A massive strike has hit France on Thursday. Workers and other earners joined hands in protesting pension reform. Trade union sources said the number of people joining more than 200 protest marches was 2 million. Police had to use tear gas to contain the protesters in Paris.
Teachers, railway workers and public sector employees abandoned joined the protest marches to oppose a planned increase in the retirement age
Citing France’s interior ministry, media reports said:
About 1.12 million people took part in protests across France.
Of the about 1.12 million people who joined the protests, 80,000 were in Paris alone, BFMTV said.
National strike in Cusco. Photo: Wilson Chilo / Wayka
Tens of thousands of Peruvians from across the country arrived in the capital Lima to take part in a national strike called for today, January 19, to reject the legislative coup against former president Pedro Castillo and demand the immediate resignation of the de-facto president Dina Boluarte.
Peasant and Indigenous communities together with members of numerous social organizations and trade unions from all regions of Peru traveled in caravans to reach Lima. The caravans were organized as a part of the second ‘Marcha de los Cuatro Suyos’ or ‘March from the Four Corners’ to bring the voices of the excluded masses of deep Peru to the seat of power.
The organizations have called to hold marches from different parts of Lima to the center of the city against the Boluarte government under the banner of ‘Toma de Lima’ or ‘Taking of Lima.’ The marches are especially organized to condemn the brutal police and military repression the de-facto government has unleashed against peaceful protests as well as to demand justice for the victims.
Chris Smalls, a leader of the Amazon Labor Union, leads a march of Starbucks and Amazon workers and their allies to the homes of their CEOs to protest union busting on Labor Day, September 5, 2022, in New York City, New York.
The year 2022 saw a significant increase in working-class unrest in the United States. Millions of workers quit their jobs in 2021, and this trend has continued in 2022. Most moved on to different employment, while others continued their education or retired. Recently, many Twitter employees quit in response to the severe force reduction and intensification of work effort engineered by new owner Elon Musk. For those working, there has been a wave of what the media has dubbed “quiet quitting,” but which is really an old-fashioned labor strategy known as “working to rule,” or doing no more than what you have been ordered or contractually required to do. Those working from home have shown a reluctance to return to the office, an indication that, despite the problems of laboring where you live, offices are seen as worse.
Union organizing is on the rise, reflecting both the widespread disgust with workplace conditions and the now evidently positive public view of labor unions. The purchasing power of wages has stagnated for decades in the United States, while labor’s productivity has risen considerably. Unfortunately, the latter is partly the result of employer-initiated speed-ups, meaning that fewer workers must take up the slack created by a smaller workforce — again, management-created. According to Gallup, 71 percent of Americans now approve of unions, the highest favorable rating since 1965. This may help explain the surge in union recognition efforts. Between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 (fiscal year 2022), union certification petitions at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were up 58 percent over the previous year. No doubt there were other such efforts, those that simply petitioned employers to bargain with a union or where workers struck to win bargaining rights. Because employers regularly violate the law by committing unfair labor practices (ULPs) such as firing union supporters, the NLRB has faced a heavy caseload of ULPs, which rose 16 percent over the same period.
The illuminating article in Frontier (Vol 55, No 24, December 11-17, 2022, also in Countercurents, November 1, 2022) by Mr Sumanta Banerjee, “Leftist response to the war in Ukraine” (https://www.frontierweekly. com) deserves discussion as it focuses on (1) the most burning issue of the moment–the Ukraine War, (2) the Indian Left’s position on the issue, and (3) a few observations on Stalin and Mao.
Mr Banerjee begins with a question:
“How is the Left facing the multi-dimensional complex challenges thrown up by the [Ukraine] war and the ravages that it is heaping upon its people?”
Then, he refers to Arundhati Roy: The “Left’s dilemma as ‘tortuous yoga asanas’–some pretty drastic seeing and unseeing–depending on where you have decided to place yourself.”
The IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva has now openly admitted that the year 2023 will witness the slowing down of the world economy to a point where as much as one-third of it will see an actual contraction in gross domestic product. This is because all the three major economic powers in the world, the US, the European Union, and China, will witness slowdowns, the last of these because of the renewed Covid upsurge. Of the three, Georgieva believes, the US will perform relatively better than the other two because of the resilience of its labour market; indeed the greater resilience of the US labour market provides some hope for the world economy as a whole.
There are two ironical elements in Georgieva’s remarks. The first is that the best prospects for the world economy today, even the IMF concedes if only implicitly, lie in workers’ incomes in the US not falling greatly. For an institution that has systematically advocated cuts in wages, whether in the form of remunerations or of social wages, as an essential part of its stabilisation-cum-structural adjustment policies, this is a surprising, though welcome, admission. Of course Georgieva, many would argue, is seeing US labour market resilience only as the result of US’s economic performance and not as its cause. But her considering it a “blessing” (though not an unmixed one for reasons we shall soon see) leaves one in no doubt that the demand-sustaining role of workers’ incomes is also being recognised by her.
This week, the jamboree of the rich global elite of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has started again after the COVID interregnum. Top political and business leaders have flown in on their private jets to discuss climate change and global warming, as well as the impending global economic slump, the cost of living crisis and the Ukraine war.
After the World War II, the role of the dollar has grown significantly in global trade. Since then, the American currency has been used not only for transactions in foreign markets but also for transactions within countries. The collapse of the USSR has made the dollar an informal tender (vs legal tender) across the territories of the former Soviet republics for many years. The similar situation happened in Zimbabwe when its national currency underwent severe inflation. Zimbabweans preferred the US dollar and other foreign currencies for their private purposes.
Hosted by Verso Books and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Socialist icon Rosa Luxemburg stands out as one of the most prolific and steadfast advocates of a revolutionary but nevertheless democratic approach to political strategy in the classical socialist movement. The latest, 600-page volume of her Complete Works, published by Verso Books with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, stands as a testament to this fact.
This book renews the Marxian theory of the general equivalent by highlighting the contradiction between the social functions of money (unit of account, means of circulation) and its private functions (store of value, accumulation). It draws a clear distinction between the monetary base and the commodity base of money and thus avoids the confusion between money and credit on the one hand, and money and capital on the other, which are found in other heterodox monetary theories. It accounts for the new forms of monetary constraints weighing on the banking systems under and inconvertible fiat money standard, the class relationships underlying the interventions of monetary authorities and governments, and presents a definition of the state which emphasises its mode of intervention on the collective and social conditions of capitalisms which are money and labour power. The emphasis on the contradiction between these two types of monetary functions gives a more fundamental account of the conflict between the international role and the national origin of the dollar than the Triffin dilemma, which has been constantly overcome or deferred by the US since 1960. The author explains this evolution by demonstrating how, from the 1950s onwards, the dollar began a process of acquiring relative autonomy from the US economy. By focusing on the role and international functions of the dollar, he offers a fresh look at the 2008 crisis and its consequences for the international monetary system, but also for a possible post-capitalist financial system – which post-revolutionary Russia experimented with in the form of the NEP, and whose contemporary implementation is foreshadowed by the rise of digital central bank currencies. The book thereby provides a necessary update to the tools and concepts inherited from Marx for analysing and understanding money, capital and the state.