|Table of Contents
II. International Situation
III. The Economy
V. The US Ruling Class and Class Relations
VI. Oppressed Nations and Nationalities
VII. The State
VIII. The People's Forces and Struggles
In order to change the world, it is important that we understand it. Our understanding of reality is based on our work, and that of others, to transform reality. We have prepared this Main Political Report to better grasp the overall conditions that we will face in the period ahead and to establish a common understanding of the context in which we will be carrying out our main tasks. To put it another way, as an organization we are trying to get on the same page in the same book.
We are in a period where we can expect that our enemies will face a host of economic and political problems – at home and abroad. We can expect more struggle in the period ahead. Conditions for our work are growing more favorable, and we can expect that our efforts will result in greater gains.
II. THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION
The world today is in great turmoil. The fundamental contradictions are sharpening. Factors leading to wars and revolution are on the rise.
For the vast majority of the world's people, capitalism is a disaster. The hand of hunger reaches from the Third World to the urban centers of the advanced capitalist countries. Over 1 billion are hungry in the "underdeveloped" countries. Poor peasants are paid survival wages or pushed off their land. Death squads kill workers who try to organize unions. Epidemic diseases like cholera, tuberculosis and AIDS are killing millions. Imperialism has launched wars in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the former socialist countries. Capitalism means misery, poverty, starvation, and war.
While capitalism appears strong, in fact it is weak. As in the years before the Great Depression, relative stability gives way to instability – a bust follows the economic boom. Advances in the productive forces (computerization, information technology, communications, etc) have contributed to the further spread of capitalist relations, have buttressed semi-feudal relations in the Third World, and have led to an intensification of exploitation.
The main instruments of this process have been the export of capital in the form of direct foreign investments; leveraged control of foreign financial markets; U.S. dominated multi-lateral financial institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank; and military means. The latter is of special importance in a world divided between the blocks of imperialist powers — for we live in an era where countries want independence, nations want liberation, and people need revolution.
At the forefront of the process of imperialist globalization stands the United States, with the blocks of European imperialist powers and Japan trailing close behind. In a world where the basic contradictions are intensifying – especially the contradiction between socialized production vs. private appropriation, which inevitably leads towards crisis – all of the imperialist powers have found it necessary to attack their domestic social safety nets and workers' rights, while strengthening their respective military machines.
As the United States is one of the principal oppressors of the world's peoples, our organization has a special responsibility to uphold proletarian internationalism. On every continent, there are patriotic and progressive movements that want to break out of the orbit of imperialism. As a practical matter, the main criteria we use for assessing any movement, party, or government is whether or not its policies and actions tend to weaken the imperialists.
The World in Struggle
Conditions for revolution are favorable in many parts of the world. To paraphrase Lenin, the broad masses of people are unwilling to live in the old way, and the ruling classes cannot continue in the way that they have in the past.
Communist-led national liberation struggles, such as those in Colombia, Nepal, and the Philippines, are at the forefront of the fight against imperialism. Following setbacks of the early 1990's, there has been a new resurgence in both armed struggle and revolutionary socialist outlook. The enemy's attacks have been brutal, but those with the will to fight have made gains.
The heroic uprising of the Palestinian people, the victories won by the patriotic forces of Lebanon, the heroic resistance of Iraq , the radicalization of the masses throughout the Middle East — all are examples of resistance to imperialism, Zionism, and reaction, represent a potentially important shift in the world balance of forces.
A wave of strikes and workers' fight backs has crisscrossed the world – most recently rocking South Korea and Colombia. European workers have carried out a series of spectacular blockades to protest high fuel prices.
Imperialist globalization has brought a consciousness of internationalism to many workers, as the practical need for it has arisen. Strikes and fight backs have brought victories to the workers and forced concessions from the big bosses. Where there are Marxist-Leninist parties involved, the workers have gone beyond good trade union consciousness and see their fight as one to establish socialism.
Finally, the socialist countries stand as a beacon to everyone who seeks a better way of life. The inspiring battles of the peoples in the former socialist countries, who give lie to the claim that capitalism represents any future whatsoever, constitute favorable conditions for our efforts.
Three Blocks — Competition and Plunder
Three big economic blocks — the U.S, a united Europe under Germany, and Japan – and their competition for dominance characterize the world today. We find junior partners siding up with the big players — Canada with the U.S., or France with Germany, for instance. While cooperation or competition amongst the imperialists may shift according to the situation, the "great powers" consistently abuse Third World countries.
