First Published: Class Struggle, No. 3, Winter 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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With a new nation-wide Fight-Back organization to emerge from the Dec. 27-28 conference in Chicago, and with the spontaneous struggles of working people everywhere reaching new proportions, there is a great need to deepen our understanding of the capitalist crisis.
At the present time, the spokesmen for the ruling class are making an all-out effort to convince us that there is a “recovery” taking place. The attempt to cover over continued unemployment, increasing inflation, and the intensified impoverishment and oppression of the people is the desperate effort of a dying system to restore confidence in itself.
This being an election year, a host of politicians have also come out for “fighting back,” demagogically trying to profit from the discontent of the people. They peddle the view that the crisis can be solved by electing them, or by electing Democrats instead of Republicans.
But this crisis is a crisis of the entire capitalist system, and as yet it has shown no signs of genuine recovery. In fact, a study of its development shows that the economic conditions of the majority of people are continuing to worsen, while the biggest capitalists themselves are still locked in their worst crisis in forty years. By studying some of the facts of the crisis, this article will attempt to show why it is the system itself which is to be blamed for the crisis, and why, rather than “recovery,” it is the dangers of deeper crisis and world war which he on the horizon.
We are currently experiencing the sixth and most severe economic crisis since World War 2. It has grown out of the cyclic nature of capitalism, which has produced periodic crises of varying intensity since the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is not necessarily the “final crisis of capitalism” nor is it “just another crisis.” It is a very profound and malignant crisis which contains the seeds for even deeper recession, wider unemployment and more chaotic financial markets than we have yet seen.
What are the causes of this crisis?
Overproduction is the basic feature of capitalist crisis. It reflects the contradiction that lies at the root of capitalism–between social production and private accumulation (or between the majority of people who work and the handful who make the profits). The handful of capitalists at the top are constantly trying to produce more goods, and produce them faster, in order to make greater profits. In order to increase their profits, however, they are always trying to hold back wages and keep the workers as poor as possible. In the long run, this contradiction must erupt into a crisis–the capitalists produce too many goods, which the masses of people, in their poverty, cannot afford to buy.
Commenting on this historical tendency of capitalism, Lenin stated: “Now, when . .. the large industrial enterprises set out to produce as large a quantity of goods as possible, they throw onto the market such a huge quantity of these goods that the majority of people, being poor, are unable to purchase them all.”
These crises are present wherever there is capitalism. In the history of this country, crises broke out all through the 1800’s, even though that was a period when “laissez-faire” or pre-monopoly capitalism was a rising trend. Similar crises broke out in countries all around the world, and some of the biggest capitalist crises such as that of the 1930’s, hit the whole capitalist world.
Throughout the 1960’s, the U.S. capitalists successfully avoided the crisis breaking out. But they could not avoid it forever.
To a large extent, this was due to the vast war expenses and debt which the U.S. continued to pile up as a result of its international aggression.
It is estimated that since 1970 alone, the U.S. invested over $100 billion in weapons and other war expenditures which were destroyed or captured on the battlefields in Indochina. In other words, this $100 billion-plus represented total waste, money invested without return. The constant demand for new steel, aluminum, chemicals, etc. to replace what was being destroyed drove the prices of these commodities constantly higher, and fueled the inflationary fire throughout the economy.
In order to pay for the war and at the same time pay for “reforms” to keep the people “pacified,” the government resorted increasingly to deficit spending. With the national debt now over half a trillion dollars, and the annual deficit piling up to $70 billion a year, an ever-increasing percentage of the gross national product is being devoted to paying the interest on those debts. Trying to cover these debts with an increasing volume of government notes is one of the main factors behind the new inflationary wave.
As war wound down and the economy slipped into recession in 1971, the government resorted to even more deficit spending to try to stimulate a recovery. This fueled inflation even more.
In consequence of the high prices in the U.S., the U.S. rapidly lost many export markets to Western Europe and Japan.
The development of the European Economic Community (EEC) enabled its member states to rely more heavily on each other than on the U.S. for trade and exchange. Spurred by an increasing share of international trade, the industrial output of the EEC rose twice as rapidly as the U.S., while Japan became the world’s fastest-growing industrial country. For the first time since the war, these countries could compete with the U.S. for the export of capital internationally.
Such prime U.S. markets as south Korea moved into Japan’s column as chief trading partner. Germany gained an equal footing with the U.S. in terms of total trade with South Africa, while Japan and Germany combined to absorb a greater share of the trade with Brazil than the U.S.
