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[INTERNATIONALISM] Italy 2022 elections : a bleak sarabanda in times of war

Italy. 2022 elections : a bleak sarabanda in times of war

– Revolutionary Internationalist Tendency

The irreducible “adversaries” of Italian right, center and “left”, all together smiling at the Rimini conference of Comunione e liberazione (Communion and Liberation), a powerful Catholic organization known for its many entrepreneurial activities and for its greed for money, poorly covered by a veil of fake humanism.

Electoral campaigns are the fair of unsustainable promises: a sample of deceptions, deceits, lies, scams beyond all imagination. But the current electoral campaign, dominated as it is by being in the midst of an epochal crisis of the capitalist system, is more fraudulent than the average. With a war in Ukraine of unlimited duration underway (and more on the horizon), with the price of gas soaring, with discount rates and public and private debt rising, with the coming recession and a record drought, with any kind of speculative maneuvers lurking, the margins of real concessions to the proletarians by governments, and in this case of a government like the Italian one, are minimal. If not non-existent. The competing parties cannot give up on hyperbolic promises, this is the game in elections. But, unlike the distant times of relative calm, they are forced to resort, in various forms, to nationalist or ultra-nationalist rhetoric that bind the possible benefits for workers to their disciplined participation in competition to the death between companies and between countries that the crisis is worsening. The borders are those of war and the war economy.

Hence the trainloads of nationalist or social-nationalist demagogy fielded by the various parties on social media, TV, the press (rallies serve only as a side dish) to win the increasingly passive and passivated vote of workers. Not from today in this kind of demagogy do the right stand out, which boast a long experience in intoxicating the “peoples” with the mirage of phantom national rebirths, if necessary even of millennial empires or Reichs, on the skin of other nations. The same thing happens in this electoral campaign, although we are still far from the levels of patriotic delirium of a century ago.

The right: a mix of frauds and poisons

The entire propaganda of the right hinges, with a plurality of proposals, on flat tax, minimum pensions at 1,000 euros, doubling the children allowance, 41 as share for retirement, as well as on the unlimited state coverage of business losses, etc. Since these measures require spending commitments for many tens of billions of euros (Salvini claims 30 for immediate buffer measures alone) and the right-wingers themselves want a net cut in state revenues in favor of capitalists and wealthy classes, this is on deficit spending. The fraud against the proletarians is uncovered (who pays the state debt? who collects the interest?), and the accusation of Draghi’s party is easy: bring Italy to bankruptcy, to a new 2011 squared.

However, as soon as the Financial Times announced that “Hedge Funds are preparing the biggest speculative bet against Italy since 2008”, the starlet of the moment, Giorgia Meloni, rushed to specify to Reuters: with me the Italian public accounts “run no risk”. Nobody “can imagine ruining the country’s finances”. The next budget law will respect every required parameter. We do not intend to do “crazy things”, “destroy or leave Europe”. We just want to “defend national interests, as France and Germany already do”. The comment of the Algebris Serra financier is appropriate: “Giorgia Meloni has understood that it is one thing to campaign in Italy, another to speak to the markets and investors”. The trip to London that the forked woman will make to report to the sharks of the City, will make her mature further.

[Attention: this does not exclude that in an even more dramatic context than the current one, the Meloni gang, other formations of the more extreme right, or the League itself, may return to “patriotic” declamations and initiatives more strongly polemical towards the EU. At the moment, the various Atlanticist, Euro-Atlantic, pro-European and “sovereignist” options are mixed together, even in individual parties, without a clear contrast between fractions of capital. Although for now the first two clearly prevail, an uncontrollable precipitation of events to the detriment of the interests of national capitalism, which has long been weakening, and a complete redeployment of alliances between states at the international level, could give oxygen to “sovereignist” options which are today minority in the major bourgeois parties, and even to marginal political expressions such as Italexit.]

In patriotic demagogy, however, identifying the cause of all social ills in an external enemy is essential. So, once the invectives against the EU have been muted a little, the new crusade of Fratelli d’Italia [FdI, the Meloni’s party] and Lega [the Salvini’s party], with Forza Italia [the Berlusconi’s party] at the wheel, against “clandestine” immigrants has begun. They are our downfall: invaders, thieves, identity destroyers, rapists, freeloaders, criminals. They must be stopped with a gigantic naval blockade and / or sunk in boats before they come to contaminate our holy soil – in the manner of the Italian Sibilla military corvette that on 28 March 1997, in front of Otranto, sank the Albanian sea cart Kater I Radesh with 120 emigrants on board … the government was Romano Prodi and the anti-racist Ulivo. Once this great war is won, everything will be fine, rest assured.

