Tariffs, currencies and global competition. The stalemate of Imperialisms

Forum of the Rete dei Comunisti Rome, 26th October 2019

The Trump presidency, in its apparently irrational behaviour, is bringing out the real condition not only of the different imperialisms but, in our opinion, the limit of the Capitalist Mode of Production itself in this historical situation.

The sudden re-emergence of tariffs, which recalls the scenarios prior to the WWII, the end of the centrality of the dollar and the competition between currencies, the worldwide accentuation of social inequalities and the global dimension of a recession now admitted by all, are highlighting, without a shadow of a doubt, the current limits to capitalist growth due to the increasing difficulties of exploiting the large mass of financial capital that is now in circulation across the world.

The defeat of the USSR and the socialist camp at the end of the last century has led us to believe that history was over and that the only horizon could not but be capitalism as the ultimate fulfilment of the destiny of mankind. The end of history was, and in part remains, the hegemonic ideological representation that intended to close with communism but above all with the class struggle that ran through the 1800s and 1900s.

The trends that are now manifesting themselves, in truth for over a decade, tell us that the contradictions inherent in the Capitalist Mode of Production are not overcome, but rather worsen and amplify in a way that is directly proportional to the pervasiveness of the capitalist economy.

In the last thirty years, the US-led capitalist West has felt that it now had the entire world at its disposal and launched itself into the race for profits by investing in areas not yet subordinate to the market economy, in different ways in China, India, Russia and Eastern European countries, thus amplifying and speeding up the economic cycle of capital.

This has produced a change in the economic and social conditions in the different areas, but has above all led to an enormous development of the Productive Forces, in particular the production based on the new and very new technologies, which has gone far beyond the borders of the imperialist areas and is now at the base of the accentuated global competition, thus becoming a boomerang for the imperialist West.

In this case, it means that the enormous foreign investments made since the 1990s, from the financial centres to those that were the productive peripheries, have radically changed the productive structures of the latter, developing scientific, technological, financial and economic processes that today allow it to compete with those who thought that history was over.

China is undoubtedly the most striking example of this phenomenon, but the new competitors in the various economic and production sectors are not just Chinese. In fact, the enormous increase in productivity, products and services obtained through the intensive use of science and technology, has restricted the spaces for profit’s growth, the fall in the trend of the profit rate is acting concretely, exactly as Marx intuited and documented already in the nineteenth century.

This trend has also increased competition between imperialist centres, as is clearly evident in US/EU relations, but it has also shown, for example, the powerlessness in which Great Britain, the imperialist country par excellence, is being debated, even if it has long been in decline.

This impetuous process of growth has been stimulated and accompanied by the unscrupulous use of financial leverage, which has taken on dimensions and speculative forms never before seen historically. In fact, the real, unique globalization that has taken place since the 1990s has been that of finance, which among productive, speculative and intertwined investments with various forms of illegality is presented as a material condition for all actors in the field, which are condemned to conflict and to cooperate precisely because of the financial dimension which, collapsing, would not leave anyone safe from failure.

The birth of cryptocurrencies by States and multinationals is a further attempt to break free from the current financial and monetary intertwining, to find new spaces for growth of individual private and State subjects. This dangerous plot was revealed in the financial crisis of 2007, which quickly spread from the United States to the whole world and quickly brought down the religious axiom of “more Market and less State”. The financial institutions have been saved only thanks to the interventions of the States, which have transferred huge wealth from the pockets of citizens to the coffers of banks and investment funds.

Then there is another factor that increases the international conflict and that is the military one. We have come back from a historical period in which basically only two superpowers – the US and the USSR – held the scientific, nuclear and military monopoly. The collapse of the Berlin Wall broke the banks in this field also. Since there was no longer an enemy to beat, the military sector received a further boost from the development of the productive forces that poured from the centre into the periphery, increasing not only the production of goods and services but also the production of new weapons. Nuclear weapons still play a central role in this situation, guaranteeing fair and “reciprocal destruction” between competitors in the event that solutions to the crisis were to be proposed again through the military policies implemented in the WWI and WWII.

What we see today is a stalemate in the international balance of power that will mark the next few years, and that the United States is living as the end of its global hegemony to which they intend to oppose in every way, on pain of the decline and end of their imperialism as happened to England in the last century. A scenario completely at odds with the dream and the project of the New American Century! This stalemate is also producing paradoxical and contradictory situations. One example is Trump’s behaviour in international relations, in which he constantly changes both his enemies and his diplomatic tones, but never translates his words into deeds, as the clash with Iran is still demonstrating.

Another paradox that emerges is that the ultra-liberal U.S. applies tariffs and socialist China pronounces itself for the free market. And then, as already said, there is the before, during and after Brexit. The same neo-liberal policies in Latin America, Brazil and Argentina, unlike the ’70s and ’80s, were quickly consumed, reproducing those crises that had closed the coup in that part of the world in the ’90s.

