The World Situation and the Tasks of the Bolshevik-Communists (March 2013)

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Theses of the International Executive Committee of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, March 2013

 

 

 

Note by the Editor: This document has been published in issue number 8 of the RCIT's English-language journal Revolutionary Communism. For technical reasons we can reproduce here only the tables but not the graphs which were used in the Appendix of the document. The document can be downloaded as a pdf file above.

 

 

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The goal of the following theses is to summarize the main developments, contradictions and conclusions of the present world situation as short as possible.

 

The Present Phase of the World Historic Revolutionary Period which opened in 2008

 

1.            The present world situation can only be understood if it is seen in the context of the world historic period which opened in 2008. As we have repeatedly explained this long-term period bears a revolutionary character: the productive forces are in decline, the main contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and the oppressed, between the imperialist monopolies and states and the semi-colonial people and between the imperialist robbers themselves – all these contradictions are intensifying to such a degree that they repeatedly throw the equilibrium out of balance. The inner contradictions of capitalism are posed in such a sharp way that they unavoidably provoke pre-revolutionary and revolutionary situations, as well as – if these situations are not exploited to the advantage of the working class – counter-revolutionary developments. In other words, the aggravation of the class contradictions will pose the question of power – which class rules in the society – more often than in the past periods. The present period is therefore one in which the destruction of capitalism and the historical leap forward towards socialism is on the agenda. (“Actuality of the Revolution”)

2.            The first phase of the revolutionary period in 2008-2010 was characterized by a certain state of shock. The crisis surprised and hit the bourgeoisie and, of course, the working class and the popular masses much more. The second phase – starting in late 2010 / early 2011 – was characterized by a massive upswing of the class struggle. Since then we have seen the beginning of the Arab Revolution, the Occupy movement, the series of general strikes in Greece and other Southern European countries, the August Uprising as well as one-day mass strikes and a university student movement in Britain, the Hunger Uprising in Argentina, the mass student movement in Chile and Quebec, the strengthening of the anti-imperialist struggle in Afghanistan, the victorious resistance of the Palestinian people in Gaza against Israel, etc. At the same time we have seen an aggravation of imperialist aggressiveness including the looming clash between Japanese and Chinese imperialism around the Senkaku/Diaoyu-islands or the French invasion in Mali, Isreal against Gaza, etc.

3.            However there has been a certain change in the phase since 2011. In the first stage – of the Arab Revolution, the general strikes, the occupation movement etc. – the masses had massive hopes and illusions in their existing or new leaderships. One could say that the revolution was in its “innocent phase”. This was reflected in the electoral victories of bourgeois forces with a reputation of having opposed the dictatorships of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi, etc.; the sensational rise of the left-reformist SYRIZA in Greece from 4.5% to 27% in a few months time, the naïve, spontaneous petty-bourgeois leaderships of the Indignados/Occupy movement, etc.

4.            This has changed to a certain degree; the “innocent phase” is over. The elected leaderships in Tunesia (Ennahda), in Egypt (Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood) are massively challenged by mass protests calling for a “second revolution”. The official leadership of the rebel movement in the Syrian Revolution around the FSA and the Syrian National Coalition is also increasingly challenged by the radical Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra as well as local committees. Naturally this process of disillusionment with the official leaderships is uneven. For example it is probably less true for SYRIZA since it remained in opposition to the ND-PASOK-DIMAR government and its brutal austerity attacks.

5.            Nevertheless we can say that in general the crisis of leadership has deepened. It opens the road both for more radical, revolutionary forces as well as for reactionary forces. Therefore the most important challenge for the working class is to confront this crisis of leadership and to build new revolutionary workers parties nationally and world-wide – the revolutionary Fifth Workers International. The task of the Bolshevik-Communists and hence of the RCIT is to rally both new radicalized fighters from the working class and the oppressed as well as activists from existing working class and oppressed organizations who are prepared to break with reformism, petty-bourgeois populism or centrism. We aim to organize the vanguard of the vanguard in order to jointly struggle for the building of such working class parties around a consistent revolutionary program and its application to the concrete issues of the class struggle. 

 

Capitalist Word Economy: Vacillating between Stagnation and another Deep Recession

 

6.            As we have already predicted in autumn 2009 the capitalist world economy has entered a long-term period of stagnation. The business cycle develops discontinuously and differently. There has been no definite upswing of the cycle. Rather, the emergence from the Great Recession in 2008/09 takes “inevitably longer and assumes a more agonizing character” – to speak in words of the Marxist economist Evgenij Preobrazhensky when he described the character of the cycle in the period of capitalism’s decline. [1] The capitalists have not solved a single problem of their system’s crisis. They averted a total breakdown of the system in 2008/09 by pumping extraordinary amounts of money into the economy. These debts however now weigh heavily on the shoulders of capital and will depress any serious growth for many years.

7.            Let us summarize the facts which can be viewed more in detail in the appendix. Capital accumulation – expressed in the growth rate of Gross Fixed Capital Formation – was weak in the last years given the dramatic slump in 2008/09. While there has been some growth in the USA, there was even another year of de-accumulation in the EU-15 states in 2012. (See Table 1). Capital goods orders – which show the dynamic in the Department I (production means) – are growing less and less or even decline despite the fact that we are supposed to be in the upswing phase of the business cycle. (See Graph 1)

8.            As a result industrial production is growing weakly (except in China) as Graph 2 demonstrates. In the USA industrial production level in January 2013 was still 1.4% below the pre-crisis level of 2007. [2] Another expression of this over-accumulation is the fact that even in the so-called upswing phase a huge part of the production apparatus is unused. Capacity Utilization both of US and Euro Area Industry is around 78% which is ways below the level in the upswing phases of the cycles in the past decades.