While U.S imperialism has been in a period of relative decline since the early 1970's, it has now emerged as the dominant power since the fall of the Soviet Union and uses its economic, political, and military might to dictate policies to other competitors and to the countries it oppresses.
The U.S. is the top foreign investor in most of Latin America, many parts of Asia (including India), and certain parts of Africa. NAFTA, renamed the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA) will expand to other Latin American countries as the U.S. continues to carve out its bloc.
The U.S. also dominates a number of multi-lateral financial institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, where the western powers collude and contend over turf and markets. These institutions all have their origins in the post-World War II period, when outside of the socialist camp, the U.S. held hegemony. Times changed, the national liberation movements grew, and Japan and the European countries asserted their independence. One result is that institutions like the World Trade Organization (which grew from the old GATT) are wracked by internal contradictions.
While the United States has entered into (and forced) hundreds of military agreements with other countries, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the most important U.S. controlled military alliance. NATO is both a tool to expand the U.S. empire and serves as a grantor against revolution. Current U.S. strategy is to steadily incorporate the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union into the alliance.
Special note should be made of U.S. domination of the United Nations. In this current period, the United Nations is essentially a tool of U.S. foreign policy – a den of thieves run by the imperialist powers. Therefore, unlike the social-democratic forces, it is not likely that we will be supporting a "U.N. Solution" to any conflict.
As for the socialist countries, Cuba and North Korea are threatened by Washington, while the U.S. uses "constructive engagement" with China and Vietnam — offering carrots in one hand while carrying a big stick in the other. In the latter two cases, the strategy is one of promoting the "peaceful evolution" from socialism to capitalism.
There will be no major shift in foreign policy with the transition from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.
Clinton launched a war against the people of Somalia and was defeated in Mogadishu. He launched the largest air campaign since Vietnam against Iraq. The people and government of Iraq have held firm and are rallying the people of the Middle East to oppose imperialism. Using cruise missiles, the Clinton administration destroyed a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, and detroyed some villages in Afghanistan. These projections of power served to further isolate the U.S.
The U.S./NATO alliance tore up Yugoslavia and occupied portions of the country. For 47 days, NATO rained down death and destruction. Patriotic people gathered on bridges and in factories, placing their bodies between American bombers and the fate of their country. Then the U.S. occupied Kosovo. More recently, the U.S. organized an electoral coup against the government led by President Milosevic. These moves have helped to galvanize opposition to the U.S. in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.
There is no reason to believe that the policies and wars of Bush will be any different than those of Clinton. Our organization actively opposed every war waged by the past administration. We organized large demonstrations and did everything we could to build a pole of resistance to these unjust wars. And we will oppose every war organized by Bush and company. The American people and the people of the countries oppressed by imperialism have something in common – a common enemy – the monopoly capitalists who rule this country.
Germany Leads United Europe
Germany has reunited, gained political and economic dominance over most of the areas it seized during WWII, and set precedents by using troops outside its border in Yugoslavia. Unlike the U.S., Germany has little debt, and its economy incorporated East Germany relatively smoothly, though unemployment is high in the east. Germany plans to intensify and expand its foreign economic holdings and is working with France to do so.
Germany caught the U.S. off guard when it fomented the war in Yugoslavia by encouraging bourgeois nationalists within Croatia and Slovenia to declare independence. Germany's expansionist plans through Yugoslavia into southern Europe would provide direct access to Mideast oil. Germany would have much to gain. The U.S. responded late in the conflict, sending troops to Bosnia as part of a blocking measure.
Germany backed the Kosovo Liberation Army and German banks are the largest lenders in the former socialist countries. The ex-Soviet Republics and Eastern Europe form the central arena for U.S.-German/European contention.
Looking at the future of contention between the U.S. and Europe, U.S. policy makers will have to deal with a European military force, whose mere potential or existence will weaken NATO.
Despite long-term economic stagnation, Japan is a stiff economic competitor with the U.S. on a global level. For Japan, the Pacific Rim includes the whole Pacific – from Asia to Peru to "Free Trade Zones" up and down Latin America. Japan has a trade surplus and no external debt. In most cases, however, Japan is a junior partner to the U.S. Japan has very little military force with which to impose its will on other countries and must rely on the U.S. or other powers to do so. However, Japan's military force is growing, causing increasing concern to other Asian countries, which remember their occupation by Japanese imperialism during World War II.
