Resolution on the international situation, December 2023

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The evolution of the world situation since the 25th ICC Congress amply confirms what was stated in the resolution we adopted on the international situation. Not only is decomposition becoming the decisive factor in the evolution of society, as we had anticipated as early as 1990[1], but in the present decade, “the aggregation and interaction of destructive phenomena produces a ‘whirlwind effect’ that concentrates, catalyses and multiplies each of its partial effects, provoking even more destructive devastation”[2] .

Concretely, the economic crisis deepens and there is a significant deterioration of the living conditions of the working class, which encourages a "rupture" with the situation of passivity and the development of combativity and potentially of consciousness, expressing a movement towards the adoption of a revolutionary perspective, even if it is still slow and fragile. At the same time, the ecological deterioration and the multiplication of the imperialist war zones (Ukraine, Armenia/Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Africa, Middle East) show the perspective of destruction and ruin that capitalism offers to humanity.

In the realm of the environmental crisis, recent events leave no room for doubt or relativising the consequences of ecological damage for the habitability of the planet and the survival of many species (including, ultimately, the human species). Recent illustrations have been the massive floods in Pakistan, or the rise in temperature this summer to over 40 degrees in the countries of southern Europe, the pollution that has forced schools to close in India for the Christmas vacations in November and that causes 1 in 3 children to have respiratory problems, the current pneumonia epidemic among children in China, the famines in Africa, etc.

Of all the elements of the "whirlwind effect" however, it is imperialist war which immediately accelerates the course of events in the world situation. Since the 25th Congress, we have witnessed a kind of stalemate in the war in Ukraine, the resurgence of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the warlike tensions in the Balkans and above all the war between Israel and Hamas. In the background is the growing confrontation between the US and China. This proliferation of conflicts is not the expression of a dynamic towards the formation of imperialist blocs but confirms the “every man for himself” tendency of imperialist confrontations in this period.


1.- With respect to the analysis of the imperialist confrontations during the cold war, the coordinates of marxist analysis have changed in the present situation; mainly on the possibility of the formation of imperialist blocs and on the confrontation of classes. In spite of this, the Bordigists (Programma, Le Proletaire, Il Partito) and Damenists (ICT) insist on seeing in the present situation the formation of two opposing imperialist blocs around China and the US, and therefore the march towards a third world war, based on the assumption of the defeat of the proletariat. In fact, even the "experts" of the bourgeoisie tend to recognise the dominant trend of imperialist conflicts is toward ‘multi-polarity’.[3]

In the resolution on the international situation of the 24th congress, we wrote:

“the march towards world war is still obstructed by the powerful tendency towards indiscipline, every man for himself and chaos at the imperialist level, while in the central capitalist countries capitalism does not yet dispose of the political and ideological elements - including in particular a political defeat of the proletariat - that could unify society and smooth the way towards world war. The fact that we are still living in an essentially multipolar world is highlighted in particular by the relationship between Russia and China. While Russia has shown itself very willing to ally with China on specific issues, generally in opposition to the US, it is no less aware of the danger of subordinating itself to its eastern neighbour, and is one of the main opponents of China’s “New Silk Road” towards imperialist hegemony.»[4]


2.- The recognition of the unruly correlation of imperialist forces, defined essentially by the tendency to “every man for himself”, must not lead to an underestimation of the danger of the explosion of uncontrolled military conflicts, as happened at the beginning of the war in Ukraine in 2022. The US-China conflict could well lead to direct military confrontation, so the threat of open conflict here (somewhat underestimated in the 25th Congress Resolution on the International Situation) must be further analysed.

The US’s proclaimed geo-political strategy since 1989 has been to prevent the emergence of any power that could rival its massive military superiority on the world stage. This doctrine at once confirmed that its primary ambition was not the recreation of a bloc, and at the same time indicated that, unlike the 1st and 2nd World Wars where it waited in a defensive posture before emerging with the spoils, it now had to take the military offensive on the world stage and become the dominant force of imperialist destabilisation.

The fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan showed that the politics of the world cop only produced more chaos, showing at the same time the decline of US imperialism. More recently it has tried to react by turning to a stricter defense of its own interests (Trump’s “America first” and Biden’s “America is back”), even though this triggers even greater chaos. As we had already identified, China's enormous economic, technological and military development is a threat to American dominance.

For this reason, the US is developing a policy that seeks to hinder the progression of economic, technological and military development in China, with the relocation of companies, limitations on collaboration in cutting-edge university research, the blocking of technology exports, the "quadruple chip alliance" between the US and Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, which seeks to isolate China from the world supply chains of microchips, etc. On the military side, it is trying to establish a geopolitical encirclement to guarantee control of the Indo-Pacific and the Asian continent with initiatives such as the QUAD, the "NATO of Asia", which groups the US with Japan, India, Australia and South Korea, or AUKUS, a military cooperation treaty with Australia and the United Kingdom. The US encirclement continues to tighten, and the latest steps have been the installation of American military bases in the Philippines and gaining Vietnam as an ally in the region. Ultimately, for the US, the war in Ukraine also has the objective of isolating China strategically and militarily, bleeding Russia dry, stripping it of any world power relevance and trying to prevent China from taking advantage of its military technology or its energy resources and its experience in the world imperialist "great game”. The bloody stalemate of the war in Ukraine has advanced this US project of bleeding Russia dry.

