The Diminution of Imperialism and the Rise of Non-Imperialist Capitalism, Deformed by Decades of Non-Capitalist Development, in Russia and China
The series of nationalist military coups in former French colonies, now neo colonies, in North and West Africa, Niger and now Gabon, and the expansion of the BRICS Economic bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), to include 6 new members (Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) from 1st January 2024, are both products of a new situation brought into being by the West’s long, brutal and clearly losing proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. The Ukraine war was prepared by imperialist provocations, ‘colour revolutions‘ (coups), Western-backed far right terror against Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and threatened NATO expansion into Ukraine, was supposed to weaken Russia and cause collapse.
But it has backfired. The sanctions regime has strengthened, not weakened Russia relatively to its imperialist antagonists, who have suffered a greater decline in their economies than Russia itself because of the economic ill-effects. In fact, Russia is rapidly regaining the economic ground lost since the massive intensification of sanctions from the beginning of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in February 2022. It is within a whisker of regaining its GDP position prior to that point and no doubt will do so pretty soon. And in Ukraine itself, the Nazi regime has sent 400,000 of its own troops to their deaths in ‘meat grinders’ trying to destroy the population of the Donbass. It is now clear that Ukraine is not capable of defeating that population and the Russian troops defending them, and the imperialist propaganda façade is showing signs of cracking.
The arrogance with which the collective West (i.e. the imperialists) have demanded that the semi-colonial countries of the Global South ‘sacrifice’ their economies and the livelihoods of its people for their sanctions on Russian oil, gas, and other commodities and exports, has caused a popular backlash against imperialism generally, and antagonised many semi-colonial bourgeois governing layers, who have suddenly seen the possibility of throwing off the shackles of the ‘unipolar world’ and Western economic blackmail and differential trade (exploitation). The growth of BRICS from 5 to 11 members next Jan 1st will mean that around 47% of the world’s energy resources originate in BRICS nations. Next year it is confidently predicted 10 more countries are likely to join, including Algeria and Venezuela, which will take BRICS’ share of the world’s energy resources to around 70%.
The queue to join BRICS is one manifestation of this revolt of countries of the Global South. The coups in North and Central Africa, which overthrew classic French pseudo-democratic puppet regimes, are another manifestation of the same revolt. The increase in the price of Uranium by the new Niger government, from €0.01 to €200 per kg, is a classic example. France was getting its hands on Nigerien Uranium for the former price, whereas the latter (€200) is the normal price charged by imperialist countries that export Uranium, such as Canada. (https://spectacle.com.ng/2023/09/03/niger-increases-price-of-uranium-from-e0-8-kg-to-e200-kg/) No wonder France has been threatening military action itself and trying to incite the neocolonial client umbrella organisation ECOWAS into doing its work for it.
But this was made enormously more difficult by the pledges of solidarity from governments such as Mali, Bukina Faso, and Chad, already seriously at odds with France, who basically have said that they will treat an attack on Niger as an attack on themselves. And it was made even more difficult by the coup that followed in Gabon, which expelled from power another notorious French client regime. France in this situation is acting as the standard-bearer of the imperialist West. So, the consequences of this are giving birth to a major crisis of imperialism and US hegemony. The fact that BRICS is looking for alternative means of trade to the previously almighty dollar is another major problem for US hegemony.
The US is trying to hit back against this challenge to their hegemony in South America in particular, with their obvious support for far-right candidates in the forthcoming Argentine elections. These are in the Bolsonaro mould and far from de-dollarisation, they are looking to massively re-dollarise Argentina, which would mean a massive attack on the living standards of its working class and poor. Struggles are breaking out against that, and the elections in October will be a massive confrontation over this. If they manage this, another coup against Lula in Brazil is the logical next step.
The impending defeat is polarising the US bourgeoisie itself, exacerbating the original clique warfare between Trumpians and Neocons in the Republican Party, and has given rise to the candidacy of Robert F Kennedy Jr in the Democrats. It is highly likely that there could be one or two ‘third party’ candidates in the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election, with both party machines trying to marginalise both far right and ‘liberal’ critics of the Ukraine fiasco. This fragmentation of US politics could quite conceivably result in next year’s elections collapsing into chaos, which would certainly be a symbol of imperial decline.
Counterrevolution and the New Cold War
The Ukraine war has its origins in the problematic sustainability of the counterrevolution that took hold in the USSR, and most centrally Russia, in August 1991. Though it tore apart the USSR and fractured the apparatus whose main function for decades had been to maintain state ownership of the main means of production, it did not result in the dismemberment and destruction of the Russian Federation, the central component of the USSR. Fracturing the state is not the same as obliterating its administrative and especially productive components. Many important elements survived, albeit in some cases under different titles. But in many cases, they preserved attitudes to property and the various components and classes of Russian society that that were simply customary and had been for many decades, almost as an automatic reflex.
This is the context for the paradox of today’s new Cold War. The driving force of the original Cold War was class antagonism and class struggle: in 1917, driven beyond endurance by the first imperialist World War, the working class of the Russian Empire, supported by the poor peasantry in and out of army uniform, took power as a class and began the task of abolishing capitalism. The revolutionary wave that this was part of, despite convulsing much of Europe, was only victorious in Russia. And that was after fighting off invasion by 13 foreign, mainly imperialist armies – attempted counterrevolution from without in league with the executed Tsar’s ‘White Guard’ general staff. They fought right across the length and breadth of Russia from Europe to the Far East.
Nowhere else did the young Communist Parties manage to take power. This isolation of the revolution created a new situation previously unknown in history and not fully foreseen by the earlier classical Marxists. The proletariat was in power in a materially backward country, surrounded by more advanced, more productive and ultimately more powerful capitalist-imperialist states. This situation meant that the proletariat, in power but isolated, was subjected to a new form of oppression by its state power, simply by virtue of the oppressive material circumstances of material deprivation, blockade and encirclement. Over a period of several years, this oppression led to the atrophying of the direct organs of working-class rule, the soviets, and the crystallisation of a privileged labour bureaucracy in the workers’ state. This degeneration caused the proletariat to lose any real control of the state created by the revolution, and consolidated a privileged layer of labour bureaucrats over the working class in power.
