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imperialism

By J. Sykes

When the first World War broke out in 1914, it threw the socialist movement into disarray. Within the Second International, socialist leaders from all over the world disagreed on how to analyze the causes of the war and the way forward. According to Vladimir I. Lenin: A Political Biography by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, “On the very outbreak of the war he set to work to make a profound and detailed study of the world literature on the economics, methods of production, history, geography, politics, diplomacy, the working class movement, the colonial question, and other spheres of social life in the different countries in the epoch of imperialism.” These Notebooks on Imperialism, over 600 pages of copious research, make up Volume 39 of his Collected Works. The Institute notes, “The fruit of this vast work of research was Lenin’s famous book Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Completed in June 1916, this book is one of the greatest works in Marxist-Leninist literature.”

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By Mick Kelly, FRSO Political Secretary

Comrades and friends,

On behalf of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, I extend our warmest greetings to all who are assembled here at the International Theoretical Conference on Economic Crises under Imperialism, and thank our hosts, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, for organizing this important gathering.

In his great work Anti-During, Fredrick Engels made the point that freedom is the recognition of necessity. In other words, historical development is a law-governed process, and by understanding these laws, revolutionaries can be more effective in our efforts to change the world. Therein lies the great importance of a conference such as this. We have the opportunity to learn from one another and discuss some of the key features of monopoly capitalism and how it impacts the world. We do this from the perspective of bringing this system of exploitation and oppression to an end as soon as we possibly can.

The contributions to this conference address three big topics and, while this paper will address all of them, the principal focus of this paper will be the sharpening contradictions in the international financial architecture and challenges to the neoliberal model.

But before doing so, let me note the following. Many of us were here for the October 2023 Theoretical Conference on Imperialism and War, and, shortly before that conference got underway, the Palestinian resistance launched the historic Operation Al Aqsa Flood. Since that time, the Israeli occupiers and their U.S. backers have launched a genocide in Gaza. For its part, the Palestinian resistance has been resolute and steadfast, and it continues to land heavy blows. It is a movement of heroes that deserves the support and solidarity of all progressive people.

Economic crisis and the decline of U.S. imperialism

The history of capitalism is the history of periodic crises of overproduction, and these crises are rooted in the contradiction between a process of production that is social and the individual appropriation of the wealth that is created in that process by the capitalist class. Anarchy reigns in unplanned capitalist economies, where the guiding law is the hunt for the maximum rate of profits.

As Stalin said the work Economic Problems of the USSR that the most basic law of capitalism is

“…the securing of the maximum capitalist profit through the exploitation, ruin and impoverishment of the majority of the population of the given country, through the enslavement and systematic robbery of the peoples of other countries, especially backward countries, and, lastly, through wars and militarization of the national economy, which are utilized for the obtaining of the highest profits.”

U.S imperialism has been in a state of decline since the early 1970s. The periodic economic crises which have occurred in the context of that decline have altered the landscape of the productive forces in a dramatic way. One of the functions of crisis is to destroy the forces of production that are least profitable. Marx and Engels referenced this is The Communist Manifesto, stating, “In these crises a great part not only of the existing products but also of the previously created productive forces are periodically destroyed.”

The fall of the U.S steel industry illustrates this. The plurality of steel was once produced in the U.S. and in 1955 it dominated about 40% of the world market. In 1973 steel production reached its peak, but it was a colossus with feet of clay. The industry had failed to create new capacity with up-to-date technology such as basic oxygen furnaces. Japan and Europe, which had their industrial capacity destroyed during World War II, employed more advanced technologies. The economic crisis that unfolded in the 1973–75 period delivered huge blows to the U.S. centers of steel production like Gary, Indiana; Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Cleveland, Ohio. The following economic crisis of 1980 continued the collapse of the industry. By 2019 the U.S. was one of the largest steel importers, only producing about 5% of the world’s steel.

A look at the numbers compiled by the U.S, Bureau of Labor Statistics show similar trends for manufacturing as a whole. Since the 1970s, every crisis or contraction of the economy has resulted in a decline in manufacturing jobs. In 1979, manufacturing employment was 22% of total nonfarm jobs. It was 9% in 2019.

Some general observations can be made. U.S. imperialism has entered a period of accelerated decline and repeated periodic crises have rocked the economic base. Capitalism is not capable of real, long-term planning and it is fixated on short term gains. As a result, the composition of the economic base has been altered with manufacturing’s relative decline. The U.S. has less ability to deal with disruptions of global supply chains and would face tough going in the event of another major war.