Common Trends in Imperialist Countries
While many powers, like Italy, France and England, are in decline relative to the Three Big Powers, they are still imperialist countries and share similarities. These countries, and places like Australia, Belgium, Canada, etc., continue to exploit and oppress Third World countries. Tied to this are attacks on immigrants and immigrants' rights within the imperialist countries. At the same time, neo-fascist political groups and movements have mushroomed to become a menacing force against minorities.
Governments are busy slashing the social safety net, while increasing funding for police and spending exorbitant amounts on the military. Even Japan is building up its small military. Social Democrats rule almost all of Europe and have been at the forefront of anti-immigrant and anti-poor people laws. The Social Democrats in Europe have privatized government services, cut school funding, and sent troops to invade other European countries, like Yugoslavia and Albania.
Big business in the imperialist countries is moving away from the policy of purchasing social peace. Corporations are downsizing and laying off workers, relocating to the Third World, imposing impossible conditions on workers, and trying to bust unions. None of this is without resistance. The international working class is reawakening and again feeling its strength. Opportunities exist for those willing to grasp them and push the struggle to higher levels.
Russia and the Former Soviet Union
Russia today is a country on its knees. Gorbachev opened the door — not to "reformed socialism", but to plunder by native gangsters and their foreign sponsors. Mobsters own over half of the economy. The largest privatization in history has brought nothing but misery to workers and farmers. Millions of workers have gone unpaid and lost their pensions and life savings. Like Yeltsin, Putin continues to sell the country to the highest bidder.
The construction of a Marxist-Leninist movement and new communist parties that fight for the re-establishment of the U.S.S.R. is an extremely positive development.
The Third World
As demonstrated in the Third World, imperialism means national oppression. The main particular form it takes is neocolonialism, with neo-liberal policies bringing the greatest return of profits ever back to the U.S.
Third World countries face famine, poverty, war, epidemics, environmental destruction, restructuring, and dismantlement. Africa and parts of Asia are being hit the hardest, but Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe are suffering too. Transnational corporations have been moving production to be near the natural resources and low-wage workers in the Third World. The contradiction between the Third World and imperialism is the principal contradiction on a world scale.
Africa is the poorest continent. It has been conquered, divided, and stripped of great amounts of natural resources by imperialism. Now, Africa faces an AIDS crisis affecting tens of millions, while Western drug corporations plot how to make profits. In past decades, Africa had many victorious national liberation struggles, but petite bourgeois, bourgeois and comprador forces allied with neocolonialism and seized power.
The United States is stepping up its ability to intervene through the use of proxies – in particular Nigeria.
There are rays of hope in Africa. Of special importance is the great movement for land reform in Zimbabwe, and the determined resistance of Democratic Congo to imperialism.
In southern Africa, there are large communist parties and people's movements. In West Africa, many parties have reemerged after lengthy years of repression. Most organize the grassroots – workers, peasants and students — but also use elections. Few have illusions about electoral roads to socialism.
Asia is a focal point of the four major contradictions in the world. Thus, out of anywhere in the world, Marxism is the most alive in Asia today. There are more communists in Asia than in the rest of the world combined. There are huge mass movements of communists in India and Bangladesh, numbering in the tens of millions. In the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Phillippines leads people in substantial liberated areas. There are also more socialist countries in Asia than anywhere else. China, Vietnam, Korea all espouse Marxism-Leninism and see themselves on the road to communism. Overall, Asia is a very hopeful place for the people's movements.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and the Caribbean have long suffered under the yoke of U.S. imperialism and there is a dialectical relationship between development of the struggle there and here. Revolutionaries in this country have a special responsibility to support those who are fighting to free themselves from the U.S. empire.
There is a profound revolutionary process taking place in the northern part of South America, which includes repeated uprisings in Ecuador, the progressive and patriotic government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and the powerful movement for land reform in Brazil. The revolution in Colombia is the leading edge of this process.
The war in Colombia is of vital importance. U.S. military personal are already engaged in combat there. A victory for Colombia's national liberation movement will be an incredible blow to U.S. imperialism. As an organization, we must do everything we can to end U.S intervention and support the Colombian revolution.
