Report on imperialist tensions to the 20th Congress

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At the end of the 80's. the ICC put forward the idea of the entry of capitalism into its phase of decomposition: "In this situation, where society's two decisive - and antagonistic - classes confront each other without either being able to impose its own definitive response, history nonetheless does not just come to a stop. Still less for capitalism than for preceding modes of production, is a 'freeze' or a 'stagnation' of social life possible. As crisis-ridden capitalism's contradictions can only get deeper, the bourgeoisie's inability to offer the slightest perspective for society as a whole, and the proletariat's inability, for the moment, to openly put forward its own historic perspective, can only lead to a situation of generalised decomposition. Capitalism is rotting on its feet" (International Review 62, 1990, ‘Decomposition, final phase of the decadence of capitalism’).

The implosion of the eastern bloc has dramatically accelerated the unwinding of the different components of the social body into "each for themselves", into a plunge into chaos, and if there is an area where this is straight away confirmed it is precisely that of imperialist tensions: "The end of the 'Cold War' and the disappearance of the blocs has thus only exacerbated the unleashing of the imperialist antagonisms specific to decadent capitalism and qualitatively aggravated the bloody chaos into which the whole of society is sinking (...)" (IR 67, 1991, 9th Congress of the ICC, Resolution on the International Situation, point 6). Two characteristics of imperialist confrontations in the period of decomposition were pointed out:

a) The irrationality of conflicts, which is one of the striking characteristics of war in decomposition: "While the Gulf War is an illustration of the irrationality of the whole of decadent capitalism, it also contains an extra and significant element of irrationality which is characteristic of the opening up of the phase of decomposition. The other wars of decadence could, despite their basic irrationality, still take on apparently 'rational' goals (such as the search for 'living space' for the German economy or the defence of imperialist positions by the allies during the Second World War). This isn't at all the case with the Gulf War. The objectives of this war, on one side or the other, clearly express the total and desperate impasse that capitalism is in today" (IR 67, 1991, 9th Congress of the ICC, Report on the International Situation [extracts]).

b) The central role played by the dominant power in the extension of chaos over the whole of the planet: "The difference is that today the initiative isn't being taken by a power that wants to overturn the imperialist balance but is on the contrary the world's leading power, the one that for the moment has the best slice of the cake (...) The fact is that at the present time the maintenance of 'world order' (...) doesn't imply a 'defensive' attitude (...) of the dominant power, but is characterised by an increasingly systematic use of the military offensive, and even of operations that will destabilise whole regions in order to ensure the submission of the other powers; (and this) expresses very clearly decadent capitalism's slide into the most unrestrained militarism. This is precisely one of the elements that distinguish the phase of decomposition from previous phases of capitalist decadence..." (IR 67, 1991, 9th Congress of the ICC, Report on the International Situation [extracts]).

These characteristics feed a growing chaos which accelerated still more after the attacks of September 11 2001 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which came out of these events. The 19th Congress aimed to evaluate the impact of these last 10 years of the "War on Terror" on the general spread of imperialist tensions, the development of "each for themselves" and the evolution of US leadership. It put forward the following four orientations in the development of imperialist confrontations:

a) The growth of each for themselves, which is particularly shown in the all-directional multiplication of imperialist ambitions, leading to the exacerbation of tensions, above all in Asia around the economic and military expansion of China. However, despite a strong economic expansion, a growing military power and a more and more marked presence in imperialist confrontations, China doesn't have the industrial and technological capacities sufficient to impose itself as the head of a bloc and thus to challenge the US on the global level.

b) The growing impasse of US policy and the slide into the barbarity of war: The crushing setback of the intervention in Iraq and in Afghanistan has weakened the world leadership of the USA. Even if the bourgeoisie under Obama, by choosing a policy of controlled retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan, has reduced the impact of the catastrophic policy undertaken by Bush, it has not been able to overturn this tendency and that has led it to the flight into militarist barbarity. The execution of Bin Laden expressed an attempt of the USA to react to the setback to their leadership and underlined their absolute technical and military superiority. However, this reaction didn't call into question the basic tendency towards weakening. On the contrary, this assassination accelerated the destabilisation of Pakistan and thus the extension of the war, whereas the ideological bases for it (the "War against Terrorism") are more undermined than ever.