There is also a share of fraud in this filthy campaign against “illegal” immigrants because the right, like the center-left, considers them indispensable both as a zero-rights workforce and as an easy scapegoat. And it has taken measures on measures, most recently the Salvini-decrees, to create tens of thousands of immigrants without a residence permit, as there are never enough. There is not only fraud, however. There is a studied sowing of poisons aimed at the mass of Italian-born proletarians to deepen their division from immigrants, already fueled by competition on the labor market and by a rich colonial cultural tradition and institutional racism. The message of the right is twofold: war on “clandestine” immigrants (they say so, but they mean all immigrants) to hurl the indigenous proletarians against the immigrant proletarians; abolition of citizenship income, to put the employed proletarians against the unemployed and marginalized. And given the atomization and passivity of the proletariat as a whole, the message is working to some extent.

Meloni and Salvini know that if they went to the government they would have very limited resources at their disposal to respond to the social discontent accumulated over decades of sacrifices. This is why they are also bringing ideological and “ethical” issues to the electoral campaign whose weight should not be underestimated. Meloni’s triptych god / homeland / family and the Salvinian “creeds” relaunch the offensive of the black International, which makes the oppression of women a pivot of its politics, and intends to respond in its own way to the emptying of meaning of a life of alienated labor and consumption of goods for the great majority of wage-earners. But the neo-liberal rhetoric dear to the Berluscones also continues to do its damage, which criminalizes “welfarism”, “non-work” as if it were a choice of the unemployed, statism (only, however, if it comes to social benefits for workers, state gifts to businesses are always welcome).

Draghi’s party: other frauds, other poisons

Against the right-handers that have the wind in their sails, moves the composite party of Draghi, who – as we saw in Rimini – thinks of everything except accepting the premature end of his era as prime minister, or as president of the Republic in pectore, driven as he is with intact determination by the strong Western powers and most of the national ones. His agit-props of Partito democratico [Pd, with Letta as secretary], Italia viva [Iv, with Renzi as secretary] and Azione [with Calenda, as secretary] propose to extend the Draghi agenda forever. To make it attractive to the “people” they must totally falsify the events that occurred under the government of this “cowardly businessman” [copyright by Cossiga, an ex-president of the Italian Republic] whom they elected to their god. Thus it happens that the 2021-22 rebound from the worst recession in decades, which was favored by the 2020 thud and an extraordinary harvest of loans and grants from the EU, is being sold as if it were the miracle of super-Mario capable of turning everything he touches into gold. The hyper-Atlanticist choice in the war in Ukraine is passed off as securing Italy, while the opposite is true: Italy supports and clings in an even more organic way to the warfare of the United States and NATO allies, which it falls into the vortex of global rearmament and the multiplication of war conflicts on a world scale. The purely conjunctural data on summer employment are presented as proof of the outgoing government’s social effectiveness; in reality, under the Draghi executive there has been an uncontrolled expansion of poor workers, precarious work, deaths at work. And from this executive the employers received a formidable gift with the coup de hand that excluded joint liability of the contractor, encouraging the use and abuse of contracts and fake cooperatives by large companies. A cut in the tax wedge so insignificant that not even the UIL secretary feels like entering it, has become for Letta & Co. the beginning of a non-existent path towards “fiscal equity”. The jubilation for having begun to eliminate dependence on Russian gas masks that dependence on the US has worsened, and obscures the enormous increase in material and ecological costs that the transition from Russian gas to liquefied gas entails. A block of forgery by cynical professional demagogues.

