Thursday, April 18, 2024



February 2, 2024

On the current situation

Today we continue with our notes on the world situation with the news on the class struggle in Germany, where so far this year a wave of strikes is taking place:

Today's daily newscast announced:

“Warning strikes in local transportation
Shutdown in more than 80 cities
As of: February 2, 2024 2:28 P.M.

Today almost nothing works in local public transportation: more than 80 cities are affected by Verdi warning strikes, only Bavaria is spared. Bus, streetcar and subway workers are demanding, among other things, longer rest periods. After the airports, the Verdi union has been paralyzing local public transport with warning strikes in numerous cities and regions since this morning. In more than 80 cities in 15 federal states, buses, subways and streetcars have almost stopped running. Commuters, students and other travelers have to look for alternatives. Only Bavaria is not affected, where collective agreements have a longer duration.

The strike is scheduled for the whole day in most municipalities. In Berlin it ended at ten o'clock. North Rhine-Westphalia is particularly hard hit. Of the approximately 90,000 employees nationwide who have been called to a warning strike, about a third work in this federal state, where the warning strike began on schedule with the start of the shift, usually between three and four o'clock in the morning, said Peter Büddicker of the North Rhine-Westphalia regional district Verdi in the morning. Participation in the strike was high, the trade unionist said.

Money, working hours, breaks and vacations: similar reports were produced in other federal states, such as Brandenburg, Lower Saxony, Saxony and Saarland.

The background is parallel collective bargaining in local public transportation in almost all federal states.

In most cases, the focus is primarily on the working conditions of the employees: Ver.di demands, among other things, shorter working hours without economic loss, longer rest periods between individual shifts, more vacation days or more paid vacations. This is intended to ease the burden on employees and make work more attractive. All transport companies suffer from constant staff shortages. Bus drivers, in particular, are hard to find. For this reason, the BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, public transportation company in Berlin—Trans) has been maintaining a restricted bus schedule in Berlin for months. Further strikes cannot be ruled out: higher wages are also being negotiated in Brandenburg, Saarland, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. In Brandenburg (...) In Hamburg, a new collective agreement for transport companies is being negotiated. The next rounds of public transport negotiations are scheduled for mid-February in North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the union wants to increase the pressure again beforehand, as negotiator Büddicker stated there. It was initially unclear whether there would be another warning attack in the 15 federal states.”


As the representatives of the German state themselves have recognized: the masses are dissatisfied with everything and against everything that the present situation means and stands for, the masses have become more active and are on the move. As in the rest of the world, here also the imperialist exploitation and oppression of the proletariat and the masses of the country itself has grown. The power of capital has increased immensely to the same extent as the share of the profits of the capitalists and the income and state budget has increased and the difference with the income of the masses has widened enormously. In this situation the present crisis with inflation and recession is not only unloaded mainly on the oppressed countries, but also on the workers and other toilers in Germany. The masses are the arena of contention between revolution and counter-revolution and between the reactionary forces which see their collusion and struggle for the management of the imperialist state and its institutions increasing. Here comes that all this anti-AfD (Alternative for Germany—Trans) propaganda and mobilization seeks to manipulate the masses for the defense of their “democracy,” the current imperialist order, and to win elections. The statements made by the Minister President of Thuringia Bodo Ramelow 8 days ago, in an interview on German ARD TV, as the highest representative of the Land of Thuringia, show how the rulers in that country perceive the situation. What he said has already been said by other politicians, analysts and journalists.

The interviewer of the morning broadcast of ARD asked him about the cause of the growth in the polls in the country (Land) of which Bodo Ramelow is Minister President of Thüringen and he felt directly touched, answering as if the interviewer had made him responsible for his bad management in the government of the Land for this growth of AfD in view of the elections for the European Parliament at the beginning of June and for the new legislature next September; or as Ramelow is very skillful, it can be thought, that maybe he used the question to try to unload his own responsibility. He said something like this, that AfD is growing in the polls because it uses the discontent of the people who are very angry and reject everything that means the state, the authorities, institutions, parties, politicians of these parties and, addressing the journalist he said, to you and the media included. He also testified to what we say about the great activity of the masses and their willingness to protest.

