(Contribution to the Forum on the Global and Financial Crisis
on 30 January 2009 at De Balie, Amsterdam)
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
It is of utmost importance for the working class and the rest of the people exploited by the system of monopoly capitalism to discuss and clarify to themselves what they can and must do about the current grave financial and economic crisis. They are necessarily concerned about being ceaselessly victimized by the monopoly bourgeoisie, extending from the extraction of the surplus value in the process of production to the complexities of capital overaccumulation and abuses of finance capital.
In this connection, I wish to point out certain facts in order to show in a comprehensive and profound way how the current grave crisis has come about and how the working class and the rest of the people have been exploited and oppressed on a global scale, especially in the last three decades under the signboard of “neoliberal globalization”. Consequently, it becomes easier to discuss what the people can and must do about the crisis in terms of raising their consciousness, organizing and mobilizing themselves for making protests and demands in order to bring about the necessary social change for the better.
I. Certain Facts About the Crisis
We must counter the onesided, narrow, fragmentary and shortsighted explanations of the crisis in the US and on a global scale. These have been made by the industrial and financial magnates, their political agents, their academics and publicists in order to obfuscate the origin and development of the crisis, to continue the misrepresentation of monopoly capitalism as “free market” capitalism, to continue making the most out of the mess in the system of greed and to confound and confuse the people.
1. Whatever is the dominant policy stress of the imperialist state and the monopoly bourgeoisie, whether the policy is called Keynesian or neoliberal, it is in the very nature of monopoly capitalism to exploit and alienate the working class from what it produces, maximize the extraction of surplus value, raise the organic composition of capital and accumulate and overaccumulate both the productive and finance capital in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie, especially the financial oligarchy. Pressing down the wage level cuts down effective demand and results in the crisis of overproduction. Raising the organic composition of capital in order to increase productivity and competitiveness results in the tendency of the profit rate to fall. The recurrent and worsening rounds of boom and bust and recessions have been temporarily overcome by heavy doses of debt financing. The overall decline of US industrial production since the mid-1970s has been accompanied by an unprecedented financialization of he US economy. But ultimately the overaccumulation of capital (especially through the overvaluing of assets, the multiplication and spiralling of derivatives and the generation of fictitious capital through unregulated credit expansion for the purpose of monopoly control and speculation) leads to the super-large financial and economic crisis, like the Great Depression and what now portends to be the Greater Depression.
2. The so-called neoliberal or “free market” policy stress has been significantly distinct from the previous so-called Keynesian policy stress a) in unbridling and letting loose the naked self-interest or greed of the monopoly bourgeoisie as the driving force of the economy ; b) in blaming as the cause of the problem of stagflation the rising wage level and social spending by the US government in the 1945-75 period, instead of the recurrent crisis of overproduction, the overaccumulation of capital and the demand-pull inflationary effect of military spending (the arms race, overseas deployment of US military forces and the wars in Korea and Indochina); c) in seeking to make more capital and profit-making opportunities available to the monopoly bourgeoisie through the denationalization of the neocolonial economies, privatization of public assets, trade and investment liberalization and deregulation or removal of restraints on abusing the working people, the environment and the financial system, and d) in accelerating the centralization and concentration of capital (especially in the form of finance capital) in the US and a few other centers of global capitalism.
3. The monopoly bourgeoisie in the US and other imperialist countries has successfully waged a class struggle against the working class by using the imperialist state to attack the trade union and other democratic rights, to press down wages and erode hard-won social benefits, cut back on social spending and to deliver taxpayer money to the monopoly firms in the form of overpriced contracts in military production and continuous supply of fuel and other raw materials for strategic stockpiles, direct and indirect subsidies and insurance for overseas investments. At the productive base of society, the state guarantees the legal property right of the monopoly bourgeoisie in order to maintain the exploitative relations of production and provides the laws and coercive apparatuses to keep the working class under control. Even as it misrepresents itself as “free market” capitalism, monopoly capitalism has always used the state for purposes of exploitation and oppression. As the partner of private monopoly capitalism, state monopoly capitalism takes more forms than state ownership of enterprises, even as nationalization is a form that may become conspicuous in time of severe crisis.
