The imperialist unions, the inter-imperialist contradictions and the stance of the communists.
By Makis Papadopoulos
A century has passed since the historic theoretical confrontation between Lenin and Kautsky in relation to the definition that determines the socio-economic content of imperialism, as well as over the theory of “Ultra-imperialism”. It is well-known that Lenin waged fierce polemics against Kautsky’s position on imperialism, which identified it as a policy preferred by the advanced industrial countries in order to dominate weaker agricultural countries. He also more generally criticized the detachment of imperialist politics from its economic base, the dominance of monopoly capitalism. It is also well-known that Lenin criticized the opportunist position which argued that the development of the capitalist economy internationally leads to ultra-imperialism, to a great interdependence of the interests of the bourgeois classes of the various countries.
This opportunist position argued that this would result in the inevitable peaceful resolution of their differences, the signing of imperialist agreements which would lead to a unified, peaceful, organized global capitalist economy. The entire history of the 20th century, the outbreak of two major imperialist wars and the plethora of smaller ones confirmed the correctness of the Leninist theoretical approach. Nevertheless, as we will see, the opportunist view retains a strong influence, a fact that underlines the timeliness of this specific historical confrontation for contemporary conditions.
1.THE TIMELINESS OF LENIN’S CRITICISM OF KAUTSKY’S THEORY
A number of opportunist positions and analyses that in essence understand imperialism chiefly as a foreign policy, as a foreign external invasion and domination of a weaker bourgeois state by a stronger one today continue to have a strong influence in the ranks of the international communist movement. These analyses often highlight existing imperialist military offensives and interventions of the most powerful capitalist states, the penetration of foreign monopolies in order to exploit and control the market of a country or a wider region, but in a way detached from the socio-economic content of imperialism, as the final highest stage of capitalism.
These views restrict the labour movement to making a superficial condemnation of the imperialist interventions and at the same time they mistakenly promote the possibility of the social alliance of the working class with bourgeois forces, with the aim of overcoming the backwardness of capitalist development in the country and fully acquiring its national independence. In this way, the goal of enhancing the position of a capitalist country inside the imperialist system, a goal that leads to class collaboration, is advanced as being “anti-imperialist” and presented as a radical goal for the struggle against imperialist dependency.
For this reason, it is particularly important to project the Leninist position on imperialism, as the reactionary era of capitalism which is decaying and dying, with unified features for all the states of the international imperialist system, whether they are weaker or stronger at any given moment.
These unified features are related to the dominance of the monopolies, of the powerful stock companies and the sharpening of the capitalist competition, the formation of finance capital, the increase of the importance of the export of capital in relation to the export of commodities, the struggle for the redivision of the markets and territories amongst the imperialist states and international monopoly groups.
The dominance of the monopolies, of the powerful stock companies leads to the distancing and separation of capitalist ownership from the management and organization of capitalist production and constitutes the economic basis for the intensification of the parasitic role of the bourgeois class in each capitalist state. Dangerous parasites profit on a daily basis from the buying and selling of the shares of capitalist businesses, without any other relationship with the specific businesses.
Parasitism, the sharpening of the basic contradiction between the social character of production and the capitalist appropriation of its results characterize all the capitalist states, regardless of their position in the international imperialist system.
At the same time, the strengthening of the trend for capital exports accelerates capitalism’s development in countries to which these capital exports are destined. It also contributes, together with the speed of technological developments, to the rapid change of the correlation of forces between states in the international imperialist system, according to the law of uneven development.
Lenin highlighted in his writings at the beginning of the 20th century that a small group of states possessed the leading position in the global market thanks to the trusts, cartel and inter-state relations between creditor states and debtor states. He shed light on the increase of strength achieved by these specific states, which play the role of the creditor, the usurer, the rentier (Rentnerstaat) in relation to the debtor states. He also focused on the group of strong states that possessed colonies in his era. Following the Leninist method, we must examine the contemporary changes in the positions of the states in the international imperialist system. Today about 200 states have acquired their political independence. The unequal relations between capitalist states are inherent in capitalism and the constant changes in the correlation of forces amongst the states are a result of the impact of the law of uneven development. Consequently, the safeguarding of equal relations between bourgeois states, on the terrain of capitalism, cannot be a goal of struggle for the communists.
A situation characterized by unequal relations of interdependence amongst the entirety of the capitalist states has been formed in the contemporary imperialist system. Strong creditor states of the 20th century have today been transformed into debtor states (e.g. the current large state debts of the USA, France and Italy), while China is today a creditor state. The change in the correlation of forces between Britain and India from the 20th to the 21st century is the most characteristic example.
Similarly, today the issue of the formation of a “labour aristocracy” is not restricted to a handful of strong capitalist states. The expansion and deepening of capitalist relations of production in the contemporary imperialist system creates the conditions for the emergence of a “labour aristocracy” in the majority of capitalist states. Consequently, the splitting of the unity of the working class and the penetration of petty bourgeois views into the labour movement takes on a general character.