c) A tendency towards the explosive extension of permanent zones of instability and chaos over entire regions of the planet, from Afghanistan up to Africa, to such a point that some bourgeois analysts, such as J. Attali in France, bluntly talk about the "Somalisation" of the world.

d) The absence of any mechanical and immediate links between the aggravation of the crisis and the development of imperialist tensions, even if some phenomena can have a certain impact one on the other:

  • the exploitation by some countries of their economic weight in order to dictate their will over other countries and favour their own industrial power (USA, Germany);
  • the industrial and technical backwardness (China, Russia), but also budgetary difficulties (Britain, Germany) that can weigh on the development of military efforts.

These general orientations, put forward at the time of the preceding congress, have not only been confirmed during the last two years, but have been amplified in a spectacular manner over the same period: their exacerbation dramatically increases the destabilisation of the relations of force between imperialisms; it heightens the risk of war and chaos in important regions of the planet such as the Middle East and the Far East, with all the catastrophic consequences which can unfold from such events on the human, ecological and economic levels for the whole of the planet and for the working class in particular.

The forty-five year old history of the Middle East strikingly expresses the advance of decomposition and the loss of control by the leading world power:

  • the 70's: although the US bloc assures itself of the global control of the Middle East and progressively reduces the influence of the Russian bloc, the coming to power of the Mullahs in Iran marks the development of decomposition.
  • the 80s: The Lebanese swamp underlines the difficulties of Israel but also of the USA in keeping control over the region, the latter pushing Iraq into war with Iran;
  • 1991: first Gulf War where the US Godfather mobilises a number of states behind it in the war against Saddam, chasing him out of Kuwait;
  • 2003: setback of the mobilisation of Bush against Iraq and the growth of Iran which, since the 90's, is itself on the offensive as a regional power defying the USA;
  • 2011: US retreat from Iraq and growing chaos in the Middle East.

Certainly the policy of progressive retreat (“step by step”) of the USA from Iraq and Afghanistan by the Obama administration has succeeded in limiting the damage for the world cop, but these wars have resulted in an incommensurable chaos throughout the region.

The accentuation of each for themselves in imperialist confrontations and the extension of chaos, which opens up the particular development of unforeseen events, is illustrated in the recent period through four more specific situations:

  1. The dangers of military confrontations and the growing instability of states in the Middle East;
  2. The growth of China's power and the exacerbation of tensions in the Far East;
  3. The fragmentation of states and the extension of chaos to Africa;
  4. The impact of the crisis on tensions between states in Europe.

1. The extension of chaos to the Middle East

1.1. A brief historical perspective.

For economic and strategic reasons (commercial routes towards Asia, oil...) the region has always been an important stake in the confrontation between powers. Since the beginning of the decadence of capitalism and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in particular, it has been at the centre of imperialist tensions:

  • up until 1945: after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Sykes-Picot Accords carved up the region between Britain and France. It's the theatre of the Turkish civil war and the Greco-Turk conflict, of the emergence of Arab nationalism and Zionism, and it became one of the stakes of the Second World War (German offensives in Russia, North Africa, Libya);
  • after 1945: it made up a central zone for East-West tensions (1945-89), with attempts by the Russian bloc to implant itself in the region, which then came up against the strong presence of the USA. The period is marked by the implantation of the new state of Israel, Israeli-Arab wars, the Palestinian question, the Iranian "revolution" which was the first expression of decomposition, the Iran-Iraq War;
  • after 1989 and the implosion of the Russian bloc: all the contradictions which existed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire exacerbated the development of each for themselves, the putting into question of US leadership and the extension of chaos. Iran, Iraq and Syria were denounced by the USA as rogue states. The region underwent the two US wars in Iraq, two Israeli wars in Lebanon, the growth of the power of Iran and its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon;
  • since 2003 we've seen an explosion of instability: the fragmentation of the Palestinian Authority and Iraq, the "Arab Spring" which has led to the destabilisation of a number of regimes in the region (Libya, Egypt, Yemen) and a war of factions and imperialisms in Syria. The permanent massacres in Syria, the efforts by Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, new Israeli bombardments of Gaza or the permanent political instability in Egypt, demand that each of these events are situated in the global dynamic of the region.

