live, or rather “survive.” Appeals for new common rules, for an “ethical” order, are wasted as bulletins on the patient’s condition become terse and predictions of the future blur.

The entire world is traversed by an obvious conflict between the present state of affairs-where the development of society’s material base, its still-dominant mode of production, has reached potentials as enormous as they are devastating (as managed for the “needs” of capital)-and the social form that characterizes it. The relations of production generate contradictions with the available productive forces, clearly bringing out what we call a dialectical opposition between material base and social form, unsolvable except through a radical transformation of one and the other.

We are at the triumph of the materialistic and historical critique of Marxism (and of its own much “ridiculed” predictions, such as that of a progressive immiseration of the masses), the only one capable of investigating events and phenomena in their concatenation between space and time, with the consolidation at macroscopic and chronic levels of phenomena such as those of the overproduction of commodities, saturation of markets, unemployment, precarization of wage labor, and so on.

Among the subjective obstacles hindering a definitive realization of a situation bordering on objective collapse, comes forward – among the so-called “left” – a pluralism of interpretations of Marxism, resulting from what would be a crisis of it deemed consequent to the failure of Stalinism. An opportunity to make Marxism seem nothing more than a generic opposition to the dominant bourgeois regime, transformed into the generic call for a more just and socialized capitalism. In this sense, the mystifications of Marxism have multiplied, giving rise to political tendencies based on ideological chunks and subjectively voluntaristic practices, which ignore concrete determinations and in-depth analysis of both objective and subjective conditions.

The practical movement toward communism, as a historical process that has its roots and its very praxis in all aspects of a complex reality, is being replaced by abstract assertions and illusory perspectives that ignore all class discriminants. “It is the old illusion that the good will of the people is enough to change existing conditions, and that existing conditions are the result of ideas” (Marx, The German Ideology). With a consequent distortion of objectives and a devastating conclusion with simulacra of political and social struggles that-without a grasp of “consciousness of their own content,” which only the class party can give-express only the indelible and indeed aggravated presence of the many real contradictions of capitalism. As Marx still said, it is not enough to see “the antagonism of classes and also the effectiveness of dissolving elements in the bosom of the dominant society itself.” It is necessary to see an “autonomous historical activity on the part of the proletariat, (…) a political movement proper and particular to the proletariat.” (Communist Party Manifesto). And so, without a compact political organization of the proletariat into a revolutionary class, we will not go far.

All around us, the facts get worse; the media subject them to constant manipulation by confusing them among a useless, meaningless and even insane whirlwind of news that feeds popular opinions and cages them in an ideological “pluralism” that accumulates stifling and … “democratic” opinions. Not only that, but a dominant cultural-ideological eclecticism has ended up infecting principles by diluting them in a series of “reversals,” while a “junk of confusion” that immobilizes the proletariat is rampant.

What Marx explained to the working class in Wage, Price and Profit, nearly 150 years ago, is extremely topical, and today more than yesterday it is part of that program of communism that must be carried among the proletariat and not regarded as a “pious nineteenth-century illusion” to be forgotten or kept hidden.

It is precisely the development of the capitalist mode of production that sets itself against the workers (understood more generally as the wage-earning class), decreasing the average level of wages, pushing the value of labor to an ever lower limit. This certainly does not mean that the proletariat should give up its resistance against capital’s attacks, seeking to temporarily improve its situation. The working class must fight for the levels of its wages, but it must be made aware that its efforts are only attempts to maintain what capital recognizes in the labor of human beings, that is, its compulsion to sell itself as a commodity and only when capital needs it.

To the system of wage labor the working class is bound today by a general servitude, so its “union” struggle – while necessary – is limited to the effects but does not go against the causes of these effects. Palliatives are applied but the disease is not cured. Capital’s constant attacks, changes and market crises provoke an inevitable guerrilla warfare which, as such, must not, however, obscure in the proletariat the understanding (here is what communists must ripen among proletarians at every moment and occasion!) “that the present system, with all the miseries it heaps on the working class, generates at the same time the material conditions and social forms necessary for an economic reconstruction of society. Instead of the conservative watchword: A fair wage for a fair day’s work_, the workers must write on their banner the revolutionary motto:_ Suppression of the system of wage labor” (Marx, Wage, Price and Profit).

And Marx concluded with this resolution, “First. A general rise in the average level of wages would cause a general fall in the general rate of profit, but it would not, in principle, touch the prices of commodities.” Today, even more than before, capital can only put before any possible handouts given to workers, a conditional increase in productivity.(There is no contract, whether national or corporate, that does not subordinate wages, or its “increases,” directly to labor productivity.) An increase that-with greater and bestial exploitation of labor-power and especially with the development of science and technology-also decreases the use of labor.

“Second. The general tendency of capitalist production is not to raise the average normal wage, but to lower it.” (Exactly what has occurred in the face of the colossal increase in productivity per worker over the decades.)

