The crisis of capitalism is also the crisis of the post-USSR world order, which was based on the domination of US imperialism. With the rise of China as a world power, Russia taking an increasingly defiant stance internationally, and the US unable to intervene militarily on a large scale, the world policeman’s stick doesn’t carry the weight, nor guarantee the compliance, that it once did. This has major implications for the balance of power on the world stage.
In Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, the US was defeated. In Libya, it was outflanked. Meanwhile, second-rate powers, many of them longstanding allies of the US, have increasingly diverged from Washington’s wishes.
In the Ukraine war, the Americans saw an opportunity to weaken Russia, which is the most powerful ally of their main rival, China. But a man stuck in quicksand should not move, they say. Rather than restoring the standing of US imperialism, the war has exacerbated the contradictions in world relations, and further undermined American authority.
All of this heralds a new period of increased instability and conflict between nations. For communists, this underlines the impasse of capitalism and the need for a determined class-based international struggle for socialism.
Ukraine war – pouring fuel on the fire
Since the outbreak of the proxy war between US imperialism and Russia in Ukraine, the propaganda machine of the western press has tried to paint the following picture: on the one side stands Russia, the pariah, isolated and alone. On the other side stands the whole world, with the US at its head, united in condemnation of the tyrant in the Kremlin.
If we scratch the surface of this carefully curated display, however, we quickly find a whole different picture emerging. The aims of United States in the Ukraine war were to isolate and cripple its Russian rival in one fell swoop, whilst weakening relations between Russia and Europe, thereby tightening its grip around the latter. “Let’s drag Russia into a quagmire,” western politicians triumphantly told each other.
“Putin’s Russia is not our friend and it is China’s most powerful ally,” former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote recently. “Supporting Ukraine weakens an adversary, enhances our national security advantage, and requires no shedding of American blood.”
With this in mind, the West, spearheaded by the US, has poured large amounts of arms into Ukraine and supplied it with a wealth of direct military, economic and intelligence assistance. At the same time, they have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia: the most severe applied to any country since the Second World War.
The West, spearheaded by the US, has poured large amounts of arms into Ukraine / Image: Anton Holoborodko, Wikimedia Commons
Russia has been cut off from western investments, denied access to advanced technologies, and locked out of the SWIFT electronic banking system. $400 billion of its central bank assets have been frozen, and a campaign has been undertaken to sever its gas flows to Europe.
But as we shall see, these policies are now backfiring, and the US ruling class is having to reckon with a quagmire of its own. In a interview with Bloomberg, former treasury secretary Larry Summers said the following:
“There’s a growing acceptance of fragmentation, and – maybe even more troubling – I think there’s a growing sense that ours may not be the best fragment to be associated with. We are on the right side of history – with our commitment to democracy, with our resistance to aggression in Russia, but it’s looking a bit lonely on the right side of history, as those who seem much less on the right side of history are increasingly banding together in a whole range of structures.”
Looking beyond the hypocritical phrase-mongering about “the right side of history”, we find an ominous warning in the above statement, coming from a serious bourgeois strategist.
While attrition on the battlefield is yet to bring the war to a clear tipping point one side or the other, the political reality on the world stage is not shaping up to the war aims of US imperialism.
It is clear that outside of the West and Japan, a large part, if not the majority, of the ruling classes of the various nations in the world, have no interest in being dragged into the Ukraine conflict on the side of the West.
Far more than isolating Russia, in fact, the actions of the US have deepened the existing tensions in world relations, highlighted the limits of US power, and weakened its authority.
A recent article in the British right wing magazine The Spectator stated the following:
“The West embarked on its sanctions war with an exaggerated sense of its own influence around the world. As we have discovered, non-western countries lack the will to impose sanctions on either Russia or on Russian oligarchs. The results of the miscalculation are there for all to see.
“In April last year, the IMF forecast that the Russian economy would contract by 8.5 per cent in 2022 and by a further 2.3 per cent this year. As it turned out, GDP fell by just 2.1 per cent last year, and this year the IMF is forecasting a small rise of 0.7 per cent. And that is all in spite of the war in Ukraine going much more badly than many imagined it would in February of last year.
“The Russian economy has not been destroyed; it has merely been reconfigured, reorientated to look eastwards and southwards rather than westwards.”