Bodo Rameloe is not just any person, but someone who, as head of government of a Land, not only has to do with governance there, but in the entire Federal Republic. For the adoption of major laws, the vote of the Federation Council (Bundesrat), of which he is a member, is required. Such is the political system in Germany. A scholar of this particularity in post-war Germany, Italy, etc., pointed out that this necessary agreement between majority (government) and parliamentary “opposition” for the most important laws, as an expression of the continuation of the one-party system. Therefore, we consider this statement by Ramelow as that of a representative of the bourgeoisie as a whole which, as in all such countries, has the financial oligarchy as the manager of everything. The paradox of all this, is that the AfD, who are pointed out as the extreme expression against parliamentary democracy, are as they themselves claim to be the only opposition party. At least formally they are, because to date they do not belong to the Bundesrat. But, of course, in relation to the prevailing system, they are, as they say in England, “the loyal opposition to her majesty,” the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

The reactionary collusion and struggle is becoming more and more acute, that is why they have to call for the “defense of democracy” against the “threat of fascism” in order to win elections. As a commentator says referring to the Social-Democratic Party (SPD): “The panic among the Social-Democrats in view of their miserable results in the polls must be very great, otherwise one cannot understand what their leadership is doing... (in government actions). That happens with all other parties such as CDU-CSU, FDP, Greens, LP, (Left Party—Trans) etc. The top leader of the CDU, Merz, yesterday in parliament, in the discussion of the budget, rejected to win votes the project of the traffic light government and did not present any amendment proposal, his opponents have criticized him saying that his participation was only a gaseous speech but without any concrete proposal. This goes against the established parliamentary practice and is another sign that they are not in favor of the “condense.”

One more question, which in the previous installments was left out, was said before: The old fascism was defeated in World War II, the new fascism will not come with the garb and paraphernalia of the old fascism. The neo-Nazi and neo-fascist groups are the prey dogs of the States that use them for their low intensity warfare, to unleash terror to introduce political changes for the re-conditioning of the State and the law, as it happened with the “reforms” of the right of asylum in the first part of the 90's and as it has happened recently in Germany and Europe that the threat of AfD in Germany and other similar forces in the rest of Europe like Italy, Netherlands, France, etc. has been used to give a new anti-asylum law.

The latest strikes, such as that of the DDL union and the current ones, show, according to established political analysts, that the old state-employer-union consensus, where the latter moderated their demands in exchange for job stability, has been broken. Now the workers’ struggle is for wages, working conditions and working hours. They are demanding a reduction in the working day.

The problem of the economic struggle of the class, of the proletariat and of the workers in general, the problem of wages, working hours, working conditions and rights such as union, strike, insurance, retirement, etc., are problems of vital importance that we cannot avoid, because if we avoid them we cannot develop the work of the proletariat, especially as things are developing, the mass is in movement and deploys greater activity, magnificent conditions to advance in this field as seen in Europe itself.

It is an expression of the development of the revolutionary or objective situation.

The main requirement is for fewer weekly working hours, which has to do with three things:

1.      The concretization of the formal right to the eight-hour workday, longer hours due to overtime or the need to resort to other jobs or to live below the minimum wage, show the setback in the concretization in reality of the formal eight-hour workday, which reflects the development of the two forces in the class struggle in the country: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

2.      The need for shorter working hours for the most strenuous and unhealthy jobs.

3.      The struggle for a shorter working day due to the greater productivity of labor which shortens the necessary working time and increases the part of the working day that the worker works without remuneration for the capitalist, greater surplus value. in this case relative surplus value. Marx says that when this happens it is because the technical conditions for it have already been produced or are going to be produced, less hours with equal or increased wages.

The problem of the economic struggle of the class, of the proletariat and of the workers in general, the problem of wages, working hours, working conditions and rights such as union, strike, insurance, retirement, etc., are problems of vital importance that we cannot avoid, because if we avoid them we cannot develop the work of the proletariat, especially as things are developing, the mass is in movement and deploys greater activity, magnificent conditions to advance in this field as seen in Europe itself.

Marx established:

“All the usual arguments against the shortening of the working-day, assume that it takes place under the conditions we have here supposed to exist; but in reality the very contrary is the case: a change in the productiveness and intensity of labor either precedes, or immediately follows, a shortening of the working-day.

Increasing intensity and productiveness of labor with simultaneous shortening of the working-day.

