I knew that from the very start; it is impossible to hold any anti
imperialist meeting in any country of the so called democratic North.
It was clear from the start that they would never give visas to those
people who do represent the real South; but only to their
fellows ( NGO s that the imperialist agencies finance).
WSF cannot accept being financed by the CIA
supported US agencies
such as Ford and Rockfeller Foundations.
That is why from the start I decided not to go, avoiding participating
in such a mascarade and giving it credibility.
August 15th 2016
lundi 15 août 2016
vendredi 5 août 2016
The Kurdish issue, then and now
Translated by Jenny Bright and edited by Fausto Giudice, http://tlaxcala-int.org
The political chaos that dominated the scene in the Middle East is expressed among other ways by the violent rise of the Kurdish question. How can we analyse, in these new conditions, the scope of the claim of the Kurds (autonomy? independence? unity?)? And can we deduce from analysis that this claim must be supported by all democratic and progressive forces, in the region and in the world?
Debates on the subject entertain great confusion. The reason is, in my opinion, the rallying of most contemporary actors and observers around a non-historical vision of this issue as well as others. The right of peoples to self-determination was made into an absolute right, which one would like to be upheld for all people at all present and future times, and even past times. This right is considered one of the most fundamental collective rights, which is often given greater prominence than other collective rights of social scope (the right to work, to education, to health, political participation etc.). Besides, the subjects of this absolute right are not defined in a precise manner; the subject of this right may then be any "community", majority or minority within the boundaries of a state or a province; this community defining itself as "special" due to language or religion, for example; and claiming, rightly or wrongly, itself to be a victim of discrimination or oppression. My analyses and positions act as a counterpoint of this transhistorical vision of social issues and "rights" through which the social movements of the past and present express their demands. In particular I attribute paramount importance to the divide which separates the thriving of the modern capitalist world from past worlds.
The political organisation of those previous worlds has taken incredibly diverse forms, from the construction of power exercised over vast areas, thus qualified as "Empires" to that of smaller more or less centralised monarchies, not excluding the extreme fragmentation of powers barely exceeding the village horizon in certain circumstances. The review of this patchwork of political forms preceding capitalist modernity is obviously not the subject of this article. I will refer here to only a few of the regions imperial constructions: the Roman and Byzantine Empires, the Arab-Persian Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire.
The common qualification of these constructions - Empires - is more misleading than helpful, although they all share two characteristics: (i) they collect necessarily by their geographic scope, peoples and different communities by language, religion and modes of production and social life; (Ii) the logics that control the reproduction of social and economic life are not those of capitalism, but within what I called a family of tributary modes of production (commonly called "feudal"). For this reason I consider as absurd the assimilation of all these former Empires (those considered here for the region and others, such as China) on the one hand and on the other empires built by the major capitalist powers, whether they be the colonial empires like those of Britain and France or modern empires without formal colonies such as the Empire of the USA, to be a unique form called an Empire. Paul Kennedy's well-known thesis on the "fall of empires"* belongs to the realm of such transhistoric speculative philosophies.
I return to the Empire that directly concerns our subject: the Ottoman Empire, built when Europe began its break with its past and entered into capitalist modernity. The Ottoman Empire was itself, pre-capitalist. Its qualification as a Turkish Empire is in itself inaccurate and misleading. Probably the wars of conquest of the Turkoman semi-nomadic tribes from Central Asia had been instrumental in the double destruction of the Byzantine Empire and the Caliphate of Baghdad, and the most part of the settlement of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace. But the power of the Sultan of the Empire extended well beyond over the territories of Armenians, Kurds, Arabs, Greeks and Balkan Slavs. To qualify this Empire as multinational leads to an incorrect projection of a future reality onto the past, as Balkan and Arab (anti-Ottoman) nationalisms are in their modern form products of the penetration of capitalism into the Empire.
All the peoples of the Empire - Turks and others - were exploited and oppressed in the same way; in the sense that peasant majorities were all subject to the same principle of a heavy tax levy. They were all also oppressed by the same autocratic power. Certainly Christians were additionally subject to specific discriminations. But we should not see here forms of "national" oppression, not against Christian people, nor against non-Turkish Muslims (the Kurds and Arabs). The ruling class associated with the Sultans power had in its ranks civilian, military and religious notables from all parts of the empire, including the embryo of comprador bourgeoisies, in particular Greek and Armenian, produced by capitalist penetration.
