1 May 2023
As workers across the world gather to celebrate May Day, the global economy is teetering on the edge of another, perhaps more severe, downturn merely a decade and a half after the so-called “Great Recession.” The recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the United States and the emergency take-over of Credit Suisse in Switzerland are signs that the rampant inflation that is squeezing working-class living standards may trigger a sudden and catastrophic downward spiral. Paradoxically, the higher interest rates that central banks have been imposing ostensibly to tame price increases have not only transferred wealth to the financial sector but also led to a run on the banks, which are dependent on bonds whose value has decreased under those higher interest rates. The capitalist state’s “solution” is to guarantee the bad investments of the financial parasites and pump more (fictitious) money into the system, further exacerbating an inflation initiated by trillion-dollar bailouts to the corporations during and before the Covid-19 crisis.
The underlying cause of these financial convulsions is not bad government policy or poor decision-making by banking executives or the capitalists withdrawing their deposits. Rather, the looming crisis is, as Marxist economist Michael Roberts has put it, rooted in “the overaccumulation of capital in the productive sectors of the economy or, in other words, falling profitability of investment and production” (thenextrecession.wordpress.com, 27 March 2023). The tendency for the rate of profit to decline is a product of the contradictions of the capitalist system. The result will be a further consolidation of wealth in the upper echelons of finance and increasingly severe attacks on workers.
Imperialism is the global capitalist system in its period of putrid decay—the competition of “great power” vampires seeking to suck more surplus value out of the so-called developing world. Still the leading imperialist country, the US is scrambling in desperation to maintain its grip on “spheres of influence” in every corner of the globe. China, a post-capitalist state establishing more and more economic ties around the world, has therefore become a primary target of imperial planners in Washington, which has ramped up its aggressive campaign to undermine Beijing. As we recently explained, “Marxists advocate unconditional defense of the country against imperialist attack and domestic counterrevolution” while “taking no responsibility for the Stalinist caste that controls the Chinese deformed workers’ state” (“Inching towards WWIII”).
Presently, the most acute geopolitical crisis is the conflict in Ukraine, where the US and its NATO allies are waging a proxy war against their weaker imperialist rival, Russia. Washington dramatically upped the ante last September when it blew up three of the four Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russian natural gas to Western Europe. Essentially an act of war against Russia (and Germany), the destruction of the pipelines is an alarming indication of the potential for the current conflict to escalate into a direct (thermonuclear) military confrontation. Marxists call for the defeat of all the imperialist powers, emphasizing that “the main enemy is at home!” We advocate workers’ strikes to block the shipment of war materiel to NATO’s Ukrainian proxy and sabotage the imperialist war machine.
If capitalism somehow manages not to destroy civilization through world war, it will do so through climate change. The unplanned and increasingly irrational economic system of production for private profit must accumulate as much surplus value as possible, regardless of the human or environmental toll. In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a “final warning” about the consequences of human-induced climate change, which will impact most severely those living in areas pillaged by imperialism:
“More than 3bn people already live in areas that are ‘highly vulnerable’ to climate breakdown, the IPCC found, and half of the global population now experiences severe water scarcity for at least part of the year. In many areas, the report warned, we are already reaching the limit to which we can adapt to such severe changes, and weather extremes are ‘increasingly driving displacement’ of people in Africa, Asia, North, Central and South America, and the south Pacific.”
—Guardian, 20 March 2023
Every class-divided mode of production eventually exhausts its capacity to advance more than it limits the growth of humanity’s productive forces. Having reached this stage over a century ago, the bourgeois mode of production now threatens to bring the world crashing down around it.
Capitalism must be destroyed, and it has assigned to the working class the historic task of destroying it. The proletariat has no new form of private property to substitute, while at the same time it is impelled towards collectivism by the objective cooperation rooted in an increasingly complex and far-reaching societal division of labor. The solution to the immediate and long-term needs of workers is thus the expropriation of the capitalist class and the subjection of economic activity to the conscious, democratic planning of the working class on a global scale.
Working people struggling against capitalist exploitation are disoriented by bourgeois ideology and the demobilizing efforts of the trade-union bureaucracy and reformist political parties—as evidenced clearly in the class struggle in France today (see “French Pension Strikes Rattle Bourgeoisie”). Fighting for socialist revolution and the creation of workers’ states to oversee the transition to the communist mode of production therefore requires the construction of an international Bolshevik-type party to break the grip of the bureaucrats and fake socialists upon whom capitalism relies to prop up its rule. Now more than ever, the urgent task of sincere revolutionaries is to engage with one another in serious discussions of program—to initiate the process of splits and fusions necessary to building a mass revolutionary workers’ party.
1er mai : Le capitalisme doit être détruit !
French Pension Strikes Rattle Bourgeoisie (25 March 2023)
Inching towards WWIII (10 March 2023)
May Day: Oppose Imperialist War (1917 No.46)