In the industrialised countries, the summer period is one where, in general, the bourgeoisie concedes holidays to its exploited in order that they may recover their energy for work and become more productive for the rest of the year. The workers in turn have learnt to their cost, that the dominant class profits from their dispersion, their separation from the place of work and their lack of vigilance to accelerate the attacks against their living conditions. Thus, while the workers rest, the bourgeoisie and its governments do not remain inactive. However, for several years, the holiday period has also become one of the most fertile for the aggravation of imperialist tensions. For example, Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, leading to the Gulf crisis and war. In the summer of 1991 ex-Yugoslavia began to break up and brought war to the heart of Europe for the first time for nearly half a century. More recently, the summer of 1995 saw the NATO bombardment and US-supported Croat offensive against the Serbs. We could go on giving more examples.
By contrast, the summer of 1997 was particularly calm from the standpoint of imperialist confrontations. The international situation was no calmer as a result: during this summer, and independently of any calculation by the capitalists and their governments, there began the financial crisis in the South East Asian countries, which presaged the convulsions in which the world economy is floundering today.
The summer of 1998 returned to the "traditional" sharpening of imperialist conflict, with the war in the Congo and the bombing of two US embassies in Africa, followed by the American bombardment of Sudan and Afghanistan. At the same time, the state of the world economy has worsened considerably.
In particular, the chaos in Russia has been followed by a sharp decline in "emerging countries" such as those in Latin America, and by a historic fall in the value of stock markets in the developed world.
This recent unfurling of convulsions throughout the capitalist world is no accident. It expresses a new step by bourgeois society into insurmountable contradictions. There is no direct, mechanical link between today's economic upheavals and the increase in military confrontations. But they all spring from the same source: the world economy's plunge into a crisis which expresses the capitalism's historical dead-end ever since it entered its decadent phase with the outbreak of World War I.
This is why the 20th Century which is drawing to a close is recognised as the century of the greatest tragedies in human history. And only the world working class, by carrying out the communist revolution, can prevent the 21st Century from being worse still. This is the main lesson that workers must draw from world capitalism's plunge into crisis and increasing barbarism.