This statement from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) offers an overview on key economic and political conditions and tasks.
The economic and political crisis of monopoly capital
World- wide, monopoly capitalism is in a major crisis. Internationally, there’s a strong general trend towards a major crisis that is increasingly unavoidable. The economic and political crisis is uneven and characterised by each country’s own specific and distinct historical and national class features. And even within each national circumstance there are uneven and contradictory developments.
This report mainly, and very briefly, attempts to outline the general trends globally, with more attention to Australia’s specific characteristics.
Globally, there is excess production (overproduction) and unprecedented high levels of unproductive finance capital sloshing around the world desperately searching for profit-yielding investments. As markets are over-flowing with excess supplies, and production of commodities winds down globally, the arms manufacturing monopolies are expanding as the most lucrative source of profit for industrially-invested capital.
Capital shifted into the services industries, health, education, hospitality, public services is unproductive from the viewpoint of private capital accumulation. Sourced mainly from federal and state governments, it is resented by the big monopoly capitalists who, despite paying no or little tax, are reluctant to part with even a cent for the sake of services to the people. Privatisation of previously capitalist state-owned and run public services has reached unparalleled levels.
The monopolisation of production and finance capital is reaching its peak and little is left of bourgeois state-owned assets in most parts of the capitalist world. Finance capital is stumbling under its own weight of enormous debt.
Any legal obstructions to maximising and seizing new sources of investment and profit, including sovereign rights, are either weakened or removed altogether to enable capital to capture more markets and intensify the exploitation of labour and the environment (imperialist “free” trade pacts – TPP, TTIP, TISA, are created as a solution).
Capitalism has well and truly reached its use-by date. It has reached a point of not only holding back the development of productive forces but is now destroying the same immense productive forces it created.
Capitalism is now an obstacle to the advancement and progress of technological, scientific and human development on a number of fronts, including climate change, medical and educational progress. Capitalism is obstructing technology and science from serving the people and protecting the environment. The present anarchy and chaos of the capitalist mode of production and the bourgeois class relations of production are intensifying the contradictions between capital and labour. Imperialist expansion is finite and is now accelerating the crisis.
The economic and political crisis of monopoly capital is intensifying the competition amongst industrial-finance capital and different groups of imperialist blocs.
Inevitably, people’s resistance to capitalist crises will also grow and develop, and the capitalist state will resort to more open force to suppress the people’s struggle.
Preparations for major wars between old and emerging imperialist powers are building up
US imperialism is presently the most powerful and aggressive super-power militarily, and the main instigator and aggressor of military conflicts, imperialist wars, destabilisation of sovereign governments, coups, and assassinations of millions of people through wars; destroying anything or anyone standing in its way, or challenging its economic and military world hegemony. Militarily it has proven incapable of effecting regime change in Syria despite the huge numbers of dead it has left in its wake. Its economic power is weakening under its own debt crisis and excess capacity. Politically, it’s taking on more features of a fascist state.
US imperialism targets its main competitors Russia and China, whose present economic growth and development is founded on their former socialist economic base.
The Middle East is in a state of perpetual imperialist inflicted wars. US and European imperialism gave birth to ISIS and continue to cultivate it, or back the supposedly ‘sanitised’ Al Queda off-shoot Al Nusra Front. These monsters are created by US imperialism and Israel, which is its economic and military outpost in the Middle East.
Russia and China are US and EU next targets, with Ukraine and the South China Sea used as a launching pad for US imperialist provocations.
As international monopoly capitalism (imperialism) plunges into a deeper economic crisis so are the political institutions of bourgeois democracy – the superstructure.
In times of capitalist economic crisis, there’s less room for monopoly capitalism and imperialism to manoeuvre under its political system of bourgeois democracy. There’s less economic capacity for reforms that benefit the people. The only growth comes from moving more assets away from the people to capital. There are fewer markets to capture and re-divide, ballooning unproductive capital and debt, overproduction, the falling rate of profit and growing resistance by the working people to escalating attacks on living standards, workers’ rights, collective organisations, wages, conditions, jobs, the environment and sovereignty. Social democracy is much harder to maintain even though it is the most effective method for the bourgeoisie to control the working class.
The economic crisis of capitalism is creating a political crisis of social democracy with its bourgeois parliamentarism and governments.
Bourgeois social democracy gives rise to ideas that “greed” and the “excesses” of the capitalist system can be removed, modified or reformed ; that capitalism has the capacity to treat all classes fairly and equally; that capitalism can reconcile class contradictions and antagonism; that “class war is over”, as one militant unionist was overheard saying. All that’s required, claims the “ideology” of social democracy, is to get rid of rotten apples in political parties or change governments. During times of economic boom that illusion is reinforced with capital having a limited economic capacity to make some concessions to workers’ demands and struggles, without the status quo being challenged, and with an added bonus of reinforcing faith in the system and the people’s continuing consent. Change through parliament as the only means through which people’s needs and demands can be achieved strengthens the illusion and diffuses people’s struggle. We’ve seen this time after time.
