Discussion with Dr T. M. Thomas Isaac (Minister of Finance, Kerala Government)
Panel: Anokhi Parikh (Solidarity Fund), Dorah Marema (GenderCC – Southern Africa), Tim Abaa (Ubuntu Project), Desmond D’Sa (SDCEA) and Mervyn Abrahams (PMBEJD)
Panel: Busi Sibeko (IEJ), Michael Sachs (Wits, SCIS) and Duma Gqubule (CEDT)
Panel: Magda Campbell (Beacon Organic Garden), John Nzira (Ukuvuna Harvests), Desmond D’Sa (SDCEA) and Jane Cherry (COPAC)
Panel: Chriszanne Janse Van Vuuren (SCLC), Nosintu Mcimeli (Abanebhongo Persons with Disabilities), Davine Cloete (WCFSSF), Ferrial Adam (COPAC) and Caroline Ntaopane (WoMin)
Panel: Rosheda Muller (SAITA), Ayanda Kota (UPM), Dominic Brown (AIDC), Marcus Solomon (CRC), Duma Gqubule (CEDT) and Isobel Frye (SPII)
Panel: Dorah Marema (GenderCC Southern Africa), Tatjana von Bormann (WWF), Susanna Coleman (PHA Campaign)
By Samir Amin
For the last thirty years the world system has undergone an extreme centralization of power in all its dimensions, local and international, economic and military, social and cultural.
Some thousand giant corporations and some hundreds of financial institutions that have formed cartels among themselves, have reduced national and globalized production systems to the status of sub-contractors. In this way the financial oligarchies appropriate a growing share of the profits from labour and from companies that have been transformed into rent producers for their exclusive benefit.
Having domesticated the main right-wing and left-wing parties the unions and the organizations of the so-called civil society, these oligarchies now also exercise absolute political power as well as the media that is subordinated to them, creating the necessary disinformation to depoliticize public opinion. The oligarchies have annihilated the traditional practice of multi-partyism, replacing it almost to a one-party system, controlled by capital. Representative democracy having lost all its meaning, has lost its legitimacy.
This late contemporary capitalism, which is a completely closed system, corresponds to the criteria of ‘totalitarianism’, although care is taken not to name it as such. The totalitarianism is still ‘soft’ but it is always ready to resort to extreme violence as soon as the victims – the majority of workers and peoples – begin to revolt. All changes that are part of this so-called ‘modernization’ must be seen in light of the foregoing analysis. This is thus the case of major ecological challenges (especially climate change) that capitalism is incapable of resolving (the Paris agreement of December 2016 was only a smokescreen), as well as scientific progress and technological innovations (including IT), which are rigorously subjected to the requirements of the financial profit that they can make for the monopolies. The glorification of competitiveness and the freedom of the market that the subservient media present as guarantees of the freedom and efficiency of civil society are indeed the antithesis of the reality, which is riven by violent conflicts between fractions of the existing oligarchies and is the cause for the destructive effects of their governance.
At the world level, contemporary capitalism always follows the same imperialist logic that was typical as it became globalized from the start (the colonization of the 19th century was clearly a form of globalization). Contemporary ‘globalization’ does not escape this logic: it is nothing else but a new form of imperialist globalization. This term ‘globalization’, so often used without any definition, hides an important fact: the deployment of systematic strategies that have been developed by the historical imperialist powers (United States, Western and Central European countries, Japan, which I shall call ‘the Triad’) that continue to pillage the resources of the Global South and the super-exploitation of its labour that is associated with delocalization and subcontracting. These powers intend to maintain their ‘historical privilege’ and to prevent all the other nations from extricating themselves from the status of dominated peripheries. The history of the last century was in fact that of the revolt of the peoples of the peripheries of the world system who were engaged in a socialist de-linking or in attenuated forms of national liberation, whose page has, for the moment, been turned. The re-colonization now under way, which has no legitimacy, is therefore fragile.
For this reason, the historical imperialist powers of the Triad have set up a system of collective military control over the planet, directed by the United States. Membership of NATO, which is inextricably linked to the construction of Europe, as also the militarization of Japan, reflects the requirement of this new collective imperialism which has taken over the national imperialisms (of the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, France and a few others) which were formerly in permanent and violent conflict.