9.            While the production of capitalist value remains stagnant, the burden of debt has increased dramatically. The debt level of the old imperialist states exploded between 2007 and 2012 by 1/3 up to ½. The debt level of the USA rose from 67.5% of the GDP to 109.9%, Japan’s from 183.0% to 240.6% and the EU-15’s from 60.7% to 89.9%. (See Table 2).

10.          While the old imperialist states – which dominate the world economy – are trapped in full stagnation, China and the semi-colonial countries see a more dynamic growth of capital accumulation. But the latter’s growth cannot outdo the world economy’s stagnation given the fact that the global capitalism is dominated by the imperialist monopolies which are mainly located in North America, Japan and Western Europe.

11.          The fundamental reason for such a development of the cycle is the tendency of the profit rate to fall and the associated structural over-accumulation of capital – as we have shown in our new book The Great Robbery of the South. [3] Despite all their attacks on the working class and the oppressed since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008, the global corporate profitability has still not even reached the pre-crisis level. Taking JP Morgan’s calculation of the worldwide profitability – Earnings Per Share (EPS) which is not identical with a Marxist calculation of the profit rate but only an approximation – the socialist economist Michael Roberts shows that profitability “has fallen from near 9% before the Great Recession down to under 4% in the trough of 2009 before recovering to 8% in 2011. But in 2012, it has now declined again to 7%.[4]

12.          What we see is a growing gap between the accumulation of wealth and the accumulation of capital – similar to a tendency which the Marxist economist Eugen Varga observed in the early 1920s. [5] Monopoly capital enriches itself by increasing the rate of exploitation of the working class as well as the super-exploitation of the semi-colonial world. They also raise their wealth by fictitious financial accumulation. However a decreasing proportion of the monopoly capitalists’ wealth is reinvested into productive accumulation.

13.          The imperialist monopoly capitalists try to avert a breakdown of their system by attacking the working class and the oppressed people and by employing a financial Keynesianism (which means printing and pumping billions of US-Dollar into the economy in order to revitalize demand and thus growth). This shall be financed by squeezing a growing extra-surplus out of the working class as well as the South. This however did not, does not and can not avert the continuation of the crisis and sooner or later another, probably even worse, Great Recession will erupt.

14.          For all these reason the capitalist world economy can not escape stagnation and will vacillate in the next 1-2 years between continuous stagnation and another deep recession. These conditions will force the capitalist class all over the world to continuously attack the working class and the oppressed people in the semi-colonial world.

 

Increasing Aggressiveness of the Imperialist Great Powers

 

15.          US and EU imperialism are about to suffer a defeat in Afghanistan by the hands of the petty-bourgeois Taliban-led popular resistance. This however will not mean the end of the Great Powers drive to increase their domination of the semi-colonial world. Quite the opposite, we can expect an increase of imperialist aggressiveness. They are forced to do this in order to counteract their decline. As a result we will see a widening of imperialist threats and wars on a global scale.

16.          This became obvious with the invasion of Mali by French imperialism. US imperialism is also building up a military base for their murderous drones in Niger. These recent events indicate two important developments:

i)             Conquering and controlling Western Africa has become a high priority for the imperialist powers because of its wealth of raw materials.

ii)            European imperialism is now willing to invade a semi-colonial country alone and not – as it did until now – under the leadership of the USA.

17.          Similarly an escalation of the threats by the old imperialist powers against North Korea is possible. This is also because threatening North Korea could be an instrument to bully emerging imperialist China. In addition there is also the remaining threat of an imperialist attack by the USA and/or by Israel against Iran as well as of another Zionist war against the Palestinian people.

18.          In such conflicts Bolshevik-Communists take a clear and unambiguous stand: they are for the defeat of the imperialist powers and the defense of the (semi-)colonial people in Mali, Afghanistan, Palestine or Iran and (the degenerated workers state) North-Korea. At the same time they warn against any illusions in the (petty-)bourgeois or Stalinist leaderships and call the workers and peasants to organize themselves independently. They have to defend their country even under the reactionary leadership of Islamism or Stalinism. But they do so with methods to advance the independent organization of the proletariat to prepare them for the future revolution against these leaderships and for the creation of their own regime of working class power. At the same time the RCIT calls the workers in the imperialist aggressor countries to wage all forms of class struggle resistance – demonstrations, strikes, sabotage etc. – in order to stop these reactionary colonial adventures and turn them into a defeat for the imperialist rulers. We unreservedly denounce the social-imperialist left-reformists (like the ex-Stalinist PCF in France – a leading party of the ELP) who openly support the imperialist wars in Mali. Equally we condemn the social-pacifist centrists like the French NPA, the CWI, the SWP/IST, the IMT or the LFI who all fail to combine their platonic denunciation of the war with taking the side of and supporting the resistance of the oppressed people against the imperialist invaders.

