This 11th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties, held to discuss "The international capitalist crisis, the workers' and peoples' struggle, the alternatives and the role of the communist and working class movement":
- Reiterates that the current global recession is a systemic crisis of capitalism demonstrating its historic limits and the need for its revolutionary overthrow. It demonstrates the sharpening of the main contradiction of capitalism between its social nature of production and individual capitalist appropriation. The political representatives of Capital try to conceal this unsolvable contradiction between capital and labor that lies at the heart of the crisis. This crisis intensifies rivalries between imperialist powers who along with the international institutions - the IMF World Bank, WTO and others - are implementing their `solutions' which essentially aim to intensify capitalist exploitation. Military and political 'solutions' are aggressively pursued globally by imperialism. NATO is promoting a new aggressive strategy. The political systems are becoming more reactionary curtailing democratic and civil liberties, trade union rights etc. This crisis is further deepening the structural corruption under capitalism which is being institutionalized.
- Reaffirms that the current crisis, probably the most acute and all-encompassing since the Great Depression of 1929, has left no field untouched. Hundreds of thousands of factories are closed. Agrarian and rural economies are under distress intensifying misery and poverty of millions of cultivators and farm workers globally. Millions of people are left jobless and homeless. Unemployment is growing to unprecedented levels and is officially expected to breach the 50 million mark. Inequalities are increasing across the globe - the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. More than one billion people, that is one-sixth of humanity go hungry. Youth, women and immigrants are the first victims.
True to their class nature, the response of the respective capitalist governments to overcome this crisis fails to address these basic concerns. All the neo-liberal votaries and social democratic managers of capitalism, who had so far decried the State are now utilizing the state for rescuing them, thus underlining a basic fact that the capitalist state has always defended and enlarged avenues for super profits. While the costs of the rescue packages and bailouts are at public expense, the benefits accrue to few. The bailout packages announced, are addressed first to rescue and then enlarge profit making avenues. Banks and financial corporates are now back in business and making profits.
- Realizes that this crisis is no aberration based on the greed of a few or lack of effective regulatory mechanisms. Profit maximization, the raison d'etre of capitalism, has sharply widened economic inequalities both between countries and within countries in these decades of `globalization'. The natural consequence was a decline in the purchasing power of the vast majority of world population. The present crisis is thus a systemic crisis. This once again vindicates the Marxist analysis that the capitalist system is inherently crisis ridden. Capital, in its quest for profits, traverses boundaries and tramples upon anything and everything. In the process it intensifies exploitation of the working class and other strata of working people, imposing greater hardships. Capitalism in fact requires to maintain a reserve army of labor. The liberation from such capitalist barbarity can come only with the establishment of the real alternative, socialism. This requires the strengthening of anti-imperialist and anti-monopoly struggles. Our struggle for an alternative is thus a struggle against the capitalist system. Our struggle for an alternative is for a system where there is no exploitation of people by people and nation by nation. It is a struggle for another world, a just world, a socialist world.
- Conscious of the fact that the dominant imperialist powers would seek their way out of the crisis by putting greater burdens on the working people, by seeking to penetrate and dominate the markets of countries with medium and lower level of capitalist development, commonly called developing countries.
This they are trying to achieve firstly, through the WTO Doha round of trade talks, which reflect the unequal economic agreements at the expense of the peoples of these countries particularly with reference to agricultural standards and Non Agricultural Market Access (NAMA).
Secondly, capitalism, which in the first place is responsible for the destruction of the environment, is trying to transfer the entire burden of safeguarding the planet from climate change, which in the first place they had caused, onto the shoulders of the working class and working people. Capitalism's proposal for restructuring in the name of climate change has little relation to the protection of the environment. Corporate inspired `Green development' and 'green economy' are sought to be used to impose new state monopoly regulations which support profit maximization and impose new hardships on the people.
- Notes that the only way out of this capitalist crisis for the working class and the common people is to intensify struggles against the rule of capital. It is the experience of the working class that when it mobilizes its strength and resists these attempts it can be successful in protecting its rights. Industry sit-ins, factory occupations and such militant working class actions have forced the ruling classes to consider the demands of the workers. Latin America, the current theatre of popular mobilizations and working class actions, has shown how rights can be protected and won through struggle. In these times of crisis, once again the working class is seething with discontent. Many countries have witnessed and are witnessing huge working class actions, demanding amelioration. These working class actions need to be further strengthened by mobilizing the vast mass of suffering people, not just for immediate alleviation but for a long-term solution to their plight.
- Imperialism, buoyed by the demise of the Soviet Union and the periods of boom preceding this crisis had carried out unprecedented attacks on the rights of the working class and the people. This has been accompanied by frenzied anti-communist propaganda not only in individual countries but at global and inter-state forums (EU, OSCE, Council of Europe). However much they may try, the achievements and contributions of socialism in defining the contours of modern civilization remain inerasable. Faced with these relentless attacks, our struggles thus far had been mainly defensive struggles, struggles to protect the rights that we had won earlier. Today's conjuncture warrants the launch of an offensive, not just to protect our rights but win new rights. Not for winning a few rights but for dismantling the entire capitalist edifice - for an onslaught on the rule of capital, for a political alternative - socialism.
