Capitalism: another year older, and deeper in debt
2009 was seemingly the perfect example of that old conservative saying: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, or roughly translated, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Continuity is very much the theme for 2009. In the United States Obama continued the policies of his predecessor, George W Bush.
In Australia the Rudd Government has continued the work of the previous Howard government, but in a more nuanced and less confrontational manner so far.
The polluting profiteers had a big win at Copenhagen, but that continues the last 250 years of capitalist policies.
Imperialist competition between the US and China destroyed the summit, an outcome that suits both major powers.
The success of the world economy over the last decade laid the groundwork for the misnamed global financial crisis, whch although it seems to have by-passed Australia at the moment, continues to destroy jobs and capital across Europe and North America.
The bail out of the banks continues the logic of state interventions for the past 30 years and the victory of neo-liberalism with keynesian characteristics.
The economic crisis saw the number of people malnourished or starving increase to 2 billion while food production rose.
Imperialist wars continued to wreak destruction on Iraq, Afghanistan and spread into Pakistan.
Yemen will be the next battle front, although US bases in Columbia might see the commander in chief of terror toy with the idea of imposing a Pinochet solution on countries like Venezuela and Bolivia and the overthrow of the radical nationalist leaderships.
And of course there is always Palestine – the true nature of US imperialism and its Israeli attack dog revealed for all the world to see in Operation Cast Lead and the blockade of Gaza, entrapping 1.5 million in a concentration camp.
The slow genocide of the Palestinians continues, with the chief barracker Obama urging his killers on.
Chinese imperialism continued its seemingly inexorable growth, and the Australian state and sections of the bourgeoisie juggled their relationship between it and American imperialism.
While we will trade with the devil, our defence white paper identified China as a future military threat. This will push us closer to that other devil, US imperialism, while selling minerals and energy to the Chinese.
Of course, Chinese capitalism, with its on-going rapid capitalisation, is sowing the seeds for a future collapse of its general rate of profit and the social turmoil that may produce.
In Australia the Government and Opposition fought a fake war over climate change. This battle between the do-nothings and the deniers is Copenhagen writ small, with the same result.
The trade union leadership in Australia continues its class collaborationist policies, this time in the guise of support for the Labor Government on a range of matters, especially the ALP’s Workchoices lite.
But all is not dark in the kingdom of capitalism.
As a response to the economic crisis, mass strikes and demonstrations in France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland and some Eastern European countries broke out.
The dictatorship in Iran faces an upsurge of popular opposition much like the Shah in 1978 and 79. If workers there set up workers councils to run society as part of their struggle we could witness the birth of a new society for humanity.
The Uighurs and Tibetans continued to resist Chinese domination. The Afghans continued their fight against the foreign invaders.
Millions realised the failure of Copenhagen was a failure of the system, not just the individuals involved and some could be swept into action to save the planet.
In Australia strikes began to re-appear as a tool to win just claims while the bosses, perhaps drunk on their successes of the last decades, resisted them. Our hope must be that isolated strike incidents become generalised responses.
Humanity faces economic and environmental crises. Only a fundamental democratic re-ordering of the way goods and service are produced can address those crises and feed all of us.
We workers have that power.
As the bourgeoisie prove incapable of dealing with their economic and environmental breakdowns, 2010 could be the year in which we turn their continuity into systemic discontinuity and witness the seeds being sown for a new democratic society to satisfy human need.