1) The recognition by the communists of the historically limited character of the capitalist mode of production, of the irreversible crisis in which the system is plunged today, constitutes the granite foundation upon which the revolutionary perspective of the combat of the proletariat is based. In this sense, all the attempts, such as those that we see at the present moment, on the part of the bourgeoisie and of its agents to make believe that the world economy is "coming out of crisis" or that certain "emerging" national economies can boost the old exhausted economic sectors, constitute a systematic attack against proletarian consciousness.
2) The official speeches on the "recovery" make a big thing out of the evolution of the indicators for industrial production, or the redressment of company profits. While we have indeed, in particular in the Anglo-Saxon countries, seen such a phenomenon recently, the foundation on which this rest must be pointed out:
- the recovery of profits is very often, especially for the big companies, the result of speculative windfalls; its counterpart is a new upsurge of public debts; it also flows from the elimination of "dead wood" by the big companies, in other words of their less productive sectors;
- the progress of industrial production results to a large extent from a very substantial increase in the productivity of labor based on the massive utilization of automation and informatics.
It is for these reasons that one of the major characteristics of the present "recovery" is that it has not been able to create employment, to significantly reduce unemployment or temporary employment, which, on the contrary, can only increase, since capital constantly wants to keep a free hand in order to be able to throw its superfluous work force onto the streets at any moment.
3) While it is above all an attack against the working class, a brutal factor of the development of misery and exclusion, unemployment also constitutes a major indication of capitalism's bankruptcy. Capital lives from the exploitation of living labor: in the same way as the shutting down of entire parts of the industrial apparatus, and indeed even more so, the laying off of a considerable part of labor force constitutes a real self-mutilation on capital's part. It shows the definitive bankruptcy of the capitalist mode of production, whose historic function was precisely to extend wage labor across the globe. This definitive bankruptcy of capitalism is also illustrated by the dramatic indebtedness of states which in the past years has reached a new crescendo: between 1989 and 1994 the public debt has gone up from 53% to 65% of the gross national product in the United States, from 57% to 73% in Europe, reaching 142% in the case of Belgium. In fact, the capitalist states are defaulting on their debts; if they were to be subjected to the same laws as private companies, they would already have been officially declared bankrupt. This situation only expresses the fact that the capitalist state constitutes the system's response to its impasse, but a response which is in no way a solution and which it cannot use forever.
4) The growth rates, sometimes in two figures, of the famous "emerging economies", do not in any way contradict the judgment on the general bankruptcy of the world economy. They result from a massive influx of capital drawn by the incredibly low cost of labor in these countries, from a ferocious exploitation of proletarians, something the bourgeoisie impudently refers to as "relocating'. This means that this economic development cannot but affect the production of the most advanced countries, whose states, increasingly, protest against the" dishonest commercial practices" of these "emerging" countries. Apart from this, the spectacular performances which they like to point to coincide very often with a wiping out of entire sectors of the economy of these countries: the "economic miracle" of China means more than 250 million unemployed by the year 2000. Finally, the recent financial collapse of another "exemplary" country, Mexico, whose money lost half of its value overnight, necessitating an urgent injection of close to $50 billion of credit (by far the largest "rescue" operation in capitalism's history), sums up the reality of the mirage of the" emergence" of certain Third World countries. The "emerging" economies are not the new hope of the world economy. They are but the very fragile and aberrant manifestation of a system gone mad. And this reality is not going to be contradicted by the situation of Eastern European countries, whose economies were not long ago supposed to be flowering under the sun of liberalism. If a few countries (such as Poland) have been able for the moment to avoid the worst, the chaos unfurling in the Russian economy (a 30% fall in production in two years, a more than 2,000% price rise over the same period) shows conclusively to what extent the talk which went on in 1989 was a lie. The state of the Russian economy is so catastrophic, that the Mafia, which controls a large part of the apparatus, appears, not as a parasite as in certain western countries, but as one of the pillars assuring a minimum of stability.
5) Finally, the state of potential bankruptcy in which capitalism finds itself, the fact that it cannot live forever by borrowing from the future, trying to get round the general and definitive saturation of the market by a headlong flight into debt, makes stronger and stronger the threat to the entire world financial system. The nervousness caused by the collapse of the British Barings Bank in the wake of the acrobatics of a "golden boy", the panic which followed the announcement of the crisis of the Mexican peso, out of all proportion with Mexico's weight in the world economy, are the undeniable indications of the real anguish which grips the ruling class in face of the perspective of a "true world catastrophe" of its finances, according to the words of the head of the IMF. But this financial catastrophe is nothing other than the revelation of the catastrophe into which the capitalist mode of production is plunging, and which hurls the whole world into the greatest convulsions in history.
