History is Marching: Part One

CB, Béal Feirste

Prolekult’s History is marching is a brilliant documentary about the current state of world affairs, how the current situation has come about and how it may unfold. These are analysed through the scientific methods used by Marx, Engels, Lenin and countless other exceptional revolutionaries throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Donald Trump is shown, saying that, “we accept that vigorous military, economic and political conflicts are now playing out all over the world”. The election of Donald Trump and the United Kingdom’s (UK) vote to leave the European Union (EU) are described as having upset the previous certainties in world politics. Despite being split up into seven parts, it is important to remember that all the phenomenon covered are intrinsically linked, and could not have occurred without each other.

PART ONE- IMPERIALISM, THE HIGHEST STAGE OF CAPITALISM

The documentary gives a summary of the development of capitalism up to our present conjecture, and notes that our world is dominated by the social system of Capitalist Imperialism. Imperialism, as described by Lenin, is the most developed stage of capitalism. Capitalism, with its never-ending cycle of crises, has concentrated the vast amounts of wealth produced under its system as the rate of profit falls, which means there is a lack of profitable investments available. As pointed out by Karl Marx, the instruments of capitalism bring forth its own destruction. As in, the technology produced by competition, the driving force of development which constantly averages out, leads the rate of profit on a downward trajectory to zero. Crises ensue and more wealth is concentrated. The concentrated wealth, held by a select few, is formed into monopolies, huge corporations that dominate the market almost unquestionably. Cartels are then formed, which fix prices and divide up the profits between them. Competition, therefore, vanishes and is replaced by the monopolies.

Just like the industrial capitalists, the banks also monopolised themselves through competition. As banks, the more capital they hold the more their power increases, with the industrial capitalists coming to rely on them for much needed capital. Given this reliance, the banks can control them and determine what happens. This process was synthesised by Lenin in his 1916 work, Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. Lenin talked of this merging of banking and industrial capital, coining the term “finance capital” to describe the fusion of these two. Finance capital dominates in the era of imperialism, with the dominant class being the owners of the banks, rather than the wider bourgeoisie. This is called a financial oligarchy. The presence of these advanced sections of the bourgeoisie leads to export of capital (investment) as opposed to material goods. This is because of the over-accumulation caused by the falling rate of profit in the home country, where there is a higher level of economic development. This leads to vast levels of exploitation of the so-called third world by finance capital, leaving developing countries saddled with vast debts, crumbling infrastructure and public services, while the country is ransacked by international monopolies. The consequence is, as Lenin put it, “the division of the world between the capitalist associations”. When there is nowhere left to export capital to, a re-division is required to avoid the entire collapse of imperialism, because of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Re-division takes the form of all out war between the imperialists, with the proletariat used as cannon fodder against each other. The most obvious example being the First World War, which led to revolutions across Europe, and the end of several empires.

Communists must absolutely oppose the division of the world between the imperialists. We must fight resolutely against all forms of exploitation and abuse. Communists must educate the people about the phenomenon occurring all around them, especially in this particular time frame, when the contradictions of capitalist imperialism are coming to a head. Communists must unreservedly support the existing socialist nations as bastions against imperialism and beacons of a better future, regardless of their shortcomings, which are of course not to be ignored. There should be no fence sitting when it comes to defending socialism against imperialism, even more so in the current world situation. Those who denounce, slander and parrot imperialist media slogans against the socialist nations are merely doing the work of the imperialists, and should be corrected by communists. Imperialism will only be defeated by the unity of the working people against it, and communists should work hard towards this end. If imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, then anti-imperialism is the highest stage of class struggle.

PART TWO- THE POST WAR BOOM, “GLOBALISATION” AND GREAT POWER COMPETITION

In part two, the documentary talks about the roots of the current political and economic alliances of the 21st century. At the end of the Second World War capital was given new life. Crisis-ridden capital was destroyed and growth accelerated with new technologies in what was called the post-war boom. It was an unparalleled period of prosperity that lasted roughly until 1974, when major economies like the US, UK and Japan all recorded negative growth. This newest crisis led to the promulgation of neoliberal globalisation by figures such as Milton Friedman, one of the Chicago Boys from University of Chicago, who pioneered this school of economics. Their first testing ground was Chile, where the marxist Salvador Allende had been violently overthrown. General Augusto Pinochet installed himself, resulting in the disappearing and murdering thousands. Economic reforms, advocated by the Chicago Boys and Friedman, destroyed the Chilean economy and countless livelihoods. Mass privatisation, removal of trade barriers, sell-offs, stagnant wages and prices characterised the way in which the world would come to be in the coming decades, with Thatcher and Reagan conducting similar policies in the UK and US respectively, destroying lives and communities. Hungry, crisis-ridden capitalism had sustained itself, points out the documentary, on the carcass of the state.

