The World Capitalist Bankruptcy
The world capitalist crisis, universally acknowledged as the worst in the history, has not ended; we are in the midst of its unfolding. At the end of 2009, the specter of sovereign defaults from Dubai and Greece to Ireland shaking the Euro-zone and the European Union as a whole and revealing the catastrophic impact of the mountains of debts on capitalist States all over the planet, starting from the United States themselves, belied early claims for a recovery.
The injection of an unprecedented mass of liquidity by governments and central banks, particularly after the panic produced by the Lehman Brothers debacle, in 2008-2009, to save the collapsing international financial system was a holding operation; they temporarily delayed the precipitated fall without resolving the systemic contradictions that have exploded in the crisis. These contradictions were rather exacerbated and new problems were produced.
Despite the rhetoric, there is no recovery in jobs but growth of unemployment; no recovery but contraction of credit to households and small businesses; no recovery of consumer spending but under-consumption; no de-leveraging of the overexposed and undercapitalized banks. The ocean of the derivatives has decreased only slightly. Its function, in any case, is vital for contemporary capitalism and cannot be abolished without precipitating the collapse of the entire system. New enormous bubbles of fictitious capital have been formed as the massively available liquidity was directed again on speculative activities. Particularly the carry trade on the basis of a weakening US dollar fueled speculation while undermining the effects of the stimulus package and re-directing the money flux outside the US. The financial markets are soaring although, in the sphere of production, overcapacity and a crisis of capital over-accumulation dominate, opening further the scissors between fictitious and productive capital. The bubbles have at some point, sooner rather than later, to be burst producing a double dip recession.
The State intervention through quantitative easing deliberately stimulates speculation to save finance capital, dominant in our imperialist epoch of capitalist decline, from collapse. But, in this way, public debt itself grows exponentially, without having a sustainable basis in the value producing sphere. Sovereign bonds to finance public debts and deficits have taken the space that until recently was occupied by the sub-prime mortgage market, which by its inescapable collapse has triggered the current crisis. Commenting on the case of Greece, board members at large western banks predict that "after two years of worrying about mortgage and corporate risk, sovereign risk is going to be the big debate for 2010- both for banks, and the wider investment community" (Financial Times, December 21, 2009)
Both metropolitan and peripheral countries are affected by the bankruptcy of finance globalization. The center of the world system and thus of the crisis is in the United States, the most powerful and most over-indebted country in the world, which tries to export its bankruptcy globally. Europe, Japan, Russia and China are shaken by the international hurricane, and all antagonisms are sharpening.
The European Union is particularly hit. Bankrupt capitalist Greece is not an isolated case but it heads a long series of EU countries with enormous deficits and crushing debts: Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy et al. Sovereign defaults threaten the banks that are over-exposed lenders as well as the sustainability of the European Monetary Union and the entire imperialist project of European capitalist integration. Centrifugal forces are growing, shaking the entire EU edifice.
The attempts by capitalists and capitalist governments to make the workers pay for their crisis produce social resistances and an intensification of the class struggle. Draconian measures have been imposed on Ireland and an even worse program, on the lines of that imposed on Latvia, is presented by the EU institutions as an ultimatum to Greece; the "alternative" to turn to the IMF for "help" is equally destructive for the popular masses. The December 2008 revolt in Greece and Police brutality, one year later, against demonstrators commemorating that event, including the murderous attack by the Special Force Delta against the Trotskyists of EEK, the mass arrests and impending trials manifest the growing social unrest, especially among the rebelled youth, overwhelmingly jobless or over-exploited in flexible labor. These battles are the first manifestations of a political revolutionary process, which could and should expand on a European continental, and international scale. Greece is mirroring world historical developments.
Despite the illusions spread by mainstream economists and mass media, China is not the solution for the world crisis but a crucial part of the problem.
The tremendous growth of the Chinese economy and the acceleration of capitalist restoration were fuelled by the US expansion of cheap money supply, a boom in US consumption and in Chinese exports based on an unprecedented overproduction of fictitious capital.
The injection in the economy by the Chinese State authorities last year of a huge 4 trillion yuans stimulus package did not overcome the crisis of over-capacity (for example, excess capacity in steel was already in 2005 120 million tons-more than the annual production of Japan, the world's second largest producer. It led to the formation of new bubbles in the stock market prices and real estate speculation. The reasons are structural. The gigantic disproportion between a predominantly export-led economy and an inadequate, underdeveloped internal market in a still hybrid social economic formation, now facing an international plunge in depression, destroys any attempt by the leading wing of the Chinese State-Party restorationist bureaucracy to establish a temporary social equilibrium between classes and between the countryside and the industrial centers. The social tensions and struggles are growing, exposing the fallacy of a so-called "harmonious society in a market Socialism with Chinese characteristics".
At the same time pressures are growing from international capital, seeking to find a way out for its bankruptcy, in China. Demands for a re-evaluation of the renmimbi have as an ultimate goal the opening of the Chinese financial markets, the expansion of an internal market dominated by foreign capital, and, finally the transformation of this vast country into a semi-colony of US, European, and Japanese capital. Obviously, such a goal could never been achieved without a protracted violent process of imperialist interventions, economic pressures and wars - and without producing fierce resistance and revolutionary upheavals inside China itself.
Russia too is under enormous pressures by the current world crisis that led to its first serious recession in a decade, a 30 per cent devaluation of the ruble, the bankruptcy of a number of companies, the fall of oligarchs bailed out by the Kremlin and an important decrease in State reserves. After the Yeltsin era, with the IMF "shock therapy", the mass looting of public property in the '90s and the centralization of wealth at the hands of the oligarchs, which ended in the 1998 default, the current international hurricane dealt a lethal blow to the Putin era of stabilization and renewed State control. The ruling elite are divided and a sizeable section under the president Medvedev turns again in a new round of privatizations and openings to the foreign capital.
US and EU imperialisms in crisis are driven in a renewed re-colonization effort in the vast space from Eastern Europe to Russia and China seeking a way out for the systemic crisis. Humanity has entered into a period of violent convulsions, with an unknown outcome to be decided by the living struggle of living forces on a world scale.
The Obama War
The United States are occupying the center not only of the world economic crisis but of the political crisis as well.
The escalation of the war effort in Afghanistan decided by the Obama Administration manifests both the continuation and the utter failure of the so-called "war on terror" started by the Bush Administration, against which Obama was elected in the first place. "Obamania" and all the illusions spread about the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and warlord in Afghanistan received a deadly blow. It is absolutely necessary and urgent for the American and world working class to draw a balance sheet of this political bankruptcy.
Obama was presented as an opponent of Bush's foreign war policies, although keeping upfront the darling of the Zionist lobby Hilary Clinton, and the bellicose tones and imperialist ideology of the Democratic Party. Now, he resurrects the imperial Augustinian fallacy of a "just war" to justify the continuing crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
The new President was advertised as a new Roosevelt who would introduce a new Keynesian New Deal. In today's conditions where not only neo-liberalism but also Keynesianism that preceded it have failed this is impossible; a new Roosevelt cannot be re-incarnated into Obama in the White House. The mass impoverishment of the American households after the housing market disaster, mass unemployment, and the ill fated Health Care reform show that the Obama Administration faces disasters not only on the war fronts in Central Asia but on the social front back at home.
US imperialism, driven by the collapse of its own internal equilibrium, cannot but strive to war and for the re-establishment on a new basis for its world supremacy, and imperial "mission". That leads to more barbaric wars and convulsions, particularly in Central Asia, Iran and the Middle East.
Turkey plays an important role in the schemes of imperialism in that region. We resolutely have to fight this role as well as the oppression of the Kurdish people. The CRFI condemns the dictatorial verdict of the Supreme Court and of the "deep State" in Turkey to outlaw the Kurdish DTP.
The scheme for an imperialist phony solution of the Palestinian problem has collapsed. The most right wing government in Israel's history continues its savage oppression of the dispossessed Palestinian people, the blockade of Gaza, the installment of new settlements in the West Bank. Despite the treachery of the Abbas- PLO leadership, the Palestinian people, although leaderless, did not stop its resistance to occupation.
The war threats by Israel and US on Iran intensify, under the pretext of the Iranian nuclear program. Developments in that country that knew the biggest popular revolution in the Middle East in 1979 have reached a crucial point. The impasse and disintegration of the clerical regime, the mobilizations after the June 2008 election, the role of bourgeois pro-imperialist forces in the leadership of the opposition but also the legitimate grievances of students and women against an oppressive obscurantist regime have changed dramatically the political landscape in Iran. The CRFI has to follow carefully and analyze in every step of development that process to draw a revolutionary understanding and line of intervention.
Pacifism in the center and bourgeois nationalism and/or religious fundamentalism in the periphery is totally unable to confront the dangers of war and all the challenges of the current world historical situation. An international mobilization of working class and anti-imperialist popular forces is needed with the perspective of Permanent Revolution against permanent war.
Trends within the working class and its political tasks
Europe presents in a condensed form all the main trends developing inside the working class in struggle.
Mass strikes, mass demonstrations, factory occupations, sequestration of bosses by workers, youth and workers' revolts in a number of countries in Europe (France, Italy, Greece, Ireland but also Romania, Serbia etc.) demonstrate the growing anger and combativeness of the proletariat under the pressure of mass unemployment, flexibility of labor, wages cuts, destruction of pension rights, State repression etc.
This development of struggles and social consciousness is non linear, uneven from country to country, contradictory. Revolutionary Parties should carefully follow every step and study their internal trends and development by intervening in the struggles with a program of transitional demands connecting the present moment with the struggle for workers power, preparing thus its victory.
We have entered a stage of careful, methodical, systematic organization and preparation for the coming revolutionary situations.
Any "anti-capitalist" front or party formation (the perspective supported by the NPA in France; the Bloc of the Left in Portugal, SYRIZA; and in a more leftist version ANTARSYA in Greece; the British SWP and their co-thinkers internationally), which pretends to fight capitalism within the capitalist system's framework, "to defeat the anti-working class, anti-popular policies of its governments and of the EU" without overthrowing them, is a reactionary fraud.
We fight for the overthrow of all capitalist governments and of the imperialist EU that has declared class war with draconian austerity measures against all the exploited and transformed the Continent into "Fortress Europe" against immigrants; to defeat the drive of the European imperialists to re-colonize Eastern Europe, the Balkans and, furthermore Russia itself; to unify on a socialist basis all the European peoples from the Atlantic to the Pacific into a United Socialist States of Europe.
The UN sponsored Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change was a total and inescapable fiasco. The capitalist leaders of the world demonstrated that they are totally unwilling to take the smallest step towards a reduction of the danger of ecological catastrophe but ready to unleash a barbaric police repression against those fighting this danger by direct action in the streets like the demonstrators protesting in the Danish capital.
