Time to revise "the thesis on decomposition" ?

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mikail firtinaci
Time to revise "the thesis on decomposition" ?
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 I was reading this interesting book, the final energy crisis  and it made me to think about whether if the ICCs position on the decomposition may in the middle-term future become irrelevant.

Here is why I thought so:

1- As the ICC rightly argues in the current moment any tendency to form organisational blocs need to challenge US. And this -at least in military terms- seems impossible. Further the US has a strong advantage in economic terms: dollar being practically the world reserve currency. However, the situation of crisis itself is also challenging this economic domination, hence it may lose its strength in a further strengthening of crisis.

2- Lets assume that US dollar lost its recognition worldwide as a reserve currency. In that chaos many states will destablise. However one particular state may come forward: China. If it can channel its labor force into military investment and an alternative consumption market composing mainly of chinese oil and raw material trade partners than it can emerge as a strong challenger to US for world domination.

3- In this situation US may resemble a weak economic-political power with a strong military arm and that can ultimately lead into the third world war that we all fear that can end the history of humanity -even before it really begins-. This kind of a conflict will definetely have a potential to begin over the regions of the world where oil resources exists. In fact we are already seeing the emergence of the elements of such a polarization over the middle east between Iran, Russia and China on the one hand and US-Turkey-some Arab countries on the other. 

Even though this kind of a scenario may not look immediately likely, I do not think that it is pure phantasy. The US needs to control world trade for its hegemony being threatening. And as it is losing its "soft power" - the dollar- to control the world trade, it is more and more turning to excercise this through "hard power" i.e. its military. 

the lack of achieving any kind of total cohesion among world powers to excersise control over Iran is a very clear example in that regard. I don't know to what extent Russia and China will resist US. However it is clear that US is trying to provoke Iran to legitimise an attack and as the recent ICC article tells.

Sorry for my very unorganised post, I hope anybody anybody can make some sense of it.


I think there are two

I think there are two counter-tendencies in a dialectical conflict: one leading towards disintegration which is characteristic of decomposition; and the "classic" tendency in decadence towards the formation of blocs. At given moments, one or the other may seem to have the upper hand.

There is certainly a growing "centre of gravity" around China and a growing weakness for the US. But the real question is can this trend really overcome the general fragmentation in world alliances today, especially with the pressure heaped on by the economic crisis?

China has carried out a huge charm offensive over the past decade (under the banner of its "new security concept") but it doesn't yet have a diplomatic weight to match its economic strength.

I think the answer to the question can be found in assessing whether China can ever hope to match the dominance that the US or even the USSR achieved. I'm not sure I see it. China certainly doesn't have the capacity to go toe-to-toe with either Russia or the US, at least not yet. They're trying to overcome this deficiency with massive defence spending and, most importantly, developing naval power. 

Another point to consider is that the previous superpowers gained their dominance on the back of global wars in a period for defeat for the working class. China today confronts the same difficulty all the major powers have - could they really mobilise the working class for all out war? And, without such a war, can the global balance of power be dramatically overturned?

Interesting questions!

red flag
Interesting comments above on

Interesting comments above on political blocks which I think does draw attention to the growing concern that the US has to China.  I recently heard on the news that the US is deploying extra warships to counter the growing power of China.  This is an indication that the US is piling up arms which can only lead to further destabilisation not only of this region but also globally.  Also the current euro crisis weakens the ability of the eurozone to be a counter weight to US imperialism.  There is less of a chance for the euro area to become a viable Imperialist block that will be able to seriously challenge US hegomony.

However I think decomposition addresses another issue which is what happens if the working class is unable to seriously challenge the political rule of the bourgeoise.  I thought decomposition arises due to the standoff between the bourgeosie and the proletariat which has occured since 1968.  The inability of the working class to launch a serious challenge to the political rule of the bourgeoise leads to growing social dislocation as seen in the recent riots in the UK.  To challenge this process of decomposition a political response free from the control of the unions and the capitalist left is required where the working class fights from its class terrain for our own interests. 

decomposition and China

It doesn't prevent continual tendencies to trade disputes and trade "wars" between the two, but, as far as I understand it, the yuan is so closely linked to the dollar that the collapse of the latter means the fall of the former; they are both locked into a dance of death where, despite antagonisms, they are both holding each other up.


The US is getting weaker but it's by far and away a stronger military force than China. The nature of imperialism means that the latter is forced to strike out: in the South China Sea, the arms race in space, cyber-warfare and a nuclear/delivery system arms race with the US and others. Around China's imperialist thrust, the US military has been in high-level talks for months with Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc. Neither country wants war and, as Demo says, even if it wanted it, it seems unlikely that the regime could mobilise the workers for such a war.