Increased productiveness and greater intensity of labor, both have a like effect. They both augment the mass of articles produced in a given time. Both, therefore, shorten that portion of the working-day which the laborer needs to produce his means of subsistence or their equivalent. The minimum length of the working-day is fixed by this necessary but contractile portion of it. If the whole working-day were to shrink to the length of this portion, surplus-labor would vanish, a consummation utterly impossible under the regime of capital. Only by suppressing the capitalist form of production could the length of the working-day be reduced to the necessary labor time. But, even in that case, the latter would extend its limits. On the one hand, because the notion of ‘means of subsistence’ would considerably expand, and the laborer would lay claim to an altogether different standard of life. On the other hand, because a part of what is now surplus-labor, would then count as necessary labor; I mean the labor of forming a fund for reserve and accumulation.

The more the productiveness of labor increases, the more can the working-day be shortened; and the more the working-day is shortened, the more can the intensity of labor increase. From a social point of view, the productiveness increases in the same ratio as the economy of labor, which, in its turn, includes not only economy of the means of production, but also the avoidance of all useless labor. The capitalist mode of production, while on the one hand, enforcing economy in each individual business, on the other hand, begets, by its anarchical system of competition, the most outrageous squandering of labor-power and of the social means of production, not to mention the creation of a vast number of employments, at present indispensable, but in themselves superfluous.

The intensity and productiveness of labor being given, the time which society is bound to devote to material production is shorter, and as a consequence, the time at its disposal for the free development, intellectual and social, of the individual is greater, in proportion as the work is more and more evenly divided among all the able-bodied members of society, and as a particular class is more and more deprived of the power to shift the natural burden of labor from its own shoulders to those of another layer of society. In this direction, the shortening of the working-day finds at last a limit in the generalization of labor. In capitalist society spare time is acquired for one class by converting the whole life-time of the masses into labor time.

Absolute and relative surplus-value were presented as two different types of production, belonging to different epochs of development of capital. The production of absolute surplus-value entails that the conditions of labor, proper to things, are transformed into capital and the workers into wage-workers; that the products are produced as commodities, that is, produced for sale; that the process of production is at the same time a process in which capital consumes labor-power, and is therefore subject to the direct control of the capitalists; finally, that the labor process, and therefore the working day, is prolonged beyond the point at which the worker has only produced an equivalent for the value of his labor-power. Once the general conditions of commodity production have been assumed, the production of absolute surplus-value consists simply, on the one hand, in the prolongation of the working day beyond the limits of the labor-time necessary for the subsistence of the worker himself, and on the other in the appropriation of surplus labor by capital. This process can and does occur on the basis of modes of exploitation that are historically preserved without the intervention of capital. There is then only a formal metamorphosis, or, in other words, the capitalist mode of exploitation is only distinguished from preceding ones, such as the slave system, etc., by the fact that in the latter the surplus labor is extracted by means of direct coercion, and in the former by means of the ‘voluntary’ sale of labor power. Therefore, the production of absolute surplus-value presupposes only the formal subsumption of labor into capital.

The production of relative surplus-value presupposes the production of absolute surplus-value, and hence also the proper general form of capitalist production. Its aim is the increase of surplus-value by means of the reduction of the necessary working time, irrespective of the limits of the working day. The aim is achieved through the development of the productive forces of labor.

This brings with it, however, a revolution in the labor process itself. It is no longer enough to prolong it: it is necessary to give it a new configuration. ‘Prolongation of the working day beyond the point at which the worker has only produced an equivalent for the value of his labor power and appropriation of this surplus labor by capital; in this consists the production of absolute surplus value. It constitutes the general foundation of the capitalist system and the starting point for the production of relative surplus value.

In the latter, the working day is divided in advance into two fractions: necessary work and surplus work. In order to prolong the surplus labor, necessary labor is shortened by various methods, thanks to which the equivalent of the wage is produced in less time. The production of absolute surplus-value revolves solely around the extension of the working day; the production of relative surplus-value revolutionizes thoroughly and radically the technical processes of labor and the social groupings.’

The production of relative surplus-value, then, presupposes a specifically capitalist mode of production, which with its methods, means and conditions only arises and unfolds, spontaneously, on the basis of the formal subsumption of labor into capital. Instead of formal subsumption, the real subsumption of labor into capital makes its entrance on the scene.”

Red Library translation