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Global Trends, Challenges and Opportunities After 9-11
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle

Contribution to the International Solidarity Conference
on the Struggle of the People of Nepal for Democracy and Human Rights
Kathmandu, Nepal
September 22, 2006

On behalf of the International League of Peoples' Struggle which is co-sponsoring this conference, I wish to express warmest greetings of solidarity to all delegations from Nepal and other countries and congratulate the Nepali colleagues for organizing and hosting this conference and all related activities.

I am deeply pleased to be asked to speak on the subject of global trends, challenges and opportunities after 9/11. I shall make a general presentation of these, with the hope that you can relate these further to the struggle of the people of Nepal for national liberation and democracy.

I propose to give a brief background and discuss major socio-economic and political contradictions within the US and those in the relations of the US with other imperialist powers, with countries and governments that invoke national independence or express anti-imperialist positions and with the proletariat and peoples of the world.

I shall restate the three fundamental contradictions in the epochal struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and then point to the four major contradictions that I observe in the current world situation and arrange them according to their current order of strategic importance.

Brief Background

The US has enjoyed the position of sole superpower since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War. It is the No. 1 imperialist power in economic and military terms. It still dictates the policies governing the world capitalist system through the Group of 8, OECD, the IMF, World Bank, WTO, NATO, the UN Security Council and numerous bilateral and regional treaties and agreements with other countries.

But while the US has apparently become the strongest imperialist power, it has become fundamentally weaker and more vulnerable in a number of definable aspects. It has undermined its own economic, commercial and financial position by expending huge amounts of resources for the military aspect of its anti-communist crusade and promoting since the late 1940s the reconstruction and growth of the German and Japanese economies and the industrial development of some economies like South Korea and Taiwan since the 1970s.

By providing financial and trade accommodations to the manufactures of the aforesaid countries, the US has been able to maintain and head an all-round imperialist alliance. It has reaped huge benefits from the alliance but in certain important respects it has also paid a heavy price for containing socialist countries, encouraging revisionism to subvert these and coopting the newly-independent countries through neocolonialism. It has stunted its production of many types of exportable goods by providing economic and trade accommodations to its allies. It has long assumed the main burden of spending public resources heavily on military production, deployment of US military forces abroad and wars of aggression.

In countering stagflation in the 1970s, the US has blamed so-called wage inflation and social spending by government as the cause of the problem. It has obscured the stagflationary effect of big government spending for military purposes and that of the ever-increasing cost of import-dependent consumerism. Since the end of the 1970s, it has shifted its policy stress from Keynesianism to monetarism and neoliberalism. It has sought to keep up the rate of economic growth through sheer manipulation of interest rates and money flows.

The Reagan regime is known for its policy of providing the giant corporations with tax cuts and other favors, its highspeed high tech military production and a high level of consumerism financed by foreign debt. Reaganism eventually made the US the biggest debtor in the world and placed the succeeding regime of the elder Bush in a difficult economic situation that would require the raising of taxes. Basically, the problem of stagflation has remained unsolved and has been covered up by heavy local and foreign borrowing and financial manipulation.

The Clinton regime is known for building a "new economy", supposedly characterized by inflation-free growth due to the US lead in high technology and due to the pressing down of the wage level, loss of regular jobs, erosion of workers' rights and reduction of social spending. Since 2000, the high tech bubble in the US has burst and a protracted financial meltdown has been going on, exposing the overproduction of high-tech goods in the US and the huge trade deficits due to the heavy importation of other types of goods priorly in overproduction in other countries (basic industrial goods, raw materials and low value-added consumer goods).

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has become more rapacious and aggressive. Under the policy of "free market of globalization", it has accelerated the flow of foreign funds to the US, it has reaped superprofits on certain exports and investments and has imported cheap the products of other countries. Manifesting the brutal character of imperialism, it has waged wars of aggression against Iraq (twice) Yugoslavia and Afghanistan and engaged in military intervention elsewhere in order to tighten its grip on sources of oil and other natural resources, on markets and fields of investment. It has taken advantage of the weaknesses of the former Soviet bloc countries before Russia can offer any significant kind of economic competition to further cramp the world for imperialist profit-taking.

Contradictions within the US

For a while, Bush has been benefited greatly by 9/11. This has given him the chance to stir up war hysteria in order to capture bipartisan support for his role as wartime commander-in-chief and thus to consolidate his political position against charges of cheating in the elections of 2000 and 2004. Relatedly, he has used the war hysteria and the fear of terrorism to justify bigger government spending for military production and for wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and to push state terrorism both within the US and on a global scale.

