The present world situation is marked by a desperate attempt by the US in particular and imperialist countries in general to reinforce their economic, political and cultural domination and opposite endeavours on the part of developing countries as well as resurgent and emerging powers to shape up a multipolar world order; a groundswell of popular resistance to imperialism in various forms; and certain new trends and features in the global economy.
America’s Desperate Drive for Hegemony
During the past five years the aggressive superpower in league with other imperialist powers continued with its pet scheme of world domination. Our seventh party Congress was held soon after the American colonisation of Afghanistan and in the shadows of an impending full-scale war on Iraq. When within a few months that threat became a reality, we categorised it as a war launched by petrodollar imperialism for oil, dollar dictatorship and world domination. The US has also been bullying countries like Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, expanding the NATO and multiplying its nuclear firepower, enormously enhancing its capacity for high-tech war including space war, egging on Israel to finish off Palestine and cripple Lebanon, launching the “Asian NATO” and recruiting new client states like India, and so on. Very recently the Bush administration moved a step closer to military conflict with Iran with the unprecedented step of imposing punitive measures on its Revolutionary Guard Corps and calling the al-Quds unit of the guards a terrorist organisation. The sweeping new US sanctions affect Iranian banks, companies, officials and government agencies, which the White House says are either part of the country’s push to acquire weapons of mass destruction or supporting acts of terrorism abroad. The US was forced to act alone, however, with Britain only offering rhetorical support, and Germany apart from China opposing more sanctions at this stage. Vladimir Putin immediately called the new US sanctions the work of a “madman with a razor blade in his hand”.
On the whole, the highly ambitious American campaign for absolute world domination that began after 9/11/2001 has failed. Rather than regime change, Cuba has witnessed a smooth transition in leadership. In Venezuela, Chavez rides high. North Korea has achieved what it wanted, trading its nuclear programme for aid and normalized ties with South Korea and the West. In Palestine, the more belligerent Hamas enjoys electoral legitimacy and popular support and Israel will not easily forget the defeat it suffered last year at the hands of the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has successfully expanded its relations with other, especially Latin American, countries opposed to US hegemonism. America’s closest partners in empire-building, such as President Jose Maria Aznar in Spain, Britain’s Blair and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, have already had to bow out largely on account of the popular distrust they earned as accomplices in the crimes against humanity. And now the big boss himself is ready for an ignominious exit as the most discredited and lampooned US President in recent history.
Multiple Currents of Opposition
At t the start of the war on Iraq we linked it to the exacerbation of all three major contradictions in our epoch, especially the principal contradiction between imperialism and the underdeveloped countries, and expressed the firm conviction that it will be a long-drawn affair, extracting a very heavy price from US war-mongers. Subsequent developments have fully vindicated us. At least three distinct streams of opposition to aggressive US designs are easily discernible today.
Popular Upheaval in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine
Afghanistan and Iraq have been the starting points and most decisive theatres of the “global war on terror” and significantly it is here that the US is facing the toughest challenge since the Vietnam War. In both these countries, powerful armed resistance movements operating mainly from the underground with broad-based and active civilian support have effectively foiled American plans to consolidate military rule through puppet regimes….Even in the face of rapidly rising military and economic costs of extended occupation and consequent domestic demand for bringing the troops back now, the Bush administration has chosen to further escalate its troop commitments. Clearly, this was a desperate last attempt to fend off impending defeat and to recover the huge loss of support at home. But this move too is bound to prove counterproductive.
Even though the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan lacks any cohesive political unity and direction and various terrorist and fundamentalist currents are also operating within the resistance, the overwhelming assertion of the people of these countries against US occupation and domination has had a tremendous international impact. They have kept the US military too bogged down to launch wars elsewhere, such as Iran, Syria or Venezuela. Most important, the valiant fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq have once again driven home the basic truth of Mao’s classic observation about the USA and the atom bomb being paper tigers. They have shown the world that it is not mind-boggling technology and fire-power, nor spectacular propaganda offensive by monopolised electronic media, but the popular masses that determine the course of a war; that even a small force, with correct strategy and tactics, can gradually grow powerful and overwhelm a superpower.
