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Four main issues
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Contribution (full version) of the (new)ICP’s Central Committee to “International Theoretical Conference on the Economic Crises of Imperialism” (Amsterdam, 28-29.03.2024) promoted by National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)

April 12, 2024

Dear comrades,

the (new)PCI welcomes the initiative organized by NDFP about the nature and origin of the crisis of capitalism in the imperialist era.

We are on the eve of a decisive turning point in the struggle that characterizes the imperialist era between the establishment of socialism and the decay of bourgeois society. We are in the midst of those objective changes pointed out by Lenin as distinctive of a revolutionary situation: "1. impossibility for the ruling classes to keep their rule without changing its form; 2. a greater than usual sharpening of the distress and misery of the oppressed classes and 3. by virtue of the aforementioned causes, a significant increase in the activity of the masses". However, Lenin also warned that revolution arises only from those revolutionary situations in which a subjective transformation joins these objective elements: "the capability of the revolutionary class to carry out mass revolutionary actions as sufficiently forceful to break (or at least to damage) the existing government. Even in times of crises governments do not 'tumble down of their own accord', but require a force to 'overthrow' them". Only the popular masses can solve the contradictions in which they are struggling, but they are able to do so only under the leadership of communists and as long as they have a fairly advanced understanding of the conditions, forms and results of the class struggle and on the basis of this they push it forward.

The understanding of the nature and origin of the current crisis is essential for communists: hence, the definition of the general line (revolutionary strategy and tactics) that the communist party must follow in order to lead the popular masses to the seizure of power. It is indispensable namely for communists of the imperialist countries. The socialist revolution in these countries (at least in one or some of them) is the condition for avoiding an unfolded World War III and for raising a new wave of proletarian revolution. In capitalist backward countries such as Russia and China, in the last century it was widely known what progress human beings could and should make (but it was impossible to do with the nobles and the bourgeoisie in charge), whence the Soviet revolution and the new democratic revolution. Today in the capitalist backward countries (the countries oppressed by the imperialist system), what progress and transformation of their condition is possible, all the discontent people with the present state of affairs see it in the imperialist countries, in the first socialist countries and in those derived from them.

In the imperialist countries, the popular masses must destroy on their own initiative an order that stifles them but which, however badly, nourishes them, and build a new social system that they know only in broad terms, which the bourgeoisie denigrates by refined means and from which it tries to distract them in a thousand ways. So only a deep science of the course of things makes communists of these countries able to understand what path is possible and necessary and to lead the popular masses to carry it out.

Today in the international Conscious and Organized Communist Movement (COCM) two wrong theses are widespread about the nature and origin of the current crisis of capitalism.

1. That the current crisis is primarily a financial crisis: it is finance and its turmoil that disrupts the real economy. The financialization of the economy would be provoked by the freedom of action that states have granted to banks, hedge funds and monopolies by eliminating or loosening national and international regulations.

2. That the current crisis is basically a cyclical crisis, like those analysed by Marx and typical of the pre-imperialist era of bourgeois society (the first cyclical crisis occurred in 1825 and the last in 1865, following the sequence of 1825-1836, 1847-1857, 1865 and then the Great Depression of 1873-1895, defined by Engels as "the swap of despair of a permanent and chronic depression"), characterized by the ten-year sequence of periods of prosperity, overproduction of goods, shrinkage and stagnation of economic activity and recovery of the latter, mainly due to the imbalance between demand and supply of goods and the anarchic character of production. The solution to these crises came from the economic movement of bourgeois society itself. With the entry into the imperialist era (occurred in the last quarter of the 19th century and as to its economic characteristics masterfully illustrated by Lenin in his booklet of 1916), cyclical crises still exist, but they lose their importance: they become relatively small oscillations between periods of development and periods of depression.

Both theses contribute to keeping a good part of the communist movement of the imperialist countries bogged down in historical deviations of economism (union and political claims for better life and working conditions) and electoralism (participation in bourgeois political struggle, elections and elective assemblies) in order to influence the action of bourgeois governments in a favourable sense to the masses ("more state, less market", regulation of financial activities, investment in new technologies, wage increase, social security cushion, etc.) in the expectation that "a revolution will break out", instead of focusing on the seizure of power by the working class and the organized popular masses (to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and, through this, the proletarian democracy), and (instead of) aiming consciously to this also the promotion of the struggles for claims and the participation in the bourgeois political struggle. To get over the disaster of capitalism is a revolutionary people's war: the multiplication of the struggles for claims and participation in the bourgeois political struggle followed by the propaganda of socialism, of communist movement and its achievements’ history, of USSR and other socialist countries’ experience are not enough.

