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IMPERIALIST CRISIS, NEO-LIBERAL OFFENSIVE AND RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM

27 November 2016
Paper presented by KN Ramachandran, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Red Star at the International Seminar at National Press Club, Dhaka on 29th October, during the 11th Congress of the Communist Party of Bangladesh from 28th to 31st October – Red Star

THE greatest challenge facing the international working class and the oppressed masses presently is that the crisis-ridden global imperialist system is hell-bent on to promote the neoliberal policies of globalization-liberalization-privatization along with corporatization through all possible means to intensify its neocolonial domination in all fields for perpetuating its hegemony. Linked with this, it is also pursuing behind their backs, war preparations far exceeding the level of popular consciousness which only benefits the capitalist elites. It was over one hundred years ago the First World War was imposed over the people for the division of the world among the imperialists. The end of WWI in 1918 was followed two decades later by the eruption of the Second World War, accompanied by the horrors of fascism, for the re-division of the colonial possessions. Together, they took the lives of 100 million people and devastated vast portions of the globe.

The brutal colonial plunder and the consequences of these world wars increasingly put forward the choice of imperialist barbarism or socialism sharply before the world people. The increasing awareness of the barbarous character of the imperialist system among the working class and colonially oppressed peoples, the initiation of the socialist path of development in Soviet Union and its great contributions in defeating the fascist forces paved the way for the emergence of a powerful socialist camp by the end of the WW II. The national liberation movements against colonial powers were also becoming stronger. Confronted by these great challenges from the socialist forces, the imperialist camp under its newly emerged leader, the US, realized the need for new devices and methods of capital expansion and plunder. Therefore imperialism initiated important steps for transforming the colonial forms of plunder with neocolonial forms, by launching the process of ‘de-colonization’ transferring power to the comprador classes during the post-WWII years in order to facilitate further global expansion of finance capital and its free entry everywhere. This transformation imparted a qualitative dimension to imperialist domination defined as neocolonialism in the postwar period.

For augmenting this process of neocolonial plunder, a whole set of institutional arrangements were needed. At the political level, the United Nations, its Security Council and various agencies were established for exerting political control over the global community of countries. At the economic level, through the Bretton Woods Conference, IMF and World Bank were installed with US veto power for speeding up the imperialist control over international monetary system and free financial flows. The GATT was established for manipulating international trade in tune with imperialist market interests. To ensure global military domination, NATO was formed involving both US and European imperialists with its headquarters in Europe. A whole set of US-led military engagements like SEATO, CENTO, etc. along with hundreds of military bases around the world for military interferences also came into being. In continuation to these, based on Keynesian economics, the state intervention in the field of production and services, along with welfare concepts were promoted. Side by side, the imperialist think tanks were promoting all anti-communist, reformist ideologies. To weaken the left advances in West Asia during the post-WWII period, the Zionist rule in Israel, and in the name of opposing it, the Islamic fundamentalists were promoted. In a way it was a continuation and advancement of the ‘divide and rule’ policy used by the British and other colonialists to create communal divide and weaken the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal movements.

The developments during these post-WWII decades reveal that neither the international communist movement (ICM) could correctly evaluate and take lessons from these counter revolutionary offensives by the imperialist camp, nor it could develop its own theory and practice according to the new situation to combat them effectively. The Keynesian policies and public sector and other forms of state capitalism promoted by imperialism to tide over its crisis were misinterpreted by the right opportunist and revisionist trends in ICM as automatic and peaceful move towards socialism. Including these, the severe setbacks suffered by the ICM during the last five decades and the survival of the hegemony of the imperialist system along with the growth of religious fundamentalism and sectarian racist, neo-fascist, and casteist like forces should be seen in this context.

The history of the earlier phase of the ICM show that Second International got liquidated when its leadership failed to correctly analyze the transformation of capitalist system to monopoly capitalism, or imperialism, and to develop its own theory and practice accordingly. Only when this weakness was rectified under Lenin’s leadership, only when a correct analysis of these changes was put forward in “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, developing the theory and practice of revolution in the imperialist era, and developing the path of revolution in Russia, the October Revolution could become victorious and the ICM could advance under the Communist International. When the imperialist camp transformed its colonial plunder to neocolonial forms during the post-WWII years almost a similar challenge confronted the ICM.

The right reformist trend which came to dominance in the CPSU by that time argued that the imperialist system has weakened and the ICM can advance through “peaceful co-existence and peaceful competition with imperialism, and through peaceful transition to socialism”. The path of class struggle was replaced by path of class collaboration. Though Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Tse-Tung in its polemics against Krushchovian revisionism correctly interpreted neocolonialism as more “pernicious and sinister form of colonialism”, the subsequent advent of left adventurism in CPC failed to make any concrete analysis of it further. The vigilance against the ideological, political offensive, against the policies and dominant ideas of the ruling imperialist system was abandoned. The line of demarcation between the imperialist and socialist path started getting obliterated. It was in this situation all alien ideological trends, like post modernism, post-Marxism and its offshoot the ‘identity politics’, religious fundamentalism, racism, casteism, etc. got strengthened under the patronage of imperialists and their lackeys.

