International Situation (2016-2017)

1 – Capitalist world economy and its course of development

ICMLPO’s latest materials on the international situation drew attention to the falling rate of growth in the capitalist world economy, to the fluctuating and uneven development in terms of relations between sectors and countries, and to the factors that stimulate its instability. Production growing faster than capitalist global markets, although still not at a level to trigger a new crisis, has caused a sharp fall in the cumulative production, bringing the global rate of industrial production down to 3.3% in 2014. This rate had almost halved to 1.7% in 2015. In 2016, despite many interventions, which did not really solve the problems but worsened them and postponed their consequences until subsequent years, global industrial production had grown only by 1.9%, thanks mainly due to the increases in the last quarter. Most current data show that the increased rate of growth observed towards the end of last year was continuing in the first half of this year in an uneven and inconsistent manner.[1]

The growth rate for the capitalist global market and volume of trade also fell in previous years, displaying uneven, inconsistent development that dropped below the growth rate of global industrial production. In 2014, global volume of trade had grown at a rate (2.7%) below that of industrial production, the following year it was slightly lower at 2.1%. In 2016, despite the increase in the last quarter, growth of global volume of trade was again below that of industrial production and fell to 1.4%. In the first two quarters of 2017, the growth rate for the global volume of trade was below that of the last quarter in 2016 and it continues to decrease.[2]

Although there has not yet emerged a crisis of overproduction in agriculture, famine and poverty persist, while a high volume of food produce is destroyed and stockpiles of some agricultural products are increasing. Not accounting for the impact of seasonal and other natural factors, agricultural production is also going through a period of fluctuation. Market growth not matching production – a main characteristic of capitalist development and the basis of crisis – or more precisely, the faster rate of growth in production compared to the market, led to increases in stockpiles in many sectors and fluctuations in commodity prices (most apparent example is the oil prices). This happened despite efforts of monopolies to prevent price drops.

As before, uneven development between countries and subsequent changes in balances of power among capitalist countries persisted last year. This is especially evident in the growth of industrial production.

In the US, the largest global economy, industrial production in 2014 grew in line with global industrial production (3.1%) but started to fall behind towards the end of the year, falling down to 0.7 and 1.2% respectively in 2015 and 2016. Despite the fall in aggregate growth, US industrial production recovered towards the end of 2016 and continued to grow in the first half of 2017.

Achieving 8.3% in 2014, the growth rate of Chinese industrial production fell to 6-7% despite state intervention and incentives, and growth for the first half of 2017 continued to be within this range. Despite the relative fall, China exhibits a higher and more consistent rate of growth compared to the old developed capitalist countries, and continues to be one of the fastest growing global economies.[3] For instance, in 2016 China surpassed the US in terms of industrial production (this does not change the fact that US is still the largest global economy but it gives an idea as to the course of development).

In Japan, the third largest global economy, the growth rate was 1.9% in 2014, but shrunk by 1.3% and 0.4% in the following years. The stark reality for Japan is that the recovery of industrial production of mid-2009 could not be sustained, and after 2010 growth was replaced by decline and stagnation in industrial production which failed to reach the pre-2008 levels and was still at a level below that of 2010.

Germany, the fourth largest economy in the world, with the second highest global export surplus, after China, managed a small rate of growth in recent years. With the added affect of growth in Germany, growth in the Eurozone in 2014 was 0.8%, followed by successive rates 2.1% and 1.5% in the following years. Growth in Germany continues to rise this year but is extremely uneven and inconsistent in the rest of the Eurozone.

Brazil and India are other examples of unequal and uneven development. Brazil, once deemed an exemplary country with rapid growth and development, has seen its industry shrink, becoming a country dependent mainly on the production and sales of raw materials. India’s rate of growth increased mainly due to the flow of foreign capital into its economy. Despite a fall in its rate of growth in 2016, it was one of the countries with the best rates of industrial and economic growth. Rate of industrial growth in India continued to fall in the first half of 2017. Turkey is among the countries, along with Vietnam, where industrial growth rate have been above the global average since 2010.

Just like Brazil, Mexico, one of the big economies in South America, also saw its rate of industrial growth fall in 2016, and negative growth continued in the first half of 2017. In contrast to economies in Europe, Asia and Africa, industrial production in Latin American countries started to fall in late 2014, coming down to levels below that of 2010 in a year. Industrial production continued to shrink in 2016, growth levels remaining lower than that of 2010 in March and April 2017. In contrast, Asia is currently the fastest growing area in the world and its place in the global economy is strengthening day by day.