While it is true that some sectors of the Russian economy have taken a hit, and that it’s suffering from shortages of certain advanced components, nevertheless the sanctions have not achieved what the West set out for: to cripple it to the point where pursuing the war in Ukraine would become untenable
Soaring prices of hydrocarbon exports, largely redirected via India and China have kept the Russian economy afloat. And Russia has been able to gain access to advanced technologies via third-party countries such as China, Turkey and the Gulf states.
The recent trip of Chinese premier Xi Jinping to Moscow was a very high profile public show of support for Putin and an open defiance of the attempts by US imperialism to isolate him. The media-spun image of total Russian isolation burst like a soap bubble. Trade between the two countries has increased by 40 percent in the past year. Clearly, Russia would have found it very difficult to continue its military campaign in Ukraine had it not been for the backing it has received from Beijing.
China has so far not supplied Russia with arms for use in Ukraine, at least not as far as is publicly known. But it has overtaken Europe as the biggest importer of Russian crude oil. Moreover, it has become a vital means for Russia to bypass sanctions on the import of key goods, like integrated circuits.
Rather than isolating Russia and allowing for US imperialism to focus on its main rival, Washington’s actions have pushed Russia into the arms of the CCP regime: an alliance that is now a growing problem for the Americans.
Rest of the world ill at ease
Further afield, things are not looking much better for the US.
Back in October, the UN condemned Russia’s annexation referendums in the regions it controlled in Ukraine by 143 votes to five. This result was trumpeted by the West to say: “See? Look how Russia stands on the world stage. It is entirely alone.”
But even Time magazine was forced to admit the UN vote in reality showed that “Russia isn’t as isolated as the west may like to think”, as the 35 countries abstaining, including China and India, represent nearly half of the world’s population. Notwithstanding the large number of abstentions, the problem with that contention is this: UN resolutions consist entirely of words. But in politics, it is deeds and deeds alone that count.
When we look at the deeds, an entirely different story emerges.
An interesting article in the Economist – titled ‘How to survive a superpower split’ – found that just 52 countres (described as “the West and its friends”) are prepared to “lambast and punish Russia’s actions” (our emphasis). Meanwhile, 127 states have failed to clearly align themselves one way or the other, and are effectively helping Russia minimise the impact of sanctions.
Turkey, a key NATO member, has played a particularly crucial role for Russia in helping it bypass sanctions.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed the country’s “special relationship” with Russia / Image: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Twitter
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed the country’s “special relationship” with Russia, and has refused to impose western sanctions on Moscow. In the first six months after the beginning of the Russian invasion, Turkish exports to Russia rose 45 percent, and imports rose 125 percent.
Saudi Arabia, another traditional ally of the US, has also defied the western imperialists by reaching an agreement with Russia to cut oil production by five percent, keeping oil and gas prices elevated amid a global downturn. Washington’s outrage at this move was met with little more than a shrug in Riyadh.
Israel too, despite being the main bridgehead of US imperialism in the Middle East, has taken a more-or-less neutral stance towards the Ukraine War, refusing to sell arms to Ukraine or implement sanctions.
In Latin America, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and even Colombia, an erstwhile ally of the United States, have all resisted the pressure of their powerful neighbour in refusing to supply arms to Ukraine.
Following his trip to China in April, Brazil’s president Lula attacked the West for prolonging the war by sending more arms to Ukraine, stating that:
“[The United States] needs to stop encouraging war and start talking about peace, the European Union needs to start talking about peace so that we can convince Putin and Zelensky that peace is in the interest of everyone and that war is only in the interest of the two of them.”
Elsewhere, India has helped the Russians make up almost all their lost sales in gas and oil. India has its own reasons for remaining on friendly terms with Russia. But below-market prices for Russian gas and oil most certainly sweetens the deal. Its oil imports from Russia have soared 22-fold since the war’s outbreak. In fact, India is even refining and re-exporting some of these hydrocarbons as diesel for the European market!
Russia also remains India’s largest defence supplier, with plans to extend the range of weapons to include the most advanced Russian air-defence systems.
The South African government also shrugged off US protests over the hosting of joint naval exercises with China and Russia off its east coast in February. And they just gave Putin diplomatic immunity, thus enabling him to attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in open defiance of an ICC arrest warrant against him.
