World Perspectives 2016: Chapter IV. The World Political Situation: Class Struggle in a Phase of Counterrevolutionary Offensive

50.          As we have stated above, the decline of the productive forces in the present historic period unavoidably aggravates all fundamental contradictions: (a) the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the working class, (b) the class struggle between the imperialist monopolies and Great Powers and the oppressed peoples, (c) and the rivalry between the imperialism powers. The following factors shape the specific conditions of the current political phase and give it an interim character characterized by the bourgeoisie waging a counterrevolutionary offensive and provoking sharp working class and popular struggles. We do not characterize the present phase as already being counterrevolutionary, since we are currently only at the stage where the bourgeoisie’s offensive is causing significant class confrontations, but have still not reached the point at which the working class and oppressed have suffered a series of strategic defeats.


i) The downturn of the economic cycle and the approaching recession reduces the room for compromises of the bourgeoisie in all countries and drives it to develop even more aggressive means to enforce their interests.


ii) Hence the rivalry between the Great Powers, which has already been aggravated since spring 2014, will intensify even more in the coming period.


iii) The imperialist Great Powers will accelerate their military interventions in the semi-colonial world – first and foremost in North Africa and the Middle East – and collaborate more closely with reactionary dictatorships in order to pacify revolutionary popular uprisings. As a result, terrorist attacks will most likely increase too.


iv) The ruling classes – in the imperialist countries but also in the semi-colonial world – will use the “threat of terror” in order to expand the repressive state apparatus and to abolish democratic rights. Likewise, they will accelerate racism and the national oppression of migrants, and in particular of Muslim minorities.


v) The bourgeoisie all over the world will intensify their attacks on the working class by cutting wages, closing enterprises, laying-off workers, etc.


vi) The working class and the oppressed have suffered a number of defeats and retreats due to the reformist and petty-bourgeois populist leaderships. As a result the Arab Revolution is in retreat (albeit it is not liquidated), the right-wing forces in Latin America are in the offensive trying to topple various popular-front and Castro-Chavista governments, and the ruling class and racist forces are on the offensive in Europe too. Therefore, these three regions are currently the focus of the world situation and it will be of crucial importance if the working class there succeeds in defeating the attack of the ruling class.


vii) However, there are also several other important countries which are experiencing crosscurrents and which, if successful, could turn around the international situation. We name only the four most important and most obvious: (a) The lingering Third Intifada in Palestine; (b) the militant and undefeated working class and youth in South Africa; (c) the working class and youth in Spain and Portugal which is moving to the left; (d) the working class in China which, if it were to massively rise up in an economic class struggle on the backdrop of the slowing down of the Chinese economy could be transformed into political struggles against the Stalinist-Capitalist dictatorship and hence introduce a revolutionary crisis.


51.          All in all, it is important to bear in mind the uneven and combined character of the international development of the class struggle. While the Arab World, Latin America and Europe face counterrevolutionary offensives in the current period due to the relative political intensity of their respective class struggles, Asia and Africa are at a different stage of development. In the latter two continents the class struggle has, in most cases, taken a more purely economic character. However, this can definitely change given the looming Great Recession to come. Especially the developments in Asia and Africa are difficult to predict as the workers and oppressed of these areas might play a key role for global class struggle in the near future. It is not out of the question that the first phase of a new recession will be accompanied by spontaneous mass uprisings in Asia and Africa, as these continents suffer in particular when the price of food and fuel increases rapidly. However, this time around, such uprisings may also have deeper political consequences, i.e., massive rebellions and revolutions against the state, as well as military interventions by the imperialist forces to smash mass resistance more quickly, with the aim of avoiding developments similar to those we have seen in the Arab World.


