Solidarity letter from ICOR to comrades everywhere
Written by: ICOR on 10 May 2020
To all ICOR organizations
I send you greetings of solidarity in difficult times. Our hearts are with the comrades who have lost comrades, family members and friends due to the corona pandemic, inadequate health care, and the oppression of those in power. Our comrades from CPB of Bangladesh mourn Bikash Sahar, who died of COVID-19, Rakhi Das Purkayastha, who died in a hospital in Assam, India, and Surat Ali, who was killed by the factory owner in an attack on striking workers. We mourn together with the MLKP for 16 women workers from its ranks, and with many other ICOR organizations for members whose names are not yet known to us.
Those in power maintain that the corona pandemic is not a class issue and appeal to our proletarian qualities such as solidarity and cooperative spirit. But we know that is not true. Worldwide, to date almost 3.5 million people have been infected and nearly 250,000 have died from COVID-19, according to the official figures. Comparisons of the official figures with the “excess mortalities” indicate that the actual number of victims is almost twice as high.
Corona health crisis and world economic crisis interpenetrate
The corona crisis combines with the world economic and financial crisis and has tremendously accelerated the latter. Since mid-2018 industrial production has slowly declined. With the outbreak of the corona crisis, those in power no longer were able to retard the crash by government measures, and we probably will experience a deeper and faster dive than in 2008. With the aid of the corona crisis, those in power attempt to cover up the fact that the cause of this sharp downturn is the capitalist overproduction of capital.
The equity capital of the 500 biggest corporations had grown to 17.75 trillion US dollars in 2018. It is a sharp indictment of the capitalist relations of exploitation that at the same time broad masses are condemned to hunger and misery. Hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs during the past weeks (in the USA alone some 30 million, in Indonesia 2.8 million, in Spain 900,000), and hundreds of millions of migrant workers and workers of the informal sector were robbed of their existence by the lockdowns. In India they have often been crowded into mass accommodations; in Peru many members of rural families have made their way back to their villages. This also affects many comrades, and many member organizations of ICOR report that the lockdowns and contact restrictions greatly impede the financing of their work. Textile workers in Morocco have been forced to work, and miners, too, must continue to work in many countries. Large construction sites are not closed down; work there continues on a full scale (Russia, Western Europe, Qatar...). Even in Italy and Spain, the centers of the corona outbreak in Europe, many factories were not closed until the workers enforced this with strikes. Factories, mass accommodations, worker housing complexes and refugee camps thus increasingly are becoming hot spots of the corona pandemic.
ICOR organizations – active in struggle – active in health protection - active for the socialist perspective
With this circular letter I would like to inform you about the work the ICOR organizations in the various countries do and the insights they gain. I am thankful for the many reports. I know that the situation in many countries is difficult, and right now many comrades fight to survive every day. This makes the work we do under these conditions all the more impressive. The many reports show that in the past years we have taken big steps to grow together as ICOR and that in the present situation of the corona health crisis, the world economic and financial crisis, and the environmental crisis, the importance of the coordinated work of the ICOR is seen more clearly than before and this work is strengthened.
Around the world we communists organize the self-help of the masses:
• In Togo and the Ivory Coast the comrades are building up health committees for the purpose of educating the masses to a responsible attitude towards the virus.
• In Bangladesh the comrades are organizing a hand disinfection program and food aid and have taken the initiative for hygiene measures, the building of village committees, medical services by telephone, and the establishment of rescue services. The CPB has set up a COVID-19 response team and, in all districts, public contact addresses to which the population can turn.
• In India the comrades have proposed the forming of village and town protection committees and developed an emergency program encompassing medical and economic measures.
• In Haiti the comrades have been organizing educational work among the masses for health-conscious behavior ever since the cholera epidemic. They write: “This is daily ideological work.”
• In Germany the comrades organize mutual help and, in many neighborhoods, regular balcony concerts which strengthen the cohesion and organize political discussion.
All these activities contain a seed of socialism. Isn't socialism ultimately the highest form of self-organization of the masses for solving the problems of humanity? At the same time, more and more people realize that capitalism is “a system of crises”, as our Turkish comrades write.