Economic and military siege is a crucial weapon of imperialism against a workers’ state in such circumstances. If the world revolution is too long delayed, capitalist restoration begins, in a molecular manner. First with the crystallisation of privileged layers that begin to advocate conciliation with the class enemy, rationalising national isolation into a ‘theory’ that socialism can be built within national borders, abandoning the world revolution as an aim. It continues with the formal dissolution of international organisations, and the gradual, further crystallisation out of the original labour bureaucracy of more overtly bourgeois layers. These agitate politically for ‘market socialism’ and the like, and gradually eat away at the economic planning that the revolution created, seeking a greater economic ‘freedom’, in reality to make money, while exploiting the often-repressive nature of the original labour bureaucracy to demand greater political freedom for bourgeois currents particularly. Then in turn this gives rise, in the next generations as it turned out, to an aspiring capitalist class that inevitably would come to overthrow the workers state if the workers failed to stop it.
This kind of molecular preparation for capitalist restoration took several decades in the USSR. Because of the deep social roots among the masses that the revolution dug, it could only crystallise very slowly. While this was crystallising the USSR, under bureaucratic leadership of this type, fought off the gargantuan imperialist attack of 1941 from Nazi Germany, and then endured the decades-long military and economic blockade of US imperialism, expressed through NATO since 1949. But the health of the world revolution depends on the working class organised politically on an international, i.e., global scale, led by its most class-conscious and clear-thinking political vanguard. Once that is lost, if it is not regained by the conscious action of the masses, capitalist restoration at the hands of the various privileged layers analysed above becomes virtually inevitable.
Thus, there were no politically authoritative forces able to stand up for the USSR in August 1991: only a decrepit remnant of the earlier bureaucratic regime attempted to preserve it against the rampant privateers lined up behind Gorbachev and especially Yeltsin. They were a feeble bunch indeed and when their three-day coup effort failed, the USSR was seemingly rapidly swept away as Yeltsin, the former head of the Moscow Communist Party, took control of Russia and rapidly dissolved the central state, embarking on a massive privatisation exercise and an economic ‘shock treatment’ that forced millions of people into starvation, despair and death as their living standards were rapidly destroyed. Life expectancy fell by around 5 years under Gorbachev and Yeltsin in the early 1990s, something that was only matched in peacetime during the 20th Century by Stalin’s panicked forcible collectivisation of agriculture in the aftermath of the 1929 Kulak revolt (after the bureaucracy, in its own earlier marketising phase, had encouraged the wealthier Soviet peasant layers to “enrich yourselves”). Both events killed several millions. But only the Stalinist famine is exploited by imperialism and its agents to blame ‘communism’; the economic massacre under Yeltsin had the wholehearted approval of the Western bourgeoisies and indeed, Putin is loathed by them precisely for his efforts to reverse a number of Yeltsin’s crimes against the peoples of the former USSR.
The New Cold War: After the Counterrevolution
There is a huge problem with capitalist restoration in countries where for several decades capitalism did not exist, and (sometimes crude) economic planning took its place. This is clear now, as a new Cold War has begun. In the earlier Cold War, the ideology of ‘Socialism in one country’ led to the perverse situation that giant deformed workers’ states such as the USSR and China were on opposite sides of the geopolitical conflict. From the early 1970s until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, ‘Communist’ China was an ally of US imperialism against the USSR. It fought overtly and covertly against the USSR and its allies in several wars: it invaded Vietnam in 1979 as ‘punishment’ for Vietnam’s 1978 armed overthrow of the most brutally irrational of all the Stalinist regimes – Pol Pot’s ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ (Cambodia). It armed and funded, in alliance with the US and Britain, the Khmer Rouge when they effectively became counterrevolutionary warriors against the pro-Vietnamese Hun Sen government in Cambodia through the 1980s. China funded the counterrevolutionary Islamist mujahedin in Afghanistan though the 1980s in their US-backed war against the USSR and its left nationalist allies of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDPA), whose defeat played an important role in the destruction of the USSR. China funded anti-Soviet, anti-Cuban allies of the apartheid regime in South Africa such as Renamo in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola, against Soviet and Cuban allied post-colonial left populist governments such as FRELIMO (Mozambique) and the MPLA (Angola). This is when the state ideology of China was much more overtly ‘communist’ in colouration, as opposed to today when the whole world knows of the powerful capitalist sector that plays a major role in China.
A form of capitalist restoration took place in China in the early 1990s, from above through a large bourgeois layer, the product of prolonged bureaucratic marketisation beginning around 1979, and proceeding for several decades, gaining sufficient power in the state to absorb key elements of the ruling Communist Party itself. Even Xi Jinping, the current Supreme Leader of the Chinese Communist Party, is part of this billionaire capitalist class which had its genesis within the Stalinist regime and has some markedly different features to the capitalist norm, particularly as seen in the imperialist countries where state power is clearly a tool of corporate power. In China, to a degree, state power overlaps with corporate power in a novel manner that is somewhat unprecedented.
Both Russia and China are thus novel forms of capitalism, where new bourgeois classes are very powerful and yet the state power contains much that is left over from the decades when the dominant form of property was state ownership and economic planning. Not socialism, but societies where the forms of property were those corresponding to the rule of the working class and can be said to be part of what should be the transition to socialism. Socialism, or the lower phase of communism, being defined as a society where class-based social antagonisms no longer exist, though the horizon of what Marx called ‘bourgeois right’ has not yet been crossed. Social and economic inequality persists under socialism not between classes as such, but between different sections of the associated producers themselves, simply because social production has not reached the level of abundance for all as to make formal inequality irrelevant. There will be some functions until that point that will require greater material renumeration simply because without that they will not get done. As work becomes more social and rewarding in its own terms it is likely that these will be the most unpleasant and/or dangerous tasks. At a greater level of material-productive and social wealth such considerations will become increasingly irrelevant, and society will cross the horizon of ‘bourgeois right’ to actual communism, the ‘higher stage’. That however is a process that takes time. And neither the USSR nor ‘Red’ China ever achieved even the lower stage of communism (‘socialism’) as defined by Marx, let alone the higher stage.