We also have a special responsibility to support the progressive and revolutionary forces in Mexico. The southwest part of the United States – Aztlan – was formerly northern Mexico. A distinct Chicano nation has developed in this region, and there is a relationship between what takes place in Mexico and the developments in the Southwest. One indication of this is the inspiration many Chicano youth take from the uprising in Chiapas. The basic point here is that revolutionary struggle in Mexico weakens U.S. imperialism and will contribute to shaping the Chicano National Movement (and other movements as well).
Finally, note must be made of socialist Cuba – which is a beacon of liberation to people through out the hemisphere.
The Middle East
The peoples of the Middle East are standing up to imperialism, Zionism, and reaction of all kinds. Because of the region's strategic importance to western imperialism, developments here can lead to a shift in the balance of forces on a world scale.
The Intifada of the Palestinian people has swept away a flawed "peace process". This in turn creates a context where Israeli rule of Palestine can be challenged on a larger scale. We support the Palestinian people in their fight to regain their homeland and to create a democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capitol.
We call for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel. Israel is a creation of U.S. and British imperialism – it is a dagger that the U.S wields against the Arab peoples. Whatever weakens Israel – and its U.S. support – strengthens the hand of the people of Palestine, the Arab peoples, and ultimately the world's peoples.
This second uprising of the Palestinian people marks a return of Palestine to the heart of the contradiction between the peoples of the Middle East and Western imperialism.
Over the past decade, there has been a steady radicalization of masses of Arab peoples. With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of governments in the Middle East are western-dominated and hated by the people they rule. This new uprising in Palestine will further destabilize the puppet governments that are unable and unwilling to confront Israel.
The fact that Iraq has charted an independent course and stands firm in the face of Western pressure is a good thing, and it has earned Iraq the respect and admiration of the Arab people. For our part, we have the responsibility to oppose the air war and sanctions directed at Iraq.
Those countries where the proletariat has established power are an important factor in the world revolutionary process. Whatever strengths or weakness the respective socialist countries might have, we count ourselves in the ranks of those who believe that actual existing socialism is a good thing.
A quick compare and contrast demonstrates that socialism has been extremely positive for the Third World. Those countries that overthrew imperialism and its local servants, established New Democracy, and transitioned to socialism under the leadership of the working class and its Party have done much better than their suffering neighbors. For example, Cuba's infant mortality rate is equal to that of the U.S. and ranks far above that of Mexico or El Salvador. In North Korea, 100% of people have access to safe drinking water, while in Burma only 68% do. On issues of equality, heath care, education, culture, housing and food, the people of the Socialist countries fare better.
In the cases of Korea and Vietnam, the mass destruction of the U.S. wars was intended to send those nations "back to the stone age." However, due to the victories against U.S. imperialism, they have fared well compared with similar Asian nations.
However, socialist countries also face major contradictions from external and internal sources, including those stemming from market reforms and the opening of the economies to the world market. In spite of this, the socialist countries have demonstrated in practice the bright future in store for humanity.
III. The Economy
The Face of Imperialism
After World War II, U.S. imperialism was top dog, with growth in the manufacturing sector conditioned by minimal global competition. The massive defense spending of the Cold War period and the relatively high wages of the U.S. worker mark the U.S. as the largest industrial economy in the world. At the very moment the rich were crowing about the American Century, it was ending. Competition from Europe and Japan, the existence of a Socialist camp, and blows from the national liberation movements came together to end U.S. global hegemony. 1971 marked the end of the U.S. monetary order established at Breton Woods in 1945. Until then, the value of major currencies was fixed against the dollar.
In response to this decline, monopoly capitalism shifted to a policy of neo-liberalism in the 1980's. Neo-liberalism is characterized by the accelerating concentration of capital into the hands of the monopoly capitalists, the delivery of public funds to private corporations, pushing down employment and wage levels and reducing social spending.
There is a tendency to concentrate capital in the three main capital blocks – Japan, the European Union, and the U.S. and Canada. More than 70% of the global flow of direct investment is concentrated in the U.S., and, likewise, 68% of U.S. direct investments are in Japan, the European Union and Canada. This tendency has intensified slightly since 1998, when the Asian economic crisis hit South Korea and Indonesia.1 The same crisis of overproduction affected the former Soviet Union and parts of Latin America at about the same time.
