The changing correlation of forces confronts us with new challenges

The following article is the Contribution of the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) to the 10th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 21-23 November 2008

Baudouin Deckers

Baudouin Deckers

The changing correlation of forces confronts us with new challenges

Baudouin Deckers,
member of the Party Bureau and Responsible for International Relations

1. A new global correlation of forces

65 years ago the United States of America became the major imperialist power of the planet. Its world dominance was based on two pillars: its overwhelming military superiority went hand in hand with its overarching economic weight.

1.1 An article in Der Spiegel, echoing a growing sentiment, headlined: “The End of Arrogance – America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role”. [1] Several US financial institutions have gone bankrupt, while others could only be saved by capital injections to the tune of billions of dollars of public money. The crisis has engulfed the majority of countries that were forced to follow the economic and financial policies of Washington. A general recession constitutes a serious threat. All this contributes to completely discredit the free market system as promoted and imposed by the US. Today, the US economic and financial dominance is profoundly shaken.

For some forty years, the proportion of the US GDP in the world economy has continued to shrink. The past decade has seen the emergence of powerful economies in the South – China, India, Brazil and others. Socialist China clearly resists better to the crisis than any other country.

The US is virtually bankrupt. Its total debt burden (State, companies and households) surpasses 10,000 billion dollar. Thanks to its superpower status, the US has been able to attract enormous amounts of foreign capital. But if foreign investors lose confidence in the all-round supremacy of the US and cease to invest in the US or even withdraw their capital, the US economy will collapse. The possibility that the US dollar would no longer be accepted as the sole currency for international trade and reserve, becomes quite a probability.

1.2. Since 65 years, the first and foremost objective of any US president has been to extend Washington’s hegemony. To the extent that the superpower is losing its economic and financial supremacy, it will be forced to count even more on its military superiority.

In 2001, G.W. Bush packed his administration with members of the ultra-conservative think-tank the “Project for a New American Century”. Its central objective was to guarantee world hegemony for at least the XXIst century. The opportunity offered by the overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union and of the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact had to be grabbed completely. More concretely, and I quote, they wanted to “prevent the reemergence of a new rival… .. maintain the mechanisms to convince potential competitors that they need not to aspire to a greater role on a regional or world level…”2 Secondly, they wanted to prevent regional or local conflicts to interfere with US interests. Thus the ultra-conservatives proposed an offensive military strategy, which G.W. Bush adopted.

Convinced that they would obtain a relatively easy victory, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz sent off their troops to invade Afghanistan and Iraq… But the aggressed peoples resisted strongly, and the entire world witnessed Washington’s defeat – while in fact those wars were meant to be just the beginning of the encirclement of Russia, India and particularly China.

The US policy of domination also suffered undeniable setbacks in Latin America. The Workers’ Party of Belgium congratulates the people of this continent and their communist, revolutionary and nationalist parties and organisations. Until now, you have been able to thwart the main plans in Washington’s drive to reinforce its dominance. Socialist Cuba remains steadfast, and the Bolivarian revolutions, democratic and anti-imperialist, are spreading.

1.3 The nightmares of the US strategists are coming true. China has become the world’s second economic power. The People’s Republic of China, led by the Communist Party, refuses the impositions of the imperialist recipes of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. Its cooperation with more than forty African countries is putting an obstacle to the plunder of the continent by all Western imperialist powers. With the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and other forms of cooperation, powerful ‘rivals’ are indeed emerging, whether this pleases Washington or not. And contrary to the imperialist blocs, these do not envision any form of domination, but the progress of the people and its defense.

2. “End of the American Century” is the title of a recent document of the prestigious think tank “American Enterprise Institute”, and it is not the only one that says so. But that does certainly not mean that the US elite is ready to abandon, rather to the contrary.

We congratulate the North American communists, trade-unionists and progressives who, in the US presidential elections, have been able to mobilise the people, beyond racist prejudice, for a vote against the policies of G.W. Bush. But let us remain realistic. Barack Obama will by no means abandon the ambition of the US monopolies to restore their global dominance. On the contrary. He published an article entitled “Renewing American Leadership” in “Foreign Affairs” (July/August 2007), entitled “Renewing American Leadership”. He will do so in a more intelligent way than Bush, but with even more determination. His defense program says it all. The Army will be enlarged with 65,000 soldiers, the Marines will get an increase with 27,000 men. The Armed Forces will be able to count with even more sophisticated weaponry. The US will not give up on nuclear arms, and so on.

The Obama Administration is clearly preparing for war. That has everything to do with the character of the big monopolies, without whom Obama would not be where he is now.

3. The current crisis demonstrates the total impasse the capitalist system, based on the private property of the means of production, finds itself in. The objective to obtain ever higher profits is countered by the tendency of the profit rate to fall. This is the direct cause of overproduction, by itself an illustration of the relative impoverishment of the workers.

Scientific socialism provides us with the means to really comprehend the mechanisms of this system. With the help of Marxism and Leninism we must work for the only genuine solution for all exploited people: socialism. We must support all progressive, democratic and anti-imperialist currents in our countries and worldwide. But by themselves they will not yet bring us socialism – however good the intentions of our friends and allies in the united front. The only class that is “revolutionary to the end”, as Lenin said, is the working class. It is the only class that is able to acquire a collective conscience, based on its collective labor. For the working class to conquer power and build a new State, its very own State; for this State to be able to take possession of the major means of production and of the entire economy; for this economy to be organised on the basis of the people’s needs and not for the interests of a few… For all this, the leading role of genuine communist parties is necessary. We must strengthen our work in the working class and in its mass organisations, primarily the trade unions.

Everybody agrees that the current crisis is unprecedented since the crisis of 1929. We know how imperialism has tried to overcome that crisis. Even if the current situation clearly is not the same – history does not repeat itself – we have to draw the conclusions that impose themselves, jointly strengthen our communist work, give substance to our cooperation and elaborate new structures for our world communist movement.

[1] “THE END OF ARROGANCE – America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role”, Beat Balzli, Klaus Brinkbäumer, Frank Hornig, Hans Hoyng, Armin Mahler, Alexander Neubacher, Wolfgang Reuter, Christoph Pauly, Michael Sauga, Spiegel, 30/09/2008, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,581502,00.html

[2] Defense Planning Guidance, 199

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