The contradictions of capitalism often lead to large and small crises, which break out and explode every now and then, leaving in their wake economic destruction reflected, inevitably, in the forces of production.
It can even be argued that these contradictions do not explode and unravel except when the development path of the forces of production starts approaching and threatening the narrow limits of private property of the means of production. In such instances, the bourgeoisie resorts to actions with the aim of causing a crisis, thereby attempting to prevent the forces of production from effecting real change.
Examination of the second half of the twentieth century shows that several crises unfolded during that period ,Â perhaps the most important of which is the crisis of 1974, which came about due to the oil stoppage which in turn was a reaction to the Israeli aggression against the Arab countries. The crisis of 1981 was equally important, and lasted like its predecessor for approximately 16 months, affected the economies of the large capitalist countries and adversely impacted the forces of production within these countries. In this context, one must also view the crisis at the beginning of this century (in 2002-2003) which shook the global capitalist system and exposed the stock exchange system of Wall Street and the deception and lies embedded within it.
All the above crises are no match to the current structural crisis which, according to the most optimistic experts, is predicted to last for at least three years with more devastating consequences than the crisis of 1929 and its ripple effects which eventually led the world to World War II.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels point out that the Âbourgeois system of ownership and the modern bourgeois society, which led to the development and creation of magnificent means of production and exchange, now resemble a magician who is no longer able to control the supernatural forces that have been unleashed. They add, in the context of addressing the recurring crises threatenening the existence of bourgeois society, Âeach crisis systematically destroys not only a group of products but also a large section of the forces of productionÂ Â as if society goes back to a state of temporary barbarism.
Based on this understanding, it can be said that the bourgeoisie has so far succeeded in transgressing beyond its small and large crises Âthrough the use of violence against the forces of production on the one hand and through acquiring new markets and focusing investment against old markets.Â This leads, according to the Communist Manifesto, to a readying of the ground for more universal and deeper crisis. It also leads to a lessened efficacy of the tools available for avoiding such crises.
How Does the Crisis Manifest Itself in Our Modern Times?
Firstly, the crisis manifests itself in a sharp manner in the production of ownership and services, that is , in the real economy. For the combined effect of the inventory buidup and the slump in markets, or in other words the significant drop in demand as compared to supply, has aggravated the situation already worsening due to the sharp drop in the field of loans and borrowing.
This is what happened last year in the United States, where the collapse in the real estate prices led to a severe crisis in the building industry and destroyed the lives of millions of workers in this sector. This is in addition to the crisis in the automobile industry and the drop in demand for both the supplier industries and for petroleum products. This means an unfolding of a chain reaction affecting all sectors of the American and world economies accompanied by an increase in unemployment levels worldwide and a corresponding drop in the living standards of the masses.
And so, since the end of 2008, and according to the bulletin of the National Office for Economic Research, the United States and with it most exporting industrialized countries have been suffering from a state of severe recession. Indeed, analysis refers to a negative development that can continue through 2010, accompanied by a drop in industrial production, a drop in gross domestic products and an increase in unemployment. The ILO predicts that more than 2 million jobs will be lost during this year Â a number which, according to some experts,Â understates what has already taken place.
These events are taking place at a time when large capitalist countries are witnessing an increase in banking concentration, as well as significant direct intervention from the ruling authorities in these countries to help struggling banks. In this regard, billions of dollars have already been wasted, and even now the United States and the European Union are examining the possibility of pumping a further $2.3 trillion as treasury bonds in order to finance the public debt and maintain the profits of the banking sector, while not addressing the excessive salaries and bonuses of the senior executives within this sector.
This direct intervention has led some pseudo-leftist economists to boast that the United States and the European Union are now implementing the Marxist theory which refers to the necessity for the intervention of the state. Even though what Marx actually meant by "intervention" was in the context of a process of redistribution of wealth, albeit partial, by taking from the bourgeoisie and giving to the poor and struggling classes – that is byÂ intervening in a way that helps the forces of production, unlike what is happening today.
Secondly, as for the rest of the world, including our part still marching towards development, the consequences of the crisis are more painful and more severe. These consequences are the following:
1.Â Â Â In large industrialized capitalist countries, there has been a significant drop in the volume of imports from third world countries, which had a very severe effect since under-developed countries have only raw materials to sell. Furthermore most of the ruling authorities in these countries, particularly in the oil producing countries, especially the Arab oil producing countries Â most of these regimes are directly linked with capitalism’s interests, and therefore the consequences of the crisis went beyond the direct drop in exports to include, especially in the first half of 2009, a paying the bill for a large part of the crisis. The regimes of the oil producing Arab countries have recently admitted that they have contributed in excess of $800 billion (some say $1.2 trillion) to halt the slump in the American economy. Of course, the above figure excludes the Republic of Iraq where the level of theft and pillaging is unlimited.