The U.S. economy has experienced the longest upturn in the business cycle ever. We are told this is a period of unprecedented boom. The stock market is at its highest ever. When the recovery began in 1991, it had some particular features. The present cyclical expansion, which began in March 1991, is not jobless (as used to be said), but it is not exactly full of jobs either. Recent job growth is a bit above average for all the post-World War II period, which includes recessions; the job market is strong, however, when compared to the early 1990's.
What kind of jobs has this economy created? The number of manufacturing jobs has grown in the sector that manufactures durable goods (like washing machines and pool tables) but has shrunk in the area of non-durable goods (like clothes). A net loss of jobs in the textile and apparel sectors has been the main contributor to this shrinkage in non-durable goods. In the durable goods sector, industrial machinery and equipment production has been the largest section of growth.
There has been a loss in the number of federal government jobs with the destruction of the federal social safety net and a concomitant increase in jobs in state and local government. Health services accounted for about one in six new jobs during the 1980s; that pace has slowed considerably now that the HMO revolution is upon us. Employment by temporary agencies has exploded, accounting for 2.7 million out of 120 million jobs. This should be put into some perspective, however, since that is just 2.5% of total employment, and accounts for one in thirteen new jobs since 1980. The broader category of "contingent" employment – contract, temp, etc. – accounted for less than 5% of U.S. employment in February 1999, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
From 1973 through 1998, the standard of living for almost all American workers declined. In the past two years, there has been a slight income gain for some. The poorest 60% of the U.S. population still has a household income lower than in 1973. The next 20% – the 20% with an average household income of $41,000 – has seen a modest 5% gain. The gains in income have almost entirely gone to the top 20% – to the tune of a 34% gain in income overall. The top 1% has almost doubled their income since 1973.2
This small gain in income for some workers does little to offset the income loss of the last 20 years and it is unlikely to continue.
Uneven Character of Polarization
Increasingly, the social character of the United States is polarizing into two distinct economic poles: wealth, and poverty. The gap between the working class and the ruling class continues grow.
Because inner cities are being gentrified, affordable housing stock is either torn down as a "community nuisance" or modified to suit the rich. It is estimated that about one third of American's pay more than 40% of their household income in rent. 3 There has been an incredible rise in homelessness. By most estimates, homelessness has doubled in the last 10 years. 2.5 to 3.5 million people a year are homeless. Of those, officials estimate that, on average, single men comprise 44% of the homeless population, families with children 36%, single women 13% and unaccompanied minors 7%. The homeless population is estimated to be 50% African-American, 35% white, 12% Hispanic, 2% Native American, and 1% Asian.
Attacks on the working class continued with the systematic destruction of the social safety net. Lifetime limits on welfare have begun to kick in. State governments have already begun throwing people off the rolls, as in Ohio. This process will continue and intensify over the next 18 months, as the 5-year limit approaches. This will increase the polarization between the rich and poor, especially in light of the downturn of the U.S. economy.
These gaping holes in the social safety net on the federal level puts our class back into the economic reality of 1928. Ending welfare as an entitlement and replacing it with block grants for the states means that public assistance devolves towards a state level, an ultimately to that of the county.
Polarization remains the main economic feature of this period. This is manifested not only in the poverty gap but also in the increasing monopolization and concentration of capital.
Concentration of Capital
This has been a period of mergers and deregulation. There has been an increasing concentration of capital within industries. There are numerous examples of this. One of them is in oil, where three monopolies control most world markets. Another is agriculture, where monopolization and the concentration of capital are wiping out the family farmer.
Deregulation has meant an attack on worker protections and safety regulation since the early 1980's and the so-called Reagan revolution. This has continued under Clinton-Gore (the attacks on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are one example) and it is likely to continue under Bush. The firewalls between banking and investment industries that were enacted during the Great Depression have been repealed in the past period, exposing the economy to vulnerabilities similar to those that existed in the 1920's.
Nations within the U.S.
Polarization proceeds unevenly and affects oppressed nations within the U.S. more than the working class as a whole. The U.S. is a country composed of more than one nation. There is a Black Nation, whose territory is in the South, a Chicano nation in the Southwest, numerous native nations, and a number of national minorities including Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Puerto Ricans in the U.S.
Most of the states in the South and Southwest have "right to work" laws. In the South, only 8% of the work force is unionized. For example, in South Carolina 3.6% of workers are unionized. This compares to 17.3% in Pennsylvania. Average income in "right to work" states is 15% lower than in non-right to work states.