In Palestine, in the wake of Yasser Arafat’s death, the Hamas won a landslide electoral victory. But this elected government has been under attack from US imperialism and from Israel, which have taken the opportunity to split the Palestinian resistance and pit the Hamas government against the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. We reiterate our solidarity for the long Palestinian liberation struggle and hope that the current crises can be overcome to forge a stronger and more united resistance against occupation.
Latin American Opposition
The US is facing a tough challenge in the group of countries it was accustomed to see as its backyard. It was here that neoliberalism was first imposed by Washington and its allies through pliant governments. The result was an economic disaster. And the resultant popular protest found expression in diverse types of mass struggles: by peasants and landless labourers (notably the MST in Brazil and CONAIE in Ecuador), indigenous peoples (notably the Chiapas movement in Mexico) and sections of organised labour in Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries, broad-based popular movements (as in Oaxaca in Mexico); as well as in elections of broadly anti-imperialist governments in a number of countries. The year 2006 was particularly rich in this respect, what with the election of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia, of Raphael Correa as president of Ecuador, of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega as president of Nicaragua and the militant mass upheaval in Mexico against the stolen presidential election. Meanwhile Cuba has survived yet another destabilisation attempt by the US in the wake of Fidel Castro’s illness – and is along with Venezuela is at the centre of the emerging axis of economic and social cooperation of Latin American countries.
These governments represent, from within the capitalist framework, various degrees of opposition to the US-led economic onslaught. But overall, the “pink tide” certainly reflects a mass awakening against imperialism and this is the most important thing. At the centre of the continental upheaval stands Venezuela, the cradle of what they call the “Bolivarian revolution” – which is, at least until now, nothing less and nothing more than a programme of far-reaching progressive bourgeois reform being implemented by a Left-leaning nationalist-populist government based on a high degree of popular activism. The Chavez government has imposed high taxes and controls on big industries, nationalised some of them and threatened others – including powerful foreign banks – with nationalisation in the event of failure to serve the national economy as desired by the government. Venezuela has come out of IMF, and announced a plan to dissociate from the World Bank and to launch a “Bank of South” in cooperation with other Latin American countries. An inspired Evo Morales has started the process of nationalising the natural gas industry and Daniel Ortega is negotiating with the IMF to “get out of the prison”.
It should be noted, however, that all these and the whole gamut of social welfare programmes in Venezuela and some other countries have been made possible by favourable market conditions (especially the surge in prices of oil and many other commodities exported from Latin America) which are not likely to last for ever. But that does not negate the significance of what is happening in that turbulent continent.
Compared to the South-South cooperation in 1990s which lacked economic muscle and practical effectiveness, the current trends of united resistance to US-led western domination in the economic arena – and so, to some extent, also in the political and strategic spheres – are led by resurgent and rising powers like Russia and China and therefore much more potent.
Having more or less completed the painful process of capitalist conversion of the huge socialist resource base and property relations (however distorted), Russia has emerged as an energy superpower, as already noted. While there is nothing progressive about the highly exploitative and unjust social order in Russia, and while its future role on the international arena can only be guessed, at the present juncture it is working as a powerful opponent of the American overdrive for a unipolar world.
Just a couple of months ago Russia caused much consternation by a symbolic placement of the Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Its recent explosion of “dad of all bombs” – a non-nuclear device that is reportedly four times more powerful than what the Americans had called “mother of all bombs” – comes as further proof that the country has regained its technological edge. New ground and sea-launched nuclear missiles have also been developed. Moreover, booming oil and gas prices have allowed Putin to quadruple annual defence spending and order his long-range nuclear bombers to mount patrols in international airspace for the first time after 1991. Last July, Major-General Alexander Vladimirov told the Russian newspaper Komsolskya Pravda that war with the United States was a “possibility” in the next 10-15 years.
All these are seen as Russian responses to the US-sponsored strategic encirclement….It may be recalled that neither Russia nor China had opposed the US aggression on Afghanistan because both were eager to get rid of Taliban. But as US moves in Central Asia became increasingly ambitious, the Eurasian giants came together more closely than ever. The recent joint military exercise of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) in Central Asia – a most vital area in geo-strategic terms also eyed by the NATO – is a case in point.
