14th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties
23-25 November 2012, Beirut, Lebanon
“Strengthen the struggles against escalating imperialist aggressiveness, for satisfying peoples’ socio-economic-democratic rights and aspirations, for socialism”.
Sitaram Yechury Member Polit Bureau Head, International Department Communist Party of India (Marxist)
At the very outset allow me to thank the Lebanese Communist Party for not only hosting the 14
International Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties, but also making such splendid arrangements. The importance of this meeting, held here in Lebanon, cannot be lost for any discerned observer.
We are meeting here in West Asia (or Middle-East as is commonly referred to by Western observers), at a time when the region is extremely volatile. In fact, there is no better place in the world than this that stands testimony to the imperialist aggression. As we are meeting and discussing the dangers and threats of imperialism, Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing it. Reports are coming out on an hourly basis about the many innocent lives lost in the aerial attacks. Even the injured are fighting for lives due to the non-availability of medicines – thanks to the Israeli blockade. Four years ago, coinciding with the elections in the US, Israel had attacked Gaza, which had resulted in more than thousand dead and many more injured. Barack Obama, the President-elect then, condemned the attack. Today, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama, who won the right to be the President of the US for another four years, is staunchly defending Israel and its 'right to self-defence'. This illustrates how US and Israel are arrogantly appropriating the right to execute anyone they want, anywhere in the world, without any limitations, regardless of how many innocent civilians they kill in the process.
It is not just Palestine. Just bordering Lebanon, Syria is another example of imperialist aggression. Now it has been clearly established that imperialist countries are openly arming and helping the rebels to destabilise the Syrian administration. As the people are dying in thousands, imperialist countries are openly planning the distribution of Syrian resources, once the current regime is overthrown and the rebels capture power. This was how they had operated in yet another country in the neighbourhood – Libya. All these go on to show once again that imperialism is the aggressor
. And all these are happening even before the blood stains have dried in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran is the declared target, on whom the Damocles sword is hanging.
The reasons for this naked aggressiveness of imperialism cannot be understood unless we consider the political and economic conditions of the contemporary world. Imperialism is using all the means at its disposal – military, economic and political – to come out of the current global economic crisis and ensure that it retains its hegemony over the world.
Starting from the 10th IMCWP in Brazil, 2008, we had underlined in all our annual meetings that the world is reeling under the severest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The global economic crisis is not a 'one-off' crisis, but a systemic crisis that is deeply rooted in the intrinsic functioning of the capitalist system. Fours years had passed and despite the brave claims made by the leaders of developed countries, the world is yet to come out of this systemic crisis. What we are now witnessing today is in fact, the fifth phase of the present crisis.
The raison d etre of capitalism is profit maximisation. In its quest for maximising the profits and come out of the crisis it had found itself in the decade of the 70s, capitalism had initiated neo-liberal economic policies. As a result, the maxim for the State became, 'it is no business for the government to be in business'. With the setback to socialism in Soviet Union and East European countries, the apologists for capitalism propagated that capitalism is here to stay and that there is no alternative (TINA). End of history was proclaimed and neo-liberalism as a philosophy was trumpeted. Market dominance, led by the private corporates was unleashed on the people. This period witnessed intensified exploitation and increasing inequalities within the countries and across the countries. As a result real incomes saw a fall plunging the purchasing power of people into a steep pit. This in fact is the genesis of the present crisis and can be termed as its first phase.
Capitalism unable to sell what it had produced, once again found itself in a crisis. To wiggle out of this situation it had designed ingenious methods like providing people with what are called as sub-prime loans. To cover the risks arising from the nonpayment of these loans, new forms of financial instruments were evolved. Many financial institutions that were viewed as 'too big to fail', found their books full of these volatile financial instruments. They in fact sat on a volcano that was soon to erupt and erupt it did swallowing all those 'big' financial institutions. This corporate insolvency is the second phase of the crisis.
Now, when the financial corporates collapse, taking down the stock market – regarded as a thermometer for market sentiment – it is bound to adversely affect the interests of capitalism. We find a situation where private capitalists who were till then shouting against government interference, at once demanding the government to bail them out. The capitalist State, true to its class character, came out in defence of these big financial corporates and bailed them out with huge packages. States that did not have any monies for enacting pro-people policies suddenly found trillions of dollars to rescue the financial institutions. While these financial institutions collapsed sinking the dreams of millions of tax payers who had invested their pensions and hard earned savings in them, the very money of these people – taxes paid to the government – is used to bail out these financial giants and ensure that they do not lose. This is the third phase in the current global crisis that rapidly led to the fourth phase.
By undertaking huge and unprecedented bailout packages for those very corporates who, in the first place, caused the financial meltdown, developed countries incurred huge amounts of debts surpassing their GDPs. Thus, global capitalism sought to overcome the crisis by converting corporate insolvencies into sovereign insolvencies. This, in turn, has intensified the crisis today plunging the world economy into a state of uncertainty.