1.2. Growing danger of military confrontations between imperialisms

More than ever, war threatens in the region: preventative intervention by Israel (with or without the USA's approval) against Iran, the possibilities of intervention by different imperialisms in Syria, the war of Israel against the Palestinians (supported at present by Egypt), tensions between the Gulf monarchies and Iran. The Middle East is a terrible confirmation of our analysis of the impasse of the system and the descent into "each for themselves":

  • the region has become an enormous powder keg and arms purchases have again multiplied these last years (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman);
  • flocks of vultures of the first, second and third order confront each other in the region, as the conflict in Syria shows: the USA, Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt with more and more armed gangs at the service of these powers or the warlords acting on their own account:
  • in this context, we should point out the destabilising role of Russia in the Middle East (since it wants to maintain its last points of support in the region) and of China (which has a more offensive attitude, supporting Iran which is a crucial provider of oil). Europe is more discrete, even if a country like France is advancing its cards in Palestine, in Syria and even in Afghanistan (with the organisation of a conference in Chantilly, near Paris, in December 2012, bringing together the main Afghan factions).

It is an explosive situation which is escaping the control of the big imperialisms; and the withdrawal of western forces from Iraq and Afghanistan will further accentuate this destabilisation, even if the USA has made attempts to limit the damage:

  • by restraining Israel's desires for war against Iran and Hamas in the Gaza strip;
  • by attempting a rapprochement with the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, the new president of Egypt.

Globally however, throughout the "Arab Spring", America has shown its incapacity to protect the regimes favourable to it (which has led to a loss of confidence: cf. the attitude of Saudi Arabia which has taken its distance from the USA) and is becoming increasingly unpopular.

This multiplication of imperialist tensions can lead to major consequences at any moment: countries such as Israel or Iran could provoke terrible shocks and pull the entire region into turmoil, without anyone being able to prevent it, because it's under no-one's control. We are thus in an extremely dangerous and unpredictable situation for the region, but also, because of the consequences that can arise from it, for the entire planet.

1.3. The growing instability of many states across the region

Since 1991, with the invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf war, the Sunni front put in place by the west to contain Iran has collapsed. The explosion of "every man for himself" in the region has been breathtaking and Iran has been the main beneficiary from the two Gulf wars, with the strengthening of Hezbollah and some Shi'ite movements; as for the Kurds, their quasi-independence has been the collateral effect of the invasion of Iraq. The tendency towards each for themselves is again sharpened in the extension of the social movements of the "Arab Spring", in particular where the proletariat is weakest and this has led to the more and more marked destabilisation of numerous states in the region:

  • it's evident in the case of Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, "free Kurdistan", Syria, or the Palestinian territories which are sinking into the war of clans or open civil war;
  • it's also the case in Egypt, of Bahrain, of Jordan (the Muslim Brotherhood against King Abdullah II) and even Iran for example, where social tensions and clan oppositions render the situation unpredictable.

The aggravation of tensions between adverse factions is mixed up with diverse religious tensions. Thus, outside of Sunni/Shi'ite or Christian/Muslim opposition, oppositions within the Sunni world are also increasing with the coming to power in Turkey of the moderate Islamist Erdogan or recently the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in Tunisia (Ennahda) and within the Moroccan government, supported today by Qatar, which opposes the Salafist/Wahhabi movement financed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), which supported Mubarak and Ben Ali respectively.

Of course these religious tendencies, some more barbaric than others, are just there to hide imperialist interests which govern the policies of diverse government cliques. More than ever today, with the war in Syria or tensions in Egypt, it's evident that no such "Muslim bloc" or "Arab bloc" exists, but different bourgeois cliques defending their own imperialist interests by exploiting the religious oppositions (Christians, Jews, Muslims and diverse tendencies within Sunni or Shi'ite religions), which also appears in countries like Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia or Qatar for the control of mosques abroad (Europe).

