More than seven years after the collapse of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers followed by other large financial institutions in almost all capitalist centers, the global economy remains mired in a protracted crisis that reveals a fundamental breakdown of the global capitalist system.
Now even mainstream economic and financial analysts admit that the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008 has not really ended. Indeed, according to Goldman Sachs, it has entered its third phase with stalling growth in China and other so-called “emerging economies”, declining commodities prices and mounting global deflationary pressures.
The world economy continues to stagnate and debt-fuelled financialization – which has accelerated since the 1990s — is not enough to maintain monopoly capitalist profits. Indeed, it is creating the conditions for another and more severe global financial crisis.
Underlying this increasing instability is the worsening crisis of overproduction in the global capitalist system as the incessant drive for profits represses wages even as production continuously increases. For a time in the 1990s until the early 2000s, financialization-driven consumer debt-supported demand compensated for low wages while likewise driving corporate debt to further increase production. The bursting of the financial bubble however demonstrated that all the accumulated debt in the system is fundamentally unpayable.
Monopoly capitalist overproduction and overconsumption also entails ever more aggressive resource extraction with severe impacts on the environment and on the people. The ecological crisis is intensifying and there is already critical pressure on the planet and its ecosystems, including climate change.
The worsening global crises underscore the finiteness of the world’s labour, resources and markets compared to the insatiable drive of monopoly capitalists to amass profit and accumulate capital. Hence the struggle between the imperialist countries to secure their respective shares is also intensifying.
While the US remains the sole superpower, China has risen quickly over the past few decades and is now regarded as the main long-term challenge to US dominance, especially in alliance with Russia. China has not only overtaken the US to become the world’s largest economy in 2014, it is also expanding its global economic influence through overseas investments, loans and bilateral agreements with other countries. More recently, China has also started constructing Sino -centric trade blocs (e.g. RCEP) and international financial institutions (e.g. BRICS New Development Bank and AIIB) that can be expected to disrupt the US-centric multilateral system in place since the Second World War.
US imperialism is counter manoeuvring with new “free trade agreements” such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). These are largely politically motivated designs to institute new rules on trade to maintain full spectrum dominance of US finance and corporate monopolies through a renewed scheme of neocolonization of emerging rivals that if successful would subject foreign governments to these monopolies.
But imperialists share a common interest in intensifying the exploitation of working peoples and plundering underdeveloped countries. To overcome the protracted crisis of profitability, the monopoly bourgeoisie are mounting a renewed global economic offensive, using all the multilateral, regional and bilateral mechanisms at their disposal.
After almost four decades of imperialist globalization, monopoly capitalists are mounting new neoliberal attacks against working people, especially in the third world. The major thrusts of these attacks are:
- dismantling what remains of labour protection and social welfare, using the widening fiscal deficits and growing public indebtedness as an excuse to impose harsh austerity and labor flexibilization measures;
- privatizing and commodifying/commercializing erstwhile sectors of the economy still under public ownership or responsibility (i.e. public services, utilities, infrastructure and SOEs) or those deemed part of the commons (e.g. forests, oceans, common property resources, etc.), through outright privatization or through so-called “Public-Private Partnerships” and other similar schemes;
- deepening the integration and dependence of SMEs, informal sector, peasant agriculture and other “backward” parts of third world countries into the global production chains of TNCs (so-called “global value chains”) and the financial web of big banks and other financial institutions;
- rewriting international and national legal systems and regulations through trade and investment agreements that grant greater protections to monopoly capitalist property and profits (e.g. stronger IPR, investor-state dispute system, etc.)
We are already witness to the horrors of fiscal austerity measures which continue to sweep across Europe and the rest of the world with Greece currently at the epicenter of the crisis. Labour flexibilization policies together with fiscal austerity measures have further worsened the employment situation not just in Greece and Europe. According to conservative government estimates, over 200 million people are unemployed globally – 27 million more than pre-crisis levels. Youth unemployment has reached 75 million as 900 million workers live on less than $2 a day. Global migration trends reached an all- time high of 232 million in 2013 according to latest available figures. The number of migrants continue to increase as millions of people are forced out of their countries by imperialist wars and plunder.
More widespread dispossession of many communities are expected as corporate investors and some states have stepped up efforts to appropriate land, effectively displacing many indigenous peoples whose lives and culture rely heavily on the lands they have been tilling or tending for generations.
