This resolution was adopted before the 'Gulf Crisis' which began on 2 August. It deals with the general perspectives for the international situation, with its main aspects, and as such remains perfectly valid today. In particular, the events which took place in the Middle East are an immediate illustration that "the future that capitalism offers us is thus not only one of insoluble crisis, of ever more devastating economic effects (famine in the backward countries, absolute pauperization in the advanced ones, generalized poverty for the whole working class), but also increasingly brutal military confrontations wherever the proletariat hasn't the strength to prevent them, and finally a growing chaos, the bourgeoisie's loss of control over the whole of society, and ever more unrestrained barbarism ... "
The world situation is dominated today, and will be for some time to come, by one major historical event: the brutal and definitive collapse of the Eastern imperialist bloc. This is because this collapse:
- illustrates the depth, gravity, and insoluble nature of the crisis of the capitalist economy;
- confirms decadent capitalism's entry, during the 1990s, into a new and final phase of its existence: the general decomposition of society;
- has created a general destabilization of the entire world geopolitical organization set up at the end of World War II;
- has a major impact on the consciousness and the struggle of the proletariat, in that the Eastern bloc has been presented since its creation, and by every fraction of the bourgeoisie, as the "socialist bloc", and the heir to the proletarian revolution of October 1917.
1) The fundamental causes of the Eastern bloc's collapse are to be found in:
- the congenital economic weakness and backwardness of its dominant power, the USSR, as a result of the latter's late arrival in capitalism's historical development, and which consequently prevented it from becoming a viable bloc leader (the USSR's accession to a position it could not maintain was due to the particular political and military conditions prevailing at the end of World War II);
- the complete economic collapse of the countries making up the bloc, and in the first place of course, of the USSR itself.
This collapse is the result of the inability of the form of state capitalism existing in these countries (which was set up in the USSR on the ruins of the proletarian revolution, fallen victim to its international isolation) to confront the inexorable aggravation of the world capitalist crisis.
Although this form of' state capitalism was able to emerge victorious from a generalized imperialist war, it has proved unadapted to confront a situation of extreme competition on the world market, provoked by the crisis of over-production, because:
- of the major handicap for the competitivity of each national economy, represented by the war economy which reached its most caricatural expressions in the USSR;
- and, above all, because of the total lack of responsibility in all those involved in production (from the factory director to the factory hand and the kolkhoz agricultural, worker) as a result of the economy's complete centralization, the fusion, under the aegis of the Party-State, of the political and productive apparatus, and the elimination of any market sanction for economic failure.
The spectacular economic collapse of the whole so-called "socialist" economy represents the law of value's revenge, under the blows of the world crisis, on this particular form of the capitalist economy, which had tried for years to cheat it on a grand scale.
2) In this sense, the disappearance of the Stalinist type economy, and the frantic reintroduction of market mechanisms in the Eastern countries, opens no real perspective for a recovery of the world economy, which has itself only stayed afloat during the last two decades by cheating the same law of value. With one or two exceptions and specific situations (such as East Germany), the Eastern countries as a whole, and the USSR in particular, will not be able to provide the industrialized countries with a new market. Their needs are enormous, but they have no means of payment, and today's historic conditions forbid the creation of any kind of new "Marshall Plan". The latter was able to raise the West European economy from its ruins because it came during a period of post-war reconstruction. Today, by contrast, any development in the East of a competitive industry would inevitably be confronted with the general saturation of the world market.
As was already the case during the 1970s with the "Third World" countries, Western credits aimed at financing such a development in the Eastern countries could only result in a further swelling their debt, consequently increasing still further the weight of debt on the whole of the world economy.
3) In fact, today we are witnessing the bursting of the bubble which promised the "end of the crisis" thanks to "liberalism" and "Reaganomics", which had their hour of glory during the 1980s. The supposed "successes" of the Western economies were in reality based on a headlong flight essentially into a colossal level of debt, in particular by the world's greatest economic power: the United States. This country, thanks to enormous trade and budget deficits, and a frenzied arms race, has made it possible to stave off for a few more years the deadline of a new open recession. This latter is the bourgeoisie's great fear; this is what most clearly highlights the complete bankruptcy of the capitalist mode of production. But this "Western" way of cheating with the law of value could only exacerbate still further the fundamental contradictions of the world economy. Today, the entry of the United States, and of Great Britain, into a new open recession is an illustration of that reality.
