ICC held a public meeting at the Industrial city of Kanpur in UP on 21st Dec 2008. It was our first public meeting in this city and was made possible by the development of a milieu sympathetic to left communist positions. A small group of workers have been meeting at Kanpur now for more than one year and discussing left communist positions. ICC has intervened in the meetings of this milieu from time to time. When these comrades invited the ICC to hold a public meeting at Kanpur we took up their offer. The meeting therefore was made possible by the efforts of these comrades at Kanpur who, a week prior to the public meeting, had distributed our leaflet on crisis of capitalism in Kanpur. They also did the organization and publicity for the meeting.
The topic of discussion at the meeting was ‘Capitalism is a bankrupt System; another world - Communism - is possible!"
The meeting was opened with a presentation by an ICC comrade. The presentation spoke of the depth of the present crises hitting world capitalism, the avalanche of attacks that the bourgeoisie is mounting against working class and pumping of massive sums of money by the bourgeoisie to avert the complete collapse of its system. The presentation further spoke of the need for working class to develop its class struggle and class solidarity - the only way in which it can respond to the attacks of the bourgeoisie. The presentation essentially expressed the concerns of our leaflet on crises.
After the presentation, everyone was invited to intervene on the subject.
One of the participants, a woman comrade from another town, was the first to make an intervention. The intervention explained that the capitalist system the world over has been a decadent system since the 1914 and that the decadent was the result of saturation of the world markets. The present crisis and chaos in the world capitalist system must be placed in this framework of decadence. The intervention further developed that the funds being poured into the banks by the bourgeoisie will not solve the crisis and conditions of working class will worsen in the coming period. The comrade stressed the need for the working class to develop its reactions against the crises.
This intervention was followed by other interventions during the meeting that lasted for more than five hours. Some of the questions that came up for discussions were:
- Is the crisis limited to America and Europe only? Or does it impact Asia, above all China and India, too?
- What are the expressions of the crisis in China and India?
- Will the state interventions in the economy happening today all over the world be able to avert the further fall of the capitalist economy?
- If Keynesian policies worked for the bourgeoisie earlier, why not now?
- Crisis has been massive and dramatic. Working class should have reacted massively and dramatically against the crises. Why its reaction is not equal to the attacks?
- What should we do?
A detailed discussion developed on the impact of crises on India and China.
This discussion showed that the impact of the crisis has been equally dramatic on China where manufacturing sectors has been hit hard in a couple of months alone. A comrade explained that China's roaring industrial economy has been abruptly quieted by the effects of the global financial crisis. Rural provinces that supplied much of China's factory manpower are watching the beginnings of a wave of reverse migration. As per one estimate crores of migrant workers are being cast out of urban jobs in factories and at construction sites in China. As this poses a risk of social explosions for the Chinese bourgeoisie, the state is monitoring the people returning to countryside and keeping a watch over them. Like Americans, the Chinese bourgeoisie is also planning to pump billions of dollars to save the Chinese economy.
Exactly the same situation, at a lower level, prevails in India where a massive construction activity has suddenly come to a halt. Till some time ago construction sites everywhere were beehives of activity round the clock with construction going on all the time. Now all this has suddenly become quite. The same impact can be seen throughout the economy where millions are loosing jobs in textiles, IT, auto, cement, diamonds and other sectors. What distinguish the situation in India is that unlike USA the bourgeoisie here does not report number of jobs being lost.
There was a common view that all the money being poured into the economy by all the capitalist states the world over is not going to save the economy. The present crisis of capitalism is the result of the saturation of world markets that the bourgeoisie have been trying to overcome by creating markets through massive expansion of debts. It is these debts that have now been choking the system. New debts that are being floated today are more of the same medicine that is already killing the patient. While bourgeoisie has no choice but to resort to more Keynesian measures, these are not going to solve the crisis, at best these will stave of a sudden collapse of the economy.
These discussions did not really brought out any major differences during the meeting. The point on which there were differences of views was the response of the working class.
Some participants thought that the working class should have reacted to the crises in the same dramatic manner in which the crisis has unfolded. But this has not happened and working class is not responding at the required level. Also, the more hardly hit and poorest workers are responding less. In this the comrades gave examples of huge number of extremely pauperized and unorganized workers employed in small scale businesses in Kanpur and elsewhere. Despite their worsening situation they are not really fighting back.
ICC intervened on the several points raised this discussion. The ICC tried to explain that extreme poverty of a section of the working class does not make it more capable of fighting the bourgeoisie. Often, despite their poverty workers employed in petty business find it difficult to fight as they lack the collective strength of the workers of bigger companies.
We should not be surprised at the present response of the working class to the crisis. The link between the level of crises and class struggle is not mechanical. Specially, in the face of the present sudden worsening of the crises, the first reaction of the working class would be one of bewilderment and uncertainty and not that of jumping into struggle. The response of the class develops only by a process of assimilation of the gravity of the situation and drawing lessons from it and from its past experience.
ICC further intervened that while there has been a dramatic acceleration of crises in the last few months, the struggles of the working class have already been in a process of resurgence. Last few years have seen the rise of class struggle globally. In India itself, last few years have seen an important rise in class struggle exemplified by struggles of Honda workers, Airport workers, transport workers in UP, Bank Employees and numerous other sections of the class. While class struggle may not show dramatic development, we are seeing a constant rise in the struggles of the workers struggle and these are going to accelerate in the coming period.
At the end of the meetings many participants, who were previously part of the leftist milieu, expressed satisfaction at the discussions. Many thought that despite all their years with leftists, it is only through discussions with left communists that they have really understood the roots of the capitalist crises and the need of working for the destruction of the capitalist system. Participants invited the ICC to hold more public meetings at Kanpur in the futures.
Harish, AM, 6 Jan 2009