The neoliberal model in a changing world

Since the 1980s, neoliberalism has been the dominant economic model of the capitalist world. In his important statement Neoliberalism: A Scourge on Humankind, the brilliant communist Jose Maria Sison states:

Reagan and Thatcher undertook signal actions and pushed legislation to press down the wage level, suppress the trade union and democratic rights of the working class and cut back on social spending by government. They reduced taxes on the corporations and individual members of the monopoly bourgeoisie and provided them with all the opportunities to make super profits and accumulate capital.

These opportunities were made available through the flexibilization of labor, trade and finance liberalization, privatization of public assets, anti-social deregulation, the denationalization of the economies of the underdeveloped countries, the increase of overpriced contracts in war production and guarantees and subsidies for overseas investments.

U.S.-led imperialist globalization took place in this context. Not every center of monopoly capitalism fully adopted the neoliberal model – for example in Japan, liberalization was mainly limited to the financial sector, but that was an exception.

U.S. industrial policy

The decline of U.S. imperialism and sharpening rivalry between the respective centers of monopoly capitalism present a set of genuine challenges to neoliberal, free market fundamentalism.

While it could be said that the U.S. has always had an industrial policy, that of spending vast amounts of money on arms production, the recently adopted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) along with the CHIPS Act have a real significance. U.S. government spending on developing the semiconductor industry will top $53 billion and create the ability to produce the most advanced computer chips. Government subsidies will also underwrite energy projects and the transition to electric vehicles. A huge boom in new factory construction is now underway.

A major target of this U.S. industrial policy is the People’s Republic of China. Currently about 90% of the world’s advanced computer chips are produced in Twain, and China’s leadership has made clear that the issue of reunification can not be put off forever. Additionally, China is the world’s largest producer of electric vehicles.

Using the measure Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which allows one to compare which commodities and services can be purchased with a given currency, the World Bank concluded that the Chinese economy was 23% larger than that of the U.S. in 2022. Looking at the sum of these statistics it’s not hard see why the U.S. has moved towards a policy of massive subsidies for key industries: it is a declining, moribund power and its domination of the world economy is coming to an end.

Trade, tariffs and the rise of protectionism

The U.S. spent a huge amount of political capital to establish the World Trade Organization in the mid-1990s. It was the continuation of the post-World War II, U.S. designed General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which set the rules of trade in the capitalist world. At lease some of us can remember the massive 1999 protest against corporate globalization that coincided with the WTO meeting in Seattle, Washington. The U.S. is now the one stopping the dispute mechanism of the WTO from functioning.

In 2017, the Trump administration stopped appointing judges for the WTO appeal process. The Biden administration has continued that policy. So as things stand, countries that do not like WTO decisions can appeal the decisions, but there is no quorum of judges to hear the case, so nothing happens.

Likewise, the Biden administration has continued many of the Trump-era tariffs, particularly those aimed at China, and it is looking at imposing new ones. Currently the U.S. has an ongoing discussion with the European Union on limiting imports of Chinese steel. Trump, who is ahead in the election polls, is promising to put 10% tariffs on all goods entering the U.S., including those for Europe and Japan.

The U.S. also has ongoing trade disputes with Europe on a host of issues ranging from aluminum exports to American subsidies for “green” industrial production.

There are three major centers of monopoly capitalism today: the U.S., Europe, and Japan. As the decline of the U.S. picks up speed, it has less ability to occupy the center of the capitalist world’s financial architecture. A weakening U.S. has become increasingly preoccupied with the defense of its own markets at the expense of an international system of free trade, where the U.S. was the supreme rule maker.

There is a military element to all of this as well. The U.S. is preparing for a war with China, and that’s at the core of the talk about “delinking” the U.S. and Chinese economies. The U.S. proxy war in the Ukraine is going poorly. U.S. influence in the Middle East is waning as the movement for national liberation is continuing to advance. The U.S. is determined to maintain its domination of the Pacific region, plundering the regions land, labor and natural resources. It is also attempting to block China’s development, and hinder reunification with Taiwan.

The environment

All of us understand that the state of the environment is an existential question that is of vital interest to communists and revolutionaries.

The FRSO program states, “Monopoly capitalism is killing our planet. The boundless drive for profit is a threat to our continued existence. Climate change is causing more extreme weather disasters around the globe, with the most severe falling on the peoples of Asia, Latin America, and Africa.”

The existence of imperialism gives class and national dimensions to environmental crisis. Droughts, for example, do not impact everyone equally. Those who make the homes around Wall Street don’t worry about them, they don’t have to. The same can not be said for poor farmers in the Philippines or what few farmers that are left in the U.S.

