The following is a dispatch from Chilean comrades, Comunidad de Lucha. A text which is definitely is intended to reach the port workers at Valparaíso and around Chile, but which we felt could be of use for those of outside of the heated struggle in that country as circulation struggles keep spreading around the world.
Port workers at Valparaíso [Chile] have been on strike for over a month, in direct conflict with the TPS company1 over demands pertaining to work shifts, job security and wage increases. Faced with the TPS’s refusal to respond to any demands, the means of struggle have radicalized and state repression has also become increasingly harsh, leading to the violent eviction of the city’s stevedores union.
In every open conflict between the immediate interests of the proletariat and the needs of accumulation of the capitalist class, there is expressed a revolutionary potentiality. Struggle brings to the surface a profound and radical negation of the totality of this system of death.
Historically the Chilean port workers have developed a strong worker’s movement, which has often broke out of the usual union forms of struggle to fight the bosses. Their key position in the capitalist economy, at the heart of the flux of a great volume of commodities between Chile and the rest of the world, has caused them to be deeply feared by the local business community, especially those who control the ports, which is why the State (which is always the State of the dominant class), by way of its police, is rushing to repress and isolate all conflict in this sector. On the other hand, the same factor makes these class brethren a target for political maneuvers of those who, with a Leftist discourse, and conceiving socialism as an alternative form of capitalist management, judge the importance of certain sectors of the proletariat not by their radical negativity between their own lives and the production of value, but by the role they play within capitalist economy.
But it will be the same needs of the struggle to affirm the genuine interests of our class which will confront this repression and manipulation: the tenacity of combat by the port workers at Valparaíso, and the rage confronting the unleashed repression, awakens active solidarity at all ports across the country, which are surrounded by barricades and see a proliferation of attacks on the police.
In every open conflict between the immediate interests of the proletariat and the needs of accumulation of the capitalist class, there is expressed a revolutionary potentiality. Struggle brings to the surface a profound and radical negation of the totality of this system of death. In this way, by way of a demand considered “local”, the extension of proletarian solidarity and of direct confrontation with the State repression opens up cracks up through which arise the affirmation of the autonomy of our class and the need to fight not for specific improvements, which only extend the duration of our agony in capitalist society, but to fight for a new human community without exploitation or domination at all. To this end, the movement should be efficacious in fighting State repression, with no regard or respect for bourgeois legality, just as it should avoid manipulation by the diverse political fractions which are nothing more than agents of Capital, presented as “defenders of worker’s rights.”
This very movement should shed itself of any reactionary leanings, of nationalist discourse, of workerist identity, and the temptation to personify in the most detestable faces the exclusive responsibility of that which is indeed the imposition of a whole social relation. How could it be that if the business class accuse these mobilizations as damaging the national economy, that the defense [of these mobilizations] is raised using the same rhetoric, trying to convince them that “in fact, yes we love our mother country and that these struggles affirm the economy,” or make a demand for a “conscious business practices.” We must not fall into these traps! All borders were created for the greater benefit of the ruling classes. And it is precisely against the Economy itself, which subordinates & perpetuates the whole of our proletarian existence, that our struggles must arise from.
SOLIDARITY WITH THE PROLETARIANS WHICH BURN THE PORTS TO AFFIRM THEIR HUMAN NEEDS!
LET US DEVELOP AND AFFIRM THE AUTONOMY OF OUR CLASS AGAINST ALL THE AGENTS OF CAPITAL!
TODAY’S PROLETARIAN STRUGGLES ARE THE PRE-FIGURATION OF THE STRUGGLES OF TOMORROW!
Addendum from FB via Pamela Contreras:
“Just a month a go a small group of sea workers declared their strike demanding the most natural thing in the world: a small increase in their meager wages. But the boss, that inveterate usurer, denied that right for his workers and declared that he had men that could replace them. Over the course of these thirty days of strike Valparaíso has witnessed a show, of that we can say, which for the first time offers characters which represent our moment.
The various maritime guilds have been going on strike, gradually, one after the other, until the entire movement of the bay has been completely paralyzed, proving that among them there is a feeling of solidarity that speaks highly of the consciousness which these workers have when it comes to their duties of comradery, and they have countered the lies propagated by the shipping companies who discounted the strike wave.
After the 25 or more days of strike of a peaceful strike, enduring the bosses’ stubbornness, unjustified refusal, hunger and misery in their homes, the [port workers] could no longer bear the excessive tyranny of a few bourgeois who have kept over three thousand households without food. The workers lost their yesteryear patience and launched themselves with an avenging step to enact practical justice and punish their executers and exploiters.”
Luis Emilio Recabarren wrote this text about the port strike in Valparaíso, 115 years ago in 1903. History repeats and once again patience has run out.