6) The terrain on which these convulsions are most cruelly manifested is that of imperialist confrontations. Hardly five years have passed since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, since the promises of a "new world order" given by the leaders of the main western countries, and never has the disorder in the relations between states been so striking. Although it was based on the threat of a terrifying confrontation between the nuclear superpowers, and although its two super-powers without cease confronted each other through interposed countries, the "order of Yalta" contained, precisely, a certain element of "order". In the absence of the possibility of a new world war because the proletariat of the central countries is not mobilized, the two world policemen had to maintain imperialist confrontations within an "acceptable" framework. They had to avoid notably the sowing of chaos and destruction in the advanced countries and particularly on the principle terrain of two world wars, Europe. This edifice has fallen apart. With the bloody confrontations in ex-Yugoslavia, Europe has ceased to be a "sanctuary". At the same time, these confrontations have shown how difficult it is to set up a new "equilibrium", a new "division of the world" to succeed that of Yalta.
7) While the collapse of the Eastern Bloc was to a large extent unpredictable, the disappearance of its western rival was not in the least so. One would need to understand nothing of marxism (and follow Kautsky's thesis of "super-imperialism", swept away by the revolutionaries in World War I) to think that a single bloc could maintain itself alone. Fundamentally, all the bourgeoisies are rivals against each other. One can see this clearly in the domain of trade, where "the war of each against all" dominates. Diplomatic and military alliances are but the concretization of the fact that no bourgeoisie can choose to pursue its strategic interests alone against all the others. The common adversary is the only cement of such alliances, not any kind of "friendship between peoples". We can see today how far these are elastic and dishonest, since the enemies of yesterday (such as Russia and the United States) have discovered a sudden "friendship" and a friendship of decades (such as between Germany and the United States) is replaced by dispute.
In this sense, while the events of 1989 signified the end of the division of the world coming out of the Second World War, with Russia ceasing definitively to be able to lead an imperialist bloc, they contain the tendency towards the reconstruction of new imperialist constellations. However, although its economic power and its geographic location designate Germany to be the only country able to succeed Russia in the role of leader of an eventual future bloc opposed to the United States, its military situation is very far from allowing it for the moment to realize such an ambition. And in the absence of any new imperialist alignments able to replace the one swept away by the upheaval of 1989, the world arena is submitted as never before in the past, due to the unprecedented gravity of the economic crisis which kindles military tensions unleashing "each for himself", to a chaos aggravating even more the general decomposition of the capitalist mode of production.
8) The situation resulting from the end of the two blocks of the "cold war" is thus dominated by two contradictory tendencies - on the one hand disorder, instability in aIIiances between states, and on the other the process of the reconstruction of two new blocks - but which nevertheless are complimentary since the second factor cannot but aggravate the first one. The history of these past years illustrates this clearly:
- the crisis and the Gulf war of 90-91, sparked off by the United States, were part of the attempt of the American policeman to maintain its tutelage over its cold war aIlies, a tutelage which the latter are led to put in question with the end of the soviet menace;
- the war in ex -Yugoslavia is the direct result of the affirmation of the new ambitions of Germany, the main instigator of the Slovenian and Croatian secession, setting fire to the powder keg in the region;
- the pursuit of this war sows discord both within the German-French couple associated in the leadership of the European Union (which constitutes the first foundation stone of the edifice of a potential new imperialist bloc), and within the Anglo-American couple, the oldest and most faithful one which the 20th century has seen.
9) Even more than the peckings between the French cock and the German eagle, the extent of the present infidelities between Perfidious Albion and Uncle Sam constitute an irrefutable indication of the state of chaos of the system of international relations today. If, after 1989, the British bourgeoisie at first showed itself to be the most loyal ally of its American colleague, notably at the moment of the Gulf war, the slightness of the advantages it gained from this fidelity, as weIl as the defense of its specific interests in the Mediterranean area and in the Balkans, dictating a pro-Serbian policy, led it to distance itself considerably from its ally and to systematically sabotage the American policy of supporting Bosnia. With this policy, the British bourgeoisie has succeeded in setting up a solid tactical aIliance with the French bourgeoisie, with the objective of enforcing the discord in the German-French tandem, an approach towards which this latter is favorably disposed to the extent that the increase in power of its German ally worries it. This new situation is notably concretized by an intensification of the military collaboration between the British and the French bourgeoisie, for example with the proposed creation of a common air force unit and above all with the agreement creating an inter-African force "to maintain peace and prevent crises in Africa", which constitutes a spectacular revision of the British attitude after its support for the American policy in Ruanda aimed at banishing French influence in that country.