I think that oil is obviously a factor of imperialism but there's more to it than that. I don't think that the recent war in Libya was entirely about oil but more in the longer term plans of the "international community" (the USA, Britain, France) to encircle Iran given the developing unreliability of Egypt and the question of the Suez Canal. Another factor in this process is that though the Iraq "withdrawal" will see thousands of US forces remaining, and, similarly, the planned US "withdrawal" from Afghanistan will see tens of thousands of US forces remaining, there has been, and there is in progress, a significant build up of US bases in the "stans" of the ex-Russian republics. US imperialism is having to cover more and more bases with less and less help from its "allies", particular in the absence of the threat of an opposing bloc, which is a factor of decomposition.

This is a factor of decomposition, but as red flag says, the main factor of decomposition is the stand-off between bourgeoisie and proletariat

mikail firtinaci
I agree mostly


mikail firtinaci
I agree mostly

 I agree mostly what has been said. Especially on the point that working class and the capitalists are locked in a situation of mutual inability to attack on each other and hence the inability of increasing the militarist drive for imperialism. Further I also agree that this is feeding into the tendency to fall into chaos.

Especially when you look into the sitation of world trade this tendency of collapse becoming clearer. In a situation where the role of dollar reserve currency can no longer be maintained for countries like China or India, this will also highly likely to end a mutual collapse in a nearer then expected future with the collapse of many governments in the west and even in the US. 

Who will survive in this kind of a recession? Which countries will prevail? I think if China -with perhaps a more "democratic" government etc.- can somehow maintain its existence in terms of succesful trade relations with the countries that are producing raw materials -in africa, middle east, south america, russia- not via dollar but another currency of their own choosing then this will definitely may carry the danger of an ascelation towards a world war. I am assuming here that the chinese imperialism may somehow make great leap forward to shift its market from US to those countries. Rather than buying US treasury bonds and dollar China may exchange properties in those countries (mines, factories, other investments, land) and gold, securing its trade relations and production.

Of course the key here is whether a revolution will be likely in China and US, two key countries in the imperialist competition. And I am a bit fearful about the prospects because as far as I know there is no single revolutionary organization in China and US is one of the counries in the west where ICC and the communist left is the weakest. I do not mean to say that revolutionary organization is the key factor -I am not a trotskyist. But rev. org. is definitely the expression of the spirit of working class. I fear that even a social destabilization may prove to slow to generate a revolution and revolutionary cadres to stop the imperialist rivalries emerge on time...

Reserve Currency

baboon wrote:

The US is getting weaker but it's by far and away a stronger military force than China. The nature of imperialism means that the latter is forced to strike out: in the South China Sea, the arms race in space, cyber-warfare and a nuclear/delivery system arms race with the US and others. Around China's imperialist thrust, the US military has been in high-level talks for months with Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc. Neither country wants war and, as Demo says, even if it wanted it, it seems unlikely that the regime could mobilise the workers for such a war.


So, Maybe Newt Gingrich wasn't totally out of his gourd when he was talking about a moon colony becoming the 51st state?

This is an interesting discussion. I think that one of the features of decomposition is that despite tendencies in the system pushing for another global imperialist war, no new blocs are likely to form to directly challenge U.S. hegemony. Despite the massive financial stimulus given to the U.S. banks by the Federal Reserve, which in normal times would likely produce massive inflation and destabilize the dollar as the global reserve currency, there seems little probability of that happening anytime soon. The main reason is that there is simply no where else to turn. The Euro is in crisis and the yuan simply can't fulfill this role right now due to a number of factors, including the kind of "death dance" with the U.S. Baboon refers to above. Most of the U.S. debt China holds is demominated in dollars, so a weakend U.S. dollar, or one subject to increasing volatility, is not in China's interest. We seem to be in an unprecedented situation--but such is the nature of decomposition.

On the military front, China remains far behind in technology and in the ability to project its power. It has a massive land army, but that is not very useful outside of Asia. China doesn't even have an aircraft carrier (although it is supposedly building one) putting it behind such miltary juggernauts in that regard as the UK, France, Italy, Brazil and Thailand.

mikail firtinaci

 massive inflation and destabilize the dollar as the global reserve currency, there seems little probability of that happening anytime soon. 

 Most of the U.S. debt China holds is demominated in dollars, so a weakend U.S. dollar, or one subject to increasing volatility, is not in China's interest. 

The situation proves you right till now. However, I think there is a danger to expand the meaning of tendency of decomposition from political chaos and increasing destablization into that of an orderly collapse. 

The US economic policies, which is increasingly destablising its own monetary hegemony and china's consent to that does not simply rely on a mere military account. For instance, even the weak Venezuella and Kuba are trying to challenge US in forming their own independent monetary policy.1 However small these efforts and however they are dependant on US focus on middle east, it still shows that when it comes to priority of own interests no capitalist state act against it.

There is a danger of carrying decomposition into an illogical conclusion: that the existing chaos is a of result of over caucious states' orderly actions. These states - as in the case of Iran and Israel- will never choose voluntary collapse over imperialist suicide. And I think China is much more aggressive for US' taste than it could be. The mere question of the military option may not be on the table right now. However I still think that China may choose force crisis upon world by more insistently rejecting dollar as a reserve currency if only it does not fear revolution at home. 