The most crucial strategic development in recent years is the emerging “energy war”; and here Washington finds itself in an increasingly disadvantaged position, even as opponents are riding high and closing ranks. Both Russia and China are building new oil and gas pipelines, much to the chagrin of the Bush Administration. During a visit last August to Beijing, his fourth in seven years, Chavez announced that Venezuela would triple its oil exports to China to 500,000 barrels per day in three years, a jump that suited both sides. Chavez wants to diversify Venezuela’s buyer base to reduce its dependence on exports to the US, and China’s leaders are keen to diversify their hydrocarbon imports away from the troublesome Middle East. Along with a joint refinery project, China agreed to build 13 oil-drilling platforms, supply 18 oil tankers, and co-operate in exploring a new oilfield in Venezuela.
The enhanced activism and status of Russia and China in international relations – as evidenced for example in the North Korean and Iranian controversies – have been matched by expanding economic and diplomatic clout in Asia, Africa and Latin America…. Add to this the growing role of various regional groups and organs of South-South cooperation and it is not difficult to see the prospects of a future multipolar world steadily opening up everywhere. …
Fundamental Contradictions of the World Today
Among the three above-noted currents of resistance and opposition to the number one enemy of the world people, the first two clearly and directly reflect the most important or principal international contradiction of our times, the one between imperialism and the developing world. In spite of the collusive pro-US role of the rulers in India and Pakistan, we can feel the growing intensity of this contradiction in the Indian subcontinent as well. Anti-imperialist mass aspirations and struggles have been quite pronounced in both India and Pakistan as evidenced by the popular opposition to the nuclear deal in India and repeated mass outbursts in Pakistan against Musharraf’s dictatorial pro-US moves.
Another major or fundamental international contradiction, that between capital and labour in developed capitalist countries, is also getting intensified. …
The struggles against war and racism have converged internationally with the struggles against neoliberal policy regime, as witnessed during any number of big anti-war anti-corporate globalisation demonstrations in recent years across the world.
As for inter-imperialist rivalry, which constitutes the third basic international contradiction, at the moment it finds expression in a relatively muted and moderate form. Thus in the latest summit at Heiligendamm, the other G8 members clashed with the US on vital issues like arms control and climate change, even as the “outreach partners” specially invited to the summit (Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Mexico) spoke in one voice and also met separately to decide on working together on a whole range of issues. But when it comes to preserving and strengthening imperialist domination on world affairs, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development – an elite club of rich nations) countries almost always act more or less unitedly against the underdeveloped nations. Their stances on Iran, North Korea, or Palestine, and at the Doha round of trade negotiations provide ample example of this. On the other hand, compared to the past the Doha round witnessed a better level of unity among underdeveloped countries.
World Economy Today
Sector-wise, FIRE (finance-insurance-real estate) and ICE (information-communication-entertainment) remain major players in the world economy today. So do the military industrial complexes in the US and other imperialist countries, which play a big role behind treaties like the Indo-US nuclear deal and the expanding international trade in arms and weapons systems. Militarisation of the economy or military Keynesianism, however, is beset with the problem of manifestly diminishing returns both in economic and military terms, and this only adds to the desperation of policymakers. And as Marxists had predicted, globalisation only exacerbates the unevenness and inequality inherent in the capitalist growth-process. …
But beyond such better-known features of the present economic order, there are certain newer trends of which we should take note.
First, the so-called reverse flow of funds from the Third World to the imperialist countries. According to the United Nations, the net transfer of capital from poorer countries to rich ones was $ 784 billion in 2006, up from $ 229 billion in 2002 and an even balance in 1997. Even the poorest countries, like those in sub-Saharan Africa, are now money exporters to the rich countries.