The specific characters of the Ottoman system mentioned here are not unique to this Eastern Empire. One finds similar expressions in other ancient empires, as in the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. Or even in the Ethiopia of Menelik and Haile Selassie. The King of Kings' power was not associated with an Amhara domination; Amhara peasants were not treated better than the others; the ruling class was recruited from all regions of the Empire (it included for example a good number of native Eritreans!).
There has been nothing like it in modern imperialist systems. The colonial empires (of Great Britain and France) like the informal US Empire were built systematically on the basis of the sharp distinction between the people of the metropolis and those of the colonies and dependencies, which were denied the basic rights granted to the first. Therefore the struggle of peoples dominated by imperialist capitalism became a struggle for national liberation, necessarily anti-imperialist by nature. We must not confuse this modern nationalism that is anti-imperialist- and therefore progressive - with all other expressions of non anti-imperialist nationalist movements, whether it be nationalism inspired by the ruling classes of the imperialist nations or non anti-imperialist nationalist movements - such as those of the Balkan peoples to which I will return later. To assimilate the structures of ancient empires and those specific to the imperialist capitalist empires, to confuse them in a general pseudo-concept of "Empire" is counterpoint to the basic requirements of a scientific analysis of historical societies.
The emergence of ideologies of nationalism was subsequent to that. They were formed only in the nineteenth century, in the Balkans, Syria, among the Armenians, and later among the Rumelia Turks in reaction to others. There is not then the slightest hint of emergence of a Kurdish nationalism. The emergence of these nationalisms is closely associated with the new urbanisation and modernisation of administrations. The peasants themselves could continue to talk in their language, and ignore that of the Ottoman administration which appeared on the countryside only to collect taxes and to recruit soldiers. But in the new cities, and particularly in the new educated middle classes, mastery of a written language became a daily necessity. And it is from these new classes that the first generation of nationalists in the modern sense would be recruited. The rural character of the Kurdish populated areas, such as the Turkish Central Anatolia, explains the late formation of Turkish (Kemalist) nationalism and the even later formation of Kurdish nationalism.
A parallel with the Austro-Hungarian Empire will help to explain the nature of the process that will eventually destroy these two Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was formed before the emergence of European capitalism; but it was its closest neighbour, and some of its regions (Austria, Bohemia) were rebuilt on the new foundations of capitalism. The new national issue thus emerged here in the nineteenth century. We owe to the Austro-Marxists (Otto Bauer and others) a good analysis of this dimension of the socialist challenge, and policy proposals that I consider to have been the most progressive possible under the conditions of the time: safeguarding the benefits of the great State but accelerating its transformation by socialist (radical or even social-democratic) advances, creating an internationalism of peoples based on a rigorous policy of fair treatment for all, combined with a genuine policy of cultural autonomy. The sequence of events has not allowed the success of the project, for the benefit of a mediocre bourgeois nationalism.
Balkan and Syrian-Arab nationalisms, which appeared later in mediocre forms associated with peripheral capitalism in the regions, triumphed and helped remove the Ottoman Empire. But the weaknesses specific to these nationalisms have constrained their promoters to seek the support of outside powers - Great Britain and / or Russia in particular - against Ottoman rule. They paid the price: the new states created by them remained in the lap of the dominant imperialist powers, Britain and France for the Arabs, Britain and Germany for the Balkans.
In Armenia national renewal (since Armenia had experienced a beautiful independent civilization before being incorporated into the Ottoman Empire) was defeated by the 1915 genocide. It was a nationalism torn between that of the new Armenian emigrant bourgeoisie in the cities of Rumelia (Constantinople, Smyrna and others), who held positions of choice in the new business and financial world and that of the notables and peasants of Armenian lands. Incorporating a small part of these lands into the Russian Empire (the territory of the Soviet and later independent Armenia) further complicated things because it could cause fear of manipulation from Saint Petersburg, especially during the First World War. The Ottoman authorities then chose the route of genocide. I note here that the Kurds behaved here as agents of the massacre and the main beneficiaries: they more than doubled the size of their territory by seizing the destroyed Armenian villages.
Modern Turkish nationalism is even more recent. It was formed first with those of relatively educated military backgrounds and the Ottoman administration of the cities of Rumelia (Constantinople, Smyrna, Thessaloniki) in response to Balkan and Syrian-Arab nationalisms, and found no real echo in Turkish (and Kurdish) peasants of Central and Eastern Anatolia. Its options, which would become those of Kemalism, are known: Europeanisation, hostility towards Ottomanism, affirmation of the Turkish character of the new state and its secularising style. I mean secularising and not secular because the new Turkish citizen is defined by his social belonging to Islam (the few Armenians who survived the massacre, the Greeks of Constantinople and Smyrna are not admitted); nevertheless the Islam in question is reduced to the status of public institution dominated and manipulated by the new government in Ankara.