4. In accumulating and overaccumulating capital, the US monopoly bourgeoisie has not been satisfied with the extraction of surplus value in the process of production, the privilege of tax cuts and grabbing of taxpayer money, access to the bank deposits and pension funds of the workers, expansion of credit and money supply in relation to deposits, the creation of derivatives that speculate on fluctuations in the stock, bond and currency markets and taking of superprofits on cheap commodities and debt service from the economic hinterland of the world. After inveigling millions of worker and middle class families to buy into the “hightech bubble” in 1995-2000 and making them lose their savings, the US imperialist state and the monopoly bourgeoisie drew the American households to the “housing bubble” from 2002 onwards at teaser interest rates at the beginning. This would promote an unprecedented level of consumerism based on the artificially rising housing values and further consumer credit (in addition to housing equity loans, auto loans, credit cards and so on). The “housing bubble” complemented the so-called military Keynesianism of Bush, which pumpprimed the US military-industrial complex but not the entire economy in terms of increased demand, employment and production. The new bubble was one more and a bigger device to fleece the American working class and ultimately to securitize debts, especially bad mortgages, and generate the most arcane forms of derivatives, like the collateralized debt obligations, asset-backed securities, credit default swaps and structured investment vehicles.
5. The imperialist state looks like it is violating its dogma of “free market” or “state non-intervention” in using public funds to bail out the largest private banks, investment houses, mortgage companies, insurance companies and some key productive enterprises like the Big Three of US car production. But in the first place, such a dogma is a slogan of pretence. It is completely untrue that the imperialist state is going “socialist” when it uses taxpayer money for private corporate bailouts. Forms of state monopoly capitalism should not be mistaken for socialism. In times of big crisis like the Great Depression and the current grave crisis, the monopoly bourgeoisie deliberately avails of monopoly state capitalism to bail out the distressed monopoly firms and to assist the stronger firms to absorb the failing firms. Bush, Bernanke of the Federal Reserve Board and Paulson of the US Treasury Department cooked up with their Wall Street confreres the scheme of bailing out the banks with taxpayer money to the flagrant detriment of Main Street.
6. The purpose of the scheme is simply to pump prime the assets of the big banks and other financial corporations , allow them to dump the toxic assets and hope in vain that they thaw out the credit freeze and resume lending operational capital to producer firms. But would such producer firms take further credit for production under the depressed conditions of the crisis of overproduction? The scheme is anti-worker, anti-people and anti-socialist. The imperialist state and the monopoly bourgeoisie are not as interested in bailing out the workers from mass layoffs, home foreclosures, loss of pensions and other social benefits and other disasters as bailing out first the financial and industrial giants. Obama's so-called stimulus package of USD 850 billion can provide temporary jobs only to a small part of the rising numbers of unemployed. It is a poor afterthought in terms of tardiness and smallness in relation to the trillions of dollars already deployed for the bailout of the financial giants since 2007. It is starkly clear that the bailout funds for the Big Three is anti-worker because it is preconditioned by the reduction of wages and benefits for the workers.
7. The highest US authorities in the outgoing and incoming administrations admit that the current financial and economic crisis will not blow away in one or two years. It can last for as long as ten years or even more. The gravity of the crisis can be deduced from the enormity and significance of the debts incurred by the US government, the private corporations and the American households. All these debts are beyond the capacity of the debtors to pay back. To collect the debt payments and/or write off the debts would deflate and further depress the economy. The US national debt has soared because of budgetary and trade deficits. The budgetary deficit involves a huge amount of debt service, the tax cuts for the corporations and the wealthy and heavy military spending. The trade deficit involves the outsourcing of consumer goods and the decline of US manufacturing for export (except big industrial items and agricultural surpluses) since the 1970s. The use of US treasury bonds and taxpayer money to bail out the US financial and nonfinancial giants aggravates the crisis. Not only the financial corporations are in trouble with huge amounts of bad mortgages and other bad debts and worthless paper assets, the nonfinancial corporations are also in a big financial mess as shares of stocks and corporate bonds lose their value and the loss of effective demand and lack of sufficient fiscal stimulus stagnate and depress industrial production, the basic service sector and the real economy as a whole. The American households are losing jobs and homes by the millions and have savings of close to zero.
