“Christian Rakovsky” Center Assembly, January 14, 2023
2023: where is the world going?
1. 2022 was the Year of the most dramatic inflection point of world history- a Zeitenwende, a turn of the course of historical time as famously the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called the eruption of the NATO proxy war with Russia in Ukraine on February 24, last year. Throughout 2022 the entire geopolitical, political, social, economic, configuration of the world has changed and continues to change, moving into uncharted territory and bringing humanity at the brink of the abyss of a Third World War.
2023 begins in “the Dawning of the Age of Zeitenwende”, as the US Bloomberg analysts named it (Andreas Kluth, What to expect in 2023, December 23, 2022), a new tumultuous era of multiple confrontations worldwide. Where the world is going in this new era of escalating crisis, social upheaval and struggle, of war and revolutions?
2. The new era is variously described in public discourse as “the end of the 30 years Post Cold War era and a Cold War II”, or “the end of the 40 years of non stop globalization”, as global value-supply chains were disrupted first by the global pandemic shock and slump and then by the war in Ukraine and the US/EU/ NATO sanctions against Russia. Even it was announced as “the dawn of a post-global, post-neoliberal world”, as calls for “home shoring” or “friend-shoring” are raised in the West in a fragmenting world economy where, for the first time after decades, the nightmare of rising inflation combined with recession comes back both in Global North and Global South.
This new world situation cannot be truly grasped and analyzed overcoming the generally dominating disorientation, initiated by the 1991 collapse of the USSR on-wards, without a qualitative leap in creative, non schematic, dialectical Marxism and a revolutionary re-orientation in theory and action on international scale.
The war in Ukraine is the acid test that the majority of the international Left has failed, as it had done in 1914, under the enormous pressure of gigantic class forces. Its specific international character cannot be really grasped if it is seen as a “classical” clash of rival Great Powers, isolated by the changing world situation and the entire historical-world process that led to war and drives it forward.
The current war cannot be objectively seen as a tree separated from the forest but as the wild fire at the center of the world forest!
3. The collapse of the Soviet Union was neither the “end of history” nor even an end, an already accomplished fact. It was the beginning of a process. Integration of the former Soviet space, especially of its Russian Eurasian heartland, to global capitalism could never be a return of the clock of history backwards, to the pre-1917 Russian capitalism, without or with a Czar. In the conditions of late globalized capitalism in historic decline, integration to it produces a double impasse: global capitalism becomes unable to mediate its own globalized contradictions; from the other side, capitalist restoration in Russia is tied to and trapped in crisis developments in world capitalism, clashing with its current dead end . Full integration to a world capitalist economy in historic crisis demands the fragmentation, colonization and imposition of puppet regimes controlled by Western capitalism throughout the former Soviet space and its heartland Soviet Russia.
The 1991 disaster for the Soviet peoples and humanity had to be completed in the interest of the most powerful metropolitan countries of global capitalism, above all of the world hegemonic power, the United States.. This drive for world hegemony in the “post -Cold War” era was expressed clearly in US strategy by the so-called “Brzezinski Doctrine”. In practice, it was manifest in a non stop military campaign by devastating wars, from former Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Iraq and a non stop NATO expansion eastward to the borders of Russia. It was accompanied by so called “color (counter) revolutions” exploiting the distress in the population suffering under local oligarchic restorationist regimes.
The imperialist war drive intensified more and more as the pressure by the contradictions of capitalist globalization exacerbated leading to a spiraling world crisis.
4. The “mother of all crises” at the first decades of the 21st century is definitely the 2008 world financial Crash, the implosion of the post-1980 finance capital globalization. It was followed by a Long Depression, then the global pandemic shock and slump and finally the 2022 imperialist war leading to new unexpected explosions, at the near future, with an exacerbation of the unfinished global economic and political crisis.
As we have stressed before, in another occasion (see USSR: After the 1991 disaster is a Soviet Renaissance possible and/or necessary?, redmed.org December 29, 2022), the driving forces of imperialist war are embedded in the protracted historical decline not only of a national capitalist power, the US, but of the global capitalist system.Imperialist America, the world hegemonic power, represents the highest historical development of that system which now is confronted with the impasse of an insoluble crisis. Consequently, under the present conditions, Russia and China represent an existential threat for the system, particularly for American, British and European imperialism. For this reason, US led Western imperialism tries desperately to break the impasse by military means and war to re-establish its world hegemony in decline by controlling again the “Eurasian mass”, the key for world dominance. by crashing its strategic obstacles, first post-Soviet Russia in Europe and then the People’s Republic of China in Asia, its greatest competitor in world economy. All this is formulated very clearly and bluntly both in the New Strategic Concept ratified in the last NATO Summit in Madrid as well as in the new US National Security Strategy published by the Pentagon and the White House in October 2022.
The US/.NATO proxy war in Ukraine, the Taiwan provocations and encirclement of China by the imperialist military alliances of AUKUS and Quad in the Indo-Pacific are manifestations of this inexorable imperialist course to world war threatening humanity with a nuclear Armageddon.
