Evaluation of Present Situation; And Proposal for Revolutionary Left Unity
1. The Covid-19 pandemic has paralyzed the human society at global level. This has led to further worsening of the already permanently crisis-ridden world capitalist economy. Still, treating this as business s usual, the imperialists and their junior partners everywhere are trying to intensify their neoliberal plunder of the working class and nature, and at the same time to throw the whole burden of the crisis on to the backs of the working class and the oppressed people. It is true for the whole world including India.
2. Major capitalist crises are major, just because they bring a great deal of uncertainty and require abnormal responses from the ruling classes as well as from the revolutionary forces. While the fascist ruling classes are showing their own in the way they are known for, by resorting to more pernicious measures whether in pursuing neo-liberal policies or in introducing fascist onslaught, revolutionary forces are yet to show any such initiative of their own and come out with a well defined plan to counter them. The most necessary
Plan as for today on the part of the revolutionary forces is certainly to get united in the first place, as without this it is now even more difficult to challenge the fascist multipronged response with respect to and in the name of dealing with this Covid-19 health and economic crises.
If a major crisis turns permanent, like the one that erupted in 2008, it makes even abnormal responses far more difficult for the ruling classes. Since then, this is our experience that it has not been easy for capitalism to move on from there. Covid-19 has hit world capitalism just at such a time. The present juncture of crisis as induced by Covid-19 is such that it is giving rise to permanent and successive moments of turmoil with bold openings for new political developments. Good or bad depends upon how working class forces and oppressed people rise to the occasion and act to lead the oppressed humanity in such a grave situation. But one thing is sure, if we don't act boldly to seize the opportunity thrown to us in the given circumstances such as these, the reactionary fascist forces will surely utilize this situation to crush even whatever democracy is left.
Today's crisis of world capitalism, as it stands more accentuated and aggravated by Covid-19 pandemic, has little chance to get stymied by any government or bank measures. In no way is it poised to be overcome or stemmed by fiscal or financial measures. Its edifice is crumbling and falling non-stop. If we don't seize this moment, the fascists surely will, and where the fascists are already in power they will get further strengthened. If not overthrown by a revolution, crisis will further worsen and help fascists to fix humanity even more perniciously. In this lies a great opportunity, though it may seem impossible to many, for the working class and oppressed people and humanity to strike at the roots of the crisis and come out with a better world. Let us all show our revolutionary will, exemplary courage and come up with such a dream with a well planned offensive, in the situation when we see fascists tightening their grip.
Insofar as Covid-19 has seemingly forced a shift in narrative on public health and a change in discourse on the future of neo-liberalism and globalization as being evident among bourgeois economic experts, it bears not much substance and is like a temporary fit stemming from internal convulsions caused by the sudden and severe attack of Covid-19 pandemic. Nothing much sans a few cosmetic changes and a temporary ostentatious makeover is going to occur. Even that may evaporate once normalcy resumes. Neither is neo-liberalism going to be put in back gear, nor is there any possibility of globalization getting reversed. There is, however, an avalanche of such views pouring in from all directions that seek to paint a picture of their reprocessing, if not reversing. This is a newly born utopia of the petty bourgeoisie class being expressed and echoed by the bourgeois economists/experts with a sinister plan to divert the public attention away from realizing the need of rebuilding a new society on the ruins of capitalism. Such a narrative is a veiled attempt to further help the completely rotten and inefficient capitalist system get some lease of life that stands threatened due to increasing mass unrest in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic attack. Long supply chains collapsed and hard borders are back and international travel has been severely constrained, yet this is not going to be a permanent takeaway of today's situation. The revolutionary sections of the working class must not fall victim to it and grasp that its reversal lies in completely dismantling and overthrowing it. Given the gigantic growth of monopolies and level of centralization, growing merger of the monopolies giants with the state and thus taking over by them of all its organs, no switch over from private control to state control is possible, either. There will be no let up in growth of barbarism all its way if the present situation is not overturned by the revolutionary forces of the working class.