On the other hand, even the winners seem to have been defeated by their victory. NATO, as the armed arm of the West, enters into crisis at its central junction, that of Turkey, which now buys strategic missiles from Russia, a decision that in another historical phase would have provoked a coup d’État, an operation really attempted but which, not by chance, has failed.

Historical imperialisms are thus within a stalemate that also involves new competitors, starting with China, which certainly finds a limit to its growth because of the trade blocks decided by Trump, but also finds the strong competitive drive of the European Union.

This general stalemate, however, does not only concern international economic and financial relations, but it also affects the daily lives of the people. The increase in unemployment and precariousness at world level is not an economic episode but depends on the increase in the organic composition of capital, which makes the presence of a workforce in capitalist production increasingly superfluous. This contradiction has its own long historical path but now, faced with the material limits of capitalist growth, it manifests itself for what it is, that is, as a crisis of prospects, a crisis of capitalist civilization in all its aspects.

At the same time, the social effects of inequality and the growth of poverty, paradoxically, are felt materially and politically especially in the imperialist countries, where the bourgeois political forces are living a phase of disarray and crisis of representation very serious being unable to give an answer to the distortions of the mode of production.

The environmental issue is also amplified within this race to global competition that is breaking the natural balance of the planet, increasing global warming that leads to the transformation of entire geographical areas. The fires in Brazil (but not only that, are also happening in Siberia, Africa and Asia) are striking events, born of the need of the Brazilian landowners represented by Bolsonaro to put new land into production in order to be more competitive, at the cost of destroying an important component of life on the planet, such as the Amazonian forest.

Living in a condition of strategic stalemate of the imperialisms does not mean that the contradictions do not continue to grow and to stress the international financial, economic and political situation. On the contrary, the pressure increases but has not yet found an outlet, also because none of the contenders feels so strong economically and militarily to impose their hegemony.

In which scenarios and quadrants this stalemate may break, it is not easy to identify it. Military clash between West and East? Implosion of the United States on its internal contradictions, among which, the racial one of the white majority “wasp”, which fears to become a minority? Crisis of the EU as a weak link in the inter-imperialist competition? Financial crisis, stagnation and long-term recession because the stalemate can go on without a solution?

It is difficult to predict what trend will prevail, but it is certain that we must strive to understand which resolution will impose the possible new balance of power, or if we are inside a “tunnel” from which it is difficult for now to come out in terms of a renewed international framework. What Gramsci wrote from prison is confirmed and updated: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear. We are actually seeing many “morbid” phenomena in these years of transition, on which the Rete dei Comunisti has promoted in December 2016 a national forum for theoretical and political debate and numerous meetings for analysis of the crisis. If it is true that we will have to imagine the type of conflict that could call into question the current stalemate, it is also true that this condition presents in all round the need for the social alternative.

We know well that in the West, talking about the transition to socialism, about the struggle for communism, is interpreted and liquidated, thanks to powerful media, ideological and cultural campaigns developed in recent years in a bipartisan manner by political forces and the mass media, as an unrealistic and utopian attitude on the one hand, threatening and terrorist on the other. Despite the discredit thrown daily by our class enemies on our ideas, the situation, for how it manifests itself and for the dimension that the contradictions have assumed, reveals all the weight of the absence of a political and state alternative and therefore poses the need for an alternative that we cannot express in terms other than Socialism and Communism. We also know that it is a difficult road full of ruins left by those who have claimed in our country to have a monopoly on this perspective, betraying its ends in every step taken in recent decades, and well before the end of the USSR.

As on the other hand, we cannot fail to analyse and evaluate the role of the European Union in the present international context. In our calculations, we correctly identify the analysis of the heavily regressive economic and social effects produced by the overall reorganisation of capitalism around the European dimension, which is now only too clearly hegemonised by the economic and financial forces of large multinational capital, above all but not only, by those concentrated in France and Germany. We have been working on this analytically and politically for some time, highlighting the overall economic and social degradation, which now concerns Germany itself, and the inequalities in economic sectors and geographical areas produced by the policies of the Eurocrats.

There is, however, another point of view to keep in mind, perhaps more importantly, which starts from the top of the international economic analysis and the historical dynamics that go beyond the class contradictions produced by the concrete construction of the European Union.

This concerns the role of the EU as a fully imperialist subject, which has fully entered the global competition that we have tried to describe in the state of crisis and stalemate that characterizes it. A subject who in democratic and humanitarian guise, the “European way of life” invoked by Von der Leyen, has won all his battles despite the predictions – instrumentally pessimistic but in reality functional – which foretold his failure. The birth and the stability of the Euro, the military interventions in Africa and the Middle East, the recent defeat of the “sovereigns”, the deep crisis of Brexit, show how this perspective, for now a winner, increases an international conflict of an economic type but also a military one, as shown by the projects for the construction of the European army in which France, the only holder of the nuclear weapon, plays a leading role.

For this reason, the struggle to break the construction of the European Union has taken on a general, progressive and pacifist value, against any mystification of Eurocentrism, which is once again the democratic “headlight” for humanity.

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *