In a context of grave financial crisis, the rise of the imperialist tensions

By the beginning of 2008, the development of the financial crisis is one of the aspects of the international situation which doubtless concentrates most the attention of the medias.

The fall of most of the stock indexes; the announced (and dreaded) return of the inflation; the foreseen tumble of the growth rates; the beginnings of a new recession; the considerable losses of the most renowned banking and financial institutions; the loss of confidence between these various institutions which hesitate to lend money to each others; the obligation that this implies for the States and their central banks to come to their help by putting at their disposal hundreds billion of dollars and euros…

Here is, in a few words, the panorama of the financial and economic world situation.

The episode called North American "subprimes", which was only the release mechanism and the first symptom of this new expression of the fundamental crisis that capitalism is going through for decades, should not mask the reality and the profound nature of this crisis1. It is indeed about a crisis of overproduction, about the crisis of a system which produces too much and succeed in selling its products only by resorting systematically to subterfuges, such as the credit, to maintain the continuation of its cycle of production. But any politics of this type has its limits and, as we wrote in the previous bulletin :

"There is no doubt that the jolts in process (because one should know that we are yet only in the first phases of this episode) will lead to the same results (destruction of capital, anti-workers measures); that the bourgeoisie will not be able to find another "remedy" but the injection of liquid assets on the market and its corollary: a new step in the massive debt; and that, in the long term, another jolt of the crisis will follow this one… as far as this one, precisely, could be outstripped." (see bulletin 41)

It is still difficult to measure the scale which will take this episode of the crisis and what imports us, here, it is to see how this evolution of the crisis spreads its effects on the imperialist policies of the various States; how the economic war (which is at the same time a cause and an effect of the crisis of overproduction) that the imperialist powers, small or big, are engaged in, takes more and more the shape of a direct preparation for war.

Economic competition and imperialist tensions

From the Chad to Kosovo, from Pakistan to Burma - without speaking about the situation in Iraq or in Israel / Palestine, all around the world we see multiplying and developing the centers of tensions. And, in every case, we can note that a little group of countries settles as "mediators", as "peacemakers". If the real intentions of these countries were to reduce, or even to eliminate the tensions, we cannot say that the result is very convincing. The situation in Iraq does not stop degrading, the relations between Kosovo and Serbia are about in a dead end, in Afghanistan the official government and its partners of the NATO control only the small so-called green zone of the capital (and may be not even that !), Pakistan is in its turn seriously shaken, the "summit of Annapolis" of November 2007 do not risk to improve in the least bit the situation in the Middle East, whereas Chad, Sudan, Kenya and other countries of the region sink irreparably into a latent war.

In front of this reproduction of the tensions, of the way they are "handled" by the "international community" (it is to say, here, the collective of the imperialist, big and average powers), an evidence imposes itself : their logic as a whole takes a more and more net orientation towards the bourgeois "solution" of the crisis. This warlike exit which imposes itself upon the bourgeoisie requires certain number of "preparations", of conditions which must be carried out. What we are attending at, on a clearer and clearer way, is exactly these preparations ; the diverse "meetings", "the conferences", "the summits" and the other "processes" are only the theatre in which the various imperialist rivals are in confrontation, by devoting themselves the beautiful role of "working for peace". One just have to take the most striking examples and to reveal the stakes and the ambitions of the main protagonists to have a precise idea on it.

The fact that these tensions increase in a more and more uncertain economic situation is not the fact of chance. The colossal debts on which the economy of the big and average powers lies, forced them to lead aggressive policies, on one hand to try to impose their products on the most profitable markets, on the other hand to appropriate the raw materials which their industry needs so much and, finally, with the aim of protecting or widening their spheres of influence in front of the other powers. Traditional policy of imperialism that, at the beginning of the last century, Lenin on one side and Rosa Luxemburg on the other one had revealed and which, today, takes a particularly pointed and evident shape because of the economic crisis.

On all the continents, in all the areas of the planet, a fierce competition develops between the imperialist powers of first and second order. Each, with its own means, tries hard to defend the interests of its national capital, to fight those of the rival imperialisms. For that purpose, they are all brought to play on the oppositions and the conflicts existing within countries or regions in which they have their interests to defend. And to create these tensions and conflicts if necessary.