The wars led by the Kemalists from 1919 to 1922 against the imperialist powers allowed the Turkish (and Kurdish) peasant masses of Anatolia to rally with the new Turkish nationalism. The Kurds were not distinguished from the Turks: they fought together in the Kemalist armed forces. Kemalist Turkish nationalism became anti-imperialist by force of circumstance. It understands that Ottomanism and the Caliphate did not protect the Empire's peoples (Turks, Kurds and Arabs); on the contrary, they facilitated the penetration of Western imperialism and the reduction of the Empire to the status of capitalist peripheralized dominated region. Which neither Balkan nor Arab nationalism had understood at the time: they openly called for the support of the imperialist powers against the power of the Sublime Porte. Anti-imperialist Kemalist nationalism then gave the final blow to Ottomanism.
The anti-imperialist character of the original Kemalist system had nevertheless rapidly weakened. The original option in favour of a state capitalism with an independent self-centred vocation was losing momentum while a mode of dependent peripheral capitalist development was progressing. Turkey paid the price for the illusion of its bourgeois nationalism, of its original confusion. Kemalism thought it could build a Turkish capitalist nation in the image of those of advanced Europe; it did not understand that the realization of this project was doomed to failure, in Turkey and elsewhere in all regions of peripheral capitalism. Its hostility to socialism, compounded by the fear of the Soviet Union, led Ankara to seek support from the US: Turkey's Kemalist generals - like Greece's Colonels - immediately joined NATO, and became Washington's client states. The acceleration of the process of development of peripheral capitalism was reflected in the emergence of a new capitalist agriculture in Anatolia, to the benefit of a class of rich peasants, and the establishment of subcontracting industries.
These social changes eroded the legitimacy of Kemalism. The multi-party elections starting from 1950, strongly suggested by Washington, strengthened the political power of the new peasant and comprador classes, issued from the traditional Anatolian countryside and stranger to the secularism of the Roumelian Kemalist political class. The emergence of Turkish political Islam and the electoral success of the AKP were the result. These developments have not favoured the democratisation of society, but on the contrary confirmed the aspirations of the dictatorship of President Erdogan and the resurgence of instrumentalised Ottomanism, like his ancestor, by the major imperialist powers, namely the USA today.
Simultaneously these developments are driving the emergence in Turkey of the Kurdish question. The urbanisation of Eastern Anatolia, the mass emigration of its ruined peasants towards the western cities fuelled the emergence of the new issue of Turkey's Kurds, aware that they were not "Turks of the mountains" but distinguished by the use of another language for which they demanded official recognition. A solution of the issue by the favouring of a genuine cultural autonomy of Turkish Kurdistan would have been possible if the new ruling class itself had evolved in a democratic direction. But that was not the case, and is still not. The Kurds were then constrained, in these circumstances, to respond to the repression worsened by their claims with armed force. It is interesting to note here that the PKK behind this struggle lays claim to a radical socialist tradition as its name suggests (Kurdish Workers' Party!), probably associated with recruitment of the new proletariat of Turkish towns. You would imagine that they chose a line of internationalist conduct, and attempts to associate the Kurdish and Turkish proletarians in the same fight for both socialism, democracy and the recognition of the binational state. They did not do that.
Although the Kurdish peoples occupy a continuous territory (Eastern Anatolia, a thin strip along the Syrian border, northeast of Iraq, the western mountains of Iran), the Kurdish question was posed in Iran and Iraq in other words than it was in Turkey.
The Kurdish peoples - the Medes and the Parthians (who gave their name to the Euphrates River) of antiquity - shared neighbouring Indo-European languages with the Persians. It seems that, perhaps because of this, the coexistence of Kurds and Persians had not been a problem in the past. Again the Kurdish question emerged with the recent urbanisation in the region. Moreover Shiism, more official in Iran than ever, is also the source of discomfort suffered by the Sunni majority of Iranian Kurds.
Iraq, within the borders defined by the British Mandate, separated the Kurds in the north of the country from those of Anatolia. But again coexistence between Kurds and Arabs was continuing, thanks in part to the real internationalism of a relatively powerful Communist Party in the cities and in the multinational proletariat. The dictatorship of the Baath - characterised by Arab chauvinism - unfortunately set back the previously made progress.