Third. Trade Unions do a good job as centers of resistance against the attacks of capital; they prove ineffective in part as a result of irrational use of their force. They generally fail in their purpose because they limit themselves to guerrilla warfare against the effects of the existing system, instead of tending at the same time to its transformation and to use their organized force as a lever for the ultimate liberation of the working class, that is, for the abolition of the wage-labor system.

This was 1865, and these considerations were being made in spite of the fact that the English trade unions were doing their best for momentary action in defense of the working class. But soon-as Engels himself wrote in 1881-even the Trade Unions would “forget their duty as advanced tips of the working class,” keeping indeed “the working class in a vicious circle from which there is no way out.” The time had now come for a general, political organization of the working class as a whole to spring up above the unions themselves.”

It would later fall to Lenin to declare in no uncertain terms that the economic struggle had no revolutionary rupture function and that only the party could “direct the struggle of the proletariat to overthrow the social regime which forces the have-nots to sell themselves to the rich.” (Lenin, What to Do?)

At the time, Lenin tried to use the trade unions as the “transmission belt” of the party’s tactics and strategy, although very few “syndicalists” could understand that the real terrain of class confrontation had to transcend the confines of the factory and weld with the class party. But soon the role and nature of the union itself would undergo a profound and obvious change.

The use, in a conservative function, of trade unions will then occur with the final “conquest” made by monopoly capital after World War II, succeeding in framing the working class within the limits of bourgeois relations of production, even supporting them by wresting concessions not from capital but from the workers themselves, and containing even the most modest of workers’ demands within the limits of the national interest. From then on, workers’ struggles will always be regulated according to the demands of the capitalist system, and the trade union will clearly show us communists the limits that Marx and Engels had clearly pointed out and that our party will unambiguously define in its trade union platform from the 1950s onward. With clear and precise objectives as an antagonistic class and certainly not a collaborator to its own exploitation and enslavement.

NOTE = (The quotations from Engels are taken from writings published by the London Labor Standard in 1881 and collected in the pamphlet: Engels, unpublished writings on workers’ struggles – Prometheus Editions)

Complete article, translated with

Controverses, 24-5-2023

Controverses nr. 6. Contents:

Editorial: The four crises of capitalism 

➢ The succession of modes of production

➢ The obsolescence of capitalism

➢ Marx: empirical validation of Labor-Value

➢ Inflation, interest rates and the distribution of wealth

➢ Don’t fight for ‘your’ homeland

➢ ICC’s wanderings on inter-imperialist relations

➢ Letters to the editor: from Paris internationalists

Contents translated from French with

Pavlos Roufos, 26-5-2023

Zum Absturz von Syriza

On the fall of Syriza

Syriza benefited in 2015 from the fact that the neoliberalized ‘social democratic’ PASOK had wrecked itself by imposing harsh austerity policies and the conservative Nea Dimokratia had made itself unpopular with the same policies. But once in power, Syriza tightened austerity even more, claiming it had “no other choice” under pressure from the Troika (some compared this somewhat sarcastically to the infamous dictum “There is no alternative”). The pressure from the European institutions cannot be denied, of course, but it does not explain why the European Commission, in its reports on Greece’s ‘reform progress,’ was enthusiastic about Syriza even “implementing reforms that were not even part of the memorandum.”

Arguably closer to reality, once in power, Syriza threw itself into the pose of a serious ‘governing party’ to finally ‘modernize’ Greece properly. Already at that point, it was hard to miss how closely the economic views of its ministers coincided with the economic mainstream. During the implementation of austerity between 2015 and 2019, she also made a ‘realistic’ turn toward the center, absorbed the remnants of the decimated PASOK (in parliament as well as in the electorate), and championed a vulgar, populist, but essentially apolitical form of ‘politics.’

In doing so, it proved frighteningly blind to the fact that while a revival of the old PASOK may have had some appeal in the memorandum years, it was no longer a realistic political option thereafter, for one simple reason: The old PASOK had operated in a completely different international environment, in which it had been able to impose Keynesian-inspired expansionist fiscal policies (1981-85) and, at the same time, to turn the left, which had been marginalized from Greek society since the end of World War II, into a legitimate political force.

Syriza seems never to have noticed the contradiction that it wanted to revive PASOK precisely without Keynesian fiscal policy but by enforcing harsh austerity measures. In the real world, the only aspect of the old PASOK policy that it could actually emulate was its vulgar, petit-bourgeois individualist nightmare coupled with a cynical clinging to power and an equally cynical depoliticization (recall Syriza’s audacity in calling on the “movement” to hold demonstrations against its own measures).

This strategy, if you want to call it that, was also reflected in the astonishingly contradictory messages and measures announced by various Syriza members since 2019. One heard covid denial while simultaneously calling for vaccination, leftist and centrist slogans, pro-EU and anti-EU positions, pro-migration rhetoric while simultaneously building detention camps, pro-worker:in calls while simultaneously cutting wages, anti-Memorandum howls while simultaneously implementing austerity measures. Surprisingly, none of this was perceived as contradictory by themselves.