Given that the monopoly capitalists are responsible for creating the environmental crisis, they are incapable of solving it. Instead, they hypocritically point at the countries that are, or have been, oppressed by imperialism and that are trying to make progress in national development.

In the U.S., investment in “green” technologies has become a mechanism to transfer wealth to the largest corporations.

In the U.S. our organization has been active in building the fight for climate justice and it is our view that the environmental movement can play an important role in opposing monopoly capitalism.

Polarization

The decline of U.S. imperialism has been accompanied by political polarization and sharpening contradictions in the camp of the enemy. The great uprising that followed the murder of George Floyd helped reshape the political landscape. The standard of living for the people of the U.S. is falling. The U.S.-backed genocide Gaza has brought millions of people into the streets.

Monopoly capitalism is a failed and dying system. Nothing – not industrial policy, increased contention with other centers of capital, or new wars are going to save it. Crises are a built-in feature of capitalism that express, in a way that words cannot, the overall weakness of an irrational system.

It is the task of communists to lead the fight that will bring this system to an end. To do this we need to start where people are at and recognize their felt need. By doing so we can continue to build mass movements and expand the strength of the mass organizations. And most importantly, we can win the advanced, the most active, to Marxism-Leninism and build a new communist party.

The outstanding revolutionary Mao Zedong once stated, “Historically, all reactionary forces on the verge of extinction invariably conduct a last desperate struggle against the revolutionary forces, and some revolutionaries are apt to be deluded for a time by this phenomenon of outward strength but inner weakness failing to grasp the essential fact that the enemy is nearing extinction while they themselves are approaching victory.”

It is like the great revolutionary Mao Zedong wrote, “U.S. imperialism is paper tiger.” It is dangerous. It should not be underestimated. But at the end of day, it can and will be defeated.

Long live the unity of the world’s peoples!

Long live proletarian internationalism!

In the words of Marx, “We have a world to win.”

#RevolutionaryTheory #FRSO #Statement #CapitalismAndEconomy #EconomicCrisis #Imperialism

By staff

Day of Remembrance marked in San Jose. | Fight Back! News/staff

San Jose, CA – On February 18, over 300 people gathered in San Jose to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of Executive Order 9066, the directive that facilitated the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II.

The Nihonmachi Outreach Committee has been holding annual Day of Remembrance events in San Jose since 1981.

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By staff

San Salvador, El Salvador – On Sunday, February 4, right-wing Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele illegally ran for reelection even though the country’s constitution doesn’t allow presidents to serve two consecutive terms. With extreme irregularities throughout the year leading up to the election and systemic chaos bringing ballot counting to a halt on election night, Bukele still declared himself the winner of the presidency, and his party the winner of 58 out 60 Legislative Assembly seats. Opposition parties stated that Bukele’s claim that his party had won 58 of 60 Legislative Assembly seats was wildly inaccurate.

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By Freedom Road Socialist Organization

The following text was presented by Michela Martinazzi, a member of the Central Committee of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization at the International Assembly Against Imperialism in Solidarity with Palestine organized by Workers World Party.

Comrades and friends,

On behalf of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, let’s start by thanking the organizers of this important event – Workers World Party – for bringing us together at a truly critical juncture in world history. By sharing views and analyses of the world as it actually is, we can learn from each other, and, from those insights, make plans to challenge the existing order of things.

We are certain this International Assembly against Imperialism in Solidarity with Palestine will be a great success. The old world is exploding, something new is coming into being.

The great revolution that is underway in Palestine is nothing short of amazing. In the face of genocide, the Palestinian people are waging a fight that has the potential to end the Zionist project and limit the influence of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. Israel has always existed on stolen land and borrowed time. The clock is ticking.

Holding this Assembly on the 100th anniversary of the passing of the outstanding revolutionary V.I. Lenin was a good choice. This U.S. working class has a proud history that we sometimes lose sight of. For many years following Lenin’s death, revolutionaries held huge memorial meetings right here in New York City to mourn his passing and recommit to the revolutionary cause. For example, on January 21, 1937, more than 20,000 communists assembled in Madison Square Garden for that very purpose.

Lenin and imperialism

Lenin above all else was a revolutionary, who applied Marxism to the world around him and saw that competitive capitalism was giving way to monopoly capitalism. And this monopoly capitalism is what is referred to as imperialism. The two things are synonymous.

For today’s purposes, there isn’t time to recap Lenin’s great work, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. If there is anyone in hearing range who has not read it, get yourself a copy and do so. You won’t regret it. If you have done so, there is no harm in going over it again – odds are you will get something out of it.