Overproduction and the fall in the global rate of growth led to a fall in oil prices as well as in prices of other raw materials. The fall in oil prices upset the economies of countries dependent on gas and oil production and sales, such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, as well as Russia and Iran. Venezuela entered a many-sided crisis, with the added impact of destructive actions of US imperialism; Saudi Arabia had to take austerity measures; and Russia had negative growth.[4]

In order to sustain its economic growth and meet its targets, China keeps borrowing. The ratio of Chinese debt to GDP was 148% in 2007 and it went up to 237% in the first quarter of 2016. This figure stands at 304% at present, a very large increase in one year, and is getting closer to the levels of the US and the Eurozone, which are stronger in terms of their financial makeup, economic foundations and resources.[5] Increased indebtedness is not unique to China; bubbles akin to those in the pre-2008 crisis are also increasing in many other countries; financial balances which were profoundly upset by the 2008 crisis are hovering at levels below those of pre-2008. Increasing debts and their ratios to GDPs continue to rise in recent years.

The measures taken by the financial oligarchy to sustain economic growth and expand markets, or at least to prevent them from shrinking, by increasing government spending, stimulating consumption through facilitating more borrowing and credit usage lead to the upset of financial balances, while measures to achieve financial stability cause shrinking of markets and falling rates of growth, intensifying existing problems and amplifying others. The interventions by monopoly capitalism, competently utilising the state apparatus as well as financial institutions, do not eradicate the laws of capitalist economy or fundamentally change their course and direction; capitalism cannot avoid local and global crises and stagnation of varied severity.

Some claim that a deep financial crisis is looming by the end of the year or in next year, but the rulers of the capitalist world claim that the global economy will continue to grow at higher levels in 2018 and beyond. However, there are indications that the inconsistent and uneven growth observed at the end of 2016 and the first half of this year will not be sustained for long. The changing power relations between countries, especially major imperialist countries, and the sharpening struggle for a bigger share of the world, etc. only deepens these inconsistencies and fluctuations. The economic growth process in capitalist society is also a process where elements of a new crisis build up in all sectors.

2 – Inter-imperialist contradictions are sharpening

Despite the continued weakening of its hegemony, the US is still way ahead of its nearest rivals in all fields; it is still the largest global economic, political and military force. US monopoly in many high-technology sectors continues although it is weakening. Moreover, despite the big differences between the US and its closest imperialist rivals in economic power and military might, a united economic, military-political consensus against the US has not yet emerged. However, the uneven and inconsistent development continues as well as the struggle among major imperialist countries to weaken rivals and to get the biggest share in the exploitation of the working class and peoples and in the plunder of all natural resources, using all manoeuvres and interventions available. The main regions where these struggles and tensions intensified in recent years were the Middle-East, Far East and Ukraine.

Because of the developments in Ukraine, NATO and US armed forces have moved increasingly closer to the Russian borders, the number of military exercises were on the rise, with heightening dogfights between opposing air and naval forces. After the Middle-East, Far East Asia remains the area where greatest tensions are felt, displays of military might and exercises are witnessed and the threat of military conflict is routine. Tensions are on the rise in the Korean peninsula. US confrontations targeting North Korea are increasing in line with its struggle to widen its sphere of influence against Russia and China. The struggle between China and the US and its allies to broaden their sphere of influence and access to the region is intensifying. The Chinese-Indian and Indian-Pakistani borders are other Asian regions where, beyond military exercises, confrontations are routine and armaments are boosted.

The change in the balance of power due to uneven development, which is not a new concept, and the weakening of US hegemony among the imperialist forces, is increasing and making more prominent the struggle and contradictions among the imperialist countries united under the NATO umbrella led by the US, as well as Japan. The contradictions among them are sharpening and different tendencies are beginning to emerge and crystallize. Nevertheless, these developments have not yet led to a level of full rupture or confrontation, and the US is trying hard to prevent this. Faced with US hegemony and imposition, Germany, in addition to France, follows more open and clear policies in line with its own interests and preferences. Steps are being taken, despite assurances given, to create a military force of the EU as an alternative to NATO, with the capacity for international interventions. On the other hand, the UK, with historically closer economic, military, political and cultural ties with the US, its Trojan horse and closest ally within the EU, is exiting from the EU.