The new Kurdish question is the product of the recent deployment of US strategy which has given itself the goal of destroying the State and society in Iraq and Syria, while waiting to attack Iran. The demagogy of Washington (unrelated to the invoked alleged democracy) gave the highest priority to the exercise of the "right of communities." Discourses defending "human rights" that do the same and to which I referred in this article, are thus very relevant. The Iraqi central government was thus destroyed (by Gauleiter Bremer in the first year of the occupation of the country) and its attributes vested in four pseudo-states, two of them based on restricted and fanatic interpretations of Shiite and Sunni versions of Islam, the other two being on the alleged particularities of the "Kurdish tribes" of Iraq! The intervention of Gulf countries, supporting - behind the USA - the reactionary political Islam that gave the alleged Caliphate of Daesh contributed to the success of Washington's' project. It should be almost amusing to observe that the US supported the Iraqi Kurds in the name of "democracy", but not those of Turkey, an important NATO ally. Double standards, as usual.
Are the two political parties exercising power over different parcels of Iraqi Kurdistan territory "democratic", or is one better than the other? It would be naive to believe this nonsense of the Washington propaganda. It is only a question of cliques of politicians/warlords (those who know how to enrich themselves in this way). Their alleged "nationalism" is not anti-imperialist; because being anti-imperialist is about fighting the US presence in Iraq, and not being part of it for personal gain.
I will not say more here about the US project of domination in the region, of which I already analysed the real objectives elsewhere.
The proposed analysis will perhaps better explain the nature of the (or those) Kurdish nationalisms at work today, the limits that it (or they) imposes by ignoring the requirements of the anti- imperialist fight in the region, radical social reforms that must accompany this struggle, as the requirements of the construction of the unity of all the peoples concerned (Kurds, Arabs, Iranians) against their common enemy: the US and its local allies (Islamists or others).
I speak of Kurdish nationalism in the plural. For indeed the objectives of (often armed) movements which act today in its name are not defined: a large independent pan-Kurdish state? Two, three, four or five Kurdish States? A dose of autonomy in the states as they are? Are there a few possible reasons for this accompanying fragmentation and blur? Yes, in my opinion. Arabs and Persians carried out a splendid renovation/modernisation of their respective languages in the nineteenth century, the Turks did so later in 1920-1930. The Kurds have not been placed in conditions that required them to do so! So there is not a Kurdish language, there are neighbouring languages but they are certainly distinct and probably not up to the requirements of the modern world. This weakness found its counterpart in linguistic assimilation by the elites, who adopted Persian, Arabic and Turkish, for better or for worse!
Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. - Economic change and Military conflict from 1500 to 2000, Unwin Hyman, London, 1988
samedi 30 juillet 2016
Brexit and the EU implosion
National sovereignty: for what purpose?
Traduit par Jenny Bright
The defence of national sovereignty, like its critique, leads to serious misunderstandings once one detaches it from the social class content of the the strategy in which it is embedded. The leading social bloc in capitalist societies always conceives sovereignty as a necessary instrument for the promotion of its own interests based on both capitalist exploitation of labour and the consolidation of its international positions.Today, in the globalized neoliberal system (which I prefer to call ordo-liberal, borrowing this excellent term from Bruno Ogent) dominated by financialised monopolies of the imperialist triad (United States, Europe, Japan), the political authorities in charge of the management of the system for the exclusive benefit of the monopolies in question conceive national sovereignty as an instrument enabling them to improve their "competitive" positions in the global system. The economic and social means of the State (submission of work to employer requirements, organisation of unemployment and job insecurity, segmentation of the labour market) and policy interventions (including military interventions) are associated and combined in the pursuit of one sole objective: maximising the volume of rent captured by their "national" monopolies.