It is inside this framework that the communists must examine the development of the imperialist alliances, the unequal inter-state relations, the existing imperialist military, political and economic dependencies, as well as the intensification of imperialist interventions, the expansion of local wars and the danger of a new generalized imperialist war.
Otherwise, any predictions will be unsound, as they will not be based on the relationship between the economy and politics. Otherwise, there is the real danger that the communist movement will in the end serve the interests of one of the competing imperialist centres instead of utilizing the inter-imperialist contradictions for the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie.
For this reason, the Leninist criticism of the theory of “ultra-imperialism” acquires particular significance. A series of contemporary theoretical and political analyses are in essence returning to the core of Kautsky’s opportunist viewpoint (e.g. globalization, empire), invoking certain existent contemporary trends.
They advance the expansion of the strength of companies with a multinational stock composition, the larger growth rate of world trade, the widening of the interdependencies between the capitalist states as contemporary features of a new historical stage of capitalism in relation to imperialism.
In reality, all these phenomena reflect the general trend for the internationalization of production, investments, the movement of capital inside the framework of the global capitalist market. However, this tendency cannot negate the impact of the law of uneven development nor can it reverse the fact that the basic part of the social reproduction of capital is carried on the terrain of the nation-state formation of the capitalist economy. The inter-imperialist contradictions are sharpening in the context of this objective and contradictory movement of the capitalist economy.
The conditions for the expanded reproduction of the capital of the monopoly groups, the stock companies continue to be in their majority formed in the framework of the nation-states, as well as of the respective inter-state imperialist alliances in which they participate. This is related to the conditions of taxation, lending, wage levels, tariff protections, state subsidies for exports, state backing and financing. At the same time, each national bourgeois state utilizes its economic, political and military strength to support its domestic monopoly groups in the international competition. Regardless of the possible multinational composition of its shareholders, each monopoly group has bonds with a specific bourgeois state and the related imperialist alliances. In the final analysis, the stock company chiefly develops in the framework of nation-state capitalism and it acquires the ability to export a section of its capital on this objective terrain. The bourgeois nation state remains the basic organ that secures the economic dominance of the monopolies, the concentration and centralization of capital in competition with the corresponding processes in other states.
We must point out that despite the generally upward trend of international production, of the section of the global GDP that comes from FDI in host countries, as well as of world trade, the majority of capital reproduction of each bourgeois class takes place in the domestic market of each bourgeois state. The domestic market maintains its dominant role for capital accumulation even in the USA, despite the increase of the importance of subsidiary companies of the multinational monopoly groups which have their headquarters in the USA (TABLE 1).
The developments confirm Lenin’s prediction in 1915, when in his preface to N. Bukharin’s related work he noted that: “There is no doubt that the trend of development is towards a single world trust absorbing all enterprises without exception and all states without exception. But this development proceeds in such circumstances, at such a pace, through such contradictions, conflicts and upheavals—not only economic but political, national, etc.—that inevitably imperialism will burst and capitalism will be transformed into its opposite long before one world trust materialises, before the “ultra-imperialist”, world-wide amalgamation of national finance capitals takes place.”
In contemporary conditions, the sharpening of the unevenness as a general phenomenon in the international imperialist system has been borne out. The synchronized crisis in the imperialist centres of the USA, the EU and Japan in 2008-2009 is a characteristic example of this. This crisis accelerated changes in the correlation of forces that had been gestating in the preceding 20 years.
As is apparent from the relevant data, the USA’s and Eurozone’s share of the Gross World Product is receding, while that of China and BRICS is increasing. There is a similar situation developing in terms of the share of world trade. The differences in the dynamics of capitalist growth amongst the strongest states is also reflected in the annual rate of change in GDP. (TABLES 2 to 5)
The specific alteration of the correlation of forces sharpens, as we will see, the inter-imperialist contradictions amongst and inside the established imperialist alliances (e.g. inside the euro-Atlantic alliance of NATO). It also undermines the stability of today’s labyrinthine network of agreements and organizations related to world trade, the international transactions in the financial sector and the international movement of capital in general. This specific network was formed after the 2ndWorld War and developed un the first decade after the counterrevolution.
The struggle in the IMF since 2010 is characteristic, when there was the proposal for a change in the way the 24 member executive board is elected, as well as the quotas that reflect the correlation of forces for decision-making. There was a proposal for the reduction of the quotas of the European countries and an increase for the BRICS countries, as well as a small reduction in the USA’s quota (maintaining its ability to exercise a veto on certain decisions). The US Senate has not yet accepted these changes.