The last nine years have been a period of relative stability. While in this period the unemployment rates are the lowest for Blacks since 1970, median income differential between Blacks and whites remains in the $10,000 range. While the share of the Black population living in officially defined poverty has stayed steady since the late 1960's, Africans-Americans' average income has been eroding badly. Even in this period of relative stability, poverty rates for Blacks remain at between 13.6 and 15.7%, depending on how it is calculated. While "Hispanics" (a non-Marxist, and generally not that helpful, category – but one used by the government to keep statistics) have experienced a modest gain in income, the poverty rate for Hispanics is between 19.2 and 24.9% depending on how it is calculated. A chart for Hispanic income groups would show all the income groupings clustering around 70 to 75% of the income of their white counterparts, but with less stratification than among African-Americans. Incomes of the poorest Hispanics fell sharply relative to whites from the early 1970's through the mid-1980's, as new immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and the Dominican Republic joined the slightly better-off Cubans and Puerto Ricans already here.4
As this period of relative stabilization comes to an end we can expect the old adage of "last hired, first fired" will kick in and some gains that have been made will be lost.
In the final analysis, the problem is that the law of uneven development 5 functions in U.S. imperialism's relationship to the oppressed nations within its own borders in similar ways to the way it functions in oppressed nations abroad.
CRASH.com or Crisis and Recession
Capitalist economy has a cyclical, boom-bust character. The history of American capitalism is a history of economic downturns (recessions and depressions). With the exception of the Viet Nam war years, between World War II and 1991 there had been a recession every 4 to 6 years. The boom period that the U.S. economy has been in since 1991 is the longest in history. That polarization proceeds through cycles of boom and bust is a fundamental motion of capitalism. There is no reason to think the present boom can last much longer.
Recessions are hard to predict. While we do not have a crystal ball (still shopping), and we will not predict a recession outright, it is clear that there are strong signs pointing towards one.
There has been an overvaluation (speculative bubble) of the stock market for the last 4 years, particularly in the "new" or high-tech sector. Actual earning and profits have come nowhere near meeting the valuations of stocks. It has been a situation of speculation on a grand scale. It could be called crash.com. The NASDAQ is down 37.2% (NYSE report December 31, 2000) for the year. 20% is considered a correction.
The economy is not in trouble just because of overvaluation in the stock market and mediocre earnings reports. A situation is developing in which the production of goods and services cannot be continued on a profitable basis. By overproduction, we do not mean that people do not need new cars, or other durable goods, just that the capitalists cannot make a profit off of their continued production.
A strong example of this is that Chrysler has 200 days of inventory and it has begun to lay off workers. There has also been two quarters of negative growth in manufacturing indexes.
The agricultural sectors represented by the small and medium family farms are in a dismal state in the Midwest and have almost disappeared in the big corporate agriculture states like California. Agriculture finds itself in a long-term crisis of overproduction. Other signs of the coming storm include tightening credit markets, loss of stock market value, and the beginning of layoffs. Energy prices are also a factor in the profit squeeze, as seen in the energy crisis in California.
The basis for the crisis is intensified by the technical revolution. Labor, human work, creates all wealth. In most industries, investment in constant capital has increased. While increased investment in constant capital is always part of economic crisis, new technology is intensifying it.
Some things tend to make things worse – one of those is debt. Corporate and personal debt is at a record level. In addition, the personal savings rate has been in negative territory for almost a decade. People are living beyond their means to such a degree that when a recession hits, personal consumption expenditures, which make up the majority of the gross domestic product, will likely have to be dedicated to debt repayment rather than new purchases.
When a recession comes, the implications will be devastating. The social safety net has big holes. Lifetime limits for welfare go into effect in 18 months and three out of five poor families are already paying more than 50% of their income for housing. The state and national budget surpluses will disappear. Our organization will insist that it is the rich and not the poor who are required to pay for the crisis. This situation will sharpen class and national contradictions and will have political implications.
In a Global Context
There is a generalized crisis of overproduction on a world scale. Turkey has been in total collapse. The Philippine economy is in a crisis and Argentina is also very unstable.