The final phony "agreement" cobbled together by the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa is merely a hollow expression of vague aims, without any commitment, apart from the illicit commitment to defend corporate profits. But even this worthless piece of paper was torn apart immediately after by Brazil and South Africa, two of the "co-signatories".
Decayed world capitalism in crisis, greedy for profits now more than ever before, threatens with ecological catastrophe humankind, all living beings, Nature as the "inorganic body" of the human beings. It is not the productive forces themselves- i.e. the developing material and mental capacity of humanity to overcome natural-social constraints- that cause climate change and environmental disasters but their misuse, strangulation and distortion by the historically outdated capitalist social relations of production. The so-called "green development" under capitalism is a demagogic, misleading way to find new outlets for their surplus capital, without really caring about the environment or the survival of the entire planet. This survival and human civilization as a whole depends now upon the reorganization of the world economy on new social bases according to the needs of life, and not the profits of a few magnates.
We demand the expropriation of all contaminating industries without compensation under workers control!
We demand our right to our living space, against the metropolitan monstrosities.
We fight to re-appropriate our life against the vampires of capital, for the expropriation of the capitalist expropriators and for world Socialism!
Against women oppression
Despite all the claims to the contrary, the oppression of women has increased in the last two decades, both in metropolitan and peripheral countries. The decline and crisis of capitalism is insolubly connected with the crisis of patriarchy, sexism, trafficking, and all the forms of violence inflicted on women.
The measure for the self-emancipation of all toilers is the emancipation of women. Universal human emancipation, communism, through the world socialist revolution, cannot be achieved without the abolition of all forms of gender oppression.
The world capitalist bankruptcy and its social and political implications pose as never before the urgent necessity of a revolutionary International of the proletariat and all oppressed to overthrow capitalism and re-organize society on socialist bases on a planetary scale.
But this workers' revolutionary International cannot be born by the Presidential decree or call by a military populist Bonaparte, even less by a Bonaparte of a bourgeois State. The call for a Fifth International by Chavez, is addressed without any programmatic basis to a heterogeneous audience covering a broad political spectrum representing various and opposed class forces, including bourgeois liberal parties. As foreign polices are the continuation of home policies, the 5th Socialist International of Chavez appears as the international extension of the chavist PSUV, a party to regiment, keep in check and control every and any political expression of the working class.
The reference to a "5th" International and thus the recognition of the tradition of the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky and his comrades-in arms has as its aim to attract and trap revolutionary forces coming from that tradition.
François Sabado, one of the main leaders of the former United Secretariat of the FI , has already replied positively to the call, although posing some points for discussion related to the "left" liberal views prevailing in Europe, particularly in France, in the former LCR now liquidated into the NPA. In fact he accepts that a head of a bourgeois State can launch the initiative for an international organization of the working class. The entire Marxist theory of the State, of the classes, of the class struggle and of the transition to communism through a dictatorship of the proletariat, a withering away State of the Paris Commune type is rejected. The coming World Congress of the international current to which Sabado is associated is inscribed in that liquidationist perspective to liquidate the remnants of the Fourth International tradition in that current.
A similar path is followed by other tendencies with a Trotskyist reference (the Alan Woods "International Marxist Tendency" e tutti quanti).
The Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International stresses that in today's conditions above all the conquest, preservation, and development of the political independence of the working class, of its program, of its organizations, political parties and trade unions is a condition sine qua non for its struggle against capital, for a workers socialist way out from the crisis, for workers power and world Socialism.
1. The entire world historic landscape has changed. The exacerbation in September-October 2008 of the world capitalist crisis that exploded last year takes unprecedented dimensions driving to collapse the world stock markets, the international banking system, gigantic industries and a growing number of States on the edge of default.
The global crash has already taken place. The capitalization of world stock markets has halved; losses on debt instruments now amount nearly $3 trillion, and debt destruction inexorably continues; there is a "near-disintegration of the western world's banking system" (Financial Times, 28/10/08) despite unprecedented State interventions.
World economy is contracting; The IMF predicts for 2009 a generalized recession in the developed world as a whole and more than 20 million new losses of jobs. Conditions of starvation produce already hunger riots in the so-called "Third World" countries, and the falling of commodity prices will accelerate the bankruptcy of raw material exporting countries. Nothing can be the same anymore.
Nearly two decades ago the disintegration of the USSR was celebrated by capitalism as "the end of communism" and of History itself; now capitalism itself faces its own implosion in its metropolitan centers, in the United States, Europe and Japan. The post 1989/91 myth of an apparently triumphant liberal capitalist system, including the fantasy of a "uni-polar world" centered in the "unchallenged" American Empire has collapsed.
The strongest capitalist superpower on the planet, capitalist America as a whole, not solely the evaporated US "sub-prime mortgage market", is transformed into the most "toxic asset" of the global system. Trotsky had predicted that America rising to world hegemony accumulates all the world contradictions as dynamite in its foundations. This dynamite, accumulated during a century of expansions and crises, of wars and revolutions, is now exploding changing the shape of the world in the 21st century.
The current crisis is the culmination and supersession of all previous major systemic crises from the break up in 1971 of the Bretton Woods framework that attempted to avoid a relapse to the Great Depression pre-war years, to the financial shocks of the '80s and '90s (the 1984 Latin American ‘tequila crisis', the 1987 Crash, the 1997 Crash, centered in Asia and followed by Russia's default in 1998, the burst of the US ‘dot.com economy' in 2000, the recession of 2001-2002, Enron's debacle, Argentina's default etc) throughout the decades of finance globalization.
In the period 2002-2006, the spiral of the crisis was deflected and the two interconnected engines of US credit expansion and China's industrial growth drove a relative upturn of world economy. But now, the two engines are stalling. The contraction of world economy tries to eliminate the enormous amounts of surplus capital both fictitious and productive that obstruct the process of capital accumulation
Capital is not a thing but a social relation. The explosion in the foundations of the system is driving the tectonic plates of society changing all social relations and international relations. A way out from the impasse can be opened only through a series of historic confrontations between the conflicting social forces, first of all, between capital and labor. In other words, the solution of the crisis depends, at the last instance, from the confrontation between social revolution and counter-revolution on an international scale. The central task of the international working class and of its vanguard is the urgent political, programmatic, organizational preparation by all theoretical and practical means for this confrontation.
The new historical situation at the end of the first decade of the 21st century demands the mobilization of the oppressed and exploited masses under the banner of a revolutionary International of the 21st century- the refounded Fourth International!
From crisis to crash and slump
2. America, the historically highest point of development of world capitalism, has been transformed into the center of world capitalism has become the center of its deepening crisis .
The collapse of the US sub-prime market in 2007 unleashed an international financial avalanche of bankruptcies and a global credit crunch, followed by a skyrocketing rise and then a dramatic fall in oil and commodity prices, but, above all, an unstoppable slide to a synchronized world economic downturn and recession.
The three decades-long finance capital globalization, after a series of shocks (1984, 1987, and 1997) ended into a catastrophe.
The outright failure of so-called ‘neo-liberalism', the economic dogma followed by almost every capitalist government, was epitomized by the dramatic actions taken urgently by the champions of privatizations, of Reaganomics and Thatcherism in the US and UK, themselves.
The process of increasing State rescue operations started from the nationalization of Northern Rock Bank in Britain in September 2007, of Bear Sterns, one of the ‘Big Four' investment banks in the United States, in March 2008, and then reached a decisive turning point that precipitated the September-October maelstrom: the nationalization of the twin giants Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac controlling the four fifths of the collapsing US mortgage market, in September 2008.
The US Administration, of course, had no other alternative but to transgress its own founding principles of capitalist fundamentalism. It could not allow two Government Sponsored Enterprises with a debt equal to 40% of the US GDP just to collapse by the blows of the ‘invisible hand". Such collapse meant chaos in the international financial system, a run on the dollar- and a declaration of default by the United States.
There is no doubt that this gigantic bail-out put a tombstone not only to what misleadingly was named ‘neo-liberalism' but to an entire era dominated by the central capitalist illusion of a market economy self-regulated by an "invisible hand". It demonstrates that the law of value is exhausted as a regulative principle of the economy; abstract labor is too restricted as a measure of material social wealth; world capitalism, thus, in its advanced imperialist stage, has entered long ago an historical epoch of decline.
Although the US government had no other alternative but to nationalize Fannie and Freddie, this rescue operation produced new problems. The funds expended for the rescue operation (about $200-300 billion) prevented its repetition to other financial institutions in distress. The biggest first casualty was the 158 years old, gigantic investment banks Lehman Brothers, which was left to collapse.
The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers became the catalyst for an avalanche of bankruptcies, an intensification of global credit crunch, and worldwide panic. Coinciding with the forced sale of Merrill Lynch, in the weekend of 13-14 September 2008, followed by the last minute rescue by Fed of the huge AIG insurance company showed clearly that the American-led global financial meltdown has not stopped.
In six months the entire investment bank Wall Street establishment was dismantled: Bear Sterns was broken, Lehman Brothers was bankrupt, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had to be re-categorized and put under the authority of the Fed.
A series of dramatic State interventions followed both in America and Europe superseding what happened after the eruption of the crisis in 2007.
During 2007-2008, the world had became already witness of continuous, unprecedented in scale and in nature but finally unsuccessful interventions by the State authorities and central banks of the most powerful capitalist economies and imperialist countries in the world, in North America, Europe and Asia, to halt the unfolding crisis and its systemic dangers. Hundreds of billions of dollars, euros and yens were injected in the banking system, an expansionary monetary policy of interest rates cuts was followed by the US Fed and other central banks, fiscal stimulus, i.e. tax cuts favoring the rich in trouble, were introduced but the spiral of the world crisis continued to unfold threatening the entire system.
After the Lehman Brothers debacle, the Paulson $700 billion plan was urgently introduced to buy "toxic assets» relieves the financial system from their destructive burden. It was finally voted in Congress without avoiding a political crisis- and without convincing that the plan will be ultimately effective. Even from this sum, $250 billion had urgently to be re-directed to re-capitalize and partially nationalize the 9 strongest US banks. The Paulson Plan attacks as the main problem illiquidity while the true core problem is insolvency. Securitization dispersed globally the risks and made bankruptcy dangers opaque, destroying thus any creditworthiness and freezing the credit lines. Lending by banks was over-extended, sometimes 60 times more than their assets, making them now candidates to file for bankruptcy. The Paulson Plan gives some temporary relief to the Wall Street magnates while the taxpayer ‘Main Street' has to pay the bill. It transfers another part of the huge private debt to the public debt of an already over-indebted America.