5. This frenzied war course to catastrophe immensely exacerbates the crisis generating it. Even before the war in Ukraine, in the aftermath of the pandemic slump, in 2021, the specter of rising inflation emerged again after decades, as well as the renewed slide to depression. The military conflagration escalated all these tendencies. It ignited a disastrous energy and food prices crisis giving a particularly harsh blow to Europe and spreading starvation in the Global South. The US/EU sanctions against Russia back fired; the Russian economy thanks to emergency State measures was able to resist the blow while the sanctions became a boomerang hitting back the advanced capitalist West, mainly Europe, as well as the impoverished Global South.
The Central Banks in the advanced capitalist countries, led by the US Federal Reserve, try to confront the revived menace of hyperinflation by raising interest rates, after decades of very low or even negative interest rates., tightening credit and liquidity. This turn to interest rates hikes and “quantitative tightening” replacing the “quantitative easing” of the post 2008 crisis period, is ineffective to solve the structural causes of the inflationary pressures embedded in the long falling tendency of the rate of profit and of slowing rate of productivity of labor; but it is very efficient, by squeezing credit and liquidity, to plunge the world economy in deeper depression, to exacerbate the sovereign and corporate debt crisis, especially in Europe with over-indebted countries like Italy and Greece, and in the Global South where Sri Lanka, Ghana, and Zambia already have defaulted and another 67 countries in Africa and Latin America are at the brink of bankruptcy and under the draconian orders of the IMF.
It becomes more and more clear that capitalism has no strategy at all to face the worst crisis of its history. The two main economic strategies developed by bourgeois economics in the 20th century to avoid disasters such as the 1929 Crash and the Great Depression of the 1930s, namely Keynesianism and neoliberalism, have failed, the first in 1971 with the collapse of the Keynesian Bretton Woods settlement, and the second with the 2008 global financial Crash.
This fact is openly acknowledged by the most authoritative voices. Esther Duflo, a Nobel prize of economics stressed in 2017 that economists should give up on the big ideas and instead just solve problems like plumbers(!) “lay the pipes and fix the leaks”. The current IMF deputy managing director Gita Gobinath admitted recently in 2022 that mainstream economic theory “does not work in the real world”.
With empirical short term tactics, in other words, moving step by step in darkness is nothing more than blindly attempting to face uncontrolled forces. The result is spreading chaos.
6. Already in 2022, the Zeitenwende spread chaos producing social polarization, economic upheaval, geopolitical and political destabilization, crisis in all power structures and relations of domination.
Escalation of the class struggle and social revolts takes place both in the advanced capitalist Global North and in the developing Global South.
In United States there is a combative surge of renewed unionization, for the first time after decades, as the examples in Amazon and Starbuck show. The US Administration had to forbid the rail workers strike by martial law.
The “world hegemon” while it is waging a proxy war threatening the entire planet, at home is politically and socially destabilized. US society and politics are split in all directions producing an open crisis of governance. The fascist assault of a Trumpist crowd on US Capitol in January 2021 had already demonstrated it but as well, more recently, in January 2023, the farcical but very dangerous rebellion of alt-right Republicans preventing the vote of Kevin McCarthy, as the new Republican speaker in the House of Representatives. They imposed their blackmail conditions threatening to use recurrently obstacles to the governing the country (starting probably by refusing the vote needed from now on until June 2023 to rise the debt ceiling for servicing the US $ 31.4 trillion dollars sovereign debt).
In Europe, a worst crisis picture exists.
In post-Brexit Britain, where already, in 2022, two Tory governments, those of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, have fallen with a chaotic impact on the British and world financial markets, the new Sunak Tory government is confronted with a tsunami of strikes in railways, the national health system, civil servant, firemen etc, never seen from 1972.
In the European Union, the crisis of living costs because of inflation and the rise of unemployment because of the recession is sharpening the class struggle.
In France, the battle of the workers unions against the pension counter-reform of a weakened Macron government starts.
Germany, the industrial heart of the EU, for the first time after decades plunges in recession, because of the energy crisis, paying, a big price for the US led proxy war in Europe Its export economy is under growing US pressure to pay for the American clash with China.
In Southern Europe, Italy, the weakest link in the EU economy, has in 2022. for the first time in Europe from 1922, a government led by a fascist party that continues the legacy of Mussolini(and supports in Ukraine its Nazi Azov Brigade co-thinkers).
In Greece, in a crucial electoral year in 2023, there is a growing popular anger and constant mobilizations against the scandals ridden, far right Mitsotakis government.
While tensions and warmongering between Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, are rising, in the fragmented Balkans the on-going war in Ukraine spreads the danger of new disasters with the NATO-EU fomented conflicts between Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia in Western Balkans to the use of their willing allies of imperialism in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania as the main US base and road for the transfer of US/NATO arms for the war in Ukraine.