Limits to Counterrevolution; Further Revolutionary Possibilities
When history rolls backwards though counterrevolution, it rarely manages to do completely. The French revolution that began in 1789 was the greatest of the social revolutions that brought the bourgeoisie to power and overthrew the feudal system of property and production that preceded capitalism in Europe. In terms of its impact in providing the impetus to the overthrow of local forms of feudalism and initially at least, to democracy through Europe, it was one of the greatest events in history. The radical-democratic phase of the revolution under the historic leaders of the Jacobin party, Robespierre, Danton and Saint-Just, where the French aristocracy was basically wiped out by the stern measure of the guillotine, was succeeded by Thermidor, the seizure of power by a more conservative faction, and then the bourgeois Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte. But Napoleon, though his rule decisively ended the radical phase of the revolution at home, nevertheless exported the bourgeois anti-feudal revolution throughout much of Europe, almost all the way to Moscow. After the final defeat of Napoleon, the feudal order in Europe was damaged beyond repair. In the succeeding century, all the feudal absolutisms, including Prussia and Tsarist Russia, were forced to introduce capitalist social-revolutionary measures from above to try to prevent them being forced on them from below, as in revolutionary France.
The final defeat of Napoleon in 1815 led to an attempt to restore the old French Bourbon monarchy. Louis XVIII and his successor Charles X were unable to simply restore feudalism and absolutism. The old regime in France was irreparable, and as the history of the 19th Century proved, so was the feudal order in the whole of Europe, which was convulsed by revolution after revolution, from above and below, right through the 19th Century. Out of such bourgeois-revolutionary events the working-class movement itself took shape and began to act as an independent class force in its own right, with bourgeois revolutions interlacing with proletarian class struggles to an increasing extent throughout the 19th Century, reaching an initial high point with the Paris Commune: the first short-lived attempt to create a workers’ state in history. This occurred at the end of the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war, which was in effect the culmination of the bourgeois revolution (from above) that unified Germany and created it as a capitalist great power. After which we saw the transformation of European capitalism where such national struggles were still possible into imperialism, where rival European monopoly capitalist powers fought to divide the world between them for plunder.
The culmination of this process took place in Russia in 1917, in circumstances of imperialist world war, where the bourgeois revolution, centring on the agrarian question and the emancipation of the overwhelmingly peasant population of the pre-capitalist Russian Empire, was carried out by the proletariat in power. That proletariat that had been created by the transplantation of capitalist technique by the Tsarist state in a desperate struggle to compete with the European capitalist-imperialist powers culminating in the First World War.
Does capitalist restoration happen ‘automatically’?
All this raises some difficult questions about Russia today. About the nature of capitalist restoration, and the prospects for both the anti-imperialist struggle and the world revolution itself. Since capitalism was restored in Russia in the 1990s, was apparently consolidated, and yet imperialism has resumed its war drive against ex-Soviet Russia with a vengeance that resembles the Cold War against the USSR when it was a workers’ state. Why should this be if capitalist restoration has happened in Russia? What is the meaning of the current geopolitical conflict between Russia, China and the West? And what is the likely outcome, in the event of a defeat of the NATO powers?
The essay by Leon Trotsky titled Not a Workers and Not a Bourgeois State, is an important supplement to Trotsky’s major work on the degeneration of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution Betrayed (1936), which defined the USSR under Stalinist rule as a bureaucratically degenerated workers’ state. It was a preliminary response mainly to Max Shachtman, who had begun to question the proletarian nature of the USSR and later would lead a struggle that would split the US Trotskyist movement and cause major divisions in the movement elsewhere.
Not a Workers and Not a Bourgeois State was written in 1937 and began to at least hint at addressing some questions of future development that were slightly beyond the scope of the Revolution Betrayed. It made some important points about the similarity of the relationship of an economically backward and isolated workers state with imperialism, and those of semi-colonial, formally independent, capitalist countries, with the same imperialism. It is worth quoting from Trotsky’s essay because it does cast some light both on the likely path of capitalist restoration in such a situation, and implicitly the likely aftermath:
“The proletariat of the USSR is the ruling class in a backward country where there is still a lack of the most vital necessities of life. The proletariat of the USSR rules in a land consisting of only one-twelfth part of humanity; imperialism rules over the remaining eleven-twelfths. The rule of the proletariat, already maimed by the backwardness and poverty of the country, is doubly and triply deformed under the pressure of world imperialism. The organ of the rule of the proletariat – the state – becomes an organ for pressure from imperialism (diplomacy, army, foreign trade, ideas, and customs). The struggle for domination, considered on a historical scale, is not between the proletariat and the bureaucracy, but between the proletariat and the world bourgeoisie… For the bourgeoisie – fascist as well as democratic – isolated counter-revolutionary exploits … do not suffice; it needs a complete counter-revolution in the relations of property and the opening of the Russian market. So long as this is not the case, the bourgeoisie considers the Soviet state hostile to it. And it is right.
“The internal regime in the colonial and semicolonial countries has a predominantly bourgeois character. But the pressure of foreign imperialism so alters and distorts the economic and political structure of these countries that the national bourgeoisie (even in the politically independent countries of South America) only partly reaches the height of a ruling class. The pressure of imperialism on backward countries does not, it is true, change their basic social character since the oppressor and oppressed represent only different levels of development in one and the same bourgeois society. Nevertheless the difference between England and India, Japan and China, the United States and Mexico is so big that we strictly differentiate between oppressor and oppressed bourgeois countries and we consider it our duty to support the latter against the former. The bourgeoisie of colonial and semi-colonial countries is a semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class.
“The pressure of imperialism on the Soviet Union has as its aim the alteration of the very nature of Soviet society… By this token the rule of the proletariat assumes an abridged, curbed, distorted character. One can with full justification say that the proletariat, ruling in one backward and isolated country, still remains an oppressed class. The source of oppression is world imperialism; the mechanism of transmission of the oppression – the bureaucracy. If in the words ‘a ruling and at the same time an oppressed class’ there is a contradiction, then it flows not from the mistakes of thought but from the contradiction in the very situation in the USSR. It is precisely because of this that we reject the theory of socialism in one country.”25 Nov 1937, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/11/wstate.htm
This juxtaposition of the situation of the semi-colonial capitalist ruling classes, with that of the proletariat in power in a backward and isolated workers state, is highly suggestive of what Trotsky considered likely to happen if the proletariat were to lose power as a class. In a situation where the proletariat even in power was oppressed by imperialist encirclement and backwardness, it is obvious that any bourgeois regime that were to replace it would face the same material conditions, and would likewise be a “semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class”, subject to imperialism. That basic Marxist supposition, implicit in the above passage though not explicitly spelled out is of enormous importance today in understanding not only Russia but also China and, to some extent, Belarus as well, and likely other former workers states such as Vietnam which have (so far) not played a major role in the current developing new Cold War between imperialism and the giant former bureaucratically ruled workers states.