While, with the growth of US deficits, the need for foreign investors for financing it grows, US creditworthiness is rapidly deteriorating. The ratio of total US debt to GDP from 163 % in 1980 became 240% in 1990 and jumped to 346% in 2007.It is enormously aggravated with the dramatic developments of 2007-2008, including the addition to the public debt of $6 trillion liabilities of Fannie and Freddie and the $700 billion of the Paulson Plan. America has been transformed into a super-Argentina in a non-declared default. The problem of US over-indebtedness is transferred to the next Administration.
Barak Obama's electoral victory expresses the need both of the rulers and the ruled to overcome an unbearable situation, inherited from the Bush Administrations years: deterioration of living conditions, growing unemployment, a ballooning consumer, corporate, and public debt, gigantic deficits, recession and a financial catastrophe - together with an equally catastrophic impasse in the international "war on terror" in the Middle East and Central/ South Asia.
The new Obama Administration is an instrument at the hands of US imperialism to manage its crisis; its policies inescapably at some point will clash violently with the great expectations risen in the masses of workers and oppressed minorities mobilized for its victory.
The UK government introduced the Gordon Brown plan on October 8 by nearly nationalizing eight big banks. Together UK, Germany and France announced on October 13 more than $ 222 billion of new bank liquidity and nearly $1 trillion in interbank loan guarantees.
But these unprecedented measures did not dissipate the crisis. Recession expands in the US, in UK, in the Euro-zone and Japan. Stock markets, currency markets, banks and industries are in continuous turmoil under the shadow of a slump or of global stag-deflation (stagnation plus deflation) which is underway (See www.rgemonitor.com October 25, 2008).
The interest rates cut by the Fed, twice in October 2008, to the lowest level reached after 9/11(and similar moves that followed by the ECB, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and other central banks in Asia) could have a very ephemeral effect in the volatile stock markets but are totally unable to reverse the contraction of world economy. As many analysts pointed out, these cuts are just a sign of desperation.
Enters the State
3. Any State intervention is totally inadequate to face the enormity of the problem produced by the over-accumulation of fictitious capital.
The derivatives market expanded from a $100 trillion in 2002 to $516 trillion in BIS's estimation in 2007 or $585 trillion in other estimations! Comparatively all the real goods and services produced by all economies in the world annually, the global annual gross domestic product is less than $50 trillion, and the US annual GDP of approximately $13 trillion. It becomes crystal clear that no intervention by the State, by a central bank or by all of them in the world put together could ever control the tempest of this ocean of derivatives.
While the State is presented by right wing, liberal or left "experts" as the last resort to save the system, one State after another is queuing in the list of countries in default: Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Romania, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines et al. One State after another address desperate calls to the IMF, again. The IMF already has answered the calls of Hungary and Ukraine, and probably will intervene in other cases. But the ammunition of this institution is very limited, about $250 billion. It cannot play the role of the savior; rather it will exacerbate the social political problems by imposing its well-known draconian conditions to the countries that it "helps".
The capitalist Nation/State is totally unable to face a globalized crisis, made possible by the capitalist globalization, which, in the last decades, has interconnected the national parts of world economy much deeper than ever before in the imperialist epoch.
After the 1929 Crash, it was the link to the Gold Standard monetary system that internationalized the crisis, for this reason also it took some time, up to 1932-33, for the Great Depression to unfold all its destructive power; now, on the contrary, thanks to finance globalization, the financial turmoil immediately led into a banking crisis and precipitated a recession and State bankruptcies starting of Iceland's.
The Nation/State is not the custodian of last economic resort that will save the global system of capital. On the contrary, because of the crisis of the global capitalist system, it succumbs under the crushing weight of over-indebtedness, the ruin of public finances and an inability to pay the debt leading to default.
The currently unfolding world capitalist crisis demonstrated not solely the total failure of anti-Keynesian neo-liberalism but of any neo-Keynesian State interventionism as well.
But although the State cannot co-op with the task of the economic last resort, it remains the last political resort of the bourgeoisie, the site of its political power with the monopoly of force. Its growing role among conflicting capitalist interests and between capital as a whole and labor strengthens the tendency to take exceptional powers and rule by emergency measures, already seen as the crisis of capitalist globalization emerged in the turn of the century and the frenzy of the "war on terror" had started.
As the State intrudes among conflicting interests, it becomes a focus of all social tensions, a mediator transforming the economic into a social crisis affecting all classes and spreading misery to the broadest masses, deepening a political crisis around the central question of political power itself.
Both social economic strategies used by capital the last century to repel its historic decline and the threat of the working class- State interventionism and neo-liberalism- have both failed in the long run producing a crisis of governance: those on the top cannot any more govern in the old ways, those on below cannot afford to be governed and live in a miserable present without future. Thus, conditions are building up to the emergence of revolutionary situations.
The "think tanks" of the ruling class recognize the threat. Martin Wolf in Financial Times (October 28, 2008) speaks about the political dangers arising by a global slump mentioning "xenophobia, nationalism and revolution" (emphasis added). It is the last one that drives the world capitalist leaders to an early G20 world summit after the US elections and it pushes Sarkozy and other European leaders to call for a "Bretton Woods II".
In Bretton Woods in 1944, it was the new world hegemon, the United States, with two thirds of the world gold reserves in its Treasury and its powerful national currency taking the role of the world reserve currency in a fixed parity to gold, that it was able to sustain an international Keynesian New Deal, to reconstruct the ruined Europe and repel the revolutionary threat, with the crucial political help of Stalinism.
Now, the world situation is entirely changed. America, not only is not in a position to re-stabilize Europe, and the capitalist world but it drives them into the abyss; there is no room to any historic concessions to the working class as after World War II, on the contrary "generosity" to the bankers and financiers is compensated by the destruction of the remaining social services (in Education, Health, pensions etc.) and of the living standards of the impoverished population; and its is a bad time for class collaborators: social democracy is discredited and Stalinism, with its powerful bureaucratic apparatuses, is no more here to help discipline the workers.
A "Bretton Woods II" is a pipedream of Sarkozy and of other European leaders frightened by the coming social explosions, an illusion shared by the "neo-Keynesians" in the left and the so-called "far" left.
Europe in the zone of storms
4. The current world capitalist crisis revealed the vulnerability of the system in its birthplace, the Old Continent, as well as the fragility of the European Union fuelling all the centrifugal forces turning it apart.
As the crisis escalated in September-October 2008, one European government after another had to intervene with unprecedented measures to prevent the collapse of the biggest banks and companies and stop the financial meltdown. On 28 September the Belgian, Dutch and Luxemburg governments nationalized the bank Fortis, the biggest private employer in Belgium. On 29 September, the British Bradford and Bingley, which had the largest share of the buy-to-let market, was nationalized. On 5 October the German government bailed out the commercial property loan giant Hypo Real Estate and declared that it guarantee the deposits of all savers (the previous day it criticized the Irish government to do exactly the same). On 8 October, the British government re-capitalized and partially nationalized the 8 biggest banks of the country by buying preference shares.
It became clear that despite all claims about European unity, the European capitalists reacted to the global crisis on national lines. It became obvious the absence in the EU of the equivalent of the US Fed able to impose an Eurozone plan. Despite the critics or the apologists that called the EU a "super-state", this union of European imperialists has a common currency among 15 from its 27members but lacks a European budget or taxation system. The European Central Bank is pre-occupied exclusively to keep inflation rate within the Maastricht treaty limits of 2%- although currently inflation runs more than 3, 6%. Another limit put by the same Treaty, to keep public deficit lower than 2%, is also abandoned for the time being because of the deepening recession. European capitalist leaders call for the imposition of new international regulations- a new "Bretton Woods"- and at the same time they totally ignore their own European regulations!
On October 12-13, the meeting of the Eurozone leaders plus Britain agreed to follow general guidelines by infusing liquidity directly into banks and/or setting up interbank loan guarantees. Germany, France, and Britain together announced more than 163 billion euros ($222 billion) of new bank liquidity and 700 billion euros (nearly $1 trillion) in interbank loan guarantees. But the proposed measures were simply guidelines and each member state has to develop its own independent, national "solution". The EU, in the moment of truth of a world crisis, demonstrates its structural weakness and the continuing fragmentation of Europe on national capitalist lines. Germany's government, for example refuses to give one euro for the sake of another European- but non German- bank or company, as the French President Sarkozy asks.
Centrifugal forces are strengthened by differences on three key questions the government's share of the economy, the government budget deficit and the level of national indebtedness. The most seriously threatened European states are France, Italy, Greece and Hungary.
Hungary's declaration of default was postponed by getting urgently a $25.1 billion rescue package by the IMF, the European Central Bank and World Bank.
Italy, the fourth biggest economy in Europe, bears the weight of the world's third largest public debt toppling $ 1trillion, which surpasses Frances' debt. High public debt, a big budget deficit and government expenditures that total almost 50% of GDP, one of the highest in the world revenue from taxes (43% of GDP) prevent the Italian government to provide any significant bailout to the Italian banking giants Intesa and UniCredit which have a huge exposure in Central Europe and the Balkans. " Italy therefore, could be the first major eurozone economy to get hammered by the global financial crisis...Italy's choice will come down to sticking it out through the crisis with outside help (and possibly facing a prolonged recession), or reconsidering its role as a eurozone country"(Stratfor, 28 October 2008). Pressures on the European Monetary Union are building up dangerously from every corner of the over-expanded EU threatening its integrity and the future of the euro itself.
Greece, with a much weaker economy, a public deficit about 3,5% of GDP, a growing current payments deficit bigger than 15% of GDP, and a total public and private debt of half a trillion dollars, has its banking system overexposed in the Balkans, particularly in Bulgaria and Romania. Mass liquidation of Greek State bonds (more than 3 billion euros the last 10 days of October 2008) is continuing. Merrill Lynch in its last European report downgraded some of the biggest Greek banks (Alpha Bank, National Bank, Eurobank, and Bank of Piraeus) because the dangers facing in the Balkans.
Bulgaria and Romania are virtually bankrupt threatening a domino effect on Greek, Italian, and French banks. Similar dangers face Austrian banks in Central Europe, and even Sweden in relation to the Baltic countries. All these banks used extensively carry trade with the low interest rate loans in yen and Swiss franc to invest in the East in local currencies with higher interest rates. As the deficits in the Eastern countries were growing and the weak national currents started to fall, EU banks found themselves sitting on moving sand.
The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe was initially seen as the great historic opportunity for European imperialism, first of all for the engine of its integration, the German-French axis. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992, as the basis of the European Union and the launching of the euro-currency, and latter on, for the expansion of the EU to the borders of Russia, was accompanied by a flood of credit and re-location of West European industries in Central Europe and the Balkans, nurturing the dreams of a European imperialist ascent in the post-Cold War conditions. The current world crisis demolishes the entire edifice: the Maastricht Treaty restrictions are overlooked, the euro is under enormous pressures, and the bonanza in the countries of the East under capitalist restorationist regimes turned into a nightmare for the European banks and their respective countries. East turned into a black hole threatening to absorb the West into its vacuum, to use George Soros's metaphor.