19.          It is likely that the Great Power rivalry in East Asia will continue and could even escalate to limited military confrontations in the next years. Such conflicts between China and Japan and/or the USA over the control of the South China (or East) Sea are nearly unavoidable because of the increasing rivalry between these powers and the importance of the sea both as a trade route and as an area of important resources. As the RCIT already stated in the past, the workers should take no side in such conflicts and neither support US, Japanese or Chinese imperialism. They should follow the policy of Lenin and Liebknecht summarized in the slogans “The main enemy is at home!” and “Turn the imperialist war into a civil war!”.

 

The Revolution in Northern Africa and the Middle East

 

20.          The first phase of the Arab Revolution ended with limited democratic victories like the overthrow of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Saleh and Gaddafi. In addition the Syrian workers and peasants are close to defeating the reactionary Assad dictatorship. Until now, the workers and peasants have succeeded in a number of countries to enlarge their democratic rights. Furthermore they built militant trade unions and other mass organizations (like the independent trade unions in Egypt or the left wing in the Tunisian UGTT). In Libya they partly succeeded in keeping their armed militias and in Syria there are many local mass committees and militias emerging.

21.          However there are various threats to the revolution. The working class and the popular masses are still living in poverty, the capitalist class is still ruling, its state apparatus is still intact, the countries are still dominated by imperialism and the ruling class is trying to counter-strike and attack the working class. As a result the ruling Ennahda government tries to suppress the growing working class uprising by mobilizing Islamist thugs and by killing the left-wing politician Belaid. The Mursi regime mobilizes their forces against the growing mass protests and obviously the Assad dictatorship unleashes its murderous Shabiha gangs against the masses.

22.          For obvious historic and geostrategic reasons, Palestine remains a most central issue of the Arab Revolution. Already in November 2012 we could see the strength of the Palestinian Resistance when it heroically defended the Gaza strip successfully against the Zionist army. Given the background of this political and military victory and strengthened by the wave of the Arab Revolution, it is possible that the Palestinian liberation struggle could culminate into a new Intifada. 

23.          All this demonstrates the unfinished character of the Arab Revolution. To be more precise, we are in the stage of an unfinished democratic revolution. As Trotsky elaborated in his theory of the Permanent Revolution, the democratic revolution – the tasks of eradicating imperialist domination, national liberation, equal rights for women and youth, secular republic, abolition of the bonapartist state apparatus, etc. – can only be finished in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In other words, the democratic revolution must be combined with the tasks of the socialist revolution – the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the smashing of the capitalist state apparatus – and the creation of a workers government, based on the poor peasants and the urban poor who are organized in workers and popular councils and militias. 

24.          The main obstacle for this is the terrible crisis of leadership of the working class. The workers and oppressed are often led by Islamist forces, by pro-Western liberals like al-Baradei or the Syrian National Coalition or by petty-bourgeois leftists like the left-Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi in Egypt or the Hoxhaist PCOT in Tunesia. They all, in one way or another, shackle the working class to sectors of the bourgeoisie instead of driving forward the formation of independent councils and militias in order to prepare the masses for an armed insurrection to take power in their own hands.

 

Asia: The Proletarian Giant is Awakening

 

25.          As we have stated repeatedly both the capitalist value production as well as the proletariat move to the South and this means in particular to Asia. It is therefore not surprising that we see an upswing of the class struggle in this region. In particular India has seen three major country-wide one-day and two-day general strikes in the last two and a half years with the participation of about 100 million workers each (September 2010, February 2012, and February 2013). This demonstrates the growing class consciousness and organizational strength of the Indian proletariat. In addition we saw a wave of militant demonstrations to protest the rape and murder of the 23-year-old woman Jyoti Singh Pandey as well as the patriarchal violence against women in general. The mass protests following this rape showed the possibility and urgency of building a revolutionary women’s movement. There is also a continuing peasant struggle under the leadership of the Naxalite Maoists as well as national liberations struggle’s in the North (Kashmir!) and North-East of the country. And we saw also a general strike of about 50 million small shop-owners against the looming market entry and dominance of foreign supermarket-chains such as Walmart. The dominance of the trade unions by the CPI and CPM bureaucracy and the Maoist leadership amongst the peasants remains the central obstacle for a revolutionary class struggle perspective independent of the bourgeoisie.

26.          In Pakistan the workers movement is weaker but there too have been several struggles. In addition there have been important progressive movements against the sectarian killings of the Hazara community, the struggle of the young doctors, the national liberation movement in Balochistan and the anti-imperialist resistance against the murderous drone attacks of US imperialism. Here too the struggle of the workers and oppressed is impeded by the leaderships which are either close to the bourgeois PPP, the liberal Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of Imran Khan, the Islamists or the left-reformist AWP.

27.          In Nepal the Maoist UCPN(M) split in 2012 as a result of the total capitulation of Prachanda and his allies to the bourgeoisie. However the new CPN(M), while uniting thousands of honest fighters from the working class and the rural poor, has no new perspective instead of acting as parliamentary opposition, launching limited street actions to create pressure on the government or even to retreat from the cities towards a renewal of the rural guerilla struggle.

28.          The working class movement and the Tamil national liberation movement in Sri Lanka still suffer from the historic defeat in 2009 when the Bonapartist regime of Rajapaksa slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamils and annihilated most of the LTTE cadre. Nevertheless Rajapaksa’s shameless drive to increase his Bonapartist powers evermore combined with the impoverishment of the masses will provoke mass protests both amongst the Tamil as well as the Sinhala workers and poor.

