by ILPS Chair Emeritus Prof. Jose Maria Sison
As Chairperson Emeritus of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, I am happy to share with you my views on the international situation and try to clarify the major events and issues, the trends and direction of the crisis of the world capitalist system and what the peoples of the world can do in order to advance their anti-imperialist and democratic struggles for national liberation, democracy and socialism.
Background to the Current Situation
The Great Depression of the 1930s led to World War II as basically an inter-imperialist war in which the Allied Powers had to include the Soviet Union in order to defeat the Axis Powers. As a result of the war, one third of humanity came under the governance of socialist states and the struggles for national liberation broke out in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
But the US also emerged as the strongest imperialist power. It proclaimed the Cold War in 1947 in order to confront the rise of socialism and the national liberation movements. It waved the flag of anti-communism against the socialist challenge and offered neocolonialism as the alternative to decolonization as a process of national liberation from colonialism and imperialism.
The Soviet Union recovered from the death of more than 25 million people and the destruction of 85 per cent of its industrial capacity by the Nazi invasion, rebuilt its productive on an unprecedentedly scale and caught up with the US in the development of nuclear weapons in order to put the US in a nuclear stalemate.
After the death of Stalin, however, Krushchov rose to power in order to impose modern revisionism on the Soviet Union in1956. He used methods of decentralization to breach the socialist state and economy. He was followed by Brezhnev who used methods of recentralization in order to further strengthen the monopoly bureaucrat capitalism and engage in social-imperialism.
Under the leadership of Mao, the Communist Party of China and China emerged as the strongest defenders of the socialist cause and the world proletarian revolution against Soviet modern revisionism and social-imperialism, from the start of the Sino-Soviet ideological debate and disruption of state-to-state relations in 1959 to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976.
In the meantime, the national liberation movements surged forward. The Korean people fought US imperialism to a standstill in 1953. The Vietnamese people dealt a resounding defeat to US imperialism in 1975. The Cuban people moved out of the orbit of US imperialism in 1961 and inspired the peoples of Latin America to fight US imperialism. The process of decolonization accelerated in Africa from 1950s to the 1980s. The apartheid regime in South Africa came to an end in the 1990s.
Soon after the death of Mao in 1976, the capitalist roaders led by Deng Ziaoping successfully carried out a counterrevolutionary coup in China against the proletarian revolutionaries and the socialist state of the working class. The Dengist counterrevolution carried out capitalist reforms and opening up China for reintegration in the world capitalist system. It was able to suppress the mass uprisings against corruption and inflation in scores of Chinese cities in 1989 and it pleaded to US for further investments, trade and technological concessions in order to stabilize the economy.
In December 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and its satellite revisionist-ruled states in Eastern Europe disintegrated. The bourgeoisie took full control of all the countries in the Soviet bloc. US imperialism became the sole superpower and sought to fill the vacuum left by Soviet social imperialism in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The ideologues and publicists of US imperialism proclaimed the death of socialism and the end of history with the supposed permanence of capitalism and liberal democracy.
Strategic Decline of US Imperialism As Sole Superpower
Having become the sole superpower, US was at its strongest in propagating and imposing on the world the policy of neoliberal globalization and unleashing wars of aggression in the Middle East (in Iraq, Libya, and Syria), in Central Asia (Afghanistan) and in the countries near or adjoining Russia (former Yugoslavia, Georgia and Ukraine).
It sought to expand NATO to the borders of Russia and use it for aggression in Central Asia. It overestimated its role and its capabilities as sole superpower and continued to a adopt and implement policies that appeared to advance its interests but which in fact were extremely costly and aggravated the problems that had caused its strategic decline since the middle of the 1970s.
Since becoming the sole superpower, the US has spent more than USD 6 trillion to unleash endless wars of aggression that have rapidly increased its public debt. And yet these wars have not resulted in expanding stable economic territory abroad to offset the crisis of overproduction in the imperialist homeland. By assisting China in capitalist restoration and development, the US has also unwittingly aggravated its crisis of overproduction.
This is reminiscent of how the US undermined itself by stepping up war production, building hundreds of military bases abroad and engaging wars of aggression and at the same assisting the reconstruction of the capitalist countries ruined in World War II and thereby bringing about the crisis of overproduction of the US and world capitalist system. As a result, the US became afflicted by stagflation in the mid-1970s.
In trying to solve the problem of stagflation, the US adopted neoliberalism and favored the military-industrial complex to strengthen the US military as well as to sell weapons to the oil-producing countries. But neoliberalism never solved the crisis of overproduction and excessive military spending which had been the root causes of stagflation.