With the undemocratic dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the single biggest threat to imperialism was systematically dismantled and its assets sold off to the lowest bidder. A fitting punishment for a people who dared to struggle against imperialism all around the globe. Neoliberal shock therapy led to a similar situation as in Chile, however on a much larger scale. Imperialism was once again free to expand all over. In the so-called third world, foreign direct investment increased and therefore ransacking of resources intensified. The EU was formed in 1992 and by the end of the decade had its own central bank and common currency. This period of neoliberal globalisation represents the redivision of the world between imperialist powers. The alliance between the US, EU, and British imperialism could be sustained and even strengthened as the new markets opened, however as Lenin said, “under imperialism, peaceful alliances prepare the ground for wars”. This period of expansion in the 1990s could not last forever and in 2008 the economy crashed, and the people were left to pick up imperialism’s cost as the banks were bailed out. Since then the rate of profit has continued to fall, as the world is already divided, and over-accumulation is at an all time high. The only way in which the rate of profit can be increased is war, and we are already seeing the moves toward war, with the documentary pointing out the acknowledgement by then US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, in 2019 that, “Great power competition, not terrorism, is now the greatest focus of US national security”.

Communists must struggle against imperialist war because of the damage it does to people all around the world, especially in developing countries. The international working class must never again be used as cannon fodder for the profits of some capitalist. The unimaginable economic and military strength of modern imperialist capitalism may lower the heads of many comrades who might think that imperialism will never be defeated, however we should remember that all reactionaries are paper tigers, and that the people of the world will one day defeat imperialism forever. This will not happen though if we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the forces of reaction that permeate throughout society today. Communists must be strong and fear no enemy because communists struggle with the people, and therefore what we fight for is just, the people are all that we have. Communists must always stand against neoliberalism as an economic model and the toxic individualist culture that it promotes. Neoliberalism has ruined countless lives and as communists we stand for uplifting humanity’s condition, not deliberately worsening it. Therefore, communists stand at complete odds with this economic model and should work to expose the lies put forward by the politicians and officials who promote or carry out neoliberalism.

PART THREE- THE STAR-SPANGLED FRONTIER

The strongest weapon in the hands of the American empire is not its vast military capacity and weapons, but rather its currency, the dollar. The narrator gives a brief history of how the currency was backed up and how it changed into a global currency anchor, sometimes even the official currency of entire countries. The dominance of the US dollar is the main tool used by American imperialism to achieve their desired goals. However, the documentary shows how with the rise of the Russian and Chinese economies, the influence of the US is waning, as the EU, Russia, and China seek to move away from reliance on the dollar. The narrator states that the only way the US will be able to retain its dominance is with aggression on a scale never before seen. An interview with Trump is then played, where he calls the EU a foe because of “what they do to us in trade”. This shows that to Trump everyone is a foe, and US dominance is his only concern.

Trump uses two main strategies, which are economic and military intimidation against China, and the economic intimidation against the Transatlantic Alliance and Russia. China is analysed, and the trade war between the US and China is highlighted. Alongside tariffs on goods, the US also regularly intimidates the Chinese by sailing navy vessels off the Chinese coast, and issuing unilateral threats. Concerning Europe, Trump’s policy is described as difficult to understand, as the US and EU had consistently been antagonistic toward Russia, exemplified in the removal of Russia from the G8 in response to the annexation of Crimea after the Ukrainian Coup in 2014. The Enhanced Forward Presence and conflicting objectives of the EU and Russia in Syria further highlight the antagonisms between the two. If the EU wants to compete with the US as an imperialist bloc, it would do well to prevent any further deterioration with Russia, as Russia is their fourth largest trading partner and leading gas supplier. Trump’s interventions at the G7 summit show his two-pronged approach and attempts to play on the antagonisms between Russia and the EU for the benefit of US imperialism in the region. Trump yet again antagonises the EU with his withdrawal from the Iran deal, which allowed the EU to begin trading with Iran. To sum up, Trump is the expression of the United States’ mission for world dominance, and he is upsetting certain sections of the bourgeoisie, who call him a Russian puppet amongst other things, instead preferring their own, less overtly imperialist, candidate to lead the American empire.

We communists oppose the domination of the dollar and how it has been used to destroy progressive governments in almost every corner of the globe. We oppose the American empire, as well as the imperialist European Union. Communists believe in uniting all of humanity together, to work towards the betterment of humanity. We abhor all systems that crush the people and enslave them. The US empire and European Union are two stumbling blocks to the construction of socialism in our country, and their influence on Irish society significantly impedes our work.. Socialism will not be built while Ireland is a member of the European Union, and after the triumph of the proletariat, EU imperialists will be thrown out, and kept out. Inter-imperialist conflict is a symptom of capitalism in crisis, and communists should educate the people to prepare for an intensification of the contradictions of capitalist society, as things will get worse before they get better. We communists must be prepared, or stare resounding defeat in the face.

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