29.          In Indonesia there has been a massive upswing of workers strikes and demonstrations in the last period. In October 2012, the country saw the first general strike in 50 years in which more than 2 million workers, closing 1000 factories, participated. The government had to agree to raise the minimum wage by 44% to about $200. But the protests are continuing with the demand that the government provides better health care and pensions.

30.          The Asian proletariat is young, growing and increasingly militant. In opposite to Europe or North America it often faces an openly repressive ruling class. A program for the renewal of the trade unions – driving out the bureaucracy, independence from the state, rank & file movement, etc. – respectively the building of new independent trade unions are of vital importance. While there are two reformist bourgeois workers parties in India, the working class in Asia is mostly without any formal political workers party. The struggle for a new Workers Party based on a revolutionary program is therefore of decisive importance. Bolshevik-Communists combine the call for such a party with the struggle for a program of Permanent Revolution which understands the huge importance of the democratic questions and integrates them in the program for the path of revolutionary workers power.

 

Chinese imperialism continues to gain strength

 

31.          As we showed in our book The Great Robbery of the South, China is an emerging imperialist Great Power. [6] It has become a leading industrial producer and trading nation. Its monopoly capital increasingly plays a central role in the world economy: Already China is the Number 2 or Number 3 (depending on different methods of calculation) county of origin of the worlds’ biggest capitalist corporations as well as amongst the globally richest capitalists. It has become a leading foreign investor in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Additionally China already has the second biggest military budget. It is also the fifth biggest nuclear power and the sixth-biggest arms-exporting country.

32.          China’s ruling class seems to have been able to resolve the recent faction struggle between a more state-capitalist orientated group around the former mayor of Chongqing official Bo Xilai and a more private capital orientated group around the Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao leadership. The conflict ended in favor of the latter as the selection of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang as President and Premier, respectively, demonstrates.

33.          The relative strength of China’s ruling class rests mainly on the super-exploitation and oppression of the massively growing proletariat. Based on this, the capitalists – both Chinese and foreign – can extract an enormous surplus value for capital accumulation. While foreign imperialist monopolies profited from this super-exploitation of the working class, it was and is the Chinese bourgeoisie who is the main beneficiary.

34.          It is therefore not surprising that mass protests both of the workers and of the rural people have substantially risen in the past years in China. Between 2006 and 2010 the number of so-called mass incidents tripled from 60.000 to 180.000. It culminated in the local mass Uprising in Wukan in late 2011. In addition to this the oppressed nations in East-Turkestan and Tibet continue to show resistance against the Han-dominated ruling class. The Stalinist-Capitalist regime continues to keep power. But sooner or later the massive strengthening of the proletariat, the increasing super-exploitation and the continuing open suppression by the regime will lead to revolutionary explosions. The struggle for class struggle-orientated and democratic trade unions which are independent of the Stalinist-capitalist regime as well as of the US social-imperialist AFL-CIO will be of particular importance.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa: The Working Class and Oppressed Fight Back

 

35.          The young proletariat of this second biggest continent is of increasing importance for the international class struggle. This has been shown not only by the leading role of the workers and poor in Northern Africa when they initiated the Arab Revolution in early 2011. This has also become visible in the extraordinary heroic and militant strike of the South African miners in Marikana which scored a victory despite the brutal suppression by the murderous police. This strike also showed once more the true nature of the ANC Popular Front government and in particular the Stalinist CPSA. The Stalinists participate in the capitalist ANC government and play a leading role in the COSATU and NUM trade union which violently opposed the miner’s strike. The independent organization of the working class in action committees, the struggle to break the unions from the popular front and the formation of an independent Workers Party based on a revolutionary program are indispensable parts of the revolutionary program in South Africa.

36.          In Zimbabwe the reactionary Mugabe regime tries to stick to power by integrating the popular-frontist party MDC and handing over the post of Prime Minister to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. This shows once more the reactionary nature both of the fake-“anti-imperialist” Mugabe regime (befriended by the Bolivarian “socialists” in Latin America) as well as of the MDC. Currently the ruling ZANU-PF and its minority partner MDC are mobilizing support for a new Constitution. This constitution, indeed the whole process of its creation, is a farce. Breaking the trade unions away from any support of bourgeois parties like the ZANU-PF or the MDC and winning them – against the resistance of the corrupt labor bureaucracy – for the foundation of an independent Workers Party based on a revolutionary program is a key question of revolutionaries in Zimbabwe.

37.          Control over Somalia is an important issue for the imperialist powers given the geo-strategic position of the country on the Eastern corner of the African continent. US imperialism already tried to occupy the country in the early 1990's but suffered a humiliating defeat by Somali rebels which was made into a film in “Black Hawk Down”. Currently the imperialist powers have, on one hand sent a number of navy ships to the Somali coast, while on the other hand they ordered the imperialist puppet regime in Ethiopia and other states in the region to send their troops (called AMISOM) into Somalia in order to drive out the Islamist-led rebels and to stabilize Somalia’s puppet-regime, the TFG. Their goal is to transform the country in a subjugated imperialist (semi-)colony. Revolutionaries call for the defeat of the imperialist forces and the local allies of the TFG and AMISOM and for the military victory of the rebels (mostly Islamist-led). At the same time they support all efforts to organize the working class, peasantry and the poor independently of the all bourgeois and reactionary forces (including the Islamist Al Shabaab rebels) to organize them for the struggle for socialism.