8. The current global financial and economic crisis has dramatically spread from the US to the rest of the world for several reasons. The US is the center of the world capitalist system. It has imposed the policy of “neoliberal globalization” on its imperialist allies and the less developed countries. It has subordinated veritably the whole world through bilateral and multilateral economic and trade relations and through its control of the Group of 8, the OECD, IMF, World Bank, WTO and other international agencies. The US is where both productive and finance capital have been most concentrated. It is the principal destination of foreign direct investments. It has been described as the engine of global economic growth and the biggest consumer market. Its currency is practically the world's reserve currency. It has become the world's biggest debtor, ceaselessly printing dollars and selling stocks and bonds to foreign entities. It absorbs the biggest bulk of the exports of the other imperialist countries, the so-called emerging markets and the oil-exporting and raw-material producing countries of the world. China, India and other so-called emerging markets are now in a severe crisis due to the international credit crunch and reduced US demand for their exports. The general run of third world countries which export nothing more than raw materials and some semi-manufactures are the most devastated by the drying up of international credit and by the fall in US demand for their exports.
9. In contrast to its longrunning arrogance and practice of setting the line for its allies, the US was at a loss on how to solve the global financial and economic crisis during the recent G-20 Summit. Bush prated about preserving “free market” capitalism. But the declaration of the summit encouraged all the participants to adopt whatever monetary and fiscal measures they deemed best. Discredited and with extremely limited resources, the IMF could not be referred to as a rallying point. Neither could the World Bank because no country would provide it with capital. And of course, the WTO is still bogged down in failure to resolve outstanding issues in the Doha round of talks. These are now overtaken by the current crisis. Countries that used to be lectured to by the US, like France, Russia, China, India and Brazil took their turns in lecturing to Bush. The financial and economic relations between the US and China, which are supposed to be the biggest global partners, are now increasingly unstable. The sweat shops on the eastern coast of China, owned largely by foreign investors and producing consumer goods for the US market, are closing down or reducing production and throwing out tens of millions of people out of their jobs. The US and foreign exchange holdings of China are vulnerable to capital flight and the value of US treasury bonds and corporate securities in the hands of China can evaporate as fast as the US proceeds to further enlarge its national debt and keep the interest rate at close to zero for the purpose of reviving the US credit system.
10. The broad masses of the people, especially the workers and peasants, suffer from the global financial and economic crisis in terms of reduced employment and income, the deterioration of their living conditions and intensification of exploitation and oppression. The crisis has resulted in widespread social discontent and unrest. It is generating the people's resistance in the imperialist countries, in the so-called emerging markets and former revisionist-ruled countries and in all the third world countries. For the people's resistance in any country to be resolute and effective in confronting imperialism and reaction and in seeking reforms and social revolution, there has to be a revolutionary party of the working class to lead both the organized and spontaneous masses. For several decades, the imperialists and their reactionary allies have launched offensives to destroy or weaken the working class parties and the progressive trade unions and other mass organizations. But now the gravity and long duration of the current financial and economic crisis opens excellent opportunities for the progressive forces and movement of people for national liberation, democracy and socialism to grow in strength and advance.
II. What People Can and Must Do
What the people can and must do about the global financial and economic crisis ranges from seeking relief, recovery and reforms within the imperialist-dominated world capitalist system to the most fundamental criticism of this system and raising the demand and undertaking the actions for revolutionary change towards socialism.
