2010: a class odyssey
Posted by John, December 28th, 2010 - under 2010, Capitalism, China, Chinese imperialism, Copenhagen, Copenhagen climate summit, Fighting back, Resistance, Ruling class, US imperialism, United States, Working class, Zionism.
During 2010 the third phase of the global financial crisis – making workers pay – began to play itself out.
Capital in Europe has used and is using its parliamentary dominance - it doesn’t matter whether reformists or conservatives are in power – to attack their working classes. While there have been magnificent strikes and demonstrations involving masses of workers and young people against the attacks, the lack of a genuine mass revolutionary party to provide guidance to the class and learn from it has allowed the reformists to sidetrack the fightbacks and ultimately accept capital’s attacks.
It may be a holding pattern if the left begins to build out of the turmoil and the attacks continue and deepen. Given the stagnant rate of profit across the developed world this seems likely, especially with capital witnessing the present defensive withdrawal of the European working class from the field of battle.
In the United States President Obama, as the representative of one wing of business, has continued the policies and practices of the other wing of business. Official unemployment is stuck at almost ten percent and the real figure is, according to Chomsky, double that.
43 million Americans – one in seven – are on food stamps. 30 million working Americans earn less than $9.80 an hour, which itself is barely enough for one person to just live on. Wealth and income inequality are at extremely high levels. American workers and their unions have by and large accepted cuts to wages and conditions under the mistaken belief this will save their jobs.
In Australia the Labor Government after an election in August just held on to office with the support of 3 independents and a Green member of the House of Representatives.
There was a noticeable swing to the Greens in disgust at 3 years of the Labor Party’s abject capitulation to capital. The Greens may have established themselves as the third party of Australian politics and the new social democracy, at least in the eyes of some of their members and those progressives deserting Labor.
One thing is clear. The ongoing degeneration of the Labor Party into a completely neoliberal organisation continues apace. It is arguably now just another party of the bourgeoisie, irrespective of its formal links to the working class through the trade union bureaucracy. Even there the situation is changing as some bureaucrats in the union movement begin a hunt for ‘real’ Labor both outside and inside the ALP.
The ongoing boom in Australia, courtesy of China’s growth and our minerals, long unpaid hours, high levels of debt and an historic shift of national income going to capital at labour’s expense have shielded Australian workers and governments from the crises enveloping the rest of the developed world.
It cannot last for ever given that China is dependent on US and European consumers for much of its wealth. And when circumstances do change the two parties of capital – the ALP and the Liberals – stand ready to take the axe to public services.
The attacks on public services across Europe mark the end of the grand compromise between capital and labour in Europe after the second world war, social security and welfare systems built on the long boom. Until now dismantling those systems has been piecemeal. Today the continued profitability of capital demands a full frontal attack.
Australia might be shielded at the moment but it too is only a few years away from this savage dismantling.
Globally 2 billion people are starving or malnourished while more than enough is produced to feed every man, woman and child on the planet. What greater indictment can there be of a system that has failed?
The contradictions of nation based capital in a system of global production mean that real action on climate change will not and cannot occur – other than perhaps individual ruling classes imposing the costs of capitals’ pollution on workers. Systemic imperialist rivalry between the declining US and a rising China destroyed Copenhagen and allowed Cancun little.
The decline of US economic dominance continued and the centre of production, finance and profitability moved more clearly to Asia, in particular China. With US defence spending equal to the combined total of the next 16 biggest armed nations, American imperialism will try to retain global superiority and contain China through military as well as diplomatic and economic means. That has already been occurring with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the war games off the Korean coast all part of US imperialism’s China encirclement strategy.
But the growing economic power of China also means that the US ruling class will look to extract more and more profit out of its own workforce to counterbalance Chines strength. The attacks on American workers will intensify even further. The ‘enemy’ at home threatens the American ruling class as much as the enemy abroad.
Imperialism has met setbacks. In Central and South America popular left wing movements have challenged, or been pushed to challenge, the rule of both domestic and international capital. These struggles have within them the potential to destroy capitalism but the situation remains fluid and inchoate, not least because of the lack of a mass revolutionary socialist organisation of the working class to push the movements forward and confront if necessary the populist leaders.
Wikileaks has exposed our rulers for the liars the left has always argued they are. The ferocious response of power to the release of ‘secret’ information and the attempts to frame Wikileaks head Julian Assange and calls for his assassination all show that there is but a thin veneer of democracy that attaches to most Western countries.
Israel’s role as the armed wing of US imperialism in the Middle East continues. This key role of Israel in the key energy region for US capitalism explains Obama’s capitulation to Zionism’s ongoing genocide against the Palestinians. This was clear to many in the American backdown over Jewish settlements.
The game’s afoot. So far their side has been kicking the goals.
Yet while the class is sullen, watching and waiting, it is not bowed. If there is any hope it lies with the proles.
That hope can only be built through the working class establishing its own political parties to tear the head off the bourgeoisie and destroy their crisis ridden system – a system of war and poverty.
In Australia you should consider joining Socialist Alternative in the fight for a better world free of their system’s war and poverty, free of sexism and racism and homophobia, a world where production is organised democratically to satisfy human need.