The tragic events in New York and Washington can only be described as a turning point in world history, which will have dramatic political, economic and military repercussions. "What is certain is that we have entered a new world", comments the Financial Times. "Nothing will be the same."
Not so long ago, capitalist commentators were saying that the world would avoid a slump. Not any more. Even before this outrage, the world economy was on the brink of a crisis. The Economist (25/8/01) had already announced "Welcome to the first global recession of the 21st century". The US economy, the dynamo of the global economy in the past period, has barely grown, with exports, imports and consumer spending turning downwards in recent months. Japan, the world's second biggest economy, is in recession. The events in America now threaten to tip the whole world over the edge into a deep slump.
Already the stock markets are in turmoil. According to the Financial Times, "This is now one of the worst bear markets in history. In early trading yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen 31 per cent from its January 2000 peak, one of the worst 10 declines the US market has experienced since the first world war." Again it states: "US investors averted a headlong decline in equities, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average still recorded a 12.4 per cent decline over the week - the worst performance by the blue-chip index since 1933." (22/23 September). With over 50 million Americans owning shares, this will inevitably have a profound effect on the real economy. $1.3 trillion was wiped off the value of shares on Wall Street, and economists like those at Deutsche Asset Management predict two million job losses in the next six months.
What an answer to all those who attempted to ridicule Marxism as "out of date". All those who kneeled down before the market economy as a solution to societys problems. Socialist Appeal has long ago argued that the laws of capitalism had not changed. There was no "end of history". What we are seeing now is a classical capitalist crisis of over-production as explained by Marx 150 years ago. The figures for "over investment" and "excess capacity" are evidence of this. From computers to steel, the world market is facing a glut. Already an avalanche of redundancies have been announced across the board, and there is worse to come. Britain will not escape the economic devastation. On the contrary, the weakness of the British economy will be exposed and we will be asked to pay the bill.
We have entered a period of enormous instability on all fronts. It is characterised by wars and economic crises not seen since the inter-war period. In reality, the last 50 years has been an exception to the norm of capitalist development. The scene is being set for revolutionary upheavals throughout the world. Globalisation will mean global crisis and global conflagration.
The Blair government has slavishly followed the Bush administration, like some lapdog. They have chained themselves to an imperialist foreign policy that will intensify the contradictions worldwide. The imperialist powers are using the cover of a fight against terrorism to pursue gunboat diplomacy in an attempt to terrify the ex-colonial world into accepting their rule without question - or else.
At home, the "fight against terrorism" is being used to rush through legislation to curtail democratic rights. Increased state powers, including the introduction of identity cards, are being drawn up, which will be used against the labour movement in the future. The revelations of Stella Rimmington about M15's subversive activities against the labour and trade union movement are a warning of how the state will use its new found powers in the future.
The reactionary consequences of individual terrorism - always opposed by Marxists - mean their actions have played into the hands of the most reactionary sections of the ruling class. They have been used by the right wing to dampen criticism of the Blairs pro-market policies of privatisation etc. This is evident with the suspension of the TUC and the curtailment of the Labour Party conference. Typically, the trade union leaders have run for cover, abandoning their weak opposition to Blairism at the first opportunity. But this will not last.
Even if temporarily they can hold back the opposition mood in the ranks, this cannot go on indefinitely. In fact the mood of discontent which already exists will combine with the impact of economic recession and the consequences of imperialist aggression abroad and inevitably break through with a vengeance. Events, events, events will create enormous turmoil within the working class and consequently within the mass organisations. There will be a massive rejection of pro-market policies and a search for a real solution to their problems.
Socialist Appeal has consistently fought against the right wing domination of the Labour Party and trade unions. We have explained that there is no solution to the problems of the working class on a capitalist basis. The new situation in Britain and internationally will forcefully underline this point. All that capitalism can offer is collapsing living standards, growing unemployment, economic crisis and war.
It is more urgent than ever to put forward the real socialist alternative to economic crisis and an internationalist opposition to imperialist war. Only by taking over the banks, insurance companies and the 150 major monopolies that dominate the economy can we break the stranglehold of big business over our lives. The greatest assistance we can give to the masses of Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere facing unendurable hardship and a new phase of imperialist aggression is to step up our struggle for socialism at home.
- Oppose Imperialist Aggression
- Defend Democratic Rights
- For Militant Action to Defend Jobs and Services
- For a Socialist Programme - Break with the anarchy of the market