When I speak of reforms within the system, I do not mean harking back to the misappropriation of the term by the dishonest purveyors of “free market” capitalism who used it against the basic rights and interests of the working people in the industrial capitalist countries and in the less developed countries. At the moment, key bourgeois political and economic authorities are swinging back to the Keynesian general theory of equilibrium and the management of effective demand through fiscal measures.
As far as I am concerned, reforms within the framework of Marxist political economy can be undertaken to serve the immediate demands of the working people for employment, decent income, better working and living conditions and the availability of basic social services, even as the long term goal of the people's revolutionary movement is to replace the system of monopoly capitalism with the socialist system.
To take an important phrase from the Communist Manifesto, the battle for democracy must be won whether the popular movement for socialism be in the imperialist countries or in the far less developed countries dominated by imperialism. The consciousness, organization and mobilization of the broad masses of the people must be raised to a level high enough to effect basic reforms immediately and social revolution in the long run.
In the industrial capitalist countries, the economic basis for socialism exists. But the monopoly bourgeoisie never gives up its political and economic power voluntarily. It uses its state power to impose fascist rule if the persuasive and deceptive role of the bourgeois political parties fails to mislead the people and stabilize the system. Thus, the battle for democracy must be won against the potential or actual rise of fascism and the use of imperialist war by the monopoly bourgeoisie to regiment the people. In this regard, we recall the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and World War II.
In the far less developed countries, where there are still large vestiges of feudalism, winning the battle for democracy involves not only upholding, defending and promoting the collective and individual rights of the people, especially civil and political liberties, but also addressing substantively the demand for national industrial development, the peasant clamor for land reform and engaging the peasant masses in the new democratic revolution led by the working class as the long term agent for socialist revolution and construction.
1. Information and Education Campaigns
Whatever significant degree of social change is called for in the short term or in the long run, the people must comprehend the problematic situation that they are in and the possible and necessary solutions that must be carried out with their conscious, organized and militant participation. In this regard, the working class parties and mass organizations of various exploited classes and sectors must engage in information and educational campaigns.
The current global financial and economic crisis cannot be comprehensively and profoundly understood by those who analyze it from the narrow viewpoint of those who wish to preserve the system of monopoly capitalism. They are like frogs in the well. Those who continue the Marxist and Leninist tradition of critiquing the political economy of capitalism and monopoly capitalism have a clear advantage as they have an overview of the inhuman and anti-labor character of the US and world capitalist system and the need to strive for the socialist system.
Research and analysis of the exploitative roots and development of the current global financial and economic crisis must be undertaken for the purpose of drawing up programs and declarations of political action. These must also take into account the impact and implications of the global financial and economic crisis on the global political crisis as manifested in the intensification of the major contradictions in the world.
The working class parties and mass organizations can add to their accumulated knowledge the analysis and advice of experts of political economy and international politics who truly understand the crisis comprehensively and profoundly. In this connection, there is now a rising demand for the Marxist critique of the capitalist political economy and the Leninist critique of monopoly capitalism and theory of state and revolution.
This is a time of discredit and embarrassment for those bourgeois economists who have followed the path of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, for those neoconservatives who believed in strengthening US global hegemony by spreading the “free market” and “liberalism” with the leverage of US military superiority and for those neo-Kautskyite globalists who peddle the notion of supra-imperialism as a benign industrializing force.
The crisis has served to negate in the most telling way all the prior propaganda done by the monopoly bourgeoisie to hype the dogma of the “free market” through the dominant mass media, the schools, the think tanks, political parties and the nongovernmental organizations bound by the rule of civility in obeisance to the bourgeois state and big business. The working class party, the mass organizations and the broad masses of the people must carry out information and education campaigns as counter-offensive to the ideological, political, economic and military offensives of imperialism and reaction.
Social investigation must be undertaken among the people in order to learn from them how they are being afflicted by the crisis, what are their most pressing demands and what they are capable of doing to confront the crisis and bring their social movement forward. The social investigation can be of varying scales, from the basic level of local communities and work places to the national level. The purpose of social investigation is for the working class parties and mass organizations to learn from the people what must be done in order to arouse, organize and mobilize them.
