Ever since Marx spat out his “Workers of the world, unite!” in the Communist Manifesto, the promoters of the internationalization of class struggle have made several attempts to create a great single network of world subversion. For them, nations do not exist, but only two classes in conflict across the world: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
The attempt that came closest to this universalist ideal was the Third International, best known for its German abbreviation, the infamous Komintern, which spread communist revolutions around the world between the two world wars. Entirely subjected to the Kremlin’s whims, it was officially dissolved by Stalin shortly after WWII to psychologically disarm his former allies and more easily infiltrate them with a Gramscian cultural revolution.
For their part, small dissident Trotskyist groups in Moscow created an ephemeral Fourth International that operated between 1938 and 1963, dissolving after a series of splits. While the anarchists, heirs of Bakunin and the struggles of May 1968, always dreamed of putting together a broad international network, they never succeeded. That is understandable because, after all, they are anarchists!
In 2001, at the height of globalized capitalism and the annual Davos meetings, sectors of the radical left, still knocked out by the collapse of the USSR, launched the World Social Forum. Ignacio Ramonet, director of Le Monde diplomatique, welcomed it with a hopeful tone: “The new world is born in Porto Alegre.” But that dawn was short-lived, and the last edition of the WSF took place in Tunis in 2013.
That same year, Jorge Mario Bergoglio ascended to the pontifical throne and tried to relaunch the internationalization of the struggle globally through meetings with the so-called Popular Movements. Two were held in the Vatican and one in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Such movements, notably the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) and the Argentine Cartoneros were already linked together in Via Campesina. They were losing steam but they received a dose of steroids with the papal blessing and Vatican support. The dose was apparently insufficient for them to overcome their disrepute in Latin America because of their violent activities and illegal occupation of farms and urban properties.
However, the specter of misery looming with the lockdown and its resulting economic collapse is radically changing the social and political climate and redistributing the cards for a new round in the political and cultural game. In an article published in Intercept, writer-activist Naomi Klein explained that she learned in the last two decades that “During moments of cataclysmic change, the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes reality.”
This statement by the author of No Logo, one of the bedside books of the anti-globalization movement, was not a pious vow. In fact, Naomi Klein helped create the Progressive International along with American Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, veteran anarchist and MIT scholar Noam Chomsky, former Ecuadorian president and a fugitive from justice Rafael Correa, professor of Marxism and ex-mayor of São Paulo Fernando Haddad (crushed by Jair Bolsonaro in the ballot box), failed Greek Economy Minister Yanis Varoufakis, maritime taxi driver for immigrant traffickers in the Mediterranean Carola Rackete, and many others.
The inaugural event of the Progressive International took place by videoconference on May 15th with the participation of five members of its Council: the Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir, former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis, Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, Guatemalan human rights lawyer Renata Ávila, and Kenyan writer and political analyst Nanjala Nyabola.
“We unite, organize, and mobilize progressive forces around the world,” says the slogan welcoming visitors on the organization’s website. Inspired by the activities of Diem25 – an acronym for Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, a pan-European movement launched by Varoufakis, and the Sanders Institute, the new Progressive International aspires for an egalitarian, sustainable, ecological, plural and post-capitalist world, that is, one in which “the cult of work” is abolished.
The entity’s organization chart specifies three areas of action: mobilization (movement) to train activists and leaders; program (blueprint) to elaborate a shared vision of a transformed world; and propaganda (wire) to disseminate critical analyzes prepared by their grassroots.
“Reclaiming the World After Covid-19” is the title of the inaugural collection of the Blueprint section written by Geoff Mann, Thea Riofrancos, and David Adler, general coordinator of the organization’s executive board.
According to the authors, the ground has never been more “fertile for internationalism” than now. “The struggle over the social order in the world after coronavirus is already underway” so that Progressive International has “only a narrow window in which to impact the political arena and shape the policymaking process.” The goal is to trace out the components of an international Green New Deal of an international character.
For her part, Ms. Katrín Jakobsdóttir says that it is necessary “to forge global solidarities and collaboration between progressive forces across borders and against an authoritarian and populist right bent on using the crisis to advance its regressive agenda.” For the Prime Minister of Iceland’s coalition government and leader of the Left Green Movement, “If there ever was a time to act up – to make history – it is now.”
An especially suggested reading in the introductory article of the Blueprint Collection is an article by Mike Davis, a Californian historian and sociologist who regularly collaborates with an English Trotskyist publication and calls himself an “international socialist” and a “Marxist-environmentalist.”
Under the expressive title C’est la lutte finale, in French in the English language original, after long criticisms of the governments of rich countries of the North and praise for China (as the “hub” and “chief fireman” of the world battle against Covid -19), Davis asserts that the inevitable precondition for rebuilding the economy is the “social ownership of strategic sectors such as pharmaceutical production, fossil fuels (to retrain workers and shut down wells and mines), the large banks, and the digital infrastructure upon which 21st-century life depends (broadband, the cloud, search engines, and social media). The return, in other words, of the revolutionary socialist project.”
Trotskyist Davis notes, however, that “socialist victories in one country or another will not lead to a GGND in the absence of a new internationalism.” There is a need for “seeking fellowship with everyone who embraces core humanist values.” And he adds piously, “At the present moment, in fact, there are only two world leaders who consistently invoke the urgency of human solidarity: one is the Dalai Lama, and the other is an Argentine football fan living in a large house in Rome.”
Mike Davies recalls to his atheist supporters, who might be reluctant to ally with Pope Francis, that “all great revolutionaries — Paine, Danton, Garibaldi, Marx, Luxemburg, Lenin, Trotsky and Che [Guevara] — conceived their mission not simply as the emancipation of the working classes but the liberation of all humanity.”
Translated by the staff of Fatima Today.
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