But, in particular, this explosion of antagonisms and religious factionalism since the end of the 80s and the collapse of "modernist", "socialist" regimes (Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq...) above all expresses the weight of decomposition, of chaos and misery, the total absence of any perspective through a descent into totally retrograde and barbaric ideologies.

In brief, the idea that the USA could re-establish a form of control over the region, through the eviction of Assad for example, is not rational. Since the first Gulf war, all attempts to restore its leadership have failed and have, on the contrary, led to the unchaining of regional appetites, in particular those of a strongly militarised Iran, rich in energy and supported by Russia and China. But this country is in competition with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey... The "ordinary" imperialist ambitions of each state, the explosion of "each for themselves", the Israel-Palestine question, religious oppositions, but also the ethnic divisions (Kurds, Turks, Arabs), all play on the layers of tensions and make the situation particularly unpredictable and dramatic for the inhabitants of the region, but potentially also for the whole of the planet: thus, a greater destabilisation around Iran, and an eventual blockage of the Straits of Hormuz, could have incalculable consequences for the world economy.

2. Exacerbation of imperialist oppositions in the Far East

2.1. A brief historical perspective

The Far East has been a crucial zone for the development of imperialist confrontations since the beginning of decadence: Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05, the Chinese "revolution" of 1911 and the ferocious civil war between diverse cliques and warlords, the Japanese offensive in Korea and Manchuria (1932), Japanese invasion of China (1937), Russian-Japanese conflict (May-August 1939) unfolding into the Second World War where the Far East made up one of the central fronts of this war and subsequent conflicts:

  • between 1945 and 1989, the region was at the centre of east-west tensions: the developing civil war in China (1949), the wars of Korea and Indochina (Vietnam), but also the Russo-Chinese border conflicts; the same for China-Vietnam, China-India, and India-Pakistan. The US policy of the "neutralisation" of China during the 1970's was to be an important moment in the increasing pressure by the US bloc on its Russian adversary.
  • since the implosion of the Russian bloc, "each for themselves" has also developed in the Far East. What marks this region above all else is the economic and military growth in the power of China, which has aggravated regional tensions (regular incidents these last months in the China Sea with Vietnam or the Philippines and above all with Japan, the repeated tensions between the two Korea's...) and in its turn the accelerated armament of the other states of the region (India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore...).

2.2 The growing power of China and the exacerbation of warlike tensions

The development of the economic and military power of China and its attempts to impose itself as a power of the first order not only in the Far East but also in the Middle East (Iran), in Africa (Sudan, Zimbabwe, Angola) or even in Europe where it's looking for a strategic rapprochement with Russia, means that it is seen by the US as the most important potential danger to its hegemony. It's from this starting point that the US is essentially orienting its strategic manoeuvres against China, as was shown by the 2012 visit of Obama to Burma and Cambodia, two countries allied to China.

The economic and military rise of China inevitably pushes it to advance its national economic and strategic interests, in other words to express a growing imperialist aggressiveness and thus to become a more and more destabilising factor in the Far East.

This growth in the power of China concerns not only the USA, but also numerous countries in Asia itself, from Japan to India, Vietnam to the Philippines, who feel threatened by the Chinese ogre and thus have palpably increased the money they spend on arms. Strategically, the US has tried to promote a large alliance aiming to contain Chinese ambitions, regrouping around the pillars of Japan, India and Australia the less powerful countries such as South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. By standing in the front rank of such an alliance and above all with the aim of issuing a warning to China, the world cop aims to restore the credibility of its leadership which is in free-fall throughout the world.

Recent events confirm that in the present period the major economic development of a country cannot be made without an important increase of imperialist tensions. The context of the appearance of this most serious rival onto the world scene, in a situation of the weakening of the position of the leading world gendarme, announces a more dangerous future of confrontations, not only in Asia but in the entire world.

This danger of confrontations is much more real as the tendencies for "each for themselves" are very much present in other countries of the Far East. Thus the hardening of Japan's position is confirmed with the return to power of the nationalist Shinzo Abe who campaigned on the theme of the restoration of national power. He wants to replace the Self-Defence Force with a real army of national defence, going head to head with China over the conflict about a group of islands in the East China Sea, and wants to re-establish the somewhat degraded links with old allies in the region, the USA and South Korea. It's the same thing with South Korea and the election of Park Geun-Hye, the candidate for the Conservative Party (and daughter of the old dictator Park Chung-hee), which could also lead to an accentuation of "each for themselves" and of the imperialist ambitions of these countries.

