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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.

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Guns, butter and Afghanistan

5th January 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Sammy Barker

The relative decline of US imperialism has underpinned the domestic debate about President Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan.

In his speech to the Corp of Cadets at West Point on 1 December, Obama said: ‘…as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it allows us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That is why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own.’

This drew a fierce response from the Wall Street Journal, which supports the surge as a necessary expression of power, not as an unfortunate diversion from its exercise at home:

No butter, just guns

1st December 2009 Socialist Action 0

The international financial crisis is frequently interpreted as being characterised by operations of avaricious and immoral bankers, motivated purely by personal greed, acting with complete indifference to the population of this or any other country, who recklessly operated financial derivates they did not understand within a casino economy, and whose net useful contribution to society has been shown to be less than zero – all of which is true. But this is only the mechanism by which the economic crisis worked itself out – not its cause. Furthermore, if this had been the real driving force of the economic crisis it would be relatively easy to deal with – tough financial regulation and similar measures would suffice.

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Challenging the US global offensive, part 1

1st October 2004 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 2004 (pamphlet)
The European Social Forum and the struggle for socialism


1. Introduction

The European Social Forum (ESF) and the World Social Forum (WSF) are today the largest and broadest international movements against social injustice and neo-liberal capitalism. Socialist Action supports both.

The ESF, in addition to its fundamental goal of social justice, particularly embodies key steps forward that Socialist Action has championed for years.

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Challenging the US global offensive, part 2

1st October 2004 Socialist Action 0

7. The situation in the imperialist countries

The overall orientation of the imperialist bourgeoisies has already been described above. However the capitalist class in the imperialist countries is such a small section of the population that it cannot maintain its rule without gaining support from wider layers of society. Undermining the position of the imperialist bourgeoisies therefore requires severing them from their wider layers of social support. This must be achieved in a very specific and concrete political situation.

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Une riposte à l’offensive américaine mondiale

1st October 2004 Socialist Action 0

First published: Oct 2004

Voici la traduction en français de la majeure partie de la brochure rédigée par Socialist Action en vue du Forum Social Européen qui a eu lieu à Londres en 2004. A part les parties traitant du Forum social non traduites, la brochure reste un document de référence pour analyser la situation internationale et les rapports de forces mondiaux, même s’il faudrait y intégrer les développements récents. Le lecteur trouvera bien entendu des références aux forums sociaux qu’il lui faudra re-situer dans le contexte de la brochure.


Aujourd’hui ce qui domine l’actualité politique internationale sont les effets de la guerre en Irak, à savoir la résistance prolongée à l’occupation dans ce pays, le mouvement international contre la guerre, et l’impact de tout ceci sur de nombreux pays. Cette situation politique immédiate à la fois regroupe, et repose sur, un certain nombre de tendances politiques, sociales et économiques déjà observées sur le long terme :