Belarus, a different expression of the same phenomenon
We believe that Belarus has become an intermediate exponent of this process that has China and Russia as phenomena with their own determinations and rhythms. Having undergone a more fragile and shorter process of capitalist restoration, from 1996 onwards, it renationalized part of what had been privatized and, taking advantage of its privileged relationship with Russia, managed to preserve an economy that was even more state-owned and planned than Russia itself, developing as a relatively isolated extension of it, claiming a “socially oriented market economy”. Those who recognize and regret this are the reports from the World Bank and the US State Department itself.
“From the end of 1995, the Government sought to insulate its population from the pain of reform, protecting jobs and wages. This was accompanied by extensive administrative controls over prices, margins and exchange rates. The State maintained control of the majority of productive resources and a significant part of GDP was allocated to social expenses and subsidies. Market-oriented reforms were very limited. Economic growth resumed in 1996, led by State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).”https://web.archive.org/web/20071210182026/http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/ECA/eca.nsf/2656afe00bc5f02185256d5d005dae97/8ec2dc1ef03aed3e85256d5d0067dc90?OpenDocument
The US state department goes further:
“As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed industrial base; maintained this industrial base after the dissolution of the USSR. The country also has a broad agricultural base and a high level of education. Among the former republics of the Soviet Union, it had one of the highest standards of living. But Belarusians now face the difficult challenge of moving from a state-run economy with a high priority on military production and heavy industry to a civilian free-market system.
After an initial burst of capitalist reform from 1991-94, including the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the creation of private property institutions, and the development of entrepreneurship, Belarus under Lukashenko greatly slowed, and in many cases reversed, its pace of privatization. and other market measures, reforms, emphasizing the need for a “socially oriented market economy”. Around 80% of all industry remains in state hands and foreign investment has been hampered by a hostile business climate. Banks, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized under Lukashenko. The government continued to nationalize companies in 2005, using the “Golden Share” mechanism – which allows government control in all companies with foreign investment – and other administrative means.”https://web.archive.org/web/20071114000028/http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5371.htm
Theory is grey, but the tree of life is green
What we are actually faced with is the aftermath of the counterrevolution in the USSR. Trotsky also had some useful observations about the course of counterrevolution, actual and likely, in the context of both the French (bourgeois) and Russian (proletarian) revolutions in an earlier (1935) piece, The Workers State, Thermidor and Bonapartism. Talking directly about the French revolution, he wrote:
“After the profound democratic revolution, which liberates the peasants from serfdom and gives them land, the feudal counterrevolution is generally impossible. The overthrown monarchy may reestablish itself in power and surround itself with medieval phantoms. But it is already powerless to reestablish the economy of feudalism. Once liberated from the fetters of feudalism, bourgeois relations develop automatically. They can be checked by no external force; they must themselves dig their own grave, having previously created their own gravedigger.”https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1935/02/ws-therm-bon.htm
He contrasts that with what would be likely in the event of the collapse of the Stalinist regime and the Russian revolution with it:
“It is altogether otherwise with the development of socialist relations. The proletarian revolution not only frees the productive forces from the fetters of private ownership but also transfers them to the direct disposal of the state that it itself creates. While the bourgeois state, after the revolution, confines itself to a police role, leaving the market to its own laws, the workers’ state assumes the direct role of economist and organizer. The replacement of one political regime by another exerts only an indirect and superficial influence upon market economy. On the contrary, the replacement of a workers’ government by a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois government would inevitably lead to the liquidation of the planned beginnings and, subsequently, to the restoration of private property. In contradistinction to capitalism, socialism is built not automatically but consciously…”
“October 1917 completed the democratic revolution and initiated the socialist revolution. No force in the world can turn back the agrarian-democratic overturn in Russia; in this we have a complete analogy with the Jacobin revolution. But a kolkhoz overturn is a threat that retains its full force, and with it is threatened the nationalization of the means of production. Political counterrevolution, even were it to recede back to the Romanov dynasty, could not reestablish feudal ownership of land. But the restoration to power of a Menshevik and Social Revolutionary bloc would suffice to obliterate the socialist construction.”ibid
But what has actually happened is more complex. We have had something roughly akin to “the replacement of a workers’ government by a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois government … ” and “….the restoration of private property” in Russia since the 1991 collapse of the USSR. In China, we have had policies carried out for decades – abolition of Kolkhoz (collective farming) and the naked encouragement of capitalist enrichment both rural and urban — under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party – that Trotsky considered would lead to the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union into a kulak-led counterrevolution in the late 1920s. By the standards of the struggle of the Left Opposition against the Stalin-Bukharin bloc and its Neo-NEP – it is inconceivable that the regime of the Chinese Communist Party, with its numerous billionaire capitalists whose influence penetrates to the very top of the CCP regime, could be described today as a workers’ state. It is evident that China today is something fundamentally different from the old CCP regime under Mao, and that state power today is used to defend and promote the capitalist development of China, not to suppress it.
And yet far from stabilising world capitalism under the rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie, we now have a considerable level of unity in defensive struggle of the two giant former workers states of Russia and China, against US/led NATO imperialism, which grows more and more hysterical every day. It is worth recalling Trotsky’s remarks above that:
“For the bourgeoisie … isolated counter-revolutionary exploits … do not suffice; it needs a complete counter-revolution in the relations of property and the opening of the Russian market. So long as this is not the case, the bourgeoisie considers the Soviet state hostile to it ….”
This appears to have been only part of the story. Just as with anticipations and theorisations by Marxists of what might happen if a workers revolution triumphed in a backward country, the theorisations of what would happen if such revolutions were subsequently defeated, by even the best Marxist theoreticians, including most notably Trotsky himself, have proven inadequate for the task. “Theory is grey, but green is the tree of life” is an old saying, but that does not mean that anyone should dismiss Marxist theory in some cavalier and philistine fashion. Theory is a guide to action. But such is the profundity and complexity of world-historic events, when they emerge, that they invariably cause a crisis in existing theories, a need to re-examine, correct and deepen existing theory to provide an updated guide to action for a new period.