The Draghi agenda sponsored by Letta, Calenda and Renzi even in front of the proletarians is a compendium of NATO’s aggressive warfare, of unconditional support for Israeli oppression and apartheid against Palestinians, of the ECB’s anti-inflationist wage-blocking policy, and of the measures and strikes-breaking actions desired by Confindustria and multinationals, in which the Draghi executive distinguished himself. An anti-worker, anti-proletarian agenda no less than that of the right. At its core is the faith in the highest internal / international institutions of capitalist exploitation, and the defense of their norms and objectives as intangible. Listen to the new Pd Cottarelli: “The budget constraint will become tighter in the coming years [to protect creditors – n.]. Budget spaces will inevitably shrink. It therefore becomes essential to use the most limited resources wisely”. Poison, a deadly poison for workers who agree to drink it, is here in presenting as natural, inevitable, the strangulating irrational historical laws of capitalist economy and finance. Commodities, capital, profit, debt, credit, bankruptcy, accumulation of capital, labor productivity, competitiveness … for the “broad-minded” bourgeois democrats opposed to the flat tax like Cottarelli, these are the nails with which to crucify labor that lives forever. Neither more nor less than for the democrats or semi-democrats / semi-fascists who are in favor of the flat tax.

The anti-fascist / anti-racist rhetoric of a party that has the birthright of detention centers (Turco-Napolitano) and their outsourcing (Minniti) is not an antidote to these poisons, also because this party is spreading today a warmongering, reactionary, demented russophobia as much as its historical Islamophobia. In this case too, the enemies that “ruin” us are outside: Russia, China, a certain Islamism. Equally empty is the rhetoric of Pd & soci on “civil rights”, which sounds even outrageous if it is separated from the material conditions of their exercise – such as the defense (in words) of the right to abortion by those who for decades have approved without batting an eyelid the cuts to public health, and in the face of the emptying of law 194 of 1978 due to the spread of conscience objection among doctors, in the face of the dismantlement of clinics and anti-violence centers, they turned away without lifting a finger. In reality, behind these empty democratic rhetorics there is the total acceptance of social relations that penalize women and a blatant classism that leaves the exercise of formally universal rights to those who can afford to buy them.

In short, the choice between Draghi’s party and the right that is facing the workers next September 25, is the choice between the frying pan and the embers. After all, the convergences between the Draghi agenda and the Meloni agenda are growing day by day, behind and in front of the scenes.

Have the Cinquestelle become “progressive”?

With skill Conte unmarked the Cinquestelle residues from the embrace with the Draghi government, the Democratic Party and the right to present himself alone as the champion of the humiliated and offended. And to be credited with this, he has prepared a nice plate full of proposals “on the side” of the workers: strengthening of citizenship income, minimum wage by law at 9 euros per hour, end of free internships, measures against precariousness, even reduction of working hours with equal wages. “We are the progressives”, claim his followers.

Have the Cinquestelle become “progressive”?

With skill Conte unmarked the Cinquestelle residues from the embrace with the Draghi government, the Democratic Party and the right to present himself alone as the champion of the humiliated and offended. And to be credited with this, he has prepared a nice plate full of proposals “on the side” of the workers: strengthening of citizenship income, minimum wage by law at 9 euros per hour, end of free internships, measures against precariousness, even reduction of working hours with equal wages. “We are the progressives”, claim his followers.

Even if you want to forget all this and believe for a moment in the sincerity of this conversion on the way to Montecitorio [the seat of Italian parliament], it is enough to scroll through the electoral program of the 2050 Movement, which Conte heads, to discover that his “heart and courage” is in any case and always, beyond and above everything, for Italy. For the development of Italian capitalism. For bourgeois institutions that need to be cleaned up to make them more legitimate and stronger. For companies that need to “guarantee liquidity” in order to facilitate investments with public resources. For the hyper-productive 4.0 industry of the hated Calenda. For NATO and the major protagonism of Italian imperialism in it – literally: for a “solid position of Italy in the Atlantic Alliance and in the European Union, but with a proactive and non-fideistic attitude, which makes Italy a protagonist in the scope of the various fora “. For the “common European defense project”. In short, to strengthen and rationalize the mega-machine of exploitation and discrimination, national and international, which produces multitudes of those humiliated and offended for which the people’s advocate claims to want to take on the defense. Once again demagogy and fraud.

Lenin’s brilliant sentence comes to mind: “Deciding once every few years which member of the ruling class should oppress, crush the people in parliament: this is the very essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in constitutional monarchies but also in democratic republics”. [After the Napolitano and Mattarella presidencies, today’s Italy is a cross between the two types.]

