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.