Labor movement notebooks

Carmela Gross, Drawing from the Vulcões Series - drafts, 2018, ink on paper, 15 x 21cm.


Presentation of the first issue of the recently launched magazine

 “Proletarians of the world, unite!”

The development of productive forces driven by the algorithmic revolution and the leap in quality in the degree of concentration and centralization of capital led to a paroxysm of capital's ability to exploit labor on a global scale. The expansion of value chains that combine technology under the control of the financial capital of the imperialist countries with a cheap workforce dispersed in all corners of the planet, but strongly concentrated in the economies that are part of the weak link of the world capitalist system, spurred the formation of a productive system whose functioning goes beyond the borders of the national economic space more than ever. The trend, already manifest in the course of the world rise of monopolies, was a decisive factor in triggering the era of world wars.

The formation of transnational productive forces created a circuit of production and circulation of goods that irremediably compromises the ability of national States to contain the defects of capital. The objective bases for a “national capitalist development” were definitively overcome. There is no possible return to the era of Keynesianism and the Welfare State, except in an extremely degraded and, politically, counterrevolutionary way. The destructive logic of capitalist accumulation was taken to its maximum power. The moment of truth has arrived. Humanity will have to choose between socialism or barbarism.

It is the urgency of the historical necessity of socialism that calls for the rescue of the international character of the socialist revolution. It is a recognized fact – and against which we stand – that the historical tradition of debate and reflection on social struggles in Brazil was, for a long time, linked exclusively to national parameters – when not nationalist ones – and guided by the perspective of national-developmentalism.

Against this tradition, as much as the trap of false and ephemeral improvements that only deceive and capture the workers' struggle potential, we understand that the dialectical, political and historical combat against the gigantic global capital requires the unification of vast international forces, bringing together the labor movement and other oppressed sectors to confront the business mega-conglomerates. All fights are now worldwide. In fact, global conglomerates and organic consortia of interests today involve large state machines, scientific-technological research centers, and, simultaneously, countless actors in the media and in the political scenario of several countries; such groups act on a planetary scale, dragging local producers along with them and linking the so-called multilateral organizations to plans for expansion or programmed contraction – including with regard to the conversion of energy matrices.

So, without building a front reflections, debates and struggles on an international scale, there will be no way to stand up to the owners of money and the agents at their service, who are no longer limited by any national framework. Today, humanity is at extreme risk, mutilated by genocidal practices established as State policies, and even the planet itself, which suffers the extermination of regions and species.

The constitution of a platform for struggles of this magnitude, on an international scale, presupposes, in turn, the consolidation and support of a historical perspective based on the international memory of the struggles of workers and other exploited and oppressed people.

Hence the emphasis that Labor movement notebooks – within the tradition of universality and internationalism that was born with the First International – will lead to the recovery of documents, traces and signs of international links of the historical struggles of the various workers’ movements, as well as of sectors and groups exploited and dispossessed by the devastating march of capitalism. In this sense, due to the strategic and exemplary value of the historical chapter in question, the magazine will dedicate special attention to the task of unveiling and debating aspects and issues of the setback suffered by the first great proletarian revolution in history. Thus, it will highlight in detail and documentally traces and circumstances of the persecutions that were the target, among others, of those in the USSR who intended to advance the project of permanent and world revolution against exploitation and oppression.

Our perspective is that of a world revolution against capitalism, because, without the structural alteration in the correlation of forces on a planetary scale, we have no illusion that eventual conquests, on a local or national scale, can last against the systemic iron belt with which capitalism today suffocates and corrodes the planet. Without an international union, and the simultaneous opening of struggle fronts in several countries, eventual conquests at the local level will be brief and without margin for the consolidation of socialist practices, as a new threshold for humanity. Examples of betrayed or suppressed revolutions abound: the USSR, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, etc.

Hence the concern to contribute to the re-elaboration of a new memory of workers' combats, as well as of all anti-exploitation and anti-race and gender oppression struggles. Re-elaboration based on critical rigor and verification of the truths of the historical process, according to criteria established by Marx and the tradition opened by the workers' movement, through self-organization in the form of councils and similar federative organizations.

We will work from the criticism and rereading of historical sources and documents, making use of the sister magazine - the Cahiers du mouvement ouvrier, published in France since 1998 – and the access to documents and materials obtained by it, after opening the Russian secret archives; archives that were long in the hands of bureaucrats and perpetrators of the struggle against oppression and exploitation of work and ways of life in general.

Our principle is the conception that the clarity and consistency of reasons are born from listening without fear to the confrontation of arguments and reasons, as an indispensable empirical basis for criticism and reflection. Hence the strategic priority of conflicts of ideas and different reports in the construction of memory for this publication.

The effective reconstruction of the workers' movement and its key role in the revolutionary process of overcoming capitalism and forming socialism on an international scale will only be done through grassroots struggles and with the historical truth as real support. It requires, therefore, both internationalist strategy and praxis, and the conception of memory not as something given, but as a critical process in development, towards a socialist, fraternal and free future, nourished by discussion and debate, the broadest.

Without common memory, no unity in struggle is possible. The unification of struggles has as a condition the sharing and universalization of memories in the general struggle against exploitation and oppression. In short, internationalism and the construction of memory constitute two faces of the same process, the one that notebooks intend to attend, according to the motto that each new struggle, to be victorious, must carry within itself the synthesis of all past struggles, including the defeated ones. This is the reason for being notebooks and the priority in historiographical and critical terms that we will attribute, in the course of the editorial work, to internationalism and the dissemination of memories of struggles.

