Politicians and economists no longer have the words to describe the gravity of the situation: "at the edge of the abyss", "An economic Pearl Harbor" "A tsunami on the way" "The 9/11 of finance"...only the reference to the Titanic is missing.
What exactly is happening? Faced with the unfolding economic storm, a number of agonising questions are being raised. Are we going through a new crash like 1929? How did it come to this? What can we do to defend ourselves? And what kind of world do we live in?
Towards a brutal deterioration in our living conditions
There can be no illusions on that score. On a planetary scale, in the months to come, humanity is going to see a frightful deterioration of its living conditions. In its recent report, the International Monetary Fund has announced that between now and early 2009 50 countries are going to join the grim list of countries hit by famine. Among them are numerous countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and even Asia. In Ethiopia, for example, 12 million people are already officially on the verge of death from starvation. In India and China, these so-called new capitalist Eldorados, hundreds of millions of workers are about to be hit by brutal poverty. In the USA and Europe as well a large part of the population is facing unbearable deprivation.
All sectors of activity are being affected. In the offices, the banks, the factories, the hospitals, in the hi-tech sectors, in the car industry, in building or distribution, millions of redundancies are on the cards. Unemployment is about to hit the roof! Since the beginning of 2008 and in the USA alone, nearly a million workers had already been thrown onto the street. And this is just the start. This wave of redundancies means that housing yourself, eating, and taking care of your health is going to be increasingly difficult for working class families. This also means that for the young people of today capitalism has no future to offer them.
Those who lied to us yesterday are still lying to us today!
This catastrophic perspective is no longer hidden by the leaders of the capitalist world, the politicians and the journalists who serve the ruling class. How could they? Some of the biggest banks in the world have gone bust; they have only survived thanks to the hundreds of billions of dollars, pounds and euros injected by the central banks, i.e. by the state. For the stock markets of America, Asia and Europe, it's a never-ending dive: they have lost $25 trillion since January 2008, or the equivalent of two years of the USA's total production. All this illustrates the real panic that has seized the ruling class all over the world. If the stock markets are crashing today, it's not just because of the catastrophic situation facing the banks, it's also because the capitalists are expecting a dizzying fall in their profits resulting from a massive downturn in economic activity, a wave of enterprises going bust, a recession much worse than all the ones we've seen over the past 40 years.
The principal world leaders, Bush, Merkel, Brown, Sarkozy, Hu Jintao, have gathered together in a series of meetings and ‘summits' (G4, G7, G8, G16, G40) to try to limit the damage, to prevent the worst. A new summit is planned for mid-November, which some see as a way of ‘founding capitalism anew'. The only thing that equals the agitated state of the politicians is the frenzy of the experts of TV, radio and newspapers... the crisis is the number one media story.
Why such a barrage?
In fact, while the bourgeoisie can no longer hide the disastrous state of its economy, it is trying to make us believe that it's not a question of putting the capitalist system itself into question, that it's a question of fighting against ‘abuses' and ‘excess'. It's the fault of speculators! It's the fault of greedy bosses! It's the fault of tax havens! It's the fault of ‘neo-liberalism'!
To make us swallow this fairytale, all the professional swindlers are called into action. The same ‘experts' who yesterday were telling us that the economy was healthy, that the banks were solid... are now falling over themselves on the TV screens to pour out new lies. The same people who were telling us that ‘neo-liberalism' was THE solution, that the state had to step back from intervening in the economy, are now calling on the governments to intervene more and more.
More state and more ‘morality', and capitalism will be fine! This is the lie they are trying to sell us!
Can capitalism overcome its crisis?
The truth is that the crisis ravaging world capitalism today does not date from the summer of 2007, with the bursting of the housing bubble in the US. For over 40 years there has been one recession after another: 1967, 1974, 1981, 1991, 2001. For decades unemployment has been a permanent plague, and the exploited have been suffering from mounting attacks on their living standards. Why?