This is not to undervalue or denigrate in any way the important mass struggles of the working class and the people for reforms.
Parliamentary democracy is the most important and effective form of governance by bourgeois social democracy in its effectiveness to control the people.
The strong and wide support for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the US, Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit in England, and in Australia the support for smaller parties and independents who appear to reflect more closely the concerns of the people, are expressions of mass opposition to monopoly capital’s austerity and attacks on people’s livelihoods. It is the deepening disillusionment and rejection of imperialism’s main political parties.
It is also an indicator of the continuing faith in social and parliamentary democracy which is embedded in the minds of large sections of the people (but at its weakest in the working class). However, there is a growing movement away from bourgeois democracy as seen in the upheavals in France, other parts of Europe and in the US.
No doubt the absence of a unified, revolutionary working class leadership and movement leaves workers and others nowhere to go beyond parliamentary politics.
The people do feel the system is failing them and it’s expressed through the rejection of main parliamentary parties and main politicians. The overall trend is shifting away from support for main parties, and to a lesser degree from parliamentary democracy.
Nevertheless, the economic instability and political uncertainty seeping into bourgeois parliamentary democracy is creating chaos in the ruling classes of monopoly capital and its political parties. Differences in tactics, rivalries and allegiances between different sections of big capital are eroding the previous parliamentary “stability”.
Bourgeois social democracy has hit a brick wall. Capital has fewer and fewer options to control the people and solve its economic crisis.
The compulsion and necessity to go to war is increasingly becoming the only or one of very few, of capital’s options to rescue the capitalist economy and its political institutions. However, as Mao exposed through the science of dialectics, either the people will stop the outbreak of imperialist wars, or wars will unleash revolutionary struggle and movements that will stop the war.
Imperialist globalisation or neo-liberalism and other titles it goes by, is not an ideology, a thought bubble or an economic theory created by think tanks, ultra conservatives, politicians and bourgeois economists, to rescue capitalism. It is in fact a material force that arises from the necessity and compulsion for capital to constantly expand and increase the rate of profit, to survive. It is inherent to monopoly capitalism. Imperialism and monopoly capital can’t be reformed, regulated and given a more humane face because during the economic crisis its survival depends entirely on intensified exploitation and oppression.
It is the task of revolutionary Marxism to explain and expose scientifically to the working class the material forces of monopoly capitalism and imperialism, and why they can’t be regulated and reformed. That task includes explaining the necessity of breaking the capitalist relations of production. Workers instinctively understand the capitalist class relations when the science of Marxism is presented in concrete and relevant ways and connected to struggles.
Australia – battle ground between US and Chinese capital ?
In Australia, the economic, political and military domination by imperialism is deepening, and goes hand in hand with governments’ austerity policies. Contradictions between the Australian people and imperialism are sharpening.
Economically, the US and European imperialists are dominant, whilst China’s capital is growing. The recent appearance of China’s capital investments may seem in some ways to complicate the development of the anti- US imperialist movement. There are differences within the imperialist and local bourgeois ruling class on how to handle China’s capital investments and the economic and military relations between the US and China.
There is both conflict with and increasing dependency on China’s capital. The anti-China section of the ruling class, driven by US imperialism, has started taking advantage of the anti-imperialist pro-independence sentiment among sections of the people. However, this also opens up more opportunities to strengthen the revolutionary anti-imperialist forces’ demands for genuine anti-imperialist independence from all foreign capital and big powers.
Politically and militarily Australia’s ruling class is enmeshed in US imperialism. US corporations have long controlled Australia’s key economic sectors, what Lenin called the commanding heights of the economy. In the main, the two major parliamentary parties, Labor and the Liberal-Nationals, act in unison in their support for US imperialism, protecting and administering US domination in Australia. While at times there are appearances in differences in tactics, subservience to US imperialism is never challenged by the main parties.
Both parties support the TPP, exhibit servile support for US military aggression and integration into the US industrial-military complex – Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc. There are differences within both parties on how to handle China.
Australia is becoming an even more critically important military and economic outpost for US imperialism, not only through extensive integration into the US military machine, but also as an outpost and an important base for its arms manufacturing. Raytheon, the Lockheed Martin so-called research centre in Melbourne, and other US arms manufacturing are expanding their branches in Australia.
New US bases are built and older ones are expanded and brought back into operations. US marines will now be permanently stationed in Darwin. Strategically Pine Gap is the most important US military/spy base in Asia-Pacific. Australia is a loyal US agent and proxy in US war preparations and provocations in South China Sea.
Imperialism is wiping out manufacturing industries in Australia; worldwide excess capacity (overproduction) and a drop in the price of minerals is winding down the boom in the mining industry; whilst the US weapons manufacturing is expanding across the world. US imperialist strategy is to lock Australia tighter into its economic and military hegemony and sphere of influence. Australia is a battle ground of competition by US and China’s capital.