We have to keep in mind also that NATO considers Africa as its “south wing” (NATO secretary Jens Stoltenberg dixit). Its war machine is involved in war operations in sub-Saharan and Northern Africa as well as in repelling desperate immigrant flows towards “Fortress Europe” – a target officially included in its 2022 New Strategic Concept. Under the cover of the “struggle against Islamic terrorism” as well as against “Russian and Chinese penetration”, imperialism’s colonial brigands are looting the most rich but starving “Black Continent”, destroyed both by famine and war.
Latin America is again in a turbulent cycle both of revolutionary rebellions of the impoverished masses suffering from hyperinflation, unemployment, and the IMF imposed starvation programs as well as of reactionary coups of far right forces of the ruling bourgeois elites, supported by imperialism, as recently it happens in Peru and Brazil.
Similar is the fate of the poor oppressed masses in the Middle East and Asia, pushed into revolt by the crushing debt burdens, the IMF-World Bank “adjustment” programs, and imperialist military interventions for regime change and domination.
7. Undoubtedly, the international causes and dynamics of the US led imperialist war campaign against Russia and China over-determines, in an uneven and combined way, the situation and the class struggle in every region and country in the world. The impact is seen everyday in different forms Everyday too, the slide to further escalation becomes obvious as well the horrible threat to finally lead to a global extinction of life on Earth
Nearly one year after the beginning of the war in Ukraine its end appears beyond sight. The main culprits in the imperialist West continue in the war path, although more disasters and problems in this dead end accumulate and with them the divisions. Divisions both between Europe and America as well in America itself, within the ruling class and its strategists.
On December 17, 2022, Henry Kissinger came again with a dramatic warning for the threat of a Third World War. Far from being a… “peacenik”, Kissinger is the notorious criminal responsible for many imperialist horrors in the 20th century, from his role in the Vietnam war to that of the coups and dictatorships in Chile and Greece. At same time he was the leading advocate of the split between China and the USSR including the 1972 visit of Nixon to Beijing, as the strategic key for US hegemonic control over Eurasia and the world. But as the main proponent of the so-called “realist school” of strategy, after the 2014 Maidan, and especially now, with his political interventions in 2022, he did not stop to warn that the US/NATO war politics against Russia brings fatal dangers, first to American supremacy itself by bringing China and Russia together, and then for a Third World War where no victors can survive.
Immediately after Kissinger’s December 17, 2022 article calling for a cease fire and negotiations, the hostile rejection of such proposal came on January 7, 2023 with an article co-authored by Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of State Department from 2005 to 2009, and Robert Gates, former secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. The article aggressively starts by quoting verbatim Zbignew Brzezinski that “there can be no Russian Empire without Ukraine”, thus advocating not solely the continuation of the war but also Brzezinski’s bellicose strategy for the fragmentation not only of the USSR but of the post-Soviet Russia too.
It becomes more and more clear, as we have stressed previously (in our article of December 2022 on the possibility or necessity of a Soviet Renaissance), that the dilemma posed by the war could be formulated as follows: completion of the 1991 disaster of the USSR dissolution or a reversal of it? That is the question.
Completion of the disaster means continuation and escalation of the war up to universal annihilation. Overcoming this threatening catastrophe cannot be achieved by bureaucratic- military means of a regime seeking a compromise with imperialism and integration into global capitalism. A reversal of the 1991 disaster appears as a nostalgic abstract utopia
As we have insisted such a radical reversal cannot be “a mechanical replica of the past”, that led to the collapse from within, by the ruling nomenklatura bureaucracy.. It needs to be a process of “superseding it, without historical amnesia, preserving the richness of its experience and creatively moving in the present to the future. There is no Soviet Union without Soviet power and there is no real Soviet power without real Soviets performing freely their international and national tasks. Soviets are the necessary vehicle of the transition beyond capital and, as the Hungarian Marxist Istvan Mészáros stressed beyond the Leviathan-State, to the realm of freedom”
In other words, such a gigantic but urgently needed reversal to actualize the existing potentialities, needs the revolutionary efforts and struggle of the international working class and of the oppressed of the world for the renewal of the blocked transition beyond capitalism, to Socialism on an international and world scale.
This international struggle, driven by the world capitalist crisis itself, cannot be done by an international Left tail ending NATO imperialism in its war campaign, as unfortunately a majority of it today does in the advanced capitalist countries, following the steps of the Second International in 1914. No struggle for Socialism is possible today without fighting against the NATO proxy war in Ukraine by mobilizing proletarian and popular forces internationally on the basis of genuine revolutionary internationalism. Now more than ever before we need a new Zimmerwald Conference against the war and a new revolutionary International.
The International Socialist Center “Christian Rakovsky” fights for this internationalist line, clearly expressed in its successful Anti-War Anti-imperialist International Conference of June 25-26, 2022, attended by representatives of 5 Continents and 25 countries. We do not change our course. As our Assembly takes place on January 14, 2023, on the eve of the anniversary of the assassination of the great revolutionary Marxists and anti-war internationalists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on January 15, 1919, we want proudly repeat the immortal words of the “New Year’s Greeting to England” sent from Berlin, in December 1914, by Liebknecht
Workers of the World unite! Unite in a war against war!
January 14, 2023