The outbreak of SARS virus in 2003 and MERS in 2012 were sufficient warnings on the danger of emergence of such viruses and other severe calamities as a result of continuing ecological devastation. As became evident in 2019 Madrid conference on climate, following US administration under Trump, many imperialist forces and neo-colonially dependent countries also went even against Kyoto Protocol like treaties in practice. So, carbon gas emission, deforestation etc intensified further. In this situation, it was already warned by many scientific studies that old viruses may get mutated and appear again in more dangerous forms, or new viruses shall appear as many of them dormant for many millennia have come out as glaziers in both poles are melting and breaking as a result of global warming. So, it will not be incorrect to point out that the capitalist imperialist system in its most voracious and devastating neoliberal/corporate phase is responsible for the outbreak of novel corona virus or Covid19
Capitalism as a system of production runs on the objective logic surplus value or profit and this is manifested primarily as the contradiction between capital and labour and, secondly, also as competition among the class of capitalists for market that eventually leads to development of science and technology that increases efficiency of labour and thus become a productive force. It is here that the source of an immense and never-ending development in scientific knowledge and technology ushers in human history. However, as knowledge and technology are not just the fruits of capitalist mode of production based on profit and they existed even in prior societies, yet it is capitalism that created enormous potential, hitherto completely unknown, for humans to explore into the natural sources of knowledge rendering its laws and having got the power of the methods to reckon with them. Thus, it has also created a great potential to intervene into the Natural world external to human species. The problem is that the extent and nature of the realization of the scientific potential that capitalism produced or engendered in a positive manner is undermined by the objective logic of profit. The whole development of capital is contradictory and this is now most reflected in the destruction of Nature in the worst way. Thus, only by way of exploiting the contradiction between labour and capital has capitalism attained the capacity to destroy the nature. Capitalism created capacities that now remain idle as a result of loss of areas and options of further investment of capital and hence it has now gone on a destruction spree. It has led to unprecedented destruction of productive forces, too, in the absence of the requisite profit incentive. Marx had already said that capital is the real barrier of capitalist production and the means of capitalist development i.e. the unconditional development of the productive forces of society comes continually into conflict with the limited purpose, the self-expansion of the existing capital that hence the laws of development of capital that feeds and grows on exploitation of labour finally leads to destruction of capital, Nature and the whole society through wars, hunger, malnutrition, diseases, inviting natural calamities and all possible means and measures.
Coming to the present crisis, when Covid-19 invaded, once again the warnings coming from scientists were neglected for many weeks by almost all the leaders of the main capitalist world. As China is most globalized economy, Covid19 spread very fast through international passengers. Then there were lockdowns and other abrupt reactions, without making any prior preparations in the medical field or in preparing the government machinery and the masses for it. As a result, the number of affected and dead went up phenomenally, and the masses of workers as in India were subjected to avoidable human tragedy, seeing which it can be said that more will die due to hunger and other diseases than due to pandemic.
The pandemic has almost stopped all manufacturing activities and paralyzed the whole service sector, the economy is severely affected. So, in spite of the fact that the number of people affected and dead have reached almost 3.5 million and more than 3 lakhs globally, and these numbers are still increasing, most of the governments have decided to go for some form of phasing out of the lockdown, while developing vaccines and medicines to contain Covid-19 may take many months or even more. So, clearly covid-19 is going to stalk the planet for a longer time to come. It is also a fact that covid-19 can even switch over to back gear and show its resurgence in places where it was controlled and contained. Also, it may attack in waves like manner while the present phase is just its first wave. Whether world capitalism which is based on only profit motive will efficiently and effectively be able to manage this before it becomes even a greater catastrophe in future is the major question before the whole humanity. Crisis-ridden as the world capitalism already was before covid-19 struck, it is highly expected that world capitalism may seek to project and resort to some very irrational or even false steps in the name of curbing it resulting in its most dangerous flaring up. Even in Africas and Americas, its spread has shown some very disturbing and troubling upward trend. The poor countries are in very precarious situation in facing this pandemic.