A new social landscape is shaped in the entire Continent- a new arena for the class struggle, which is rising in new waves and ways. The current mass strikes, General Strikes, or mass youth mobilizations in Belgium, Greece, France, Italy and Germany are just a beginning.
Capitalist Crisis and Restoration
5. From the war of imperialist intervention after the October Revolution to the Nazi Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union to the Cold War, world capitalism had always the clear aim and expectation to overcome its decline by re-conquering the vast spaces, where capital was expropriated after 1917 and the Second World War.
Thirty years after the turn to pro-market policies by China under Deng and, above all, nearly twenty years after the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, the implosion of the Soviet Union and the turn to capitalist restoration, it is more than obvious that world capitalism not only did not find a new youth but it faces, particularly now, its worst crisis.
Despite a flood of foreign credit to the East- and a devastating NATO war that destroyed former Yugoslavia-capitalist restoration in Central Europe and the Balkans shows now its fragility, depending principally from the inflow of foreign capital than in locally deeply rooted capitalist structures.
Expectations that China's growth could provide a way out from the current slide to world recession are totally illusory. On the contrary, it is the transition from the international financial turmoil and credit crunch to recession or depression that exacerbate all accumulated contradictions in the Chinese economy and society with incalculable world implications.
Chinese growth is export-led. It cannot trigger resurgences elsewhere; as global growth slows, demand for Chinese goods will tend to stagnate or fall. The main outlet of Chinese exports is the US consumer and now it is collapsing for the first time in two decades
Already the growth rate is revised downwards from 11% to 9% or 7%, or even lower for 2009. Output cuts in aluminum and nickel production are announced after the escalation of the world crisis. The People's Bank of China predicted on October 31st that in the coming two years housing prices would slide by 10 to 30% marking the bursting of the real estate bubble; even more important the Bank revealed its worries about a liquidity crunch affecting severely not only real estate companies but also the commercial banks that have devoted from 20% to 40% of their total loans to the real estate sector. Cuts in the banking interest rates are also an indication of a rather rapid cooling of the Chinese growth rate under the new world conditions. Western analysts like N. Roubini predict the high possibility of a hard landing of the Chinese economy next year.
The Chinese growth, which made it in the previous years "the workshop of the world", is based on the cannibalization of the sectors where the Chinese revolution had expropriated capital (State enterprises, state banking system) to propel an economy led by exports in the world market, not local demand or profit in the domestic market. Strong capitalist development is driven forward on non-capitalist premises (for ex. loans are provided by the State banks without capitalist criteria), and, at the last instance, on over-exploitation of a cheap and vast labor force, disciplined under a Stalinist regime, on behalf of global capital.
Social inequalities between the industrial coastal zones open to the world market and the rural inlands, feed unstoppable waves of inner migration to the cities, rural unrest and continuous peasant rebellions, workers' wild strikes.
China needs a growth rate of 9-10% to absorb every year about 24 million people joining the labor force, and 12-14 million poor rural farmers moving to the industrial urban sector. Any lowering of the growth rate below this mark adds millions of new unemployed and more explosive material for coming upheavals. In a hard landing of the Chinese economy from 12% down to the critical level of 6% (quite possible in the current conditions of the world crisis) amounts to a death blow to any legitimacy, and stability of the CPC bureaucratic restorationist regime.
The CPC leadership is split by a kind of double bound: either they try to keep a high growth rate by concentrating their efforts to the coastal zones and facing all the consequences abroad of the contraction in the US and world market and at home of the disintegration of the inner agrarian heartland; or they cut their links to the world market and turn inwards to build an internal (capitalist) market. Both processes cannot but exacerbate the contradictions to the point of explosion.
Putin's Russia is severely hit by the escalation of the world crisis, the credit crunch and the fall of oil and other commodity prices. Russia is facing its worst crisis since the August 1998 default.
While in August 1998, during the international maelstrom after the Asian Crash, it was the Russian State after the "theft of the century" of the public property by the oligarchs in the '90s under Yeltsin, which was unable to face its debt obligations and declared default, now the situation is the opposite: while the capital reserves of the State are quite strong- the third in the world (because mainly of the skyrocketing rise of the oil price in the previous seven years up to July 2008)- the international credit crunch gave devastative blows to the oligarchs and the private sector, found suddenly unable to meet the margin calls for the loans taken for the ambitious projects, particularly in energy and raw materials.
In September -October 2008 the two Russian stock markets have lost more than 75% of their capitalization from its high in May, and have to repetitively close for two or three days. The exodus of foreign capital, which had started before the Georgian war was, accelerates afterwards.
The State had to make huge liquidity injections (to the tune of roughly $90 billion since the crashes of the Russian stock markets on September 16 and October 6 and in response to concerns about the stability of Russian banks.
The Kremlin turned, first to the oligarchs forcing them to repatriate and inject between 10% and 30% of their total wealth into the markets and banks to shore up the financial system. The State consolidated further its control over the oligarchs' assets but this was far from enough to stop the crisis. The oligarchs, who are still very rich in assets, they are poor in cash; some of the most powerful of them, like Oleg Deripaska, the wealthiest man in Russia, had to liquidate parts of their empires to remain liquid.
The film of the '90s is re-played in reverse: now it is the State that extends and consolidates its control over the oligarchs and over the private sector, while a middle class created the last decades and absolutely necessary for the restoration of capitalism is rapidly ruined.
But the hypertrophic State builds up under Putin's Bonapartism finds its material bases shaken. After forcing the oligarchs to pay for the crisis, now has to pick up the slack with its own resources, namely, its cash reserves, which already have dropped from $ 600-650 billion in August to $ 515 billion on October 17, 2008. Capital flight is running at $12-$16 billion a week.
Total Russian external debt as of June stood at $527.1 billion, of which banks, private or government owned owed $ 228.9 billion. Russian banks are relying upon access to foreign capital to fund everything, from car loans to Russian energy and mineral companies' capital expenditures. While the ruble depreciates against the US dollar, foreign debts made out in dollars begin to appreciate in value. Since September, the ruble has already dropped by a quarter, increasing the cost of servicing dollar-denominated debt by a like amount. For this reason, the Kremlin has to intervene fast.
But the entire Russian economic re-stabilization under Putin's regime stood on one pillar: energy. With the fall of the oil and commodity prices the pillar is crumbling. With crude prices down to around $65 a barrel, the Russian budget for 2009 barely breaks even. And the worst with a world depression is not yet come.
Growing inflation already fuels mass discontent. The popularity of the regime built up in the years 2000-2008 is undermined. The question for an independent mobilization of the working class in social struggle is on the agenda. Particularly those modernized sectors open to foreign capital are severely hit; strikes such as in Ford and other factories in Leningrad area, last year, are only the forerunners for new conflicts in the next period, and which will involve broader strata.
The key question is the political independence and political leadership of the workers' movement. Stalinism had discredited Socialism and led its construction into a dead end and collapse. The workers have to overcome the atomization of the past, including of the period after 1991, and build new organizations. Most of the existing Left, Stalinist or not, either adapt itself to Putin /Medvedev's regime and its "Strong State patriotism" or to the liberals. Liberalism is bankrupt already from the '90s and the current world crisis will destroy even its remnants. The same crisis gives the kiss of death to Putin's era. A new, independent road for a socialist way out from the crisis, the expropriation of the oligarchs and their protectors in Kremlin, a national emergency program of socialist measures and for the re-birth of the USSR on renewed bases, ahs to be opened by the workers' vanguard, particularly by a new generation of fighters that comes forward, even in a small and dispersed manner, under the banner of an anti-bureaucratic and internationalist Communism.
Crisis and mass radicalization
6. Current developments have given a devastative ideological blow to all apologists and skeptics, particularly on the Left, being always over-confident about the stability and the ability of the system to overcome its crises. Now, as they cannot deny the reality of the world crisis, they reject its revolutionary implications.
The relation between the economic crisis and a revolutionary mobilization of the masses is, of course, not a linear but a dialectical one, through contradictions. Nevertheless, Marx and Marxism have demonstrated how the inner contradictions of capital exploding into recurrent, ever more catastrophic crises, create the conditions for its overthrow: "These contradictions lead to explosions, cataclysms, crises, in which by momentaneous suspension of labour and annihilation of a great portion of capital the latter is violently reduced to the point where it can go on fully employing its productive powers without committing suicide. Yet, these regularly recurring catastrophes lead to their repetition on a higher scale, and finally to its violent overthrow" (Grundrisse, in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Progress-Moscow 1987, vol. 29 p. 134).
The "annihilation of great portion of capital" is going on with a tremendous destruction of mountains of debt, and bankruptcies of banks, companies, and states; "suspension of labour" produces already new legions of unemployed as the violent contraction of world economy develops; and last but not at all least, the specter of a ‘violent overthrow" of capitalism is haunting all the citadels of capital. Even the editorialist of Financial Times M. Wolf (28/10/08), in the list of the political consequences of a developing world slump, alongside with xenophobia and nationalism put revolution.
Xenophobia is here many decades now and undoubtedly it will become even more barbaric, particularly in "post-colonial" Europe. The rise of economic nationalism exacerbates all kinds of national, ethnic and racial hatred. Nobody can underestimate the dangers of barbarism arising from an historic systemic crisis. But the prospect of social revolution is powerfully coming back as well.
The impact of the crisis is not independent from the political situation as a whole, from the events that preceded it or accompany it, and the actual movement of the masses before and at the moment of the eruption of the crisis.
In the last decades, there was certainly a reflux of the workers movement, and of class-consciousness, a strengthening of bourgeois ideological domination, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But no historic defeat, in the scale of the '20s and '30s, with the triumphs of fascism in imperialist countries like Germany or Italy, has occurred. On the contrary, what came to surface is the growing inability of the ruling class to rule amidst its insoluble economic and social political contradictions while the fighting capacity, the revolutionary potential of the proletariat is not destroyed. Already from the mid and late '90s a new, growing radicalization started to manifest itself from the 1995 mass strikes in France to the revolts against capitalist globalization from Seattle to Genoa, the second Palestinian Intifada, the Argentinazo, the mass demonstrations against the imperialist war in Iraq in 2003, the fiasco of the imperialist "war on terror" in Iraq and in Afghanistan, the defeat of the Zionist invasion in Lebanon in 2006.
