The World Bank and and United Nations both recently issued reports indicating that ‘economic growth’, as they measure it, slowed considerably in 2011 and only “anaemic growth” could be planned for in 2012 and 2013.

The reports indicate the continuing economic downturn has particularly affected the Third World. Third World markets have been devalued by 8.5 percent since the end of July 2011, and capital flows, such as investments, from First World to Third World countries plunged 55 percent between 2010 and 2011.

According to the World Bank report, “the world economy has entered a dangerous period,” and points to the possibility of economic downturns in different parts of the world spreading to others. “The downturn in Europe and the slow growth in developing countries could reinforce one another more than is anticipated,” thus , “further complicating efforts to restore market confidence,” the report states.

The report additionally points to the financial crisis of 2008 and predicts this one will be worse, stating, “In the event of a major crisis, the downturn may well be longer than in 2008/09 because high-income countries do not have the fiscal or monetary resources to bailout the banking system or stimulate demand to the same extent as in 2008/09.[…] While contained for the moment, the risk of a much broader freezing up of capital markets and a global crisis similar in magnitude to the Lehman crisis remains. In particular, the willingness of [global] markets to finance the deficits and maturing debt of high-income countries cannot be assured. Should more countries find themselves denied such financing, a much wider financial crisis that could engulf private banks and other financial institutions on both sides of the Atlantic cannot be ruled out.”

The financial crisis of 2008 included a series of food riots in the Third World. The price of basic food stuffs has continued to rise since, and future civil disturbances over basic commodities could be much more widespread. Already a series of violent protests have erupted in Europe, for which economic contraction is predicted by the World Bank.

In the 1853 article entitled The Revolution in Europe and In China, Marx first commented on how political and economic crises could jump between the imperialist center and periphery. Today, due to the expanded interconnectedness of the world through the medium of capital accumulation, this possibility of national crises spreading and compounding throughout the world remains all the greater.

Communists cannot control every factor that leads to a revolutionary outbreak. Particularly, we have little control over the “anarchy of production,” which leads to periodic economic and political crises. However, through working to enhance the subjective forces of revolution even during non-revolutionary times, we can affect the quality of such political crises when they are spurred on by such economic downturns.

It is not enough for revolutionaries to sit on the side-lines, waiting for the logical outcomes of imperialism- such crises, militarism, rampant poverty, etc- to imbue the people with some amount of political consciousness. Rather, revolutionaries must be present at all times, adopting appropriate forms to raise mass political consciousness to its highest level possible, to the end of building movements to oppose and overthrow imperialism.

-Nick Brown


Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. But the Chinese economy and that of some countries in Latin America still remain strong, around 9%, in spite of all the pessimist forecasts about the real estate and banking “bubbles” in China. They, the Western banking sector experts, have been predicting a Chinese Gotterdamerung since the first years of Deng. I don’t think their record is good enough to give them any credit. It might be true that the Chinese economy could delink itself from the West, especially from the U$, and keep afloat relying only on their neighbouring countries, including Japan, and, sure, stimulating its internal demand. There are 200 million industrial workers in China. Do they mean communism? and this time with a far better base to start the race against capitalism. Do they really mean it? Or are the becoming bourgeoisified?The Pearl river and other coastal regions are becoming a focus of development for high added value goods, and the intensive cheap labour industry is moving westwards, towards the inland of China. Wow, I think this really changes the game. And that’s the reason Obama is moving the mighty navy towards the Yellow Sea. But who cares? There are many Dongfens 21 in China, and many more in Russia. What the hell?

    • Beginning around 1970, the ‘capitalist-roaders’ of China acted as predicted and began implementing policies to enshrine themselves as a national bourgeoisie which was principally comprador. This gained further impetus in the 1980’s after the market reforms, which began the flood of western capital into the PRC.

      China is like many Third World countries in that its economy is export-driven. It is dependent on consumption in the West (where most of the surplus value actually ends up). However, unlike many Third World countries, China, due to the state controls in place and its large population, was eventually able to accrue inside it enough of it own ‘share’ of surplus to establish its own monopoly capital functions. However, the Chinese economy in the main is still a Third World one. That is to say it is dependent of the parasitism of the West. Without orders from the West, China’s factories would close, tens or hundreds of millions would be out of work and the Chinese bourgeoisie would be without it own share of surplus. This helps explain why the latter was willing to finance US debt for so long. As to whether China could delink itself sufficiently, I doubt this is the case. When you have an export economy, its hard to replace the 300 million parasite-consumers over night. The other question is whether a Chinese labor aristocracy is developing. Probably, but not in any sense of what we’ve seen in the west. This would presuppose China capital could control the economies of a great number of countries and continents. Chinese capital is certainly trying to make inroads into eastern Africa and the region at large, but the accelerated, widespread co-option of the Western working class was the product of specific conditions and likely won’t be repeated the same way in the future.

      • You say 300 million parasites, and I guess you are not counting European population. The Germans and others in the UE are becoming good customers of China. I agree capitalism can’t be a way forward for the peoples of the global South, a way of development for the Third World, not even for China. Deng was the rescuer of the global capitalist system. He opened a cheap labor market of more than one billion people to the Amerikkkan and European capital. That was a perfect move. The US could get rid of the USSR too, with a little help from the Chinese friend. But IMO the situation has changed in many ways and the US, and the Ue as a minor partner, are not as strong as they used to be, even with comprador bourgeoisies in so many countries of the Third World.

      • I generally agree. I was specifically referencing US consumers. It’s doubtful that China will delink with the West. Yet it does seems that the national bourgeoisie/comprador bourgeoisie of some third world countries are ascending in power (i.e., able over the long term to accumulate capital at a faster rate than that of the west). How long this situation will last is hard to tell [by ascending in power they also undercut the basis of their own power, insofar as they can’t rely on western imperialists to derive their power from and sell goods to, it could create an unstable situation under which proletarian struggles increase in likelihood]. Thus, we should not under cut the possibly of proletarian struggles breaking out in Third World countries just because they have a seemingly ascendant wealthy elite and a small ‘middle class.’

  2. “Thus, we should not under cut the possibly of proletarian struggles breaking out in Third World countries just because they have a seemingly ascendant wealthy elite and a small ‘middle class.’” I could not agree more. The article by Marx you linked recently is most pertinent in this respect. The crisis moves around the globe swiftly.

    I can help with editting work.


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