It is also characteristic that China and the BRICS in general have decided to set up international development banks and reserve funds as alternatives to the World Bank and IMF (e.g. AIIB, CRA, NDB). In any case, we must not forget that all the related initiatives and competition presuppose inter-state agreements and negotiations.
2. THE TEMPORARY CHARACTER OF THE IMPERIALIST ALLIANCES
The law of uneven developments results in the change of the material conditions on whose basis the alliances between the capitalist states, especially in the era of monopoly capitalism, are formed.
Lenin very aptly highlighted this specific conclusion by examining the economic content of the slogan for the “United States of Europe”. He stressed that in the conditions of capitalism the United States of Europe would either be reactionary or unrealizable, as it would amount to a permanent agreement for the division of the colonies and markets amongst the major European bourgeois states. He explained that a temporary agreement between the European states would be possible so that they could suffocate socialism in Europe together and protect the looted colonies and markets that they control against the USA and Japan.
History has confirmed the Leninist prediction. Lenin’s analysis shines a light on the basic characteristics of the imperialist alliances.
The imperialist alliances are inter-state alliances that express the common interests of the bourgeois classes of their member-states. The common interests are related to expanding their monopolies, buttressing their competitiveness in the international imperialist system in conditions of sharpening competition, as well as confronting the labour movement and neutralizing the revolutionary communist parties in a unified way.
However, the common aims of the monopolies of the various states of an imperialist alliance cannot negate the unevenness and nation-state organization which are the foundations for capitalist accumulation. They cannot negate the competition and contradictions inside each imperialist alliance and also amongst the various imperialist alliances and axes. The realignments in the international correlation of forces also lead to changes in the composition and structure of the imperialist alliances. Imperialist alliances and the sudden exacerbation of inter-imperialist contradictions, which lead to the breaking of alliances, are two side of the same coin.
A very characteristic example is the EU, which today is an advanced form of alliance between the capitalist states in Europe and has undergone various stages in its development.
Its leading core was the postwar Franco-German cooperation with the aim of strengthening their monopolies, as well as buttressing capitalism against the socialist section of Europe.
After the overthrows of the socialist countries and in the new international framework of capitalist competition, the unified aims of the monopolies of the EU states against the working class and the peoples more generally is historically the decisive feature that permeates the Maastricht Treaty, the Lisbon Strategy, the strategy of “Europe 2020 for employment and growth”. The political line to ensure cheap labour power in relation to the current level of productivity, the increase of the rate of exploitation of the working class and the promotion of the “liberation” of the markets, particularly in strategically significant sectors, were demonstrated to be the main cohesive features of the EU. Consequently, reactionary changes to labour relations, the lagging behind of wages in relation to the increase in productivity, privatizations in the energy, telecommunications and transport sectors, the commercialization of education, healthcare and social-security were and are being advanced.
Similarly, the formation of the Eurozone was pushed forwards with the inter-state agreement of the member-states that joined it due to the advantages provided to the monopolies by the single currency, for example relative stability in terms of currency and transactions, the increase of trade transactions, the improvement of credit terms for private and public investments, the international character of the common currency.
However the monetary welding together of the economies of member-states with different levels of economic strength, productivity and competitiveness, not only does not blunt but on the contrary sharpens the unevenness in their development. Even before the outbreak of the international synchronized capitalist crisis of 2008-2009, the Eurozone and EU were being put to the test by the impact of the law of uneven development. We should remember the contradictions of the period 2000-2007 regarding the “Stability and Growth pact”, the formation of a common tax policy, the level of the EU budget, the ‘Constitutional Treaty”.
The outbreak of the international crisis in 2008-2009 sharpened the unevenness between the member-states that was expressed by the increase of the differences in productivity, volume of exports, outflows of direct capital investments to other countries. The correlation of forces was altered inside the hard core of the EU in favour of Germany and at the expense of Italy and France. This is difference is also reflected in the different fiscal situation in the various countries.
Germany was able with relative ease to unify its internal market after the assimilation of the former GDR, to provide a profitable outlet for its exports inside the Eurozone, forming large trade surpluses and at the same time maintaining the euro as a strong international reserve currency.
3. ASPECTS OF THE SHARPENING OF THE INTER-IMPERIALIST CONTRADICTIONS TODAY
After the first decade of the victory of the counterrevolution and capitalist stabilization in these countries, the map of capitalist Europe, Eurasia, takes on a new form, as well as trends for the formation of new rivalries or new alliances (e.g. BRICS).
The competition of NATO with the Russia-China axis is today expressed with particularly sharpness in Ukraine, the Middle East, North Africa, in Eurasia as a whole and is related to the control of the energy resources and transport routes, the control and division of the markets, the geopolitical reinforcement of each side.
NATO expands its activity in Eastern Europe and in the countries of the Baltic. Its plan is a continuation of the USA and EU’s intervention in Ukraine, in competition with Russia which has already led to a very dangerous situation.