In this context, it is the duty of the ILPS to confront these challenges and seize the opportunities for advancing the peoples’ struggles against imperialist globalization in defense of the people’s right to political and economic self-determination and development, a healthy environment, and the dignity and future of our peoples.
We resolve to arouse, organize and mobilize people from the different continents and regions, foster solidarity among the various struggles and movements worldwide, and build a broad anti-imperialist united front. We commit ourselves and our respective mass organizations and other allied groups to engage in the following activities in the next three years (2016-2018):
- Oppose the renewed neoliberal push for austerity, privatization, PPPs, liberalization and deregulation. Launch education and mass actions against monopoly capitalist-led trade and investment agreements, the WTO, international financial institutions, multilateral banks, donor agencies and other international institutions in the service of monopoly capital.
- Fight for the universal right to decent and productive work that ensures security and human dignity, but also work that is engaged in meeting social needs for the present and future generations, including ensuring the right to food, education, health, housing, basic services and a healthy environment.
- Resist imperialist plunder and destruction of the environment; land grabbing and other forms of resource grabs; and the privatization and commodification of nature. Strive to build alternatives to the current unsustainable mode of production and consumption that is destroying the basis for life on the planet.
- Share information, experiences and updates on struggles taking place in different regions. Widely propagate these updates to generate awareness and support. Launch solidarity actions in support of particular national and regional issues and actions. Take advantage of online technology and social media for raising public awareness on issues of imperialist globalization and the socialist alternative.
- Produce education materials and conduct popular education on the systemic roots and consequences of the global capitalist crisis; alternatives to capitalism; and socialism.
- Energetically link up with other mass organizations, unions, associations and progressive individuals in Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa and the West Asia and invite them to the ILPS. Promote the ILPS as a global anti-imperialist alliance especially among different mass organizations in countries where mass struggles and liberation movements are emerging.
Specific resolutions and campaigns
1. Resist TNCs
Transnational corporations (TNCs) are the organizational expression of concentrated and centralized capital and one of the principal means by which monopoly capitalists exploit and oppress working peoples throughout the world. Today “corporate grabs” are being carried out by TNCs on a global scale to further accumulate and concentrate profit and power into the hands of the monopoly capitalist class. TNCs plunder societies’ natural and human resources, markets, public goods and infrastructures, traditional knowledge and genetic material, thereby dispossessing the people and transferring wealth to the monopoly bourgeoisie.
This accumulation by dispossession is executed in a myriad of ways. Land grabs are among the most common examples of TNC grabs. Mining TNCs are notorious for encroaching on indigenous peoples territories to plunder the abundant mineral resources in these lands. Monsanto, by far the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds in the world, is robbing farmers of traditional seeds and livelihoods.
Robbing workers of the fruits of their labor is the most ubiquitous form of corporate grabbing. There is the unpaid labor time of workers who produce profits for the capitalist class — which is invisible and legal under capitalist rule. But there is also widespread “wage theft” that is illegal even under the existing legal order. Common forms of wage theft are non-payment of overtime, not giving workers their last pay check after a worker leaves a job, not paying for all the hours worked, not paying minimum wage, and even not paying a worker at all.
As the state of public services and infrastructure deteriorate due to the deliberate policy of governments to cut down on public expenditure, TNCs take the opportunity to push their privatization agenda. For instance over the past few years, TNCs have amassed war chests of infrastructure funds to take over water, municipal services, and utilities all over the world. Public-private partnerships have become convenient cover for the corporate grab of water, with governments contracting out water supply and sanitation operations to water multinationals.
Therefore the ILPS calls on all members to “Resist TNCs! Resist Imperialist Plunder”. The Resist TNCs campaign can serve as a way of reaching out to and mobilizing a broad range of labour groups, economic and environmental justice groups and human rights organizations and institutions. Existing member organizations of ILPS and other broad anti-imperialist formations can serve as the core group of initiators of the campaign.
2. Junk WTO (World Trade Organization)
2015 marks the 20th year of the WTO which, for the last 2 decades, has served as the primary instrument for the neoliberal globalization offensive of monopoly capitalists. [it was officially launched Jan. 1, 1995].