Latin America as a whole is in a pre- revolutionary situation, marked by a series of rebellions, from the Caracazo in 1989 to the 2001 Argentinazo, the insurrections in Bolivia and Ecuador in 2000-2003, and the defeat of the US led military coup and of the lock out of the bosses in Venezuela in 2002. The emerging revolution is not limited in the frontiers of the Continent but becomes a fundamental historic factor of the current world crisis. The processes of national autonomy against imperialism do not have a prominent protagonist in the national bourgeoisie or the upper strata of the civil or military petty bourgeoisie nor they have found a political expression adequate to the historical movement that represents. Latin America becomes the scene of a political experience unique in its history combining military or indigenous nationalist governments such as those in Venezuela of Hugo Chavez, in Bolivia of Evo Morales and up to a certain point in Ecuador of Correa, and from the other side, center left governments such as Lula's in Brazil and Frente Amplio's in Uruguay. While all kinds of opportunists adapt themselves to the actual Chavist regime and even to the pro-imperialist center left, sectarians lump together and condemn abstractly both categories of governments, while keeping the nationalist outlook (for example, the Morenoite PSTU in Brazil). Our revolutionary orientation, on the contrary, is the struggle against Yankee imperialism and for the unity of Latin America on the basis of revolutionary socialism counter-posed to bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalism.
In Europe, particularly in France, the social crisis, the growing de-legitimacy of the bourgeois parliamentary system and of the official bureaucratic Left joining center left governments, and the radicalization of the masses have put on the agenda the founding and building of a new Party combating capitalism. In France, the exhaustion of the experience of a series of the social-liberal governments of the Socialist Party (SP) and of the "plural Left", the crisis of the discredited and internally split SP and the near collapse of the Communist Party has posed to the new radicalized strata the question and the need of the Party to confront the new challenges. Lutte Ouvriere (LO) and the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire (LCR), the historic organizations coming from the Trotskyist tradition, have coming to the point to close their circle. The LCR abandons its historic references to Trotskyism and the Fourth International and launched a campaign for a New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA). Although there is a real need and demand for a new combat Party by the fighters against capitalism turning to the NPA, the program and the perspectives advanced are not a real revolutionary alternative but a new envelop for the old reformist content that already failed.
The working class, the youth and all oppressed in rebellion, in France and everywhere need a combat Party of a new type able to open the road to the fighting masses for a socialist way out from the world capitalist crisis.
Victory is not predetermined by the automatic evolution of events; it is a strategic task, as Trotsky rightly had emphasized. The responsibility of revolutionary leadership in such conditions becomes immense.
The question of the Program of transitional demands systematically mobilizing and uniting the masses in a revolutionary struggle for the seizure of power is crucial today more than ever. Central demands that can articulate internationally the struggle are
For the expropriation of the banks without compensation and under workers control
Sacking of workers and destruction of jobs have to been forbidden; occupations of the sites of work that close, opening of the books to workers control, for expropriation of the big companies, without compensation under workers control.
For immediate increases of wages and salaries, for a sliding scale of wages and working hours; less work, work for all! Full wages for the unemployed! Full equality for immigrant and native workers!
Down with the capitalist governments! No to class collaboration or participation in managing the crisis together with the representatives of capital, for workers power- the dictatorship of the proletariat- and a socialist way out from the crisis!
Down with imperialism, its wars and occupation! Imperialist troops out from Iraq and Afghanistan! Dismantle NATO and all imperialist bases! Down with the imperialist European Union, for the United Socialist States of Europe! For the socialist unity of Latin America! For the World Socialist Republic!
The Fourth International, founded on the eve of the Second World War, advanced the fundamental lines of such a program, incorporating all the historical experiences of the October Revolution and after. It is the indispensable mediation between all the experiences of confrontation of revolution and counter-revolution in the 20th century and the new stage of revolutionary upheavals of the 21st century. Its re-foundation and the building of revolutionary parties as its sections are the most urgent tasks in front.
How disgusting to see Bush and the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan sit comfortably in the Oval Office of the White House and plot together against the Kurds of Turkey! The very same Bush who, taking under his wing the Quislings Barzani and Talabani, has been posing for years as the protector of the downtrodden Kurds! A fine protection indeed to promote the interests of the several million Kurds of Iraq and lend a helping hand to the Turkish state in its effort to repress its own tens of millions of Kurds! The very same Erdogan who, on a visit only a couple of years ago to Diyarbakir, the major Kurdish city in Turkey, hypocritically evoked the "Kurdish question" and vowed not to repeat the "mistakes of the past", is now preparing for a new incursion of the Turkish army into Northern Iraq, repeating the 24 already made in the 1990s, in order to try to smash the PKK, the Kurdish guerrilla movement!
A large-scale Turkish military operation in Northern Iraq has been in the air since the Turkish parliament passed a resolution on 17 October giving the government powers to stage an operation any time within the space of one year and as many times as it may deem necessary, a veritable multiple entry visa, except that it is not accorded by the host country! The talks between the U.S. and Turkey in the White House seem to have postponed this until an unknown future date. However, these talks also seal once again the close alliance between the US and Turkey against the Kurds and prepare the ground for the future complicity of Turkey in the dirty business of the U.S. in the Middle East. Already Turkey has troops in Afghanistan, where it has taken over a commanding post twice in the past and is going to resume that duty once again in the near future, and in Lebanon. Bush will probably be asking for Turkey's helping hand in a future US assault on Iran and, possibly, a more visible role in the future for Turkey in Iraq.
Given the entente between the two countries, the hypocritical attitude of the Turkish establishment and the so-called nationalist left during the last few weeks in attacking the US as supposedly the power behind the PKK loses all credibility and is exposed for what it is: a blackmail to force the US into letting Turkey deal freely with the Kurds. Turkey has been the long-time oppressor of its Kurds and the international working class movement is duty-bound to stand up against Turkish incursion into Iraq. Turkey also dreads any kind of Kurdish autonomy in Iraq out of fear that it may prove contagious for its own Kurds. A part of the establishment also has irredentist dreams of taking back Kirkouk, a previously Ottoman possession, with eyes set on its rich oil reserves. Thus, even an attack by Turkey on the US-sponsored Kurdistan of Iraq would be a reactionary war, since both sides are pro-imperialist and that kind of war would simply amount to a suppression of Kurdish aspirations by a long-time oppressor nation.
The recent developments have also revealed the total bankruptcy of the liberal left in Turkey, together with the Cliffites, which supported the semi-Islamist AKP of Erdogan as a democratic force as against the military and the Kemalist forces. No sooner had the elections for parliament and president taken place, both won by the AKP, did the government turn to a belligerent policy. The AKP government is today a war cabinet and the shame of having flirted with that government casts a long shadow on major sections of the Turkish left. The DTP, i.e. the Herri Batasuna of the Kurdish movement, for its part, had almost strategically placed its hopes in the AKP. During the elections of 22 July, it was only the Turkish section of the CRFI, the Initiative for the Revolutionary Workers' Party, and a few other organisations that stood up against this policy of flirting with the AKP.
Today, the so-called nationalist left simply tail-ends the establishment and the liberal left takes a purely pacifist position in the face of the threat of cross-border war. This pacifist position was taken to its illogical conclusion by the major spokesperson of the liberal left, the only independent left-wing deputy in parliament: As soon as the threat of Turkish military incursion into Iraq became concrete, this deputy demanded that the PKK disarm! Demanding that a guerrilla movement that is under the imminent danger of total assault disarm will probably go down in the annals of war policy as one of the most shameful capitulations of pacifism!
In the atmosphere of chauvinist hysteria that has submerged the masses in Turkey, the fascist movement, probably in collusion with agents of the state, has been attacking the party buildings of the DTP and staging mini-lynch attempts. The danger, ever-present for the last two years, of a mob-lynching of Kurds in the Western cities of Turkey has now become concrete. The working class movement should stand in total solidarity with the Kurds and fight fascist-led mobs physically if necessary.
The whole development shows that the longer the US and its European allies remain in the Middle East, the more the peoples of the region will be divided and cast against each other in bloody strife. Until today it was Shiite against Sunni in Iraq. Today it is the Turk against the Kurd. Tomorrow it will probably be the Turk and the Kurd against Iran. Turkey, Syria and Iran are playing into the hands of imperialism with their rabidly anti-Kurdish policies. The leaderships of the Kurds in different countries are playing with fire by siding with the US or at least hoping to benefit from its contradictions with the local oppressors of the Kurds. What the peoples of the region need is an internationalist policy that will unite Kurd and Turk, Shiite and Sunni, and all the countries that are played against each other by the US. Only a federation of the Middle East can provide the framework for an end to the bleeding problems of the region. That federation can be brought about only by the working class and its allies, i.e. it can only be socialist.
Stop Turkish military incursion into Northern Iraq! Peace with the Kurds, war on the US!
Fight, physically if necessary, the escalation of fascist-led attacks on the Kurds of Turkey!
Recognize all the rights of the Kurds of Turkey, including self-determination, through a political solution to the Kurdish question!
Pull Turkish troops out of Afghanistan and Lebanon! Turkey out of NATO!
Hands off Iran!
All imperialist troops out of Iraq and the Middle East!
For a democratic, secular and socialist republic bringing together Jew and Arab in the entire historic territory of Palestine!
For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!
The Middle East volcano is in a permanent eruption producing new imperialist wars and national rebellions. Latin America, the backyard of Yankee imperialism, is shaken by tremendous upheavals, from Venezuela and Ecuador to Argentina, Peru, Chile, and Mexico. In Europe, unprecedented mass youth mobilizations in France and in Greece as well as the Sarkozy election mark a new phase of major social confrontations. Political regime crises erupt in Italy, Turkey, Spain, Britain, above all in the United States. Tensions rapidly grow between Russia and the United States reminding the Cold War. Fiscal crises, financial bubbles and enormous economic imbalances function as time bombs in the world capitalist economy. Hundreds of millions all over the planet, both in the center and in the periphery, face mass impoverishment, unemployment, over-exploitation, and deterioration of all living conditions. Class war is on the agenda.
World Capitalism is shaken by convulsions constantly disrupting all relations among classes and between States, breaking all social, political or economic equilibrium and making re-stabilization precarious and temporary.
World developments are characterized in the current period above all by spasmodic, sharp zigzags.
The stalemate of US imperialism in Iraq and the recommendations of the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton report for a staged withdrawal from the Iraqi swamp were answered by Bush-Cheney's bellicose "surge", the sending of 30.000 supplementary troops in Baghdad - and the obvious failure of this escalation to achieve its aims.
The defeat of the Zionist Israeli Army in Lebanon in 2006 was followed by the deepest crisis and political-moral disintegration of the Zionist regime and then, with new attempts to destroy the Palestinian national cause by barbaric attacks on the scattered Palestinian civilian population, the acceleration of building of the apartheid Wall and the mobilization of Fatah forces under Abbas to destroy Hamas and popular resistance in Gaza, an attempt that has failed.