Those who continued to support Syriza after 2019 divided roughly into two camps: those who thought they could gain something by being close to a “governing party,” and those who found the right-wing Nea Dimokratia government simply intolerable. The May 21 elections showed that the latter have abandoned the sinking ship. This is impressive, because how incompetent do you have to be to appear as the worse option in the eyes of those who consider the Nea Dimokratia government “the worst government since 1974”?

Undoubtedly, Syriza will change after this debacle. It is possible that Tsipras will resign, but it looks more likely that he will refuse to do so. It remains important to note that the election results have arguably brought the economy, which had begun around 2012, to its dramatic end. With PASOK aiming to lead the opposition after the second round of elections (Nea Dimokratia failed to secure a majority in parliament despite winning by a landslide), it is conceivable that Syriza will fall back to pre-crisis levels, that is, to around 3 to 4 percent.

This would be a positive development. For Syriza has not only shown itself to be frighteningly incapable of any serious opposition policy, but has fundamentally and systematically destroyed all notions and hopes that the left (however one might define it) could actually offer an alternative. Under both favorable and unfavorable conditions, Syriza has convinced itself (and its voters) that there is only one possible left: that of the old PASOK. Only this time, the fiscal room for maneuver that would have allowed it to anchor itself in society and retain a continuous following was not available.

Newly legitimized by Syriza’s incompetence and the fairy tale of Greece’s economic success story, an unleashed Nea Dimokratia will increase its authoritarianism in the coming years. In view of the coming attacks, a genuine opposition is urgently needed. Syriza is demonstrably not that.

Complete article, translated with

Comment by Fredo Corvo

By not explaining what Roufos understands by “a genuine opposition,” he leaves the door open to countless possibilities of bourgeois politics and further illusions of the working class regarding democracy, parliamentarism and trade unionism. This is the real function of bourgeois “intellectuals” which they themselves cannot understand.

Editor of Chuang, 26-5-2023

一个时代的结束: 21世纪初中国的劳工圈

The End of an Era: China’s Labor Circle at the Beginning of the 21st Century

The following collection of articles was written by Wen, a gay man from mainland China who has been active in labor support work in China for the first two decades of the 21st century. Much of it was originally written in January 2020, after the last of the labor circle activists of the 2010s had been detained, forced further underground, or otherwise prevented from continuing many of the activities they had previously focused on. Then, the epidemic put everything on hold for a few years. Over the past few months, Wen has revised and updated this article through a series of conversations with us about the original narrative and the various forms of “activist” activism and worker struggles that have emerged throughout the epidemic, particularly in 2022 and the early months of this year.

The most recent wave of proletarian unrest, which began in January 2023 and continued up to the time of this writing, was led by retirees opposing changes to the social security system-including proposed cuts to health benefits and increases in the retirement age. We do not think it is a coincidence that this wave roughly overlaps with a movement against similar reforms in France that occurred with our colleagues: both are responses to capital’s global push to cut the costs of social reproduction as populations age and economic growth continues to stagnate. It seems unlikely that these scattered protests will coalesce into a national movement before the state snuffs them out with a standard combination of carrot and stick, but these and many other struggles over the past three years do support our argument (originally made in our 2015 article “No Way Forward, No Way Back” and updated in subsequent articles such as “Provocation Seeking”) that China’s social reproduction conflict in the field has begun to intensify, overlapping and proliferating with “labor” struggles in the traditional sense. In this respect, the trends in China since the early 2010s are consistent with those in many other countries, reflecting the deepening unfolding of the “general laws of capitalist accumulation”.

Structural changes in employment have given rise to similar changes in the political subjectivity and consequent activity of Chinese proletarians. This double shift is the context for the decline of the form of labor circle activism explored in Wen’s article (a form that had never been seen in China before the 2000s) [1]. In addition to highlighting this context, we would like to further clarify how we understand the relationship between industrial struggles and labor circle activists (a relationship that Wen’s article already hints at). First, the kind of dedicated labor circle activists discussed here have been directly involved in only a small fraction of the countless industrial struggles that have mostly emerged “spontaneously” (though often organized by militant workers unaffiliated with activist networks) throughout the first two decades of the 21st century. Second, as another former activist put it, “it was the collective action of Chinese workers (especially those in coastal manufacturing) that attracted activists and pushed them to move forward with workers, rather than activists with different backgrounds and worldviews pushing workers to act. However, activists …… did play a role in the formation of workers’ own internal organizing networks, providing the basis for [some of their later] actions.”

This article is thus an important contribution to our continuing analysis of mass struggle and left-wing intervention in China, and an obituary for a historically unique form of intervention whose time has come to an end. Like the authors, we hope that this frank dissection of the labor circle activist movement will provide lessons for a new generation of proletarians who are initiating new forms of resistance better suited to current conditions. While our own position and Wen’s perspective may diverge slightly, this essay is a valuable first-hand account of a critical moment in the history of class struggle in China.

This article is a translation from Chinese; for the original English version, see: The End of an Era: Labor Activism in Early 21st Century China (April 2023).

We welcome feedback from readers. Please contact us at if you find translation errors, factual errors or incompatibilities, or if you have any comments on articles published online in Chuang.

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