He has the Reaganite notion of reviving the US economy through heavy government spending for military purposes. He has thus combined military Keynesianism with "free market" globalization. Moreover, he is consciously carrying the "neoconservative" scheme of using a full spectrum of weapons to make the 21st a century of Pax Americana by undertaking preemptive actions against current adversaries and potential challengers to US hegemony and consequently spreading "democracy" and the "free market".

It has seemed for a while that military Keynesianism could revive the US economy. But contracts with the military industrial complex for military production in the US and for other war requirements in the field employ only a few people and provide a limited amount of income for US workers and consumers. So, the US economic planners have encouraged the "housing bubble". The rapid appreciation in value of private homes has allowed many people to use these as collateral for further borrowing for the purpose of consumption.

US imperialism has expected to benefit greatly from its invasion and occupation of Iraq by taking over its oil wealth and all kinds of enterprises. But the problem of the US is the resistance of the people of Iraq. The resistance keeps on blowing up the oil facilities and pipelines and cutting down oil production to a low level. The US budgetary deficit has been ballooning because of the war. And the American people observe that the US easily spends USD 250 billion for the war but appropriates only USD 3 billion for the victims of the Katrina disaster and even releases this in driblets.

The "housing bubble" has begun to burst. This is expected to further harm the US economy in a big way. Those who have been encouraged to engage in high consumption will pay dearly. This is the second huge financial disaster for American families in less than a decade. The preceding disaster was the bursting of the "high-tech bubble" and the widescale loss of pension funds in stock market speculation. The extremely high levels of federal, state and household debts can have far-reaching adverse consequences to the US and global economy. Any sharp drop in US consumption can put China and other countries dependent on exports to the US in an economic tailspin.

The American people in their millions have opposed the US war of aggression against Iraq before it even started. Their opposition is fast growing and is fast isolating the Bush regime. The American people denounce Bush for spouting lies to push the war. They cannot accept the heavy casualties suffered by both the American troops and Iraqi people as well as the huge amounts of resources expended. An increasing number of the American people are offended by the Bush misuse of 9/11 for further misdirecting US economy and politics, for pushing repressive laws and human rights violations and for promoting aggressive wars and fascism.

The US has overreached and overextended itself in the world in the vain hope of expanding the scope of its political hegemony and economic territory. The conditions of socio-economic and political crisis in the US are worsening and are pushing the American working class and the rest of the people to rise in resistance. They have risen up in great number against imperialist war. The millions of migrant workers have also risen up against the criminalization and harsh conditions that they suffer.

There is a high potential for the broad masses of American workers and people to rise up against exploitation and oppression, especially the loss of job tenure, the decrease of jobs, including part-time jobs, the inadequacy of incomes, the lack of pension, health insurance and other social benefits and the continuing erosion of workers' rights. The US monopoly bourgeoisie and its state are increasingly hard put in devicing new ways for deceiving and appeasing the public.

Contradictions between the US and Other Countries

Following the pattern set during the Cold War, the imperialist powers of the West and Japan have by and large continued to find common interest under the chieftainship of the US against the proletariat and people of the world and against countries that take the line of national independence and anti-imperialism.

In the wake of 9/11 the imperialist powers easily united behind the US to wage a war of aggression against Afghanistan, because the Taliban government was held responsible for coddling al Qaeda. But France, Germany and Russia together with China objected to the war of aggression instigated by the US and United Kingdom against Iraq in 2003. There were clear contradictions between the US and UK on one side and the other imperialist powers on the other, based on differing interests in Iraq. But the US and UK had their way and ultimately the other imperialist powers compromised with them within the framework of the UN Security Council.

There are contradictions among the imperialist powers with regards to economic, trade, financial, political and security issues. But the imperialist powers can still make compromises among themselves so long as these can be made at the expense of the proletariat and people of the world and the semi-colonies and dependent countries. The various frameworks for imperialist compromise and agreement are still intact and operative. If for a time no agreement can be arrived at, the imperialist powers simply postpone the resolution of the problem, let the status quo remain and work around the problem.

But the crisis of the world capitalist system and the crisis in each imperialist country is worsening. The economic and financial crisis is relentlessly driving the imperialist powers to redivide the world and expand their respective sources of materials and cheap labor, markets, fields of investments and spheres of influence. What appear to be constant amicable relations among the imperialist powers can eventually break after a period of imperceptible changes in the balance of strength among the imperialist powers. If they become strong capitalist countries, Russia and China would cramp the world capitalist system and upset its balance. If they become countries of turmoil, they can generate big problems.

The US has overextended itself in outsourcing the production of goods, in over-borrowing from certain countries like Japan and China and in "staying the course" in the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the process, it has aggravated its weaknesses and vulnerabilities in so many ways. Its own imperialist allies can become relatively stronger than before and can move into areas where US attention and strength have thinned out. As a result of its preoccupation with Iraq, the US capability to deal with other regions of the world has lessened.