 

Class Struggle in Latin America and the Obstacle of Bolivarism

 

38.          Latin America has been a continent where in the past decade the ideas of socialism and anti-imperialism gained huge popularity. Reformist (PT in Brazil) or left-bourgeois populist forces (Chavez, Correa, and Morales) won repeated elections and continue – via their bureaucratic control of the trade unions and mass organizations – to hold a (mostly passive) popular support. Challenges to these forces from the centrist left have remained weak (PSTU and PSOL in Brazil) or discredited themselves by their open collaboration with the bourgeoisie (Chirino/UIT in Venezuela). At the same time there are important developments which show the possibility for an upswing of class struggle like the general strike (led by the CGT-Moyano bureaucracy) and the Hunger Uprising in late 2012 in Argentina or the strong electoral results of revolutionary opposition lists amongst the miners in Huanuni in Bolivia. These developments show, among other things, the urgency for revolutionaries to fight for a strategy for the proletariat to rally the peasantry as well as the urban and rural poor in order to fight against the influence of reformist populism in the name of Bolivarism.

39.          Given the weakening of US imperialism and the relative economic dynamic of the continent, the Latin American semi-colonial bourgeoisie were able, to a certain degree, to strengthen their position in the past decade. It could allow for certain concessions as part of the populist programs of the bourgeois Bolivarians Chavez (or now Maduro), Correa, or Morales. But sooner or later imperialism will attempt to increase its control over the continent and the Latin American bourgeoisie will also try to attack and drive back any limited social programs. Despite Bolivarism’s bourgeois policy and its adaption to imperialism, this can lead to confrontations between imperialism and major sectors of the domestic bourgeoisie on one hand and left-bourgeois populist governments on the other hand. Why? Because the latter are under certain pressures from the popular masses. We have seen such confrontations already in the last years like the coup d’état in Honduras against Manuel Zelaya in 2009 or against Fernando Lugo in Paraguay in 2012. Another danger is imperialist war-mongering as we have seen by Britain as it sends a nuclear submarine to the Malvinas Islands to deter Argentina. Britain also organized a charade referendum amongst its colonial settlers on the Malvinas in order to strengthen the legitimacy of its hold on the islands. The real goal of British imperialism is to keep the Malvinas as an outpost in front of Latin America and in order to get access to the new found oil fields in front of the Argentine coast. In such situations Bolshevik-Communists call for mass struggles and a united front against imperialism and the local pro-imperialist forces to defeat them. At the same time they stress that the working class must not trust the bourgeois Bolivarian forces and must organize independently of them in order to take power in their own hands. Indeed the strategic task in Latin America is the formation of a revolutionary workers movement which is independent of the Bolivarians or any other sector of the bourgeoisie and which is based on independent working class and popular committees and militias.

 

Europe: Capitalists Wave of Attacks against the Working Class, Imperialist Drive to Super-State and rising Class Struggle

 

40.          The imperialist European Union is marked by the economic and political effects of the capitalist crisis. The economic effects hit the weaker capitalist countries hardest. As a result the strongest monopolies and Great Powers try to subordinate the weaker capitalist countries in Europe. At the same time these Great Powers – in particular Germany, France and Britain – increase their rivalry against each other. However the imperialist bourgeoisie is faced with the alternative to go down divided or to increase the exploitation of the workers and the semi-colonies by going forward towards a more pan-European imperialist super-state. Of course the latter can only be formed and exist under the leadership of Germany in alliance with France. This is why despite all the discussions over the end of the Euro, etc. the European governments continued to create various structures to Europeanize the fiscal, financial and economic policy in the past years. The need for a pan-European organization of the class struggle, of the revolutionary struggle to smash the European Union in order to replace it with the United Socialist States of Europe increase in importance evermore.

41.          There is a certain unevenness in the class struggle development in Europe. While in 2009/10 there were mass movements of the workers and youth both in Western as well as in Southern Europe, this has changed in the last years. At present Greece, Spain and now Bulgaria are clearly at the forefront of the mass resistance against the capitalist crisis. Greece has already seen 20 general strikes since 2010. In semi-colonial Greece the imperialist plundering of the country takes such proportions that the government might soon not be in a position to pay the salaries and pensions. The country might face a social explosion and elements of civil war. Already the government is losing trust in the reliability of its armed forces and starts to employ the notorious Blackwater mercenaries to prepare for a working class uprising. Clearly, Greece remains in a pre-revolutionary phase which could transform into a revolutionary situation.

42.          Spain, an imperialist country albeit not of the first order, is also increasingly shaken by the capitalist crisis and the banks’ desire to plunder the country. As a result there are an increasing number of class struggles – country-wide one-day general strikes, the heroic march of the miners of Asturias, the spontaneous mass demonstrations, the indignados movement etc. In addition there are major mass mobilizations in Catalonia and the Basque Country against national discrimination by the Spanish oppressor state. There are strong indications that the majority of the Basque and the Catalan people want to leave the Spanish State and form their own republics. When the majority of a nation wants to have its own state, the Bolshevik-Communists support their demand and combine it with the perspective of working class power. Under such circumstances the RCIT says “For an independent Workers Republic of Catalonia and of the Basque Country!” In semi-colonial countries like Greece and Bulgaria Bolshevik-Communists fight for the exit from the EU and combine this with the perspective of working class power.