Actually what is happening today is an accelerated transfer of economic surplus from the peripheries of the world imperialist system to the centre. There are two different segments in this flow. One is of course capital export proper – FDI and portfolio investments from a few countries like China, India, and Brazil. But by far the major part is composed of different types of tributes to finance capital: interests and repayments of loans, fees and royalties paid on patents and copyrights as per requirements of the WTO regime, repatriation of huge profits, salaries etc by foreign companies and their officials, and so on. Besides, over the last decade backward countries have been compelled to more than double their reserves of foreign exchange and US Treasury bills mainly to head off investor panic. Most important, the rising U.S. current account deficit is extracting a huge tribute from other countries including, increasingly, the developing countries. So much so, that the latter as a group moved from a collective or combined current account deficit of $90 billion in 1996 to a surplus of $326 billion in 2004 – a net change of $416 billion – much of which found its way into the US as “reverse flow of funds”.
The massive inflow takes place because of a dollar fetishism caused by (a) the belief, supported by decades of real experience, that investment in dollar is as good as investment in gold, since its value never (well, almost never) falls ; (b) the position of the US as the safest investment haven; (c) the crucial role played by US markets in the growth process of NICs (newly industrialising countries) like China and India, for this allows the US to demand a quid pro quo for access to its markets. And in addition to these economic factors, there are the ultimate imperial weapons of political pressure in various forms (aid-diplomacy, veiled military threat or simply a threat of downgrading economic relations) and even armed intervention (as in the case of Iraq which dared to switch over to the euro as petrocurrency, followed by a decision to convert the country’s $ 10 billion reserve fund at the UN to euro).
It is thanks to the recycling of the surpluses of the rest of the world (especially the developing countries) to the US that interest rates there did not have to rise to attract capital to finance that country’s rising current account deficit. Low interest rates in turn helped finance the housing boom, which played the major part in the US recovery of the first half of the present decade.
Second, the specific nature of the current phase of capitalist crisis. It results from a typical contradiction intrinsic to the present pattern of growth: rapid financial expansion feeding on a stagnant real economy, where money capital, lacking investment outlets in basic productive sectors, seeks out opportunities in financial, speculative and real estate activities. This gives rise to the phenomenon of speculative bubbles. But the problem with such bubbles is that once they stop expanding, they burst. Large and repeated dozes of cash infusions into the financial system therefore become necessary. Apart from heightened risks and, consequently, increased chaos and turbulence in the financial markets, this requires more intense exploitation and a more unequal distribution of income and wealth, which in their turns worsen the stagnation in the real economy.
The world economy is thus caught in a vicious cycle. Stock and currency markets worldwide have been going through regular boom-bust cycles not simply as a reflection, like in the past, of the classic business cycle in the real economy, but largely because of its own compulsions. Basically this is what we have been witnessing over the last 10 years or so, but each particular highpoint in the crisis also has its own features. Currently US economy is in the throes of a credit crunch marked by a housing bubble burst, a meltdown in the sub prime loans (which charge higher interests but allow people without the required financial qualifications to buy houses), mass default on mortgages and the collapse of a number of hedge funds. As a crisis management measure the US Federal bank announced a small reduction in the interest rate, but that has further weekend the dollar, which is losing its attraction as international reserve and investment currency. In fact China, Russia, Venezuela and some other countries have already started converting some of their dollar reserves and dollar trades into other currencies. Recently Iran has completed the process of diversifying its external reserves away from dollar and Japanese oil refineries have started paying for Iranian crude oil in yen instead of dollars, marking another step towards the end of dollar’s dominance. Any increase in value of yen that may arise from increased oil-yen demand will only make oil imports less expensive for a nation that is highly dependent on oil imports. This economic rationale may prompt some other industrialised countries also to follow suit. In such circumstances, the remedy used by the US in the past – a drastic reduction in interest rates – has become an extremely difficult option and economic commentators are already reporting the onset of a slow but deadly crash of the US economy with worldwide repercussions.
Third, the Sino-Russian challenge to the US dominated world economic order. There are two sides to it. On one hand, both countries are already sufficiently integrated into that order and this is regarded as a major victory of neoliberal globalisation and a new source of imperialist accumulation. On the other, owing to certain historical and political reasons and the peculiar nature of Sino-American economic interpenetration, they often act like spanners in the well-oiled economic wheels serving vested Western interests. This is comparable to the old and continuing conflicts among the three trade-and-currency blocks (the dollar-pound bloc, the euro zone and the yen-dominated segment), but more serious than that. For whereas those conflicts had always been successfully kept in check by the sheer economic and military might of the US, China and Russia appear to be harder nuts to crack.