All the zones of conflicts, all the situations of tensions around the world correspond to this plan. We shall not draw up the list here, we shall content with illustrating this fact through some significant examples.

For the USA which see more and more their supremacy questioned, it is essential to restrain the ambitions of the European countries most directly in opposition to them. It is notably what explains the Serbian-Kosovo imbroglio. In the heart of Europe, this center of discord between the German interests, on one hand, and the Russians, on the other hand, is ceaselessly refreshed by certain countries (among which the USA and France, for example) which have no interest in the fact that Russia, for the first ones, spreads too much its sphere of influence by being made the representative of the Slavic interests, or in the fact that Germany, for second, spreads its influence in the South of Europe and succeeds in reaching the warm seas (the Mediterranean sea, in this particular case). It is indeed the conflicts and the tensions between the big and average powers which make that this situation continues and it is obvious that the meetings, the conferences and the other "summits" supposed to find a solution of this situation are and can only be the theatre in which these conflicts and tensions express themselves.

In the same way, the development of the US military presence in the republics of the South Caucasus, at the limit between the traditional sphere of influence of Germany and the region where Russia tries hard to assert its interests, that this US military presence, thus, cannot have sense but as far as Russia becomes again an imperialist important power and that its alliance with Germany and France, if she had to affirm and reinforce itself, would risk to pose a big problem for US imperialism.

The "return" of Russia on the international political scene is connected, naturally, to its resources in raw materials but also to other historic and geopolitical causes such as the extent of the concerned territory, a certain expertise in terms of armament industry, the capacity to play an important political role on countries of its close circle of acquaintances and formerly bounded to it within the COMECON or even within the USSR. Now, this "return" of Russia, if this one had to stabilise and develop its alliance with Germany and France, would end inevitably in the formation of a pole all around of which numerous countries would be brought to regroup with. And to regroup, obviously, in opposition to the USA. It is thus important, for these last ones, to make everything to put a wedge between Germany and Russia. This "wedge", they are the installations of radar surveillance and missiles settled in various republics formerly allied of the USSR (Czech Republic, Poland, etc.) and it is this politics of the USA and of their allies which explains, largely, the instability of countries as Georgia, Ukraine, and others.

Here again, it is the conflicts between major powers, the preparation and the implementation of the theater of the next possible world war that explain the tensions in the center of Europe 2.

The relaunching of the arms race is a significant step of the rise of the dangers

The collapse of the USSR, in the period of the 1990s, had provoked such a decline of Russia that this one was practically no more audible and had almost disappeared from the international scene. The countries of its former glacis are all engaged in links with the European countries and, especially, with the USA with the aim of perpetuate their new "independence". That has been, for the Americans, the opportunity to spread the area of influence of their main tool ; NATO. One can remember the various crisis linked to the bad humor of Russia while seeing certain border and formerly allied countries, to team up with the USA. But Russia had, then, no means to oppose effectively to this process and it was only able to notice it and to undergo it. The war in Afghanistan has been, for the USA, the pretext allowing them to spread troops in certain bordering countries of Russia, to install military airports there, to park certain equipment there. In the same logic, and being able, on this file, to count on certain countries which make a determinedly commitment in the opposition to their former block leader, the Bush government decided to begin to develop a state-of-the-art military system, the famous " antimissile shield ". It is a question of positioning equipments of surveillance in a whole set of country (notably in Poland and in Czech Republic) to prevent a possible attack of missiles. Radars of major power as well as state of the art missiles are so arranged in these countries, in zones quite close to Russia. This system makes obviously void the former treaties between Russia and the USA on the arms control, because even if the said "shield" must not be totally set up, it will stay there not less really that the capacity of action of Russia will be widely reduced on the strategic plan, because of the permanent surveillance of its military activities. Putin thus decided to denounce these former treaties and to take back the development of its military arsenal.

For countries as Germany and France, themselves threatened by the development of the US presence and its most developed systems of weapons, the hostility to such measures goes without saying. However, in the fool's game of the international relations, these two countries chose to let Russia lead the battle against the US intentions, doubtless while supporting, furtively, Putin's policy.