It does appear that Trotsky was correct to say, of the bourgeois revolution, that “once liberated from the fetters of feudalism, bourgeois relations develop automatically” (see earlier). However, that automaticity does not transfer mechanically to a situation where it is not feudalism that is overthrown by capitalism, but a workers’ state, however degenerated, based on socialised property.
The restoration “to power” of something rather similar to “a Menshevik and Social Revolutionary bloc” took place in the 1990s in a number of bureaucratically ruled workers states, but it does not seem to have been simply able to completely “obliterate the socialist construction”. When degenerated and deformed workers states have been overthrown by pro-capitalist forces, it has not been the case, unlike with feudalism, that “bourgeois relations develop automatically”. What we have in fact seen is that the kind of “bourgeois relations” that have developed have been highly problematic and have in fact given rise to forms of society that the imperialist bourgeoisie does not have confidence in at all. States have emerged that still contain enough modifications of those features of capitalism as a system that the imperialists consider vital and non-negotiable, that the same imperialists fear that capitalism has not been sustainably restored at all, and these societies could flip back to some sort of socialist construction as easily as 19th Century France did to bourgeois-revolutionary upheavals after the defeat of Napoleon, with its supplementary revolutions in 1830, 1848 – which convulsed the whole of Europe – and 1871 – which gave rise to the Paris Commune, the first attempt in history to create a workers state.
The law of irreversibility in natural history and human history
In a way, not only historical phenomena, but also complex natural science phenomena do not return to the initial stage. Evolutionism is not linear, even if previous forms are repeated in the environment, organisms never completely return to their previous form, as was stated in Dollo’s materialist postulates of irreversibility:
“an organism never returns exactly to a previous state, even if it finds itself placed in conditions of existence identical to those in which it lived previously… it always retains some trace of the intermediate stages through which it passed.”Gould, S. J. (1970). (Dollo on Dollo’s law: irreversibility and the status of evolutionary laws.” Journal of the History of Biology. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00137351)
Even at the risk of being accused of being mechanistic, as in fact the author of the Law, Louis Dollo, was, although we may suffer such accusations for trying to transpose to the social sciences laws that operate under the natural sciences, it is undeniable that the phenomena of historical events “never return to the previous stage”, as we demonstrate in the French trajectory of the 18th and 19th centuries. On the issue of the current states of Russia and China, if one is not contaminated by the stupid imperialist, Russophobic and demonizing media war propaganda about the current Russian government, it is clear that profound differences must be realised between Putin’s Russia of 2023 and the Czar’s Russia until 1917. Likewise, elements of the restoration of capitalism in today’s China bear little or no resemblance to the social form of Chinese capitalism before the 1949 revolution.
It is also undeniable that the capitalist states of Russia, China and Belarus enhance their rise in the world and on the world market by relying on “traces of the intermediate stages” that they went through in the 20th century after the processes of expropriation of capital, nationalization of the economy, economic planning, achievement of energy, military and nuclear sovereignty, … that is, when they were regimes of deformed proletarian dictatorships. Just as the evolution of the workers’ states of Eastern Europe that became neo-colonies of NATO and the EU also deserve more rigorous studies. They also did not return to capitalism at the previous stage that they found themselves in until the second world war, nor in the part of Germany that for almost half a century became East Germany did the landowning Junkers return to being the dominant class.
All these phenomena can be observed in terms of the dialectic of the uneven and combined development of the restoration of capitalism to the workers’ states of the 20th century.
‘Deviant’ Counterrevolutions and Imperialist Hysteria
What seems to have come into existence in those workers states where indigenous social revolutions were once victorious and defeated many decades later, are capitalist states, but ones where capitalist relations are modified and ‘deformed’ in significant ways, and those states do not function either as copies of the imperialist states, or as semi-colonial vassal states. Neither Russia nor China fit into either category. Nor do they occupy any intermediate category between the two – they are qualitatively different from both. This is very different to passively produced ‘satellite states’ like most in East Europe, which have generally become satellites/vassals of Western imperialism.
The deadly imperialist shock treatment in Russia under Yeltsin in the 1990s produced such a huge popular backlash that within the state machine itself, a nemesis was generated, personified by Putin, that rolled back many of the attacks, and though it did not restore the status quo ante, produced a variant of a social-democratic ‘mixed economy’ with considerable concessions to the welfare of the masses, whose genesis is arguably pretty unique. In a ‘pure’ capitalist state, it would take the threat of revolution itself to produce such concessions which would always be under threat. In post-Soviet Russia, the state apparatus itself, heavily marked by its origin in a workers’ state, responded to mass popular sentiment without such upheavals.
Something analogous seems to have happened in China, but with some important differences also. One key difference being that in China initially the capitalist-restorationist programme was carried out from above, without the kind of all-out economic war on, and carnage of, the working-class population that happened in the former USSR. However, there were lesser attacks, from which flowed a similar outcome to that in Russia. As one left-wing source described:
“… the negative consequences of allowing privatization and looting public assets had to be borne by the working people. Mass layoffs continued in the name of ‘management rationalization.’ Social welfare benefits provided by hired state-owned companies have also disappeared. Naturally, the workers were indignant and resisted. Labor disputes have soared… the number of labor disputes has soared since the mid-1990s when “privatization” was realized extensively. The number of participants in labor disputes in 2003 was nearly five times higher than in 1996.”
“This surge in labor disputes has raised the level of social unrest. Like teeth with broken gums, the foundation of Communist rule shook from its roots. Then there was a slight change of direction. In 2005, the Fifth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China announced that it had abolished the theory of rich-first that ‘anyone should be rich first’ and adopted the theory of ‘Let’s all live well together’ .. From the existing ‘private sector advances while State sector retreats’ of encouraging private ownership rather than state ownership, it has shifted to ‘the State advances while the Private sector retreats’ to ‘restore the part of state ownership.” .China: Social Character and Working Class, Bolshevik Group of Korea
As a result of this policy shift, the result was “the number of disputes and the number of participants decreased significantly over the next few years” (ibid).