Even Great Britain, historically the largest trading partner of the U.S., joined the EEC and began to do more of its business in Europe. The developing trade war in the early 70’s at times grew so heated that even U.S. business magazines speculated that armed clashes were not an impossibility.
The loss of U.S. markets, coupled with the weakening position of U.S. influence in Europe, forced Nixon to devalue the dollar in 1971. It was an effort to bring the 1945-based monetary system more into line with the conditions of the 1970s. While this provided a temporary slowdown in the trade war, it ultimately produced tremendous inflationary effects on the U.S. domestic economy.
But, besides speeding inflation further, this maneuver fueled a financial crisis.
The tremendous loss of international markets suffered by U.S. imperialism, coupled with the upward revaluation of every capitalist currency against the dollar, sent U.S. investment circles spinning from 1971-73. In the crisis mentality that followed, even big U.S. investors dumped their dollars for stronger currencies. They began an unprecedented wave of commodity market speculation, choosing to invest in tangible goods rather than paper money of uncertain value. This sent cotton prices higher than they had been in a hundred years, quintupled the price of gold, and forced the closing of trade in soybeans, corn and other farm commodities because the speculation was making these markets so unstable.
In this period (1973-74), the Franklin Bank of New York collapsed, the U.S. National Bank in California was taken over and reorganized and business failures were occurring in one out of every two hundred ventures. As the recession intensified, more bankruptcies were recorded.
Despite the current talk of “recovery,” 1975 has actually been the worst year yet in the financial crisis. Already, 11 banks have folded, more than in any year since 1942. W.T. Grant stores became the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and the lingering financial crisis in New York City continues to threaten a large number of banks whose interests are tied there. By year’s end, it is estimated by Business Week magazine that 13,000 bankruptcies will have been recorded, with the average liability of each bankruptcy twice what it was five years ago.
This financial turmoil has contributed directly to the recession in the sense that over 100,000 workers have been thrown out of work because their companies went out of business in the last year. It has contributed indirectly by keeping even some of the “healthiest” sectors of the economy from mapping expansion plans in such a time of confusion.
Typical has been the behavior of the biggest monopolies. Rather than lowering prices to sell more commodities (but at a lower rate of profit), they have maintained or raised prices and cut back production by laying off workers. The phenomenon of rising prices at a time of high and growing unempolyment is characteristic of monopoly capitalism.
All these factors finally precipitated the present crisis.
Most of the years of the 60’s constituted a period of relative growth and expansion for capitalism. But as the inflationary factors began to hit the economy, and as the effort to make up for lost profits began to result in massive unemployment, even U.S. imperialism’s “home market” was eroded. Added to this were the millions of young people thrown into the job market for the first time as a result of cutbacks in the educational system and the ending of the military draft. With prices so high, and so many unemployed, the domestic market for the system’s goods grew ever smaller.
This crisis of overproduction revealed itself most dramatically in the highly-monopolized auto industry. The Big Three auto makers suddenly found themselves with 2 million unsold cars in 1974. Every newspaper and magazine carried photographs of their over-filled warehouses and lots.
As an example of capitalist overproduction, the auto industry offers a clearcut case. Between 1970 and 1973, auto production increased a total of 6%. The price of an average auto increased 19%. Both these indicate a relative “boom” in the industry, or at least its consistent expansion. But the average wage of an auto worker, when adjusted to the inflation rate, declined 3% in the same period.
While the whole economic picture is a good deal more complicated, this example is typical of one industry after another. Production, profit and prices were increasing while real wages were decreasing.
The response of the Big Three auto makers to their sudden stockpiles of goods was to immediately cut-back production. They laid-off over 300,000 workers, some 140,000 of whom are still out of work to this day.
In fact, all of the most highly-monopolized sectors of the economy suffered from tremendous overproduction. The response of each was to halt new investment, close down production and lay-off their employees in order to save themselves from ruin.
This phenomenon in itself helps prove that the cause of the crisis is to be found in the basic laws of the system. With all the statistics and economic experts at their disposal, why was it that these big industries couldn’t see the crisis of overproduction on the horizon, and curtail production accordingly? Why was it that they “suddenly” woke up only when millions of cars and tons of steel lay idle in their warehouses? The fact is that many of the experts saw the crisis coming, but there was nothing they could do about it.
A Chrysler official, for example, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal in 1972 as saying, “I don’t believe the market is as bottomless as we have allowed ourselves to think. Yes, everyone wants a new car. But can everyone afford one?”