The ordo-liberal ideological discourse claims to establish an order based solely on the generalised market, where mechanisms are supposed to be self-regulatory and productive of social optimum (which is obviously false), provided that competition is free and transparent (that it never is and can not be in the era of monopolies), as it claims that the state has no role to play beyond the guarantee of the running of the competition in question (which is contrary to facts: it requires the state's active intervention in its favour; ordo-liberalism is a state policy). This narrative - expression of the ideology of the "liberal virus" - prevents all understanding of the actual functioning of the system as well as the functions the state and national sovereignty fulfill in it. The US gives the example of a decided and continuous practical implementation of sovereignty understood in this "bourgeois" meaning, that is to say today in the service of the capital of financialised monopolies. The "national" right benefits in the United States of its affirmed and reconfirmed supremacy over "international law". It was the same in the imperialist countries of Europe of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Did things change with the construction of the European Union? European discourse claims and legitimates submission of national sovereignty to "European law", expressed through the decisions of Brussels and the ECB, under the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties. The freedom of choice of voters is itself limited by the apparent supranational requirements of ordo-liberalism. As Ms. Merkel said: "This choice must be compatible with market requirements"; beyond them it loses its legitimacy. However, in counterpoint to this discourse, Germany argues for policies that implement the exercise of its national sovereignty and seeks to submit its European partners to respect its requirements. Germany has used European ordo-liberalism to establish its hegemony, particularly in the euro zone. Britain - by its Brexit choice - in turn decided to implement the benefits of exercising its national sovereignty.
We can understand then that "nationalist discourse" and the endlessly praised virtues of national sovereignty, understood in this way (bourgeois-capitalist sovereignty) without the class content of the interests that it serves being mentioned, has always been subject to reservations, to put it mildly, from currents of the left in broad meaning, that is to say, all those who have the desire to defend the interests of the working classes. However, let us be wary of reducing the defense of national sovereignty to the simple terms of "bourgeois nationalism". This defence is as necessary to serve other social interests as the ruling capitalist bloc. It will be closely associated with the deployment of capitalist exit strategies and commitment on the long road to socialism. It is a prerequisite of possible progress in this direction. The reason is that the effective reconsideration of global (and European) ordo-liberalism will never be anything but the product of uneven advances from one country to another, from one moment to another. The global system (and the European subsystem) has never been transformed "from above", by means of collective decisions of the "international (or "European") community". The developments of these systems have never been other than the product of changes imposed within the states that compose them, and what results concerning the evolution of power relations between them. The framework defined by the ("nation") State remains one in which decisive struggles that transform the world unfold.
The peoples of the peripheries of the global system, polarised by nature, have a long experience of this positive nationalism, that is to say anti-imperialist nationalism (expressing the refusal of the imposed world order) and potentially anti-capitalist. I only say this because potentially nationalism may also be carrying the illusion of building a national capitalism managing to "catch up" with the national construction of dominant centres. The nationalism of the peoples of the peripheries is progressive only on this condition: that it be anti-imperialist, breaking with global ordo-liberalism. In counterpoint a "nationalism" (while only apparent) that fits in with globalised ordo-liberalism, and therefore does not affect subordinate positions of the concerned nation in the system, becomes the instrument of the dominant local classes keen to participate in the exploitation of their people and possibly weaker peripheral partner towards which it acts as a "sub-imperialism".
Today advances - audacious or restricted - allowing us to escape from ordo-liberalism are necessary and possible in all parts of the world, North and South. The crisis of capitalism created a breeding ground for the maturation of revolutionary circumstances. I express this requirement that is objective, necessary and possible, in a short sentence: "escape from the crisis of capitalism or escape from capitalism in crisis?" (The title of one of my recent books). Escaping the crisis is not our problem, it is that of the capitalist rulers. Whether they succeed (and in my opinion they are not engaged in ways that would allow it) or not is not our problem. What have we to gain by partnering with our adversaries to revive broken-down ordo-liberalism? This crisis created opportunities for consistent advances, more or less bold, provided that the fighting movements adopt goal-led strategies. The affirmation of national sovereignty is then required to enable these advances that are necessarily uneven from one country to another, but always in conflict with the logic of ordo-liberalism. The sovereign national project that is popular, social and democratic proposed in this paper is designed with this in mind. The concept of sovereignty implemented here is not that of bourgeois-capitalist sovereignty; it differs from it and for this reason must be qualified as popular sovereignty.
The confusion between these two contradictory concepts, and from there the rapid rejection of any "nationalism" without more precision, destroys any possibility of escaping ordo-liberalism. Unfortunately in Europe - and beyond - the contemporary left engaged in struggles often practices this amalgam.