As on previous occasions, this new recession of the world economy can only bring the other Western economies down with it.
4) The coming closure of the US market will rebound (as it is already doing on countries like Japan) on the whole world market, leading to a fall in production in the West European economies (even if in the short term German production may be sustained by the process of unification). Moreover, the attenuation of the effects of the world crisis by the policy of state capitalism at the level of the Western bloc will play less and less of a role as the latter disintegrates as an inevitable result of the disappearance of its Eastern adversary.
More than ever, then, the perspective for the world economy is one of worsening collapse. For a time, the central capitalist countries have been able to push the most brutal effects of a crisis whose origins lie at the centre, onto the countries of the periphery. Increasingly, the most extreme forms of the crisis will boomerang back, with full force, on the central countries. Although they have more resources to limit the damage, the Western capitalist metropoles will now follow the Third World and the Eastern bloc on the black list of economic disaster.
5) The aggravation of the capitalist economy's worldwide crisis will necessarily provoke a new exacerbation of the bourgeoisie's own internal contradictions. As in the past, these contradictions will appear on the level of military antagonisms: in decadent capitalism, trade war cannot but lead to armed conflict. In this sense, the pacifist illusions which may develop following the "warming" of relations between the USSR and the USA must be resolutely combated: military confrontations between states are not going to disappear, even though they may no longer be used and manipulated by the great powers. On the contrary, as we have seen in the past, militarism and war are decadent capitalism's way of life, and the deepening of the crisis can only confirm this.
By contrast with the previous period, however, these military conflicts no longer take the form of a confrontation between the two great imperialist blocs:
- on the one hand, the Eastern bloc has ceased to exist, as we can see from the fact that its dominant power is already reduced to fighting for its very existence; for the USSR, the perspective is one of the Union's reduction to Russia alone, which will no longer be anything but a second-rate power, a good deal weaker than the major West European powers;
- on the other, with the disappearance of the Russian bloc's military threat, the Western bloc has itself lost its main reason for existing and has entered a process of disintegration which can only increase, since as marxism has long demonstrated, there can never exist a world dominating "super-imperialism".
6) This is also why the disappearance of the two imperialist constellations which have divided the world between them for more than 40 years, brings with it the tendency to the reconstitution of two new blocs: one dominated by the United States, the other by a new leader. Due to its geographical position and its economic power, Germany is well placed to play this role. However, such a perspective is not on the agenda today, since:
- Germany is still relatively weak militarily (it does not even possess nuclear weapons), and this weakness cannot be surmounted overnight;
- the organizational structures of the Western bloc (OECD, NATO, EEC, etc) still exist formally; above all, the great economic power of the USA tends to limit its "allies" room for maneuver, and it will do everything it can to hold back Germany's military reinforcement);
- the phenomenon of decomposition affecting the whole of society constitutes a major hindrance; the chaos it provokes within the ruling class limits the latter's ability to enforce the discipline necessary to the formation of new imperialist blocs.
7) In fact, although the structures inherited from the old organization of the Western bloc have already lost their primary function, they are today being used to limit the growing tendency to disorganization, to the "every man for himself" spirit developing within the bourgeoisie. In particular, the political chaos which has already gripped the USSR (in particular in the form of the proliferation of nationalist demands), and which can only increase, holds a real threat of contamination for Eastern and Central Europe. This is one of the main reasons for all the fractions of the Western bourgeoisie's unanimous support for Gorbachev. This is also why West Germany, whose perilous absorption of the GDR has put it in the front line of this threat of chaos from the East, has for the moment become a "faithful" ally within NATO.
However, the very fact that a country like Germany, which has been a "model" of economic and political stability should now be seriously shaken by the tempest from the East says much about the general threat of destabilization hanging over the whole European and world bourgeoisie. The future that capitalism offers us is thus not only one of insoluble crisis, of its ever more devastating economic effects (famine in the backward countries, absolute pauperization in the advanced ones, generalized poverty for the whole working class), but also of increasingly brutal military confrontations wherever the proletariat has not got the strength to prevent them, and finally a growing chaos, the bourgeoisie's loss of control over the whole of society, and ever more extreme and unrestrained barbarism whose conclusion, like a world war, can only be the destruction of humanity.