So the capitalists are not blind to the crisis of overproduction, but neither can they avoid it. They are subject to the law of “expand or die” and must continue producing more goods at a faster pace in order to assure their share of the market from their competitors. And they are also ready to believe that, through their own political and economic maneuvering, the crisis will hit everybody except themselves.
The crisis of overproduction hit like a tornado sweeping through all the “pillars” of capitalist industry. Auto, rubber, steel, and housing construction together accounted for one million layoffs in 1974. At one point, 30% of the workforce in both auto and housing were unemployed. More than 20 auto production plants were either closed indefinitely or shut down for periods of more than a month. In a period of two months in late 1974, 85,000 steel workers lost their jobs in Indiana, the steel center of the Midwest.
The result of all this was politely termed a “recession” by the government, but in fact it was more than that. It was a large scale depression of virtually every industry and the whole economic system. Nearly 10% of the workforce is now unemployed, with unemployment among minority workers running twice as high. Even today, the most highly-monopolized industries remain in a state of “recession.” In the midst of the so-called “recovery,” here is how some of the most important industries are performing:
Construction....Up 1.5% over last year, the worst year in the industry’s history. Despite this slight gain, 1975 will be the second worst year in its history. Business Week magazine says, “Even an anemic recovery may not materialize.”
Steel....Although the steel industry entered the recession in 1974, it is just beginning to feel its real effects. In July, steel had its worst month of the decade, producing only eight million tons, down from twelve million in 1974. Overall steel production is off 18% from last year.
Auto....This industry, said its “experts” had “nowhere to go but up” after the crisis of 1974. But new model-year production is still 2.5% lower than last year, which in turn was 16% lower than the year before. Even Henry Ford has said, “There is no real recovery to speak of in the auto industry.”
Oil....This industry is supposed to be “crisis-free” because of the world demand for energy sources. Yet U.S. domestic oil output is actually 5% below last year, and daily crude oil production is at a nine-year low.
Aluminum ....Aluminum production was also an area where overproduction didn’t hit with full impact until recently. Between 1974 and 1975, production is off more than 25%, with output at a low for the decade.
The most frequently-used overall estimate of the economy is the “Index of Leading Economic Indicators.” This index, which really hit the skids in 1974, was re-calculated, especially to “prove” that recovery is taking place. Yet after a short upturn, this index has once again taken a nose-dive. The physical picture of this economic graph is that of a roller coaster with a slight upward motion prior to a tumultuous downward spin.
Even a number of public officials are beginning to agree that there is no real recovery. A Senate sub-committee recently disclosed that what they refer to as the “misery index” (combination of inflation and unemployment) is at the same level as the height of the recession, owing to the recent increases in the rate of inflation.
While some experts were cheering the November drop of .3% in unemployment, even the Bureau of Labor Statistics was forced to take note of the fact that the drop in unemployment was mainly due to workers giving up the search for jobs, rather than an increase in total employment.
Even within the “recovery” the ruling class speaks of, they are forced to admit that 8% unemployment is now “acceptable.” To the Kennedy administration, only 4% unemployment was acceptable. To Johnson, it was 5%.
Nixon often spoke of bringing unemployment “under 6%.” Now Ford says unemployment will remain over 8% for the next period. This too shows something about the development of the general crisis of capitalism. Even when the capitalists “recover” (in their own terms) from one cycle of crisis, they are unable to return to the economic stability of their “good old days.”
In describing the current economic crisis, there is a phrase which has become worn to the point of cliche in the left press. “The capitalists are attempting to shift the burden of the crisis onto the workers’ backs,” runs this phrase. Perhaps the reason it is so often repeated is because it is so true.
The “burden” of the crisis has a very concrete and calculatable definition. The result of all the various diseases and symptoms of the economic system has cut dramatically into the holiest and most basic goal of the whole system–profits. In 1973, for example, before the recession had really unfolded, after-tax corporate profits were more than six cents on every dollar. By mid-1975 they had fallen to four cents on the dollar. In other words, the capitalists’ overall rate of profit declined 33% in two years–the sharpest drop since WWII. And this was after the least profitable enterprises had been pushed out of the averages through bankruptcy!
In addition to profits lost, the tendencies for growth and expansion within the economy turned into negative quantities over the last few years. In 1973, for example, manufacturing industries were making use of 90% of their capacities, but by 1975 only 66.5% of factories and machinery were in operation. The GNP which rose consistently in the period 1970-73, actually declined by 10% in 1974.