The Ukraine War has significantly pushed up the price of oil, gas, food, and fertilisers. These are all particularly sensitive products in poor countries, where millions of people are falling into destitution due to the world economic crisis. Throughout Africa, as well as Latin America, Russian grain and fertiliser exports have been on the rise.
To avoid a social explosion, many countries would rather deal with Russia, which can offer them these goods at below-market prices, than impose sanctions, which will only push up prices even further.
The examples go on and on. With the world economy on the edge, and tensions rising at all levels, the cost of blindly following the US down the alley of yet another destabilising conflict is simply too much for the ruling classes in most countries.
On paper, in fact, western Europe appears to be the only region that is faithfully following the diktats of US imperialism. But even here, the rosy picture of a harmonious, united ‘western alliance’ is stained by brewing antagonisms.
The Ukraine War hit the EU economy hard, by depriving it of cheap Russian gas. This has undermined the competitiveness of the EU, in particular German and French capitalism, on the world market. That is why all the major EU countries have been dragging their feet every time talk has centred on sending arms to Ukraine or imposing further sanctions on Russia.
In the meantime, the Americans have passed the Inflation Reduction Act: a $400 billion package primarily aimed at backing US based companies and undercutting European capitalists. Washington is also attempting to drag Europe deeper into its conflict with China, which happens to beEurope’s main trading partner.
For all the criticism of Donald Trump, the Biden administration is in effect continuing Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, to the great dismay of America’s traditional allies.
On paper western Europe appears to be the only region that is faithfully following the diktats of US imperialism / Image: Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz, Twitter
In an attempt to show some independence, German chancellor Olaf Scholtz visited China in November. The visit caused a great stir, and almost collapsed the government, as the war-mongering Green Foreign Minister Baerbock, acting as the direct agent of US imperialism within the coalition cabinet, threatened to resign.
Scholtz’s trip was followed this spring by the high profile visit of French president Emmanuel Macron to Beijing. This clearly increased friction between the US and its major European allies.
In a thinly-veiled stab at the US, Macron said that it would be “a trap for Europe” to get caught up in crises that are not Europe’s, and that such a thing would essentially turn European countries into “vassals”. Macron’s remarks were specifically related to the conflict between the US and China, but he clearly also had an eye on Ukraine.
Accompanying Macron on his trip were a host of business leaders – underlining the economic importance of French trade with China, with whom he hoped to strike deals.
Most annoying for the strategists of US imperialism was the deal struck by French and European-owned Airbus, which announced the sale of 200 passenger jets to China; a helicopter deal; as well as the opening of a new Airbus plant in Tianjin. With China being the world’s fastest growing market for commercial aircraft, such a deal is a direct hit against the interests of Boeing, an American company. This will also result in the kind of technology sharing that US imperialism is adamantly opposed to.
The French ruling class has always had its own ambitions in the world arena and aims to play a more independent role. For instance, its nuclear weapons are outside of the control of NATO. Furthermore, French imperialism has its own interests, particularly in Africa. Despite its limited weight in international relations, France attempts to balance off the US and China in order to gain a certain degree of autonomy for itself. Meanwhile, of course, the Chinese regime is interested in exploiting the contradictions between the EU and the US for its own benefits.
While Macron’s trip was partially intended as a means to divert attention from the mass protest movement against pension reforms in France, his statements are clearly representative of the thinking of a wing of the western European bourgeoisie, which stands to lose much and gain little from blindly following Washington in its conflicts on the world arena.
The EU was forged as a means to unify nations who could not play an independent role on the world stage. Today, it is paralysed by the contradictions between its member nations – contradictions that are constantly exploited by the bigger imperialist powers.
For a long period of time after World War Two, world relations were relatively stable, as two major superpowers of a similar strength (and with nuclear weapons) faced each other. That relative equilibrium was destroyed by the collapse of Stalinism in 1989-91.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the US was left as the sole superpower on the planet. Like Icarus in Greek mythology, who flew too close to the sun, however, it imagined that there was no limit to its power. It intervened in one country after another to punish any disobedience and met little resistance. At the time of the 1991 imperialist war in the Gulf, for instance, China and Russia merely abstained at the UN security council which authorised the use of force against Iraq. There was even talk of Russia being invited to join NATO. Russia was humiliated by NATO in the Pristina airport incident in Kosovo in 1999.
But with the turn of the century and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the tide began to turn. The defeats in those wars showcased the limits of the world’s most powerful country. Most importantly, they led to widespread opposition amongst the American working class to any further military adventures.
The defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan showcased the limits of the world’s most powerful country / Image: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt Samuel Ruiz
Consequently, it has not been possible for the US to deploy troops and enter into open large scale wars. In fact, in 2014, Barack Obama was not even able to get Congress to approve a limited bombing campaign against the Assad regime in Syria.
This weakness has significantly curtailed the ability of the United States to project its power. In Syria, for instance we saw how Russia and Iran managed to defeat the US-led coalition. Likewise, in Libya, western powers were completely sidelined by Russian-aligned militias and those leaning towards Turkey.
Along with the effective defeat in Iraq and the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, these have been big blows to the authority of the US.
A parallel process has been taking place on the economic and diplomatic plane.
In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the United States represented 40 percent of world GDP. On that basis, and with ‘free trade’ as its main slogan, Washington tore down trade barriers and opened up the world market, under the governance of US-based institutions like the IMF and World Bank. The dollar was established as the stable currency of world trade, which expanded enormously.
But today, the US’s relative share of world GDP has declined to 24 percent, while China has risen from a negligible quantity to 15 percent. China is nowhere near overtaking the US on the economic plane. But its rise has meant a reduction of the relative weight of the latter within the world economy.
At the same time, the world economic crisis has increased the tensions between nations. Hence, in order to defend its position US capitalism has gone from being the loudest advocate of free trade to being the strongest force for protectionism.
The trade war against China, started by the Trump administration, is continuing unabated during the Biden presidency. The US is also taking measures to secure domestic productive capacity Meanwhile, the dollar – and dollar-based financial systems, like SWIFT – are being weaponised to strike against those who dare to cross the US.
This has shaken confidence in the world order of the post-soviet period. If Russian assets can be frozen overnight, who might be next?
Trotsky once noted that British imperialism, at its peak, used to think in terms of centuries and continents. US imperialism too, in its ascending period, at least attempted to look ahead before acting.
Today, however, the US bourgeoisie is characterised by extreme shortsightedness and stupidity. This in itself is a reflection of the organic crisis of capitalism and the domination of finance capital and the stock market, which sees no further than to the next speculative bubble or, at best, the next quarterly report.
In a period of generalised crisis of capitalism, maintaining the status quo is the most beneficial way forward. But the status quo has become untenable to maintain.
Thus, like a drunken elephant, US imperialism is staggering about on the international arena, without a clear plan. In doing so, it is undermining the world order, which was based on its own absolute domination after the fall of the soviet union. The Ukraine War and the sanctions on Russia have accelerated this process.
Make no mistake, at the moment there is no force that can challenge the global power of the US on the military or economic planes. The productivity of labour in the US is still well ahead that of China (though the gap is narrowing). US military spending is also greater than that of the ten next nations combined, representing 54 percent of total military spending worldwide. But cracks are appearing in the US-dominated world order – cracks that smaller powers such as China, and to an extent also Russia, are seeping into, adding to the existing instability.
China and the BRICS
The Chinese have effectively exploited the sense of growing insecurity in world relations. On his trip to Moscow, Xi Jinping sidestepped US bluster about ‘red lines’ on military aid to Russia. Instead, he came armed with a peace plan.
Its chances of success are next to zero, but that was not the purpose. The intention was to send a message to the rest of the world’s nations: “What has your embrace of the US brought you except instability and war? Embrace us, and you will get peace, stability, and trade.”
The message skillfully taps into a feeling of deep consternation – affecting traditional US foes and allies alike – across the globe.
In March, China mediated a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who for years have been competing over influence in the Middle East. This was a major blow to the standing of the US, which was the main power in the Middle East for decades, and the main patron of the Saudi regime.
The so-called BRICS grouping have long formed a semi-formal bloc / Image: GovernmentZA, Flickr
Saudi Arabia has also been granted the status of a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – a political and economic body headed by China and seconded by Russia. Commenting on this step, one Saudi analyst, Ali Shihabi said that:
“The traditional monogamous relationship with the US is now over. And we have gone into a more open relationship; strong with the US but equally strong with China, India, (the) UK, France and others.”
Many lesser powers are taking advantage of the big power split to push up through the gaps. In the words of Brazilian President Lula da Silva on his visit to Beijing, they would like to work with the US and China to “balance world geopolitics”.