8) For the moment, the growing chaos within the ruling class, and the weakening that this represents for it, is not in itself a favorable condition for the proletariat's struggle and the development of its consciousness. History has already shown on a number of occasions that the bourgeoisie is perfectly capable of overcoming its internal contradictions when faced with a threat from the working class, to put up a formidable united front against it. More generally, in overthrowing the bourgeoisie, the proletariat can count only on its own strength, not on the latter's weakness.
Furthermore, the 1980s, which marked decadent capitalism's entry into its final phase of decomposition, have revealed the ruling class' ability to turn the various aspects of this decomposition against the proletariat:
- inter-classist campaigns on ecological, humanitarian, or anti-fascist themes against threats to the environment, famine, or massacres and signs of xenophobia;
- the use of despair, of nihilism, of the "every man for himself" attitude, to attack the class' confidence in the future, and to undermine its solidarity and to catch it in the traps of sectoralism.
9) This negative weight of decomposition on the working class has appeared especially on the question of unemployment. Although this can act as a factor in the awareness of the historical dead-end of the capitalist mode of production; during the 1980s it has instead helped to encourage despair, the "each for himself" attitude, and even lumpenisation amongst not-insignificant sectors of the working class, especially among young workers who have never had the opportunity to be integrated into a collectivity of work and struggle.
More concretely, whereas in the 1930s, under far more unfavourable historical circumstances (because they were dominated by the counterrevolution), the unemployed were able to organise and even to conduct, large-scale struggles, this has not been the case at all in recent years. In fact, it has proved that only massive struggles by employed workers can draw the unemployed sectors of the working class into the struggle.
10) The bourgeoisie's ability to turn the collapse of its own society against the working class has been particularly illustrated by the collapse of Stalinism and the Eastern bloc. Between the 1920s and 60s, Stalinism was the spearhead of the terrible counter-revolution that descended on the working class. Its historical crisis and disappearance, far from clearing the political ground for the class' combat and for the development of its consciousness, has on the contrary provoked a marked retreat in this consciousness. The fact that the "socialist" bloc perished from its own internal contradictions (exacerbated by the world economic crisis and the development of decomposition), rather than at the hand of the proletariat, has made it possible for the bourgeoisie to increase the weight of reformist, unionist, and democratic illusions, making it more difficult for the proletariat to draw out the perspectives for its combat. The retreat of the working class is on the same level as the event which caused it: the worst it has undergone since the historic recovery of the struggle at the end of the 1960s; in particular, it is a good deal worse than the retreat that followed the defeat of 1981 in Poland.
11) Nonetheless, the undoubted depth of the present reflux in proletarian consciousness does not in the least call into question the historic course towards class confrontations, as it has developed over the last twenty years. The extent of this reflux is limited by the fact:
- that contrary to the 1930s and the postwar period, it is not the proletariat of the central capitalist countries which is in the front line of these democratic campaigns; the bourgeoisie is using the "wind from the East", originating in regions where the secondary sectors of the world proletariat live;
- this "wind from the East" has itself largely lost its impetus with the first results of the policies of "market liberalization", much vaunted as a cure for the ills of the Stalinist type economy; the irredeemable aggravation of the economic situation, the loss of even the bare minimum of security in employment and of consumption, cannot but undermine the illusions in both East and West as to the "benefits" of "liberal" capitalism as applied to the East;
- despite its disarray, the proletariat has not suffered a direct defeat, nor the crushing of its struggle; its combativity has thus not really been affected;
- this combativity is bound to be stimulated by the increasingly ferocious attacks that the bourgeoisie will be forced to unleash; this will allow the proletariat to regroup on its own terrain, outside all the inter-classist campaigns.
More fundamentally, the spectacle of the growing bankruptcy of the capitalist economy in all its forms, and especially those that dominate the advanced countries, will be a vital factor in laying bare all the lies about "capitalism's victory over socialism", which are at the heart of the ideological campaign that the bourgeoisie has unleashed on the proletariat.
12) The working class still has a long and difficult road before it to its emancipation. It is all the more difficult in that, unlike the 1970s, time is no longer on its side given the increasing and irreversible plunge into decomposition of the whole of society. Nonetheless, the working class has in its favor the fact that its struggle is the only perspective for a way out of barbarism, the only hope for humanity's survival. As the crisis deepens inescapably, and as its struggles inevitably develop, the way is open for the proletariat to become aware of its historic task. The role of revolutionaries is to participate fully in today's class struggle, in order to lay the foundations for it to emerge as well armed as possible from the present difficult situation, and to set forward, tts revolutionary perspective with confidence.