Because capitalism is a system which produces not for human needs but for the market and for profit. There are vast unsatisfied needs but they are not solvent: in other words, the great majority of the population does not have the means to buy the commodities produced. If capitalism is in crisis, if hundreds of millions of human beings, and soon billions, have been hurled into intolerable misery and hunger, it's not because the system doesn't produce enough but because it produces more commodities than it can sell. Each time the bourgeoisie gets round this problem by resorting massively to credit and the creation of an artificial market. This is why the ‘recoveries' always pave the way for even bleaker tomorrows, since at the end of the day all this credit has to be reimbursed, the debts have to be called in. This is exactly what is happening today. All the ‘fabulous growth' of the last few years has been based entirely on debt. The world economy was living on credit, and that now it's time to foot the bill, the whole thing collapses like a pack of cards. The present convulsions of the capitalist economy are not the result of ‘bad management' by the political leaders, of speculation by ‘traders' or the irresponsible behaviour of the bankers. All these people have done no more than apply the laws of capitalism and it is precisely these laws that are leading the system towards ruin. This is why the billions and billions injected into the markets by all the states and their central banks will change nothing. Worse! They are only piling debt on debt, which is like trying to put a fire out with oil. The bourgeoisie is only showing its impotence with these desperate and sterile measures. Sooner or later all their bail-out plans are bound to fail. No real recovery is possible for the capitalist economy. No policy, whether of the right or the left, can save capitalism because this system is racked by an incurable, fatal illness.
Against mounting poverty, solidarity and class struggle!
Everywhere we are seeing comparisons with the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. The images of those times are still in our memories: endless lines of unemployed workers, soup-kitchens for the poor, factories closing everywhere. But is the situation today identical? The answer is NO. It is much more serious, even if capitalism, which has learned from experience, has managed to avoid a brutal collapse thanks to the intervention of the state and better international coordination.
But there is another key difference. The terrible depression of the 1930s led to the Second World War. Will the present crisis end up in a Third World War? The flight towards war is certainly the bourgeoisie's only answer to its insurmountable crisis. And the only force that can oppose this is its mortal enemy, the international working class. In the 1930s, the world working class had been through a terrible defeat following the isolation of the 1917 revolution in Russia and it allowed itself to be dragged into a new imperialist massacre. But since the major struggles that began in 1968, today's working class has shown that it is not ready to shed its blood on behalf of the exploiting class. Over the last 40 years it has been through a number of painful defeats but it is still standing; and all over the world, especially since 2003, it has been fighting back more and more. The unfolding crisis of capitalism is going to mean terrible suffering for hundreds of millions of workers, not only in the underdeveloped countries but also in the developed ones - unemployment, poverty, even famine, but it is also going to provoke a movement of resistance by the exploited.
These struggles are absolutely necessary for putting a limit on the bourgeoisie's economic attacks, for preventing them from plunging us into absolute poverty. But it is clear that they cannot stop capitalism from sinking deeper and deeper into its crisis. This is why the resistance struggles of the working class respond to another need, an even more important one. They allow the exploited to develop their collective strength, their unity, their solidarity, their consciousness of the only alternative that can offer humanity a future: the overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement by a society that operates on a completely different basis. A society no longer based on exploitation and profit, on production for a market, but on production for human need; a society organised by the producers themselves and not by a privileged minority. In short, a communist society.
For eight decades, all the sectors of the bourgeoisie, both right and left, have worked hand in hand to present the regimes which dominated Eastern Europe and China as ‘communist', when they were no more than a particularly barbaric form of state capitalism. It was a question of convincing the exploited that it is futile to dream of another world, that there was nothing on the horizon except capitalism. But now that capitalism is so clearly proving its historic bankruptcy, the struggles of the working class must be animated more and more by the perspective of a communist society.
Faced with the attacks of capitalism at the end of its tether; to put an end to exploitation, poverty, and the barbarism of capitalist war:
Long live the struggles of the world working class!
Workers of all countries, unite!
International Communist Current 25.10.08
BM Box 869, London WC1N 3XX
 Respectively: Paul Krugman (the last Nobel Prize winner in economics); Warren Buffet (an American investor, nicknamed the ‘oracle of Omaha', so much is the opinion of this billionaire from small town Nebraska respected in the world of high finance); Jacques Attali (economic adviser to French president Nicolas Sarkozy) and Laurence Parisot (president of the French bosses' association)