In the imperialist era the crucial phenomenon of the society’s movement is the absolute (i.e. not limited to some sectors, but extended to the whole economy) overproduction of capital, which Marx dealt with in Book III of Capital. Marx illustrated both that the absolute overproduction of capital (due to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall inherent to capitalist mode of production of commodities) sooner or later would become the determining factor of the course of things, both the measures to which by their nature the capitalists would resort to delay the catastrophic outlet of this course of things. Engels, and after him Lenin and Stalin, understood that capitalism had entered a new era and identified its economic and political features, but they did not connect them with the absolute overproduction of capital envisaged by Marx. This gap contributed to those limitations that prevented the COCM from establishing socialism in imperialist countries during the first world wave of the proletarian revolution (1917-1976). It is significant that communists at the end of World War II expected a resumption of the economic crisis, instead of the resumption of capital accumulation. Modern revisionists (supporters of the pacific way towards socialism, of the cooperation between socialist camp and imperialist one, of the cadres’ selection in the socialist countries according to their results as for economic performance and solution of immediate tasks, instead of selection according to progress in building socialism) exploited the error of lefts analysis of the communist movement in favour of their thesis that bourgeois societies had entered a phase of stable progressive development in the economic and political fields and the interpretation of "capitalism with a human face" (1945-1975) as a signal that the two social systems, capitalist and socialist, converged.

The crisis due to absolute overproduction of capital consists in the fact that the capital resulting at the end of a commodity production cycle is greater than that which capitalists can reuse all profitably in the next cycle.

If they employed it all, they would get a mass of profit equal to or less than they got in the finished production cycle, so they do not. Capitalists differently employ the capital-money with which they find themselves when they have sold the goods produced by their companies. The fraction of capital used in the production and circulation of goods, although ineliminable, becomes secondary and is extremely small compared to the bulk of capital that capitalists must value: in 2013, according to estimates by the BIS, IMF and WB, it amounted to 7% of the entire world capital ($75,000 billion out of $1,070 billion). This situation generates crises that, although born from the economy, become general, that is, they affect every area of associated life: politics, morality, culture, environment. Within the capitalist system of social relations, they find their temporary solution on the political ground, in a general upheaval of social systems at the level of each country and of the international relations’ system. The establishment of socialism and the building of socialism by the popular masses led by the communist parties are in every country the positive solution and the end of this upheaval.

After the period of "capitalism with a human face", whose resumption of capital accumulation through the production and circulation of goods on a global scale was a fundamental aspect, since the mid-70s capitalism has plunged into its second general crisis due to absolute overproduction of capital (GCxAOC).

"Second” because subsequent to the first, which began around the early years of the 20th century and finished in the end of the World War II with the combined destruction of capital, men and means and with the constitution of the first socialist countries and the beginning of their history. Understanding the origin and nature of the first general crisis of capitalism is crucial for understanding the political and cultural history of the last century and drawing lessons from it in order to successfully cope today with the second ongoing general crisis, in which we have been involved for about fifty years now, make it the ground in which the socialist revolution develops and put an end to the crisis with the establishment of socialism.

Neither the therapies of the bourgeois right-wing based on the theory of supply (the government must take measures that increase profits to capitalists who employ proletarians in the production of goods), nor those of the bourgeois left-wing based on the theory of demand (the government must give money to proletarians and other workers) have nor will put an end to the crisis because, after the exhaustion of the first wave of the proletarian revolution, the initiative in the economic field is in the hands of capitalists again and the engine of the capitalist economy (what drives a capitalist to hire proletarians) is not the production of commodities but the production of profits: the hitch lies precisely in the fact that beyond certain limits the increase in the production of commodities would not bring about an increase but a decrease in the mass of profits and no capitalist hires more workers to have less profit.

The second GCxAOC is provoking a series of devastating consequences for popular masses and jeopardizes the survival of mankind and planet: the expansion of wars and of productive and research activities aimed at war, the invention of new substances (many of which are put into use without having verified that they are not harmful) and the multiplication of goods and activities that enter as new commodities into the consumption of human beings, the devastation of the planet with the pollution of the atmosphere, seas and land, the elimination of achievements (according to security, equality, solidarity, education and healthcare) that the popular masses, especially in the imperialist countries, had wrested from the bourgeoisie in the period 1917-1976 and the resulting undeclared war of extermination, the recolonization of old colonial countries and socialist countries and the induction of emigration of populations that must leave room for plantations and extractive activities, intellectual and moral brutalization.

But in turn, this situation increases the spontaneous resistance of the masses, increases the potential allies of the proletariat in the socialist revolution, widens the gap between the masses and the ruling class. The popular masses learn from their own experience: they are not “infinitely manipulable”, as the bourgeois left thinks and (as) intellectuals of “total social control” theorize.

This spontaneous resistance, which the bourgeoisie cannot cease to feed because of its crisis, is the ground that needs the work of us communists to become a rising tide and wipe out the capitalist system. To take the lead of this resistance by transforming it into the revolutionary force that will put an end to the domination of the bourgeoisie is the task of the communist parties.

In the year of the centenary of Lenin's death, let us gather his teachings and essence! Leninism developed the communist science founded by Marx and Engels to an extent appropriate to the need of the political struggle that was on the agenda. Thanks to these developments, Lenin's party managed to promote the first victorious socialist revolution, which started the first world wave of proletarian revolution that also involved colonial and semi-colonial countries and the construction of the first socialist country that, under Stalin's leadership, defeated all aggression until 1945.

In order to live up to the political tasks that the revolutionary situation confronts us today, we must do likewise, that is, develop communist science to an extent appropriate to the conditions that the class struggle has reached.

So, we wish a fruitful debate to the Conference, which will be the bearer of developments useful for the revival of the COCM throughout the world, starting from the imperialist countries.

Central Committee of the (new)Italian Communist Party