Our anti-imperialist perspective cannot concentrate on only one imperialist center; it has to pay attention to the activities of all of them.

We are fully aware of the redoubled military activity of the United States, for example, the opening of new bases, the reactivation of the Fourth Fleet, the troops still kept in Iraq and Afghanistan, the constant bombing operations over Pakistan, the intervention in Libya, the practice of cyber-warfare against Iran, the reinforcement of its fleet of drones, the modernization of its weaponry, the growing deployment of its navy in the Korean Peninsula and the straits of Hormuz and Aden, its overt and covert operations in Middle East, Africa and Latin America, etc.

However, despite all that, we have never considered the so called “Empire” thesis to be true. That is, the idea of identifying imperialism with only one of its centers and thinking that under its tutelage all contradictions among monopolies, among the different national states disappear and that they come to be substituted by a “harmonious” capital, without internal contradictions, without fissures.

The formation of the gigantic financial groups does not wipe out capitalist competition. On the contrary, it takes it to an unimaginably higher level. Monopolies, like any capital, require for their existence the constant transformation of money into capital, require accumulation. Today, in the economic structure of the world it is difficult for a monopoly to expand its production, or to expand to a new branch of production or to another market without affecting another monoply. Monopolies fight among themselves to control resources, raw materials, markets, commodity and capital flows, international monetary policies, etc. In this competition they will use all the social power at their disposal to assure favorable conditions for themselves.

The law of uneven development unavoidably leads to changes in the correlation of power, to changes in the power at the disposal of each monopoly, each monopoly group, and each state that defends them. As one imperialist center weakens and another strengthens, the need to alter agreements, pacts and alliances will be imposed. Ruptures and disputes will be seen.

Of course, these contradictions include the possibility of wars, be they against other people to impose on them a particular imperialist influence,  or be they among the imperialist centers. In the framework of crisis, changes in the correlation of power among the diverse imperialist centers which likewise lead to changes in the distribution of  markets and in the pecking order on the imperialist pyramid, acquire an especially dangerous nature. Competition for markets, particularly for raw materials, is reflected in the strengthening of the export of capital to certain regions at expense of other imperialist centers. It is also reflected in diplomatic disagreements, and in military interventions.

Another reflection of this is that the crisis has forced the different states to hand over enormous sums of money to save their own monopolies, for example in USA, in the EU, in Brazil, etc.  Insofar as this measure is imposed, along with other barbaric measures, on the working class and the peoples, and to the extent such measures are carried out in different countries, we will observe changes in the position occupied by each large enterprise.

The crisis will also leave some weaker enterprises bankrupt. They will then be acquired in advantageous conditions or will be pushed to merge with a larger one which will see its capital increased. Thus a new scale in the contradiction rises. In short, the same capitalist crisis which brings hunger and misery also spurs imperialist centers to war and aggression.

Aggressive French imperialism and its contest for Africa.

It is in this framework that we have been following with much attention the development of the imperialist interventions of France, which has shown a growing aggressiveness. We could mention the places where it is active or recently active abroad. In most cases not only has it maintained its troops’ presence but has raised it: Bosnia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Afghanistan, the Gulf of Aden, Chad, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gulf of Guinea, Haiti, Congo, Sudan, Palestine, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Counting aerial support for said operations we are talking of the deployment of over 13,000 men. If we add to this the so called “sovereignty forces”, that is, the soldiers used to keep control on the French overseas territories, like Guyana and Polynesia, the men deployed by this imperialist center rises above 36,600.

These occupations, interventions and aggressions are explained by, or rather are a reflection of the interest created by big capital investments. We particularly highlight the case of Africa where French military activities have been ever more frequent. As we will see, we are dealing with a sharp turn. It is made to regain positions enjoyed previously by French capital. It is a rivalry with  other imperialist centers for the raw materials and markets of Africa, especially a rivalry with China.  

These interests can be corroborated by various figures. For example, in 2007 the flow of capital from France to Africa reached 39.4 million Euros. This made France the single biggest EU investor in Africa, with 26% of total FDI [foreign direct investment] In 2008, with the development of the worsening crisis, these numbers fell in absolute terms to 11. 3 million Euros. However, this was an increase in France’s participation compared to other EU countries. This figure now represents 61% of the total European FDI in the continent. France is also the biggest European recipient of FDI from Africa. In 2007 it received 6.1 million Euros, 24% of the total. In 2008 it received 3.1 million Euros, 51% of what went to Europe as a whole.