The increased production of the military-industrial complex was profitable within the US economy and in sales to oil-producing countries. But it was counterproductive and unprofitable in the failure of the wars of aggression to expand stable economic territory for US imperialism abroad. In assisting the development of capitalism in China, it has ultimately brought about a new economic and political rival, despite the previous notion of the US that it could exploit China as a new big market.
The neoliberal policy regime has abetted the wrong notion of the US that it can without limits accelerate the centralization and accumulation of capital in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie supposedly in order to create more jobs by using in its favor tax cutbacks, wage freezes, erosion of social benefits, privatization of profitable public assets, antisocial and anti-environmental deregulation and denationalization of the economies of client-states. But the crisis of overproduction within an imperialist country arises from shrinking the domestic market by pushing down the incomes of the working and consuming public.
Another blinding factor in neoliberal policy is the manipulation of the money supply and interest rates supposedly to expand or contract them in order to prevent inflation or stagnation and to always favor the monopoly bourgeoisie by expanding the public debt and subjecting the working class to further austerity measures and reduction of real wages. At the same time, legal and political measures have been undertaken by the monopoly bourgeoisie to attack job security and curtail trade union and other democratic rights.
Collaboration and Contention Between US and Chinese Imperialism
Because the US was in need of expanding its market due to the recurrent and worsening crisis of overproduction, it adopted China as its main partner in neoliberal globalization and at first conceded to it low technology for sweatshop consumer manufacturing and a big consumer market in the US and elsewhere. The US calculated that it could concentrate on manufacturing the big items (especially by the military-industrial complex), financializing the US economy and ultimately making direct investments in China.
But it was depressing its own consumer manufacturing and disemploying millions of workers. The export income of China swelled as the US suffered trade deficits. From being the biggest creditor of the world, the US became the biggest debtor at the end of the 1980s. Further, the US expanded its foreign investments and technology transfer after China pleaded for these in the aftermath of the nationwide mass protests against inflation and corruption in China in 1989.
The US set preconditions for China to privatize the state-owned enterprises, desist from providing state subsidies to enterprises, liberalize further its policy on foreign investments and imports and enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). China agreed but in fact continued to use state planning and state-owned enterprises and copy without permission US and other foreign technology in order to achieve its own strategic economic and security goals.
The US-China economic and trade partnership appeared to be running smoothly, especially after China joined the WTO in 2001 The US and other imperialist powers and their economic technocrats were glad that every time there was a major global financial and economic crisis the high growth rate of China’s GDP served to buffer the stagnant growth rate of the world economy. But when the global financial crash occurred in 2008, the US began to accuse China of unfair economic practices in their relationship.
The crash resulted in a global depression that is still running now and is adversely affecting China’s economy. The growth rate has conspicuously slowed down. China experienced in 2015 a stock market crash that wiped out 30 per cent of stock values. Foreign investors have transferred their plants to other countries with cheaper labor in the Asian mainland. The huge mountain of unpaid debts by Chinese local governments and corporations and high ratio of public debt to GDP have become exposed even while China deploys capital for its Belt Road Initiative (BRI).
Trump began in 2018 to accuse China of maintaining a two-tiered economy of state monopoly capitalism and private monopoly capitalism, stealing US technology, providing state subsidies to economic enterprises, manipulating finance and the currency, adopting Chinese brands on products previously patented by US and other foreign companies and using both imported and self-developed technology to build the military might of China.
Trump has taken special note of the challenge of Made in China 2025 and has countered with protectionist calls in sharp contrast to the longrunning US line of neoliberal globalization. He has called for raising US consumer manufacturing and imposing high tariffs on imports from China. The obvious objective is also to cut down the export surpluses from which China has drawn the surplus capital for expanding its domestic economy and external economic relations.
US imperialism has been strained by its own stagnant economy, the loss of competitiveness of US products, the extreme cost of overseas US military bases and endless wars of aggressions and the rapid rise of its public debt. The wars of aggression has cost at least USD 6 trillion and failed to expand and stabilize the US economic territory abroad. The US strategic decline has accelerated and become more conspicuous.
Despite its emergence as the winner in the Cold War and as sole superpower in 1991, the US has a further declined strategically as a result of the high costs of its military bases overseas and its wars of aggression and its investment, trade and technological concessions to China. Although still the No. 1 imperialist power, the US has become one among several imperialist powers in a multipolar world and has less space for unilateral actions than ever before.