“Balancing” is a good way of putting it. The Brazilian ruling class cannot afford to turn its back entirely on the US. But neither will it kowtow to all the US government’s demands, as we see in Brazil’s refusal to send guns to Ukraine. Similarly, whilst in China, Lula was bold enough to visit the Huawei plant, which produces 5G equipment banned by the US. Brazil’s large agribusiness sector also relies on Russian fertilisers.
Countries like Brazil, South Africa, and India have long been big and powerful enough to cut a semi-independent line on some questions, without completely turning their backs on western imperialism.
Indeed, the so-called BRICS grouping have long formed a semi-formal bloc, as a self-declared counterweight to the West’s G7, with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa as the founding members.
But according to the South African foreign minister, no less than 12 countries have applications pending to join the association. Many of those knocking at the door to join include nations that have been lapdogs of US imperialism for decades, including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt.
The rise of China is certainly loosening the grip of the US around different parts of the world. But it would be wrong to imagine that China is on its way to replace or even match its power globally.
On the military plane alone, an enormous disparity exists between the two. The US economy, furthermore, is far larger and more advanced. And it commands a decisive control over the key levers of the world economy.
Moreover, it is clear that China itself is in store for an unprecedented economic crisis – and connected to that, a period of deep going social convulsions, which will curb the trajectory that the country has taken in the past period.
The fight against imperialism and the tasks of communists
In 1928, when American imperialism was still in its period of expansion, Leon Trotsky wrote the following:
“…it is precisely the international strength of the United States and her irresistible expansion arising from it, that compels her to include the powder magazines of the whole world into the foundations of her structure, i.e., all the antagonisms between the East and the West, the class struggle in Old Europe, the uprisings of the colonial masses, and all wars and revolutions.
“On the one hand, this transforms North American capitalism into the basic counter-revolutionary force of the modern epoch, constantly more interested in the maintenance of ‘order’ in every corner of the terrestrial globe; and on the other hand, this prepares the ground for a gigantic revolutionary explosion in this already dominant and still expanding world imperialist power.”
These words are even more true today than when they were written. US imperialism is the most reactionary force on the planet. Its economic, military, diplomatic, and cultural tentacles stretch deep into almost every single country. And it represents a threat to the working class wherever the masses begin to move towards revolution in a decisive manner.
At the same time, the rise of American capitalism has created the most powerful working class in the world, capable of determining the course of history. The struggle against imperialism is an integral part of the working class’ struggle for socialism.
Within the US, notions of a so-called Pax Americana and the ‘American Century’ have been powerful propaganda tools in the US ruling class’ attempts to cut across the class struggle. But today, the cynical lie of the American ‘good guys’ spreading ‘democracy’ across the world stands tarnished and exposed like the so-called American Dream.
With every setback and defeat for US imperialism, the position of the ruling class is further weakened at home, to the benefit of the working class.
The task of communists, at every stage, is to develop an independent position for the working class. We must expose all the hypocritical and cynical talk of the establishment about defending ‘democracy’, and ‘standing up to strongmen’ such as Putin, as nothing but a smokescreen meant to cover over the narrow predatory interests of the capitalists.
It is enough to mention the millions of lives lost in the Middle East wars of the past decades; the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia; the pillage of Russia and Eastern Europe in the 1990s; the stranglehold which the West keeps over Africa; the unleashing of Islamic fundamentalism; regime changes, coups, and counter-revolutions at the cost millions of lives, the centuries old policy of supporting military coups, backing bloody dictators and overthrowing progressive governments in Latin America. The list goes on and on and on.
This murderous record of western powers in the past century has sowed a deep-seated hatred against imperialism amongst the oppressed colonial, semi-colonial, and ex-colonial nations.
The task of overthrowing the reactionary Putin regime, is that of the Russian workers. The task of the US working class to fight against its own ruling class, which has been the biggest enemy of all genuine revolutionary movements around the world for decades. Without this, there cannot be talk of any real international working-class unity.
There are those who argue that, since we are opposed to western imperialism, we should support its competitors / Image: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
There are those who argue, however, that, since we are opposed to western imperialism, we should support its competitors.
The so-called multi-polar world theory, which comes in many shapes and sizes, suggests that we should fight for a world dominated by multiple imperialist powers that balance each other out, as opposed to the present one which is dominated by a single superpower.