Further, there's a whole series of apparently secondary conflicts between Asiatic countries which can further increase destabilisation: there's the Indo-Pakistan conflict of course, the continual altercations between the two Korea's, but also the less publicised tensions between South Korea and Japan (regarding the Dokdo/Takeshima islands), between Cambodia and Vietnam or Thailand, between Burma and Thailand, between India and Burma or Bangladesh, etc., all contributing to the exacerbation of tensions throughout the region.

2.3. Tensions within the political apparatus of the Chinese bourgeoisie

The recent congress of the Chinese ‘Communist’ Party has given various indications confirming that the present economic, imperialist and social situation is provoking strong tensions within the ruling class. This poses a question that's been insufficiently treated up to now: the question of the characteristics of the political apparatus of the bourgeoisie in a country like China and the way in which the rapports de force have evolved within it. The inadequacy of this type of political apparatus was an important factor in the implosion of the Eastern bloc, but what about China? Rejecting any sort of "Glasnost" or "perestroika", the leading classes have successfully introduced mechanisms of the market economy while maintaining a rigid Stalinist organisation on the political level. In preceding reports, we have pointed to structural weaknesses of the political apparatus of the Chinese bourgeoisie as one of the arguments establishing why China could not become a real challenger to the USA. Also, the deterioration of the economy under the impact of the world crisis, the multiplication of social explosions and the growth of imperialist tensions will without doubt reinforce the existing tensions between factions of the Chinese bourgeoisie, as we've seen with certain surprising events, such as the removal of the "rising star" Bo Xilai and the mysterious disappearance for a fortnight of the "future president" Xi Jinping some weeks before the congress was held.

The different lines of fracture must be taken into account in order to understand the struggle between factions:

  • a first line of fracture concerns the opposition between regions which have strongly benefited from economic development and others who have been somewhat neglected, thus also between economic policies. Pitched against each other are the two great networks marked by cronyism: on the one hand a circumstantial coalition between the "party of the princes", children of the upper cadres during the time of Mao and Deng, and the Shanghai clique, functionaries from the coastal provinces. Representative of the leading groups from the more industrialised coastal provinces, they advocate economic growth at any price, even if that increases the social divide. This faction is represented by the new president Xi Jinping and the macro-economic expert Wang Qishan. Up against them is the "Tuanpai" faction around the Young Communist League, within which the main figures have made their careers. As it's a question of bureaucrats having made careers in the poorer provinces of the hinterland, this faction extols a policy of the economic development of the central and western regions, which would favour a greater "social stability". They represent groups having more experience in administration and propaganda. Represented by the former president Hu Jintao, this faction will be represented in the new direction by Li Keqiang, who will probably replace Wen Jiabao as prime minister. This confrontation seems to have played a role in the clash around Bo Xilai.
  • the social situation can equally generate tensions between factions within the state. Thus, certain groups, in particular in the industrial and export sectors could be sensitive to social tensions and favourable to more concessions at the political level towards the working class. They are thus opposed to the "hard" factions who favour repression in order to preserve the privileges of the cliques in power.
  • imperialist policy also plays a role in the confrontations between cliques. On one side there are the factions which have adopted a more aggressive attitude, such as the coastal regional governments of Hainan, Guangxi and Guangdong, who are looking for new resources for their enterprises, pushing for control of the areas rich in hydrocarbons and marine resources. On the other hand, this aggressiveness can bring counter blows on the level of exports or foreign investments, as was shown with the question of the Japanese islands. The more and more frequent fierce nationalist thrusts in China are without doubt the product of internal confrontations. What, moreover, is the impact of nationalism on the working class, what is the capacity of the young generation not to get hoodwinked and defend its own interests? On this level the context is quite different from that of 1989 in the USSR.