At the same time, the USA and EU continue their military operations in Syria and Iraq and escalate their intervention in the Middle East and North Africa in the name of dealing with the “Islamic Caliphate”, the jihadists, which they had substantially supported in the previous phase.
The initial intermediate agreement of Lausanne between Iran and the 5+ 1 group (USA, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany) is a relatively new element which is related with the declaration of the jihadists (Islamic State) as an important enemy of the Euro-Atlantic centre in the region. In essence the USA, with the need to deal with the jihadists as a pretext, is forming a new and better elaborated plan for geopolitical control and for the change of the correlation of forces in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, which includes the cooption of Iran. The interventions as well as the diplomatic maneuvers of the USA provoke discontent, differentiations and internal processes inside the bourgeois classes of the traditional allies of US foreign policy like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
There is also a confrontation being conducted within the Eurozone over the relative relaxation of today’s restrictive fiscal and monetary policy. France and Italy, supported by the USA, are pressuring the German government in this direction. The confrontation is sharpening on the basis of the prolonged difficulty in stabilizing the course of the Eurozone’s recovery, as well as on the basis of the widening of the unevenness within it.
The deterioration of Greece’s position inside the EU and also in the wider Mediterranean region after the outbreak of the crisis in 2009 is an emblematic example of uneven development inside the EU. The increasing sluggishness of France and Italy’s economic strength in relation to Germany is testing the cohesion of the hard core of the Eurozone and constitutes an objective basis for the intensification of the confrontation amongst the bourgeois classes of the specific states. Various proposals are emerging in the framework of this confrontation in relation to the future structure of the Eurozone, the conditions for forming a unified financial sector and joint fiscal policy (e.g. Jean Claude Juncker’s report)
The US government is afraid that a prolonged recession in the Eurozone will have a negative impact on the US economy. In parallel, the more general confrontation between the USA and Germany is underway over which country has the hegemonic position in Europe. At the same time, the opposition of the Euro-Atlantic camp to the China-Russia axis and BRICS more generally is sharpening.
The USA is proposing to the EU a free trade and investments agreement between the two sides of the Atlantic that includes the removal of tariffs and mainly of the rules, regulations and specifications which today impede the free movement of capital in various sectors of the economy. The US proposal has been aptly described as a proposal to create an “economic NATO” against the dynamism of China, Russia and BRICS in general. If it is implemented, it is estimated that it will include 50% of the world’s production, 30% of world trade and 20% of Foreign Direct Investments internationally.
The negotiations began in 2013, but are proceeding slowly and tortuously. A section of the German and French bourgeois classes assess that the US proposal is basically a “Trojan Horse” in order to secure US hegemony in Europe in the long term. The German Institute IFO evaluates that the implementation of the agreement will weaken the trade flows inside the EU (which today safeguard the large German surpluses) and will reinforce the transatlantic flows. It predicts that the agreement will lead to the greater increase of the per capita GDP of the USA as against that of the EU and is concerned about the future of the euro in the context of the new transatlantic relationship. The US intervention in order to highlight a number of scandals involving German monopoly groups (e.g. Siemens, Volkswagen) is a characteristic example of the sharpening of the competition between the USA and Germany at the economic level.
In addition, the EU’s energy policy and its approach to the situation in Ukraine are two basic fields where the USA’s efforts to undermine the relations between Russia and Germany and the divergence as regards the interests of the EU member-states manifest themselves. The USA is attempting to curtail the dynamism of the trade relations of the EU with China and Russia (TABLES 5a and 5B)
The Ukrainian issue is where the relations between the EU and Russia are mainly being tested, both in relation to the observance of the Minsk agreement (for a ceasefire, withdrawal of foreign military forces, the lifting of the economic blockade against the regions of Southeast Ukraine, etc), and in relation to the maintenance and possible escalation of economic sanctions. States like Hungary, Italy, Austria and Cyprus are seeking the relaxation of the sanctions, while Britain, Poland and Holland are arguing in the opposite direction. However, the economic war of the sanctions in essence negatively affects the interests of the monopoly groups of France (e.g. cancellations of orders from its military industry), Germany (e.g. export of machines), in contrast to the minimal consequences for the USA. The French President Hollande had officially taken a position against the escalation of the relevant sanctions.
In Asia, the USA together with Japan is advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the participation of 12 countries, excluding China, and of course maintaining their primacy in the World Bank and strong role in the IMF. The US Congress is also refusing to ratify a revision of the IMF’s regulations that would increase the percentage of China’s votes in the decision-making process.
Naturally, the exacerbation of the contradictions between the USA and China are not only limited to the economic sphere. There is also intense mobility in the military sphere, focused on the creation of military infrastructures in order to control the South China Sea.
