The bourgeois media can't hide the fact that around the world capitalism's economy continues to deteriorate. From the powerful economies of North America, Japan and Western Europe to the peripheral countries of the system, all the economic indicators used by the dominant class to measure the performance of its economy are showing signs of new levels of degradation of the world capitalist economy.
A World wide crisis
The media, in an effort to downplay the gravity of the situation, does not talk yet of world recession. Instead it prefers to use the euphemism of economic "slowdown," supporting this "thesis" by citing the still positive growth rates of the major capitalist economies. For the bourgeoisie, a recession only starts after two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. But even by this criterion Japan -- the second biggest economy in the world after the US-- has been in recession for the last ten years! However this way of measuring the health of the system is self-deceiving. What the bourgeoisie calls recessions, or the downturn of the "business cycle," are only particular aggravating moments in an overall dynamic of an ever more catastrophic permanent economic crisis. In fact world capitalism is anything but healthy. Since the beginning of the 20th century this system has become a hindrance in the development of humanity, dragging in its decadence the whole of society into an increasing spiral of barbarism and social degradation. Two imperialist world wars and uncountable "localized" conflicts; the obliteration of invaluable material wealth produced by the work of past generations; dozens of millions of lives (160 millions by some accounts!) sacrificed in the bloody confrontations between imperialist gangsters; an ever growing spread of misery throughout the planet; an ever growing poisoning of the environment -- this is the real face of capitalism, one that is far removed from the rosy picture preached by its interested defenders. In fact the very continuation of capitalism's relations of production is a menace to the survival of the human species.
When the Stalinist state capitalist regimes collapsed at the beginning of the nineties, the bourgeoisie announced the dawning of a new era of "peace and prosperity" of world capitalism. Then came the Gulf war with its dazzling array of sophisticated technologies at the service of massive destruction, and the collapse of the economic "models"of Japan and the so-called tigers and dragons. In fact, today, the pompous celebration of the victory of capitalism over "communism," almost looks like a bad joke. The irony of history is that it was the former US president, Mr. Bush senior, who promised "peace and prosperity," while today it is Mr. Bush, the son, who is presiding over the most expensive military build up since the Regan administration -- the "son of star war program-- and a new aggravation of the economic crisis, after the end of the happy days of the "booming economy" of the nineties.
A new recession
In the pages of Internationalism we have often exposed the reality of the economic crisis behind the phony bourgeoisie propaganda about a supposed "healthy booming economy." In fact, during the nineties, while the bourgeoisie was singing songs of praise for the "longest economic recovery" in US history, world capitalism continued to sink deeper into the insurmountable crisis that opened up at the end of the sixties. In the US, despite the talk of "prosperity", the working class has been showered with incessant attacks on its working and living conditions, belying the self-complacent propaganda of the dominant class. Salary freezes, layoffs, job insecurity, the raising of the retirement age, the dismantling of social benefits of the "welfare state," this was how workers experienced the "new economy" of the nineties. In fact even the Democratic Clinton administration organized an all out austerity program, dressed up in left wing clothes to better make workers accept it. The reality was that the "new economy," based on the Internet and new communications technology was a big bluff. As we have shown before, the US economic growth in the nineties had nothing to do with a normal rise in production based on the economic expansion of a healthy system. In fact the US economy, as the rest of the world capitalist economy, continued to plug along during that decade only by piling up even more money on the mountain of debt accumulated during the two previous decades --a debt which can't possibly ever be repaid. The US growth was specifically fueled from the mid-nineties on by boosting private consumption and an unbelievable stock market speculation which saw the debt of private individuals and companies reach dazzling levels.
Today, even the same bourgeois economists who just a few years back hailed US economic performance, now acknowledge that the US economic bubble has finally burst. The stock market has lost billions of dollars of paper money, most of the Internet companies have gone belly up, the number of companies going bankrupt is on the rise, profits are in decline, and economic growth has stalled. In other words, the economic crisis, that never really went away, is once again experiencing a new tremor in its downward evolution.
Despite its mystifying propaganda about a temporary "slowdown," the ruling class knows the gravity of the situation. This is why the bourgeois politicians are all pushing for all those "anti-recession" economic policies. However, given the bourgeoisie's historical inability to surmount the crisis of its system, the only thing it can do is administer the same remedies to its sick economy that it has been using for the last thirty years. The aggressive expansionist fiscal and monetary policies being pursued by the Bush administration and by the Federal Reserve-the federal tax-cuts and the cuts on interest rates-- are just a rerun of these same measures that the dominant class has used for decades to "manage" the worsening of the crisis. As proven by the history of the last 30 years of economic manipulations, these measures are not a solution to the crisis, but at best simple patches that will in the long run make it even worse.
Attacks against the working class
While the bourgeois economists are busy debating whether or not the world economy is already in recession, the working class is as usual already paying for the worsening of the economic situation. Layoffs are being announced in every branch of industry. In the US "new economy" companies like Intel, Dell, Delphi, Nortel, Cisco, Lucent, Xerox, and Compaq are laying off by the tens of thousands, but so are traditional industries such as General Motors and Coca-Cola. In Europe, layoffs and shop and factory closures have abruptly taken off. Job reductions are hitting major companies and state employees.
In these industrialized countries, the national bourgeoisie is aware of the danger of reaction from a concentrated working class with a strong historical experience of struggle, and so takes a maximum of political precautions to carry out its attacks. In countries where the working class is younger, less experienced, or more dispersed the attacks are far more brutal. Among many other examples, it is clear that the working class will suffer particularly in Argentina and Turkey where the bourgeoisie has already announced the beginning of an "official" recession.
These massive attacks in every country and every branch of industry are dealing a serious blow to the lie of the "healthy economy," and above all to the idea that layoffs in a particular company are exceptional because elsewhere, everything is going fine. The whole international working class is affected, every branch of industry is undergoing redundancies, wage cuts, job insecurity, speedups and longer working hours; a general deterioration in living conditions.
Humanity is faced with a historic logjam. On the one hand, capitalism has nothing to offer but crisis, war and destruction, poverty, and increasing barbarism. On the other, the international working class, the only social force able to offer a perspective of an end to capitalism and the creation of a new society, remains unable to assert this perspective openly. In this situation, capitalist society is decomposing, rotting on its feet. Apart from the wars, the urban violence, the generalized insecurity, the most dramatic consequences threaten humanity's future and its very survival as a result of the destruction of the environment and the proliferation of all kinds of disasters. Only the working class can offer a future for humanity by overthrowing capitalism.