Commenting on this aspect of the capitalist crisis, Stalin told the Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1927, “As early as the Fourteenth Congress it was stated in the report that capitalism may return to pre-war level, may surpass the pre-war level, may rationalize its production, but that this does not yet mean – does not mean by far – that because of this the stabilization of capitalism can become durable, that capitalism can recover its pre-war stability. On the contrary, out of its very stabilization, out of the fact that production expands, that commerce develops, that technical progress and productive capacity increase, while the world market, the limits of this market and the spheres of influence of individual imperialist groups remain more or less stationary–out of this the deepest and most acute crisis of world capitalism is growing, pregnant with new wars and threatening the existence of any stabilization. Out of partial stabilization an intensification of the crisis of capitalism ensues, the growing crisis disrupts stabilization–this is the dialectics of the development of capitalism in the given historical period.”
These figures, then, represent the quantitative “burden of the crisis” for the ruling class. (There is of course no way to measure the “burden of the crisis” in terms of the system losing the confidence of the masses–except to point out that in 1974, the year when the crisis emerged full-fledged, some 17 capitalist governments had to change leadership. This included virtually every European country as well as Japan and the U.S.)
Because imperialism is a world system, the leading imperialists employ the dual tactic of shifting the “burden” onto other countries, especially the developing countries, as well as increasing the exploitation of the working people in the U.S.
One of the features of this particular crisis is that U.S. attempts to shift the crisis onto other countries in the form of inflation, tariffs, etc., have failed dramatically, owing to the resistance of the rest of the world to these tactics. This has brought about an intensification of the efforts to shift the burden onto the working class here, at the same time as it has heightened the contradictions between the various imperialists.
This resistance is of different kinds. For example, in the Third World, the surge of opposition to colonialism and imperialism created the conditions for numerous Third World countries to begin to stand up to big-power dictates.
The raw materials, formerly plundered and pirated by U.S. imperialism could no longer be taken so easily. Highlighted by the Arab oil struggle and the strengthening of OPEC, more than 100 developing countries began to take measures to control their own resources, develop technology, and unite together against big-power threats. The leaders of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia pointed out that in the past their countries had been a dumping ground for high-priced industrial goods from the U.S. As a result, they began demanding an equitable price for their oil.
The revolutionary tide sweeping the world liberated a number of countries from direct U.S. domination and manipulation. At the same time the general tendency of the Third World to unite, and practice self-reliance contributed to the forcing-out of U.S. interests all over Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
These were heavy losses for U.S. imperialism, and losses which compelled the leading monopolists in the early 70’s to urge continued U.S. aggression in Indochina. They desperately dreamt that somehow the wheel of history could be turned back. But their war machine was decisively defeated by the Indochinese peoples.
There is also the resistance of the smaller capitalist countries, who do not want the crisis dumped on their backs. The European countries, Japan and Canada are also experiencing deep overproduction crisis, with millions out of work. Here in the U.S. the capitalists are trying to scare the workers with the “Japanese” or “European” competition; over there they are worried about the “American” competition. The workers of all countries can gain nothing by falling for this “competition” game.
Finally, there is the element of the USSR, the other superpower, where capitalism has been restored, and which is aggressively hunting “economic territory” of all kinds.
The social-imperialism (socialist in word, but imperialist in deed) of the Soviet Union has turned this superpower into the main rival with U.S. imperialism, both militarily and even economically. By 1970, the Soviet Union had established thorough domination of India’s economy, a traditional stronghold of the U.S. in the 1960’s. Social-imperialism had become the main investor in countries like Cuba, Iraq, Libya, and Algeria–all countries which had seen extensive U.S. investment in the 50’s.
Perhaps even more frightening to U.S. imperialism was the fact that the social-imperialists were beginning to get a strong economic foothold in Western Europe. The USSR established economic hegemony over Finland and negotiated large trade deals with Italy, West Germany and France.
In order to carry out this rivalry with the economically stronger U.S., the Soviet Union is forced to rely on its military strength. While they have made some inroads in penetrating U.S. markets, the Soviet social-imperialists are aware that to really win domination, they must defeat the U.S. militarily, especially in Europe which still remains the prized economic center of the world.
At the same time, the U.S. has, in the last few years, been able to make a few gains in penetrating the economies of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union’s main stronghold. This battle for redivision of world control is heading more dangerously in the direction of a new world war, as both imperialist powers are caught up in crisis and seek new markets as a “way out.” As Lenin said, the imperialist system is characterized by the “rivalry of several Great Powers for hegemony” over the whole world and its markets.
