by Chris Matlhako
The SACP hereby expresses its profound gratitude to the Communist Party of Ecuador for the excellent preparations and hosting of the 16th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP).
The SACP participates in this 16th Meeting of the IMCWP cognizant of the mammoth conjunctural challenges confronting the international working class (proletariat) and it’s formations in the struggle against imperialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, war and marginalization. We are also confident of the unfolding processes in Latin America, which hold huge potential for an alternative to neoliberalism and the inhumane system of capitalism. The emerging processes of radical transformation aimed at rolling back the hegemony of global capitalism across the world, hold huge promise for the struggle for socialism, if the correct and proper analyzes of the material conditions and correlation of forces are undertaking within the specificities of each situation.
Never before in history has the need for a different, a humane world based on the socialist value of putting social needs before private profit been more desperately required. Today, as never before, the collective achievements of human civilization are threatened with potential extinction. Today, a single world economy is dominated by a tiny minority of exceedingly powerful transnational corporations, buttressed by imperialist state power and forging ahead with a frightening militaristic agenda. After several centuries of breathtaking expansion and worldwide accumulation, the global capitalist system, as we know it, is now approaching a series of systemic, perhaps conclusive limitations. These limitations include physical, biological, human, social and economic dimensions (SACP Road to Socialism: 2007).
This is the background against which this 16th IMCWP takes place. It also occurs against the background of the ongoing (systemic) and unprecedented crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, both in the centre and periphery. Over these last few years – since 2008, the crisis has wreaked havoc on the lives of ordinary people, as it increased the pauperization of the majority of the people. The present capitalist accumulation path is recklessly unsustainable. But also the powerful global capitalist forces that dominate this reality are incapable of recognizing the crisis, still less, are unable to take decisive measures that are required to provide sustainable resolutions, thus making the struggle for an alternative to capitalism inevitable and imperative.
However, ordinary people and their formations have also not sat back, watched events as they unfold, but have actively engaged in mass protests and challenged the logic of capitalism (and subsequent crisis) in various ways and across countries of both the center and the periphery. Major demonstrations in various capitals of the world became squares of expression of the mass power of the people and their utter rejection of the current trajectory undertaken by their bourgeoise governments.
The contours of a new globalization of capitalism remains vague. Hence, the future remains open to various possibilities, and there is no justification for abandoning the struggle to promote a better world.
Exploring this option calls for examination of alternatives along three axes of evolution, argues Samir Amin: (1) the centre-periphery contradiction, governed by the logic of world capitalism, (2) East-West relations; (3) intra-Western competition. All these dimensions are found in varying degrees on the continent of Africa and the Third World in particular. The Left, he says, have ‘a duty to promote a credible alternative to the disastrous option’.
Thus, the theme of the 16th IMCWP, is indeed conjectural and sets out the imperative of the key programmatic tasks, which the international communists and workers parties should engage on a continuos basis (within their unique conditions), both in the current phase and beyond the hegemony of capitalism. The system of capitalism and the current crisis has amongst others also opened possibilities for advances to deepen the process of bringing about a different socio-economic, cultural paradigm to capitalism, in the conditions unique to each situation.
Part of what the IMCWP should contemplate, both as individual and collective group of parties, is to do a critical analysis of the struggle for an alternative to capitalism in the current conjuncture. Efforts in Latin America have found resonance with those attempting to build an alternative to capitalism, particularly in the conditions of the Third World.
The global significance of a radical process of transformation in the current period
What does it mean to attempt revolutionary transformation in the 21st century, in this new age of global capitalism, when so many of our familiar points of reference and goalposts have shifted?
The challenges of such transformation are daunting. Yet, they are all more urgent as the system spirals into ever deeper crisis. Fundamental transformation of our global society appears as a necessity, if we are going to survive. We are living through a time of great upheavals, including the very real possibility of collapse as well as the growing threat of repressive social control system to contain the explosive contradictions of global capitalism, facing deep structural environmental and cultural dislocation. The implacable drive for transnational capital to accumulate in a world scale is bringing on an ecological holocaust and endless war. Yet, despite the dangers humanity faces, the current interregnum offers opportunities for transformative, emancipatory projects.