4. THE UTILIZATION OF THE INTER-IMPERIALIST CONTRADICTIONS BY THE REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNIST VANGUARD
The history of the 20th century provides a wealth of experience in relation to the potential and importance of utilizing inter-imperialist contradictions for the victory of the socialist revolution in one country and for the success of the attempts to construct socialism.
Lenin highlighted the basic conditions for the successful utilization of the inter-imperialist contradictions: the independence of the revolutionary vanguard of the working class, the communist party, from the aims and goals of each imperialist alliance and the stable strategic orientation for the revolutionary overthrow of the domestic bourgeois class both in the period of the imperialist war and also in the period of the imperialist peace.
The activity of the Bolsheviks to ensure the victory of the October Revolution and establish the first socialist state in world is the most shining example. It demonstrated that the labour movement in each country must not be trapped by the aims of the domestic bourgeois class or politically tail one of the competing imperialist centres.
The Bolsheviks utilized the sharpening contradictions between Germany and Britain in the period of the 1st global imperialist war, not only for the victory of the socialist revolution but also to safeguard the establishment of workers’ power.
The inner-party discussion in January and February 1918 provides important lessons for the communist movement in relation to the dilemma: the signing of a peace treaty with Germany that contained painful conditions for Soviet power or the declaration of a just revolutionary war.
The supporters of the choice to conduct a revolutionary war put forward a number of arguments, e.g. that the signing of an agreement constitutes a betrayal of the principles of proletarian internationalism, that it transforms the Bolsheviks into agents of German imperialism, that it does not contribute to the national liberation of the peoples of Poland and Lithuania.
Lenin responded that concluding a separate peace with Germany “we free ourselves as much as is possible at the present moment from both hostile imperialist groups, we take advantage of their mutual enmity and warfare which hamper concerted action on their part against us”.
He made it clear that the principle underpinning this political choice of Soviet power: “the underlying principle of our tactics must not be, which of the two imperialisms is it more profitable to aid at this juncture, but rather, how can the Socialist revolution be most surely and reliably ensured the possibility of consolidating itself, or, at least, of maintaining itself in one country until it is joined by other countries.”
Lenin also commented on the painful conditions related to the “non-return” of Poland and Lithuania to Soviet power, which would have paved the way for the self-determination of these specific nations, and provided a clear answer: “Let us examine the argument from the standpoint of theory; which should be put first, the right of nations to self-determination, or socialism? Socialism should. Is it permissible, because of a contravention of the right of nations to self-determination, to allow the Soviet Socialist Republic to be devoured, to expose it to the blows of imperialism at a time when imperialism is obviously stronger and the Soviet Republic obviously weaker? No, it is not permissible-that is bourgeois and not socialist politics.”
Summarizing in 1920 the discussion of the RCP (B) on the issue of the concessions made by Soviet Power, Lenin explained that while opportunism sacrifices the vital interests of the working class for partial and short-term gains, the Bolsheviks did the opposite. They gained precious time by temporarily handing over some territories, without forming any coalition with German imperialism. In the relevant historical meeting of the cadres in Moscow, Lenin stressed: “We must stick to the rule that we must be able to take advantage of the antagonisms and contradictions existing among the imperialists. Had we not adhered to this rule, every one of us would have long ago been strung up by the neck, to the glee of the capitalists.”
Life itself has vindicated Lenin’s positions. He highlighted that the criterion for assessing every compromise, every maneuver must be its contribution to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalist power and the buttressing of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the countries where the socialist revolution has been victorious. The utilization of the inter-imperialist contradictions and the national liberation struggle in the instance of the imperialist invasion and occupation of a country must be subordinated to this direction.
Of course the ideological, political and organizational readiness of a CP also includes the correct assessment of the objective conditions, especially when we have rapid changes of events.
Unfortunately this necessary focus on the goal of the victory of the socialist revolution and workers’ power was not unwaveringly maintained during the entire course of the Communist International and later of the international communist movement.Under the burden initially of the prolonged “peaceful” period of the class struggle, the relative parliamentary representation of the CPs and then the impact of social-democracy that had been assimilated into the system (but with influence in the working class masses), there were oscillations in the strategy of the newly established communist parties that led down the slippery road of cooperation with bourgeois and opportunist forces.
There were important changes and alternations on crucial issues, such as the stance towards social-democracy, bourgeois democracy, fascism and imperialist war, which escalated up to the 7th Congress of the Communist International and until the 2nd global imperialist war.
To begin with, the mistaken separation of the imperialist powers and alliances into aggressive, pro-war, fascist ones like Germany and pro-peace, defensive, antifascist ones like Britain.
This analysis was based on detaching the domestic policy of the bourgeois state from its foreign policy. It fostered the illusion that the foreign policy is determined by the ideological current that is dominant in the bourgeois government of the day, by whether it is fascist or social-democratic. However, the Leninist analysis has demonstrated that the goals of foreign policy are determined by the strategic interests of monopoly capital in each country, by the bourgeoisie’s goals regarding the participation in the control and redivision of the markets.