10) This evolution of the attitude of Britain towards its great ally, whose discontent was expressed with particular vigor on 17 March when Clinton welcomed Gerry Adams, the head of Sinn Fein, is one of the major events of the last period in the world arena. This reveals the scale of the defeat for the United States represented by the evolution of the situation in ex-Yugoslavia, where the direct occupation of the terrain by the British and French armies in the uniform of UNPROFOR has greatly contributed to thwarting American attempts to take position solidly in the region, via its Bosnian ally.
It is a significant fact that the first world power encounters more and more difficulties in playing its role of world gendarme, a role supported less and less by the other bourgeoisies who are trying to exorcise the past, when the soviet menace obliged them to submit to the orders corning from Washington. There exists today a serious weakening, even a crisis of American leadership which is confirmed throughout the world, and the image of which is given by the pitiful departure of the GI's from Somalia, 2 years after their spectacular, mediatized arrival. This crisis of leadership of the United States permits us to explain why certain other powers have permitted themselves to come and tease it in its Latin American backyard:
- the attempt of the French and Spanish bourgeoisies to promote a "democratic transition" in Cuba with Castro, and not without him, as Uncle Sam would like;
- the Peruvian bourgeoisie's rapprochement with Japan, confirmed by the re-election of Fujimori;
- the support of the European bourgeoisie, notably through the Church, for the Zapatista guerilla in Mexico.
11) In fact, this serious weakening of American leadership is expressed through the fact that the dominant tendency, at the present moment, is not the one towards a new bloc, but towards "every man for himself". For the first world power, equipped with overwhelming military superiority, it is much more difficult to master a situation marked by generalized instability, the precariousness of alliances in all corners of the globe, than by the obligatory discipline of states under the threat of the great imperialist powers and nuclear apocalypse. In such a situation of instability, it is easier for each power to stir up trouble for its adversaries, to sabotage the alliances that threaten it, than to develop for their own part solid alliances, and to assure stability on their own ground. Such a situation evidently favors the game of secondary powers, to the extent that it is always easier to stir up trouble than to maintain order. This reality is accentuated even more by the plunging of capitalist society into generalized decomposition. That is why the United States itself is called on make abundant use of this kind of policy. That is how we can explain, for instance, American support for the recent Turkish offensive against the Kurdish nationalists in northern Iraq, an offensive which the traditional ally of Turkey, Germany, has considered to be a provocation, and has condemned. It is not a kind of "overthrow of the alliance" between Turkey and Germany, but a (large) spanner thrown in the works of this "alliance", which reveals the importance of a country like Turkey for the two imperialist godfathers. Similarly, it is a sign of the state of the world situation today, that the USA should be led, in a country like Algeria for example, to use the same weapons as a Gadhafi or a Khomeini: support for terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. This said, in this reciprocal practice of destabilizing each other's positions by the US and the other countries, there is no equality: while American diplomacy can allow itself to intervene in the internal political game of countries like Italy (support for Belusconi), Spain (the GAL scandal stirred up by Washington), Belgium (the Augusta affair) or Britain (the opposition to Major by the "Eurosceptics"), the opposite is not the case. In this sense, the trouble which may appear within the American bourgeoisie faced with its diplomatic failures, or the internal debates about delicate strategic choices (eg over its alliance with Russia) cannot be put on the same level as the political convulsions which may affect other countries. Thus, for example, the dissensions which appeared over the sending of US troops to Haiti were essentially the result of a division of labor between bourgeois sectors and not of real divisions.
12) Despite its enormous military superiority and the fact that this can no longer be used to the same degree as in the past, despite the fact, owing to its budget deficits, that it has been obliged to reduce somewhat its military spending, the US has not given up the modernization of its armaments, developing ever more sophisticated weapons, notably by carrying on with the" Star Wars" project. The use or threat of brute force is now the main means at the US disposal to make its authority respected (even though it does not hesitate to use the weapons of economic war: pressure on international institutions such as the WTO, trade sanctions, etc). The fact that that this weapon has proved to be impotent, or even a factor that increases chaos, as could be seen after the Gulf war and as Somalia has illustrated more recently, can only confirm the insurmountable the capitalist world. The considerable reinforcement we are now seeing of the military capacities of powers like China and Japan, who are competing with the US in South East Asia and the Pacific, can only push the US to develop and to make use of its weaponry.