Like in most other countries, In India too, it was much after WHO's declaration of a pandemic and health emergency that the Modi government decided to act, that also through an abrupt announcement of lockdown only after Trump's announcement of it in the US. And the lockdown was announced by Modi, without making any preparations for many weeks for facing the pandemic at national level, without planning the action with the state governments who have to do the actual field work, without providing financial assistance to them, without taking into consideration what will be the plight of the 40 to 50 crores of casual/contract workers, most of whom are migrant workers who will lose jobs and shelter. Still, after 55 days of lock downs, no sufficient arrangements for testing, treatment of patients, for isolation and quarantine, for medicines, equipments or safety gear has been made. As a result, though the phasing out is started from 4th May, the Covid19 graph shows no sign of flattening in India and both infection rate and death rate remain high.
The first glaring fact before us is that, similar to what happened in earlier occasions like 2003 and 2012, though the Ecological Catastrophe is coming nearer intensifying climate change and global warming, giving rise to possibilities for Covind19 pandemic like crises more frequently, threatening even the extinction of the human species from the earth, once again the global capitalist-imperialist system and its junior partners like Modi are still showing no serious concern to this grave issue. So, the chasm between capital and humanity based on the basic contradiction of labour vs. capital, as reflected in the ongoing unfettered capitalist destruction of Nature is intensifying very fast. Therefore we should make all efforts to take it up internationally through all possible platforms, and within the country by developing our studies and discussions with like-minded forces. We should launch a powerful movement focusing on this question, educating the whole humanity of the need of replacing this capitalist world with a new world based not on profit, but on the overall well being of the whole humanity. We should fight the capitalist-imperialist system and its junior partners with the strategic concept of overthrowing their rule.
The world economy is facing the biggest plunge since the Great Depression of the 1930s-- economic contraction as of now is estimated at an absolute shrinkage of around 9 trillion dollars, equal to the combined GDP of Germany and Japan--not happened even during WW II, as at that time the war-oriented production was flourishing. The consequences including unemployment, poverty, destitution, etc. are going to be unimaginable. These developments have considerably weakened the US position as world's largest economy for more than a century. With around 800 military bases all over the world and military spending of around three times that of China, in spite of its most destructive military machine, in the long-run it will be difficult for it to sustain its present hegemonic positions. NATO is going to weaken further. US economy is slowing down. It is also losing its grip over UN system as is manifested in the recent of WHO’s stand leaning to the side of China, which is already the biggest commodity exporter and trading partner and is trying for establishing its supremacy in the capital export, too through OBOR initiative, etc. There are possibilities for the new vigor and avenues opened for Digitisation and Digital currency before and during the pandemic and global lockdown may reduce the role of US dollar's international role as medium of exchange and store of value. This may have its impact in US led imperialist institutions, IMF, World Bank, WTO and their subsidiaries. The inter-imperialist contradictions and trade war shall assume new dimensions, and Post-COVID international relations also may change accordingly.
The total disruption in production, supply chains, transportation, trade, travel, etc. in the post-pandemic situation is not going to revert to the earlier position but to a new situation with far-reaching consequences for the working class, especially for the 'informal working class', the women, migrants, refugees and all oppressed. With the latest developments in data processing, production and processing technologies, capital will try to bring about an alteration in the accumulation process and for avoiding possible disruptions in future. As at present, as there is no immediate possibility for an intervention by the revolutionary forces, the new international division of labour that is going to emerge will put heaviest burdens on the back of the working people and oppressed. Along with possible alterations in energy use, pattern of employment including more emphasis on home-based work, and lengthening of working time, emphasis on video conferencing instead of travel and physical meeting, adaptation to electronic mode and e-services, change in education system and research, etc. will have far-reaching consequences for the working class. Though no immediate intervention looks possible, primarily due to absence of a strong revolutionary working class party, yet there are such indications coming from the whole world that throws possibilities of widespread unorganized and spontaneous working class eruptions of protests and revolts and this gives a very strong ground that can be utilized to move on from here and get prepared to give a befitting challenge to the ruling classes. No doubt, this needs an all India party having roots in the working class and the toiling masses. So, we find there is still a silver lining even where there are dark clouds all around.