But, in spite of the severe setbacks to the socialist forces under this rightist offensive and the weakening of the socialist challenge to it, the imperialist camp had started confronting a new crisis as manifested through the intensifying stagflation by the 1970s. State intervention, ‘welfare state’, regulation of financial markets, etc., pursued in the initial postwar decades could provide only temporary relief to the capitalist imperialist system. On the other hand, under the Keynesian camouflage, imperialism had been reproducing and piling up its inherent contradictions on an unprecedented scale leading to stagnation in production, massive unemployment and widespread inflation throughout the world in an unparalleled manner. This crisis arising in relation to growing inter-imperialist rivalry also exposed the relative weakness of USA, the supreme arbiter of the postwar neocolonial order and, as a manifestation, it was forced to abolish the convertibility of dollar in to gold, exposing the vulnerability of the Bretton Woods system itself. The “oil shocks” of the early seventies also fuelled this crisis further. All these developments compelled the imperialists to abandon Keynesian policies.

Unlike in the past where temporary recoveries were possible, the developments since the crisis of the seventies have revealed certain new trends in the global political and economic scenario. It was very clear that the so called “crisis-free capitalism” of the fifties and sixties could not be repeated anymore. The internationalization of production led by MNCs using the latest developments in production, transportation and communication technologies and unprecedented expansion of world market have transformed every crisis appearing in any part of the world in to a global one. Imperialist efforts to overcome stagflation through neoliberal policies starting with Thatcherism and Reaganomics have imposed greater burdens on the working class and broad masses of people. Deindustrialization, outsourcing of work to global destinations with cheap labour, downsizing and roll back of the state, cut in social spending and deregulation of finance, etc. had laid down the basis for a prolonged period of joblessness and global financial explosion. At the same time, the collapse of East Europe and Soviet Union by the end of the 1980s and capitalist restoration in China followed by its eventual integration with imperialist market opened up new avenues for finance capital by way of a further expansion of the world market and inter-nationalization of speculative finance capital. Under imperialist globalization since the 1990s, downsizing of the public sector, privatization and liberalization became the mantra even in neocolonial countries. Incessant attacks on the hard-earned democratic rights of workers and oppressed peoples became the norm. As a result, even as stagnation and unemployment continued, profits of MNCs and global financial giants went on reaching new heights. This enabled imperialist centres and funded research institutions to carry on with their “end of history” and “end of ideology” prognoses.

But this euphoria was short-lived. The eruption of the 2008 crisis and the financial and economic breakdown that continue without any let up once again exposed the vicious cycle of crisis engulfing the whole imperialist system under neo-liberalism. The exponential growth of financial speculation worth trillions of dollars utilizing the latest developments in digitization and plunder of nature at the expense of job-oriented genuine productive activity have led to a social and ecological crisis threatening the very sustenance of humankind itself. In this context, imperialism faces both a policy paralysis and an ideological crisis. Though apologists and reformists of the ruling system suggest neo-Keynesian solutions to overcome the present crisis, erstwhile fiscal manipulations are non-viable today on account of soaring public debt at a global level.

As space for manoeuvres such as “rescue packages”, such as “quantitative easing” for big corporate companies is fast-depleting, talk of a return from monetarism—contemporary version of laissez-faire—to neo-Keynesianism by bourgeois ideologues is not all a sustainable solution. As a reflection of the mounting crisis arising from imperialist aggression and plunder, the international “refugee crisis” has become unmanageable even as imperialist countries and centres such as US, EU, etc., are propping up anti-immigrant, chauvinist, neo-fascist forces to divert people’s simmering discontent against the ruling classes. Brexit like phenomena should also be seen in the broader context of mounting imperialist crisis. Meanwhile, unknown levels of concentration of wealth with corporate MNCs and billionaires on the one hand, and unprecedented poverty and deprivation of the world people on the other together with gruesome ecological destruction have reached horrific proportions the world over, both in imperialist and neo-colonially dependent countries.

In spite of this counter revolutionary offensive involving neoliberal attack on workers and broad masses of toiling people along with increasing plunder of natural resources, the world crisis since 2008 is a clear manifestation that the imperialist and the comprador regimes could not overcome the mounting crisis confronting the system in diverse forms. In resistance to neoliberal offensives a series of upsurges have taken place all over the world, especially in North Africa and West Asia. Some of these uprisings were so powerful that they uprooted decades’ long dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt and stirred up revolts in countries where the rulers were having apparently peaceful times. But in the absence of powerful communist parties capable of providing orientation and leadership to them, the Islamic fundamentalists or such other forces aligned with imperialists and their lackeys could come to their leadership. The experience of 25 years of war on terror shows this.

Presently, against the ever intensifying neoliberal attacks the toiling masses are waging numerous agitations practically in all the countries. Though it is not leading to any basic social change in the absence of genuine communist parties capable of leading them to revolution, the repeated agitations of the people are creating trouble for the imperialists and their lackeys. Even in the Latin American countries, where the US is succeeding to topple most of the comparatively progressive governments which had come to power, the continuing people’s movements are causing trouble for the imperialists. As the crisis-ridden imperialist system and the corrupt comprador governments are taking away all the welfare measures, the contradiction between the people and the ruling system everywhere is intensifying.

In this situation, the imperialists and their lackeys can continue their hegemony over the people only by continuous reduction of their democratic rights or by increasing fascisization of the ruling system. For achieving it, everywhere the religious fundamentalist and other reactionary forces are strengthened by spreading their sectarian ideas with the help of state power and corporate media. No doubt, the crisis is systemic and irresolvable. But until being thrown away, as more than three centuries of capitalist history shows, the capitalist-imperialist system can always find a way out of even the deepest crisis.

Only a revolutionary political intervention led by the international working class can provide an alternative and resolve the crisis. 

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.