Recently, the policy of encircling China has been compounded by a series of provocations such as Pelosi's visit to Taipei, the shooting down of weather balloons accused of spying, the announcement of 345 million dollars in military aid to Taiwan, or Biden's declarations that the US will not hesitate to send troops to the island to defend it from a Chinese invasion.

All these American initiatives together point to a strategy of isolation and provocation of China, which the US is trying to push into premature confrontations for which it is not yet equiped and which could include military clashes. This in fact reproduces the policy of encircling the ‘USSR’ which forced the latter to get involved in imperialist adventures beyond its real economic and military means, and which ended up producing the collapse of the imperialist bloc it led.

There is no doubt that China has learned and is taking note of the lessons of the collapse of the Eastern bloc; but we should not rule out the possibility that, faced with the continuation and intensification of US pressure, it may end up having no choice but to respond; and therefore we should not underestimate the possibility of a conflict, particularly in the China Sea around Taiwan. Evidently, in the event of such a conflict, the consequences would be disastrous and terrible for the whole world, even if the scale of such a conflict would be limited by several factors, in particular the absence of global imperialist blocs and the incapacity of the US bourgeoisie to drag an undefeated working class into a full-scale mobilization for war.


3.- The bloody conflict presently in the Middle East erupted precisely in the context of the chaotic and unpredictable expansion of the tendency of every imperialist power acting for itself, and not from any movement towards the solidification of blocs.

The withdrawal of a strong US military presence in the Middle East entrusted to Israel the maintenance of the Pax Americana in the region within the framework of the Oslo agreements (1993), which recognized the principle of "two States" (thus of a local Palestinian State). Apparently calm reigned, which had even allowed the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, sanctioning peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and excluding Iran. However, Israel has in practice continued and intensified a policy of harassment of the Arab population and support for the settlers in the West Bank, sabotaging the Palestinian Authority (PA) by supporting Hamas, which is now its mortal enemy, thus in practice sabotaging the American mandate. The situation has reached a limit with the Netanyahu government in conjunction with the extreme right. The finance minister has called on the army to take revenge for attacks on the settlers by burning Palestinian homes, and the presence of Israel's soldiers competes with that of the PA police. So Hamas, which won the last elections in the Gaza Strip, rather than wait idly for the fate of the West Bank, has launched a desperate attack. That attack however coincided with the ambitions of another regional power – Iran - which saw a weakening of its presence in the region and which in turn, under the auspices of China, had signed in March an agreement with Saudi Arabia on the "Silk Road", in direct competition with that of Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The Wall Street Journal made public what everyone knew: the Hamas attack was openly prepared and supported by Iran and Hizbollah in southern Lebanon.

Israel's response, razing Gaza under the pretext of wiping out Hamas, shows a scorched earth policy on both sides. Hamas' murderous rage finds in Israel's exterminating vengeance the other side of the coin. And globally, the fire in the region is a call for the intervention of other regional powers, and particularly Iran, which is the main beneficiary of the situation of the breakdown of the regional balance.

This, however, does not benefit the US. The Biden administration has had no choice but to reluctantly support the Israeli army's response, trying, albeit futilely, to lower the tension, and has been forced to reestablish its military presence in the area by sending “Along with the aircraft carrier Ford, the cruiser Normandy and the destroyers Thomas Hudner, Ramage, Carney and Roosevelt, and will increase the presence of squadrons of F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter planes in the region”[5] . Some have already had to intervene in the face of attacks on American troops in Iraq. The objective is to dissuade Iran at all costs from a direct intervention or one carried out through Hizbollah but also dissuade Israel from trying to carry out its threat to "wipe Iran off the map".

For its part, Russia undoubtedly benefits from the fact that the focus of attention and war propaganda is shifting from Ukraine to Palestine. This interferes with the financial and military resources that the US could employ on the Russian front and "gives a respite" to the intensity of its war there. Moreover, Putin benefits from US support for the savagery of Israeli repression by denouncing the hypocrisy of American society and of the "West", which for its part criticises the occupation of Crimea but consents to the invasion of Gaza. However Russia cannot significantly advance its own interests in the region through this war.

China might likewise welcome the weakening of the US policy of "pivot to the East"; but war and the destabilization of the region goes against its own geopolitical interests in charting the new Silk Road.

The current war in the Middle East is therefore not the result of the dynamics of the formation of imperialist blocs, but of the "every man for himself". Just like the confrontation in Ukraine, this war confirms the dominant trend of the global imperialist situation: a growing irrationality fueled by the tendency for each imperialist power to act for itself and the bloody policy of the dominant power, the USA, to counter its inevitable decline by preventing the rise of any potential challenger.