By 2005 Russia, the largest producer of natural gas on the planet, overtook the United States to become the second-largest oil producer in the world. When such a country reiterates the urge for moving away from a single international reserve and trading currency – a call sounded earlier by US enemies like Saddam and Chavez – that certainly bodes ill for petrodollar imperialism. China on the other hand is causing a peculiar type of consternation for the US. Thanks to a large and growing trade surplus, caused by several factors like the huge off-shoring of production to China by US corporations, the former is now one of the largest creditors of the latter and also one of the world’s biggest holders of dollar and dollar-denominated financial instruments. Worried Americans have threatened trade sanctions to force an immediate appreciation in the dollar value of the Chinese yuan. This, they expect, will reduce US trade deficits. To this Beijing responded with a not very veiled threat that such sanctions would force it to liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries, which would lead to a mass depreciation of the dollar. This has been dubbed an economic “nuclear option” on the part of China. Moreover, any major sanction against China would severely hurt the US corporations. So Washington looks helplessly on as its fiscal and current account deficits reach astronomical heights.
China: East Wind versus West Wind
Paradoxically, China continues to dazzle the world with its economic performance, and yet some of our worst apprehensions regarding this country seem to be coming true.
China’s GDP is expected to grow at nearly 11% for 2007, the highest
rate of growth in the new millennium. The country is second only to the US in investments in technology, allocating $134 billion dollars in 2006. As a percentage of GDP (4.9%), China in this matter leads the US several times over. What is particularly important for us in India is the contrast between the way China is globalising from a position of strength taking its national interest as the point of departure and the manner the Indian rulers kowtow before the Western powers in the name of development. Even in respect to SEZs, Chinese authorities proved to be incomparably more firm in demanding and getting adequate returns for the concessions offered. That was why these zones contributed enormously to the overall development of the Chinese economy but this did not prevent them from gradually reducing the extent of concessions and ultimately withdrawing the SEZ policy altogether. To take another instance, China’s economic intercourse with the US is infinitely more extensive and intensive than India’s. But unlike India, China has managed to secure greater gains or advantages from the world’s biggest economic power, with US policymakers at their wits’ end as to how to tackle China economically.
Naturally there are some grey areas, some problems and risks in the growth scenario. For example, the country was not affected by the previous financial crises (e.g., the huge Asian crisis of 1997) precisely because of capital controls, limits on foreign financial ownership and prohibitions on hot (speculative) funds; now with high-speed financial liberalisation, it may no longer remain immune to the usual troubles. But our basic concerns lie elsewhere.
Spectacular capitalist growth along an essentially neoliberal trajectory – with Chinese characteristics, if you will – has been accompanied by growing social, regional and gender disparities, rampant corruption, cultural degeneration, environmental degradation, and other social evils like prostitution and labour abuses including child labour. China, home to the second highest and most rapidly rising number of billionaires and millionaires in Asia, has a higher Gini coefficient (a statistical measure of the rich-poor divide in terms of distribution of wealth and income) than US, UK, India and most other countries in the world. As of 2004, foreign capital controlled 76.6% of Chinese industry, according to a study produced by academics from Beijing’s Communication University. The findings of the report, which was released in March, are consistent with a November 2006 report by the Development Research Centre of the State Council, China’s cabinet. The spread of bourgeois selfishness and consumerist mentality, even among a section of communist party members, is widely recognized.
Chinese society, to be sure, did not reach this stage in a day or two. Once the path of pro-market reforms was embarked upon, each subsequent step in the reform process was largely driven by tensions and contradictions generated by the reforms themselves. The weakening of central planning led to ever higher reliance on market and profit incentives, which in turn encouraged the privileging of private enterprises over state enterprises and, increasingly, of foreign enterprises and markets over domestic ones. Each step on this path moved the system further away from any meaningful progress toward socialism. And, as usually happens in such cases, the process is going full steam ahead. After opening up communist party membership for capitalists a few years ago, on this year’s National Day (October 1) the NPC passed the controversial Property Law which ensures the same level of protection to private landed property as is given to public property. This means private leaseholders will have no worries about forced takeovers by the government. For all practical purposes, they will enjoy the status of land owners.