The US is pressurising all NATO countries, especially Germany, to increase their military spending. The biggest share of such an outlay will go to the US and its monopolies. Moreover, the resources mobilised by Germany and other countries for economic expansion will be restricted to a certain extent and will be used by US arms monopolies. The US is trying to sabotage Germany’s attempts to expand and strengthen itself economically.

The major imperialist countries that impose the removal of all barriers on the free movement of capital and goods, through the support and coordination of the World Bank and the IMF, have split into two camps. While China and Germany, along with Japan, which has so far been attentive to be harmonious with the US and made this a fundamental element of its foreign policy, are against measures that restrict the free movement of capital and goods, the US and the UK are clearly defending protectionist measures. The US cannot make Japan toe the line as it did in the 1990s.

While transatlantic negotiations with the EU have stalled, free trade negotiations, more precisely negotiations to reduce the level of economic restrictions to a minimum, between the US and the Asian countries have been cancelled. With an increasing trade deficit with Germany, the US on the one hand is resorting to more protectionist measures, and on the other, is demanding greater access to EU and German markets. The US is pushing for measures similar to those it forced on Japan in the 1990s.

With the Trump administration, the US is following a more aggressive, inconsistent and crude political line. This makes relations and conflicts between the US and its allies, and within its administrative circles, more complicated and tense. It seems that with Trump, the contradictions between US capital circles and its administrative apparatus and the US allies will increase and become more prominent on the question of global tactics and priorities. Since his election, opposing groups have kept Trump’s removal on the agenda, people from his inner circles have been subjected to investigations, and the number of removals and resignations is increasing.

China, on the other hand, having the largest surplus of exports and being the fastest growing of major imperialist countries, is trying to close the technological gap with its rivals by renewing the technological basis of its economy, and to expand its sphere of influence by increasing its commodity and capital exports. It is also increasing its presence in advanced capitalist countries, doing everything in its power to take control of energy sources, transport routes, raw materials and capital investment fields in those countries with limited capital accumulation, where profit margins are high but the cost of land and labour is cheap. As well as penetrating the US and other advanced capitalist countries and their spheres of influence, China is gaining access to areas under the influence of Russia and other countries, and is getting ready for bigger and more decisive struggles. While developing and modernising its military forces and capacity for war, China follows an economic expansion policy like that of Germany, avoiding military interventions as much as possible, but not hesitating to show its military might when necessary. Renewing the technological framework of its arms industry, China is rapidly increasing investment in its military.

In addition to protectionist measures, the US also increased and strengthened its embargoes and sanctions last year against many countries such as Iran, Russia and North Korea, which did not surrender to its impositions and refused to be bound by its implied restrictions, with excuses like supporting terror, nuclear armament, breaches of international treaties, threatening global peace and security, etc. it. Germany and the EU, which did not openly protest and even colluded with these sanctions and embargoes in the past, have begun to change their position. Frictions and contradictions between the US and its old allies can no longer be hidden and are expressed openly. US sanctions and embargoes aim to prevent developing economic relations not only with these countries but also between them and third parties; they are especially aimed to prevent China and Germany – with insufficient energy resources – from resolving this issue outside of the influence and control of the US, as well as to prevent developing economic relations and possible alliances through this. Germany does not hold back from developing alternative approaches as seen in these cases as well as in Syria and Qatar.

With its valuable deposits of strategically important uranium and cobalt, other rich natural resources, cheap land and labour, the importance of Africa is increasing along with Latin America. Its fast growing population makes Africa an attractive market for capitalist monopolies and a scene for intense competition and fight among all imperialist countries, especially the US, China and France, taking various forms, including military coups, electoral misconducts, “ethnic cleansing”, “religious wars, massacres, military-economic embargos, blackmail and environmental destruction, etc. The fact that this headlong fight of imperialists and their collaborators for hegemony in Africa is waged in all forms (military, economic, social and cultural), makes the popular fight against imperialist plunder and violence inevitable. Therefore, it will not be surprising to see the outbreak of new popular uprisings in different parts of Africa against imperialism and its collaborators.