The WTO has kept “special and differential treatment” in favor of imperialist countries while third world countries are denied the same policy instruments that the developed countries utilized in their period of industrialization. This has strengthened the grip of giant corporations based in the North and their partners in the South, over the production and distribution of virtually all goods and services including food. It has delivered fabulous wealth to the 1% of the world’s population while the rest suffer hunger, joblessness, precarity, environmental catastrophe, and denied access to basic services and other essentials for living a life of dignity.
However, stagnation in the imperialist centers on the one hand and the economic growth of China and a few other “emerging economies” on the other hand, has offset the ability of the imperialist powers to solely determine the agenda at the WTO. This has led to a protracted impasse in the current round of negotiations in the WTO, the so-called Doha Development Round.
For the upcoming 10th Ministerial meeting in Nairobi, the underdeveloped countries are insisting on “fixing” some of the existing unfair rules in the WTO in line with the “development mandate” of the Doha Round.
On the other hand, the imperialist countries want to abandon the DDR entirely in order to re-introduce so called “21st century issues” that would tackle the unfinished agenda of neoliberal globalization. These include further investment liberalization (especially services and government procurement), further tariff liberalization, removal of “non-tariff barriers” (i.e. deregulation) and strengthening intellectual property rights of TNCs.
Therefore as the imperialists celebrate the 20th anniversary of the WTO, the ILPS should loudly declare “20 Years is Enough! Junk WTO Now!”.
3. Fight FTAs (“Free-trade agreements”)
Because of the protracted impasse at the WTO, imperialist powers are also aggressively pushing for bilateral and plurilateral trade and investment agreements to advance the unfinished agenda of neoliberal globalization for the benefit of their transnational corporations (TNCs).
Among the major examples of these new FTAs are:
Transpacific Partnership (TPP): A massive “free trade” agreement between several Asian and Pacific Rim countries and led by the US. Part of the US ‘Asia-Pivot’ strategy
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): A bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and European Union. Like TPPA, TTIP’s primary aim is to remove ‘trade irritants’ that restrict the potential profits to be made by TNCs including labour rights, food and safety rules, regulation of medicine patents and prices, environmental regulations, digital privacy laws, and banking safeguards.
Trade in Services Agreement (TISA): A ‘plurilateral’ agreement between different countries of different income brackets across continents. Aims to liberalise and lock-in TNC control over health, social services and education, water service, transportation, communication, finance, among others. Imposes new restrictions on regulation and create grounds to challenge policies of public interest.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAS), between Africa and the European Union, through which the EU is trying to open up African economies to its exports, including heavily subsidized agricultural products. This is a big threat to small-scale farmers and to food sovereignty. It would also lead to more land grab and leave millions of African peasants and farmers landless.
These so-called 21st century trade agreements threaten to erect and entrench a legal framework for global corporate rule and facilitate corporate exploitation of the working people. These mega regional agreements flout binding international labor rights conventions while ensuring greater incentives, rights and protections for investors.
For instance, TNCs can now circumvent national laws and courts and directly sue governments through the Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS) to demand taxpayer compensation for health, environmental, financial and other public interest policies viewed as prejudicial to corporations’ “expected future profits”. While foreign corporations can file a claim in ISDS tribunals, governments and domestic firms cannot. Moreover, big foreign corporations and lobby groups will wield undue influence over decision -making on domestic policies as they will have to be notified first and be involved in any new legislation that could impact their operation.
Although most countries are not currently covered by these new FTAs under negotiation, once concluded these new FTAs will set the “gold standard” for global governance of trade and investments affecting all peoples.
These FTAs will lead to the further concentration of wealth and power in the hands of monopoly corporations while rolling back the important gains achieved through people’s collective assertion of their rights including policies to ensure workers’ welfare, regulate corporate behaviour, and protect the environment.
Therefore the ILPS members should cooperate to mount a coordinated campaign to “Fight FTAs! Stop Trading People for Profits!”
4. Support the following specific struggles:
a. Lumad people’s resistance to militarization and plunder in Mindanao
b. People’s opposition to severe austerity measures in Europe and other regions/ countries
c. Struggle of workers of SsangYong Motors in South Korea
d. Struggle for liberation of the people of Puerto Rico, against US neoliberal impositions and financial stranglehold of US imperialism