13) The bloody chaos in imperialist relations which characterizes the world situation today has a privileged place in the peripheral countries, but the example of ex-Yugoslavia a few hundred kilometers from the big industrial concentrations of Europe proves that this chaos is approaching the central countries also. To the tens of thousands of deaths provoked by the troubles in Algeria in the last few years, to the million corpses in Rwanda can be added the hundreds of thousands killed in Croatia and Bosnia. In fact, there are now dozens of bloody confrontations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, witness to the indescribable chaos which decomposing capitalism is engendering in society. In this sense, the more or less general complicity over the massacres in Chechnya perpetrated by the Russian army, which is trying to prevent the break-up of Russia in the wake of the dislocation of the old USSR, reveals the anxiety of the ruling class about the prospect of intensifying chaos. It has to be said clearly: only the overthrow of capitalism by the proletariat can prevent this growing chaos leading to the destruction of humanity.
14) More than ever, the struggle of the proletariat represents the only hope for the future of human society. This struggle, which revived with great power at the end of the 60s, putting an end to the most terrible counter-revolution the working class has ever known, went into a major retreat with the collapse of the Stalinist regimes, the ideological campaigns which accompanied them, and all the events which followed (Gulf war, war in Yugoslavia). The working class suffered this reflux in a massive way at the level both of its combativity and its consciousness, without this putting the historic course towards class confrontation into question, as the ICC affirmed already at the time. The struggles waged by the proletariat in recent years confirm this. Particularly since 1992 these struggles have been testimony to the proletariat's capacity to get back onto the path of struggle, thus confirming that the historic course has not been overturned. They are also testimony to the enormous difficulties which it is encountering on this path, owing to the breadth and depth of the reflux. The workers struggles are developing in a sinuous, jagged manner full of advances and retreats.
15) The massive movements in Italy in the autumn of 92, those in Germany in 93 and many others showed the huge potential combativity growing in the workers' ranks. Since then, this combativity has expressed itself slowly, with long refuted. The massive mobilizations in Italy in the autumn of 94, the series of strikes in the public sector in France in the spring of 95, are expressions, among others, of this combativity. However, it is important to show that the tendencies towards going beyond the unions, which appeared in 1992 in Italy, have not been confirmed - far from it. In 1994 the "monster" demonstration in Rome was a masterpiece of union control. Similarly, the tendency towards spontaneous unification, in the street which appeared (although only embryonically) in autumn 1993 in the Ruhr in Germany, has since given way to large scale union maneuvers, such as the engineering "strike" of early 1995, which have been entirely controlled by the bourgeoisie. By the same token, the recent strikes in France, in fact union days of action, have been a success for the latter.
16) Apart from the depth of the reflux that began in 1989, the difficulties facing the workers today in their efforts to move forward are the result of a whole series of further obstacles set up or exploited by the enemy class. These difficulties have to be put in the context of the negative weight exerted by the general decomposition of capitalism on the consciousness of the workers, sapping the proletariat's confidence in itself, and in the perspectives of its struggle. More concretely, although it is an indisputable sign of the bankruptcy of capitalism, a major effect of the massive and permanent unemployment developing today has been to provoke a strong feeling of demoralization and despair in important sectors of the working class, some of whom have been plunged into social exclusion and even lumpenisation. This unemployment is also used by the bourgeoisie as an instrument to threaten and repress sectors of the class who still have a job. Similarly, the sermons about the "recovery", and the few positive results shown by the economies of the main countries (in terms of profits and growth rates), have been amply exploited to justify union talk about "the bosses can pay". This talk is especially dangerous in that it strengthens the reformist illusions of the workers, making them much more vulnerable to union containment; at the same time it contains the idea that if the bosses 'can't pay' there's no use struggling. This is another factor of division (apart from the one between employed and unemployed) between the different sectors of the working class working in branches unequally affected by the crisis.
17) These obstacles have allowed the unions to get their grip on the workers' combativity, channeling them towards "actions" entirely under union control. However, the unions' present maneuvers have also, and above all, a preventative aim: that of strengthening their hold on the workers before the latter display a lot will necessarily result from their growing anger faced with the increasingly brutal attacks demanded by the crisis. In the same way, we have to underline the recent change in the way the ruling class has been talking. Whereas the first years after the fall of the eastern bloc were dominated by campaigns about the death of communism, the impossibility of the revolution, we are now to the extent seeing that it has again become fashionable to talk in favor of marxism, revolution, and communism on the part of the leftists - obviously - and even elsewhere. This again is a preventative measure on the part of the bourgeoisie, aimed at derailing the reflection that is tending to develop in the working class faced with the increasingly obvious bankruptcy of the capitalist mode of production. It is up to revolutionaries, in their intervention, to denounce with the greatest vigor both the rotten maneuvers of the unions and these so-called "revolutionary" speeches. It falls to them to put forward the real perspective of the proletarian revolution and communism, as the only way out capable of saving humanity, and as the final outcome of the workers' struggle.