These three lines of fracture are not separate of course but overlap and have played on the tensions which have marked the congress of the CCP and the nomination of the new leadership. According to observers, the latter has been marked by the victory of the "conservatives" over the "progressives" (out of the 7 members of the permanent Political Bureau, 4 are conservatives). But the more and more frequent revelations bear on behaviour, corruption, the amassing of gigantic fortunes, which goes to the highest spheres of the party (thus, the fortune of the family of the old prime minister Wen Jiabao is estimated to be $2.7 billion through a complex network of businesses, often in his mother's, wife's or daughter's name; and that of the new president, Xi Jinping, is already estimated to be at least one billion dollars). This not only shows a problem of effectively gigantic proportions but also a growing instability within the sphere of the leadership that the new conservative and older leadership seem unable to get a grip on.

3. The extension of "Somalisation": the case of Africa

The explosion of chaos and "each for themselves" has given birth to "no-go" areas and zones of instability, which haven't stopped expanding since the end of the twentieth century and which are spreading at present over the whole of the Middle East up to Pakistan. They also cover the totality of the African continent which is sinking into a terrifying barbarity. This "Somalisation" is manifested in several forms.

3.1. The tendency towards the fragmentation of states.

Written into the charter of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, the principle of the inviolability of frontiers seems to have broken down. From 1993, Eritrea separated from Ethiopia and since then this process has affected the whole of Africa: since the end of the 90's, the disappearance of the central power in Somalia has seen the fragmentation of countries with the appearance of pretend states, such as Somaliland and Puntland. Recently there's been the secession of South Sudan from Sudan and the bloody rebellion in Darfur, the secession of Azawad regarding Mali; and separatist tendencies are appearingin Libya (Cyrenia around Benghazi), in Casamance in Senegal and, recently, in the Mombasa region of Kenya.

Outside of the more and more numerous regions who have declared independence, from the end of the 90's we also see a multiplication of internal conflicts with a political-ethnic or ethnic-religious character: Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast are tending to re-start politico-ethnic civil wars which have exploded the state to the profit of armed clans. In Nigeria there is a Muslim rebellion in the north, the "Lord's Army" in Uganda and the Hutu and Tutsi clans who are tearing each other apart in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The transnational diffusion of tensions and conflicts in a context of weakened states mean that these areas, collapsing and incapable of assuring national order, fall back on religious or ethnic loyalties which are going to dominate. Consequently the defence of interests will be made on the basis of the militias that have appeared.

These internal fragmentations are often stirred up and exploited by interventions from the outside: thus, the western intervention in Libya has worsened internal instability and provoked the spreading of arms and armed groups throughout the Sahel. The growing presence of China on the continent and its support for the warlike policies of Sudan are an example of that and the destabilisation of the whole region. Finally, the big multinationals and the states that back them have even orchestrated local conflicts so as to get their hands on mineral wealth (in the east of the DRC, for example).

Alone, the south seems to escape from this scenario. We do see however a dilution of frontiers, here made to the profit of South Africa from the weaker countries of the region (Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, but also Namibia, Zambia, Malawi), which are being transformed into colonies of the former.

3.2. The wearing away of frontiers.

The destabilisation of states is being fed by a trans-frontier criminality, such as the traffic in arms, drugs and human beings. Consequently, these territorial limits are diluted to the profit of border zones where regulation is effected "from below". Armed insurrections, the incapacity of the authorities to maintain order, trans-national trafficking of arms and munitions, local gang leaders, foreign interference, access to natural resources, all play a part. Delinquent states are losing control of these more and more ample "grey zones", which are often administered in a criminal manner (sometimes also there is the perverse effect of the intervention of humanitarian organisations who make the protected zones "extra-territorial" in fact). Some examples:

  • all the zone around the Sahara and the Sahel, from the Libyan desert to Azawad, Mauritania, Niger and Chad being the terrain of criminal movements and the radical Islamist groups;
  • between Niger and Nigeria, there's a band of some 30 to 40 kilometres which is free from the supervision of Niamey and Abuja. The frontiers are evaporating;
  • the east of the DRC where the control of the borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania by the central state is non-existent, facilitating trans-national movements of raw materials and arms;
  • through the states of Burkino Fasso, Ghana, Benin or Guinea where there's a pull of migrants towards agriculture or fishing. As to Guinea-Bissau, it's become a total "no-go" zone, a nerve centre for the entry and re-directing of drugs from South America or Afghanistan towards Europe and the USA.