Lenin drew a number of extremely important conclusions from the reality that capitalism had entered its imperialist stage, and I am going to focus on a few of them.

First, noting the world had been divided up amongst a handful of great powers, Lenin pointed out that wars to redivide the world were inevitable. He stressed that the only way to end imperialist wars was by ending imperialism and replacing it with socialism.

Lenin also appreciated the vital role that the majority of humanity in the colonies and semi-colonies would exercise, and that the contradiction between imperialism and oppressed peoples of the world would occupy a vital place in the era of monopoly capitalism.

In his important 1913 article Backward Europe and Advanced Asia, Lenin contrasts the broad progressive national democratic movement in China with the monopoly capitalist rulers of Europe. Of China, he said “Hundreds of millions of people are awakening to life, light and freedom”, and of Europe’s rulers Lenin stated, “Advanced Europe is commanded by a bourgeoisie which supports everything that is backward.”

Lenin knew what all socialists and communists needed to realize as well, and, quite honestly, it is pretty likely everyone here today gets this – any movement of the oppressed that weakens imperialism is a good thing. It deserves our support and solidarity. It is like the question posed in the old labor song, “Which Side Are You On?”

Every setback for Wall Street is an advance for Main Street. Working and oppressed people in the U.S. have a common cause with all who are oppressed by imperialism. Every ship turned around by Yemen helps those of us who are fighting to end exploitation here in the U.S. – we have the same enemy. Do we want strong enemies? No, we want weak and defeated ones. By the same token, every blow that we are able to inflict on the class enemy aids those suffering under imperialism’s yoke.

Palestine and the decline of U.S. imperialism

The decline of U.S. imperialism is accelerating. The people of Palestine are showing the way. All of us need to learn from their will to sacrifice and determination to win.

Lenin stressed that imperialism was capitalism that is moribund; it is dying. And we can see the symptoms all around them, including their political representatives. I invite you to join us at the Republican National Convention, July 15 in Milwaukee, and at the Democratic National Convention, August 19, in Chicago to confront them.

Marx talked about the vampire-like nature of capitalism. Let’s build unity. The many against the few. The people of the world can and will unite. Together we will put a stake in the heart of imperialism.

#FRSO #RevolutionaryTheory #International #Palestine #Imperialism #Lenin #MarxismLeninism

By J. Sykes

Since the writing of The Communist Manifesto and the founding of the First International, proletarian internationalism has been a cornerstone of scientific socialism, and is a pillar of Marxism-Leninism. Today, in the era of imperialism, putting genuine proletarian internationalism into practice demands that we be consistent anti-imperialists.

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By Mick Kelly, FRSO Political Secretary

FRSO Political Secretary Mick Kelly speaking at the International Theoretical Conference on Imperialism and War organized by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, NDFP. | Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following paper by Mick Kelly, political secretary of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, that was presented in Amsterdam October 14 at International Theoretical Conference on Imperialism and War organized by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Comrades and friends,

On behalf of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, I would like to extend our thanks to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and its member organizations for organizing this timely and important theoretical conference on imperialism and war. And we salute all of you in attendance today. We have much to gain by exchanging our respective views, seeking points of agreement to build unity, and putting proletarian internationalism into practice.

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By staff

Orlando educational event on the role of imperialism in Africa and Haiti.

Orlando, FL – On Saturday, September 16, around 45 community members gathered at Knowledge for Living in the Parramore district for an educational forum on U.S. and Western intervention in Haiti and West Africa. The event was hosted by the Revolutionary Education and Action League (REAL) and the Florida chapter of the All-African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP).

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By Andrew Josefchak

Minneapolis, MN – On July 26, in response to the Biden administration's decision to deploy 500 special forces troops to Somalia, the Anti-War Committee hosted a forum with the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Minnesota and Women Against Military Madness to educate community members on the current political situation in Somalia.

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By J. Sykes

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So far in our series on theory, we’ve looked at the historical emergence of Marxism. But by the time Marx finished writing Capital, capitalism was still developing and changing. The fundamental characteristics of the capitalist mode of production haven’t changed. Commodity production and exploitation of workers’ surplus value by the capitalists remain the driving force of the capitalist system. And it remains a system plagued by regular cycles of crises of overproduction, pushing poor and working-class people further down while the rich get richer and richer. But by the beginning of the 20th century the internal motion of capitalism’s contradictions led to its advancement to a higher stage: monopoly capitalism, also known as imperialism.

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