The European Union has a growing economic interest that is at odds with that of the US in the entire of Europe, Africa and elsewhere in the world. Russia and China have made border agreements with certain Central Asian countries to counter US incursions. China is steadily spreading its interest and influence, mainly in the whole of East Asia, even as Japan banks on its partnership with the US and maintains a prominent imperialist role in the region. North Korea asserts its national independence and continues to defy and oppose US imperialism.

In Latin America, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia have anti-US governments and mass movements and are encouraging other countries to follow suit. Even in the Middle East, the US is far from being able to stop the initiatives of Syria and Iran in cooperation with Russia and China. It has penetrated South Asia in a big way but it has difficulties in gaining complete control over the region.

The imperialist powers can still dictate on most countries. They have been successful in undertaking neocolonialism. But there are countries and governments which are driven by bourgeois nationalist motivations or socialist aspirations and assert national independence in order to fend off the unacceptable impositions and threats of the US and other imperialist powers. We have seen how Iraq of Saddam, Yugoslavia of Milosevich and Afghanistan of the Taleban have come into cross purposes with the US and be at the receiving end of US aggression. We have seen the governments of China, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Syria invoke and assert national independence against the worst dictates of the US. But the US has so far refrained from attacking any of these countries for various reasons.

The sharpest and most dramatic contradictions resulting in war have arisen between the imperialist powers and certain countries whose governments refuse to accept imperialist dictates. It is also in this kind of contradiction, as in the run up to the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq, where significant contradictions among the imperialist powers have surfaced. That is because imperialist powers have their own drive to compete for advantages offered by non-imperialist countries. The Saddam government attempted to counter the US-UK combine with concessions to the other imperialist powers.

Under pressure of the crisis of the world capitalist system, imperialist countries can engage in proxy wars among their client states or back different conflicting parties within a client state. Another major potential cause for hostility among imperialist powers would be the rise to power of fascist forces within any or some of them. The severe socio-economic and political crisis of imperialism and the currency of the so-called global war on terror have laid the ground for fascism and inter-imperialist wars. In fact, the making of so-called anti-terrorist laws in the wake of 9/11 has intensified repression and spawned state terrorism within the US and on a global scale.

The Resistance of the Proletariat and the People

Throughout the world, the broad masses of the people have engaged on varying scales in protest mass actions and strikes to resist imperialist plunder and aggression. The largest mass mobilizations on an international scale have involved tens of millions of people in hundreds of cities against the US war of aggression in Iraq. In various countries at different times, millions of people have risen up against the exploitative and oppressive policies and practices of their rulers.

In the US, Western Europe and elsewhere, strikes and protest marches have broken out against attacks on the rights of working people, deteriorating working conditions, racial and minority discrimination, the criminalization of migrant workers and discrimination against the youth in employment. In the former Soviet bloc countries, struggles between the exploiting and exploited classes and between the dominant nationality and the minorities are intensifying. In China, the workers, peasants and the lower petty bourgeoisie are frequently rising in large numbers against the ruling bourgeoisie and their accomplices in private business.

In the imperialist countries, certain factors check the continuous vigorous development of anti-imperialist mass movements. The monopoly bourgeoisie erodes the rights and social benefits of the workers and people but in a gradual or surreptitious way so as not to provoke revolt. The major bourgeois parties, mass media, trade union bureaucracy and schools cloak big bourgeois interests with petty bourgeois rhetoric. There are yet no Marxist-Leninist parties and revolutionary mass movements that are large and strong enough to challenge the monopoly bourgeoisie and its agents.

It will take sometime before the internal crisis of monopoly capitalism and the anti-imperialist resistance of the people in the non-imperialist countries can accelerate the sharpening of the class struggle between the proletariat and the monopoly bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries. In Russia and other former Soviet bloc countries, the proletariat and people should be more inclined - to wage armed revolution against the new bourgeoisie that privatized the social assets that they have created for decades. But the revisionists masquerading as communists did their work for decades to undermine and destroy socialism from within. That is also the case in China. However, imperialist plunder and aggression are generating the people's growing armed resistance to imperialism in a number of countries.

The peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon and other countries have waged armed resistance against US imperialism and its lackeys. The war of national liberation in Iraq is of great significance and has far reaching consequences in weakening US imperialism. The people's resistance in Afghanistan is growing and is delivering lethal blows to the US and NATO forces. The people of Palestine and Lebanon and other Arab peoples have successfully combated the US-directed and US-supplied Israeli Zionists.