“The defense of the labor movement”, writes the historian Jean-Jacques Marie, “is also and to a large extent the preservation of its memory, its past, its real history, which is increasingly obscured.” However, how to process the work of memory these days, in the midst of so many impediments that now involve, in addition to new forms of ideological control, the most advanced industrial techniques for conditioning subjectivities and sociability?

The answer lies, it seems to us, in the very historical component of dialectical materialism. A critical history that dialectically examines material determinations is a decisive and urgent task; that it does not stick to a merely evolutionary and empiricist analysis of facts that involve the working class and the situation of the working class; that is not limited to a simple succession of disconnected facts, but is perceived from the reading proposed by Marx in which, in the dynamics of the investigation, only the most evolved social forms offer us tools for understanding the previous ones and not the opposite (after all, it is from the anatomy of the man that the ape is known and not the opposite). A critical recovery of memory that, finally, reveals, through certain contradictions, the strength of the labor movement in the course of its confrontation with capital in the process of production of material life. Always according to the ideological perception that it is not in the mere observation of visible facts, of facts that are revealed, that history is processed, but, above all, in what the bourgeoisie seeks to hide, not to display in the confrontation of classes.

If from materialism we extract the dynamics of material life in its day to day life; if from the dialectic we have the determined contradictions; historical reflection, in terms of historical and dialectical materialism, is responsible for the dynamic connection between the two. Thus, the everyday events of materially produced life must be examined through the filter of their contradictory determinations. Finally, we have in mind a notion of history never perceived by a linear causality, but causes determined by social forms of production, conditioned by the class struggle as its engine.

Labor movement notebooks no. 1

It is thus, for example, according to texts published in this first issue, that the history of the working class is recovered in the perception of Rosa Luxemburgo, who confronts the “humanitarian interest” of the bourgeoisie, awakened by the death of thousands due to a natural accident (a volcanic eruption in Martinique), with class negligence and total indifference to the horrors wrought by imperialism. Thus, the hypocrisy and duplicity inherent in the class strategy for exploitation persists.

It is also in this way that the history of the working class is seen to be hidden in the struggle undertaken by the bourgeoisie against male and female workers in the United States in the face of the “red peril”. Links of the same chain can be found in the death of dozens of workers in a fire, resulting from the negligence (class and criminal) of the bosses, in an American factory.

The anti-working-class stance still stands out in the persecutions imposed by Stalin on those who fought against the regime imposed in the Soviet Union in reaction to the 1917 revolution. We present reports and concrete data of several episodes that implied the most ferocious and bloody forms of repression.

Adversities and historical obstacles of the working class are also revealed in the restriction to the circulation of documents that point out the undue advantages, earned by some members of the Bolshevik leadership, as highlighted in the unpublished report by Preobrazhensky, about the privileges of the inhabitants of the Kremlin, dated July 1920, published here.

It is in this line that the challenge of notebooks: traverse the history of the working class, especially the decisive moments of the first half of the XNUMXth century, according to a historical-dialectical materialist perception.

In Brazil and in most countries, capital is on the offensive, without conciliation pacts, truces or agreements, to restore gains or simply profit from the crisis. The class war is taking place without compromise. It will not be reformist and conciliation policies that will reverse this process. In such a context, nationalist discourses today constitute the common axis of the movements that promote the degradation of the lives of the majority and the increase of their exploitation.

In the fight against capital and the neo-fascist slogans now in circulation, our strategy consists of articulating the two sides, that of internationalism and that of memory, retaken as two sides of the same coin. Only from their joint understanding will it be possible to materialize the union of workers and workers – with oppressed and dispossessed majorities from all over the world – for the effective and lasting victory over capital.

*The editorial staff of the Workers' Movement Notebooks is composed of Ana Paula Pacheco, Baptiste Grasset, Bernardo Cerdeira, Jorge Grespan, Luiz Renato Martins, Marcus Orione, Osvaldo Coggiola, Plínio de Arruda Sampaio Jr. and Rodrigo Ricupero. Associate editors, in Paris: Frank La Brasca and Jean-Jacques Marie.


Labor movement notebooks no. 1. São Paulo, Sundermann / WMF Martins Fontes, Oct.2021.

Magazine launch panels []

26/10/2021, 18:19 pm-1:XNUMX pm – “CMO XNUMX and the history of the labor movement: a magazine against the denial, erasure and falsification of data and documents”; with

Angela Mendes de Almeida; Oak Magnus; Zé Maria de Almeida; Luiz Renato Martins.

09/11/2021, 18:19 pm-1911:1920 pm – “Manual work in the United States: situations XNUMX-XNUMX”; with Aldacy Rachidi; Atnágoras Lopes; Flavio Roberto Batista; Marcus Orione.

16/11/2021, 18pm-19pm – “The Decomposition of the Party and Stalinism”; with Altino Prazeres; David Maciel; Mauro Iasi (PCB); Plínio de Arruda Sampaio Junior.

23/11/2021, 18pm-19pm – “The resistance to Stalin and the hunt for Trotskyists”; with Dainis Karepovs; Bernardo Cerdeira; Osvaldo Coggiola and Rodrigo Ricupero.


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