Now we are in the fifth phase of the crisis, where the governments to wiggle out of the morass they find themselves in, impose what they term as 'austerity measures'. These are in fact nothing but a naked attack on the hard won rights of the working people. Retirement ages are raised, pensions and wages froze, widespread retrenchment became the norm, accentuating the already severe unemployment prevalent in many countries. This attack on the economic rights won by the working class is complemented by an attack on their social and political rights. The right to organise, strike and oppose the policies of the government are curtailed. Trade unions are repressed and political parties are painted black. The formation of 'technocrat' government in Italy, exemplifies this philosophy.
Capitalism to defend its actions launches an intense ideological campaign. Attempts to rewrite history, malign communism as a theory by equating it with fascism, trying to negate the achievements of socialism are all part of such ploys. They thus intend to rob the working class of its historical legacy and deny it the ideological weapon to fight capitalist system. But as history had repeatedly shown and recent events once again testify, working class will not be fooled forever by such trickery. The 'austerity measures' introduced in many of the countries are indeed an attempt by the ruling classes to transfer the burden of the crisis on to the shoulders of the working class and common people. As the burden of sovereign debt in the name of 'austerity' is passed on to the common people, their purchasing power correspondingly declines. Combined with the growth of unemployment, this leads to a sharp contraction in domestic demand. Further, this global crisis has drastically reduced global trade. With the contraction of domestic demand in all the major economic powers, the contraction of GDP is inevitable. This, in turn, will lead to a contraction in governmental revenues, imposing further debt. The servicing of this would lead to imposing further burdens on the people. This vicious cycle has been set in motion.
Reports are already emanating that Europe is now in double dip recession. It was officially accepted by European Union officials when they announced that the Euro zone was officially back in recession after a 0.1% fall in output in the third quarter. This follows a 0.2% drop in gross domestic product in the second quarter. For the first time, the reports also point out that this phenomenon was not confined to the 'southern' countries and 'peripheral' economies. Germany's growth rate has slowed since the start of 2012. France's economy is stuttering, earning it the sobriquet that it is 'the time-bomb ticking among the European economies' from
. But the most important and serious observation that the recent data provides is that the 'triple A' rated Netherlands too saw a sharp 1.1% quarterly fall in GDP, which was more than five times the expected drop. Austria too is following a similar path. All these, apart from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus which saw their economies contract in the third quarter, shows that the contagion is spreading from the periphery to the core.
On the other side of the Atlantic too the situation is not rosy. The USA and, indeed, the global economy are bracing itself to face the consequences of what is called the US “fiscal cliff”. If both the Republican and Democrat lawmakers do not arrive at any agreement, as it appears to be, the newly re-elected President Obama would be helpless. The levy of new taxes and automatic spending cuts are set to take effect from the beginning of 2013. This will lead to a severe contraction of the US economy. The impact would be devastating leading, according to some analysts, to as much as 4 to 6 per cent decline in the US GDP. Such a falling of the 'cliff' would push not only the USA into prolonged recession but lead to a global economic devastation.
, a rating agency, says that this would push the global economy into recession and “halve the rate of global growth in 2013”.
On the top of these two catastrophes awaiting to happen – the double dip recession of the EU and the US fiscal cliff – in 2014 Greece, Portugal and Spain have to re-service their debts. This, they cannot. In order to adhere to their promises made to the international funding agencies like the IMF and ECB, they will be forced to accept further more conditions and increase the burdens imposed on their people. This will adversely affect the livelihoods of the people by further impoverishing them. Convergence of all these three elements is what is making this global economic crisis more acute and whatever efforts capitalism is making to come out of the current crisis are bound to fail. It is in this background that imperialism is becoming more and more aggressive – to bring under its control all the major pockets of natural resources, trading routes and world market. The military aggression in Middle-East, attempts to scuttle the popular uprisings, increase its military presence in Asia-Pacific, establish military bases across the world, particularly in Latin America are all part of this game-plan.
But as the global developments point out people are not taking the attacks on their livelihoods and aspirations lying down. They are coming out in big numbers and forcing changes worldwide. The popular protests that we had witnessed in West Asia/North Africa; the strike actions, protests, demonstrations in Europe and other parts of the world; and the recent re-election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, all point to the mood of resistance amongst the people. It is this urge to resist and change the world for better that needs to be harnessed by us, Communists.
As Marx had taught us and Lenin had subsequently proved in practice, capitalism will not collapse on its own. It has to be overthrown. This requires the united action of all the exploited forces, led by the working class. It is only through adherence to Marxism-Leninism – the only theoretical weapon that guides the working class in the struggle for systemic change – and 'concrete analysis of the concrete conditions', as Lenin had taught us, can we strengthen the subjective factor for the overthrow of capitalism. There is no better time than now to change the world.
Socialism is the future, let us bring it now!
Long Live Marxism-Leninism.