In Sept 2010 UN General Assembly was devoted to a discussion on ending global poverty, to the fulfilment of the socalled Millennium Goals first adopted in the year 2000. A decade after the adoption of these goals, UN agencies reported that while 830 million people lived on the brink of starvation when the goals were adopted a decade ago, this number had soared to over 1 billion and that in 2010 almost the same number were forced to live on less than a dollar a day.
Talks & Workshops
The direct war by the United States and its allies, including Australia, against the people of Vietnam lasted for 10 years, beginning with US air strikes against North Vietnam in February 1965 and the landing in South Vietnam in March 1965 of 3500 US combat troops. Over the next seven years US warplanes dropped a total of 7mn tonnes of bombs on Vietnam, 3½ times the amount dropped by US warplanes during all of World War II. Despite this, by the end of the war on April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese people had defeated the mightiest military power in human history. But this victory came at the cost of at least 3 million Vietnamese dead.
In a December 1915 introduction to Bolshevik theorist Nikolai Bukharin’s book Imperialism and World Economy, Lenin wrote: “There had been an epoch of a comparatively ‘peaceful capitalism’, when it had overcome feudalism in the advanced countries of Europe and was in a position to develop comparatively tranquilly and harmoniously, ‘peacefully’ spreading over tremendous areas of still unoccupied lands, and of countries not yet finally drawn into the capitalist vortex. Of course, even in that epoch, marked approximately by the years 1871 and 1914, ‘peaceful’ capitalism created conditions of life that were very far from being really peaceful both in the military and in a general class sense.
For those who believed that the overwhelming demonstration of US military power in Afghanistan and Iraq would “shock and awe” the rest of the world — and particularly Washington’s foes and aspiring rivals — into accepting its goal of making the 21st century a “new American century” of US political and economic global domination, 2006 was not a good year.
One hundred years ago this month, the first proletarian revolution in the new imperialist epoch of capitalism began. This revolution, the first Russian revolution, was born of mass discontent aggravated by a deeply unpopular war, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. It began with a wave of strikes, riots and street demonstrations protesting the police shooting on a peaceful mass workers’ demonstration in St Petersburg, the capital of the vast Russian Empire, on Sunday, January 22, 1905 (January 9 in the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time), killing 1000 and wounding 2000 of the 200,000 marchers.
”The three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy [are] to prevent collusion and maintain security among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”1 This statement was not made by an official in the ancient Roman imperial bureaucracy. It was made by Zbigniew Brzezinski, a central figure in the US foreign policy elite, national security adviser to us President Jimmy Carter and chief architect of Washington’s policy of creating a network of fanatically anti-communist Islamic terrorists to spearhead the counter-revolutionary war against the Afghan workers and peasants’ government in the late 1970s.
A lot has been written, and will doubtless continue to be written, about how Marx’s theory of capitalist development is a relic of a bygone era, irrelevant for understanding the complex dynamics of the “globalised”, “post-industrial”, “financialised” capitalism that is supposed to have emerged only at the end of the 20th century. Contemporary capitalism, however, can only be scientifically understood using Marx’s theory of capitalist development.
Marx and Engels were not the first to develop and advance a vision of a classless society. As they themselves noted, earlier thinkers had developed “in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Utopian pictures of ideal social conditions; in the eighteenth, actual communistic theories… [in which] it was not simply class privileges that were to be abolished, but class distinctions themselves”.
At the end of the 20th century we are confronted by a historical paradox. On the one hand, the economics, politics and culture of the world has become more unified than ever before, as a result of the growing domination of transnational capital. And yet, at the same time, we see an explosive growth of national struggles.
The fundamental aim of the revolutionary Marxist party is to organise the socialist revolution. In order to realise this aim, the party must win the ideological and political allegiance of the overwhelming majority of the working class. This cannot be accomplished simply through propaganda alone. It is a general law of history that only through collective experiences of struggle, of action, can broad masses begin to free themselves from the domination of ruling class ideology and become receptive to revolutionary ideas.