The global Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across all continents with all states unable to make a coordinated response. Indeed, the main events of the last two months confirm the deadly dynamic into which capitalism is plunging civilisation.
Recurring climate disasters
The summer of 2021 has been the hottest ever on record and been marked by the proliferation and accumulation of catastrophes in the four corners of the planet: large scale fires across several parts of the globe, torrential rains in China and India, flooding in the north-west of Europe, mudslides in Japan, deadly hurricanes and floods, extreme heat waves and droughts in the US, and a heat dome in Canada
The scale, frequency and simultaneity of the extreme effects of global warming have reached an unprecedented scale in recent months, literally ravaging vast areas, in most cases causing hundreds of deaths (most notably in developed countries like the United States, Germany and Belgium), and the resulting devastation has left millions of people in despair. In the midst of the catastrophe, the fact that the latest report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), published in early August 2021, is warning once again about the acceleration of climate change and the unprecedented increase in extreme weather events, is no surprise.
Although the media did widely report the IPCC’s alarming conclusions, they were quick to play them down, indicating that the situation was not hopeless, since the supposed salvation of the planet lay, according to the report, in the implementation of a “green economy” and the cultivation of “eco-responsible” individual behaviour. Such lies and distortions have the goal of masking the incapacity of the bourgeoisie to cope with the situation brought about from the fact that “States and emergency services, suffering from decades of budget cuts, are disorganised and failing“. (1)
But the chain of disasters of recent weeks is only a small glimpse of what awaits humanity in the years and decades ahead if the downward spiral into which capitalism in decomposition is plunging humanity is not brought to an end. This is all the more the case since other major world events are aggravating this endless chaos.
The Afghan chaos
The chaotic departure of the US army from Afghanistan after 20 years, and the return to power of the Taliban, is a further sign of the inability of the great powers to guarantee global stability, particularly in areas where tensions and rivalries between states are rampant. As we can already see, the return to power of a reactionary and delusional faction such as the Taliban in Afghanistan only adds to worldwide disorder and instability at all levels. Here again, the media has focused attention on the notorious return to power of the bloodthirsty Taliban. However, the cruelty and terror inflicted on the population by this clique, with its medieval and obscurantist ideas, hardly rivals the crimes which the “democratic” countries and their allies have been guilty of for decades, in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
There is increasing impoverishment
In addition to these two major pieces of evidence of capitalist society rotting on its feet, there is the significant and clear worsening of the economic crisis, especially since the situation has been dramatically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. While up to now “the effects of decomposition, the increase of every man for himself and the loss of control have mainly affected the superstructure of the capitalist system, they now are tending to have a direct impact on the economic base of the system and its capacity to manage economic jolts as it sinks into its historical crisis.” (2) Behind the false declarations of a “flourishing economic recovery”, there are millions of people being laid off, evicted from their homes or unable to “see out the month”. The younger members of the working class are faced with atrocious job insecurity, with many having to resort to the support of charity from food banks. And with famine on the rise across Africa particularly, we are now seeing record numbers going hungry even in the United States.
Who can offer humanity a perspective?
The barbarity of war, the ecological disaster, the epidemics and the multiple economic and social disasters are not phenomena unrelated to each other. In their development, their simultaneity, their interaction and their scale, they combine as evidence of “a system that is drifting towards a complete impasse with no future to offer to the majority of the world’s population, except that of unthinkable barbarism“. (3)
While the bourgeoisie never ceases to exploit all the atrocities and abominations of this period, aiming to terrorise and paralyse the working class and undermine its confidence that an alternative future is possible, it would be wrong to assume that “the game is up”. For sure, the working class has still to overcome the profound retreat in its consciousness that has lasted for nearly three decades. However, it still remains objectively the only revolutionary class within capitalist society despite this; in other words, it’s the only social force capable of guiding humanity on a different path from the catastrophic future offered by capitalism. Throughout these three decades, the proletariat has repeatedly shown its capacity to confront the bourgeois state by refusing to accept the degradation of its working and living conditions. Although these struggles been limited in their development, they are nonetheless a valuable learning experience for the future. The proletarian revolution is not a beautiful idea that will fall from the sky by the grace of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, it is a concrete, long and torturous struggle in which the working class will realise its revolutionary potential through the accumulation of experience and by learning the lessons of its defeats.
Indeed, the struggles against the attacks on working conditions form the privileged terrain on which the working class can organise itself through its own resources and thus develop the basis of its international solidarity. In a decaying capitalism, the future belongs to the working class more than ever!
Discuss and contribute to the ideas outlined in this editorial at online meetings organised by the ICC – see the information below.
Vincent, 2 September 2021
3) “Theses on Decomposition”, International Review No. 107, (4th quarter 2001).