In short, it is hard to see how the U.S. imperialists will ease the crisis by dumping it on other countries. So this has brought about an intensification of the efforts to shift the burden onto the working class here, at the same time as it has heightened the contradictions between the various countries.
For the working class the burden of the crisis also has a very concrete and calculatable definition. For example, real wages, meaning the amount of necessities a pay check buys, is now only 90% of what it was in 1967. What this means is that through “holding the line” on wages, and raising prices, the ruling class has, in effect, extracted a new 10% tax from the income of workers, a tax towards helping them recover from their crisis.
The burden of the crisis has taken its toll in numerous other ways for the working class. In fact, what unemployment really means is that millions of workers are thrown out of work, while their employers pocket their paychecks themselves. Cutbacks, tax hikes, and speeded-up production are all part of the “burden-shifting” process.
Even though the crisis is still continuing, the imperialists have achieved a great success in the “shifting of the burden.” For example, the fact that profits began to climb again in the third quarter of 1975, indicates not that the recession has ended, but that enough of the burden for its expense has been shifted onto the working people to register some progress once again.
The main reason for the system’s ability to shift the burden is the fact that the aristocrats of labor who run the workers’ movement have allowed them to do so, and in fact have disarmed the workers of every weapon needed to fight the crisis.
In the early going of the crisis, for example, the government froze workers’ wages, setting up the infamous “pay board” to oversee contract negotiations. Instead of fighting this attack, George Meany, Leonard Woodcock and other union misleaders became members of this pay board themselves. They opposed every union local which tried to struggle for anything more than the 5.5% wage increase limit. They did everything in their power to smash the rank and file opposition to the wage freeze.
Among the steel workers, I.W. Abel pioneered the sell-out of the right to strike with the treacherous “No-Strike Agreement” of 1973. As a result of this agreement, steel workers have faced a tremendous decline in real wages and are currently hit with a huge round of layoffs, without the key weapon of the strike to fight back.
In addition to cooperating with big business through such schemes as wage freezes and no-strike agreements, these labor lieutenants have played their most dangerous role in weakening the unity of the working class. It is Meany, Abel, Woodcock and Co. who have been the propagandists for the view that it is workers of other countries who are to blame for the crisis, rather than the system. These traitors have weakened the union by refusing to fight for the intersts of women and minority workers, and in fact have attacked the struggle against discrimination. As a result, the vast majority of workers remain outside the unions and even in unionized industries racism is used to keep workers fighting each other instead of fighting the companies and the system.
Wherever communists have begun to give leadership to the workers’ movement, the union leaders have launched new red-baiting campaigns, and wherever rank and file struggles have broken out, these mis-leaders have attempted to put the unions in receivership, rig elections, or otherwise undermine their militancy.
In all, the only program for a “fight-back” offered by the labor aristocrats is to vote for the Democrats instead of the Republicans in 1976. These enemies are working overtime to take away every real tool of the struggle that workers have.
In spite of this treachery, the spontaneous fight-back has continued to grow and develop.
Thousands of examples of militant struggles against the policies of the labor aristocrats could be cited, but perhaps the best one is the Jobs March in Washington last April 26. The AFL-CIO Industrial Union Dept., forced to do something about mounting unemployment, called a march, which they hoped could be led peacably into the hands of Hubert Humphrey and other Democratic politicians. When these politicians took the stage, thousands of workers shouted them down and kept them from speaking. They chanted, “We want jobs,” “Make the bosses pay,” and other slogans of the fight-back.
This incident showed that the labor aristocracy, at best, has only a tenuous hold on the rank and file workers’ movement. But an important aspect of the April 26 march was that the revisionist CPUSA did everything possible to strengthen that hold, revealing the concrete danger that revisionism poses inside the labor movement. The revisionists tried to keep the workers from storming the stage, and later accused the masses of workers of being ultra-“left” for not wanting to listen to Humphrey. The stand of the revisionists on April 26 is symbolic of their entire approach to the fight-back-one of steering the struggle back to the ballot box; one of supporting and prettifying the system instead of mobilizing opposition to it.
What can we learn from this brief history of the economic crisis? Perhaps the most important lesson is that it is the capitalist system itself which is responsible for this crisis. In tracing some of its causes, we can see that it was not one particular president nor another who led the way to the crisis. It was not one group of greedy capitalists or another. And it is not even a phenomenon which is confined to the United States.