An unavoidable consequence of intensified imperialist struggles for bigger shares is the increased spending on arms and war. Increased worldwide tensions and contradictions lead to increased military expenditure. Imperialist countries arm themselves and their allies in order to get the biggest share of the global resources, to intimidate and crush their rivals. For the first time since 2011, worldwide ‘investment in arms’ compared to the previous year has risen by 0.4% to $1.68 trillion in 2016. More interestingly, the rise was 1.7% in the US, 5.4% in China and 5.99% in Russia, reaching 611, 215 and 69.2 billion dollars respectively. The restrictions on armament placed on Germany and Japan after WWII are gradually being lifted, and in the case of Japan, military investment is accelerating, with the support of the US, as part of the plan to encircle China (and its allies).

The arms industry is the monopoly of certain countries and is a major source of profit. Countries leading in arms exports are the US, Russia, China, France and Germany. The share of these countries in arms exports is 74% of the global total, with the US alone accounting for 33%.

3 – The importance of energy sources and routes, and the intensifying struggle for a bigger share in the Middle-East

As modern industry advances, the need for energy in production and in all aspects of social life increases. In capitalist society, where production is for profit and for the market, production and transfer of energy itself becomes a sector where great profit can be made, due to its rapidly growing place in the economy and capitalist investment. For this reason, the control of energy sources and their transport routes becomes more important.

Despite developments in harnessing nuclear, solar and wind energy, oil and natural gas (including shale gas) continue to be one of the most important sources of energy. None of these other sources can yet replace oil and gas as oil replaced coal. Furthermore, oil by-products are an important source of raw materials for industry. Hence, control of oil and natural gas resources, their transport routes and their transformation into usable energy are very important for all countries and the ruling classes, especially for the imperialist countries and monopolies. Most of the oil and gas fields are in the US, Venezuela, Norway, Russia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa. Also, this area is of great importance due to its accumulated capital from high oil income, widening markets and geo-political position. Therefore, just like other areas with rich oil and gas fields, the Middle East continues to be a region where imperialist countries and international financial capital intensify their struggle for access and hegemony. Control of energy sources and routes is important not only for high profits in this sector or for meeting and securing energy needs, etc., but also in cornering the rivals, restricting their expansion and keeping them under control.

In 2015 Russia had to increase its military presence and had direct military intervention in Syria, its most important ally in the Middle East, due to the increased risk of the regime in that country weakening and collapsing. With this intervention, Russia demonstrated once again that it would not abandon Syria and the Middle East to the imperialist countries led by the US, like it abandoned Libya, and would not hesitate to fight tooth and nail for it. The Russian intervention had an impact on power relations not only in Syria but in the whole of the Middle East, leading to a realignment of forces and a new hand of cards being dealt. Russia has intensified attempts to increase its influence in the region, using the contradictions within regional reactionary cliques and their conflicts with other imperialist countries. While intensifying efforts to benefit from the infighting between cliques in Libya to find a foothold and widen its opportunities for intervention, Russia is also working to improve relations with Iran, as well as Turkey (following the heightened tensions after the downing of its plane), Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, countries which the US has long depended on.

With its increased need for raw materials and energy, China signed new treaties, primarily with Russia and Iran to meet and secure its need for energy. It gives great importance to expanding its influence in all areas rich in oil and gas. For instance, China has invested approximately $56 billion dollars and is investing more in Pakistan under the project ‘the China Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC). China is developing a port in Gawadar in the province of Baluchistan to connect south west Pakistan with Xinjiang in western China. Through this connection with central and southern Asia, China wants to increase its profile both in terms of trade and political influence. CPEC comprises a network of 3200 km of highways in addition to railways which will eventually link Gawadar and Karachi with Western China. At present China only has a port in Shanghai in the east of the country; the majority of the country is landlocked and this area is the biggest importer of oil. It is also understood that prior to committing this investment, China obtained guarantees not only from Pakistan’s government but also its military top brass regarding the security situation, and we are witnessing the law and order situation gradually getting better in Pakistan. This also indicates that when it is useful to the bourgeoisie, then they can quickly and easily control the situation for their own profits and benefits.

Following Russia, the imperialist powers, and especially the US, moved to increase opportunities and avenues to intervene in the Middle East, to counter Russia’s interventions and attempts, and to prevent the shift in the balance of power. The US set up new military bases in Syria, increased its military presence in the region, deploying more troops in Iraq as well as Syria. Military interventions of the US and its allies in the region continue to increase. The US and Russia are careful to avoid direct confrontation in the region, but through proxy wars, using local forces they support and cooperate with, they are sharing every inch of Syria between them and broadening their influence in the region. Syria has become a stage where imperialist powers, primarily Russia and the US, square up to each other and try new weapons systems.