In Europe, the feverish zigzags of the situation are manifested above all in its political heart: in France. The biggest youth movement after May '68, the mass mobilization in February-March 2006 against the CPE (Contract of First Employment) that obliged the right wing government to retreat was followed by the electoral victory of the right wing populist Sarkozy who pledged to "terminate the legacy of May '68".
This over all instability and sudden turns to the left and to the right are manifestations of a social system, world capitalism, in its historical decline and crisis. Its material bases are undermined by the accumulation and exacerbation of all the contradictions of the capital system.
Finance capital globalization associated with the process of capitalist restoration in China and Russia did not open a long term way out from the systemic crisis but created an ocean of debt covering the entire planet, functioning as real time bombs. Some of the innumerable bubbles of the recent period, a decade after the 1997 Asian crash, for ex. the greatest housing bubble in US history are already in the process of bursting. In its annual report the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the central bankers' bank, sounded the alarm that "the conditions which led up to the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Asian crises in the 1990s were reflected in the current environment." (Daily Telegraph, London, 26 June 2007). Over-accumulation, as showed by the monstrous developments of fictitious capital, is turning from a blessing for the speculators and the financial oligarchy of bourgeois parasites into their worst nightmare.
The axis connecting a rapidly expanding China as the most important center of accumulation of global capital with an over-indebted US economy burdened with huge deficits, while it worked in the years after the financial shock of 2000 as the driving fore of recovery, is starting now to be shaken by tremors such as the meltdown of February 27 in the Chinese stock markets and later on May 30, 2007.
As the CRFI previously has stressed, the infamous "war on terror' launched by the Bush Administration with the pretext of the 9/11 attacks, first against Afghanistan, then against Iraq and now threatening to be extended in more countries, was driven by the urgent need to find a way out of the global crisis of the system in the post Cold War chaotic world. US imperialism above all needed to reshape the political map of the oil producing Middle East and Central Asia to establish under new terms US world supremacy against its present or potential rivals.
Six years later, this world-wide imperialist war campaign has miserably failed and has backfired producing regime crises both in belligerent and non belligerent countries.
Despite the enormous sufferings inflicted on the civilian population by the Occupation Forces, their "willing allies" and their private armies of mercenaries, imperialism cannot effectively control any area outside (even inside) the Green Zone in Baghdad and Kabul.
In Afghanistan, the barbaric actions of the US / NATO troops not only failed to stop the new upsurge of the guerillas in the South but have destabilized completely the Musharraf regime in Pakistan and the entire situation in the Indian subcontinent.
In Iraq, with the "surge" of 30.000 new troops ordered by Bush, his desperate effort to change the chaotic situation in favor of the US hasn't obtained any results. The US has less control than ever. The Maliki government of stooges exists only in name inside its US protected offices in Baghdad. Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias are the real actors in most of the country- apart from the Kurdish North. The US, despite its gigantic military offensive, has to rely mainly on the support of Talabani's and Barzani's Kurdish Peshmergas (apart from the 160.000 US soldiers and the 180.000 US paid private contractors) to surf on the chaos. This fact has enormous side effects: it provoked tensions between Ankara and Washington as the Turkish Army officially declares that it prepares for an invasion in the Iraqi North to attack the PKK Kurdish guerilla bases. These war preparations precipitated a regime crisis, which was building up for a long time, and early elections as the Army clashed with the moderate Islamist Erdogan government.
The other pillar on which US imperialist presence in Iraq stands is the Shiite religious leaderships under the influence of Teheran used as a buffer and as a weapon against the mainly secular, Baathist led Sunni insurgency. While Shiite militias are far from being obedient to the US occupation authorities and have clashed many times militarily with them, at the moment that Teheran's influence on Iraqi Shias is most needed by Washington, the neo-conservatives in the US Administration and Pentagon are pushing for a military offensive against Iran. Vice President Cheney, Bush's former UN Ambassador John Bolton, large numbers of the religious Right and of the Zionist lobby in US, as well as of the Zionist hawks in Tel Aviv are demanding a war against Iran, with the pretext of its nuclear program. The same ultra reactionary warmongers call for new wars against Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as against Syria.
The impasse is accumulating conditions for new war explosions and threats to all the peoples in the region and internationally. But at the same time the war deadlock drives deeper the political regime crisis in America itself. It ignites the anti-war feelings of the popular masses, as it was clearly shown in mass mobilizations as well as in the electoral defeat of the Republicans in the midterm elections of November 2006. It deepens the splits within the US ruling class and within the State, sharpening and spreading the conflicts between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. The escalation of the regime crisis is manifested with the CIA-gate, the scandalous protection of Libby's criminal activities, after his condemnation in court by the President himself, the forced replacement of a number of neo-conservative "super-stars" (Pearle, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz), the clash between the Judiciary and the Attorney General Gonzalez.
It is the worst regime crisis in United States after the Vietnam War and Watergate. The 2008 elections and a possible return of the Democrats to power cannot defuse it as the international program of the Democratic Party supports the continuing occupation of Iraq, albeit in a disguised form (military bases) and maintains a staunch support to Zionism; there is no essential difference between the two imperialist Parties. The international repercussions in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Russia and China are immense. America has become not solely the centre of the world economic crisis of capitalism but also of its political crisis.
The world turmoil finds the most explosive form today in the Middle East volcano. The central question in the Middle East crisis is the Palestinian Question: the expulsion of the Palestinian people from its lands by Zionism, occupation and repression, the expropriation of Palestinian national rights, including the right of return of all refugees to their homes.
The recent dramatic events in Gaza, marking a decisive turn in the situation in Palestine, in the region and internationally, have to be seen in a historical perspective to draw a strategic line for an alternative program for emancipation.
The Palestinian people had passed through a series of recurrent Nakbas- catastrophes. First in 1948 with the establishment of the Zionist State of Israel. Then in 1967, when with the 6-Day War the occupation of Palestinian lands was completed. The infamous Oslo "peace process" was introduced to stop the popular 1987 Intifada; it was a Nakba in slow motion trying to impose a phony "mini-state" of disconnected Palestinian Bantustans with a phony "consensus" of the oppressed forced upon them by their oppressors with the complicity and treachery of their nationalist leaders of the "Palestinian Authority". The process failed as it produced the explosion of the Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000.
The political contradictions and bourgeois nationalist limits of the Palestinian national movement, the corruption of the secular nationalist PA leadership, the sinister role of Dahlan and its Palestinian "security" forces co-opted by Israel and the CIA has pushed the Palestinian masses to find a kind of alternative way out to that worked out by political Islam and Hamas, which triumphed in the elections in January 2006. The recent events in Gaza are the direct result of the genocidal economic embargo and the blockade of the Territories imposed by the United States, the European Union and Israel condemning the Palestinian population to starvation, misery, lack of medical and other social services, and death as a means to overthrow the Hamas government. Gaza, particularly, was transformed into an open air prison of desperate, jobless, starving dispossessed people.
The Second Lebanese War in 2006 itself started as a consequence of the US-Zionist campaign to overthrow the elected Hamas Palestinian government; as the Lebanese Hezbollah was the only Arab force that actively intervened in defense of Gaza under attack, the Israeli Generals activated their already prepared plans to destroy Hezbollah, as a dress rehearsal for a wider offensive against Iran and Syria.
As the Lebanon War led to a humiliating military-political defeat of Zionism, it precipitated its internal disintegrating crisis. The Saudi initiative to form a Palestinian national unity Hamas-Fatah government collapsed, mainly because of Israeli intransigence. The Bush and Olmert governments moved to finish with Hamas by military means using as Contras Mohamed Dahlan's troops, armed and financed by the American, Zionist and Egyptian regimes. While Dahlan was in Egypt to complete the preparations to implement the imperialist-Zionist planned coup, Hamas in self-defense made a pre-emptive counter-attack. Fatah forces were defeated and evicted form Gaza with ferocious force by the Hamas militiamen.
It is a lie propagated by imperialist, Zionist and Arab reactionary media that a Hamas coup took place; as a matter of fact the coup engineered by US, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Abbas was defeated and imperialism received a blow.
The brutalities and the violent separation of Gaza from the West Bank controlled by Abbas are the byproducts of the criminal policy of US, Zionist and E.U. imperialists helped by their local stooges. The cynical talk on "Hamastan" and "Fatahland" tries to cover up the imperialist strategy to transform Palestinian national self-determination into a national self-destruction of pulverized enclaves.
This strategy now tries to take advantage of the Hamas/Fatah strife to achieve its goals. The Bush Administration, the Olmert government, the EU immediately gave their full political, financial and military support to Abbas and to its fake "government of emergency", while Gaza under siege is threatened to die either through starvation or by a new military aggression. The defense of Gaza under siege from a Zionist aggression is the first priority for all anti-imperialist and working class forces internationally.
The implemented imperialist strategy is a continuation of the original Bush "roadmap to peace" and Sharon's "cantonization plan". It was presented by Israeli PM Olmert in the US Congress in May 2006, just before the invasion in Lebanon. Its aim is the establishment of "a truncated Palestinian ‘state' comprised of four disconnected cantons, three in the West Bank and Gaza. By annexing its major settlement blocs defined by the wall, Israel thereby expands onto 85% of the country leaving the Palestinians confined to impoverished enclaves on the remaining 15% of the land. In such a ‘two state solution' Israel would control the borders, external and internal Palestinian movement, the ‘greater Jerusalem' area, all the water resources, the air space, the communications sphere and even the Palestinian state's foreign policy" (Jeff Halper, " Keeping a Steady Course in Apartheid", Media Monitors Network , 25/6/ 07).
With the separation of these would be ‘cantons' between a Hamas controlled area and a West bank under Abbas/ Fatah control, even this "two state solution" is imploding. There is a plan B elaborated by the US and Israeli Foreign Ministers Condoleezza Rice and Tzipi Livni, which is now advanced calling "for the unilateral declaration by the US of a ‘provisional' Palestinian state with no fixed borders, no meaningful sovereignty and no viable economy, squeezed between the Wall, Israel's eastern ‘demographic' border incorporating the settlement blocs, and the Jordan valley, Israel's eastern ‘security' border." (Op. cit).
The fiction of a "two state solution", much cherished by pacifists, Stalinists, NGO activists, centrists of all kinds etc. is now in ruins. Some people applying in a mechanical way the South African experience are returning to a bourgeois version of a "one State solution", which is nothing more than a "democratization" of the existing State of Israel to become "a democratic Republic of all its citizens". Zionism cannot be "de-zionized", it must be defeated. The more its crisis worsens, the more militaristic and undemocratic it becomes, threatening not only Syria and Iran but the entire region with new "preventive" wars and driving towards a "final solution of the Palestinian problem" by escalating repression and plans of forced "transfer".
