Sowing the Wind, Reaping the Tempest

Insurgent Notes came into existence in 2010 and continues to ride or, more accurately, run after the acceleration of world events since then. Some highlights bear mention: wildcat strikes in China and Bangladesh; the ongoing struggles in Greece, Tunisia, and Egypt; Wisconsin; Spain’s “indignados”; the year-long Chilean student strike, and Occupy in 1,500 cities in the United States. We are putting up issue No. 6 after three months of the Quebec strike of 200,000 students, with the European Union once again at the edge of the abyss, and with new “indignado” occupations in progress in 80 Spanish cities. We take exasperating pleasure in seeing reality rush ahead of our ability to write about it, and that is how it should be. Even now, we wish we had something solid on the situation in Quebec but we don’t. We’ll make every effort to do so in our next issue.

The main focus of this issue is on the European crisis, both in its daily unraveling and in the mass responses (or non-responses) to it. To that end, Raffaele Sciortino analyzes the not-so-subtle confrontation of America’s strategy of “perfecting empire through bankruptcy” (last brought to bear on this scale on the Asian tigers in 1997–98) against the attempts of German capital to defend its independent pole, before the euro and, with it, the European Union go over the edge. This analysis of the crisis is complemented by the Children of the Gallery’s analysis of class dynamics in Greece, above all answering the question we put to them as to why there had, as yet, been no workers’ revolution there, following four austerity plans (and counting). Another aspect of this European overview is presented in C.V.’s assessment of the March 29 “general strike” in Spain which, while being something more than previous one-day parades organized by the major unions, was still quite short of anything threatening the current austerity government there. The final twist in this panorama is our interview with Yves Coleman, giving us the goods (as he did in IN No. 5 on the unfortunate Besancenot) on the seeming resurgence of the French Communist Party, after three decades in the wilderness, behind the left-populist candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

A correction to any tendency toward Euro-centrism in our pages is provided by H.S.’s article on the post-2006 wildcat strike wave in Vietnam. H.S. was a longtime friend of the Vietnamese revolutionary Ngo Van (1912–2005),[1] and his article continues the spirit of Ngo Van’s steady stream of writings on the little-known class realities and struggles of that country, cutting through the still-lingering fog from the 1960s/l970s Western left and its waxing sentimental over the Stalinist Ho Chi Minh and the joys of “national liberation.” H.S.’s article is, moreover, no mere chronicle of strikes, but provides a geographic overview of capital accumulation in post-1975 Vietnam, as well as a portrait of the draining of the peasant population into industry in the classic mold of capitalist primitive accumulation, with the inevitable result of worker resistance and self-organization.

IN No. 6 also includes our first coverage of developments in sub-Saharan Africa (following articles on Tunisia and Egypt in IN No. 6) with book reviews of C.L.R. James’s writing on Pan-Africanism and of another work exploring the Africa-wide character of the 2011 mass struggles, which heretofore has been obscured by the focus on North Africa.

Finally, turning to the legacy of Karl Marx and its continuation in the current world crisis, Gary Roth reviews two books on the post-2008 crisis and IN co-editor John Garvey reviews Mary Gabriel’s study of Marx’s relationship with his lifelong companion Jenny, his family, and his unbelievable ordeals with poverty in London—along with the complex triumph that is Capital.

We welcome comments on any and all of the articles as well as contributions for future issues.

  1. [1] Ngo Van’s personal memoir of the 1920–45 anti-colonial struggle in Vietnam appeared with AK Press in 2010: In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary.

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