2.Â Â Â A drop in liquidity and investment, accompanied by severe problems in the banking sector, and a monetary crisis since the local currencies are considered unsafe and since the debt of these countries is linked to the dollar which is experiencing a reduction in its exchange rate Â or in other words witnessing a diminishing of its influence. It is these developments that have prompted Saudi Arabia, for example, which has very close ties to Washington, to suggest a few days ago, and for the second time in recent months, its determination to reduce its dependence on the dollar and diversify its reserve currency basket to include its local currency and other foreign currencies.
3.Â Â Â Lebanon is no exception to the above with respect to the impact of the crisis and its detrimental consequences, particularly since it has been transformed to rely completely on imports, including the import of agricultural and industrial goods no longer produced due to both the civil war and repeated Israeli aggressions as well as the nature of the bourgeoisie which focuses its activity in the money andÂ banking sector (and real estate, a subsector of banking).
And so the wealth of this bourgeoisie keeps increasing astronomically due both to lending to the government (including foreign currency debt) and its external investments especially in Africa. This is particularly important since this year the public debt has reached $50 billion which makes Lebanon amongst the countries with the highest ratio of public debt with respect to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).Â Indeed, it can be said that the large proportion of the public debt is from the banks Â both the local and foreign banking sector, and at high interest rates, which makes Lebanon vulnerable to monetary and fiscal fluctuations, especially since the Lebanese economy is directly and completely linked to the dollar.
Program and Solution
There is more than one billion persons going hungry in our world, which is equivalent to 1/6 of the total human population – a percentage unprecedented in human history.
At a time when foreign aid supplied by the G8 group to the poor of the world has not exceeded $21 billion (according to the World Food Programme Â WFP); the total sum of bonuses in the banking sector in the United States has reached 140 billion dollars Â an increase of 23% in comparison to 2008 figures (according to a report carried out by the Wall Street Journal).
This situation has led to political consequences including the important radicalization changes taking place in Latin America. It has also led to mass rallies and protests including, as an example, the mass rallies and protests in Iceland and Greece, as well as protests in Russia where Communists took to the streets to protest against the economic policies of the government. This is in addition to the resistance movements, particularly the national resistance in Palestine and Lebanon.
Currently American imperialism, together with the European Union and Israel, on the offensive in our region and in Africa and Latin America) are trying to go on the offensive in Asia by trying to control the routes of supply of oil and gas and to maintain and strengthen their control over countries where these are produced. American Iiperialism is also trying in Latin America to stifle and strangle the promising vanguard movement of the UNA SUR (Union of Countries of the South) at times by military coups and at other times by resorting to an expansion of military bases. Against this background, our parties should develop a program of work and a staged plan with the aim of overcoming capitalism and going beyond it.
For the solution lies in going beyond capitalism and setting course towards socialism yet again, while taking into account all the factors which led to the failure of the past attempt through comprehensive evaluations of it.
As for the current stages of our plan, it is our opinion that our gathering must focus now on ridding the world from neo-liberalism, through focusing on the following:
ÂÂ Â Â Intensifying the struggle to eliminate indirect taxes and focusing instead on taxing wealth.
ÂÂ Â Â Defending, maintaining and developing the public sector, and resisting ongoing privatization attempts. This should be accompanied by tangible plans within each country to re-launch the process of production and organize the forces of production in trade unions according to the various professions.
ÂÂ Â Â Intensifying the struggle for correcting the wages of the workers and maintaining the purchasing power of these wages; for putting an end to mass layoffs; and for fighting the trend of cutting down on social benefits.
ÂÂ Â Â Intensifying the struggle towards a reorganization of social welfare which provides social and medical benefits to the workers and the poor; in addition to focusing and calling for an improvement in public education.
ÂÂ Â Â Intensifying the struggle for the redistribution of the excessive wealth owned by less than 1% of the population of the world; in order to combat hunger and achieve the social goals of the working classes through a redistribution of the main part of the value of production.
Our movement should go on the offensive, not only within each country individually, but also by giving due importance to going on the offensive on the international level by moving from the specific conditions within each country to the general solution which unites us.
November 22, 2009