In the preface to his book Beyond US Hegemony?: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World in 2006, Samir Amin wrote:
“[I] want to see the construction of a multipolar world, and that obviously means the defeat of Washington’s hegemonist project for military control of the planet. In my eyes it is an overweening project, criminal by its very nature, which is drawing the world into wars without end and stifling all hope of social and democratic advance, not only in the countries of the South but also, to a seemingly lesser degree, in those of the North.”
Today, this idea is gaining renewed traction amongst some parts of the left internationally, who believe that we should support the rise of China and the re-entrance of Russia as a power in the world arena.
In such a multi-polar world, the argument goes, Chinese and Russian imperialism and perhaps that of other countries such as India and Brazil, would keep the US empire in check, leading to a more peaceful and fairer world. Although, why these powers would be more interested in peace and ‘fairness’ than the US, is never explained.
Here we have the concentrated essence of the old theory of the popular front (albeit on an international scale!), long championed by the Stalinists in their heyday.
Instead of clarifying the class contradictions between the workers and the capitalists, this position blurs the class lines and attempts to push the working class behind one imperialist bloc – albeit a weaker one – against another.
Instead of furthering the struggle against capitalism, this sows illusions in the possibility of a solution within the boundaries of the present system.
Russia and China may be lesser powers than the US. But this does not make Putin and Xi a single ounce more progressive. These are capitalist regimes, based on the exploitation of the working class. They are the enemies of the workers and poor.
And while it is not the task of the western proletariat to overthrow them, it certainly is the task of the Russian and Chinese workers. For them, there is no way forward within the narrow bounds of capitalism.
In order to cut across the class struggle, however, and to rally the nation behind their regimes, both Xi and Putin demagogically base themselves on the threat from US imperialism and the anti-imperialist sentiments of the Russian and Chinese workers. In other words, the threat of US imperialism is used to subdue the Russian and Chinese workers.
Instead of sowing illusions in these regimes, the duty of communists is to expose this demagogy, and to show how the interests of these regimes are directly in opposition to those of the workers and poor.
Luckily for our ‘multipolar’ friends on the left, their notion was endorsed by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping at their recent meeting in Moscow. Here they outlined their intention to “promote a multipolar world order, economic globalization and democratization of international relations”, and to “promote the development of global governance in a fairer and more rational way”.
Russia and China may be lesser powers than the US, but this does not make Putin and Xi a single ounce more progressive / Image: The Presidential Press and Information Office, Wikimedia Commons
Their conflict with western imperialism has an entirely different class nature than the anti-imperialism of the masses.
When Xi and Putin speak of “economic globalization and democratization of international relations” and a fairer “development of global governance”, what they mean is not an end to imperialism and national oppression, but a new set up of world relations – one where their respective ruling classes receive a bigger slice of the pie, which they believe is being gobbled up by the West.
What China is after are fields of investment, sources of raw materials and energy and the control of trading routes, all in the interest of Chinese capitalists. This is not a real fight against imperialism. It is merely an offer to replace one imperialism with another.
For the masses of Russia and China to really fight against imperialism, they must first take power into their own hands, and link their struggle to that of workers in the West. Only in such conditions can a genuine, international, anti-imperialist struggle begin.
Workers of the world unite!
The 21st century was heralded as the New American Century. When the US shouted ‘Jump!’, the world responded in chorus: ‘How high?’ But that chorus no longer enjoys the unanimity it once had.
As new powers arrive on the scene, and as the limits of US power are revealed, regional powers are attempting to extend their influence and set out a more independent course. The Americans are finding that previously loyal allies now think that they can get the best of both worlds by balancing between the US, on one side, and China and Russia, on the other.
In this new balance of forces, with the authority of the United States undermined, but with no viable competitor as the world’s dominant economic and military power, we will see new collisions.
Instead of an era of peace, this new ‘multi-polar’ world will see increasingly fierce competition between lesser imperialist powers, seeking to flex their muscles.
In these clashes, smaller nations will be crushed politically and economically; or as we saw in the cases of Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, militarily.
This will be a period of extreme turbulence, with ‘small’ wars and proxy conflicts – all of which will feed into, and combine with, the general crisis of the capitalist system.
This urgently poses the task of an international struggle to kill off this dying system once and for all: to inaugurate a world socialist order, without the suffocating constraints of the profit motive and the nation state.
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