These events show clearly that in both Russia and China the state responded similarly by adapting to mass pressure from the working class and adopting what can best be described as a social-democratic recipe of mixed economy. This was possible because of the post-capitalist deformation within these bourgeois states, which act as a transmission belt for pressure from the masses and modifies the operation of the bourgeois state itself. In a way, this change in the internal class struggle, a little later than in Russia, just as the growing siege of imperialism, in the external class struggle, in the struggle between oppressor and oppressed states, has placed China on the path to the bloc with Putin’s Russia that exists today, which represents a gain for the working class. In some cases, this was caused both by the pressure of the masses on these highly deformed bourgeois states, and by the pressure of big imperialist capital, forcing them to behave in a similar way.
Another important difference is that China actually benefitted from Western neoliberalism in that it became a key repository of ‘outsourcing’ – job migration — from Western imperialist countries, whose capitalist rulers saw China’s cheap but highly-educated working class in the context of apparent capitalist restoration as an opportunity for a massively enhanced rate of profit relative to what was possible in the imperialist countries themselves. China was not the only country that acted as the recipient of such outsourcing, but its state apparatus, which also had its origin in an era of state economic planning, was able to make use of it to embark on its own massive industrialisation. As a result, China has become today’s “workshop of the world” in a manner reminiscent of Britain during the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, but on far vaster scale.
The real driving force of Western Russophobia is not the supposed ‘authoritarianism’ of Russia’s political regime, but anger at the political clout that the Russian masses still hold within what used to be their state. Hatred of the Russian people themselves is a key element of today’s Western Russophobia, which resembles Nazi hatred of the Jews for their supposedly inherent ‘Bolshevism’. Likewise, today’s Sinophobia reflects similar hatred for the Chinese masses, as well as the rage of imperialism at the seemingly unexpected industrial development of China. This was not supposed to happen – China was supposed to be a mere source of profit, not a major industrial adversary able to threaten US hegemony. And Russia and China together are an even more potent countervailing force to the hegemony of the imperialist powers which has persisted since the late 19th Century at least.
So, what is at the root of this paradox? One hint of an answer can be found a formulation in Engels’ 1880 work Socialism Utopian and Scientific, where he makes the following point about the tendency of capitalism towards the generation of trusts and monopolies:
“In the trusts, freedom of competition changes into its very opposite — into monopoly; and the production without any definite plan of capitalistic society capitulates to the production upon a definite plan of the invading socialistic society. Certainly, this is so far still to the benefit and advantage of the capitalists. But, in this case, the exploitation is so palpable, that it must break down. No nation will put up with production conducted by trusts, with so barefaced an exploitation of the community by a small band of dividend-mongers.https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch03.htm, emphasis added
This formulation, about the ‘invading socialistic society”, stems from the basic idea of Marxism, held in common by Marx and Engels, that “socialism” or “communism” which they considered as two manifestations of the same thing (‘lower’ and ‘higher’) represented a superior mode of production to capitalism:
“Development of the productive forces of social labour is the historic task and justification of capital. This is just the way in which it unconsciously creates the material requirements of a higher mode of production.”Capital, Vol. 3, Moscow, 1966, Chap. 15, p. 259
Much of Trotsky’s polemic against the Stalinists in the 20s and 30s was against the theory of socialism in one country, the notion that it was possible to build a complete socialist mode of production in a society qualitatively more backward than the far stronger capitalist-imperialist powers that encircled it. That critique retains its full relevance and potency. But then again, Trotsky also noted that despite this, the reactionary course of the Stalinist regime “… has not yet touched the economic foundations of the state created by the revolution which, despite all the deformation and distortion, assure an unprecedented development of the productive forces.” (Once Again: The USSR and Its Defence, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/11/ussr.htm)
Engels considered that the socialist mode of production, which was completely in the future in 1880 when he wrote Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, had the ability to ‘invade’ contemporary capitalism, and as a kind of unconscious expression of the historical process, affect the development of the same capitalism to (in some ways) anticipate future developments that would come to fruition under a higher mode of production. This is only an expression of the basic Marxist concept that Socialism: Utopian and Scientific expresses — the objective tendency of social development toward socialism:
“The new productive forces have already outgrown the capitalistic mode of using them. And this conflict between productive forces and modes of production is not a conflict engendered in the mind of man, like that between original sin and divine justice. It exists, in fact, objectively, outside us, independently of the will and actions even of the men that have brought it on. Modern Socialism is nothing but the reflex, in thought, of this conflict in fact…”Engels op-cit
The point being that the process of capitalist restoration, the destruction of a long-established workers state, cannot be ‘automatic’ in the manner in which capitalism is able to do away with feudalism. The existence of a workers’ state, however deformed or degenerated, means that that state has already begun the transition to a higher mode of production, communism. Even if the transition is blocked by social backwardness, imperialist encirclement and the monopoly of power of a bureaucracy that opposes and attempts to sabotage the world revolution and thereby the completion of the transition, the transition has begun. The train has left the station, even if it is stalled only a few hundred yards down a track that is many miles long. It is extremely heavy, and still very difficult to simply drag back to its starting point and beyond.
Therefore, what we have in both Russia and China are new social formations where the capitalist mode of production managed to defeat the social formation of the previous transition process, but, however, is forced to coexist in this phase with elements of an “invading socialistic society” that profoundly changed those societies. Previous revolutionary processes initiated some kind of transition to the communist mode of production. These processes did not develop in the form of a linear evolution, they were interrupted and sabotaged by the siege of capitalism, imperialism and the internal contradictions originating from this siege. After the expropriation of the bourgeoisie through revolutionary processes and once the post-capitalist process of economic monopolization, centralization and planning has been unleashed, it is no longer possible to return to the previous conditions of the pre-capitalist capitalist mode of production. This generates a series of partial achievements of the society in transition. The restoration of capitalism cannot permanently and completely destroy all of the achievements of the society in transition created by the revolutionary process. The history of the last 30 years has revealed that it is much more difficult to destroy these revolutionary achievements than previously predicted, including by the Trotskyist movement. This substantially changes capitalism in Russia and China and has produced new types of what we could call “deformed capitalist states”, which are evidently not imperialist. The capitalism that has been restored is weak, not so much in the face of its imperialist tormentors and enemies, but in the face of the massive post-capitalist “deformation” in its “capitalist” economies. Finance capital and the systematic transfer of wealth from less developed economies played no role in their post-capitalist development, and there is no material reason for this to happen now.
Within a social formation, more than one mode of production can coexist, in an unequal and combined way. In this case, the post-capitalist mode of production coexists with ‘elements’ (of a “invading socialistic society”) of deformed proletarian dictatorships, which are, at the same time, the germ of a future socialist mode of production. It is important to remember, that in much of the semi-colonial world, capitalism coexists with a pre-capitalist heritage, and China and Russia coexist with a post-capitalist heritage.
There is a classic, dialectical quality in the reality that the outcome of the counterrevolution that destroyed deformed workers’ states that existed for several decades, should be a form of capitalist state that itself embodies major deformations and modifications that stem from those decades without capitalism, to the extent that imperialism still perceives them as a major threat to their rule and their hegemony.
Such deformed capitalist states can be of heterogenous types, depending on the specifics of their history and origins, and there is no pre-ordained ideological banner which is imperative for their ruling political trends to necessarily uphold. Though China is ruled by the Communist Party, whose ideology is a capitalist bastardisation of what was Stalinist ‘Communism’ but really isn’t anymore, Russia is ruled by the centre-right bourgeois (sui-generis) Orthodox Christian President Vladimir Putin, leader of the hegemonic and highly popular ‘United Russia’ party whose authority stems largely from economic programme and practice, which have tangibly and arguably hugely benefited most Russians since the end of Yeltsin’s carnage.
Putin is a kind of a mild Bonapartist who balances between forces to his left and to his right. To his left is the main opposition, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), the former Stalinist Party which has many subjective communists among its base but has not determined as yet what it really stands for. To his right is the broadly ‘Eurasian’ trend most prominently led by the philosopher Alexander Dugin, who many in the West dub as a fascist, a Russian nationalist, a great Russian imperialist, etc.
A close examination of Dugin’s politics reveals that he is opposed to ethnic nationalism, rejects the whole concept of the nation-state explicitly in theory, and actually looking back at history has managed to construct an ‘Orthodox Christian’ rationale for critical support for Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party forces in the 1918-21 Civil War against the mainly Christian Orthodox White Guard forces, whom he very perceptively dismisses as tools of Anglo-American imperialism and therefore enslavers of the Russian people (as elaborated in his 1997 work Foundations of Geopolitics). Thus Dugin, the ‘right-wing’ pressure on Putin, is revealed as a still having an affinity with Bolshevism, the originator of the workers state, and a perfect illustrator of the peculiar deforming influence of the past workers state and its legacy on the present-day capitalist state. A supposed ‘fascist’ who argues for critical support for Bolshevism, whereas actual fascists, like Hitler and Mussolini, were driven by the most virulent hatred for Bolshevism.
These deformed post-Stalinist bourgeois states have proven capable, because of the enormous productive gains (and military developments) that were made without capitalism, of defying imperialist capitalism far more effectively than any rebellious semi-colonies. They are far stronger than any semi-colony because of the independent development of the productive forces they possess. In combination, Russia and China may well be stronger than the US militarily and economically. Russia’s military-nuclear arsenal does appear stronger than that of the US. Instead, as the imperialists have declared a cautious but accelerating new Cold War against them (with ‘hot’ elements, like Ukraine) they have proven capable of leading semi-colonial, capitalist countries, long forced into dependence and vassalage to the imperialists, in revolt against imperialist hegemony.
Revolt of the Victims of Today’s Imperialism
We have effectively a revolt by numerous semi-colonies against US imperialist hegemony driven in this 21st Century, for the first time in history, by the unprecedented rapprochement between Russia and China against imperialism. This unity among the oppressed, which has as its core these two giant capitalist countries deformed by their trajectory as workers’ states, has expanded under the banner of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and also the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But it was from the economic crisis of the imperialist system that had as its epicenter the USA in 2008 that the leap in quality was made. With the stagnation derived from the crisis in the US and the European Union, China surpasses the imperialist system and becomes the main relation of the trade balance of most countries of the world, replacing the industrialized imperialist centers in the world market as early as 2009. Over the next decade, the bloc of China and Russia, after capitulating to NATO’s military intervention in Libya, avoided making the same mistake in Syria and Ukraine. The beginning of the second cold war was over. The bloc of oppressed nations set limits to the expansionist policy of finance capital, neoliberal financialization, in their economies; and limits to the policy of hybrid warfare against the governments of other nations. The contemporary expression of this economic and military resistance is in Russia’s war against the NATO-backed Nazi government of Ukraine’s oppression of the Russian-speaking rebel provinces of Ukraine itself on the European continent; and in the multiple uprising of the African countries of the Sahel and Central Africa against French imperialist domination. At the same time, monetary resistance to the US dollar is growing across the globe and to the CFA franc in Central Africa.
The SCO is specifically Eurasian, like others recently created. The BRICS are a world association created in the twenty-first century, as is the BRICS Bank (the New Development Bank), a counterpoint to imperialism’s mechanisms of international monetary control, such as the World Bank and IMF. In 2013, China launched the New Silk Road under the name Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese initiative has been compared by the West as a kind of Chinese Marshall Plan to expand China’s soft power. Even from the point of view of purely the amount of investments involved, the plan is several times larger than the Marshall plan, in current values. From the point of view of the relations of control over the countries that are recipients of Chinese investments, there has been no repetition of the forms of imperialist coercion and blackmail for the adoption of economic policies dictated by the creditors typical of those of the World Bank and IMF.
These BRICS, BRI, OCX, etc. organisms overlap in several new layers of relations between oppressed countries. Despite the imperialist war drive and economic sanctions against Russia, and the threat of ‘sanctions’ against any country outside the imperialist ‘club’ who does not join in the sanctions. 20 countries have applied to join BRICS, including Argentina, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, and many more. 6 are now joining in the first phase – with likely 10 more to follow by next year’s BRICS 11 summit in Kazan. BRICS before their joining encompassed 40% of humanity … the accession of the hopeful newcomers would undoubtedly encompass a majority.
BRICS has something of the flavour of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) led by Nkrumah, Nasser, Nehru, Sukharno, etc. along with the dissident Tito in the early post-war period. Although it still formally exists, its influence is very diminished. The NAM aimed to manoeuvre between the US and the Soviet bloc in the Cold War, understanding that most semi-colonial countries and their bourgeoisies had major divergences of interest with both. But now, in this second cold war, the BRICS in the expansion phase, are part of the non-imperialist bloc. There are many more commonalities between these countries and Russia and China. Most semi-colonial bourgeois states see them as kindred spirits, but more powerful, and having shifted the relationship of forces against imperialist domination in a way that is fairly unproblematic for such bourgeois regimes. Few take China’s verbal ‘communism’ seriously at all and Russia has no such ideological obstacle even formally. So, the main agency of challenge to US hegemony in favour of the multipolar world is BRICS.