While imperialist powers are trying to widen their influence and reach in the region through direct interventions and the use of contradictions between regional reactionary ruling classes or cliques, these reactionary classes and cliques are trying to achieve their own reactionary goals in the region by relying on one or the other of these major imperialist powers and acting in accordance with their strategic and tactical preferences and plans. Turkey, under the leadership of Erdoğan and the AKP government, is one of these countries. On the one hand it is trying to obtain spheres of influence in the region through the rhetoric of Neo-Ottomanism, and on the other it is following reactionary and aggressive policies in an effort to prevent a solution to the Kurdish issue on the basis of equal rights and the right to self-determination, dragging the country into the quagmire of the fights for the re-division of the region. Hence, Turkey has become an element of instability in terms of the plans and moves of the imperialist countries fighting for control in the Middle East, and therefore it is a candidate to become one of the focal points where these dogfights will intensify. The attempted coup of 15 July, and the counter-coup that followed, took place with these developments in the background and created consequences that had an impact on subsequent developments.

Furthermore, in the process of writing this document, a new development occurred when Israel and Saudi Arabia attempted to open a new front in Lebanon under the umbrella of the US. It seems that France among the European imperialists is trying to gain a special position in this preparatory work. The short-term goal of this possible new front is to weaken the influence of Iran in the region and to safeguard Israel’s economic interests, especially in the eastern Mediterranean. For the US, the aim is to create the conditions for the Russian gains in Syria to become relative. It is obvious that the heavy burden of this possible front will tried to be shouldered by the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine.

The intensifying struggle for re-division, the deepening fragmentation and contradictions of the ruling classes and their political representatives are inflicting major suffering and devastation on the oppressed and exploited masses, as well as weakening regional reactionary forces and their social bases, and deepening the fault lines that will benefit progressive and democratic forces in the region. This deepening of fragmentation and contradictions will increase the opportunity of struggle of the oppressed and exploited classes, and also of the oppressed nations for self-determination, as well as the struggle for equal religious rights. The current weakness of progressive and democratic forces does not neuter this reality.

4 – The situation of the working class and peoples

In the last year, the struggle has intensified between international finance capital groups themselves and between major imperialist states for the re-division of the world, and the burden of this struggle was placed on the workers and peoples. While exploitation and oppression, and insecurity about the future among the oppressed and exploited masses has intensified, the profits of the monopolies has increased. Political reaction and fascist and semi-fascist currents as part of this were on the rise, and democratic rights and freedoms have been curbed. One of the largest mass migrations in human history is continuing, and millions face death, famine and poverty because of wars. Factors that push humanity and nature to destruction are continuing to develop.

The year since our last conference has also been a process where the factors and contradictions that weaken the imperialist-capitalist system and drag it towards its inevitable end have been aggravated; the false illusions spread by the financial oligarchy and the neoliberal propaganda and demagogy were exposed and weakened; and new pursuits, discontent and the tendency to struggle and organise among the exploited and oppressed classes and popular strata were developed.

Unemployment has risen globally to over 200 million people in 2016; the youth make up 71 million of this figure. According to the ILO, global unemployment is at 5.8%, and it rises to 13% among the youth. Youth unemployment in many countries has risen to above 20%; it is even higher in some countries and continues to rise. While real wages have fallen in many countries, they have fallen behind the increase in productivity levels in others. The ratio of waged labour to overall population in middle and high income countries is rising, but the ratio of wages to GDP has been falling for the past 40 years.

The number of people living below the poverty line, without access to most basic health, nourishment and educational provisions, continues to rise. The gap between the propertied and the propertyless has widened. According to the 2016 ‘Global Rich List’ published by Bank Credit Suisse, 10% of the richest people on earth own 90% of the global wealth, while 0.7% of the world’s population owns 45.6%.

Apart from the underdeveloped and dependent countries where reactionary, anti-democratic regimes continue to rule, in countries that are seen as shining examples of bourgeois democracy such as France and the UK, democratic rights and freedoms have been curbed further. Many countries passed legislations that curb the right to gather, demonstrate, march and strike. Police and military institutions have been given more power. Immunity of individuals and personal property, the right to communicate have been trampled upon. The UK has become one of the countries that increase the powers of the police and restrict the right to strike. Terrorist actions of reactionary groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaida – openly aiming to commit massacres – have increased and spread to developed capitalist countries.