I think so far, the decomposition riddle is to a degree a Chinese question. To what degree chinese working class will limit or accept burden of its government's imperialist ambitions? I think this will determine in the short term the fate of capitalism. And I think there may be 2 immediate possibilities:


1- China will be socially destablised in a near future: hence the world economy as we now it collapses in the absense of cheap labors' fortunes for the world market. Hence a revolutionary impetus may emerge against possible nationalistic-imperialistic probablilities.

2- Chinese state could be able to exist -further decomposition- in a stable manner. An outside impetus -a war in middle east- destroys the balance of power and US monetary supremacy due to increasing oil price and further crisis this would cause. Hence we may fall into a situation of chaos in which any surviving big nation in east asia could lead to the formation of a rival block to USA.


These predictions may be flawed or simply wrong in certain aspects. However, I still think, or to put it correctly, the essence of what I want to say is that the slowness of decomposition will not be maintainable for the contemporary imperialist balance of power for the near future and it may have a dialectical tendency to foster the counter tendencies of imperialist blocs' formation and workers forming an attack formation.


1. http://news.yahoo.com/alba-countries-pool-funds-joint-bank-211412251.htm...

red flag
I think that one danger is to

I think that one danger is to see that as consequence of the present economic crisis the whole of the capitalist system collapses through it's own contradictions.  With the collapse comes the opportunity for a communist revolution.  While the bourgeoise globally has no solutions to the crisis and in fact what they do only exacerbates the crisis this does not mean that capitalism simply collapses.  In fact outside of a working class revolution capitalism will simply carry on and bring in its wake increasing devastation across the globe.  Then decomposition will be truly horrific.

I think Red Flag makes a good

I think Red Flag makes a good point. We need to be careful with terms like "collapse," "crisis", etc. Sometimes, I think people can get "crisis fatigue." We have been saying captialism is locked in an historic crisis for like 40 years now, yet its still here. Can the system "decompose" without "collapsing"? Can it decompose indefinetly? How long can a crisis last before it becomes just the normal state of the system?

red flag says that with a

red flag says that with a collapse of capitalism comes the opportunity for revolution. But this "opportunity" will only be a genuine opportunity if a majority of the working class sees it as such, and hasn't already been defeated as it was in the thirties. And jk rightly points out out that: "We have been saying capitalism is locked in an historic crisis for like 40 years now, yet it's still here.". Who is "WE"? I don't think we should mistake what the avant-guard of the class say for what the majority of the class thinks. For the vast mass of the class the crisis has only really just arrived now. Only now does the working class "suddenly" find itself threatened on all sides: with unemployment, healthcare and benefits slashed, starvation wages, no future for the young, life totally and obviously bloody awful, not just at moments but now all the time. And small but murderous wars everywhere, as the bourgeoisie fight each other for the pickings that are left. Perhaps it required chaos, and outright decay of the servitude we'd all grown comfortable with - the reconstruction after the 2nd world war, and the welfare state - to wake us from the stultifications of bourgeois ideology, so effective for 50 tears. So perhaps we should be grateful for outright and blatant decomposition, in so far as it's a wake-up call. And this applies just as much to China, as it does to the west. Though our Chinese comrades didn't have the benefits and happiness of being cosseted in welfare states, as we did in the west, they did have the supreme pleasures of a golden communist era instead! But seem happily to have recovered, and are starting to fight back.

mikail firtinaci
your queations

 JK your questions are very valid and they are the questions that troubles me.

Perhaps I misunderstood decomposition. If so please correct me. But an idea of peaceful transition to barbarism seems dangerous for us:

1- on the analytical level: it may lead us to exclude -even unentionally- the possilibility of perceiving the emergence of pro-imperialist alliance and bloc tendencies. 

2- on the tactical level: this may leave us also paralysed. I may be exagerrating the power of ICC. However I think as the most solid international organization of the communist left -which my hope also reside in most- ICC should invest its organizational capacities for east asian working class too. If chinese state collapses -which is very likely in a foreseable future- then a spectrum of bourgeois tendencies ranging from liberals to trotskyists will stick on its remains with all their power. And in that sense there will be many "alternatives". And if the communist left there would be cought unprepared this will delay our success much more longer. Any cell organized in east asia, any text translated to asian languages before a total collapse of world economy will be vital. Because the prospects of a post-total collapse -assuming a revolution does not immediately happen- may very fast lead to an imperialist polarization.

I am aware that there are many 'ifs' and 'buts' here and it may even sound very crazy. But there are a lot of indicators that the current state of relative 'peace' and orderly increase of chaos situation under US domination may be coming to an end. Just one example: the natural sources are diminisihing in the world and this is something unprecedented. Assume that an oil crisis due to lack of supplies hits the world; what may follow could very well be a collapse of world market as we knew so far. And this more than likely for many geologists for instance...