The ‘Great Stagnation’ and spreading world social instability

19th January 2014 Socialist Action 0

By Peter Wilson

Five years into the current economic crisis it is possible to see beyond the immediate impact of the global financial crisis and recession to see clearly some of the structural shifts that have taken place. A key change that has taken place is a sharp fall in capital creation, and therefore investment, in the imperialist countries. Given that investment is responsible for the bulk of economic growth, there is no immediate possibility of rapid growth in these economies being recreated. The cumulative effect of the resulting economic stagnation in the imperialist centres lies behind the spreading of social and political instability to widening areas of the world.

Photo by MCpl Robert Bottrill, Canadian Forces

Osama Bin Laden and the ‘war on terror’

4th May 2011 Socialist Action 0

By Jane West

The ‘war on terror’ launched after the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Centre has included so far the invasion of Iraq without the support of the UN on an illegal mission of ‘regime change’, the torture and humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the incarceration of hundreds without trial in Guantanamo Bay, the invasion of Afghanistan, the deaths of at least three times the number of US military personnel than the total dead on 9/11 and many times that number in civilian deaths.

Dilma election poster

Two trends in world politics

5th November 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Jane West

Dilma election poster

Photo WavesDream

The recent results of the elections in Brazil and the USA highlight two divergent trends in world politics. Trends in the countries dominated by imperialism continue to go to or remain on the left. Since the outbreak of the international financial crisis political trends within the imperialist countries have moved to the right.

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The demonisation of Muslims

25th February 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Andrew Williams
 
Islamophobia – anti-Muslim bigotry – has become an important ideological component in imperialism’s current international offensive. As has been argued in an earlier article on this website, US imperialism’s determination to maintain its international pre-eminence has for the past 30 years required it to increasingly assert its military superiority to compensate for the reduced competitiveness of its domestic economy. Over that period US military activity has extended in all areas of the globe, including in the Middle East, Central Asia and now Latin America.
 
The Middle East and Central Asia are adjoining regions and key to world oil and gas supplies and so of strategic importance to the US – not just because its economy is dependent on these commodities, but also because the degree to which the US can exert control over supplies gives it an advantage over its rivals.

After the Second World War, US hegemony, based on its economic leverage and its role as imperialism’s military police force internationally, meant it could develop client regimes or negotiate favourable contracts for extraction and pipelines, without direct military intervention. But its economic decline has meant that its economic leverage is now sometimes insufficient to secure this, and it increasingly therefore has to resort to military action.

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The new ideological crisis of capitalism

8th January 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Steve Wallace

The financial events of 2008–2009 inaugurated not only an economic but a new ideological crisis of capitalism. How deep this crisis will become depends on the development of the economic situation and the intervention of the political left. The character of this crisis, however, can be seen most clearly by placing it in an historical context.

Twenty years ago, in 1989–91, capitalism achieved enormous victories. It overthrew the non-capitalist economies in the USSR and Eastern Europe. The opportunity to achieve this was created by the final failure of the policy of ‘socialism in one country’ inaugurated by Stalin – with its economically utopian attempt to create a fully developed socialist society within the framework of a single state, its introduction of a fully planned economy in a short period by administrative means, and the political repression that followed from such policies. 

Within the former USSR the objective result of this capitalist victory was, in literal terms, the greatest economic catastrophe in peacetime in history. The former USSR’s economic output fell by half, large parts of the former system of social benefits were destroyed, male life expectancy fell by almost ten years, tens of millions of women were forced out of work while prostitution and social degradation acquired massive dimensions, and war broke out in the southern states of the former USSR as the systems of economic and social protection that had protected the population of the Soviet Union were destroyed. The stupidity of those within the former USSR who had introduced this programme of capitalist restoration in the belief that it would ‘revive’ Russia after the Brezhnev ‘period of stagnation’ was shown in the fact that alongside this economic and social catastrophe the former Soviet Union was destroyed as one of the world’s great powers and it became subject to many new threats – which the US promptly started to exploit. The restoration of capitalism in the USSR therefore created an economic, social and political disaster for its population.