China has become the main economic competitor and political rival of the US. It has become so ambitious as to design and implement the Belt Road Initiative in order to make a radical departure from the pattern of maritime global trade which the Western colonial powers had established since the 16th century. At the same time, it seeks to dominate the Indo-Pacific maritime route. But it has serious economic problems, especially its sitting on a mountain of bad debts by local governments and corporations, the high ratio of public debt to GDP and the onerous terms of Chinese foreign loans which are vulnerable to debtors’ default and revolt.
In Southeast Asia, the peoples are confronted with the extraterritorial claims of China over the 90 per cent of the South China Sea in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. But in other regions of the world, certain governments that assert national independence and the socialist cause, have taken advantage of inter-imperialist contradictions and availed of China’s cooperation in order to counter sanctions and acts of aggression instigated by the US and its traditional imperialist allies.
Worsening Crisis of World Capitalist System and Intensification of Contradictions
The crisis of the world capitalist system is rapidly worsening and all major contradictions are intensifying. The contradictions are those between labor and capital in imperialist countries, those between the imperialist powers and the oppressed peoples and nations, those between the imperialist powers and states that assert national independence and the socialist cause and those among the imperialist powers.
The contradictions between labor and capital within imperialist countries and among imperialist powers are rising as the crisis of overproduction worsens as a result drastically reduced incomes of the working class and the middle class in imperialist countries and in the rest of the world capitalist system. The workers and the shrinking middle class have become restless and rebellious due to unemployment, reduced incomes, rising prices of basic commodities, austerity measures, the curtailment of democratic rights and the rise of chauvinism, racism and fascism.
Among the imperialist powers, the US and China have emerged as the two main contenders in the struggle for a redivision of the world. Each tries to have its own alliance with other imperialist powers. The traditional alliance of the US, Europe and Japan is generally effective in such multilateral agencies like the IMF, World Bank and WTO and in NATO and other military alliances. On the other side, China has maintained closest all-round relations with Russia and they have broadened their alliance in BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS Development Bank, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Fund.
Afraid of mutual destruction through nuclear warfare, the major imperialist powers continue to avoid direct wars of aggression against each other by undertaking proxy wars despite the frequent US wars of aggression against underdeveloped countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They have developed the neocolonial ways and means of shifting the burden of crisis to the underdeveloped countries. They engage in a struggle for a redivision of the world but so far they have not directly warred on each other to acquire or expand their sources of cheap labor and raw materials, markets, fields of investment and spheres of influence.
They make the oppressed peoples and nations of the underdeveloped countries suffer the main brunt of the recurrent and worsening economic and financial crisis of the world capitalist system. They make them the main source of superprofits through direct investments and loans and extractive enterprises. The policy of neoliberal globalization has served to accelerate the rate of exploitation and resource-grabbing. To suppress the people’s resistance to oppression and exploitation, they provide their client-states with the means of state terrorism and fascist rule by the bureaucratic comprador bourgeoisie. They also use their respective client-states for proxy wars and counterrevolutionary wars for maintaining and expanding economic territory.
Despite shifting the burden of crisis to the oppressed peoples and nations, the imperialist powers are driven to extract higher profits from their own working class under the neoliberal policy regime.
They suppress the resistance of the proletariat and people to the ever rising rate of exploitation in both the developed and underdeveloped countries. They have escalated oppression by enacting and enforcing so-called anti-terrorist laws and are wantonly using state terrorism and emboldening fascist organizations and movements to counter the growing revolutionary movement of the proletariat and the people.
In the underdeveloped countries, US imperialism and its puppet regimes are unleashing the worst forms of aggression and state terrorism against the people in order to perpetuate the neoliberal policy of unbridled greed. Since the end of World War II, the wars of aggression and campaigns of terror unleashed by US have resulted in 20 to 30 million killed in Korea, Indochina, Indonesia, Afghanistan , Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries. To complement its neoliberal economic policy, US imperialism has adopted and implemented the so-called neoconservative policy of using the full-spectrum of violent and suasive means, especially its high-tech military weaponry, to maintain global hegemony in the 21st century.
But the US, which is now conspicuously in strategic decline economically and politically, cannot have its way as it pleases. Previously powerful socialist countries, such as the Soviet Union and China, have succumbed to capitalism as a result of modern revisionism. But as new imperialist powers, China and Russia are operating to hem in US imperialism, aggravate the crisis of the world capitalist system, sharpen the inter-imperialist contradictions and generate conditions that are more exploitative and oppressive than before but incite and drive the people to wage revolutionary resistance.