It is difficult to find hard numbers to compare the situation. China doesn’t report all its investments, and neither do many African countries. However the drastic strengthening of economic ties can be seen reflected by trade numbers. Between 2006 and 2008, Chinese exports to Africa rose from $26.7 billion to $49.8 billion. During the same period Chinese imports more than doubled passing from $28.8 billion to $56.8 billion. French trade has grown during the same period, although not at the same pace as Chinese. Exports grew from $26.3 billion to $38.5 billion. Imports grew from $24.8 billion to $38.8 billion.

That is the current stage. However, if we broaden the horizon, we will understand the preoccupations of imperialist France. In 1989 France held more than 30% of the total equity shares in Africa, since 2000 this shrank to under 5%. The French presence has declined, while the Chinese rocketed.

In the last years France has promoted a series of meetings, summits, and conferences, pushing to regain territory for its investments, and territory in general for the EU in that region. Besides French government representatives we can also find agents from Total S.A., Alstom, Compaigne Generale des Etablissements Michelin, Arianespace, PSA Peugot, Citroen, Telecom, etc., participating and lobbying on a regular basis in these meetings. It is interesting to list these companies because they match the sectors where Africa imports the most. On the other side, China has invested, above all, in Africa’s main export item, fossil fuels. For example, recently it signed agreements with Nigeria with a value over $23 billion in order to increase the production of refined oil to 750,000 barrels a day.

Besides diplomatic airing, these market rivalries are the subject of theoretical elaboration from both sides. For example France talks about “democratic-labeled” aid and investment, at the same time China talks about expanding the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] bloc to South Africa as a supposed “opposition” to USA-EU imperialism. Now, with growing frequency this dispute is being settled with military interventions and provocations.

It is worth adding that China and France are not the only interests in the region. India, Turkey, Brazil are signing ever more ambitious contracts. Also USA has interests in the region. We are talking about a continent with 1 billion potential consumers and that concentrates 40% of the world’s mineral resources. Even financial “aid” is done under the logic of capital. It is not pure philanthropy. It is done so countries where raw materials and resources exist have the infrastructure and labor force necessary to meet the needs of capital.

Historically France cast off all the shackles for capitalist development in the great democratic-bourgeois revolution. In little more than a century it had developed into a big imperialist power. It is enough to remember we are speaking of the same power that squeezed Algeria and great part of Africa, that imposed chains for many years on the heroic people of Vietnam, that punished Haiti with centuries of misery, etc.

The same forces that led to these developments still exist in France and are striving to gain strength amidst its crisis. As we said, today it has become an imperialist center of particular danger for the peoples of the world. France participates in a real and barely noted arms race.

It has been a constant in France’s strategy to create havoc in Africa to attract new buyers. During the genocide in Rwanda the French military used the country as a testing ground for its new weapons and the Tutsi populace as guinea pigs. Besides the 20 million francs sold to Rwanda each year during the early 90’s, France “donated” to the army of that country a number of new and sophisticated war equipments that needed testing, and that the more than 500 soldiers and 150 military advisors stationed in Kigali would personally test in Rwanda’s terrain.

A French authority confessed that “It is true that we were very hard in February of 1992. We used the occasion to test some experimental weapons, some light mountain tanks and some combat helicopters with a dozen rockets in each side”.

Today it is the same case. In a broadcast by French channel TF1 on March 25 covering the war on Libya a soldier aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle confessed that the aerial attack over Gadaffi’s army offered an excellent opportunity to test new military equipment and to train pilots. France main buyers surely paid attention; we are talking about Brazil (a major arms buyer with 24.5% of the total sold by France) and India.

In previous years weapons exports had declined along with the defense budget. Weapons sales had been reduced on the last 30 years in a 45%, at 2008 prices. However since 2007 there has been a tendency to increase. In 2007 it obtained 5.5 billion Euros in weapon sales, in 2008 it reported order for 6.58 billion and in 2009 it reached 8.16 billion, being the fourth largest weapons exporter. This tendency to accelerated increase is shared by Germany at the same time that an abrupt decrease of the two main exporters, USA and Russia.

We have to pay attention the maneuvers of this imperialist centre that recovers its positions as it turns more aggressive. We consider there are enough reasons to call on our comrades to mobilize against French imperialism. Likewise we call on sister anti-imperialist organizations to pay attention to this other great enemy of humankind.

We propose the 14th of July to protest at the French Embassy.

Diego Torres is the International  Affairs Secretary of the Communist Party of Mexico