In these conditions, constructing an international front of workers and the peoples of the whole world has to be the main objective of the struggle to meet the challenge of counteracting the spreading of contemporary imperialist capitalism.
Confronted by this tremendous challenge, the inadequacy of the struggles being carried out by the victims of the system is all too apparent. Their weaknesses are of different kinds which I would classify under the following headings:
i. the extreme fragmentation of the struggles, whether at the local or world level, which are always specific and conducted in particular places and subject-matters (ecology, women’s rights, social services, community demands, etc.) The rare campaigns conducted at the national or even world level have not had any significant success in that they have not forced any changes of the policies being carried out by those in power. Many of these struggles have been absorbed by the system and foster the illusion that it is possible to reform it.
Nevertheless, there has been an enormous acceleration in the process of generalized proletarianization. Almost all the populations in the central capitalist countries are now subjected to the status of waged workers selling their labour. The industrialization of regions in the Global South has created worker proletariats and salaried middle classes while their peasantries are now fully integrated into the market system. But the political strategies employed by the powerful have succeeded in fragmenting this gigantic proletariat into diverse fractions that are often in conflict with each other. This contradiction must be overcome.
ii. The peoples of the Triad (USA, Western and Central Europe, Japan) have renounced international anti-imperialist solidarity, which has been replaced at best by ‘humanitarian’ campaigns and ‘aid’ programmes that are controlled by the capital of the monopolies. The European political forces that inherited left-wing traditions thus now support the imperialist vision of existing globalization.
iii. A new right-wing ideology has gained support among the people. In the North, the central theme of anti-capitalist class struggle has been abandoned, or reduced to a greatly incomplete expression – for the benefit of a so-called new definition of the left-wing ‘partner culture’ or communitarianism, separating the defence of specific rights from the general fight against capitalism.
In certain countries of the South, the tradition of struggles that associated the anti-imperialist struggle with social progress has given way to reactionary backward-looking illusions expressed by religions or pseudo ethics. In other countries of the South, the successful acceleration of economic growth over the last decades feeds the illusion that it is possible to construct a ‘developed’ national capitalism capable of imposing its active participation in shaping globalization.
The power of the oligarchies of contemporary imperialism seems to be indestructible, in the countries of the Triad and even at the world level (“the end of history”!). Public opinion subscribes to its disguise as ‘market democracy’, preferring it to its past adversary – socialism – which is invariably embellished by such odious sobriquets as criminal, nationalist or totalitarian autocracies.
However, this system is not viable for many reasons:
i. Contemporary capitalism is presented as being ‘open’ to criticism and reform, as innovative and flexible. Some voices claim to put an end to the abuses of its uncontrolled finance and the permanent austerity policies that accompany it – and thus ‘save capitalism’. But such calls will remain in vain as present practices serve the interests of the oligarchs of the Triad – the only ones that count – as they guarantee the continual increase of wealth in spite of the economic stagnation that besets their countries.
ii. The European sub-system is an integral part of imperial globalization. It was conceived in a reactionary spirit, that was anti-socialist and pro-imperialist, subordinate to the military command of the United States. Within it, Germany exercises its hegemony, particularly in the framework of the euro zone and over Eastern Europe which has been annexed just as Latin America has been annexed by the United States. ‘German Europe’ serves the nationalist interests of the German oligarchy, which are expressed with arrogance, as we saw in the Greek crisis. This Europe is not viable and its implosion has already started.
iii. The stagnation of growth in the countries of the Triad contrasts with the acceleration in growth of regions in the South which have been able to profit from globalization. It has been concluded too hastily that capitalism is alive and well, even if its centre of gravity is moving from the old countries of Atlantic West to the South, particularly Asia. In actual fact the obstacles to pursuing this historical corrective movement are likely to become increasingly violent, including military aggression. The imperial powers do not intend to allow any country of the periphery – great or small – to free themselves from domination.
iv. The ecological devastation that is necessarily associated with capitalist expansion is reinforcing the reasons why this system is not viable.
We are now in the phase of the ‘autumn of capitalism’ without this being strengthened by the emergence of ‘the people’s spring’ and a socialist perspective. The possibility of substantial progressive reforms of capitalism in its current stage is only an illusion. There is no alternative other than that enabled by a renewal of the international radical left, capable of carrying out – and not just imagining – socialist advances. It is necessary to end crisis-ridden capitalism rather than try to end the crisis of capitalism.
