At the very outset allow me to thank the Portuguese Communist Party for hosting the 15th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, and making such splendid arrangements. I also use this occasion to offer my humble homage and salute the memory of Comrade Alvaro Cunhal, legendary leader, not only of the PCP, but also of the international communist movement, on his birth centenary.
Global capitalist crisis, that is plaguing the world, has not abated. The recently published IMF, World Economic Outlook Report, October 2013, states: “Global growth is still weak, its underlying dynamics are changing, and the risks to the forecast remain to the downside…old problems – a fragmented financial system in the euro area and worrisomely high public debt in all major advanced economies – remain unresolved and could trigger new crises…the global economy could grow by only slightly more than 3 percent a year over the medium term, instead of reaccelerating to over 4 percent…”It further states: “Industrial production recovered modestly in the advanced economies but is still slowing in the emerging market and developing economies. Together with the MENA region, the euro area is seeing another increase in an already high unemployment rate”.
The crisis has once again resoundingly demonstrated capitalism’s inherent oppressive and exploitative character. It is imposing greater miseries on the vast majority of the world’s population. This crisis is also increasingly demonstrating that imperialism, notwithstanding all ideological efforts to obfuscate its existence and role, is leading global capitalism in this offensive against humanity.
The internal dynamics of capitalism, as Marx has shown, leads to the accumulation and concentration of capital in a few hands. It is on the basis of a scientific analysis of the development of this tendency that Lenin identified the emergence and growth of imperialism from the stage of monopoly capitalism. The Leninist analysis of the politics of imperialism – the highest stage of capitalism – laid the foundations for correct revolutionary strategy and tactics for intensifying class struggles leading, for the first time in human history, to the triumph of the proletarian revolution – the great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.
Lenin, with penetrative clarity, anticipates that in the imperialist stage, with the rise of finance capital, ‘The “business operations” of capitalist monopolies inevitably lead to the domination of a financial oligarchy’. He defines imperialism with the domination of finance capital as the highest stage of capitalism where the supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital is established. Furthering the analysis of the feature of ‘export of capital’, Lenin anticipates the future saying, ‘Thus finance capital, literally, one might say, spreads its net over all countries of the world’.
Further, ‘The characteristic feature of imperialism is not industrial but finance capital.’ Lenin, thus, anticipates not only the dominance and leadership of finance capital in the stage of imperialism, but he also shows that this process will lead to the enmeshing of all forms of capital under its leadership in the pursuit of profit maximisation.
This current phase of globalisation, within the stage of imperialism, led to gigantic levels of concentration and centralisation of capital and, hence, accumulation led by international finance capital during the last two decades. This led to a reordering of the world where this capital seeks unhindered access across the globe in its quest for profit maximisation. This, in itself, imposes conditions for the removal of all restrictions on the flow of this capital, the essence of financial liberalisation. The accompanying neo-liberal offensive of economic reforms, seriously threatens and undermines the economic and, hence, the political sovereignty of the nation-states, particularly in the developing countries. Trade liberalisation displaces domestic producers engendering domestic de-industrialisation, particularly in developing countries. This also happens in the developed countries due to relocation of production and business operations outside their countries. So also liberalisation of capital flows allows multinational corporations to acquire domestic productive assets abroad (like our public sector), vastly enlarging capital accumulation.
This preponderant domination of international finance capital, however, does not suggest the cessation of inter-imperialist contradictions. These not merely exist but are bound to intensify in the future, given the basic capitalist law of uneven development. This leads to conflicts of interests between capitalist centres given their relative future strengths often reflected, today, in the conflict of interests over control of world’s resources or in seeking a reordering of the world – a new re-division for creating specific spheres of influence.
Other ways of consolidating capital accumulation are through the imposition of deflationary policies like restrictions on government expenditures in the name of fiscal discipline (making available larger quantum of liquidity to IFC to multiply speculative profits) which leads to the lowering of the level of aggregate demand in the world economy; a shift in the terms of trade against the peasantry in the developing countries; a rolling back of the State sector in providing social services globally, more pronounced in the developing countries, which increasingly become privatised and the opening up of huge new areas of public utilities for profit maximisation. Agriculture is increasingly being opened up to multinational seed and marketing companies leading to the virtual destruction of self-reliant agriculture in the developing countries, throwing the peasantry into acute distress. The removal of trade tariffs and imposition of Free Trade Agreements is leading to de- industrialisation in many developing countries. In direct contrast to the freedom of movement for capital, the strict domestic immigration laws in developed countries leads to intensified exploitation and oppression while maximising profits. Common public resources like forests, mines, water, etc., are increasingly being taken over as private property. Thus, a new feature of contemporary imperialism is the coercive prising open of new and hitherto non-existent avenues for profit maximisation.
Under contemporary imperialism, the role of the State changes in accordance with its current needs to advance the interests of IFC and it often acts at its dictates. The State’s abdication of social responsibilities and obligations towards the people, therefore, does not mean its withdrawal from economic activities. Its role changes to brazenly advance the interests of IFC. In the process, not only does it relinquish its social responsibilities but also undermines democratic institutions, subverts people’s sovereignty over the law making processes and increasingly adopts an authoritarian character. In the absence of a powerful political alternative, capitalism will emerge from this crisis but at the expense of further intensifying exploitation and through the process of intensifying primitive accumulation. This manifests in the current imperialist aggressiveness in all spheres.