What is going to happen in the Indian situation should be analyzed in this global context. The increasing economic contraction and social crisis in India, with its own specificities, can become more gruesome, under one of the most reactionary regimes in the world. Among other things, the un-organized and informal workers, whose number according to ILO is 400 milllions, comprising 95 percent of Indian working class, including inter-state migrants question is unique to India. This issue has become glaring in the pandemic context. The case of another 6.5 million Indian migrant workers in Gulf countries, majority of whom are in labour camps, is another serious issue that needs attention of the revolutionary forces. They have to give specific attention to such areas and work out programs for organizing them. As the Modi regime is utilising COVID19 pandemic as an opportunity for speeding up implementation of the RSS agenda of Hindu Rashtra, revolutionary forces likewise should strive for a counter-offensive appropriately intervening in this situation.
It will be factually, analytically and historically wrong to think that the imperialist system and all those who follow its neoliberal path shall change because of the Covid19 pandemic. From what the ruling classes are doing even while the pandemic continues, it is clear that they take this as business as usual even though the bourgeois experts are saying things that seem to suggest otherwise i.e. a change or shift in narrative, in a direction opposite to the one that goes with neo-liberalism. But, in actual life, as said above, there is nothing to suggest such a change. Once preventive vaccine and medicines are developed, they will feel free to continue destroying nature in pursuit of capitalist greed, which is going to never end. At the same time, they are utilizing the present opportunity to take away more rights of the working class and the oppressed people and to make the system more fascistic.
Though Covid19 affected all, all the burden of the crisis was thrown to the back of the masses. They are in colossal misery, with practically no end to it in sight. It is possible that more people may die due to starvation or commit suicide due to agony than the ones who will die due to Covid-19. The way Modi government is communalizing the issue spreading Islamophobia, pushing forward RSS agenda, arresting more Muslim students and youth falsely alleging involvement in anti-CAA movement or Delhi pogrom, using police force to suppress people under all pretexts, refusing to provide shelter, food and medical care for the millions dumped in concentration camps like places, not procuring adequate medical equipments, safety kits, testing kits, medicines etc, it is dead sure that this natural calamity will remain no more natural and will turn into a capitalist and imperialist driven man-made perpetration of the biggest ever human tragedy, while ruling classes are stipulating siphoning of whatever social wealth created by human labour is left with the society and the government. This is increasingly alienating the masses and forcing them to revolt. The revolutionaries must take this into account while assessing the overall situation. There are still signs of hope.
Like the whole capitalist world, India too was facing serious recession, leading to galloping unemployment when the Covid crisis broke out. During the last two months, if the Covid-19 crisis has led the world economic scene to an acute crisis; in India, the condition is going to become worse. What is going to happen? In 1970s when serious crisis broke out, the world capitalist-imperialist system adopted neoliberal policies of globalization, liberalization and privatization, threw the entire burden of the crisis to the backs of the working class and oppressed peoples, while making more accumulation of wealth in the hands of elite and ruling classes. Again, when the 2008 crisis happened, they further intensified plunder of labour and nature and got more enriched, accumulating most of the world’s wealth in fewer hands. Though the neoliberal model advocated by IMF, World Bank and WTO has failed, instead of accepting it, in the post-Covid19 phase they will be further called for taking plunder of human labour and nature to unprecedented and newer levels to continue their barbarous practice. Irrespective of whatever may be the consequences of the sharpening trade war between US and China, whoever may come to dominance, similar to what happened repeatedly in the past, this time also the working class and the oppressed people shall be the losers, if the present hegemony of the global imperialist system and its junior partners is allowed to continue. So, appropriate action should be taken to continue ongoing efforts more vigorously, while intensifying the ideological struggle focusing on how capitalist imperialist system is intensifying its attacks on labour and nature, from a revolutionary perspective.