Even when it emerged as the strongest imperialist power after World War II, US imperialism suffered outstanding defeats, such as in China, north Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and other Indochinese countries. It has been unable to stop the decolonization of colonies and semi-colonies which is still an ongoing process. The proletariat and people have persevered in protracted people’s war in the Philippines, India, Kurdistan, Turkey, Palestine, Peru, Colombia and elsewhere. The spread of arms where US imperialism have unleashed wars of aggression, such as in the Middle East and Africa, can open the way to the rise of more armed revolutionary movements.
There are effective governments like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela and Syria that assert national independence and the socialist cause. They enjoy the support of the people, stand up against US imperialism and take advantage of the contradictions among the imperialist powers in order to counter sanctions, military blockade and aggression. The people and revolutionary forces led by the proletariat can strengthen themselves in the course of anti-imperialist struggles.
Mass Protests Signify Transition to the Resurgence of World Proletarian Revolution
The unprecedented rise and spread of gigantic anti-imperialist mass protests in both the underdeveloped and developed countries since last year is a consequence of the bankruptcy and grave crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling systems. It manifests the inability of the imperialist powers and their client-states (neocolonies and dependent states) to rule in the old way. It signifies the transition to unprecedentedly greater global anti-imperialist struggles and the resurgence of the world proletarian revolution from major setbacks since 1976.
The massive, sustained and concurrent mass protests in many countries of Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa bring to the surface the deep-going hatred of the people for the extreme oppression and exploitation that they are suffering. The proletariat and people of the world are fighting back. We are definitely in transition to a great resurgence of anti-imperialist struggles and the world proletarian revolution.
The broad masses of the people are rising up against the worst forms of imperialist oppression and exploitation, such as neoliberalism, austerity measures, gender discrimination, oppression of indigenous peoples, fascism, wars of aggression and environmental destruction. The starting issues and inciting moments for the mass protests may be of wide variability but they always involve the intolerable oppression and exploitation by imperialism and its reactionary agents.
In the last 50 years, we have seen imperialism, neocolonialism, modern revisionism, neoliberalism and neoconservatism attack and put down the proletariat and people of the world. Now, the people are resisting as never before and generating new revolutionary forces, including parties of the proletariat and mass organizations. These will ultimately result in the spread of armed revolutionary movements and the rise of socialist states and people’s democracies with a socialist perspective.
The financial crash of 2008 has led to worse crisis of the world capitalist system and to a far bigger fall of the financial and economic system in 2020 at a rate faster than that of the Great Depression of 1929 onwards. The neoliberal policy regime has become more bankrupt than ever resulting in unprecedented overaccumulation and inflation of assets of the financial oligarchy and monopoly bourgeoisie, unsustainable debts of households, corporations and central banks, depression of the economy as the consuming public is impoverished and the escalating contest of the fascist and anti-fascist currents throughout the world.
The bailouts and lower interest rates are designed to favor the monopoly bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletariat and people. In accordance with the neoliberal bias, more capital is being put into the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie by the central banks for stimulating the economy from the top. And yet the economy continues to stagnate and fall. The crisis of overproduction keeps on worsening and making the financial bailouts fail. The so-called middle class in all the developed and underdeveloped countries is dwindling faster. The stage is set for the revolt of the 99 per cent of the people against the filthy 1 per cent.
The current plunge of the world capitalist system coincides with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has resulted in lockdowns and other repressive measures in many countries. It has resulted in the disemployment of working people and further breakdown of production. While suffering economic and social deprivations, the people do not receive adequate health care because the public health systems have been undermined and drastically weakened by the privatization of hospitals and the unbridled profit-making of drug companies. The economic and social crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, has high potential of causing bigger and more widespread protest mass actions.
Since its founding in 2001 the International League of Peoples’ Struggle has played a major role in inspiring and generating the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the peoples of the world through mass organizations in so many concerns. We have become the largest and strongest
international united front against imperialism and fascism and for national liberation, people’s democracy and socialism.
We have made significant contributions to the upsurge of mass protest actions on a global scale. And we are further encouraged by this upsurge to further strengthen our ranks and to engage in consultative and consensual relations with similar international formations in order to expand the united front against imperialism and fascism.
We are confident that we are going to become stronger as the world capitalist system continues to break down and generate more favorable conditions for the rise of revolutionary forces. We are determined to invigorate the subjective forces of the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist mass movement that can bring about the resurgence of the world proletarian revolution and the greater victories of national liberation and socialist movements.###