Behind this "return" of Putin's Russia on the international scene, it is certain that the rise of the price of raw materials (in particular of gas and oil of which Russia is one of the big producers) plays an important role. But it does not have to make us forget that the relative rise of the Russian power is above all connected to the sticking of the USA in Afghanistan and in Iraq, to the use by the Russian leaders of the US campaign on anti-terrorism, and also in a certain help or a benevolence of certain countries as Germany and France which, during several crises between Russia and some of these former "satellites" (Ukraine, Georgia, etc.) about the price of the gas which is delivered to them, globally supported the Russian position, even if it was discreetly 3.

And if a certain number of European countries wished the reinforcement of Russia, and that they participated in it, it is for the very simple reason that, beyond the supplies in raw materials, it is a strong voice that they need, a voice which expresses itself inevitably in the same direction as theirs on the essential files, that is those which are connected to the refusals to see the USA taking a dominant position - and to their detriment - on the European continent. It is there the bottom of the question that appears more and more as nodal : the tensions settled down in the heart of Europe, the place where the fate of the first two world wars was determined !

By passing, it is interesting to notice that, since the coming into power of Sarkozy in France, one spoke a lot in the media of his will to reorientate the French policy in a more pro-American direction. It was based, for example, on the decision to re-integrate the structure of NATO command. No matter, here, the bragging of the character. What is important is, firstly, that this decision of reintegration (even if France has never completely abandoned this structure, the evidence being the fact that it is amongst this one that French troops are deployed in Afghanistan !) is intended for the fact that French imperialism can play a more important role in the decisions taken by this organism, even if it means pushing so that these decisions contradict the North American wills. The French will to see entrusted to an European the direction of the military operations in the Mediterranean sea is one of the clearest examples there. We will notice, above all, that during a recent journey in China, Sarkozy took openly position on the belonging of Taiwan to the "continental" China, what represents an openly and fundamentally anti-US position.

It allows to notice once again that, whatever are the "opinions", "the feelings" and "the points of view" that can express a high-level representative of a national bourgeoisie at given moment, the decisions which it is brought to take are at first and above all determined by the global interests of this national bourgeoisie.

Ecology and warlike preparation

The subject of the ecology, the defence of the planet is more and more advanced by the media and the bourgeoisie of the whole world. The Kyoto protocol (signed in 1997 but which came into effect only in 2005) and its current avatar, the conference of Bali ( Indonesia), settled as a first objective to master the production of greenhouse gases, to limit the activities provoking a climate change with consequences potentially dramatic for a part of the humanity.

In fact, and far of the official objective, it is the opportunity for the various national bourgeoisies to dash mutually the worst charges. Some accuse China and India, the current growth of which is very high, to maintain obsolete industrial installations, not to set any measures to reduce the emission of polluting gases, to consume important quantities of fossil raw materials, etc. Other countries (as Brazil) are blamed for sacrificing the Amazonian forest, the famous " lung of the planet ", to develop the agriculture or extract precious metals. In these meetings and forums, it is often the USA which are in position of accused. If it is true that the energy consumption per capita is, in the USA, the most important of the world, and by far, it is evident that it is the other motives which provoke these questionings.

The charges of disregard of the environment hide more and more badly the deep imperialist antagonisms which develop today throughout the world, notably between major powers ; and especially, because they are the object of a gigantic media campaign, they are used by some to denounce the others of the most terrible policies, the most horrible intentions, to accuse them of making pass their "selfish national interests" to the detriment of the "interests of the planet and Human being". Here is a mean, for every imperialism, to point out the enemy and, in other words on the ideological level, to prepare for generalised war.

And French imperialism, once more, distinguishes itself at the same time in the claim to give lessons to all and to each and, at the same time, in the development of this type of determinedly cynical and hypocritical policy 4.

The ink which signed "Grenelle de l'environnement" [a French summit between the new Sarkozy government and ecological organisations with great publicity in the French medias, Translation note] of the last autumn was hardly dry that Sarkozy started to China to sell, notably, nuclear power stations while buying himself the luxury to justify these sales by its will to defend the environment.

But, for the eyes of the French bourgeoisie and for those of all the great powers who master this technology, the nuclear power is not only a source of energy but also especially a foundation - that they are anxious to control completely - of their imperialist predominance ; one can thus easily imagine, for example, that by selling such technologies to countries as China, Libya and maybe Algeria, French imperialism obtains in return some advantages in terms of military presence in the country, of alliance and treaty (which most will remain secret) which will strengthen its hand on the international scene. And if, between these big godfathers, the motives for rivalries do not miss and go by multiplying, they meet themselves at least "close" on the fact of not agreeing to share the control of this military technology with "second knives" as well as we can see it in their "union" today (notably between the USA and France) against Iran.

