December 13, 2023. Miguel Sorans, Socialist Left leader and IWU-FI International Secretariat member, provided a report on the world situation, which we summarize here.
In the first place, we start by ratifying that we live in the most serious crisis of capitalism, superior to that of 1929. First, because it is longer as it has been going on for fifteen years. Second, because it is global, not only economic but also political and military. Third, since 2007-2008 it has been combined with new economic crises and the worsening of the environmental crisis, a world pandemic and the wars in Ukraine and Palestine. Wars that add fuel to the fire of the global crisis of the capitalist-imperialist system.
It is confirmed that this crisis is part of the epoch of decadence in which capitalism has been since the First World War. The period of 2022-2023 witnessed increased mass resistance to the plans of imperialism, multinationals, and their governments. From the popular rebellions in Sri Lanka, Peru, and Iran, to the workers’ strikes in France, the United Kingdom, Latin America, and the United States. Not to overcome the crisis of the revolutionary leadership is the weakest point of the period. As our teacher, Leon Trotsky pointed out: “The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat”.
New expressions of the acute economic crisis
In recent months, there have been new expressions of the far-reaching world crisis. The WTO foresees a 50 per cent decrease in world trade by 2023. The latest information from the IMF states that there is economic stagnation. In 2022, there was 3.5 per cent growth and in 2023 it is going to be less than 3 per cent. The crisis of the tech firms, which are supposed to be the leading business of the last decades, has become clear. Finnish Nokia has declared 20 per cent losses by 2023 and has a plan for 14,000 layoffs. Sweden’s Ericsson has also announced losses of 2.8 billion dollars. Telefonica from the Spanish State and British Telephone also announced losses. All European tech companies are planning for 100,000 layoffs. China is not recovering from its stagnation. Its two real estate giants have gone bankrupt. One of them, Evergrande, has already declared to be 340 billion dollars in the red and the financial company Zhongzhi has declared itself bankrupt in the last few weeks, with a debt of 33 billion dollars.
The perspectives for 2024 will be towards new expressions of the crisis and the attempt to apply new and greater austerity measures on the world working class and the popular sectors to increase their quotas of exploitation. This will only add fuel to the fire of the class struggle.
The growth of workers and popular struggles predominate
We define this as the central factor that prevents imperialist capitalism from overcoming its global crisis. The masses with their struggle hinder the ability of the capitalist class to get the quotas of exploitation they need to overcome the crisis. We are talking about a global tendency, not that in one country they cannot achieve a conjectural recovery since, undoubtedly, the austerity plans are passing. The big multinationals continue to make money. But we are talking about the global process of the capitalist crisis.
This tendency towards the growth of struggles has been confirmed just by mentioning, for example, the strikes in the United States, such as the victorious auto workers’ strike. For the first time in eighty-eight years, there was a long strike of “the big three”: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. The impact was such that President Biden went to a picket line to support the strike, an unusual event in the United States. Hollywood screenwriters and actors also won the strike, which lasted 118 days. In Bangladesh, which is the world’s second-largest exporter of garments after China, there was a big strike in the textile industry. Panama was in fact on a general strike over an issue of environmental destruction against a Canadian multinational mining company. They achieved a first victory since the Panamanian Supreme Court had to rule against the continuity of the multinational’s plan agreed with the government.
Millions worldwide stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people due to Israel’s invasion and genocidal attack.
The world disorder is growing
The combination of the crisis of capitalism and the rise of the struggles cause what we call the “world disorder”. This expression is also used even by imperialist advocates. It expresses its brutal political, economic and military crisis.
In 2001, George Bush Jr., after the fall of the Twin Towers, announced, with great fanfare, a “new world order”. And that new world order began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq years later. More than twenty years later, it is clear that the United States is not the same world gendarme it once was. And not only is there a world disorder, but there are already elements of lack of control on the part of imperialism. That is why in 2022 there was the Russian invasion and the war in Ukraine, which they had no idea or foresight that this was going to happen. And now the new war in Palestine, which they had even less predicted. Not even the Mossad, the supposedly ultra “modern and superior” intelligence apparatus of the racist state of Israel, could anticipate the action of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance on October 7.
The crisis is such that Biden himself, in a speech at the White House before Israel invaded Gaza, called to “prevent the chaos from spreading”. That is, the head of imperialism confirms that the political chaos exists and calls on the world bourgeoisie to “prevent” it from spreading. Another expression of the world political crisis is the increase of disbelief in the old and new bourgeois parties and political leaders, which results in a greater erosion of governments and regimes, especially bourgeois democracy. A new world phenomenon is emerging, which is the growth of the far-right. An example of this can be seen in Argentina, with the historic defeat of Peronism at the polls and the electoral triumph of the far-right Javier Milei, who is now in government.
We have already had Trump or Bolsonaro in Brazil. But these fascists to governments by popular vote and in bourgeois democracy are not synonymous, it does not mean a triumph of a fascist regime. It is very important to distinguish fascism, which is a regime, a counterrevolutionary dictatorship, which liquidates the minimum, democratic, political and union freedoms and crushes the workers and popular movement, from these governments which are still under bourgeois democracy. They are reactionary bosses’ governments, but, although the far-right-wing of Trump, Bolsonaro or Milei would like to liquidate the working class and the struggles of women or the popular movements, they cannot impose it, for now, and they have to adapt to a bourgeois democracy. And this can only be explained by the weight of the masses’ struggles.
The support of the Palestinian resistance, the struggles of 2024 and the fight to achieve a new revolutionary socialist leadership
The political-military conflict in Palestine is the clearest expression of the crisis of imperialism, but it is also the central point of the class struggle in the world. We are in the middle of the fight, a very unequal fight. Israel is determined to continue with its genocide and ethnic cleansing, but the fight is not over. The Palestinian people are resisting and fighting house to house. They have announced a strike in the West Bank, the other part of occupied Palestine, which is very important. Together with the worldwide solidarity movement of millions in the streets. That is why we ratify, at this 8th Congress of the IWU-FI, that it remains our central campaign of international unity of action. We are part of the worldwide movement to support the Palestinian people against the apartheid state of Israel.
The prospect for 2024 will be for workers and popular struggles in the world to continue against the plans of austerity and repression of imperialism and its governments. The sections of the IWU-FI are preparing to intervene in them with all our forces. In this process, we will keep on fighting for our strategic objectives. One is to fight for workers’ governments that open a fundamental change to the social debacle imperialist capitalism is dragging us. It is key to replace this system of oppression with world socialism and workers’ and popular democracy. The other central objective is to continue the fight to overcome the crisis of revolutionary leadership by building revolutionary parties in each country.