Based on a first hypothesis, nothing decisive will affect the attachment of the peoples of the Triad to their imperialist option, especially in Europe. The victims of the system will remain incapable of conceiving their way out of the paths that have been traced by the ‘European project’ which has to be deconstructed before it can then be reconstructed with another vision. The experiences of Syriza, Podemos and France Insoumise, the hesitations of Die Linke and others testify to the extent and complexity of the challenge. The facile accusation of ‘nationalism’ of those critical of Europe does not hold water. The European project is increasingly visible as being that of the bourgeois nationalism of Germany. There is no alternative in Europe, as elsewhere, to the setting up of national, popular and democratic projects (not bourgeois, indeed anti-bourgeois) that will begin the delinking from imperialist globalization. It is necessary to deconstruct the extreme centralization of wealth and the power that is associated with the system.
According to this hypothesis, the most probable outcome will be a remake of the 20th century: advances made exclusively in some of the peripheries of the system. But these advances will remain fragile, as have those of the past, and for the same reason – the permanent warfare waged against them by the imperialist power centres, the success of which is greatly due to their own limits and deviations. Whereas the hypothesis of a worker and people’s internationalism opens up the way to further evolutions that are necessary and possible.
The first of these ways is that of the ‘decadence of civilization’. In that case, these evolutions are not to be masterminded by anyone, their trail must be blazed only by the needs created by the situation. However, in our epoch, given the power of ecological and military destruction and the disposition of the powerful to use it, the risk, denounced by Marx in his time, that there is a very real risk that the fighting will destroy all the camps that oppose each other. The second path, by contrast, will require the lucid and organized intervention of the international front of the workers and the peoples.
Creating a new Internationale of workers and peoples must be the main objective for the genuine militants who are convinced of the odious nature of the world imperialist capitalist system that we have at present. It is a heavy responsibility and the task requires several years before giving any tangible results. As for myself, I put forward the following proposals:
i. The aim should be to establish an Organization (the new Internationale) and not just a ‘movement’. This involves moving beyond the concept of a discussion forum. It also involves analysing the inadequacies of the notion, still prevalent, that the ‘movements’ claim to be horizontal and are hostile to so-called vertical organizations on the pretext that the latter are by their very nature anti-democratic: that the organization is, in fact, the result of action which by itself generates ‘leaders’. The latter can aspire to dominate, even manipulate the movements. But it is also possible to avoid this danger through appropriate statutes. This should be discussed.
ii. The experience of the worker Internationales should be seriously studied, even if they belong to the past. This should be done, not in order to ‘choose’ a model among them, but to invent the most suitable form for contemporary conditions.
iii. Such an invitation should be addressed to a good number of combative parties and organizations. A committee should first be set up to get the project started.
By Mamdouh Habashi
PROLETARIER ALLER LÄNDER, VEREINIGT EUCH!
PROLETARIANS OF ALL COUNTRIES; UNITE!
Samir Amin’s publication of his “founding” paper on 17/7/17 was a historic event in every sense of the word. Not only because it summarizes the situation on the front of the struggle between imperialism and the forces of revolution at the global level with a high degree of precision and clarity, but because it launches a new phase in this struggle qualitatively different from all that preceded it.
Since the idea of the establishment of the Fifth International began to crystallize about a decade ago and my insistence on Samir Amin is increasing day by day to complete this paper, until the urgency in recent years reached the degree of a nerve saw. Samir Amin, always a perfectionist in his work, was not hesitant in his conviction of the idea itself but about the timing of its emergence.
For the first time in history, the forces of the global revolution begin to take the lead in their struggle against imperialism, armed with the experience and lessons of the history of former “Internationals”, moving from reaction to action, from defense to attack, … no exaggeration in this description.
The task is difficult, … difficult, complicated and complex, but it has no alternative for the real revolutionary forces. We are talking here about the “process” of building the Fifth International, which may take years. For this process to begin with steady and constant steps, it must have a “motor” or a steering committee.
This committee will be formed from 10 to 15 parties of those which are the first convinced of the task. It would start with a preparatory meeting to launch the first “Brain Storming” among the attendees to consolidate:
- the points of agreement and disagreement, but more importantly
- the expected problems and obstacles of the process.
A) the points of agreement and disagreement
Do the participants of this very first meeting have to discuss the a.m. paper of Samir Amin first to find out all points of agreement or possibly disagreement of its analysis of our today’s world?
Would it be preferable for the process to have a preamble of the paper presenting a profile of the former Internationals with their successes and failures without losing the original goal of the process?
The process should eliminate the opportunistic currents in the left – in the north and in the south – which still do not want to see imperialism in the policies of Europe and Japan and limit imperialism in the United States, not to mention the forces that do not see the existence of imperialism at all.
After the political analysis of the current situation in the world of today on the paper, a road map to establish the 5th International has to be presented, at least for the first steps of putting the foundation; i.e. when, how, where and with whom the first meeting with the required BRAIN SRORMING will be held.
The oligarchy of financial market capitalism and political oligopolies rule the world of today with a totalitarian dictatorship which is getting deeper and deeper. The new international is the most accurate expression that this crisis an L- and not U-shape one.
The unwillingness or ability of the ruling bourgeoisie of the peripheries in general to have any degree of independence.
The BRICS Group pursues pragmatic opportunistic policies that do not live up to the challenge, as they resist hegemony but not capitalism, not even its neoliberal form.
The deepening of the crisis of global capitalism does not mean that it is nearing its demise, as much as it means the intensification of its violence and aggression.
Due to its internal contradictions, the global financial system will face a new collapse in the coming years. The next collapse may be more severe than that of September 2008. The global left must prepare itself to confront this situation with the new International to put forward a global alternative and chart a roadmap out of capitalism rather than out of the Crisis of capitalism. The missing of an “International” in 2008 has led to a decline in the performance of the global left in facing the crisis instead of getting the most benefit out of it.
The great popular uprisings in the peripheries (Egypt is a clear example) are going back to what is worse. If the 5th International did exist and had been active and effective in January 2011, it would have changed the course of history.
The left of the centers is in general lagging behind both, in its strength and in its discourse to face the globalization of the financial market.
The differences between the attitudes and tactics of the left forces in the world vary deeply despite the high degree of agreement on understanding and analyzing the global situation.
I do not see a moment more urgent than today to begin thinking about the creation of the new “International”.
The mission is certainly tough but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step and all the projects that have changed the world have started as dreams.
B) the expected problems and obstacles of the process
- The differences between left-wing currents in the world will continue, but we must use them as enrichment and deepen the dialogue rather than fight it, if there is a solid basis for agreement on the strategic issues.
- Of course, the new International will not replace the local struggles, but it will definitely give it the compass and the necessary political support, which may increase the efficiency of these local and regional struggles.
- Collective imperialism has globalized its command since the middle of the twentieth century, while the forces of progress have abandoned this basic weapon.
- The World Social Forum WSF was an attempt to globalize the struggle, but despite all the successes it has achieved the struggle today needs something much more effective and structured.
- The relationship between the national and the international must be addressed and treated from a revolutionary perspective.
- What is the role of the “revolutionary” party today in the peripheries and – especially – in the centers? And how this party would carry out its goals under the conditions of the Western “parliamentarism”?
- The New International is the only way to universalize and globalize the struggle for the “Common Good of Humanity” as a first step towards a socialist perspective, otherwise it would be just wishful thinking.
- In this concern, I have to emphasize that we are talking here about establishing an “ORGANIZATION” and not any kind of forum or discussion collectives.
- I believe that the basic or most difficult task of the process “Kick Off” is not primarily to prove the utmost necessity of establishing the International but to answer the unavoidable questions how to manage the organization in the new circumstances… such as:
- What is the most appropriate organizational form between the “Forum” and the “Com-Intern”?
- Should it include Marxist parties only? Or also other kinds of organizations? How do we define selection criteria?
- How do we deal with the presence of more than one Marxist party in a country?
- How will decisions be taken, by consensus? unanimous? Or by voting?
- How will it solve the problem of the political “weight” of the different parties, organizations or countries? Will it be the same voice for each party; the Socialist Popular Alliance in Egypt and the Communist Party of China, for example?