Defending national sovereignty does not mean simply to want "another, multipolar globalisation" (in counterpoint to the current model of globalisation), based on the idea that international order must be negotiated among sovereign national partners, equal in rights, and not unilaterally imposed by the powerful - the imperialist triad, United States at the head - as it is in ordo-liberalism. Still we have to answer the question: why a multipolar world? Because it can be designed as still governed by the competition between systems accepting ordo-liberalism; or, in counterpoint, as an opening frame giving leeway to people who want to escape this ordo-liberalism. We must therefore specify the nature of the objective pursued under the proposed multi-polar system. As always in history a national project can be hybrid, crossed with contradictions between trends therein deployed, some in favour of a capitalist nation and others who give themselves other goals beyond their progressive social content. China's sovereign project provides a good example; semi sovereign projects in India and Brazil (before the rightist coup) provide others.
The stalled European Union
Although the collapse of the European project (and in particular the subsystem of the Euro) has already been underway for years (Ref. Samir Amin, The implosion of contemporary capitalism), Brexit evidently constitutes a major expression of it.
The European project was conceived from the outset in 1957 as an instrument implemented by the partners' - France and Germany in particular - capitalist monopolies with the support of the United States, to defuse the risk of socialist, radical or moderate take-overs. The Rome treaty, by signing in stone the sanctity of private property, outlawed any aspiration to socialism, as Giscard d'Estaing said at the time. Subsequently and gradually this character was reinforced by European building up, a reinforced concrete one since the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties. The argument orchestrated by propaganda for the acceptance of the project was that it finally abolished the national sovereignty of the states of the Union, these sovereignties (in their bourgeois/imperialist form) that had been at the origin of the unprecedented massacres of the two great wars of the twentieth century. Therefore this project has received a favourable response from the younger generations, by dangling a democratic and pacifist European sovereignty, taking the place of the war-mongering national sovereignties of the past. In fact sovereignty of States was never abolished, but mobilised to accept ordo-liberalism, and become the necessary framework to ensure to now financialised monopolies the monopoly of the economic, social and political management of European societies; and that whatever the possible developments of opinions. The European project is based on an absolute denial of democracy (understood as the exercise of choice between alternative social projects) that goes well beyond the "democratic deficit" argued against the Brussels bureaucracy. It has given repeated evidence; and has de facto annihilated the credibilityof elections whose results are legitimate only insofar as they comply with the requirements of ordo-liberalism.
Germany has been able, in the context of this European construction, to assert its hegemony. Thus German (bourgeois/capitalist) sovereignty was erected as a substitute for a nonexistent European sovereignty. European partners are invited to align with the requirements of this sovereignty superior to that of others. Europe has become the German Europe, particularly in the Eurozone where Berlin manages the finances with preferential benefit to the German Konzerns. Important politicians like Finance Minister Schäuble, indulge in a permanent blackmail and threaten the European partners with a "German exit" (Gexit) in case they call into question Berlins hegemony.
It should not be avoided to conclude from the obvious facts: the German model poisons Europe, Germany included. Ordo-liberalism is the source of the persistent stagnation of the continent, coupled with ongoing austerity policies. So ordo-liberalism is an irrational system when it is in the perspective of protecting the interests of popular majorities in all EU countries, including Germany, as in the prospect of long-term defence of ecological conditions of reproduction of economic and social life. Furthermore ordo-liberalism leads to endless aggravation of inequality between partners; it is the origin of the trade surpluses of Germany and symmetrical deficits of others. But ordo-liberalism is a perfectly rational option from the perspective of financial monopolies of which it ensures the continued growth of their monopoly rents. This system is not viable. Not because it faces the growing resistance of its victims (ineffective to date), but because of its own internal contradiction: the growth of rent monopolies impose stagnation and the continually worsened status of fragile partners (Greece and others).
The captain at the helm is leading the European ship straight towards visible reefs. Passengers implore him to change course; to no avail. The captain, protected by a praetorian guard (Brussels, ECB) remains invulnerable. It only remains to throw the life boats out to sea. It is certainly dangerous, but a lesser danger than the certain shipwreck in sight. The image will help to understand the nature of the two options between which the critics of the European system in place are hesitant to choose. Some argue that we must stay on board; evolve the European construction in new directions, respecting the interests of popular majorities.They persist despite the repeated failures of the struggles involved in this strategy. Others call to leave the ship, as evidenced by the choice of the English. Leaving Europe; but for what? Disinformation campaigns orchestrated by the media clergy in the service of ordo-liberalism contribute to scrambling the cards. An amalgam is maintained between all possible forms of use of national sovereignty, all presented as demagogic, "populist", unrealistic, chauvinistic, out-of-date, nauseating. The public is pummeled by the discourse on security and immigration, while highlighting the responsibilities of ordo-liberalism in worsening conditions of workers is avoided. Unfortunately whole segments of the left involve themselves with this game.
