Report on an ICC Public Forum in New Delhi - Economic crisis and class struggle
ANew Acceleration of Global Crises of Capitalism and Perspectivesfor the Development Class Struggle
ICC held a public meeting in New Delhi on 2 May 2010on the above subject. The meeting went on from 12.30 Hours to 17.30 Hrs and discussionsduring the meeting turned out quite lively.
Discussion was divided in two parts:
1. New acceleration of crises exemplified byeconomic collapse of Greece.
2. The development of class struggle in theface of generalized attacks
A New Acceleration of Crises
ICC opened the meeting with a presentation focusedon the first part of the discussion. Presentation spoke of the open expressionsof this crisis: spiraling of budget deficit of Greece to 13.6%, its Debt to GDPratio to 115%, downgrading of Greece Government loans to the level of junk andrefusal by banks to give any loans to Greek state thus threatening its bankruptcy.Although events in Greecewere expression of a serious crisis, the reason they sent shock waves throughthe world bourgeoisie was not due to any concern for Greece. The reason for the fear ofthe world bourgeoisie lies in their knowledge that Greece is not exception. Othercountries in Europe are in the same or worsesituation. At 12%, Budget deficit of Britainis second highest in Europe, followed by Spainat 11.2% and Portugalat 9.3%. Thus, far from being anexception, the bankruptcy that is staring Greece today is a curtain raiser forthe fate of many countries in the world.
These events denote a new, catastrophic accelerationof global capitalist crises that began in 2008. The discussions saw the present acceleration asa continuation of the crises of 2008. In 2008 bourgeoisie was able to avoid collapseof global financial system by gigantic injection of the same medicine,mountains of new debts, which had caused these catastrophic explosions in thefirst place. That exercise did stave off a complete collapse of the financialsystem at the moment. But this effort of saving the system by more of the samedid not resolve the problems afflicting the global capitalist system.
While immediate background of threat ofbankruptcy of capitalist states is the shattering of the global financialsystem in 2008, its roots go back to the end of 1960's. 1968 is the year when the period ofreconstruction ushered by world war two came to an end and when a cycle ofinexorable permanent decline and collapse of capitalism began. Since then thebourgeoisie has met every cycle of crises of over production by creating moredebts to artificially stimulate the markets, try to overcome its immediateproblems and postpone the hour of reckoning. Over the last some decades, giventhe fact that real economy has continued to shrink, especially in advancedcapitalist countries, these debts have only been offset by newer and moregigantic debts, both private and state. Also, as the real economy declined andavenues for capital to earn profits by productive means disappeared,bourgeoisie has more and more turned to exotic, speculative methods to earnprofits, method that even the bourgeoisie now call gambling and casino economy.Although the states now blame banks, it is not only the banks that haveresorted to this gambling with trillions of dollars. Even manufacturingcompanies, unable to earn profits in their own businesses, resort to thesespeculations and bets.
The collapse of the financial sector thatoccurred in 2008 was result of the explosions of contradictions that had beengathering within capitalism since previous decades. This collapse came as thecrises of gigantic debt that could no longer be paid and that pulled down anddestroyed some of the greatest banks in the world. The world bourgeoisie wasable to avert complete collapse of its system by pumping trillions of dollarsinto banks and into the economy in general. This did not resolve anything forthe bourgeoisies. It only meant that the hour has been postponed and the logicthat had pulled down the banks in 2008 will soon apply to the states that havebeen building debts.
This is what is happening today. Manystates, even USA whosebudget deficit is 12.3%, are in same condition as Greece. Many have debts that arebigger than their GDP. These have to be paid. The capitalist ‘markets' believethat many of these debtor states can not really repay and they stopped lendingmore money to these states. This is what triggered the bankruptcy of Greece. Many Europeancountries are in the same boat. Their incomes are not enough even to sustaintheir current expenses what to talk of sparing money for repayment of debts.These states are therefore starting a new, brutal offensive against the workingclass. Greecehas declared reduction of wages and pensions of public sector workers by 25%and similar cuts in social wages. Other countries like Spain, Portugaland Britainare preparing the same.
A possibility was posed - the bourgeoisiewill possibly resort to nationalizations to overcome its crises. After all thishas served the bourgeoisie well in the past. Why not now?
Ensuing discussion tried to clarify why thisis not an option for bourgeoisie today. It cannot really help the bourgeoisieto improve the situation. In this context the discussion recalled the wholehistory of nationalizations and the conditions in which it served thebourgeoisie well. Discussion further recalled how and why, in the face ofworsening crises, the process of denationalization, began in 1980's. Today theconditions are such that nationalizations will not solve any problems for thebourgeoisies.