52.          Before turning in the following sections to our more concrete analyses of these contradictory political developments, we should begin with some preliminary remarks. First, what can we anticipate will happen if the working class and the oppressed do not succeed in reversing the retreat of the Arab Revolution, and in defeating the counter-revolutionary offensive in Latin America and Europe? Similarly, what if, at the same time, the Chinese, Indian, and other Asian proletariats will not transform their economic struggles into political offensives? Such a series of serious defeats could open a counterrevolutionary phase. However, it would be extremely shortsighted to ignore the historical background of such a possible phase. For example, we experienced a counter-revolutionary phase in the first half of the 1990s after the collapse of the degenerated workers states in the years 1989-92 and the US victory against Iraq in March 1991. A counter-revolutionary phase in the present historic period of capitalist decay, wars, revolutions and counterrevolutions, i.e., in an extraordinarily unstable and revolutionary historic period, would be very different. Given the exacerbating rivalry between the imperialist powers (hardly in existence in the 1990s, due to the absolute dominance of the US after the fall of the Soviet Union); given the permanent destabilization of any political and social equilibrium due to the crisis-ridden nature of the capitalist economy; and given the discrediting of the political system, together all these factors make it most likely that such a counter-revolutionary phase would be much shorter than that of the 1990s. In any case, it would be a phase incubating future political crises and explosions. Hence, it would be a phase in which revolutionaries will have to combine educating and organizing the vanguard workers and youth on the basis of the lessons of the previous defeats, with a deepening and consolidation of their roots among militant workers and oppressed through exemplary mass work.


53.          This brings us to the next point. We have repeatedly emphasized that a correct understanding of the present historic period and its revolutionary character is essential in order to find the correct orientation in such tumultuous and explosive times. Otherwise, the evolving of the world situation only leads one to regular being surprised and disoriented, as so often happens among the reformists and centrists in such periods. It is therefore crucial for revolutionary workers and youth to be aware that the present historic period has a long-term character. In fact we are currently only in its early phases. Due to the nature of the capitalist decay, we may witness in this period a number of revolutions à la Russia 1905–07, i.e., working class and popular uprisings which ultimately fail due to the absence of a strong revolutionary party, but whose failure may serve as the basis for the proletarian vanguard to learn from its experience and found such a party. Similarly, revolutionaries must be prepared for world events of huge catastrophic proportions which are realistic possibilities in the present period:


* Great Recessions of qualitatively more catastrophic proportions than the 2008 recession;


* Major social and ecological disasters or wars in the South resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people and forcing whole populations to flee;


* Millions of refugees arriving in Europe and the creation of a far more militarized Fortress Europe;


* An intensification of imperialist wars in the South with disastrous consequences for the oppressed people, the undermining or even abolishing of (bourgeois) democracy and Bonapartist forms of rule around the world, which might spawn a wave of huge terrorist attacks with thousands of dead (including within the imperialist metropolises);


* Massive political crises between the Great Powers resulting in a massive rupture of world trade and the creation of regional blocs with protectionist walls;


* Armed conflicts or wars between the major capitalist countries and, sooner or later, even between the Great powers, resulting in a Third World War.


* Bloody Counterrevolutions (like Indonesia in 1965 or in Chile 1973) in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe or Latin America in order to smash looming revolutions.


The only way to avoid such developments is for the working class, allied with the poor peasants and the urban poor, to succeed in overthrowing the capitalist system and building a world-wide federation of workers’ and peasant republics. Since this is impossible without the timely creation of a revolutionary world party, the formation of such a force – and as the first step of an international pre-party organization – is the most important and urgent task for all internationalist Marxists. We therefore refer reader once more to the RCIT’s Open Letter for Revolutionary Unity in which we have outlined the programmatic response which we consider indispensable for revolutionaries, in order to help the workers’ vanguard find the correct orientation in as turbulent and explosive time as this. [1]


[1] RCIT: An Open Letter to All Revolutionary Organizations and Activists. At the Outset of a New Political Phase: For the Unity of Revolutionaries in the Struggle against Advancing Counterrevolution! 29.12.2015, in: Revolutionary Communism#45,