As seen in the example of France, parliament was left toothless under the state-of-emergency and labour laws were changed, making jobs more precarious. In all countries – advanced or otherwise – intensity of labour has risen while working conditions have become harsher.

The more rapid capitalist development in the undeveloped and dependent countries has led women to join the ranks of waged labour in growing numbers, and the social conditions for full equal rights and their emancipation have developed even in these countries, but attacks aiming to curb the rights gained by women and the multi-faceted oppression and exploitation of women has also risen. Women’s legal and de-facto rights have regressed in almost all countries. Violence against women continues to rise globally. Those affected most by reactionary wars, economic crisis and stagnation have been women and children. In all countries, including the most advanced ones, short-term, temporary, precarious work under worse conditions have become widespread among women.

The mouthpieces of the financial oligarchy, especially the neo-liberals, ran a campaign claiming that the removal of barriers to the free movement of capital and goods, minimising government interventions, and leaving everything to the markets, etc. would lead to the end of all wars, universal harmony and a period of welfare and freedom. Neoliberal measures and policies were advocated for and blessed, not only by liberal and conservative bourgeois parties and currents but also by social democrats, democratic socialists and some sections of the disintegrating revisionist parties and currents. The dominance of neoliberal rhetoric, programmes and policies led to the blurring of non-essential differences between liberal, conservative, and social democratic bourgeois parties. In the eyes of the masses, most of these parties ceased to be alternatives to each other. In the last year, the factors that pushed neoliberalism, the parties and currents that advocate it, and the political superstructures that contain them to an impasse, and gradually to a crisis, have continued to develop.

However, contrary to what was indicated and promised, we have seen a process of increasing wars, restriction of freedoms, worsening working and living conditions for the oppressed and exploited classes. As this period continues, the oppressed and exploited masses start to see the results of neoliberal rhetoric and actions through their own experiences, breaking free from its influences, and searching for new alternatives. This tendency has led to recent developments in different directions.

One main development was in countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Greece among others, where the currents which opposed, at different levels and in different ways, the neoliberal policies and their consequences, which claimed to be left wing, populist, progressive and socialist without targeting the rule of the financial oligarchy and capitalism, were strengthened and became the alternative to traditional bourgeois parties, and even formed governments in some countries. Despite marked differences between them, in all the countries where they formed a government, these currents chose to not take steps to meet the immediate demands of the population or to mobilise the masses in a struggle to achieve their own demands; instead, as in Ecuador and Greece, they became the enforcers of these neoliberal policies and attacks. Or else, as seen in Venezuela, they failed to dissolve the regional basis of the hegemony of the imperialist and financial oligarchy or the economic basis that safeguarded that hegemony, and they led to failure and disappointment among the masses as they failed to take steps to meet the immediate needs of people in a way which would have weakened the oligarchy. In all cases, imperialism and oligarchies use the situation to cement their hegemony and to organise reactionary forces and fascism.

There have emerged tendencies and factions that oppose neoliberal policies and programmes within the ranks of conservative, liberal and social democratic parties. They led to changes in leadership, as witnessed within the Labour Party in the UK, and accelerated the dissolution and weakening of the Socialist Party in France. Especially in Europe, social democracy and the liberal left current in general have been in crisis. The practice of this current has caused broad working masses to be indifferent to the projects they propose against increasing poverty and insecurity.

While in many countries, traditional bourgeois parties have moved towards more reactionary programmes and lost the support of the masses, the neo-Nazi and chauvinist nationalist tendencies and currents which display characteristics of fascism and are anti-refugee and Islamophobic, have been strengthened and have increased their influence among the masses. These parties have come to power in Poland and Hungary, or have become opposition parties challenging traditional bourgeois parties in countries like France, Austria and Holland. A representative of the most reactionary and aggressive circles within US imperialism, initially, underestimated and despised, the erratic Trump has become the President. In France, the financial oligarchy that runs the country had to come up with a last-minute alternative to traditional parties. Despite campaigns, the levels of participation in elections have dropped in those countries that are seen as the cradle of liberalism, bourgeois parliamentarism and democracy.

