Shock begins to give way to action. Major strikes and demonstrations are breaking out across the world in the biggest wave of social protest since before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The imperialist politicians and geo-strategists who have spent years crafting the war plans find that despite all their careful planning, they have set their bloody plans in motion atop a massive social fault line.
The protests are heterogeneous in terms of race and religious background, international in scope, and based on a larger, more urban, and more interconnected working class than ever before. In both more advanced and less developed countries, the protests revolve around the same demand: the rising cost of living is intolerable, conditions must change, and they must change now.
It is the social force that has the power to stop the march towards world war and prevent a nuclear catastrophe. This worldwide movement is taking place from hour to hour.
On Thursday evening, a large demonstration blocked the road leading to the private residence of President Gotabaya Rajapakse in the suburbs of Colombo, demanding his resignation. The right-wing government is implementing a ruthless IMF austerity regime as masses of people struggle to find medicine, food, milk and gasoline.
Diesel fuel is running out, currency is scarce, and long blackouts darken the country. A 31-year-old teacher in Batticaloa told the Indian Express: “On Sunday I was in a petrol queue from 4am. There is a shortage of powdered milk. You have to fight for rice and dal. There are no more candles and many medicines have disappeared. I have a salary, but can we eat money?
Similar movements are growing in the Middle East and North Africa, where Ukraine and Russia supply most of the wheat and cooking oil and where Ramadan, the Islamic holiday of fasting and feasting, is about to begin.
The United Nations said on Thursday that social conditions were “at breaking point” across the region due to food shortages. The “New York Times” wrote on Thursday that scarcity and rising prices are “crushing household and government budgets in countries that had nothing to lose, raising the possibility of a kind of popular unrest of mass not seen since the Arab Spring protests a decade ago, stemming in part from soaring food prices.
In Egypt, the ‘Times’ nervously noted, “videos of ordinary people bragging about food prices have gone viral on social media under the hashtag ‘starving revolution'”. foodstuffs and controlling bread prices. Al-Sisi addressed the nation and urged people to “rationalize” food consumption during Ramadan.
In Tunisia, where workers first sparked the Arab Spring, the “Middle East Eye” wrote on Thursday that “strikes have intensified over the past week”, and as a result, “Ezra Zia, Undersecretary of American State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights, visited the country.”
Food riots involving thousands of people took place across Iraq last week as the country, still reeling from a US invasion and occupation that killed a million people, was in plagued by a severe shortage of food and flour.
Protests are also growing in the southern Maghreb, in African countries where the working class has exploded in size and social weight and whose backbone includes many young people with the Internet in the palm of their hands. The average Sub-Saharan African spends 65% of their household income on food. On Wednesday, the head of the African Development Bank said of the spike in food prices caused by the war in Ukraine: “If we don’t deal with this very quickly, it will destabilize the continent.
Protests in Sudan over war-aggravated shortages have coincided with powerful strikes by teachers and youth. Yesterday a mass protest took place in Khartoum against the military government’s failure to stop the soaring cost of living and where a 23-year-old protester was killed. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a report published Thursday by ‘Al Jazeera’, “rising fuel prices, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have raised fears of an increase social unrest”. forcing the government to reshuffle the cabinet to anticipate social anger.
In South Africa, where major riots took place last summer, the head of a major youth association described the social situation as “a ticking time bomb that could explode in our faces any time “.
This movement is also developing in the imperialist centers of the world. In Spain, a week-long strike by truckers has crippled international shipping and galvanized broader working-class support in the face of rising living costs. The PSOE-Podemos government has ordered grocery stores and retailers to limit what customers can buy as major trade confederations demand action to prevent an impending social explosion.
In Germany and Austria, diesel will now be rationed. Large demonstrations against the cost of living took place last month in Albania. In the United States, the cockpit of world imperialism, the nascent strike movement is above all motivated by inflation and the soaring cost of living. Five thousand teachers are on strike in Sacramento, California, following a two-week strike by teachers in Minneapolis, Minnesota in March.
In an ongoing strike by 600 workers at an oil refinery in Richmond, California, workers say they can’t afford to fill their own cars with the gas they refine.
Fifty thousand grocery store workers in California are expected to strike in the coming days, while a contract for tens of thousands of West Coast dockworkers expires in weeks.
In the United States and Canada, the government banned or blocked major strikes by BNSF and Canadian Pacific railroad workers. Rising prices in the major imperialist countries will intensify the class struggle as the war continues.
Extract: “The global food crisis fuels the international class struggle”.
Courtesy of wsws.org