Hamas cannot provide an alternative solution. Religious nationalism is an expression both of despair and of disintegration of bourgeois secular nationalism. While we resolutely oppose the imperialist-Zionist campaign to destroy Hamas, we reject the assumption that a Palestinian brand of the right wing Muslim Brotherhood, initially aided by the Saudi monarchy and even Mossad against secular nationalism and the PLO, opens the road to national and social emancipation. The position taken by the British SWP/IS Tendency is a vulgar manifestation of the opportunist capitulation of this tendency to the Muslim bourgeoisie and to their electoral allies in the British Muslim Association dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
All the bourgeois fake "solutions" in Palestine represent a lethal dead end for the Palestinian cause. The CRFI's strategic orientation and program opens the only way out. The moment of the implosion of the ‘two state" fallacy is potentially a moment of transition from disintegration to a new revolutionary rise.
Death squads should not be allowed to divide and terrorize the Palestinian population; the Palestinian people has to rise, give an end to sectarian divisions and fragmentation, arm itself under the supervision of People's Committees as those functioning during the 1987 Intifada. Demolish the Wall and all the apartheid "regulations"! Immediate withdrawal of IDF troops from the Territories and dismantlement of the settlements! For a common struggle of the Palestinian national movement and of the Jewish workers and poor against the common enemy who oppresses and dispossesses the Palestinians and condemns the Israeli Jews to impoverishment and permanent military adventures! For the right of national self-determination of the Palestinian people, for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes!
Zionism has revealed itself to be a bastion of imperialism in the region, a camp of extermination for Palestinians and a death trap for Jews, a powerful and poisonous driving force of racism and anti-Semitism. The Zionist State machine of ethnic cleansing and war has to be smashed and a democratic, secular and socialist Republic has to be established in the entire historic territory of Palestine as a crucial step in the establishment of a Socialist Federation of all the freely associated peoples of the Middle East!
War in the Middle East and Central Asia was always connected with imperialist strategic considerations for control of the gigantic oil and gas resources, pipelines and distribution network, and together with it, for control of the vast former Soviet space, Russia and China in the process of capitalist restoration. So, the setbacks that imperialism has suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, the emergence of Islamic Iran as an unavoidable power broker in these wars as well as its rise into the position of a regional hegemonic power, the revival of Russia's role and the restoration of its State apparatus under Putin have as a result the mounting of new rivalries and tensions between Russia and America leading some commentators to talk about a "new Cold War".
This superficial characterization ignores the historical nature of the Cold War systemic antagonism between imperialism and the Soviet Union in the particular international relationship of class forces after the end of World War II as well as the depth of the disintegration and fall of Stalinism. Putin's Bonapartism represents not a return to Soviet times and a rebirth of the Soviet Union; it is not a coming back to a distorted form of transition to Socialism but another road to Capitalism and of integration to the world market, following the impasse and collapse of the first stage of capitalist restoration under Yeltsin's "shock therapy" during Russia's default in August 1998. Putin's regime was obliged to partially re-nationalize the strategic sectors of the economy, particularly the energy sector, and revitalize some industries; it benefited enormously from the astronomic rise of the oil prices in the 2000-2006 period to create a Stabilization Fund to pay back the external debt of the country, pay the arrears for pensions and accumulate provisions for future financial shocks. The enormous growth of the State under the supervision of the former KGB, now FSB, is the product of the external pressures of international financial capital and the internal pressures from the disintegration of social economic life. But semi-state-ization of strategic sectors of the economy combined with blows to some oligarchs does not mean a return to the pre-1991 Soviet period, even if Soviet Stalinist forms of rule, including the all powerful secret services, are used for other purposes: to stabilize the economy and make it work on capitalist lines. No significant part of the Stabilization Fund was used to renew either the infrastructure or social services for the people; the main concern was to pay the world bankers and co-operate with the demanding global financial capitalist environment. To combine an economy of extraction of oil and raw materials with a strong link with international finance capital is not a road to Socialism, not even to national sovereignty as Putin pretends. Inequalities between the regions have grown and only the elite, particularly in the Central Region of the Federation around Moscow, has benefited from the economic recovery. Putin's authoritarian regime remains the enemy of the people to be fought and defeated by the masses. But this fight has nothing in common with the goals and conspiracies of the oligarchs or of the pro-capitalist liberals around Kasparov, Yavlinsky et al. The dividing line is not between pro-Putin and anti-Putin camps but the class line for or against capitalist restoration. The salvation of the workers' and popular masses from the devastation of capitalist restoration and from the transformation of the country into a semi-colony, source of raw materials for the West and subservient to international finance capital is in the road of organization and mobilization of the working class, the youth and all the oppressed to defeat the restorationist forces by revolutionary means on the basis of a genuine socialist program and an internationalist perspective. The future of Russia and all the former Soviet bloc countries (including China) will be settled in struggle in the international arena.
It is true that imperialism, particularly US imperialism is warring on the course of Russia, strengthened under Putin and with a re-affirmed role in world politics, in the Middle East, Europe, the Balkans; above all it is warring for the uncertainties of Russia's re-absorption into the world capitalist market. Imperialism is the enemy not of Putin but of the Russian people. This is the real target of the new ballistic missile system that the United States imperialism wants to install in Europe, in the Czech Republic and Poland. The aim is not to prevent an Iranian missile attack on London, New York or Washington but the re-colonization of the former Soviet space and world hegemony. The workers' and anti-war movements in Europe and internationally have to fight back against the installation of the new ballistic missile system, for the dismantlement of NATO and of all its military bases and facilities that threaten humanity once again with the specter of a nuclear holocaust.
Europe and its old, declining Capitalism has become a focus for all the pressures emanating from the world capitalist crisis, from the competition of America, the theater of the renewed conflict between America and post Soviet, restorationist Russia, the direct recipient of the impact from the Middle East explosions - and the arena for a new stage of mass class confrontations. The rejection of the EU Treaty in the referendums in France and Netherlands in 2005 and the mass youth movements in France and Greece in 2006-2007 are the lightning before the storm.
The crisis of the entire EU is clearly shown in France. The bourgeoisie supported the right wing populist Sarkozy to lead to electoral victory a hard line Right, incorporating the electoral base of the far right of Le Pen, with a program of class war against the French working class and youth as well as a rallying call for a class war all over Europe to finish with all the social resistances to neo-liberal policies manifested so far.
The driving force behind Sarkozy's ascent to power and for his anti-working class, anti-youth, anti-immigrant, anti-"May '68" program is the decline and crisis of European Capitalism and particularly of French Capitalism, which faces a rapid deterioration in every aspect and an enormous public debt over-shadowing that of Italy's.
Sarkozy pretends that he is a new Thatcher marking a decisive turning point for a capitalist offensive against all workers' rights in France and Europe. He wants to achieve his goals by precipitating a series of anti-popular counter-reforms in the first 6 months to defeat the social resistances of the masses. He wants to hit many aims with just one shot in his gun. If he fails the result will be disastrous for the bourgeoisie in France and in Europe. The hubris of his arrogant position has provoked reactions even during the electoral battle. When its was announced between the two rounds of the parliamentary elections that an increase of the VAT from 19% to 25% will be implemented, the right wing ruling Party of Sarkozy lost " about 60 seats in Parliament" according to the former French right wing PM Raffarin, preventing a landslide electoral victory. In any case, the ascent of Sarkozy's populist Right to power marks a new phase of escalation of class confrontations not solely in France but on the entire European Continent.
To be a new Thatcher, Sarkozy has to clash and defeat the working class and the youth and overcome the new financial and economic crisis that are building up in the main centers of the world economy. Sarkozy cannot be a new Thatcher. Thatcherism was the starting point of the international neo-liberal offensive of capital, the initial stage of the finance globalization at the end of the 20th century to defeat the trade unions and the strength of the working class, to stop the revolutionary wave world wide that followed the collapse of the post war Bretton Woods settlement. Sarkozy comes after the exhaustion of that period of offensives initiated by Thatcher and Reagan; an exhaustion manifested by a series of financial shocks, failure of the neo-liberal policies to give a solution to the systemic crisis, the generalized instability of today's world capitalist economy as well as by political crisis, mass rebellions and wars.
Sarkozy's strength is filling the vacuum left by the disintegrating center left Socialist Party and even of the far Left. While a social radicalization of the masses and a left turn was expressed in the victory of the "No" in the referendum on the EU Treaty, in the rebellions in the ghettos around Paris and other metropolitan centers, in the movement against the CPE, the entire political system of the country turned to the right: Sarkozy's UMP incorporated the far right racist program and constituency of Le Pen; Segolène Royal's Socialist Party called for class peace, promoted a liberal program indistinguishable form the Right's, and came closer to a section of the Right around Bayrou pretending to be the "Center"; the majority of the far left tail-ended the Socialist Party and Royal and called (including Besancenot's LCR and Laguiller's Lutte Ouvrière) to vote for her in the second round.
The electoral collapse of most of the left, from the Communist Party to Lutte Ouvrière (LO), was not the consequence, as the claim goes, solely of the of its fragmentation, the lack of a unitary Presidential candidate etc., of their adaptation to the Socialist Party as the "lesser evil" and as "line of resistance" to Sarkozy's offensive. LO, particularly, after its previous electoral triumphs in 1995 and even 2002 with more than a million and a half votes, manifested a growing political conservativism, rejecting its own project for a new workers' party as "premature", expelling all those supporting such a project, rejecting any fight for the Fourth International, remaining in a short sighted day to day syndicalist routine adapted to the national environment, tail-ending most of the time the French Communist Party and later Segolène Royal's candidacy in the second round.
The relative success of the independent candidacy of Olivier Besançenot of the LCR, surpassing by far in votes the Communist Party and LO, was achieved because it refused the open capitulation to a strong tendency within the LCR itself to support the perspective for a future new "plural left" Center Left government of the SP supported by the CP and most of the anti-globalization movement. A strong minority of the French Section of the USFI (41% in the last Congress of the LCR in June 2006 when a 59% majority voted for Besancenot's independent candidacy) openly fought against the independent candidate of their own organization, some of them (such as the Cliffites supporters of the IS Tendency and other movementists within the League) fanatically advocating the candidacy of Jose Bové, the agrarian syndicalist, anti-globalization hero for the movementists, who defended the "national sovereignty of French food" and called from the beginning for a vote to Royal in the second round.
Despite his success, Besancenot himself made the same call in the evening of the first round, while his electoral campaign never superseded programmatically the framework of a militant, democratizing reformism.