There are various forms and ways of carrying out campaigns of information and education. These include the conferences, forums and seminars where the political activists and the experts can learn from each other and the mass meetings and rallies for expressing protest and demands and spreading wide the demand for social change and gauging at every given time how many people are being drawn to the mass movement. The working class parties and mass organizations can avail of the electronic media as a cheap and fast way of generating and accelerating the campaign of information and education.
2. Organizational Campaigns
In the industrial capitalist countries, the monopoly bourgeoisie manages to stay as the ruling class and control the state for its own purposes, whether there is a duopoly of the Republican and Democratic parties as in the presidential form of government of the United States or an oligopoly of parties as in the parliamentary forms of Europe and Japan. There are variations among the the so-called mainstream parties but they are all within the predetermined framework or confines of the monopoly capitalist state system. In the semifeudal neocolonies, the joint ruling classes of the big compradors and landlords likewise maintain a variety of political parties to conjure the illusion of democracy. These parties are required to stay within the bounds of the big comprador-landlord political system.
The ruling bourgeois class can tolerate a working class party if it does not challenge the state system of bourgeois rule and seeks reforms exclusively within the framework of bourgeois law and order. It takes every effort to induce and persuade a working class party to stay within the bounds of bourgeois rule. But it does not hesitate to use the coercive apparatuses of the state to malign and suppress the working class party when this is deemed as a threat to the system for seeking to supplant the class rule of the bourgeoisie with that of the working class in order to establish an anti-imperialist or socialist state..
At any rate, there is the need for a working class party to lead the people in seeking basic reforms within the bourgeois political system or in seeking to replace this with the socialist system. Basic social reforms as well as social revolution are not possible without the working class party that is capable of leading the organized and unorganized masses. Without such a working class party, the big bourgeoisie continues to rule society unchallenged and unhampered through the political parties which it uses for preserving the system, for intra-class and intra-systemic competition for political power among the bourgeois factions and for warding off any political party that seeks to overthrow bourgeois rule.
There must be a trustworthy working class party committed to the propagation and realization of the program of social change and capable of leading the broad masses of the people, especially the working people. Such a party is best relied upon for confronting the global financial and economic crisis and solving the problems for the benefit of the people and with their active participation. Without a working class party, the bourgeois parties would prevail over the working people who are unorganized and spontaneous or who are limited to mass organizations.
In carrying out organizational campaigns in the face of the current grave financial and economic crisis, efforts must be resolutely undertaken to build a genuine working class party that surpasses the bourgeois laborite, reformist social democratic or revisionist communist parties. Building such a working class party is quite challenging because of the long running attempts of the monopoly bourgeoisie to stigmatize as “terrorist” revolutionary forces that call for national liberation, democracy and socialism. But the current crisis conditions are favorable for building such a party.
The trade unions and other mass organizations must be built in order to uphold, defend and promote the rights and interests of the exploited classes and sectors of society. In the industrial capitalist countries, the most important of these are the mass organizations of workers, migrant workers, immigrants, the various nationalities, youth, women, the professionals and cultural workers. In the semifeudal neocolonies, the most important mass organizations are those of workers, peasants, youth, women, the intelligentsia and the minorities. These classes or sectors are adversely affected by the crisis in particular ways.
The class and sectoral mass organizations must further form multi-class and multisectoral federations and alliances in order to underscore common interests and build political unity cumulatively and progressively. The genuine working class party offers to them as guide its general line and program of action, encourages their political and organizational initiatives and thereby wins their abiding support . Mass organizations with different ideological, political and religious affinities can form formal and informal alliances to pursue common courses of action on the basis of consensus and coordination.
Within a country, mass formations can be established and developed at various levels, from the basic level through intermediate levels to the national level. These mass formations can in turn become components of similar formations at the international level. The International League of Peoples' Struggle has been working hard to build its national chapters and its global region committees. It is a form of international alliance but is ever ready and willing to form broader alliances along the anti-imperialist and democratic line of people's struggle.