There are many armed conflicts of different types in Asia, Africa and Latin America. There are those between the imperialists or the reactionary state on the one hand and the revolutionary movements for national liberation and democracy on the other hand, as in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Turkey, Peru, Colombia and the Philippines. There are those between the reactionary state and the oppressed minorities fighting for self-determination.

There are also those between reactionary forces who struggle for power by following different imperialist masters and taking advantage of communal, ethnic, religious and racial differences. These armed conflicts have arisen in the wake of economic and social ruin due to depressed prices of raw-material exports and unbearable debt burdens, especially in Africa.

The Marxist-Leninist and Maoist parties that are waging the new democratic revolution through protracted people's war play a signal role in bringing about the world proletarian revolution. They hold high the torch of armed revolution. They illumine the road of revolution for the peoples in the underdeveloped countries, in the retrogressive countries of former socialist countries and in the imperialist countries. They encourage the formation of Maoist parties where these do not yet exist.

Current Major Contradictions in the World

In the epochal struggle of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the fundamental contradictions to reckon with are those between labor and capital, among the imperialist countries and between the imperialists and the oppressed peoples and nations. From time to time, the arrangement of these contradictions changes according to concrete conditions.

At this time, these fundamental contradictions may be seen as four major contradictions and may be arranged according to current world reality. These are contradictions between the imperialist powers and the oppressed peoples and nations, between the imperialist powers and countries upholding national independence, among the imperialist powers and between the proletariat and the monopoly bourgeoisie in imperialist countries.

The contradiction between the imperialist powers and the oppressed peoples and nations ranks first because within it armed revolutionary movements have arisen, even if still few, and the central question of revolution is being answered through the serious endeavor to seize state power. Every day that these armed revolutions for national liberation and democracy exist and develop, they demonstrate that the US and other imperialist powers do not have enough power to suppress them and pacify the entire world. They encourage the people to wage armed revolution. There is high potential for more armed revolutions to arise in Asia, Africa and Latin America because the peoples and nations in these parts of the world are the most oppressed and exploited.

The contradiction between the imperialist powers and countries invoking upholding national independence has in fact resulted in wars that are even more dramatic for a certain time than the revolutionary wars of oppressed peoples and nations. Any government, whether motivated by bourgeois nationalism or socialism, invokes national independence against imperialism to assert its legitimacy and compliance with the sovereign will of the people. We have seen the blitzkriegs launched by the US and its allies against Iraq and Afghanistan. The governments of Saddam and the Taleban have fallen. But the people continue to wage a war of liberation against the occupation and has pushed the US into a quagmire.

Individually, China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Syria invoke national independence and take a stand against the dictates of US imperialism on certain outstanding issues, like Taiwan, nuclear research and development, economic sanctions and Israeli Zionism, to cite a few,. Politically, economically, financially and militarily, there are limits to US imposing itself on any or all of the aforementioned countries. It is already in serious trouble even only in Iraq. Together with its NATO allies, it is increasingly faced with armed resistance in Afghanistan,

The contradiction among the imperialist powers has long been cushioned since the end of World War II by their anti-communist alliance against the socialist countries, the national liberation movements and the proletariat and people. But it can easily take the No. 1 position when it results in war among the imperialist themselves, as in World War I and World War II. Such a war is always of high significance because it is the most devastating to the people, it is self-destructive to world capitalism in general and gives the people the opportunity to turn the war into a revolutionary civil war for national liberation and socialism. No direct inter-imperialist war has arisen since the end of World War II because the imperialist powers have developed various frameworks for settling their differences at the expense of the proletariat and people.

The contradiction between the proletariat and the monopoly bourgeoisie can be looked at first within the imperialist countries. It can develop rapidly only after the other contradictions develop first. The revolutionary potential of the proletariat can arise from the internal economic and political crisis of imperialist countries. But before the monopoly bourgeoisie resorts to the use of fascism, it uses its superprofits from the rest of the world to counter and delay the rise of a revolutionary movement of the proletariat with the use of reforms and concessions.

We can reckon with the contradiction of the proletariat and the monopoly bourgeoisie on a global scale. The proletariat has a global presence. Outside of the imperialist countries, there are varying degrees of modern industrial development. On the basis of this, the trade union movement and revolutionary party of the proletariat can arise. As the most advanced political and productive force, the proletariat can amplify its strength by uniting with and leading the peasant masses in the people's democratic revolution in countries like the Philippines and Nepal.

The people's democratic revolutions through people's war on the basis of the worker-peasant alliance and under the leadership of the revolutionary party of the proletariat are very crucial today in keeping alive the hope of the broad masses of the people to defeat imperialism and its lackeys, free themselves from oppression and exploitation and enjoy a life of freedom, democracy, justice, plenty and progress in socialism. ###

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