The so-called "radical left" in France, as previously in Italy or in Brazil is becoming or tends to become a force sustaining bourgeois Center Left governments of class collaboration. In Italy, Bertinotti, previously hailed as the leader not only of Rifondazione Comunista but of the "no-global" "movement of the movements" has joined together with his Party and most of the internal factions, including the supporters of the USFI, the Center Left Prodi government and gave it repetitively a vote of confidence, even when this government renewed the presence or sent imperialist troops in Afghanistan and Lebanon. "Sinistra Critica", which incorporates the USFI Italian Section in Rifondazione Comunista, after voting many times its "confidence" to this imperialist government, only lately took its distance, while still refusing to orientate itself into the building of a new independent workers' Party. Our comrades of the Italian Section of the CRFI, on the contrary, became the target of a vicious witch hunt after their leader Marco Ferrando's courageous anti-imperialist position on Iraq and Palestine, breaking from the Rifondazione Comunista when it joined the bourgeois government, and launching the movement to constitute an independent Communist Workers Party, the Partito Comunista dei Lavoratori (PCL).
The CRFI had warned last year: "There is a right wing drift of the Parties of the so-called "European Anticapitalist Left" merging with the "European left party" that unites the social reformists and re-cycled Stalinist parties in the European Union. These so-called "mass anti-capitalist parties" from the start had a political orientation to unite in a common "intermediary" organization forces of a reformist political origin with those coming from a revolutionary tradition. Now, in the new conditions of class polarization in Europe, there is not much space for an "intermediary" space and this orientation leads into abandonment of a relatively autonomous position, accommodation with reformism and integration to the bourgeois political system, including in some cases such as in Italy, integration to bourgeois governments." (CRFI Executive Council Statement, August 29-September 3, 2006).
The CRFI calls all the class struggle organizations and fighters of the Left opposing capitulation to imperialism, to the Center Left and class collaboration, to discuss the political challenges posed by the changes in the international situation and to work jointly with the CRFI for a European Conference to elaborate our revolutionary tasks today.
While the world's attention finds itself centered on the crises and catastrophes shaking the Middle East and Central Asia to its foundations, in Yanqui Imperialism's own back yard events of revolutionary proportions are unfolding which arouse enormous interest among working class and popular fighters all over the world. Latin America as a whole is passing through a pre-revolutionary period, whose progress could bring about an acceleration in the political crisis and new popular awakening in the United States.
The Latin American revolution is a fundamental historic process in the present world crisis.
The characteristics of a pre-revolutionary situation are clear: the popular rebellion of 2001 in Argentina and a new ascent in the struggles now underway at the present time; various rebellions and two mass insurrections in Bolivia, which have modified the historic relationship between the classes and a regime crisis and crisis of the State; the popular uprising and the forming of the Oaxaca Commune, in Mexico, as well as the mobilizations against election fraud; the continuous regional popular uprisings in Peru, especially in its mining zones; the historic intervention of the Venezuelan masses against the military coup of April, 2002 and against the capitalist lock out of December, 2002 - February, 2003. In last place, but more and more important, is Chile, shaken by the youth rebellion in education, the growing mining strikes and the irrefutable manifestations of a definitive exhaustion of the political regime of the Demo-Christian-Socialist Coalition and Bachelet´s government.
Since Latin America was, during the nineties, the favorite test bed for international finance capital piloted by the IMF, the conclusion, of international scope, emerging from this is that the capitalist crisis gives rise to rebellions, insurrections and revolutionary situations. Almost two decades after the dissolution of the USSR the main force behind the world political crisis is more than ever the irreversible historic decline of the capitalist organization of society.
Under such conditions, Latin America is the stage for a political experience, unique in its history, of a combination of center-left governments, in one case constituted by the historic left, like the PT of Brazil and the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) of Uruguay, and in other cases by that same left integrated with military or indigenist nationalism, as occurs in Bolivia, Venezuela and, partially, in Ecuador, or in the case of Argentina, making an amalgam of part of Peronism with the traditional left. The immense majority of these forces in the government have their origins in the same political womb-the home of the so-called São Paulo Forum for what will soon be twenty years.
The general conclusion of this experience is irrefutable: the democratizing left in the government has capitulated shamefully before Imperialism. Both the PT (Workers Party) of Brazil and the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) of Uruguay reached office through an alliance with the bourgeoisie in the framework of a popular front, which counted on the support of the left worldwide-including especially that extreme left which has a folkloric relationship with Trotskyism. Another even more important conclusion is that popular fronts do not always constitute ‘weak' governments, condemning them to be the midwife of revolutionary crises. On the contrary, in the majority of cases, they end up being an efficient instrument for braking working class struggles, demoralizing the workers and bringing about a popular reflux, especially due to the fact that there does not exist an independent or revolutionary party which combats the popular front. Above and beyond its domestic political function, as occurs in the case of Brazil, Lula´s government has been the principal international tool in the hands of capital with which to combat tendencies towards political radicalization in countries such as Venezuela or Bolivia. On October 17, 2003, a mediating commission formed by Kirchner and Lula intervened before the social and political Bolivian leadership with the aim of having them accept a constitutional succession to the overthrow of Sánchez de Lozada; before that, towards the end of 2002, Lula had piloted the formation of the ‘friends of Venezuela' group of countries, in order to force a mediation between the government and the pro-coup right-wing opposition. The reflux of the Brazilian proletariat, the most important in Latin America, has contained, both geographically and in terms of radicalization, the political awakening of the masses throughout the continent.
In this context, the Venezuelan and Bolivian experiences stand out as a new attempt on the part of Latin American nationalism to conquer national autonomy and turn itself into the exclusive representative of the oppressed masses. What has occurred up till now makes it plain, however, that both the Bolivarian and the Indigenous experiences are to be found historically below what Argentine Peronism and the Bolivian MNR represented in their time, or the Peruvian military government of Velazco Alvarado towards the end of the sixties. The recent nationalizations in the telecommunications and power sectors in Venezuela have compensated the monopolies at market value, which includes installed capital as well as expectations of future earnings. Although the terms of the proposal for a new partnership with the international oil monopolies for the exploitation of the Orinoco basin are not yet known, they are indistinguishable from what has been negotiated in Russia or in Algeria. These are strategic accords for the exploitation of the world market in the conditions created by a huge increase in the prices and therefore in the profits to be obtained from hydrocarbons. In the case of Bolivia the partnership with the oil conglomerates has not been finalized, but in this case the monopolies have reserved the right to register as their own a large part of the reserves and even have the possibility of conditioning contracts to be signed in the future. In Venezuela a huge process of increases in the incomes of the impoverished poor majority of the population is underway, but this does not occur at the cost of capital, or as a result of the modification of the relations between capital and labor, but rather due to the application of enormous amounts of tax revenue. But the recourse to tax revenue has created insurmountable contradictions in the Bolivarian process, made manifest in an ever-increasing rate of inflation, which could disintegrate the social machinery, and in an incredible level of corruption among the Chavista bureaucracy, both civil and military. In the workplace, meanwhile, the dictatorship of capital over labor power continues firmly in place.
Viewed as a whole, the ongoing processes in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador are related to the experiences of the Brazilian and Uruguayan popular fronts in one fundamental aspect: in those countries as well the nationalist style governments have been able to block the revolutionary tendencies of the masses and to attain political stability at the cost of a reflux among the workers. This is what has been occurring over the last two years, in Venezuela since the referendum ratifying Chavez, and in Bolivia since the inauguration of the Constituent Assembly.
As has occurred with all the nationalist movements, ever since they first came into being historically, they make every effort to represent the masses exclusively, which means controlling their organizations. This is what is happening in Venezuela with the official attempt to bring the UNT under state control and with the formation of a single party run from within the state. As the CRFI we declare this to be the fundamental problem facing the exploited working class and we declare ourselves in favor of the total independence of the class of the UNT and in favor of its right to convene free elections in order to designate its leadership bodies. With regard to the single party, we declare it to be a move aimed at regimenting and declare that the socialists should organize their own party. On the basis of a party and press of its own it may be valid to enter the single party in order to develop from within the work of socialist political differentiation. The CMI (Committee for an Marxist International, the Alan Woods-The Militant tendency) and the UIT (to which the Argentine MST belongs), on the other hand, have decided to enter the single party as sustainers of the nationalist process and government, repeating the ill-fated Stalinist experiences dating back to the Chinese Kuomintang of the twenties in the last century. The propaganda published by these tendencies in favor of a ‘permanent revolution' under the leadership of Chávez and the Venezuelan armed forces insults the intelligence.
The CRFI sustains, on the basis of the perspective of new international and financial crises and of the insurmountable contradictions of the present center-left processes, whether nationalist or pro-IMF, the need to prepare for new political convulsions and a radicalization of the popular process, building revolutionary workers parties and working untiringly for the development of working class and peasant organizations and for their political independence. While Imperialism conspires unceasingly in order to reverse the present pre-revolutionary stage, the CRFI warns, in the light of all the historical experience of Latin America, that not one gram of confidence should be placed in the capacity of nationalist governments to protect the peoples from Imperialist conspiracies. Only a firm lack of confidence towards them will unleash the initiatives and the anti-imperialist energies of the masses, chief among them the need to take up arms in order to defeat the permanent conspiracies of Imperialism.
Only a deepening of the Latin American revolution may afford Cuba the possibility of emerging from its social impasse. The entire experience of the Cuban revolution is the sum of failed experiments on the part of its governing bureaucracy, from the extreme zafras (harvests) to the liquidation of the sugar crop; from the mechanical economic subordination to the Russian bureaucracy to the legalization of the dollar. Social differences are on the rise in Cuba, without limit; a minority (among it the bureaucracy) is on the way towards solving its social problems while the majority suffers from enormous want. These social differences form a base of support for restorationist attempts. It is not Kirchner and Lula´s support which will serve as a protective shield against Imperialism or restorationism, or the ALBA, which has no practical concreteness apart from a few accords for the cheap provisioning of oil. Venezuela´s accords with the MERCOSUR have given rise to huge business deals (purchase of the Argentine debt), but have failed as a statement of national autonomy and today is to be found in complete crisis. The defense of Cuba against Imperialism and as an attempt at revolutionary Socialism is linked to the alliance of the workers and peasants of Latin America.
The turmoil in the contemporary world, from Venezuela and Latin America to Palestine and the Middle East, from France and Europe to Central Asia, Russia and China clearly marks a transition from a previous period dominated by the direct effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Stalinism through a new rise of social and national struggles internationally at the end of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st, to a polarization of social forces climaxing into major historical confrontations all over the world.
On the 90th anniversary of the October Socialist Revolution, the first act of the world revolution, as Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks stressed, the world enters a new stage of the world socialist revolution. To lead this new upsurge to victory, to complete the work of revolutionary transformation started by the breaking of the weakest link of world imperialism in Russia in 1917, we need now more than ever a workers' revolutionary International: the Fourth International refounded.
The International Secretariat of the
Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International
Istanbul, 18-25 June 2007