ARTICLES & SPEECHES, 2001 - Present
Keynote Speech to the Second International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Chairman Crispin Beltran
Warmest greetings of solidarity!
I wish to thank the International Coordinating Committee inviting me as the keynote speaker of the Second International Assembly of the ILPS. This is an honor and privilege.
I congratulate the ICC, the International Coordinating Group, the General Secretariat and all the participating organizations of ILPS for all the struggles that they have waged and all the successes that they have won since the First International Assembly.
It is my task today to describe what we oppose, which is monopoly capitalism or imperialism and its aggressive, exploitative and plunderous character, and to call for worldwide solidarity and struggle of the people for liberation and democracy against imperialism and reaction.
I. Imperialist War and Plunder
Since the First International Assembly of the ILPS in 2001, the economic crisis of the world capitalist system has worsened rapidly. The underdeveloped countries, which are the majority in the world, have been devastated by the overproduction of raw materials and by the ever growing deficits and mounting debt burdens. The so-called emergent markets exporting some industrial products and semi-manufactures have never fully recovered from their economic and financial crises since 1997.
All the imperialist countries have been afflicted by crisis arising from the overproduction of agricultural, basic industrial and high-tech products, the consequent decline of industrial production, rising levels of unemployment and collapses of overvalued assets. Despite its use of high interest rates to attract huge flows of foreign funds from its imperialist allies and the oil-producing countries, the US has plunged into an unprecedented crisis of overproduction and financial meltdowns after the high tech bubble burst in 2000.
European and North American economies experienced a sharp growth decline in 2001, with that of the European Union dropping from 3.4 percent to 1.5 percent and down to 0.6 percent in 2003. It rebounded only in summer 2003 but is expected to stagnate if not decline again in 2005-2006. US growth decreased from 3.8 percent to 0.3 percent in 2001. Its rebound since mid-2002 was driven mainly by consumer spending (fueled by heavy borrowing) and by military and national security spending that have all combined to raise to unprecedented heights the public debt and the total outstanding debt to USD 4.3 trillion and USD 7.4 trillion respectively. The US trade deficit has ballooned from USD 378.7 billion in 2000 to USD 496 B in 2003 and is projected to reach USD 590 B by the end of 2004.
To carry out an economic offensive, following the disastrous consequences both of revisionist betrayal in socialist countries and neocolonial cooptation in newly-independent countries, the US has used the myth of “free market” globalization to undertake the most rapacious forms of acquiring assets abroad and extracting superprofits under the terms of de-nationalization, investment and trade liberalization, privatization of public assets and deregulation. All these are detrimental to the underdeveloped countries, the working people, women and the environment.
“Free market” globalization has been the slogan of monopoly capitalism for celebrating the supposed end of history in capitalism and liberal democracy and for wreaking havoc on the countries and working people striving for national independence and the nationalization and socialization of their economies. Among the imperialist countries, the United States has been the most rapacious in concentrating and centralizing finance capital. But the structure of this finance capital involves a huge amount of foreign and local public debt. Thus, it is ever vulnerable to capital flight, heavy trade deficits and budgetary deficits driven by wasteful consumerism and military spending.
The series of measures adopted by the Bush administration consequent to the 9/11 event have come on top of the worsening economic crisis to aggravate it and bring out anew the worst features of US imperialism. The US has used 9/11 as the pretext for stepping up military production supposedly for reviving the sick US economy and waging a permanent “war on terror”. Standing to benefit most from these are the monopoly firms in the military-industrial complex and in the oil business. The US has adopted the USA PATRIOT Act and other measures in order to whip the American people into a line of hysteria that would support war production and wars of aggression. The object of course is to use up current inventories of war materiel and to generate new military production contracts.
Since 9/11 the US has perpetrated colossal acts of terrorism far more than what it accuses the Al Qaida of committing. What is the killing of 2800 people at the twin towers in New York in comparison to the more than 100,000 Iraqi people that the US has massacred in the course of its invasion and occupation of Iraq and to the millions more of people being brutalized, impoverished and made vulnerable to death and disease by the continuing US military offensives that destroy private homes, communities and the social infrastructure?. Let us not forget that the current barbarities of the US have come on top of 12 years of sanctions that have killed 1.5 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children.