The events themselves confirmed the correctness of the Leninist position. This mistaken distinction in the end concealed the imperialist character of the war, the fact that the goal of all the warring capitalist states was both the maintenance and strengthening of bourgeois power after the end of the war and that they also consistently treated the USSR as a class enemy.
The bourgeois democracies of the USA, Britain and France systematically attempted in the 1930s to orient German aggression towards the Soviet Union. They desired the declaration of war between Germany and the USSR. This aim explains the notorious policy of non-intervention, the appeasement of Germany, while its imperialist plans unfolded. It explains why the bourgeois governments of Britain and France tolerated the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, why they signed the Munich Agreement and the annexation of a section of Czechoslovakia by Germany in the same year. It explains why they did nothing about the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and why they undermined every effort of the USSR to sign a tripartite mutual assistance pact against the Nazi advance.
The new definition of fascism was also similarly fraught with problems, which the 7th Congress of the Communist International linked with the most reactionary section of finance capital, in opposition to its previous analyses and decisions that correctly defined fascism as a form of reactionary offensive carried out by finance capital as a whole, in a unified way. Until 1933 the relevant elaborations of the Communist International stressed that the “general line of all the bourgeois parties, including social democracy, is towards the fascization of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” and characterized the social-democrats as social-fascists. The specific analyses of the Communist International shed light on the class character of the fascist current, which does not alter in relation to whether this specific current has formed a bourgeois government or is in opposition. The formation of a bourgeois government in Germany by the National Socialist Party had been supported by the largest German monopoly groups several years before the 1933 elections. In any case, the fascist government in Italy had been formed in the 1920s, before this specific analysis of the Communist International emerged.
In the end, the line of the people’s antifascist front, with the participation of communists and in cooperation with the “left-wing” of social-democracy, with the aim of preventing fascism and war, became the so-called transitional goal of communists before and after the 2nd World War. This led to the entrapment of the movement under the flag of social democracy. In this way, the preparation and escalation of the struggle for workers’ power were sidelined.
The Popular Front in France is the most characteristic example of the negative consequences of these choices. It formed a government in 1936 after its electoral victory with 57% of the vote, after mass working class struggles and antifascist demonstrations. The French CP, which received 15%, supported the bourgeois government without participating.
In the beginning, the government took certain measures to relieve the people, it provided some wage increases, it established the 40 hour week. Later on however, it devalued the franc in order to protect the competitiveness of French capital and tolerated the major increase of inflation that worsened the situation of the popular strata. It did not provide any military assistance to the antifascist forces of Spain. Despite the fact that the composition of the Parliament did not change, there were changes inside the government. In 1939 the French government handed over ships from the Spanish fleet to Franco and returned the gold it had held as security on loans since 1931. In the same year it outlawed the French CP, after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement. In the end the parliament that had been elected in 1936 allowed the formation of the Petain government, the collaboration with Nazi Germany.
Clearly, no one must ignore the significant efforts of Soviet foreign policy to utilize the inter-imperialist contradictions at a diplomatic and military level so that a united front of all the imperialist centres would not be formed in order to support the German military offensive being prepared against the USSR.
The USSR waged a difficult battle against time in order to complete its military preparation and to delay the expected German offensive for as long as possible. The report of the 18th Congress of the party in 1939 demonstrates the scale and significance of this effort. However it was wrong that contingent choices and maneuvers of Soviet foreign policy were elevated into theory and integrated into the political line of the international communist movement.
Therefore, especially in the capitalist west, the CPs did not in essence shape and did not apply a strategy for transforming the imperialist war or liberation struggle into a struggle for the conquest of power. Essentially, the strategy of the communist movement did not place on the agenda the problem of overthrowing bourgeois power in certain countries where a revolutionary situation was formed, as in Greece. It did not base itself on the fact that the basic contradiction between capital and labour was objectively contained inside the armed antifascist-liberation struggle in specific countries.
5. TIMELY CONCLUSIONS
In today’s difficult and complex conditions, as the inter-imperialist contradictions are sharpening and the danger of a generalized imperialist war is increasing, the communists have the task of decisively and methodically struggling so that the working class does not align behind the bourgeoisie of its country, so that it is not trapped into choosing to join forces with one of the competing imperialist alliances. The constant efforts for the daily political and economic struggles not to be detached from the main revolutionary political task are a prerequisite for the achievement of this aim. The goal of working class power must not be pushed to the margins by another “transitional” political goal on the terrain of capitalism (e.g. the change of the bourgeois government). The revolutionary strategic orientation must remain stable both when the movement is on an upward trend or in retreat, without watering it down in the name of the outbreak of the economic crisis, the rise of the fascist current, the danger of or waging of an imperialist war.