There have been some startling indications of changes in the world to the detriment of US imperialist hegemony that have been brought to a head by the Ukraine war. De-dollarisation, the jettisoning of the US Dollar as the habitual currency of which international transactions are made – previously almost irrespective of who is trading with who – has become a major movement. This is a threat to US financial stability and military power, as the US has been for many decades been able to write virtually a blank check for its military based on the earnings received from the dollar being pretty much the dominant currency for international trade. Its worldwide network of military bases is financed through this mechanism. The rise of the Russia-China bloc threatens all this with its own investment network, in its own currencies and already infects monetary and financial controls exercised by second-tier imperialist countries such as France and its CFA in Central Africa.
One startling index of how things are changing is that of the area once called the Middle East, increasingly referred to as Southwest Asia, or Western Asia, a linguistic shift resulting from geopolitical changes. In deals brokered by Chinese diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been in a state of bitter antagonism for many years, as most sharply expressed in the war in Yemen, have restored full diplomatic relations, and the Yemen war is apparently winding down. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran will join BRICS on 1st January, with the UAE. Syria, whose Assad government the US and its allies tried to overthrow in a similar manner to Libya and were stopped from doing so by Syria being given armed backing by Russia, has now been restored to membership of the Arab League after former US clients dropped their antagonism. The US is on the defensive in Southwest Asia and China has also made demands for a settlement of the Israel-Palestine question, which is certain to prove much more difficult because of the problem of the overlap of Israel’s ruling class with that of Western countries – the material basis of the very powerful Israel lobby.
But the broader question is whether this concept of a multipolar world is somehow an antidote to imperialist capitalism. And the answer has to be one of deep scepticism towards that. Capitalist development has created an exclusive club of monopoly capitalist powers that basically have enriched themselves massively at the expense of the bulk of the world’s population for a century and a half, with a couple of centuries of preparation before that through mercantilism and primitive accumulation of wealth through such means as a revived chattel slavery on an industrial scale. Capitalist slavery was only eliminated when it came into contradiction both with the struggle for liberation on the part of these workers themselves, and with the expansion of the capitalist world consumer market. The problem is that a multi-polar world does not do away with those powers, who will inevitably fight back in some way, either jointly or separately. US hegemony is not the only possible form, and the NATO that is the current expression of imperialist domination. It is worth recalling that between the two world wars there was no undisputed imperialist hegemon – that role was contested between Germany, Britain and the United States and the resulting armed dispute plunged the whole world into war. Such a development in the future could destroy humanity itself.
Imperialism is coherent in its socio-economic objectives, even though it can be thrown into disarray by unexpected challenges from other forces. It will not just disappear into a peaceful ‘multipolar world’. The lion will not lie down meekly with its victims for the greater good – for imperialism the majority of humanity are just fodder for exploitation. The problem that they face is a historical crisis – the imperialist system itself declined through the decline in profit rates in the advanced countries countries as a result of the 30 golden years of expansion (1945-1975), to the point that the solution found for this, the externalization of the industrial labour force, the schemes of cheap labour abroad and the financial frauds exponentially applied in the speculative paper market (which may explode again in a new crisis soon, as recorded by the 2023 bank failures in the US and EU) not only do not sustain the system but have created a powerful global antithesis situation against the globalization of the imperialist system, from the multiplication of the industrial proletariat in the rest of the non-imperialist world, powerfully industrialized oppressed countries. That is an inherent contradiction in capitalism itself, as Marx pointed out, and affects all capitalism.
The creation of deformed post-Stalinist capitalist states like Russia and China, a new form of anomalous non-imperialist capitalism that uses state power to offset the most irrational drives of capital, cannot simply be reproduced. Because it takes the creation of a fundamentally flawed workers state, and then its ruin, to bring such a state into being. And another paradox is that it was the overall strength of the existing imperialist states throughout nearly a century and a half that allowed those same imperialisms to act as an exclusive club and block the development of other capitalist powers into imperialist competitors. So, the only new imperialism that was created in the late 20th Century, which did not emerge organically, but was transplanted, was Israel.
There is a possibility that a strategic defeat for existing imperialisms by these deformed bourgeois states could have the effect of creating the political and economic space for new imperialist states to crystallise. The most developed semi-colonial states that are jumping on the bandwagon of BRICS may well be provided with the means of economic development to the point that they are able to exploit less powerful semi-colonial countries, and thus begin to behave as new imperialisms themselves. That seems a possibility for instance with India or Indonesia, whose rapid economic development is not restricted by any kind of deformity inherited from a previous social revolution.
And overarching this is the question of the palpable destruction of the world’s climate by capitalism with its fossil fuel industry, a problem that can only be resolved by an end to the profit motive as the force driving economic development, and its replacement with economic planning on a global level to make it possible to transform the world’s energy generation to use means that do not destroy the environment for human habitation. Which is currently happening, and not slowly.
Even if the wildest dreams of the theorists of the ‘multipolar world’ are realised, and a new world mechanism of voluntary collaboration between discrete chunks of the planet is able to bring a sustained new rationality to international relations, that will not solve the fundamental problem: humanity will still be afflicted with the contradictions of capitalism.
This contradictory moment in the history of capitalism would never have been possible without the 1917 workers’ and peasants’ socialist revolution in Russia, and then the secondary, derivative but enormous revolution of Mao’s peasant armies in China leading to 1949. It will prove to be fleeting unless the problem pointed out earlier, of the domination of the workers movement particularly in the advanced countries by social-imperialists, at war with those who stand on the revolutionary outlook of the Bolsheviks, is resolved. To resolve it a new Communist International has to be created, with deep roots in the imperialist countries themselves, able to stand up to imperialist pressure and prevail. A successor to the previous attempts of the Third and Fourth Internationals that for diverse reasons have fallen by the wayside. A new regroupment of communists is therefore necessary to create such a movement, otherwise the historic opportunity of this major crisis of imperialism could be lost.