The “anti-system” functional to the system

The electoral circus then sees in the field a plurality of “anti-system”, “alternative” lists, which if by system is meant capitalism (and if not, what?), of really anti-system, of alternative to bourgeois forces major ones have, in fact, nothing. On the contrary.

We have no time to waste to go through them one by one, with the relative leaders / political leaders. We limit ourselves to the three that have some consistency: Italexit of Paragone, Sovereign and popular Italy (ISP) of Toscano & Rizzo, Popular Union (UP) of De Magistris. And we immediately notice that there is a basic element that unites them: the assumption of the interests of the self-employed and small-medium manufacturing enterprises, the tertiary sector, cultural as an axis of defense and affirmation in the world of an Italy that is not that of the elites and of the great capitalist potentates, but the Italy of all, of the entire “people”, fully democratic, faithful to the mythical constitutional dictates. Therefore, the Italy of the workers too, but as long as they are in their subordinate place, operating as arms and nerves for the sovereign interests of the nation. The manifesto of the only one of the three lists that is left-wing has a wonderful programmatic expression that marks this subordination: “reward and respect work” – point no. 1 of the Summary of the People’s Union program. Go back to the expression: rewarding and respecting work … Even if, by proposing “a new development model with culture at the center”, UP makes us think that – if such a model is ever realized – workers with little “culture”, not being in the center, would be penalized, rewarded (UP generously guarantees a salary even to workers with modest education), but perhaps not too respected …

Commonality of underlying perspectives is not identity. In fact, each of the three formations has its own political cultures of reference.

Italexit combines the historical identity themes of Lega and Cinquestelle, both expressions of a hyper-individualistic conception of social relations, with those of the more radical no vax. Its characterizing proposal is to leave the euro and the EU to affirm “the political, democratic and economic-monetary sovereignty of the Italian Republic”. But if asked “to go where?”, the answer is the following: to build a new republic that applies “the tax rates currently in use in Ireland, Luxembourg and other tax havens recognized by the European Union”, with a fixed rate 15% to those who produce Made in Italy. Fraud, then. Shameless fraud. The “sovereignty” of these cheaters consists in leaving the euro and the EU to become yet another paradise for global and national capitals, placing us all – the proletariat first – under their iron heel more than it is already now. The Brexit affair, less than three years after its departure, speaks very clearly with the barrage of strikes underway against the increased sovereignty over the work of private and state companies, which is producing mass impoverishment. The adventurer Paragone [the leader of Italexit] can exhibit his cunning “no arms to Ukraine”, but his perspective, which does not include leaving NATO, is the one already well traced by the Brexit affair: militarism, racism, further enslavement of workers. Even his posture “against the health dictatorship” means only: pandemic or not pandemic, all open! The making of money of small capital accumulators, like that of large ones, must not be hindered by any obstacle – this is the word of Confindustria and Bonomi [the president of Confindustria]. Anti-system? Court jester on the payroll of the system.

ISP (Sovereign and Popular Italy) is a “red”-brown mixture that unites the PCI of Rizzo with 14 other popular Catholic or semi-fascist organizations in the name of a “finally sovereign” Italy. In a world market where the sovereignty of the dollar itself is now being questioned, these joke patriots raise the flag of the “monetary sovereignty” of a revived lira. One of their fans who even claims to be a communist (!) presents the perspective of the ISP in this way:

“The program of Sovereign and Popular Italy. Meanwhile, “Sovereignty” is not “Tripoli beautiful soil of love” [sure? – n.], but the exit from the anglosphere (…). So Enemy: EU and NATO… action: exit. On the concrete, nationalization of strategic sectors, planning … all elements that most of comrades has lost along the way (…). And bear in mind that this is not a question of the maximum program of yet another doctrinaire party [we do not doubt it – n.]. In ISP there is a vision that coincides in fact with the steps of a transition to a socialist economy: plan and nationalization, but in relation to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, one of the targets of large financial and multinational capital. Speeches made on Saturdays in the fight against restrictions… ”.