43.          In addition to these issues one should also take into account the increasing powers of the repressive state apparatus, the growing importance of migrants and the national oppression of them, etc. In the face of these developments it becomes obvious that the democratic questions and the program of Permanent Revolution are of vital importance not only for the semi-colonial countries but also for the imperialist countries.

44.          The high electricity prices and the increasing impoverishment have led the working class in Bulgaria in February 2013 to launch mass protests against the conservative government of Boiko Borissov as well as against the foreign multinationals. The repeated street confrontations and the overthrow of the government have opened a pre-revolutionary situation. Such a development could spread to other Eastern European countries too.

45.          The central problem remains that the workers movement remains under the control of the labor bureaucracy. The mass protests remain mostly under the leadership of the bureaucrats. There are various attempts to build local committees in Greece and other countries. There are even steps towards workers control or workers self-management (like Vio.Me in Greece). However such steps of rank and file organization are still few and locally isolated. Building and spreading action councils in enterprises, neighborhoods and schools as well as armed self-defense units are a central part of the revolutionary strategy in those countries. This must be connected with a merciless criticism but tactically flexible united front tactics towards the existing bureaucratic leaderships of the workers movement. Here one also has to differentiate between the old and dumb bureaucracy like PASOK in Greece or the PSOE in Spain on one hand and the verbally more radical, left-reformist parties like SYRIZA (who rallied many workers electorally behind it) and the KKE in Greece or the Izquerda Unida in Spain. The latter can better delude the vanguard workers, which is why these parties are more dangerous and have to be fought consistently by revolutionaries (which includes the united front tactics and critical support at elections.)

 

Russia: Emerging Imperialist Power with a Bonapartist Regime

 

46.          Russia emerged as an imperialist power around the beginning of the 2000s. While it is weaker than for example the USA or even China, it is certainly a serious rival for other Great Powers, particularly in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East (Syria!). Not dissimilar to the old Tsarist Russia, it brutally oppresses the national minorities in the Caucasus and tries to subordinate countries like the Ukraine or the Central Asian republics. It is also the home of big monopoly capitals like Gazprom, Rosneft or RUSAL who are global leading corporations in their fields (oil, gas, aluminum). Given its character as an emerging imperialist power – coming from a former Stalinist state – their rhythm of capital accumulation is not identical with the old imperialist powers. While it suffered a sharp recession in 2009, there was also a stronger upswing of industrial production and gross fixed capital formation since then. This whole development delivered the material basis for the creation and relative stability of the Bonapartist regime of Putin since it came into existence in 1999.

47.          The combination of the historic defeats for the working class with the restoration of capitalism in 1991/92 as well as the massive oppression by the Putin regime has left the working class in Russia in a weak position. However since the end of 2011 there has been a new upsurge of mass protests against the regime. These protests are dominated by people from the middle class and led by mostly bourgeois politicians like Alexei Navalny or Boris Nemtsov albeit there are also more radical, semi-Stalinist elements like Sergei Udaltsov’s AKM (“Vanguard of Red Youth”). Surely they also have the sympathy of some oligarchs who are dissatisfied with Putin as well as by Western imperialist powers. However, these protests are presently the only mass movement which opposes the increasingly authoritarian regime and the suppression of democratic rights. If the regime succeeds in clamping them down it will strengthen the rule of the “new tsar” Putin as it will weaken the working class and its democratic rights to organize and fight. Revolutionaries in Russia therefore should critically support these mass protests and participate in it as an independent, revolutionary force. They should however sharply denounce their leadership and fight for an independent strategy which is orientated towards the working class and which focuses on organizing workers and popular action committees in the enterprises, neighborhoods and schools. Revolutionaries fight for a program of socialist revolution. Such a program includes also a consistent anti-imperialist stand in solidarity with the right of national self-determination of the Caucasian people and their desire for national liberation. The RCIT supports the oppressed people’s resistance against the Russian occupiers.

 

Class Contradictions in the heart of the Imperialist Beast: Japan and North America

 

48.          The capitalist crisis has led to a massive impoverishment of the US working class but it also dramatically affected sectors of the middle class (housing crisis!). However, the working class’ response was small because of the workers movements’ dominance by the extremely corrupt labor bureaucracy. The US working class remains in a difficult situation. The trade union membership is continuously declining – it reached a new low in 2012 with 11.3%. At the same time we saw the dynamic Occupy movement which inspired many workers. And we also saw militant struggles like the longshoremen led by the ILWU Union. While there was a heroic Latino migrant workers movement in 2006 and afterwards, the labor bureaucracy kept them outside of the unions. At the same time the extreme right-wing forces – the so-called Tea Party – became an important reactionary grass roots movement. Faced with these maniacs and the dumb Republican presidential candidate Romney, many workers didn’t vote at all or preferred Obama as “the lesser evil”. Renewing the trade unions via an orientation to the lower-strata majority of the working class (in particular the black and the migrant workers) and a sharp struggle against the bureaucracy is of highest urgency. Of similar importance is the support for initiatives of the mass organizations of the Black, Latino and other oppressed communities. All such initiatives should fuse into the formation of a new Workers Party based on a revolutionary program in order to break the subordination of the workers movement towards the bourgeois Democratic Party.

49.          In Quebec we saw an impressive militant student movement as well as an electoral upswing of the reformist NDP in the whole of Canada. Here too, the central task remains the building of a revolutionary workers party in order to avoid another sell-out and disorientation by the left-reformist leadership of the NDP.

50.          The Japanese workers movement has gone though a long, difficult phase after the strategic defeats of the railway workers in the mid-1980s (similar to the effects of the defeat of the miners’ strike in Britain in 1984/85). However there are several signs of a new upswing of the class struggle. In reaction to the criminal reckless and pro-nuclear policy of the government after the Fukushima catastrophe in spring 2011, there have been repeated mass demonstrations of up to 200.000 people. This is also reflected in the – albeit – small electoral progress of the only bourgeois workers party, the left-reformist Communist Party, which got 7.9% of the votes at the elections in December 2012.

 

The Crisis of Leadership in the Workers Movement and the Tasks of the Bolshevik-Communists

 

51.          Given the limited space of this document we are obliged to outline only the most important general developments of the state of the workers movement as well as the situation in a selected number of countries. It is obvious that the tempo of the class struggle accelerates much faster than the tempo of accumulation of class struggle-orientated workers organizations. Hence the class consciousness and the class organizations lag far behind the struggle. This is not surprising in itself since the transition to a higher level of development passes through the destruction of the old historical forms of the workers movement. We are still more in the destructive phase of this dialectical development than in the creation phase.

52.          This is first and foremost the result of the still existing dominance of the workers movement (trade unions, reformist parties etc.) by the labor bureaucracy. This caste is by its nature linked to capitalism and by its essence incapable to drive the class struggle forward. They do everything in their power to stop the workers and oppressed from building organs of self-organization (action councils, armed militias etc.). They desire to keep their privileged positions at the top of the workers movement as well as in the parasitic body of the bourgeois state apparatus. The continuing dominance of the workers movement by this bureaucracy is a chain which decisively hampers the working class struggle. The Bolshevik-Communists declare that the workers movement must liberate itself from this bureaucracy and oust them out from their ranks in order to liberate itself from capitalist exploitation and oppression. Revolutionaries must fight these bureaucrats with sharp and clear propaganda and agitation as well as a flexible application of united front tactics (which must include systematic work in the trade unions and can also include critical support at elections or even entryism in such parties.) 

53.          The advance of the capitalist crisis and of the class struggle have altered and improved the conditions for the working class to build its own organizations independent of the bureaucracy – above all a revolutionary combat party. The crisis massively shattered and weakened the creditability of the bureaucrats’ policy in the eyes of the masses – its delusion of reforming capitalism and of a gradualist way towards equality and justice. On the other hand we see spontaneous local forms of self-organization as well as – often libertarian influenced – movements like the indignados and Occupy movement.

54.          The accelerated crisis and class struggle in the new historic period also exposed the incapability of centrism to understand these developments, to elaborate a revolutionary program and to transmit this into the class struggle. Since centrism adapts itself to the labor bureaucracy, the latter’s decline also massively affects centrism and throws it into crisis. This explains the seemingly contradictory phenomena that the centrist organizations – despite their revolutionary rhetoric – could not grow in the new revolutionary period but rather went into stagnation, crisis and decline. (See for example the recent crisis of the British SWP/IST or of the French NPA).

55.          As a result of all this we have seen in the last years a new shift to the right of centrism and left-reformism. Historically speaking we see the death agony of reformism and centrism. This does however not mean that reformism and centrism will simply dissolve. The bureaucratic apparatus has a certain strength which can keep its position for quite some time if it is not consciously attacked and replaced by the revolutionary workers vanguard. Furthermore new forces of left-reformism or centrism can emerge which appear to sectors of the masses as something new and authentic (like SYRIZA in Greece did in 2012). Only the formation of a revolutionary mass workers party can eliminate the plague of reformism and centrism.

56.          As a consequence the Bolshevik-Communists have no hope in any self-healing power of the milieu of left-reformism or centrism. We therefore reject an orientation towards this milieu which is so strongly affected by the complacent, passive and aristocratic prejudices and modes of thinking. The only possibility for a revolutionizing of the workers movement is the organization of new layers of the massively growing world proletariat. This means first and foremost the proletariat of the semi-colonial world and China as well as the lower strata of the proletariat in the old imperialist metropolises. Only these lower and middle layers of the working class – in other words the ‚mass type‘ and not the ‚aristocratic type’ of the workers – can provide the human material out of which new generations of revolutionary fighters can develop. The militant textile workers in Egypt's Mahalla, the revolutionary militias in Misrata (Libya) and Syria, the Asturias miners, the impoverished public sector workers in Greece, the militant youth in the streets of Athens, Barcelona and on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the migrant and poor workers revolting in Tottenham and Buenos Aires, the super-exploited workers in the Indian and Chinese factories etc. – these are the fighting layers which represent the face of the working class’ future. Therefore the Bolshevik-Communists orientate to those new, militant and growing layers of the working class instead of the old, agonizing sectors of the reformist or centrist left and their basis, the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia and the labor aristocracy. We are determined to fight for a revolutionary program amongst these layers in order to organize them on such a basis.

57.          It is because of its orientation to the labor bureaucracy and the petty-bourgeoisie intelligentsia that the bulk of the centrist and left-reformist milieu is increasingly poisoned by pessimism, skepticism, moaning about the lack of “left unity”, hysterical renunciation of the “Leninist hyper-centralism” and the “vanguard party” concept as well as praising of liquidationism. Authentic revolutionaries however orientate towards the new, militant layers from the working class and the oppressed who are looking for a program and a strategy to fight against exploitation and oppression. This is where our optimism and firmness stems from. Those who wish to develop in a revolutionary direction must break from an orientation towards the centrist and left-reformist swamp and look for rooting themselves in the healthy, militant proletarian milieu.

58.          This does not mean that revolutionaries should ignore the reformist parties or the centrist groups. The policy of the united front tactic remains in full force as well as the need for a hard struggle to remove these revisionists’ influence in the workers vanguard. But in the first line the RCIT orientates towards new militants and initiatives from the ranks of the workers and the oppressed. From these layers only, new promising forces and a new dynamic will come. And such developments might affect healthier elements from the ranks of left-reformism and centrism and help them to break with the revisionists’ rotten method.

59.          Revolutionaries have to understand in depth that not only has capitalism entered a new historic period of massive instability and sharp turns, but the international workers movement has too. No stone is left unturned. Those forces, who don’t understand the character of the period and its corresponding tasks, are doomed to degenerate more and more and get pushed to the right. For those forces however, who are coming closer to an understanding of the sharply antagonistic nature of the present period, who are willing to join the masses in their struggles – in particular the lower strata of the working class and the oppressed – without arrogantly sneering about their “backward consciousness” and who are at the same time determined to fight intransigently for the revolutionary program and who ruthlessly attack the reformist and centrist traitors – those forces can revolve themselves and play a healthy and utterly positive role in the struggle to build the new World Party of Socialist Revolution. Being aware of the limitations of historic analogies, one has to see that to a certain degree the present period bears similarities to the years after the outbreak of World War One in 1914. In this period the workers movement went through sharp crisis, splits and transformations. In this period the rottenness of the centrist majority of the Second International – which existed already before 1914 but was less obvious – came to full light. The orientation and tactics of Lenin and his supporters are highly instructive for the Bolshevik-Communists today.

60.          The RCIT seeks to discuss and collaborate with all those organizations and activists who share such a general orientation. Indeed we consider it of utmost importance to rally those forces that show in words and deeds that they move into such a direction. Clearly there will be various differences which the RCIT might have with other organizations and activists. Similarly Lenin and the Bolsheviks had various differences inside the Zimmerwald Left and the early Communist International as Trotsky and the ICL did inside the Bloc of Four and indeed even inside theFourth International. Such differences must be openly acknowledged and debated. They must however not constitute obstacles for serious attempts to move forward and to test in comradely discussion and joint practice the possibilities to fight in a common organization for the building of the World Party of Socialist Revolution (which will be the Fifth Workers International in our opinion). The RCIT will launch initiatives in order to accelerate such a process in order to build a stronger, authentic revolutionary international organization.


Appendix

 

Table 1: Growth Rate of Gross Fixed Capital Formation in USA, Japan and EU-15, 2007-2012 (in % p.a.) [7] 

 

 

USA

Japan

EU-15

2007

-1.6%

+0.3%

+5.5%

2008

-5.8%

-4.1%

-1.9%

2009

-16.1%

-10.6%

-12.8%

2010

-0.5%

+0.1%

+0.4%

2011

+4.0%

+0.8%

+1.1%

2012

+5.7%

+3.2%

-2.5%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graph 1: Capital goods orders in world regions January 2010 - November 2012 [8]

 

  

Graph 2: Industrial production in world regions January 2011 - November 2012 [9]

 

 

Graph 3: Industrial Production in USA 1967-2012 [10] 

   

 

Graph 4: Capacity Utilization of US Industry 1967-2012 [11] 

 

 

Graph 5: Equipment Investment and Capacity Utilization, Euro Area, 2000-2012 [12] 

 

 

Table 2: Government Debt in USA, Japan and EU-15, 2007 and 2012 as Share of GDP [13]

 

 

USA

Japan

EU-15

2007

67.5%

183.0%

60.7%

2012

109.9%

240.6%

89.9%

 

 



(1) Evgenij Preobrazhensky: The Decline of Capitalism (1931); Translated by Richard Day (1983), p. 75

(2) FEDERAL RESERVE statistical release: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, 15. February 2013, p. 10

(3) See Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South (2013), Chapter 3

(4) See Michael Roberts: Deleveraging and profitability again, 25.2.2013, http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/deleveraging-and-profitability-again/

(5) See Eugen Varga: Aufstieg oder Niedergang des Kapitalismus (1924), pp. 17-20

(6) See Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South (2013), Chapter 10

(7) European Commission: Statistical Annex of European Economy, Autumn 2012, p. 69

(8) Worldbank: Global Economic Prospects January 2013, p. 9

(9) Worldbank: Global Economic Prospects January 2013, p. 10

(10) FEDERAL RESERVE statistical release: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, 15. February 2013, p. 7

(11) FEDERAL RESERVE statistical release: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, 15. February 2013, p. 5

(12) European Commission: Economic Forecast Autumn 2012, EUROPEAN ECONOMY 7/2012, p. 19

(13) European Commission: Statistical Annex of European Economy, Autumn 2012, p. 185

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