Reports of very frequent mine collapses and other industrial accidents in the rapidly expanding private sector regularly pour in as a cruel commentary on the conditions of working class. And to cite just one from numerous glaring indications of the social hardships resulting from the neoliberal policies, with the introduction of fees by local and state governments, dropout rates among poor Chinese children are growing.
“Over the last five years, the number of Chinese who cannot read and write grew by 30 million to 116 million, wiping out years of gain” reports China Daily, April 2, 2007. This will have a serious economic consequence too: China’s progress from a low skill, labour-intensive economy to a more advanced technological society will be hampered by lack of basic educational skills.
The Chinese authorities, to be sure, have been taking various corrective measures every now and then. Some effective measures have been taken in recent years to improve the conditions of peasants who have been suffering badly from the vagaries of the market. But the sheer economic forces of the market have proved more powerful than the administrative steps and ideological campaigns. Thus hundreds of death penalties and tens of thousands of jail sentences over the years of reform have failed to contain corruption. And perhaps this was not unexpected. Rapidly growing capitalist relations in the base is naturally having its impact on the superstructure – on the politics, policies and priorities of the ruling party as well as conduct of its members (last year alone some 90,000 party members were “disciplined”, says the 17th CPC Congress report). The need for a deeper ideological-political rectification and course correction is being felt widely by well-wishers of the Chinese experiment of building socialism. As we watch the developments in China in the broad framework of arduous experiments in building socialism in the face of intensified ideological-political offensive of capital known as globalisation, certain decisions taken in the recently held 17th Congress of CPC, if properly implemented, could hopefully reduce if not reverse some of the currently growing imbalances. As re-elected General Secretary and Chinese President Hu Jintao put it, the party has decided to “increase transfer payments, intensify the regulation of incomes through taxation, break business monopolies, create equal opportunities and overhaul income distribution practices with a view to gradually reversing the growing income disparity”. The Congress has also called for “building socialist new villages” by “giving more to villages, taking less from them and breathing new life to them”, and “industry nurturing agriculture and cities supporting villages” and improving farmers’ living standards.
Turbulence in South Asia
Currently regarded as the world’s most vital continent in economic and geopolitical terms, Asia is subjected to growing imperialist exploitation and interference. We in India have had a bitter taste of this in the shape of the US bear-hug and the harmful fallouts of the West-dictated policies of liberalisation. And naturally we are more concerned about developments in the neighbouring countries in South Asia.
The mighty movement in Nepal for a genuine democratic republic has emerged as a great source of inspiration to the fighting forces in this part of the world. The sustained high tide in mass movement following the SPA-Maoist 12-point agreement compelled the King to restore the parliament in April 2006 and then with the Maoists joining the coalition government the political struggle between forces of status quo and various forces fighting for a democratic republic reached a highly complex stage. Over the past year the left-wing in the ruling coalition achieved a fair degree of success in pushing forward its agenda of democratic republic sans the King and also had to make some concessions. On a few issues like the democratic agitation by Madhesis, the conduct of the government and partly also of the CPN(M) have attracted considerable criticism even from friendly forces. But overall, the Nepali communists still retain political initiative in their own hands and are able to exert mass pressure on the rightist forces.
The US government which tried desperately to keep the king in power and the Maoists out of power as well as the Indian state are still very much active in this strategically located country. On behalf of the people of India we express our firm opposition to the counterrevolutionary machinations of these governments and extend warm support to the brave people of Nepal. We seek to learn from both the highly encouraging achievements of the communist movement in Nepal and from the difficulties it is facing. And we do trust that in this decisive and difficult hour comrades in Nepal will score even greater successes.