While global struggles among imperialist powers for the re-division of the world have sharpened, exploitation and oppression increased, the yoke on oppressed nations tightened, the discontent and tendency to struggle has also developed. In many countries, these tendencies have become united mass movements. Demonstrations and strikes lasting for months were held by oppressed and exploited classes and strata in France against the planned changes in labour laws, led by the working class and the youth. The government, having passed the new labour law despite the rejection of the working class and the youth, has not only increased the existing anger but strengthened the tendency among the youth to radicalise.

General strikes by millions of workers against planned changes in labour laws were held in India, with demands for better living and working conditions. A general strike in Belgium, strikes in some sectors in the UK, and miners’ strikes in South Africa and Chile were significant workers’ struggles. In countries such as Greece and France, under pressure from the monopolies, mass farmer’s struggles developed. Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Morocco and Brazil saw mass struggles against the removal of gained rights and against attempts to form more reactionary regimes. In many countries, especially in the Dominican Republic, mass struggles developed against corruption and aggression by states. In Poland, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey and many other countries, attacks aimed at restricting gained rights were stopped by mass resistance and the struggle of women. The international character of the women’s movement has also advanced.

Nevertheless, these are struggles that could not overcome the limits of the spontaneous movement. The labour movement lacks leadership with a strategic and tactical understanding or a programme which aims at the full and final emancipation of the working class, and which is not confused by the complicated conditions of class struggle. It has also low levels of consciousness and organisation. Exceptions aside, neither has it reached a level to counter the national and global attacks or rein in the raving attacks of the financial oligarchy. Despite differing levels in different countries, unionisation is at a low level. Despite the increased tendency and attempts among workers to unionise in many countries, unionised workers globally account for a minority of the workforce, and the existing unions are mostly dominated by collaborationist and reactionary currents.

Despite all these weaknesses of the labour and mass movements, there exist the conditions and opportunities for revolutionary work among the exploited and oppressed masses, and especially the working class, and for organising and mobilising the masses against the ruling monopolist bourgeoisie and all forms of reaction. However, the reactionary ruling class (or alliance of classes) and all mechanisms of hegemony are not indifferent to these developments. They also mobilise all agents and tools to influence the thrust and pursuits that develop among the masses, in accordance with their changing preferences and interests.

They are waging a demagogic campaign among the masses to organise reactionary forces and fascism, using the consequences of waves of migration, increasing terror attacks, economic crisis and stagnation, moving production to areas of cheap labour and land by monopolies in search of maximum profit, etc., which are all caused by the actions of imperialist states and their allies. We have to see that, under the present circumstances when the effects of the defeat of socialism is continuing and the international workers’ movement and its parties are still weak, this reactionary tendency which is founded on racism and nationalism – which portrays itself as the so-called solution, based on racism and nationalism, on social inequality and contradictions is advancing and influencing an ever wider sections of the workers and the working masses.

These attempts by reformist, conciliatory currents, as well as the bourgeoisie, especially its ruling section, the monopolist bourgeoisie, and reaction, can only be rendered toothless through continuous revolutionary work, built on a scientific programme and around correct strategic and tactical understanding, which will help the masses learn through their own experiences. One of the vital components of this work is the struggle for immediate demands of the masses and the creation of platforms and the broadest alliances around these demands. Only through such work can the rising discontent and resentment be advanced towards the obliteration of the hegemony of imperialism and its foundations, which is dragging humanity and nature towards deep anguish and destruction, to building a classless, society that is free from exploitation and oppression. This task can only be carried out by revolutionary parties of the working class, equipped with the theory of scientific socialism and engaged in appropriate practice and struggle.

November 2017

[1] 1.2% in the last quarter of 2016, 0.6% and 1.2% in the first two quarters of 2017 respectively.

[2] The global volume of trade: 1.8% in the last quarter of 2016 and 1.4% and 0.4% in the first two quarters of 2017 respectively.

[3] Reaching 15-20% pre-crisis but falling with the crisis to 5.4% at the end of 2008, Chinese industrial growth has risen with the recovery of global trade. Despite the fact that industrial growth reached almost 20% at the end of 2009, China could not sustain this level growth.

[4] Shrinking between 0.6 and 5.5% in 2015 and 3.4% smaller compared to 2014, Russian industrial production grew inconsistently and at a very low level in 2016. This growth continues above the expected level in 2017.

[5] This ratio is 248 for the US and 270% for the Eurozone.