By Darrell Rankin, Communist Party of Canada
The world is not shared equally among the world’s big capitalist powers.
The United States dominates Europe and all other continents as it has since the end of the Second World War, a war that sapped other empires but paid the U.S. handsomely.
Today, the U.S. wants to swallow the remaining few countries who deny its sway, those who refuse to submit to pax Americana.
It is an empire outwardly at its height. It is an empire whose domestic economy is in crisis, hollowed out by the export of capital to Europe and elsewhere, whose military alliance has brought it to the border of Russia, whose foreign factories and mines feed the United States market and dominate entire foreign national markets.
A French politician wrote in 1967 that by 1982 “American industry in Europe” will be the world’s third largest economy after the U.S. itself and Russia.*
Today, countries like China, Mexico and Canada are dominated or greatly influenced by the U.S. export of capital, the material basis of all imperialism.
U.S. corporations comprise a large portion of the world economy outside the U.S. home market. Their products flow from China and other exporting nations throughout the world.
But what is the U.S. empire without a prosperous home economy?
It is an empire in trouble, ready to lash out with war to preserve its rule at home.
That was the debate in the U.S. presidential election, if the U.S. needed to be fixed before it was ‘great again,’ or if the U.S. was already great and the time was right to impose a no-fly zone on Syria and for Russia to see Syria as a new U.S. acquisition.
Trump wanted workers to fight the Mexicans ‘at home’; Clinton wanted workers to fight the Russians.
The U.S. people wanted to repair the economy and avoid war, and they voted for Trump.
In truth, world capitalism is in a deeper crisis than during its first two world wars.
After the First World War, tremendous class struggles swept across the capitalist world as a result of the war’s devastation, the Great Depression and the inequality imposed among the great capitalist powers by the Versailles treaty.
The crises created by the First World War helped spark the Russian revolution, which in turn called forth an upsurge in the solidarity and action of the international working class against capitalism and the formation of the Third (communist) International.
These class struggles were intimately connected to the Second World War, launched in part to rid capitalism of Bolshevik communism and in part to place Germany on a better footing with the British and French empires.
Anti-communism wholly inspired the Western powers’ policy of appeasement (financing, arming, territorial expansion towards the USSR, etc.) of Hitler Germany.
What has 72 years of peace among the great powers wrought in the capitalist world?
Like a convict eating a last meal before hanging, rapacious capitalism has consumed a great deal including much of the socialist world.
Capitalism’s ferocity has pushed the working class temporarily into the background, wrenched many a position the workers once held.**
But capitalism is festered and ready to burst. Today, the world’s population is four times greater than in the First World War.
By many measures, the condition of the global working class is sparking resistance to capitalism.
It is the potential for the class struggle that increasingly propels the imperialist classes towards larger wars, wars aimed as much at poor imperialist Russia*** as at workers and popular movements in imperialism’s metropoles, who all find themselves in the same sad situation as Trump’s broken America.
The ‘dialectics of history’ is such that impoverishment and the whopping corruption of bourgeois democracy have sharpened political awareness ahead of the practical-economic (strike) struggle.
The lingering effects of this corruption are holding workers back from the economic struggle, a struggle that will only intensify, galvanize and clarify like never before the overall political class struggle.
Imperialism may destroy another entire country, Syria. It may launch a war between the great capitalist powers. Great crimes such as these may hinder but never stop the socialist revolution and the true dawn of humanity’s future.
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*JJ Servan-Schreiber, The American Challenge.
**In 1887, F. Engels used these phrases regarding the effect of a war between Europe’s great powers, noting that by the war’s end “the victory of the proletariat will either be already achieved or at any rate inevitable.” Marxism associates the emergence of a revolutionary situation less to war or economic upheaval than to the steadily growing acuteness of the whole set of contradictions contained in capitalist society. Capitalism does not need a war to produce a revolutionary situation. Twenty-seven years before the First World War, Engels wrote, “No war is any longer possible for Prussia-Germany except a world war and a world war indeed of an extent and violence hitherto undreamt of…This, my lords, princes and statesmen, is where in your wisdom you have brought old Europe. And when nothing more remains to you but to open the last great war dance – that will suit us all right.” I have only a portion of Engels’ article, but if memory serves me correctly he forecast Germany’s military thrust to France through Belgium. Engels’ scientific forecast about the impending world war is an outstanding example of Marxism’s ongoing task to outline how wars are related to class struggles and the exact nature of impending wars; for example, predatory or inter-imperialist wars.
***Just as Germany in 1885 came late to imperialism’s table for the formal territorial division of the world, Russian capitalists in our lifetime managed to pull off the world’s largest theft of public property and impose their political dictatorship over workers – only to discover NATO at their doorstep and isolated pockets of anti-imperialist resistance across the globe (Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, China (so far, to an extent), etc.) with whom to make a defensive alliance against rapacious U.S. imperialism. U.S. imperialism only gained strength with the setbacks to socialism and NATO’s annexations in Eastern Europe. Once again, Russia is confronted with a united Europe (as it was 1941-1945) but now under U.S. sway.