In the whole world we also organize the struggle of the workers and broad masses for the expansion of the health system, against the shifting of the crisis burdens to the workers and the populace, and for health protection in the workplace. At the same time we discuss in depth that the workers must organize themselves and that their struggle needs a revolutionary perspective. The entire situation challenges people and harbors the potential for a revolutionary world crisis. The most important demands of the ICOR parties are contained in the current resolutions on corona, May Day, Venezuela, and the 8th of May and are constantly being extended also by the reports on the website.
Many organizations also are investigating how the corona pandemic interpenetrates with the world economic and financial crisis. Our comrades from Bangladesh write “that the corona crisis is a consequence of the crisis in the export-oriented garment industry during the world economic crisis.” And the comrades from India write that “the global capitalist system … is afflicted by a severe recession” and that the corona crisis “further intensifies the crisis with which the working class and the oppressed masses are confronted.” The majority of ICOR member organizations apparently assumes that the world economic crisis already began before the corona crisis and has now been greatly accelerated by it. Our comrades from Greece point out that “the COVID-19 pandemic … is connected with the course of the structural crisis in which the entire planet is involved.” Many countries have launched multi-billion economic programs that exacerbate the national debt to an extreme level. Our comrades from France point out that “these debts have to be paid sooner or later. They herald difficult times to come.” Different from the world economic and financial crisis of 2008, the economic programs are primarily national.
May Day – No one keeps us off the streets – manifold militant actions worldwide
We celebrated May Day as an international day of struggle of the working class even under the conditions of the corona pandemic – inventively and in a spirit of militancy, but making allowance for health protection. With demonstrations, rallies, motorcades, banners, the industrial workers and other toilers made it clear: in 2020, too, we carry on the 130-year tradition of May Day, and no one is going to keep us off the streets. If we have to work, then we can also strike. The ICOR sent out courageous and heartening signals.
In many countries the May activities had to be asserted against massive oppression and police presence, as was reported from Peru, India, Turkey, France, Indonesia. In South Africa the police and 73,000 soldiers imposed a strict curfew. The fear of those in power of strikes and mass uprisings is great.
Reports, videos and photos can be found on the ICOR website
In the wake of the corona pandemic, democratic rights and freedoms are being dismantled and trampled underfoot worldwide: under fascist and proto-fascist governments, but also in imperialist countries with democratic forms of government.
• The EU and the USA have suspended the right of asylum with catastrophic consequences for refugees and the countries on the refugee routes. Immediate opening of the borders and evacuation of the overcrowded camps! Distribution of and care for refugees, observing health protection!
• In nearly all countries extensive lockdowns and contact restrictions apply that greatly limit the right of assembly, the right to strike, and the right to freedom of expression and often also prohibit political work and trade union work. If we can work together, we can also fight together!
• The press in most countries has been forced to conform, and critical reports on the origin of the virus and the measures of the government are suppressed in many countries.
Especially in corona times: work intensively for the building of the anti-imperialist united front
Despite the difficulties involved in coming together and discussing face to face, the building of the united front is making progress. From the ICOR alone we can report: From Afghanistan, Indonesia, Russia, the USA, Germany, Morocco (9), Tunisia (10), organizations have declared their participation in the AIAFUF; additionally, ten individuals from India, South Korea and South Africa. From the ILPS we surely will receive further reports. Let us continue to build on this success.
UCL France writes in a mobilizing letter:
“The resolute building of this united front appears to us to be urgently necessary in a world in which inter-imperialist rivalry is growing, the danger of war increases, and even the foundations of life itself are being destroyed with increasing speed. In its political diversity the united front is more broadly based than the ICOR; it is quite a broad form of organization: it is an organized movement in which each organization can elect to become involved, and each decides for itself how and in what form it participates in the activities.”
In times like this, when the crisis chaos of those in power runs rampant, when fascist presidents accompany their anti-people, barbaric policy with fake news and incitement, the struggles of the masses become more pressing and the question of a socialist perspective louder. Ideologically, this is to be struck down with the club of modern anticommunism, which penetrates into leftist movements through many channels. For this reason, the struggle against modern anticommunism, which the ICOR has taken up also with its resolution, “We condemn the anticommunist resolution of the EU Parliament”, is an integral part of our tasks today.
Times like these pose new challenges to all communists and revolutionaries. As ICOR we have accepted these challenges and are learning new things every day.
I look forward to your opinions, suggestions and criticisms.
Take care! Stay healthy!
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