Coming to state of India's economy in brief, let us be more specific to the point. After 55 days of lockdown, while the workers and toiling masses are clueless about the ways and means of their survival in the face of mounting unemployment and hunger like situations that may not subside even after lock down is over
At the same time, Modi government is providing all forms of incentives, writing off of bank loans, cut in taxes, delayed payment of taxes, packages to ensure their profit to the corporate houses. The main content of the ‘Rs.’20 lakh crores’ package announced by Modi is basically for helping the entrepreneurs of all levels. Besides, the chief ministers, especially of the BJP ruled states are coming forward with the cut down of all labour rights, reducing them to bonded labour, to please these blood suckers.
Actually, while the actual preparations for opening up is started from 4th May, the Modi government has accepted all demands of the Indian big and medium bourgeois have been demanding for the last few weeks their desire that government should take over the existing bad loans and also provide some kind of future guarantee to take over such bad loans if they go bad in the event of failure of economic recovery. So clearly the crisis has sent things to their extreme limit. That means, transferring not only today's, but also future capitalists’ private losses to the public finances. It only means that the worst of neo-liberalism is yet to come. Worst form of austerity and extortionist methods such as extracting higher taxes and levies from public shall be clamped upon the masses. This also shows that, notwithstanding pessimistic claims that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it's time for the revolutionary forces to brace up for something more than being confined and shackled to 'spontaneity', even if it is resorted to in the name of immediate demands of working class. The key task here is to combine the most immediate demands with appropriately well defined intermediary political demands and then to finally come up with the slogans of proletarian led revolutionary interventions in due course of time.
It is already clear how the burden of the pandemic is going to be thrown to the backs of the migrant workers, to the urban and rural poor to the masses of the people in general. Already, there are calls for moratorium on trade unions for a year. Another call is, to help economic recovery the workers should work in 12 hour shifts with same pay. All labour laws have been suspended. Some are calling for cutting the wages to Rs 200 per day like that of MNREGS workers. Though the government asked the managements to pay the wages for lockdown period to workers, following a writ petition, the Supreme Court has in effect invalidated it.
So, in the post- lockdown phase, firstly, an all round intensification of plunder of the working class, natural resources and the agricultural sector by the corporate forces can be expected, making life more miserable for them and intensifying the agrarian crisis, too. Secondly, while intensifying Islamophobia, more genocides as happened in Northeast Delhi may be resorted to, intensifying police raj and all out attack on Muslims, dalits, Adivasis and other backward sections and women. There will be a powerful move again to launch the NPR along with Census to prepare the NRC based on CAA. Along with these. Modi government may go for more militarization and closer relation with US imperialism, whipping up anti- China campaign further and attempts at a possible military skirmish with Pakistan. And we must make no mistake, using such planks and these and many other grounds, an anti-communist law may also be brought through as an ordinance.
It means we are going to face a very testing time both internationally and within the country. We have to get prepared to fight on all these fronts and also against the continuing impact of Covid19 among the urban and rural poor. It is better to start discussion on these questions, to unite the revolutionary left forces and to make the whole movement politically and organizationally prepared to take up these challenges.
This evaluation and proposals are being sent for discussion to all revolutionary organizations with an appeal to unite so that the fascist offensives in such a condition of a serious health and economic crisis could be countered and the regressive situations may be overturned.
Comrades, let us take up immediate tasks, and combine them with intermediary political demands as emanating from the immediate tasks, and finally come up with revolutionary slogans of proletarian led intervention in due course of time. The preparation of such tasks can be taken up once a possibility of a broad unity seems to be arriving and surfacing. If the revolutionary left forces agree, in the main, with this analysis and proposals, or are prepared to sit together for discussion with others based on it, we can advance to drafting the Common Program for coordination, if immediate unity is not possible, and united actions based on it. Our appeal is, comrades, at this critical juncture, let us take up this challenge.
KN Ramachandran, GS, CPI (ML) Red Star,
Ajay Sinha, GS, CPI (ML) PRC.
Dated 17th May, 2020