The crisis has developed out of the conditions and laws of capitalism. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote: “Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells...”
Every step the capitalists have taken in this decade has ultimately served to deepen their crisis in spite of their efforts to “stabilize.” Whether it was devaluing the dollar or laying off workers, none of these measures could put an end to the crisis conditions. In fact, heavy capital investment in Europe only led to heightened rivalry with the European capitalists; the dollar devaluation only deepened the inflationary trend, the mass layoffs added even greater proportions to the crisis of overproduction.
Generally what “recovery” exists is nothing more than an upturn in profits which has been achieved through intensified impoverishment of the people.
The inability of capitalism to solve this crisis over a prolonged period illustrates the Marxist principle that the basic contradiction in society is between social production and private accumulation. As long as a handful of monopolists are trying to turn all production to their own profit, periodic crises are inevitable as the masses of people become poorer and poorer and industry grows even more monopolized. This process goes on no matter how much different politicians may speak of “full employment,” “curbing inflation,” or “reordering priorities.” Today, 500 corporations control 78% of all profits in the U.S., and perhaps no more than 5,000 people control these corporations. On the other hand, nearly 50 million people subsist only through welfare, social security, or unemployment benefits and the median income of even the average working family is only $1,500 above the poverty-line.
But if is not just economic oppression that the system brings to bear. This period of economic crisis has also been marked by a fierce wave of repression against Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Asian, Native American and other oppressed nationality people. The crisis has systematically wiped out gains that had been made in the fight for equal rights and equal opportunity.
Accompanying the crisis has been widespread fascist attacks against the people such as deportations, sterilizations of women, and limiting the right to unionize and strike. Now, measures such as Senate Bill-1 are being debated in Washington, a bill which would make virtually every attempt to build a revolutionary movement or a fight-back struggle, illegal. These are signs once again that it is the entire system that is the enemy-the system which is grasping for fascist powers to control the struggle against it, and to prepare the country for war with the Soviet superpower, where a fascist dictatorship already exists.
One lesson of the crisis then, is that it is the whole system which is to blame. The corollary to this lesson is that in order to defeat this system, the working class must close ranks and unite, fighting back in common struggle with all its allies.
In contrast to this approach, the revisionist CPUSA attempts to portray the struggle as a mere economic one, a “bread and butter” question which can be solved by a little more bread and butter. Articulating this view, Gus Hall, the national secretary of the CPUSA, opened the last national convention by saying, “The people of our rich and productive land face many problems. But clearly the problem that has emerged as the key link in the chain of life is the economic one.” To solve this “economic problem” the CPUSA has focused all energy on the passing of some congressional bills for “full unemployment,” and on developing an electoral campaign for the ’76 elections. This is the main program of the revisionists, coupled with pushing support for Soviet social-imperialism through slogans like “Detente Means Jobs” and “More Trade With the Soviet Union.”
This is a revisionist program for two reasons. First, it prettifies U.S. imperialism, making it seem as though the crisis could be solved with a few economic reforms. The Daily World newspaper, mouthpiece of the CPUSA, has added to the painting of this pretty picture by going along with the line of “recovery,” and preaching that Democrats, liberals and “radical reformers” can speed up this process of “recovery” which, according to them, is already underway.
Secondly, the revisionist program prettifies and praises Soviet social-imperialism as the salvation of the U.S. working class. But the Soviet superpower is also a capitalist system and subject to capitalism’s laws. In fact, the economic crisis in the USSR is very sharp, fueled to a large extent by social-imperialism’s war expenditures and increasing international aggression.
Imperialism, Lenin said, is reaction down the line. It means crisis and war for the people of its own countries and the whole world. In this period of capitalism’s general crisis, economic crises are occurring more frequently. We are currently suffering under the effect of the longest and deepest crisis the system has known since the redivision of the world that took place in World War II.
The two biggest imperialist powers are preparing for war to redivide the world in the hopes of getting out of their crisis, much as the imperialist powers prepared prior to World War II.
We must not be taken in by the talk of “recovery.” Instead, we should see how deep and far-reaching the crisis really is, and understand the resulting danger of war that exists in the world.
The need to take aim at the capitalist system, and the need to unite the working class in action are cornerstones of a revolutionary fight-back movement. The tasks of Marxist-Leninists and the Marxist-Leninist party within this movement is to take the spontaneous struggle that already exists, expand it, unite it, and raise its level of consciousness to the point where it becomes not only a fight-back against the effects of this crisis, but an offensive against the system that lies behind the crisis.