For my part, I say that there is nothing to expect from the European project, which can not be transformed from within; we must deconstruct and eventually rebuild later from different foundations. Because they refuse to reach this conclusion, many of the movements in conflict with ordo-liberalism remain hesitant regarding the strategic objectives of their struggles: to leave Europe or remain in it (and keep the Euro or not)? In these circumstances the arguments raised by both sides are different in the extreme, often on trivial issues, sometimes about false issues orchestrated by the media (security, immigrants), resulting in nauseous choices, rarely about the real challenges. An exit from NATO for example, is rarely invoked. Nevertheless, the rising tide that is expressed in the rejection of Europe (like with Brexit) reflects the destruction of illusions about the possibility of reform.
Nevertheless, confusion scares. Great Britain certainly did not intend to implement its sovereignty to engage in a way that deviates from ordo-liberalism. Rather London wants to further open towards the US (Great Britain does not retain the reluctance of some Europeans towards the transatlantic free trade agreement), the Commonwealth countries and the emerging countries of the South, replacing the European priority. Nothing else; and certainly not a better social program. In addition for the British, German hegemony is less acceptable than it appears to be for others, in France and Italy.
European fascists proclaim their hostility to Europe and the euro. But we must know that their concept of sovereignty is that of the capitalist bourgeoisie; their project is the research of national competitiveness in the ordo-liberalism system associated with foul campaigns against immigrants. The fascists are never the defenders of democracy, not even an electoral democracy (except by opportunism), let alone a more advanced democracy. Faced with the challenge, the ruling class will not hesitate: it prefers the fascist exit from the crisis. It demonstrated this in Ukraine. The scarecrow of rejection of Europe by fascists paralyses the struggles waged against ordo-liberalism. The frequently invoked argument is: how can we make a common cause against Europe with the fascists? These confusions cause us to forget that the success of the fascists is precisely the product of the timidity of the radical left. If it had boldly defended the sovereignty project, specifically its popular and democratic content, associated with the denunciation of the demagogic and lying sovereignty project of the fascists, it would have engaged the voices that are today with the fascists. The defense of the illusion of a possible reform of Europe does not prevent its implosion. The European project unravels to the benefit of a re emergence of what sadly seems to resemble the Europe of the 1930s and 1940s: a German Europe; Britain and Russia outside of it, France hesitating between Vichy (in place today) or deGaulle (still invisible); Spain and Italy sailing in the wake of London or Berlin; etc...
National sovereignty serving the peoples
National sovereignty is the indispensable instrument of social improvements and progress of democratisation, in the North as in the South of the planet. These advances are controlled by a logic that lies beyond capitalism, in a favourable prospect for the emergence of a polycentric world and consolidation of internationalism of peoples.
In the Southern countries the sovereign national project must "walk on two legs":
(i) engage itself in the construction of a self-centered and integrated industrial system in which the different branches of production become suppliers and outlets of each other. Ordo-liberalism does not allow this construction. It indeed conceives "competitiveness" as that of each industrial establishment considered by itself. The implementation of this principle then gives priority to exports and reduced the industries of the Southern countries to the status of subcontractors dominated by monopolies of the imperialist centres, which appropriate by this means a large part of the value created there and transform it into imperialist monopoly rent. In counterpoint the construction of an industrial system requires planning of state and national ownership of currency, the tax system, and foreign trade.
(ii) engage in an original way in renovation of peasant agriculture, based on the principle that agricultural land is a common good of the nation, managed in a way that secures access to land and the means of exploiting it to all farming families. Projects must be designed on this basis for the growth of output per family/hectare, and priority industries put in place to allow this. The objective of this strategy is to ensure the nation's food sovereignty and control migratory flows from the countryside to the cities, to adjust the pace to the growth of urban employment.
The articulation of progress on each of these two fields is the main focus of state policies that guarantee the consolidation of "worker and peasant" broad popular alliances. This creates a favourable terrain for the advances of participatory democracy.
In the Northern countries popular sovereignty must also break with ordo-liberalism, implying here bold policies up to the nationalisation of monopolies and the initiation of means of socialisation of their management.This obviously implies the national management of the control of money, credit, taxation, and foreign trade.