The communists must educate the people and orient the labour movement so that they place no trust in any bourgeois government, bourgeois class or imperialist alliance. Only then can they utilize the inter-imperialist contradictions to the benefit of the historic mission of the working class and respond to the sudden intensification of the class struggle.
To this end, it is important to repeatedly highlight that no imperialist alliances are permanent and stable and that at the same time they are inherently reactionary. In the conditions when the EU and Eurozone were established, for example, their existence as a progressive phenomenon was even adopted by CPs. Even today there exists similar confusion and mistaken positions that do not expose the reactionary character of the EU and the role of uneven development inside it.
It is also particularly important to understand that unequal relations and uneven development are inherent to the imperialist system. Consequently, the labour movement can not have as its goal the safeguarding of equal inter-state relations on the terrain of capitalism. Similarly it must be understood that all the bourgeois classes of every imperialist alliance are jointly responsible for the escalation of the offensive against the working class.
Consequently, the aim of conflict and rupture with the EU must be constantly advanced as features of the struggle for the overthrow of the monopolies’ power, which (workers’ power) is a precondition for the disengagement of a country from every imperialist alliance to work in favor of the people.
By following this strategy and over the course of its implementation, the revolutionary labour movement will be able to utilize fissures in the imperialist EU and NATO in order to truly destabilize bourgeois power in each member-state and the cohesion of the reactionary anti-people EU as a whole.
A key issue is that each CP must form a revolutionary strategy in its own country and fight against opportunism which pushes it into becoming the political “tail” of the bourgeois class, against illusions about the “humanization” of the political line of the imperialist alliances (e.g. those fostered by the Party of the European Left regarding the EU). In this direction, each CP must strengthen its bonds with the working class and the popular strata, with the aim of mobilizing them for their immediate needs and as well to awaken their political class consciousness. In this sense the class struggle, economic-ideological-political, is unified whatever the correlation of forces between the opposing classes, whether it is favourable or unfavourable as is the case today in Greece and at a global level. So, the struggle for exclusively free public modern infrastructure and health services, for the recovery of the losses the people suffered during the deep crisis, for the abolition of the anti-worker laws must be conducted integrated into a line of rupture with the EU, capital and its power, for workers’ power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, which will lead to a full disengagement from the EU and NATO, will socialize the monopolies and the concentrated means of production in general.
At the same time, it is important to strengthen the coordination of the struggle at a European and international level, based on the contemporary needs and rights of the working class. The interventions of the “Initiative of Communist and Worker’s Parties of Europe” for the condemnation of the imperialist plans at the EU and NATO summits, to denounce the imperialist interventions in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Israel’s attacks against the Palestinian people, as well as the development of activity to deal with the dangers of a general imperialist war that the sharpening of the inter-imperialist contradictions in Ukraine and the Middle East is creating, pave the way in this direction.
It is in our hands to strengthen the struggle against the opportunist current in order to revive and empower the international communist movement.
Table 1: THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN MULTINATIONALS
1994 2004 2008 2009 2010
Value Added 1773288 3220723 3740989 3740733 4127199