These few illustrations show that, behind the big din which is made concerning ecology and the claimed "firm willing" from the part of most of the great powers of the planet, it's once more a fight at loggerheads that is on, a fight for the appropriation of the most important zones on the economic and strategic plan, a fight in which all the knocks are allowed as far as they end in the expected results. That big din around ecology is thus of use to them to get as ready as possible - on the strategic, military and ideological plans - for the major confrontations towards which the crisis of their system pushes them.

The revolutionaries' responsibility

The rise of the tensions and conflicts express, as we saw, the importance of the impact of the economic crisis on the imperialist powers and the obligation in which every national bourgeoisie is to lead the battle for the defence of its national interest. It is the logic of the imperialism, it is the logic of capitalism in a deep crisis.

In the situations of this type, the only "exit" for capitalism is the forced march toward war, is direct preparation for generalised imperialist confrontation.

Harder and harder and more direct exploitation of the working class has to go hand in hand, for the ruling class, with its preservation under the effects of bourgeois ideology, whose most effective shape is its "democratic" version.

For the communists, for the revolutionaries, one of the essential tasks and responsibilities consists exactly in bringing to light this situation, in making it conscious to our class by connecting the economic attacks lived in the everyday life and which provoke anger and revolt in the working class ranks about the general conditions of the society and the objectives pursued by the dominant class. In short, to make the link between attacks on our conditions of work, life, and the resolved march to the war that the enemy class pursues.

Since some time, the ecology and the defence of the planet is the shape by which the bourgeoisie tries to convince us that the first urgency for humanity is to fight the environmental dangers which threaten earth and men. And, naturally, to fight them "all unite" "behind the dominant class" and its State.

For their part, the communists maintain that the only real danger for earth and for humanity, is the perpetuation of the domination of the bourgeois class on the society. The slightest concession on this ground, the slightest "weakness" in front of the appeal of the environmentalist sirens would be, for communists, the opened door to definitive renunciation to the revolutionary fight.

January 5, 2008


1 We dealt with this question in the n° 41 of this bulletin : " Crisis of the real estate, financial crisis? Or more simply a capitalist crisis of overproduction?"

2 Between the writing of this text - at the beginning of January - and the publication of this bulletin, one saw multiplying the intrigues of the French bourgeoisie and of his president in very many places of the world. The will of this imperialism to play a determining role on the diplomatic and military areas - a role, besides, sometimes beyond its real capacities ! - resulted in seeking to sell to several countries nuclear engines (officially in civil destination and production of electricity) as well as state-of-the-art armaments. The highlight of this policy will have been, so far, the proposition to install a permanent military base in Persian Gulf, in Abu Dhabi. It goes without saying that this setting-up, the first of the kind for a country other than the USA, is directly intended to compete with the latter in the area. What is obviously in no way the taste of the Uncle Sam. So, in New York Times of January 27th, 2008 we find an article which says :

"For France, the symbol could not be more powerful. On a journey in the United Arab Emirates 12 days ago, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the decision to open a permanent military base in this country. It will be the first base of France in a country which was not one of its colonies, and will make France the only country apart from the United States having a permanent military presence in the Persian Gulf. "

Or even: " President Sarkozy seizes them in a distinctly post-imperial style; he defines the area as a mosaic to work piece per piece, not like a first prize which, once gained, would return to France its lost glory. It is thus not nostalgia. It is not either an effort to unify the Moslem world vis-a-vis the permanent terrorist threat, in a large "arc of crisis" which would go from Morocco to Bangladesh, although the secret service of France precisely seeks to do it "

Knowing that the NYT is an "informed" spokesman of the US bourgeoisie, we can measure the significance of the matter.

3 Let us notice, on this matter, the fact that the former German chancellor Shroëder, after the end of its political mandate retrained into a Russian company of oil. A sinecure gained, doubtless, for " returned services" !

4 We consider here the case of France because the juxtaposition of its environmentalist claim and its sales of nuclear power stations is particularly speaking. But it goes without saying that all the countries of average power use all the means which they have so as to take the best possible imperialist place.

Internal Fraction of ICC - Communist Bulletin (Nš 42)