The imperialist system in place implements a differentiated range of ways in which it has dominion over the nations of the peripheries of the global system and their exploitation. In the advanced countries of the South in the industrialisation segments of the outsourced global system, controlled by the capital of financialised monopolies of the imperialist triad (United States, Western and Central Europe, Japan), reduced to the status of subcontractors, offer major means by which a growing mass of the value generated in the dependent local economies is converted into imperialist monopoly rent. In many developing countries, operating modes also take the form of brutal plunder of natural resources (oil, minerals, agricultural land, water and sunlight) on the one hand, that of the implementation of financial raids which seize the national savings of the countries in question. The constraint of ensuring priority in the service of external debt is the means by which these raids operate. The structural deficit of public finances in these countries creates an opportunity for imperialist monopolies to place profitably their growing financial surpluses generated by the crisis of the globalised and financialised imperialist system by forcing developing countries into debt in leonine conditions.Financial raiding also exercises its destructive effects in the imperialist centres. The continued growth of the volume of public debt relative to GDP is actively sought and supported by national and international financial capital to which it allows fruitful investment of surpluses. The public debt owed to private financial market provides the opportunity of a drain imposed on the incomes of workers, allowing the growth of rent monopolies. Thus fueling the continued growth of inequality in the distribution of income and wealth. The official discourse that claims to implement policies to reduce the debt is completely false: their goal is actually to increase rather than reduce the debt.
Neoliberal globalisation continues a massive attack against peasant agriculture in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Accepting this major component of globalisation led to the enormous poverty/exclusion of hundreds of millions of people on three continents. It would actually stop any attempt of our societies to succeed in the global society of nations. Modern capitalist agriculture, represented by both rich family farming and/or by agribusiness companies, seeks to massively attack global peasant production. Capitalist agriculture governed by the principle of profitability of capital located in North America, Europe, Southern Cone of Latin America and Australia, employs only a few tens of millions of farmers, so that it has the highest global productivity; while peasant farming systems still occupy nearly half of humanity - three billion people. What would happen if "agriculture and food production" were treated like any other form of capitalist production, subject to the rules of competition in a deregulated open market? Would these principles facilitate the acceleration of production? Indeed, one can imagine fifty million new additional modern farmers, producing what the three billion farmers present on the market can offer in addition to their own (and low) subsistence. Conditions for success of such an alternative would require significant transfers of arable land to new farmers (lands taken from those currently occupied by peasant societies), access to capital markets (to buy equipment) and access to consumer markets. These farmers would compete easily with the billions of existing farmers. And what would happen to them? Billions of noncompetitive producers would be eliminated in a short historical period of a few decades. The main argument for the legitimisation of the "competitive" alternative is that this kind of development took place in Europe in the nineteenth century and contributed to the formation of rich industrial then postindustrial urban societies able to feed the nation and even to export surplus food. Why not repeat this model in the countries of the third world today? No, because this argument ignores two key factors that today make a reproduction of the model impossible in third world countries. The first is that the European model developed for a century and a half with intensive labour industrial technologies. Contemporary technologies are much less. And therefore, if the newcomers of the third world are to be competitive in world markets for their industrial exports, they must adopt these technologies. The second is that in the process of this long transition., Europe could massively emigrate its surplus population to the Americas.
Can we imagine other alternatives based on access to land for all local inhabitants? In this context it is implied that peasant agriculture must be maintained and simultaneously engaged in a process of change and continuous technological and social progress. And this at a pace that would allow a progressive transfer to non-agricultural employment along with the development of the system. Such a strategic goal involves policies protecting peasant food production from the unequal competition of modernized national agriculture and international agribusiness. It challenges industrial and urban development models - which should be less based on exports and low wages (which in turn imply low food prices) and give more attention to the expansion of a market socially balanced inside. In addition such a strategy would facilitate the integration in all policies that ensure national food sovereignty, an essential condition for a country to be an active member of the international community, strengthening its necessary degree of autonomy and capacity for negotiation.
For brevity I have not addressed here any adjacent major issues: the emergence of capitalism of generalised monopolies, the new generalised proletarianisation, the militarisation of globalisation and conflicts over access to natural resources, the financial globalisation as the weak link of the system, reconstruction of solidarity among developing countries, the strategy of ongoing struggles, the requirements of anti imperialist internationalism of peoples. I refer the reader to my book L’implosion du capitalisme contemporain (The implosion of contemporary capitalism) and draw attention to the institutional structures that I have proposed to consolidate popular content management of the transition of the economy beyond capitalism (pages 123-128 of the cited book).