3.3. The dominance of clans and warlords.

With the delinquency of national states, entire regions are falling under the control of groups and warlords along the frontiers. It's not only Somaliland and Puntland where clans and local armed bosses rule by force of arms. In the Sahel region this role is fulfilled by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar Dine, the movement for the unity of jihad in West Africa (Mujao) and some nomad Tuareg groups. In east Congo, a group like the M23 is a private army at the service of a warlord who follows the most money.

Such groups are generally linked to traffickers with whom they exchange money and services. Thus in Nigeria, in the Niger Delta, similar groups hold firms to ransom and sabotage oil installations.

The emergence and the extension of "no-go" zones are certainly not limited to Africa alone. Thus the generalisation of organised crime, the wars between gangs in various countries of Latin America, Mexico, Venezuela, for example, even the control of entire quarters by gangs in the big western towns, witness the progression of decomposition over the whole planet. However, the level of fragmentation and chaos reaching the scale of a whole continent gives an idea of the barbarity wrought by the decomposition of the system for the whole of humanity.

4. Economic crisis and the tensions between European states

In the report for the 19th Congress of the ICC, we underlined the absence of any immediate and mechanical link between the aggravation of the economic crisis and the development of imperialist tensions. That doesn't mean that they don't have an impact on each other. This is particularly the case with the role of European states on the imperialist scene.

4.1. The impact of imperialist ambitions in the world.

The crisis of the euro and the EU has imposed the cures of budget austerity on most European states, which is also expressed at the level of military spending. Thus, contrary to the states of the Far East or Middle East, who have seen their armaments budgets explode, the budgets of the main European powers have been appreciably lowered.

This retreat in armaments provisions is accompanied by less pronounced European imperialist ambitions on the international scene (with the exception perhaps of France, which is present in Mali and is attempting a diplomatic push in Afghanistan by bringing all the Afghan factions together under its tutelage at Chantilly): there is less emphasis on autonomy on the part of the European powers and even a certain rapprochement with the USA, a partial "return to the ranks" that is without doubt contingent.

4.2. The impact on tensions between European states.

Within the EU, this goes along with a growing tension between centripetal tendencies (a need for stronger centralisation in order to face up more strongly to economic collapse) and centrifugal tendencies towards each for themselves.

The conditions for the birth of the EU were a plan to contain Germany after 1989, but what the bourgeoisie needs today is a much stronger centralisation, a budgetary union and thus a much more political union. It needs this if it is to face up to the crisis in the most effective manner possible, which also corresponds to German interests. The necessary thrust for greater centralisation thus strengthens German control over other European states inasmuch as it allows Germany to dictate the measures needed to be taken and to directly intervene in the functioning of other European states: "From now on, Europe will be talking German", as the president of the CDU/CSU group in the Bundestag noted in 2011.

On the other hand, the crisis and the drastic measures imposed are pushing towards a break-up of the EU and a rejection of submission to the control of another country, that's to say a push towards each for themselves. Britain has out and out refused the proposed measures of centralisation and in the southern European countries a nationalist anti-Germanism is growing. Centrifugal forces can also imply a tendency towards the fragmentation of states, the autonomy of regions such as Catalonia, northern Italy, Flanders and Scotland.

Thus, the pressure of the crisis, through a complex play of centripetal and centrifugal forces, is accentuating the break-up of the EU and is exacerbating tensions between states.

In a global manner, this report accentuates the orientations laid out in the report to the 19th Congress of the ICC and underlines the acceleration of the tendencies it identified. More than ever, the more and more absolute nature of the historic impasse of the capitalist mode of production is being made clear. Thus, the period opening up "will tend to impose the more and more clear cut connections between

  • the economic crisis, revealing the historic impasse of the capitalist mode of production;
  • its warlike barbarity, showing the fundamental consequences of the historic impasse: the destruction of humanity.

From today, for the working class, this link represents a point of fundamental reflection on the future that capitalism is reserving for humanity and on the necessity to find an alternative faced with this dying system”.

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