Another question was posed. Why shouldworking class in Indiabother about Greece?After all Indian economy seems to be doing well. In response discussionrecalled the experience of 2008. When the global financial system collapsed,the bourgeoisie in Indiainitially showed nonchalance. The crises will not touch us, they said. Butsituation quickly changed, exports fell dramatically and whole sectors of theeconomy - auto, construction, cement, textiles, diamond exports, IT etc - justground to halt with millions of workers loosing their jobs. This was inaddition to the immense poverty and misery that is the lot of the working classin India.What 2008 proved was that Indian economy is tightly linked to global economy.Any storms in the world capitalist system can not but shake up the Indianeconomy. In 2008, Indian bourgeoisie also used the same medicine to get out ofthe crisis as the rest of global bourgeoisie - more debts, easing of moneysupply. As the present storms in the world capitalist system gather strength,it can not but shake up Indian economy and further accelerate attacks on theworking class in India.
In the context of worsening economicconditions of the working class in India, an intervention raised the questionof very high levels of unemployment in India that is destroying the future ofwhole generations of people.
Development of Class Struggle
The briefpresentation initiating this discussion explained that today the working classis not defeated. It has already been developing its struggles everywhere in theworld. Also, there is a tendency for these struggles to be more and moresimultaneous. Different parts of the class in same geographic areas arestruggling at more or less the same time thus opening up the possibility ofextension and development of solidarity. This can also be seen in struggles inGurgaon last year.
At thesame time, bourgeoisie has now started open, brutal and generalised attacksagainst the working class in many countries in the world. This is alreadyforcing the working class to respond in a massive manner and will do the samein the coming period. These have the potential of developing into massstruggles. The development of these struggles and their politicization providesworking class with an opportunity to develop its challenge to the capitalistsystem.
A long anddeep discussion developed on this. Several questions were posed and clarified:
1. Is it given that this newacceleration of crises will give rise to massive struggles of the class?
2. What has been stoppingthe class from developing a massive response so far?
3. What is the role of therevolutionaries in all this?
4. What should we do?
Thediscussion concluded that the present acceleration of crises opens a period ofimpoverishment and suffering for the working class. But it also provides anopportunity for the class to develop its class identity, its class unity, itsstruggles and its consciousness. It provides an opportunity for the class todevelop mass struggles that can open a challenge to the bourgeoisie. There isnothing predetermined about it but indications seems to point to a directionwhere all this may yet be realized.
Thediscussion tried to answer ‘what has stopped the class so far'. One point made duringthis discussion was on loss of historical continuity, loss of the profound learningand deepening of consciousness that the working class had gone throughprogressively from early 19th century up to the Russian revolution. Thiswas a great strength of the class in that period and allowed it to quicklyovercome major setbacks. This strength was lost when revolution in Russiadegenerated and was defeated in other countries. Stalinist counter-revolution thattriumphed in Russiawas able to burry these historical acquisitions and strengths of the class. Ofthe many other barriers today are: weight of trade unionism, myth of democracy,nationalism, ethnicism, weight of decomposition and every man for himself andnear totalitarian control of the bourgeois propaganda.
Adiscussion on the role of revolutionaries started by underlining two things:
- Their indispensable role in the struggle of the workingclass for its self emancipation;
- Ability of the class to develop its struggles in the faceof attacks of the bourgeoisies.
Whetherthe workers in Greece, in Portugal, in Spainor Britainwill be able to respond to the massive attacks of the bourgeoisie is notdetermined by the presence or absence of revolutionaries. If it were so, thenthe cause of the working class will be a lost one. It is the very nature of theworking class, its place in capitalist society that leads it to develop itsidentity, its unity and it's combat against the bourgeoisie. It is in theprocess of politcisation of its struggles, in their posing the question of thedestruction of capitalist society and construction of communist society thatthe role of revolutionaries becomes indispensable.
Answering thelast question - ‘what should we do', ICC explained that the best way tostrengthen the struggle of the working class today is by helping build andstrengthen revolutionary organizations. Comrades present could accelerate theireffort to clarify the communist positions, build solidarity with us, join theICC and help develop communist intervention in the working class so that questionof politicizations of the struggles of the working class and destruction ofcapitalism can be practically posed.
Jvn, 9th May 2010