3. Mass mobilizations
In connection with information and educational campaigns and organizational campaigns, the broad masses of the people in their millions must be mobilized to denounce the exploitative and oppressive character of the system of monopoly capitalism, now sharper and more destructive than ever before, and to demand social, economic and political changes, ranging from basic reforms to the fundamental revolutionary transformation of society.
The battle for democracy must be carried out according to the objective and subjective conditions obtaining. The legal forms of struggle must be carried out where these are possible and to whatever extent these are possible. The full spectrum of human rights, civil, political, social, economic and cultural, must be upheld, defended and advanced for the benefit of the exploited and oppressed people. The people must be able to act accordingly as the the socio-economic crisis results in political crisis and the forces and agents of monopoly capitalism malign and try to discredit democratic protest as unlawful rebellion or even as terrorism and thus justify increased political repression.
In countries where the ruling classes engage in state terrorism and/or imperialism engages in wars of aggression and military intervention, the people have the sovereign right to mobilize themselves for all forms of resistance, including revolutionary armed struggle. At the moment, legal mass movements and revolutionary armed struggles are going on and advancing in several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the people are the most oppressed and exploited. The current severity of the global financial and economic crisis, the exacerbation of exploitation and oppression, the blatant political repression or naked state terrorism and the imperialist wars of aggression impel the people to wage armed revolution.
To become most effective in making protests and demands, the mass movement for social change must be based at the level of the local communities, the factories, farms, schools and churches. It is indestructible when there are dedicated activists of the working class party and the mass organizations who are deeply rooted among the toiling masses and who arouse, organize and mobilize them at the basic level. This fact is well demonstrated in cases where the most vicious campaigns of deception cannot sway the people against the progressive mass movement as well as in cases where the counterrevolutionary state carries out a campaign of military and police suppression but fails to defeat or weaken the revolutionary mass movement of the people.
When the mass movement is well-established at the basic level, especially among the working people, then it can easily build and support the organs of leadership and organizational effectivity at various levels, up to the national level. It can mobilize significantly large and effective numbers of people at the centers of the towns, districts, provinces, regions and the capital of the country. The higher levels of leadership and organization and the lower levels can interact to drive the mass movement forward according to the general political line.
Anti-imperialist and democratic mass movements are well-rooted in many countries. These have become interconnected with their counterparts within global regions. The cohesion and coordination of the mass movements within a global region can be effected through conferences, seminars, forums, a standing regional committee and timely consultations.
The formation of global region committees and organizations does not always have to precede the formation of the international organization. An international organization can be formed by calling for the participation of people's organizations based in various countries. The International League of Peoples' Struggle was first established as an international organization and subsequently called on its member-organizations to form national chapters before pushing in earnest the formation of the global region committees and organizations.
At the moment, there are several international formations or combinations of people's organizations. These can be consensus-based formal and informal alliances. They can make declarations and agreements of anti-imperialist solidarity, mutual support and cooperation. We are witness to the growing unity, cooperation and coordination of these international organizations in carrying out mass mobilizations to oppose the vile policies and acts of imperialism and reaction and call for a new and better world of greater freedom, democracy, development, social justice, healthy environment and peace.
The current financial and economic crisis is far from over in the US and in the world. The bursting of the bubbles in housing, bank credit, the stock market and derivatives has not yet run its full course and continues to deflate values in trillions of dollars due to debt deleveraging in the trillions. The bubble in derivatives has been the biggest in the entire history of capitalism and is estimated to range from 500 trillion to a quadrillion dollars on a global scale. The corporate bond bubble among the giant industrial firms is expected to burst in a big way this year. So is the bubble in US treasury bonds that has rapidly inflated due to the bank bailouts in the trillions.
The real economy is bound to be further afflicted by bankruptcies, drastic production cutbacks, decline of employment and incomes and the further loss of effective demand. The accumulation of debt financing by governments and private corporations in so many decades is cascading into and collapsing on entire economies. The Keynesian stimulus packages of the US and other governments are puny and restricted by the persistent neoliberal policy bias and the ever insistent demands of the financial and nonfinancial corporations to be the first served with the bailouts.