The worst kind of terrorism are wars of aggression such as those carried out by the US since the end of the 19th century-- in the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere. Bush and company are war criminals. They have aggressed against Iraq, using in the most barbaric and cowardly way their high-tech weapons of mass destruction. They have waged war on that country in violation of the UN Charter and international law. Iraq has neither launched a prior attack nor offered any imminent threat to the US. It has had no weapons of mass destruction and no connections with the known US foe, the Al Qaida.
The US war of aggression against Iraq has certain strategic objectives. The US seeks to control and privatize the oil resources, which are the second largest in the world. It seeks thus to tighten its grip on the OPEC and on the global oil business. It wishes to perpetuate at least 14 US military bases in the Iraq in order to control the entire Middle East under the guise of seeking to democratize the entire region. It seeks to control the flow of oil to Europe and East Asia and use oil as the lever of control over these regions. Thus, it continues to consider the Philippines as a “second front” in the so-called war on terror in a scheme to further control the oil resources of Southeast Asia and gain complete control over oil supply to China, Japan and the rest of East Asia.
By attacking Iraq, the US demonstrates that it is unquestionably the sole superpower and that it is ever ready to use its high tech military weaponry to devastate and invade any country that refuses to follow its baton or that stand in the way of US world domination. Thus, it has made the loudest of threats against Iran, Syria and North Korea. It threatens to target any state that it considers a rogue state or as one harboring terrorists. In a recent military exercise intended to intimidate China, the US deployed some nine aircraft battle groups around Taiwan. It has also announced that it is pulling back US troops from the DMZ in order to pave the way for a cruise missile attack someday on North Korea.
The macro-terrorist US has the temerity to stick the terrorist label on national liberation movements, countries assertive of national independence, anti-imperialist organizations, progressive leaders and even charitable foundations. It preoccupies itself with slandering, suppressing and attacking the anti-imperialist forces and movements of the people of the world.
Because of the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system, the US is increasingly at odds with the other imperialist powers. Crisis conditions are generating a struggle for a redivision of the world among the imperialist powers. This is indicated by growing contradictions and conflicts within in the World Trade Organizations and other forums. But in aggressing against Iraq, the US has demonstrated that it knows no bounds when pursuing its selfish interests. It has shown no respect for contracts between a sovereign state like Iraq and such countries as France, Germany, Russia and China.
There are indications that the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system will drive the US to collide with other imperialist powers directly or indirectly. The imperialist powers will try to maintain their unity against the working people and oppressed nations. But their imperialist self-interest will drive them to compete and struggle for cheap sources of raw materials, fields of investments, markets and spheres of influence.
Following the recent US presidential elections, Bush has declared that he is vindicated and is determined to pursue his doctrine of preemptive war, carry out wars of aggression and whip up repression on a global scale under the pretext of anti-terrorism. But in fact the elections starkly reveal how deeply divided are the American people over Bush’s global “war on terror” as well as his domestic policies. The majority realizes and is indignant over the fact that the US-led “war on terror” is stirring up more enmity at and contempt for the US. Bush’s economic program lays great stress on providing tax cuts and gilded state contracts to the monopoly bourgeoisie, cutting back on social spending in favor of military spending and reducing social and health benefits, all to the detriment of the working class, women and the environment.
The ongoing armed conflicts in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and in Palestine, in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America will intensify and expand. The global depression will continue. The drive of the Bush regime to revive the US economy as the engine of growth for the world capitalist system by stepping up military production will fail and will instead aggravate the lopsidedness and stagnancy of the US economy as well as the conditions of depression, social and political turmoil and armed conflicts in many parts of the world.
The imperialist powers use several forums and arrangements, such the Group of 8, the Group of 20, the UN Security Council, the IMF, World Bank, WTO, NATO, APEC, the US-Japan security treaty, etc., to work out policies, plans and measures at the expense of the working people and the underdeveloped countries. But the economic competition and political rivalry among the imperialist powers are bound to become more intense and conspicuous as the US seeks to expand its political hegemony and economic territory at the expense of the other imperialist powers. The danger of inter-imperialist war will appear at some flashpoints in old and new contested areas.