- The previous question leads us to the need to invent a mechanism to avoid the domination of a country or a party on the International… How?
Dear Comrades and Friends,
This is my appeal to you all to contribute. We all need your active suggestions and innovative ideas to start the process. Please feel free to contact me, even with negative your critiques, which could be also quite constructive.
By Vishwas Satgar
In the contemporary carbon centric life world of capitalism, gas guzzling automobiles, hi-tech aeroplanes, massive container ships and energy using skyscrapers are some of the obvious weapons of mass destruction. The more these resource intensive and carbon centric social relations prevail the more climate change is accelerated. In this version of senile capitalism nature is conquered. The new capitalist nature – under patriarchal domestication, scientifically observed and managed – has to be geo-engineered, carbon must be stored in the deep recesses of planet earth and oil spigots will only be shut when the last dollar is extracted from this deadly resource. The logic of contemporary capitalism, is not merely about dispossession, but about eco-cide, that is, obliterating the conditions necessary to sustain human and non-human life on planet earth. For Karl Marx, this was the metabolic rift of capitalism and for Rosa Luxemburg the conquest of the natural economy.
Neoliberalism has realised its terminus in history and confirmed its ideals. Property rights have spawned the sovereignty of capital, greedy plutocrats wield state power with the crudest of instrumentality and hyper individualism valorised through Americanised consumption and populist media spheres confirm the banality of celebrity culture as common sense. The self determination of the Americanised and nihilistic capitalist subject is the only expression of being human in contemporary capitalist civilisation, authorised by neoliberalism. But even this is not enough. The next step is the trans-human; the technotopian vision of bio and digital capital. Capitalism no longer has common cause with humanity. Married to decades of structural inequality this is the world of neoliberal capitalist utopia. There a no enemies: Soviet socialism is dead, the working class is precariatised, nature is conquered and history has ended. There are literally no left bogeys to blame. Yet a new right wing, neo-fascist, progeny of this neoliberal order has already started its march – from Washington, Brazilia, New Delhi, Budapest to Moscow – it stands at the ready to brutally crush any challenge to this utopia. Moreover, it misdirects publics against scapegoats – the migrant, black lives, the ‘Muslim’ , the indigenous or any over inflated ‘terror threat’.
Capitalism’s endgame has arrived. It will seek to defend the normalcy of capitalism at any cost. However, history and struggle have demonstrated how unsustainable militarised regimes are. The monopoly on violence is never a guarantor of pacification let alone global acquiesce. War also requires scarce resources and is costly. Militarism also in the age of nuclear weapons also comes with its constraints. In addition, mediatised and thin market democracies, openly buttressed by coercion, also face limits. Ultimately, hegemonic governance of brutish inequality is over, while the demos is restless and desperate. At the same time, the democratic subject has a full spectrum gaze, informed by multiple digital information sources and insights. Information about the socio-ecological condition is everywhere and can be accessed. Such a subject can even marvel at the idiocy of imperial power from afar, observe the clumsiness of autocrats and catch glimpses of inspiring assertions of subaltern street power. Put differently, while capitalism will utilise the neo-fascist option, and will even weaponise the digital sphere, this iron curtain of absolute oppression is not free from weaknesses. It is at this intersection, the history of democracy and socialism will thrive.
However, the real terror of the present moment in history is not even capitalist neo-fascism. It is the juggernaut of capitalist eco-cide that threatens not just planetary life conditions but capitalism itself. This makes the second coming of fascism anachronistic. Put more sharply, neo-fascism will also burn in a heating world and carbon capital’s ‘global gas chamber’. It is bone chilling to learn how carbon capital is prolonging its place in the global energy mix despite the alarm bells of climate science and at least one major climate shock every week on planet earth. The prospects of over shoot beyond a 1 degree increase in planetary temperature since before the industrial revolution looms large. Trump has given warrant to more carbon extraction in the US placing it at the top of supply tables and Bolsonaro supports commercial interests that are continuing genocidal violence against indigenous peoples, destroying bio diversity and hastening the release of about 140 billion tons of carbon from the Amazon through slash and burn appropriation. In South Africa carbon ruling classes are continuing to build the largest coal fired powered station in the world, they vaunt fracking and salivate at the prospects of off-shore gas extraction. This is a short list of carbon criminality but which confirms capitalism and its carbon ruling classes threaten everything including themselves. This means even reformist inclinations to manage carbon capitalism or green it are bound to fail, given the dooms day clock.
