Decomposition

Preface to the Russian edition of The Decadence of Capitalism

The publication of the ICC's pamphlet The Decadence of Capitalism is testimony to the re-emergence of revolutionary elements in a country where a once-great proletarian political tradition was buried under the terrible weight of the Stalinist counter-revolution. The ICC is well aware that without this rebirth, the translation of our pamphlet into Russian would not have been possible; we offer it therefore as a contribution to the clarification of communist positions in the debates now going on both within the Russian milieu itself, and between this milieu and the international expressions of authentic communism.

Only the proletarian revolution will save the human species

There is not one international organisation of the bourgeoisie – World Trade Organisation, World Bank, OECD, IMF – which doesn’t proclaim its intention to do everything it can for “sustainable development”, so concerned are they for the future generations. There’s not one state which doesn’t proclaim its deep respect for the environment. There’s not one ecologically-oriented Non-Government Organisation (NGO) which hasn’t organised all sorts of demonstrations, petitions or memorandums. There’s not one bourgeois newspaper which hasn’t featured a pseudo-scientific article on global warming. All these fine people, with all their fine intentions, had their representatives at the conference in The Hague from the 13 to the 25 November 2000, which had the aim of defining the ways in which the Kyoto protocol (1) would be put into effect. No less than 2000 delegates, representing 180 countries, surrounded by 4000 observers and journalists, had the job of concocting the miracle recipe for putting an end to climatic abnormalities. Result: Nothing. Strictly zero. Or rather, there was one result: one more proof that for the bourgeoisie, considerations about the survival of humanity fall a very long way behind the defence of the national capital.

Terrorism - a weapon of capitalist war

As the US and Britain send massive military forces to the Gulf, police in London have arrested people alleged to have handled the chemical weapon ricin. This is part of the British state’s participation in the ‘war against terrorism’. They whip up fear and anxiety over the existence of previously little known substances, and present the capitalist state as a protector against ‘alien forces’ that have insinuated themselves into British society. Against the scare stories of the media, the following article sets out the marxist framework for understanding what terrorism really is.

Understanding the decomposition of capitalism: Marxism at the roots of the concept of capitalism's decomposition

In the “Theses on Decomposition” (published for the first time in International Review no 62 and republished in International Review no107) as well as in the article “The decomposition of capitalism” (published in the International Review no57) we argued that capitalism had entered into a new and final stage of its decadence, that of its decomposition, a phase characterised by the aggravation and culmination of all the contradictions of the system.

Theses on decomposition

The terrorist attacks which killed more than 6,000 people in the United States on 11th September, like the new war which has followed them, are a new and tragic illustration of the barbarism into which capitalism is plunging. As we explain in the article in this Review, “New York and the world over: capitalism spreads death”, this barbarity is an expression of the fact that capitalism, which entered its period of decadence with the outbreak of World War I, has for more than a decade suffered a further aggravation of this decadence whose main characteristic is the decomposition of society. Our organisation has highlighted this new phase of capitalism’s decadence since the end of the 1980s (see our first article on the question, “The decomposition of capitalism”, in International Review n°57, 2nd quarter 1989). In 1990, just after the collapse of the Eastern bloc, we made our analysis more systematic in the “Theses” published in International Review n°62. This is the document that we are reprinting here. We believe that it is more current than ever. In particular, it provides a framework for understanding the growing use of terrorism in inter-state conflicts around the world, and the rise of despair, nihilism, and religious obscurantism so strikingly illustrated by the attacks on the World Trade Center. It also deals with the fact that the different expressions of decomposition today are an important obstacle to the development of working class consciousness. We can see this today, in the way that the bourgeoisie, especially in the US but in other countries as well, is using the emotion and the fear provoked by the attacks in New York to muzzle the working class in the name of “national unity”.

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