The ISP adept who writes this, criticizes Popular Union (UP) because “the enemy” (class) is not seen in its program. True. Bad thing. However, ISP manages to do worse because in a country that has been an integral part of historical colonialism for five centuries with its advanced peaks Venice and Genoa, which has entered the club of imperialist countries for a century, and remains so despite its relative decline, identifies the first enemy against which to fight only and exclusively on the outside. Its ultranationalist program is to get out of the anglosphere to count more as Italy from a “neutral position” on the world market, to protect national imperialism today mortified by the United States and the EU, with an eye to small and medium-sized enterprises, today mortified by finance capital. That such a program, carried out in unity with formations that take on card. Viganò as a cultural reference point and Trump and Trumpism as the beacons of civilization, may “in fact” pave the way for the transition to socialism, is a delusion for the desperate (or degenerate). These are the last gasps of Togliatti’s nefarious idea of ​​a popular front between the working class and the productive middle classes. Within such an ultra-nationalist perspective, for the workers there is the only destiny of soldiers from the homeland in overalls or in uniform for other memorable feats around the world. For women, there is “family welfare” so that they stay at home and have children for the sovereign homeland. Which must be free – of course – from the “contamination” of immigrants, against whom Ancora Italia, the pivot of this “red”-brown alliance, expresses positions as infamous as those of Meloni. ISP: a small flow of mud that – for those who say they are leftists – comes from afar. And it is certainly making the comrades who had harbored illusions about the PCI of Rizzo reflect deeply.

As for De Magistris’s Popular Union, it is an alliance (Rifondazione, Potere al popolo, Dema) that is already well defined by the choice of its political leader: a demagogue who claims to express “a new thought on the left” by bundling a some immediate appealing claims within a perspective of recovery of “national sovereignty” declined in a pacifist sense, and with the inevitable reference to the “redemption of the South”. Here too the same old story: a truly new left cannot limit itself to speaking to workers and public employees, it must also address “the vast world of professionals, VAT numbers, self-employed workers. We must also think of small and medium-sized enterprises [those in which the work is very often pressed to blood – n.]. They must be supported. Less bureaucracy and more incentives, if they create jobs and urban regeneration, redevelopment”.

After all, in ten years of bombastic proclamations and poses as a “revolutionary”, De Magistris – as mayor of Naples – has not been able to solve any of the social and environmental emergencies of the Neapolitan city, starting with the dispute of the unemployed 7 November movement, to continue with the waste problem, the devastation of the suburbs, the increasingly precarious conditions of the Tpl workers and of the other subsidiaries of the municipality. Indeed, in the name of “urban regeneration”, he has further favored the processes of gentrification with the expulsion of other proletarians from the historic center and its complete transformation into a showcase for the use and consumption of real estate speculation. Were the cuts by the PD-led central governments that prevented the vaunted “rebellious turn” in the Campania capital, as the De Magistris’ fans object? If so, this would be the clearest test of the failure of the municipalistic rhetoric dear to the ex-mayor of Naples, and how inconsistent are the declamations on the possibility of reforming the capitalist system and its administrative machines starting from “proximity institutions”. The only tangible result of 10 years of De Magistris administration was the co-optation in the rooms of power of most of the “movement” structures, social centers and the “extreme left” of the city, favoring the push for social peace, delegation to institutions, passivity. Other than protagonism from below!

What happened to the proletarians?

A large (or very large?) quota of workers and proletarians, like many young people oriented to the left, will not vote for bourgeois parties or for petty-bourgeois formations. A good sign, to underline. A first, embryonic, awareness that in one way or another the protagonists of the current electoral saraband have nothing serious to say to those who are forced to spend their lives producing goods and surplus value for capital. This derives from their anti-working class nature, and specifically from the fact that they all turn primarily to the middle and petty-bourgeois classes, which have always constituted the turbulent mass of maneuvers for the formation of the governments of big capital, at least of those who they pass through the elections, and not from the presidential semi-monarchy. In the “visions” of these people – all without exception, from Letta to Meloni, from Salvini to Paragone, from Calenda to De Magistris – the proletarians (to whom they also turn in second place) are nothing but animated tools of work and / or meat cannon, especially in a vertical crisis of the system such as the current one. For workers to stay at a distance from such barkers, not be charmed by their demagogy, is healthy.