The bankruptcy and treachery of social democracy is experienced by the working class no deeper than through the ALP control of unions. Bourgeois social democracy can no longer deliver even the most minimum reforms to the working class. It’s a ball and chain for restraining workers’ resistance to austerity and attacks on job security, conditions and the right to organise. Social democracy ensures workers confine their struggle solely within parliamentarism, against the Coalition, company CEOs and individual bosses. Taking a step further and making connections between the struggle and the ruling class of big business (foreign and local), running the country is avoided at all cost, to safeguard the ALP.
Generally speaking, many workers have little confidence in unions to protect jobs, conditions, manufacturing industries and wages. The main exceptions are the traditionally strong unions in construction and the maritime industries. Despite the difficulties in a period of low participation by workers in unions, many honest and dedicated union activists have thrown their heart and soul into defending workers and building a powerful working class movement around its own class agenda. It is an independent agenda because it contains demands ALP social democrats are unwilling to support, and actions in support of those demands that they are incapable of initiating or endorsing. The independent working class agenda goes beyond the boundaries imposed by monopoly capital.
Whilst there is growing resentment in the working class to foreign control and selling off Australia, the ALP’s grip over union leadership and bureaucracy ensures these anti-imperialist sentiments in the working class don’t get out for too long and too far. The ALP, no matter how honest and brave its supporters are, serves the interests of imperialism well.
Dependence on parliament and the courts continues to be held up by most sections of the union leadership as the only “strategy” of resistance to attacks against workers and unions. Whilst there has been some interest in unions creating more distance and independence from parliamentary parties it has been temporarily de-railed, coinciding with Bill Shorten’s ascent as leader of ALP opposition.
“Where is the ACTU?”, as many unionists and other sectors of the community are asking for real leadership.
The ruling class will continue to roll out the ABCC and other laws to chain down workers’ struggle. Unions urgently need to pull together, unite and mobilise the entire union movement and develop long term strategies to challenge these outrageous anti-worker, fascist laws.
They must restore confidence in the strength and power of the awakened working class in action and stand up to immense pressure on the union movement from the ALP not to rebel and confront the status quo.
Monopoly capital’s attacks on the organised working class will intensify and spread, with more manufacturing and jobs disappearing (except for a relatively short period still to come in construction jobs in major centres), casualisation, attacks on wages and conditions, privatisation and cuts to social services, welfare, education, health continue.
How will the organised working class deal with this? The unions’ leadership is hoping Labor will get in and save them. The working class itself has to break the chains that hold back struggle, and rally other sectors of the people around them. That will not be an easy task, but the cost of not doing it will be far greater.
Where does a revolutionary Communist Party sits in these conditions?
How can, and should, the Communist Party best serve the working class in the immediate struggles. How do we integrate the revolutionary Marxism into the struggles of the people. Communists live, work and struggle with workers and working people every day.
We try to do our best in understanding and using the science of Marxism, not only to expose and explain the class relations of each struggle; but also to patiently explain and make connections between the immediate struggles and the main class relations and forces in Australian economic and political conditions.
We need to continue our patient mass work, developing tactics and strategies with the people in the immediate struggles, recognising the protracted struggle we face, and seek every opportunity to build connections and organisation among the working class.
Not every worker has the time or capacity to make a sustained study of Marx’s Capital. But the politically and ideologically advanced workers who join the Communist Party discipline themselves to study just as they discipline themselves to get to work every day. They are the vanguard of the workers of Australia, its brain, its heart, its soul.
All of Marx’s and Engels’ writings show how to approach the study of economics, politics, history and culture. Lenin, Stalin and Mao offer the revolutionary working class movement many valuable insights and experiences into the tactics and strategies of class struggle and the anti-imperialist struggle. The writings of the founding Chairperson of the CPA (M-L), Ted Hill, soon to be available on a dedicated site, show the approach to be taken to the analysis of capitalism and imperialism in Australia and to the task of building a revolutionary party in Australian conditions.
The classics of Marxism-Leninism are not to be taken as some form of holy writ; rather, they are studied so that we can better grasp the method used by the great revolutionaries of the past in dealing with the problems of their day. We study so as to use those methods with confidence in the ability of the revolutionary working class to solve the problems of our own day, arising from situations that the classic teachers had not themselves encountered.
Our task is to take those ideas forward, to create Australian revolutionary theory and organisation, embedded deep in practice amongst the Australian people, to get rid of this stinking, exploiting imperialist system of monopoly capitalism once and for all.
All comrades must prepare themselves for whatever unanticipated developments may arise. We have said that monopoly capitalism is in crisis. A repeat of the Global Financial Crisis is not out of the question. We have said that regional instability is growing and that US imperialism is unstable and beset with crisis. New wars are not out of the question. The precise details cannot be predicted, but all must get prepared.