In Pakistan, the open US threat of military attack in the event of Pakistan government’s failure to fight terrorism to the satisfaction of American masters and lately the US-advised Lal Masjid massacre clearly indicated that the US war on terror had entered our subcontinent. But these and the savage repression on the democratic movement for reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Pakistan generated such a militant and massive protest against the pro-US president in uniform that he lost the power to rule in the old way. In the course of implementing a US-brokered rapprochement between Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, the President declared a state of Emergency in Pakistan, placed Ms Bhutto under house arrest for a while and later appointed a caretaker prime minister of his choice. The US, while formally demanding restoration of ‘democracy’, has strengthened the autocrat’s hands by announcing fresh military aid. The president is under growing pressure to lift the emergency; even there is talk of the opposition boycotting the election unless it is held under the supervision of a caretaker government acceptable to all parties. Musharraf, however, refuses to relent, confident as he is of continuing US support. Meanwhile, clashes between the army and the militants are taking heavy tolls and democratic protests against the emergency are mounting.
The ongoing convulsions in Pakistan emanate from two closely interrelated concerns. With Iraq and Afghanistan bleeding so profusely under US occupation, the average Pakistani’s sympathy clearly lies with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and Musharraf’s policy of compliance and active collaboration with the US naturally remains a source of tremendous mass anger. Simultaneously, there is a visible yearning for restoration of democracy, for a real end to military rule and not just a civilian facade. Let us hope for a coalescence of the struggles for these two concerns into a real anti-imperialist democratic resurgence in Pakistan that alone can bring some meaningful political change in that country and lasting peace in the subcontinent.
Recently the military in Myanmar unleashed its troops on peaceful demonstrators led by Buddhist monks in a bid to stamp out mounting protests against the junta’s stifling rule and price rises. Casualties were very high. We condemn the repressive military rule in unequivocal terms, voice firm support to the popular struggle for democracy and oppose the Indian Government’s shameful support for the dictatorship. At the same time, we are alive to the fact that the Bush administration’s and Western media’s calls for “democracy” in Myanmar is part of a broader US strategy of installing a pro-Western regime, encircling China, and gaining access for American corporations to Burma’s natural resources and cheap labour.
In Sri Lanka, with the expected failure of Norwegian mediation the prospects for peace have receded further. While President Rajapakshe continues to rely more on a military solution rather than what is urgently needed – a political settlement of the Tamil problem by providing meaningful autonomy in the North Eastern region – the LTTE is facing serious problems of stagnation. Also there are reports of serious human rights violations in the regions controlled by it.
In Bangladesh, the military is curbing democratic rights in most outrageous ways. We strongly support the left and democratic forces in Bangladesh in their struggle against these attacks and oppose any moves by the Indian government to fish in troubled waters. In Bhutan, the king is cracking down on democracy and has exiled one and half lakh pro-democracy dissidents. India has denied responsibility for these political refugees and has shifted its own burden to Nepal, despite the fact that Bhutan shares a border with India and not Nepal. The US is also meddling in Bhutan’s affairs, ensuring the coronation of Prince Khesar, a friend of the US, as the King of Bhutan. We strongly demand that the Indian Government stop its shameful support for the authoritarian Bhutan monarchy and accept responsibility for a peaceful solution of the refugee problem.
For Broader Anti-Imperialist Unity
For Resurgence of Communist Movement
We are walking a world full of challenges and pregnant with prospects, as the dialectics of history reassert themselves in more ways than one. During the period since our Seventh Party Congress, the US launched the most ambitious scheme of world domination but its grip over the world situation has weakened rather than strengthened. In the very first decade of the fancied “American century”, the proud winner in past century’s cold war is watching the defeated opponent rise again and openly challenge the victor’s drive for a unipolar world. The first US colonies of the 21st century are fast turning into a deadly quagmire for the surviving superpower and the first continent subjected to the neoliberal economic regime is emerging as the foremost battleground against that regime. Overall, now it is Washington which is mortally afraid of its enemies, not the other way round.
The multiple streams of struggle against imperialism and its allies in different countries create, slowly but surely, the objective conditions for resurgence of the international communist movement. With this long-term goal, we have consistently forged links with a range of significant anti-imperialist movements – against racism, war, and occupation — as well as different communist currents, across the world. We must further expand and consolidate such links. We the international proletariat have a common enemy to defeat and a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!