Let us recall that the pumppriming fiscal measures adopted by Roosevelt under the New Deal did not really solve the Great Depression and stabilize the US economy. These measures would counter now and then the depressed conditions only to be pushed back by “free market” arguments against deficit spending in a period of lower tax collection. It was largescale civil and military production related to World War II that finally stimulated the US economy.
There is good reason to be wary of Obama's kind of top economic advisers like Volcker, Rubin and Sommers and his top appointees to the US Treasury Department (Geithner),
the US Securities and Exchange Commission (Schapiro), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Gensler) and so on. These are exponents of unregulated “free market” capitalism, especially Sommers and Geithner who were instrumental in pushing the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Modernization of Commodity Futures Act during the time of Clinton in 1999. Geithner is a dyed-in-the-wool factotum of Wall Street, like his former bosses Bernanke and Paulson. It is highly probable that the glittering Obama promises of stimulating the economy the New Deal/Keynesian way would be squashed under the pressures of unwieldy bipartisanship and the persistence of the neoliberal policy bias.
The US policy makers under the Obama administration have already indicated that they will continue to chant the slogan of “free market” capitalism, retain as much as they can a high level of deregulation favoring the financial and industrial giants and carry out a number of measures to reverse the industrial decline of the US. These measures include Keynesian pumppriming (like public works, expansion of social services and green energy projects), military production and taking back some of the manufacturing of consumergoods conceded previously to US allies.
The current financial and economic crisis is grave enough to threaten and undermine the position of the US as the No. 1 economic and military power. But the decline of the US as the unquestioned No. 1 imperialist power will not occur rapidly on a straight line. The other imperialist powers have also taken a big hit as a result of hewing to the line of “neoliberal globalization”. This is well illustrated in a current cynical joke among Washington insiders, Republican and Democratic, that the financial crisis would have been far worse for the US had it not succeeded in exporting the toxic financial products to Europe, Japan and elsewhere. The US is still in a position to adopt self-serving policies to slow down its decline and further beggar its own imperialist allies and neocolonial underlings.
However, such policies will be very harmful to other countries and the people of the world and will provoke them to react and adopt their own policies. The currents of multipolarization will thus become stronger. In fact, the struggle among the imperialist powers for a redivision of the world in terms of political hegemony and economic territory (sources of cheap of raw materials and cheap labor, markets and fields of investment) will become more intense. The adverse effects of the crisis on the so-called emerging markets and the general run of raw material-exporting countries in the third world are leading to social and political turmoil.
The severity and dire implications of the global economic crisis push the imperialist powers to intensify aggression and military intervention and accelerate their preparations for war. The trend of US-instigated aggressive wars has conspicuously risen since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and global recession that hit Japan the hardest. Since its economic slowdown at the turn of the century, the US has become even more aggressive with the so-called global war on terror as a convenient pretext, to pumpprime the military industrial complex, as well as further expand an consolidate its global hegemony.
The NATO allies of the US, notably Germany and France, have been less enthusiastic in supporting US military campaigns and programs such as in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East and in the former Soviet bloc countries. Russia is wary of the US and NATO policies and track record of expansion and aggression and have formed with China and some Central Asian states the military alliances, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
No one can accurately predict how long the global financial and economic crisis will persist and how the imperialist powers can solve or aggravate it. But there is ample ground and ample time for the working class, the mass organizations and the broad masses of the people to further strengthen themselves against the onslaughts of monopoly capitalism and all reaction and carry out mass movements to make demands for basic social reforms in all countries and to wage revolutionary struggles in an ever increasing number of countries.
At any rate, the Greater Depression is still looming ahead. There will be more widespread social and political turmoil in various countries of the world. Wars of aggression and military intervention are in the horizon. The most effective counter to this is in the ceaseless consolidation and expansion of the revolutionary mass movements for national liberation, democracy and socialism.