Domestic 1361792 2366467 2500543 2595776 2885927
(MOFA*) 411496 854256 1240446 1144957 1241272
% MOFA 23,21% 26,52% 33,16% 30,61% 30,08%
Capital Expenditure 306364 476098 685444 598862 604631
Parent company 234617 350919 501893 431796 438327
Subsidiary (MOFA) 71747 125179 183551 167066 166304
% MOFA 23,42% 26,29% 26,78% 27,90% 27,51%
R&D spending 103451 190029 240462 246502 251983
Parent company 91574 164189 198763 207297 212513
Subsidiary (MOFA) 11877 2584 41699 39205 3947
%MOFA 11,48% 1,36% 17,34% 15,90% 1,57%
Source : BureauEconomicAnalysis
Table 2: GDP at current prices
In billions of dollars (US)
COUNTRY / YEAR 2000 2005 2008 2009 2010 2015
BRAZIL 657.249 892.106 1,694.616 1,666.768 2,209.266 1,903.934
CHINA 1,192.854 2,287.258 4,547.716 5,105.769 5,949.648 11,211.928
FRANCE 1,372.452 2,207.450 2,937.321 2,700.658 2,651.772 2,469.530
GERMANY 1,952.920 2,862.521 3,764.675 3,421.630 3,418.371 3,413.483
INDIA 476.636 834.218 1,224.096 1,365.373 1,708.460 2,308.018
ITALY 1,145.564 1.856,684 2,403.213 2,191.781 2,130.586 1,842.835
JAPAN 4.731.199 4,571.867 4,849.185 5,035.141 5,495.387 4,210.363
RUSSIA 259.702 763.704 1,660.846 1,222.645 1,524.915 1,175.996
UK 1,551.752 2,415.053 2,814.476 2,318.782 2,409.409 2,853.357
USA 10,284.750 13,093.700 14,718.575 14,418,.725 14,964.400 18,124.731
TABLE 3: GDP in purchasing power parity
Percentage (%) Gross World Product
COUNTRY / YEAR 2000 2005 2008 2009 2010 2015 2020
BRAZIL 3,2 3,1 3,1 3,1 3,2 2,9 2,7
CHINA 7,4 9,7 11,9 13,1 13,7 16,9 18,9
FRANCE 3,4 3,1 2,8 2,7 2,7 2,3 2,1
GERMANY 5,0 4,2 4,0 3,8 3,7 3,4 3,0
ΙNDIA 4,3 4,9 5,3 5,8 6,1 7,1 8,5
ΙΤALY 3,3 2,9 2,6 2,4 2,4 1,9 1,7
JAPAN 6,6 5,8 5,2 4,9 4,9 4,3 3,7
RUSSIA 3,1 3,5 3,7 3,5 3,4 3,1 2,7
UK 3,1 3,0 2,7 2,6 2,5 2,3 2,2
USA 21,0 19,6 17,9 17,4 17,0 16,1 15,0
Table 4: Share in global commodity exports
COUNTRY / YEAR 1990 1995 2000 2005 2008 2009 2014
BRAZIL 0,9 0,9 0,9 1,1 1,2 1,2 1,2
CHINA 1,8 2,9 3,9 7,3 8,9 9,6 12,4
FRANCE 6,2 5,8 5,1 4,4 3,8 3,9 3,1
GERMANY 12,0 10,1 8,5 9,2 9,0 8,9 8,0
INDIA 0,5 0,6 0,7 0,9 1,2 1,3 1,7
ITALY 4,9 4,5 3,7 3,6 3,4 3,2 2,8
JAPAN 8,2 8,6 7,4 5,7 4,8 4,6 3,6
RUSSIA _ 1,6 1,6 2,3 2,9 2,4 2,6
UK 5,3 4,6 4,4 3,7 2,8 2,8 2,7
USA 11,3 11,3 12,1 8,6 8,0 8,4 8,6
Table 5: GDPat constant prices
Annual percentage change
COUNTRY / YEAR 2000 2005 2008 2009 2010 2015 2020
BRAZIL 4,4 3,1 5,0 -0,2 7,6 -1,0 2,5
CHINA 8,4 11,3 9,6 9,2 10,4 6,8 6,3
FRANCE 3,9 1,6 0,2 -2,9 2,0 1,2 1,9
GERMANY 3,2 0,9 0,8 -5,6 3,9 1,6 1,3
INDIA 4,0 9,3 3,9 8,5 10,3 7,5 7,8
ITALY 3,7 1,0 -1,1 -5,5 1,7 0,5 1,0
JAPAN 2,3 1,3 -1,0 -5,5 4,7 1,0 0,7
RUSSIA 10,0 6,4 5,2 -7,8 4,5 -3,8 1,5
UK 3,8 2,8 -0,3 -4,3 1,9 2,7 2,1
USA 4,1 3,3 -0,3 -2,8 2,5 3,1 2,0
Table 5Α EU28, imports from various regions/countries, as a percentage of total imports outside the EU28
2002 2005 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
China (without Hong Kong) 9,6 13,6 15,7 17,4 18,5 17,1 16,2 16,6
Russia 7,0 9,6 11,4 9,7 10,6 11,6 12,0 12,3
USA 19,5 13,4 11,5 12,6 11,3 11,1 11,5 11,6
OPEC 6,5 9,2 9,9 7,9 8,5 9,2 10,6 9,8
Source: Elaboration of European Commission Data
Table 5Β. EU28, exports to various regions/countries, as a percentage of total exports outside the EU28.
2002 2005 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
USA 28,0 23,9 18,9 18,6 17,9 17,0 17,4 16,6
OPEC 7,5 8,4 9,3 9,8 8,8 8,1 8,5 9,0
China (without Hong Kong) 4,0 4,9 6,0 7,5 8,4 8,8 8,6 8,5
Russia 3,9 5,4 8,0 6,0 6,4 7,0 7,3 6,9
Source: Elaboration of European Commission data
Preface to N. Bukharin’s Pamphlet, Imperialism and the World Economy. V.I. Lenin. V. 22, Collected Works. Progress Publishers, Moscow.
 On The History Of The Question Of The Unfortunate Peace. V.I. Lenin. V. 26 Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow
 The Revolutionary Phrase. V.I.Lenin. V. 27, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow.
 Speech Delivered at a Meeting of Activists OfThe Moscow Organisation of the R.C.P.(B.) V.I. Lenin. V. 31, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow.
 13th Plenum of the ECCI in 1933
* Makis Papadopoulos is member of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
International Communist Review, Issue 6, 2015.