II. Peoples’ Solidarity and Struggle for Liberation and Democracy
More than ever the proletariat and peoples of the world must unite against US imperialism as the No. 1 exploiter and terrorist in the world and against all imperialism and all reaction. Anti-imperialist solidarity among all peoples should be strengthened and should override differences of ideology, religion, race, ethnic identity and gender. The point is to carry forward the struggle against imperialism and reaction in order to realize national liberation, democracy, social justice, development and world peace. All forms of struggle by the people should be developed.
Armed revolution for national and social liberation is being carried out on a wide scale, in Iraq, Palestine, Turkey, Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Philippines, Colombia and other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is the most important form of struggle because it directly responds to the question of political power. Armed revolutions are possible in countries where the crisis of the ruling system is chronic, oppression and exploitation by imperialism and the local reactionaries are most acute and the physical and social terrain provides the revolutionary forces with ample room for maneuver in guerrilla warfare prior to regular mobile warfare.
At the moment, the focus of the worldwide armed revolutions is in Iraq. The Iraqi people are fighting for national salvation, sovereignty and patrimony against the US imperialists that are hell-bent on massacring the people in order to seize the oil resources of Iraq. The high importance of the armed revolution here is indicated by the fact that the Iraqi people are empowering themselves and inflicting casualties on the US military forces. This is the country where the revolutionaries are killing and wounding American troops in substantial numbers.
The US aggressors intend to remain in Iraq until it can pacify the Iraqi people, get the oil resources of Iraq, control all businesses under the pretext of reconstructing what they continue to destroy and build a puppet bureaucracy and army. The Iraqi people have no choice but to force the withdrawal or defeat of the US aggressors by inflicting casualties on them, blowing up the oil pipelines and facilities and punishing the puppets.
The forces and people in the Iraqi broad united front against US imperialism contribute in a big way to the overall development of the anti-imperialist movement on a global scale. As the US is bogged down for a long while in Iraq, the anti-imperialist struggles of the people can grow in strength and advance in so many other countries by taking advantage of the overextension and actual weakness of US imperialism. The US can also be sucked in by the situation of tangled warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in other parts of Central South Asia.
All mass struggles against imperialism anywhere in the world are important. But we have special appreciation for those in the US and in the other imperialist countries. The stronger are the mass struggles within the belly of the beast, the weaker is the beast in the long run. Mass struggles of the people in other imperialist countries are also highly important to isolate US imperialism among its fellow imperialist powers.
The ILPS has an important role in developing the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles in various countries and global regions. It must adopt and carry out the policy of the broad united front in organizing its chapters in various countries. Whenever it cannot bring certain organizations into a national chapter, such chapter must be ready to coordinate with other forces in the country, whenever necessary and appropriate. After the successful formation of chapters, it becomes easier to form coordinating committees in global regions not only by coordinating ILPS national chapters but also with other forces in the global region.
The ILPS has adopted worldwide the policy of a broad international united front. Not only the people under the direct coordination of the ILPS national chapters and regional coordinating committees are mobilized. Still greater numbers of people must be mobilized through cooperation and coordination with long-standing formations of solidarity among the peoples (including organizations, institutions and alliances) and the more recent alliances and international coordinating committees taking up the just cause of the Iraqi and other peoples for national and social liberation. We should always strive to develop the broadest possible scale of solidarity against imperialism and all reaction.
The ILPS should be well-prepared in consciousness and should be able to take the initiative in practically all major issues because it has study commissions on 18 important concerns and because it also has certain conferential and campaign formations dedicated to the issue of dismantling US overseas military bases and countering the pro-imperialist reformism of the Trotskyite and rightwing social democrat controllers of the imperialist-subsidized World Social Forum and its lower ramifications.
I am glad that the Second International Assembly of ILPS is formulating and issuing the General Declaration on the 18 concerns, to be augmented by more specific resolutions. We thereby raise the level of resoluteness and awareness of issues among all participating organizations and allies of the ILPS. We can achieve a new and higher level of purposeful militancy only by raising the level of our consciousness.
I hope that that our current assembly and further actions will make significant
contributions to the struggle of humankind for a new and better world
of independent, democratic, socially just, progressive and peaceful countries,
without oppression and exploitation by imperialism and its reactionary
puppets. Under these conditions, a new and higher level of social development
for humankind can be realized. ###