- Resolves that under these conditions, the communist and workers parties shall actively work to rally and mobilize the widest possible sections of the popular forces in the struggle for full time stable employment, exclusively public and free for all health, education and social welfare, against gender inequality and racism, and for the protection of the rights of all sections of the working people including the youth, women, migrant workers and those from ethnic and national minorities.
- Calls upon the communist and workers parties to undertake this task in their respective countries and launch broad struggles for the rights of the people and against the capitalist system. Though the capitalist system is inherently crisis ridden, it does not collapse automatically. The absence of a communist-led counterattack engenders the danger of rise of reactionary forces. The ruling classes launch an all out attack to prevent the growth of the communists and the workers' parties to protect their status quo. Social democracy continues to spread illusions about the real character of capitalism, advancing slogans such as `humanization of capitalism', `regulation', `global governance' etc. These in fact support the strategy of capital by denying class struggle and buttressing the pursuit of anti-popular policies. No amount of reform can eliminate exploitation under capitalism. Capitalism has to be overthrown. This requires the intensification of ideological and political working class led popular struggles. All sorts of theories like `there is no alternative' to imperialist globalization are propagated. Countering them, our response is `socialism is the alternative'.
We, the communist and workers' parties coming from all parts of the globe and representing the interests of the working class and all other toiling sections of society (the vast majority of global population) underlining the irreplaceable role of the communist parties call upon the people to join us in strengthening the struggles to declare that socialism is the only real alternative for the future of humankind and that the future is ours.
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 6:08 AM
Subject: Immanuel Wallerstein's Commentary No. 275
Commentary No. 275, Feb. 15, 2010
"Chaos as an Everyday Thing"
You know you're living in a chaotic situation when (1) the mainstream media are constantly surprised by what is happening; (2) short-term predictions by various pundits go in radically different directions and are stated with many reserves; (3) the Establishment dares to say things or use words that were previously taboo; (4) ordinary people are frightened and angry but very unsure what to do. This is a good description of the past two years throughout the world, or at least in most parts of the world.
Consider the recent enormous "surprises" - the election of a Republican senator in Massachusetts; the financial collapse of Dubai; the near bankruptcy of various large states within the United States and four or five of the member states of the European Union; severe world currency fluctuations.
These "surprises" are commented on each day in the world press and by leading politicians. They don't agree at all about what is happening, and even less about what one should do to improve the situation. For example, I have seen only two intelligent statements about the election results in the United States.
One was by Barack Obama himself: "The same thing that swept [Republican] Scott Brown into office [in Massachusetts] swept me into office. People are angry, and they're frustrated." And the second was by African-American op-ed columnist in The New York Times, Charles M. Blow. He called his op-ed "Mobs rule." He said: "Welcome to the mob: an angry, wounded electorate, riled by recession, careening across the political spectrum, still craving change, nursing a bloodlust." First they elected Obama; now they're rejecting him. Why? "The mob is fickle."
What are we seeing in California, in Greece, in most of the world's governments? Government revenues are down, primarily because of reduced tax incomes, which are in turn caused by the fact that everywhere people are consuming less out of fear that their money is running out. At the same time, precisely because world unemployment is considerably greater, the demands on the states for expenditures have risen.
So states have less money to meet greater demands. What can they do then? They can increase taxes. But taxpayers are seldom in favor of having their own taxes go up. And states are afraid of the flight of enterprises. Well, then, they can cut expenditures - present ones or future ones like pensions. And then they are faced with popular unrest, if not popular revolt.
Meanwhile, the "market" reacts. But what is this market that reacts - for example, by shifting its currency preferences? It is very large corporations and financial structures like hedge funds, which are working the world financial system for very short-term but significant gains.
As a result, governments are faced with impossible choices, and individuals even more impossible choices. They cannot predict what is likely to happen. They become ever more frantic. They lash out by being protectionist or xenophobic or demagogic. But of course, this solves little.
At this point enters that greatest of world pundits, Thomas I. Friedman, to write a column entitled "Never heard that before." What had he never heard before? He heard non-Americans talking at Davos about "political instability" in the United States. He says that in his past experience such a phrase had been used only about countries like Russia or Iran or Honduras. Imagine that. People actually think the United States is politically unpredictable. And Thomas Friedman never heard it before.
There have been some people who have been writing this, and explaining this, for some forty years at least, but Thomas Friedman never heard it before. That's because he has been living in a self-constructed cocoon, that of the political Establishment in the United States and its acolytes elsewhere. Things must be really bad for them to recognize this basic reality. The United States is politically unstable - and likely to become more so, not less so, in the coming decade.
Is Europe more stable? Only somewhat. Is Latin America more stable? Only somewhat. Is China more stable? Perhaps somewhat, but there are no guarantees. When the giant teeters, many things can come down with it.
So, this is what everyday chaos is like - a situation that is not predictable in the short run, even less in the middle run. It is therefore a situation in which the economic, political, and cultural fluctations are large and rapid. And that is frightening for most people.
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Secretary, Fernand Braudel Center
Secretary, Fernand Braudel Center