Given the science of climate change and accelerating carbon emissions, the death of capitalism and all of us by its eco-cidal logic is now patently clear. Africa, the imperial subject of the global north since the Berlin conference is defeated, captured by lumpen bourgeoise interests and is already unravelling in parts due to climate shocks. It is estimated that at least 200 million Africans will be displaced by worsening climate shocks and breakdown. ‘Fortress Europe’ or ‘Prison Complex USA’ will not be able to keep the ‘barbarians’ out because these societies, despite their affluence, will also be facing serious internal fault-lines due to climate shocks. The Sunrise movement, Extinction Rebellion and #FridaysForFuture are merely 1 degree Celsius movements. At 1.5 degrees many more will rise in these societies and will certainly reject being treated as collateral damage by irrational and eco-fascist ruling classes.
Three forms of climate justice disruption, expressing the living hope of the many, is being expressed in national spaces in this new phase of climate justice struggle. Such expressions of living hope are bringing about a convergence of climate justice forces that have been in existence for about 20 years, together with children and citizens. First, symbolic disruption of normalcy. The best example of this is Greta Thunburg and the #FridaysForFuture childrens protest actions. The alarm bell raised by the children is reinforcing the urgency coming through in the climate science and vice versa. Second, tactical disruption through gridlocking carbon including fossil fuel extractive circuits. Calls to boycott Macdonalds, Walmart and Subway because they have interests in slash and burn agriculture in the Amazon or Ende Gelände efforts to blockade coal pits in Germany are all crucial examples in this regard. Third, strategic disruption of eco-cidal capitalism through exits and ruptures through systemic alternatives such as Green New Deals that advance rapid decarbonisation, demilitarisation, democratic systemic reform from below, enabling peoples power to drive the just transition, and a geopolitics of climate justice. In this regard Bernie Sanders Green New Deal, committing $16.3 trillion, is certainly not the classical class compromise of capital and labour but a class project of the excluded 99% against the avaricious and eco-cidal 1%.
Ultimately, these forces will also have the task of confronting the eco-cidal logic of imperial power to ensure the global south can makes its own climate justice choices, including for deep systemic change that advances democratic eco-socialism. On September 20, the day of #GlobalClimateStrike, climate justice forces gathered outside the corporate headquarters of the 45th highest carbon polluter in the world, SASOL, in South Africa. Besides demanding a just transition plan from SASOL so South Africa can achieve its net zero emissions targets and democratise climate policy from below, these forces called for a national and international day of action on 1st May, 2020 to #gridlockcarbon on a global scale. This is about uniting children, citizens, climate justice forces and most importantly trade unions. The power of the organised working class, with all its weaknesses, has to be mainstreamed in climate justice struggles everywhere to advance strategic breakthroughs.
Moreover, a crucial democratic systemic reform, that will have to be further globalised from the periphery is the ‘re-agrarianisation’ of the world through food sovereignty and agro-ecology. Initiated by La Via Campesina, over two decades ago, every community, village, town and city, on a planetary scale will have to embrace such a democratic eco-socialist alternative. This has been under-scored by the recent International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Biodiversity report (2019) and the International Panel on Climate Change Land Use report (2019). The bottom line is that mono-industrial, carbon centric and globalised food systems are implicated in our extinction.
Ultimately, the ecological horizons of contemporary socialism will be defined by global heating, climate shocks, worsening inequality and the human impulse to live. Water, food, land, forests, oceans and the biosphere – the global commons – are all going to be implicated in the revenge of nature against capitalist eco-cide. The raw power of nature will eclipse even anthropocentric notions of hybridising capitalism’s nature with the web of life. The infinity of nature and the finitude of the human will define the next period of socio-ecological history. It is at this confluence that democratic eco-socialism will learn more deeply from indigenous earth traditions to advance life, reject productivism and affirm a de-alienated relationship with nature. A slow world, operating within the metabolic cycles of nature, is our only hope for the many. Such a world never died but was merely pushed into the shadows by colonial, neoliberal and imperial violence.
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