Capitalism and Class Struggle

Linked on our blogs with James Petras – USA. – Published on Global, by Prof. James Petras, April 25, 2011.

… Conceptual Clarification:

In analyzing contemporary capitalism, the most striking distinction is between three radically different conditions facing the capitalist system.  These include countries experiencing (a) high growth, (b) stagnation, (c) deep crises.
High growth capitalist countries are sharply divided between those which are (a) commodity boomers, largely exporters of agro-mineral-energy products, mostly found in Africa and Latin America, (b) manufacturing exporters – largely found in Asia (China, India,South Korea) .

Crises economies can be sub-divided into three groups. 

(a)   Fast recovery economies include Germany and the Nordic countries, which, after dipping into negative growth have expanded their industrial exports and are growing rapidly since 2010.

(b)   Slow recovery or stagnant economies, include USA, Great Britain, France and Italy which have touched bottom, recovered profits especially in the financial sector, but have made little or no progress in reducing unemployment, expanding manufacturing and overall growth.

(c)    Prolonged and deep crises economies, includes Portugal, Spain, Greece, the Baltic and Balkan countries, which are bankrupt, with rising double digit unemployment (between 15% – 20%) and negative growth.  They carry a heavy debt burden and are implementing severe austerity programs designed to prolong their economic depression for years to come.

Just as there are uneven patterns of capitalist development, the same is true with regard to the class struggle.  There are several key concepts that need to be taken into account in the analysis of class struggle … //

… Conclusion:

  • While on the surface there is a decline of revolutionary political class struggle from below, there is the potential for economic struggles to become political in so far as inflation erodes gains and political leaders fix rigid ‘guidelines’ on wage advances.
  • Secondly, as Venezuela illustrates, political leaders can provide conditions which favor the advance from economic to political class struggle.
  • The most dynamic political class struggle today comes from above – the systematic assault on wages, social legislation, employment and working conditions launched in the US, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Portuga, England and the Baltic/Balkan states.
  • There the economic crises has yet to precipitate mass revolt; instead we see defensive actions, even large scale strikes, attempting to defend historic gains.
  • This has been an unbalanced struggle where the capitalist class holds political and economic institutional levers backed by the international power of imperial banks and states.
  • The working class has little in the way of comparable international solidarity[20].
  • The most helpful signs in the global class struggle is found in the dynamic direct action of the Latin American and Asian working class.
  • Here steady economic gains have led to the strengthening of class power and organization.
  • Moreover, the workers can draw on revolutionary traditions to create the bases for a re-launching a new socialist project[21].
  • What could detonate a new round of political and economic class warfare from below?
  • The resurgence of inflation, recession, repression and ever deepening cuts could force labor to act independently and against the state as the embodiment of this regressive period.

(full long text and Notes 1- 21).

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