Following the shift in favour of imperialism in the international correlation of class forces, USA has embarked to consolidate its global hegemony. This new world order is designed to operate in all spheres. This, on the one hand, led to unleashing unilateral wars and on the other, it led to the strengthening of the US military machine. At the same time, the NATO, whose need for existence should have simply disappeared with the end of the Cold War, was further strengthened as imperialism’s global war machine.
In pursuit of its hegemonic designs, the US imperialism is now concentrating on Asian continent because it is host to two of the largest populated countries in the world – China and India – which means they constitute the largest market. The imperialist powers, need this region more than anything else today to come out of the deep economic crisis they find themselves in. And to their strategic concentration in this region is another vital class reason – socialist China, which imperialism considers is developing into a formidable foe and a threat to its hegemony.
All these reasons translated into prioritising Asia-Pacific as a region that deserves the attention of the US, both economically and militarily. The US, over the years had been developing its strategic plans to increase its presence and ensure its hegemony over the entire Asia-Pacific region. Outlining these priorities, US President Barack Obama during his visit to Australia, stated “After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region…As the world’s fastest- growing region – and home to more than half the global economy – the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority…With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress…I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision – as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future…As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region…Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in the region…” Accordingly, the US decided to reposition its Navy so that 60 per cent of its warships would be assigned to the Asia- Pacific region by 2020.
The increasing economic integration of South and East Asia has strengthened the strategic significance of the Indian and Pacific Oceans as a continuous throughway for global commerce and energy. The US intends to develop its strategic ties with India in this background. This explains some of the vital reasons for the Indo-US nuclear deal, several defence tie-ups and other accords on various other sectors like agriculture, education, etc. Moreover, to establish its global hegemony, USA needs the containment of China and for this it sees India as a potential ally.
Asia-Pacific region has also become strategically important because approximately 90 percent of globally traded merchandise travels by these seas. As much as 50percent of the world’s container traffic and 70 percent of global energy trade now transits the Indian Ocean.
In order to improve its economic hold the US now intends to create the worlds’ biggest free trade zone in this region. Considering itself as a leader of all the countries surrounding the Pacific rim and Indian ocean it wants to seal strategic partnership with most of them. This is needed, to break the economic relations of China with these countries and prise open the markets of these countries for US goods and services. Accordingly the US is moving towards the goal of the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) to create the world’s largest and most demanding free-trade area in ways that deepen the economic integration of the US and its Asia-Pacific allies. This TPP zone, if created, will include countries from Chile in Latin America to Australia, Japan and all other countries in the Pacific Ocean. The US wants India too to be part of the TPP.
As a group, the TPP countries are the largest goods and services export market of the United States. US goods exports to the broader Asia-Pacific totalled $942 billion in 2012, representing 61 percent of total U.S. goods exports. US exports of agricultural products to the region totalled $106 billion in 2012, 75 percent of total US agricultural exports. US private services exports totalled $226 billion in 2011 (latest data available), 38 percent of total US private services exports to the world. The US is also promoting the re-militarisation of Japan in the region as a counterweight to China. To achieve its strategic opportunities, it is pulling India into its vortex and scheme of things as can be discerned through the joint naval exercises conducted in the Bay of Bengal by both the countries along with Australia, Japan, Philippines.
The rising bourgeoisie of the advanced capitalist countries, in order to consolidate their class rule, had earlier championed national sovereignty as being sacrosanct.
Today, imperialism, is using FTAs and also its military might to subvert and negate national sovereignty of independent countries.
The ‘Global War Against Terror’ launched under the leadership of US imperialism is being used as the justification for brazen military intervention, and for trampling national sovereignty to impose a ‘regime change’ to suit its interests. Like the ‘war against Communism’ was used as the pretext during the Cold War to justify imperialist military intervention, the ‘war against terror’ is being used today to violate the national sovereignty of independent countries and the basic human rights of its people.
State terrorism practised by imperialism and individual terrorism unleashed by fundamentalist outfits feed on each other. The fight against both these dangers, is necessary to build the unity of the working class and other toiling sections of the society and also to counter the growing threat of right-wing fundamentalist forces.
We should remember that the devastation caused by the great depression of the 1930s was met in different ways by different capitalist countries. One of these ways laid the basis for the rise of fascism. Georgi Dimitrov, in his speech at the Communist International in 1935, underlined, “Fascism adapts its demagogy to the peculiarities of each country. And the mass of petty bourgeois and even a section of the workers, reduced to despair by want, unemployment and insecurity of their existence fall victim to the social and chauvinist demagogy of fascism.” Further, he explained how “it is in the interests of the most reactionary circles of the bourgeoisie that fascism intercepts the disappointed masses who desert the old bourgeois parties. But it impresses these masses by the vehemence of its attacks on the bourgeois governments and its irreconcilable attitude to the old bourgeois parties”.
Hence, how this economic crisis will be tackled and how the world comes out of it will determine the nature of social conflicts that arise as various sections of the people scramble for their share of the shrinking cake. The absence of a powerful communist-led counter attack, engenders the danger of the rise of reactionary forces.
It is hence the responsibility of the Communists and the progressive sections of the society not only to fight back the tendencies that lead to the growth of right-wing politics and neo-fascist forces, but also properly channelise the popular discontent.
This is one of the important steps that needs to be undertaken in the present juncture to strengthen the ‘subjective factor’ that Lenin had talked about and utilise the developing objective conditions to usher in a social transformation – a political alternative to capitalism – socialism.
Long Live Marxism-Leninism
Long Live the Unity of Communist and Workers’ Parties
Intervention of Sitaram Yechury Member Polit Bureau Head, International Department Communist Party of India (Marxist) Presented by R. Arun Kumar Member, International Department