First, the system has lost its legitimacy for a great many people. Second, neoliberalism appears to be reaching material and ideological exhaustion. Third, the dominant groups worldwide look to be divided and often rudderless. Fourth, the “thirdworldizatiom” of the First World opens up new opportunities for radical globalized politics, for organic alliances across North and South.
Indeed, since the crisis of global capitalism began in the final years of the 20th century there seems to have been two waves of global rebellion. The first involved the rise of a global justice movement, the coalescing of numerous popular struggles and resistance movement from around the world into a critical mass in the late 1990s and the formation of the World Social Forum (WSF) under the banner of “Another World is Possible”. This wave reached its crest at the turn of the century and was in part derailed, in part transformed, by the events of September 11, 2001, and the counteroffensive of the transnational elite made possible by those events.
The second wave began in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse and spread from 2009 to 2011. Among those flash points grabbed international headlines were repeated rounds of mass strikes and mobilisation in countries of the European Union (EU), most notably in those hardest hit by austerity, uprising in the Middle East and North Africa; the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States; Chilean student movement; ongoing strike waves among and across the world; immigrant rights struggles in many countries, and so on.
There is no single conclusion to be reached with regard to the content and direction of the worldwide revolt, which encompasses uprisings ranging from explicitly socialist revolutions in South America, to the well organized social movements of peasants in the worldwide coalition Via Campesina, to amorphous anti-capitalism of the anarchist-inspired upheavals, or of the neoliberal technocrats in Egypt or Greece. The key question is whether these global revolts will succeed in altering the political and economic power structure or actually renovate them through combinations of mild reform and cooptation? Or worse still, will the global police state respond to mass uprising that do try to transform the social order in favour of the poor majority by imposing 21st century fascism?
The global revolt has to address the matter of political power. There can be no real emancipatory project without addressing the matter of political power, that is, of the state. And once the Left manages to gain some control over the state, a set of complications emerges, to which there are no pre-given formulas and no easy answers. The resolution of any one contradiction gives way to new contradictions, for that is the law of dialectics.
There is much to indicate we are entering a new crisis of hegemony at the world systemic level in this second decade of the 21st century. Let us recall that all revolutions, all processes of social transformation, all historical conjuncture are unique. To understand the “challenges and complexities of political power in the 21st century, must study the concrete historical in which the radical left in Latin America and elsewhere, has (re)emerged and has come to power in several countries. As Gramsci observes, “the truth is in the concrete”.
Finally, we think this requires ongoing debate and discussion in order to better comprehend the tasks for the international communist and workers parties in the current conjuncture. The basis for mobilization and organisation of the large fractions of society who bare the worst ravages of capitalism, marginalization, poverty, inequality and unemployment, look up to the historic organisation capable of leading that struggle. Consideration of the tactical methods of struggle on the current period must also reflect the desires and aspirations of the working (proletariat) class!
There is much to indicate we are entering a new crisis of hegemony at world systemic level in the second decade of the 21st century, argues Santa Barbara. “Let us recall that all revolutions, all processes of social transformation, all historical conjunctures are unique”, she says. To understand the “challenges and complexities of political power in the 21st century”, we must study the concrete evidence and analysis in the task of making sense of the challenges ahead and the lessons for popular struggles around the world.
Karl Marx wrote; “… the real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself … and capitalist production continually overcomes its immanent barriers only by means which again place these barriers in its way in a more formidable scale” (Capital, vol III).
Today, the struggle against the barbarism, of global imperialism, more than ever, the task is to build the unity of international working class and the unity of workers with the great mass of the urban and rural poor. The working class alone has the capacity to lead the battle to transform the world and itself in struggle. Despite everything, it is steeled in thousand daily struggles for survival and against the unceasing attempts to roll back whatever rights it may have won in bitter struggles.
Above all, life teaches workers, like no other social force, that an injury to one is an injury to all; that solidarity is the only true weapon.
Which why, as the SACP, we say:
WORKERS TO THE FRONT TO BUILD A BETTER, SOCIALIST WORLD!
Chris Matlhako is International Secretary of the South African Communist Party