On the workers / proletarian abstention, which should be growing further, they usually remain muted. The Draghiani / Pd newspapers (La Stampa, Repubblica) are indeed making an attempt to present the rise of FdI as if it were even a labor product. In two superficial inquiries into Monfalcone (the seat of Fincantieri) and Mirafiori (the seat of Stellantis) Griseri speaks about the workers’ electoral orientation as his American peers of the Clintonite faith presented Trump’s landing in the White House as if he had been brought back there by miners, rather than by powerful fractions of the imperialist establishment and the raging tide of the panicked white supremacist middle class. But those same inquiries ascertain that the workers’ votes for Meloni are mostly of desperation – “we have all tried, we just have to try Meloni”. They are, often, disappointed ex-Northern League voters. The vote of many workers on the right is nothing new. Compared to the 90s, however, there is a novelty: then behind the vote of entire workers’ sectors for the League there was a sense of belonging (often with the double FIOM card) active, convinced, in some cases also militant. Today there are no more offices, no demonstrations – everything has conspired to remove the mass of proletarians from active participation in political life, even in that of the right, by atomising it. This gives strength to the false thesis: “it is now impossible to speak of ‘social classes’. Only fragments of it remain, by now almost devoid of conscience and destiny” (M. Giannini, La stampa of 28 August). Liquid time, liquid society, liquid, dissolved classes – everything remains in the hands of the only class solidly endowed with “conscience and destiny”, the one in power.

For us, things are different. We do not see the disappearance of the classes. On the contrary, we are on the pitch of class polarization for decades. Nor do we see the suspension of class antagonisms and class struggle. Nobody has the power to enact it. Of course, today in Italy the working class and the proletariat are fragmented, dispersed, in a condition of political nullity. Even the most combative of the proletarians, whether they vote or not, perhaps dream of being able to return to normal capitalist development. But the problem is that such a possibility is precluded. The outbreak of war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine represents a turning point from which there will be no turning back. Intertwined as it is with other economic, ecological, health and social catastrophes, it marks a crisis, a systemic chaos unprecedented in the history of capitalism. After a century, the alternative between the radical final solutions is back on the scene – let’s not say for the present day: a new world war or the international social revolution. This is being discussed in the ruling circles, if it is true that a belligerent fanatic like Truss, almost certainly the next British Prime Minister, declares that she is ready to push the nuclear button, applauded by her maddened supporters. Look in this light, the skirmishes and electoral polls to ascertain the percentages that the different components of the right, the different parties of Draghi or the minor “sovereignis” forces will have on 25 September, are trifles of no account. The ballot boxes are not the place for fundamental decisions. And even less the means for the redemption and liberation of the exploited.

We are sure that we will also see in Italy the explosion of class conflict that has long disappeared, although it is not known how and where it will take place. Whether with the dynamic now going on in the UK or otherwise. Whether in the next fall or after. For what little is up to us, we recall the need to resume the struggles, and we support all the initiatives that really go in this direction.

On the primary political level – which is today that of the “war on war” – we are working together with other political organizations to establish a militant internationalist area that acts as a point of reference for the responses to combat the warlike policies of the Italian state, NATO and of the EU. Never before, in times of war, of war economy, of ferocious nationalisms, is it discriminating and vital to forcefully affirm the commonality of interests of the proletarians of all countries. And to make this concrete historical principle of the communist movement the pivot of the struggle against the capitalists, their states, capitalism – first of all to “our” capitalists, to “our” state, to “our” imperialism.

We are alongside SI Cobas which, breaking with the electoral calculations of other sectors of grassroots syndicalism, has re-launched the proposal for the unity of action of the combative proletarians everywhere placed, in the perspective of an autumn of great struggles against the high cost of living, the war, exploitation, devastation – a relaunch that also assumes a political significance for its objectives, its targets, its logic.

And we intend to intervene more actively in the ideological clash between opposing visions of society: it is time to strengthen the initiative to combat the Black International! The oppression of women is not a sectoral issue, much less a niche one. It is a general question, even if many find it difficult to understand it. The attempt to reaffirm with the force of reactionary laws and ideologies the old rotting patriarchalism must be fought by contrasting it with the prospect of new social relations, freed from commodity command and gender oppression, for a social reproduction in which nature and humanity, North and South of the world, can be finally reconciled.

And it is time to ask the militant environmentalists for a bold step towards identifying capitalism as the ultimate root of the ongoing ecological catastrophes, and to foster the confluence of their protests in a general movement aimed at the destruction of capitalism, before capitalism destroys the foundations of human civilization.

There is no lack of work.

September 3

Revolutionary Internationalist Tendency