4.- The war in the Middle East has an impact on the working class as a whole in the central countries that is even greater than that of Ukraine. On the one hand because in some countries like France, a large percentage of imigration comes from Arab countries[6], but also because the "defense of the Palestinian people" has long been part of the baggage of the "left ideology" of the Trotskyist and anarchist groups, and also, it must be said, of the support for "national liberation" of some Bordigist groups like Programma. Thus we have seen demonstrations of 30,000 in Berlin, 40,000 in Brussels and 35,000 in Madrid, more than 500,000 in London, in defense of the Palestinians and for peace. On the other hand, Zionism covers itself with "the Jewish question", which not only has historical connotations, but also involves a part of the population in Europe and the USA. This explains the demonstrations and acts against anti-Semitism in France, recently in London, Paris, or in Germany; and also the campaigns in American universities, such as Harvard, where students who have denounced the massacres have been accused of anti-Semitism.

In spite of this, the war in the Middle East is probably not going to put an end to the dynamic of "rupture" of the passivity of the working class that we identified starting from the "summer of discontent" in Great Britain, which does not have as its starting point a response to  war, which in the present situation would demand a development of consciousness and a politicisation in the class as a whole that for the moment is not the case, but rather the deepening of the economic crisis.

When Internacionalismo raised the perspective of a resumption of the class struggle in the 1960s, its analysis was based fundamentally on two elements: 1) the end of the period of ‘prosperity’ after World War II and the perspective of the crisis; 2) the presence of a new generation in the working class that had not suffered a defeat. The dimension taken by the struggles in May 68 in France and the Hot Autumn in Italy 69, etc. was, in addition to the above, also the product of the lack of preparation of the bourgeoisie.

The condition that the proletariat is not defeated is equally determinant and the most important in the present situation. On the other hand, the present situation of worsening decomposition and whirlwind effect presents elements that are an obstacle to the struggle and the raising of consciousness of the proletariat; but it also contains a qualitative aggravation of the economic crisis, which is expressed in a significant deterioration of the living conditions of the proletariat. The decision to enter into struggle, not to resign oneself, not to trust and wait for "a new development of the economy", means a reflection on the global situation, a distrust towards the expectations that capitalism can offer, a minimum balance sheet of what we have been promised and has not been fulfilled. In this sense, "enough is enough" implies a subterranean maturation of consciousness. This approach has an international dimension for the working class as a whole. The example of the struggles in France and the UK, and now in the US, is also part of a reflection through which workers in other countries identify with those who participate in those struggles. This is also part of the beginning of a reflection on class identity.

It is true that, indirectly, the question of war is present in this process. This maturation has taken place during two decades of aggravation of the imperialist conflicts simultaneously with the aggravation of the economic crisis; moreover, the "rupture" has taken place in spite of the outbreak of the Ukrainian war. In fact, the development of the struggles necessarily leads to the embryonic beginning of a reflection linking the crisis and the war, for example when it is seen that inflation is increasing because of the expenditure on armaments and that sacrifices are demanded of us in order to increase the defense budgets.


5.- Nevertheless the worsening world situation is full of danger for the working class. Who can predict the consequences of a war between US and China, the scale of which may dwarf any conflict since 1945? Or the effects of other catastrophes that the period of decomposition will bring?

In this period of decomposition, not only have the conditions of aggravation of imperialist conflicts changed, passing from the "Cold War" between two imperialist blocs to "every man for himself"; they have also changed from the point of view of class confrontation.

During the Cold War period, the resistance of the proletariat, the fact that the bourgeoisie had not managed to defeat the working class, meant the latter was the main obstacle to the total imperialist war. And the class confrontation could be analysed in terms of an "historical course", as the Italian Left in exile (Bilan) had done in the 1930s, in the face of the 1936 war in Spain and the Second World War: either a course towards the defeat of the proletariat and world war, or a course towards decisive confrontations and the revolutionary perspective.

In the present period of chaotic aggravation of the imperialist conflicts according to the tendency of “every man for himself”, the fact that the proletariat is not defeated oes not prevent the proliferation of warlike confrontations which, although for the moment involve the countries where the proletariat is weaker, as in Russia/Ukraine or the Middle East, does not exclude the possibility that some of the central countries could embark on warlike adventures.

Thus, while in the years 1960-90, time was in favour of the proletariat which could absorb and develop the lessons of its failures and hesitations to prepare new assaults in its struggle against capitalism, since then, as we wrote in the “Theses on decomposition” in 1990, the period of decomposition has indeed created a race against time for the working class. This is why revolutionary organisations must include in their intervention an instance on the development of consciousness about this fact in the working class as a whole.




[1] The decadence of capitalism is not a homogeneous and regular process: on the contrary, it has a history with different phases. The phase of decomposition has been identified in our Theses as "the expression of the entry of decadent capitalism into a specific - and last - phase of its history, that in which social decomposition becomes a factor, even the decisive factor, in the evolution of society" (Thesis 2). It is evident that, if the proletariat were not capable of overthrowing capitalism, we would witness a terrible agony that would lead to the destruction of humanity.

[5] This is about 5000 soldiers. Los AngelesTimes, 8 October 2023

[6] 10% of the population of France is Muslim, i.e. approximately 6 million.


Imperialist conflicts