At the dawn of the current century a new international scene began to consolidate with its own features that are in many ways opposed to the earlier epoch1, which was characterized by the strengthening of capitalism which had extended its own survival for the umpteenth time, constantly postponing its inevitable end.
This apparent invincibility lasted only one decade2 and today we see how the bastions of this system– the United States and the European Union – are sinking rapidly and sharply into decay. At the same time China and Brazil – among others – are striving to develop their new powers as imperialist nations, while relying on the regional blocks that they already lead. They are developing themselvesdespite the difficulties present in rising precisely in the middle of the another, hopefully final, decline of capitalism.
These conditions have done nothing but exacerbate the social discontent that has been evidenced through the protests of disapproval and rebellion taking place in almost all of Europe, the United States, North Africa and the Middle East.
These protests have not produced alternatives to what currently exists; they have limited themselves to complaints which essentially defend the benefits and living standards of the past. This is, for example, the case with the Indignados (the Indignant and the unemployed youth) in Europe, but of course, the movement is just beginning.
At the same time, this same terminal crisis, does not allow capitalism to manage the various imperial nations through the traditional bourgeois democratic regimes, as has happened throughout much of the 20th century.
The reformist apparatuses of other times, like the Social Democrats, have succumbed. The dictatorships, like in North Africa, have fallen, demonstrating that even anti-democratic bourgeois domination is in crisis.
As demands and struggles have spread on one hand while production and investment have plummeted on the other, inevitably financial capital has imposed itself on the rest of the productive activities and – moreover – at its own peril because of its tendency to monopolize productive property and control it, is in itself a lead lifebelt in times of deep crisis.
This is derived from the weakening of the inter-bourgeois alliances of state management that configure the existing political regimes, ranging from the parliamentary to the presidential and even to the dictatorships. In certain cases this even leads to them falling into the hands of governments that apply fascist measures or methodologies, characterized by only representing the interests of financial capital which has the socio-political attribute of suppressing any democratic expression, even electoral.
They have not yet become stable governments, since they still cannot rely on a social base outside of the bourgeoisie itsel, a base capable of imposing absolute domination through methods of civil war against the workers.
These regimes are supported by international financial organizations and continental armed forces. We can see this for example in Greece and Italy, where the local bourgeoisie did not manage to form governments and so financial capital sponsored “technical” governments. This is an euphemism to designate de facto governing authorities, without elections, and – incidentally – these governments are headed by former officials of the European Union who quickly surrounded themselves with employees, executives and former executives of banking and other financial sectors.
It is more accurate to define these regimes as civil dictatorships- or Bonapartist – that reflect the interests of the creditors of French-German financial capital.
Another fascist characteristic that some of these regimes have is the nationalization of large companies – these days financial ones — with the aim of saving capital that is in ruins – not in order to pass these on to the domain and control of workers – but to maintain the previous owners using state funds3. Belgium, France, and Luxembourg have done this recently with the Dexia Bank and in Greece this happened with the Proton Bank, imitating United States, Canada, Australia, England, Holland, Poland, the Federation of Malaya, and Belgium — among many others — which had already done this after the fall of Lehman Brothers.
This is no different from what Hitler and Mussolini tried in their time, not only with parts of banking but also with other industries that resulted in the strengthening of their dictatorships, without financial capital losing control of its own entities, since this process was mediated by the state.
In the current epoch that we have characterized as non revolutionary4 on the global level, there are some regions or countries of the world where there begins to emerge evidence of a new pre-revolutionary stage5.
This is particularly visible in North Africa and in countries of Europe such as Italy and Greece, where we have seen massive participation, the fall of governments in North African and general strikes in parts of Europe. There, we see the presence of the objective premises of a pre-revolutionary situation: economic cataclysm, the impossibility of governments and regimes to continue ruling as they have up until now, the growing will of the people not to be governed as they have been before, and increased social polarization.
The economic crisis, widespread in the European Union, United States, the North of Africa and the Middle East, indicates that many people do not support continuing to bear the hardships caused by this system and at the same time the capitalists are having increasing difficulty governing these regions, this seriously shows the feasibility of a new stage in these regions. Keeping in mind that the situation is much more delayed in the US – because of its historical characteristics as far as the development of a mass movement is concerned
The evident polarization however, does not mean that the balance of forces develops evenly. While the financial bourgeoisie prepares its far right parties and organizations for new challenges – and in some countries this means even the real possibility of governing – the workers, their class-based organizations and the revolutionary left, lack their parties and their political and trade union organizations that would allow them to meet the challenge imposed by the new situation.
This new open situation is critical, it involves great risks and opportunities, and everything will depend on what the workers and oppressed do.l
1. Approximately from 1989 to 1999.
2. Capitalism swallowed in record time the accumulated wealth the people from the former worker-states took seven decades to build.
3. This was already done by Great Britain using the Company of the Indies during the 19th century and by England, Austria-Hungary and Germany in pre World War I and by Hitler and Mussolini before World War II.
4. Our characterization covers the period beginning in 2000 until today and it provides the theoretical basis for our policy document (see www.izquierda.info). The document sustains that we are at a stage where the central forces of the system remain stabilized.
5. The pre-revolutionary stage is a period where there are objective conditions for the change of the society but where the political organizations needed to lead it are lacking.
6. These privileged layers are called the labor aristocracy. See related article in this issue International Left Review.