In an earlier phase, this crisis appeared as the Asian economic crisis of 1997 and 1998, which developed in the context of a complex set of circumstances. Basically, export-oriented economies suffered a crisis of overproduction. In order to unload exports, these countries were forced to devalue their currency. They had formerly linked their currencies to the dollar. An underlying weakness showed itself when a strong rise in the dollar occurred in 1996. As the Asian economies' trade balances collapsed, it caused panic and capital flight. This led to crisis in the financial markets. This was a world crisis where the weak were taken out first. The IMF moved in to stabilize the situation. Western capitalists then proceeded to loot national industries in South Korea and other Asian countries.
To the surprise of many, the United States was able to escape most of the impact of this crisis. That is because the U.S. started out ahead. The U.S. has been out front because of its technically advanced productive forces – it was able to cushion the problems of '97 with the super-profits earned from its technical advantage. Two other factors leading to this advantage are deregulation and its strong position as a stable home base for capital inflows.
The sum of U.S. shares in the hands of foreigners amounts to $6.5 trillion, approximately equivalent to 79% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Because of an increasing dependence on the absorption of capital flows from countries with a surplus, it is likely that the U.S will be unable to absorb the impacts of a recession.
In some circles, there is a tendency to oversimplify globalization; a crude caricature is created where the global capitalist confronts the global worker. In reality, investment is overwhelming concentrated in the imperialist countries and a relative handful (about 13) of Third World countries. We need to pay close attention to the law of uneven development.
On the other hand, in the context of imperialist globalization, we need to see that there is a dialectical relationship between economic developments in other imperialist countries, the Third World and the United States. This is of particular importance as we examine the phenomenon of the crisis of overproduction on a world scale. No one is an island, and the U.S. economy is not a closed system.
Bush Stole The Presidency in 2000
George W. Bush stole the Presidency. This involved a disputed election process with heavy racial intimidation, vote tampering and fraud, legal challenges and street protests. Trampling bourgeois legality, five U.S. Supreme Court Justices ruled Bush the President. The Republicans seized the presidency, leaving many people angry and frustrated. The elections in 2000 were another stage where the U.S. ruling class as a whole shifted to the right.
Bush's presidency is not legitimate. A section of the bourgeoisie picked candidate Bush and put him in office. This lack of legitimacy will weaken the Bush presidency. Most workers are sickened by the election process and over half do not vote regularly. There is a popular understanding among African-Americans and other oppressed nationalities that the outcome of the election was determined by the widespread disenfranchisement of oppressed nationality voters.
Those who voted for Al Gore are outraged by the election circus and Bush's theft of the Presidency. So are many others. Despite this, the Democrats are going to work with Bush on his center-right political agenda. The Democrats do not like losing, but they share the Republican agenda for serving the rich and powerful.
Bush's agenda is to provide tax cuts to the rich, increase military spending, promote U.S. corporate welfare, attack working and oppressed peoples at home and abroad, privatize Social Security, stave off health care reform and decent prescriptions benefits for elderly workers, impose "reforms" on schools through vouchers and privatization, attack affirmative action, privatize government jobs, and continue executions. Bush will be able to continue most of the initiatives of the Clinton/Gore team. Bush will extend NAFTA (Free Trade of the Americas Agreement), welfare 'reform', build new prisons, hire more police, jail more oppressed nationality people and use the military to attack and harass other countries. On an international level, particularly in Latin America, Bush coming to power has emboldened the most extreme right-wing death squad elements.
Clinton and Gore did nothing for working people and oppressed nationalities, even though their rhetoric was that they were improving people's lives. They lied. Bush will follow up on the attacks of his predecessors. Economic problems will be blamed on workers and the poor. The Congress, both Democrat and Republican, will go along with the attacks, just as they have since Reagan.
While the difference between Clinton/Gore and Bush is not qualitative, there are some quantitative differences. On some issues, Bush will be more aggressive than Clinton, but will follow the Clinton/Gore act, using symbolism over substance. For instance, holding private fund-raisers for Black churches while spending billions to imprison African Americans. The Bush administration will significantly set back the movements for reproductive rights, queer liberation, and environmental justice.
With a downturn in the economy, a welfare 'reform' disaster is unfolding. Taking up the banner of the right, Clinton brought an "end to welfare as we know it." Holes were ripped in the social safety net, driving women and children deeper into poverty. Oppressed nationalities have been hit the hardest. Bush's decision to appoint Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson is a sign of things to come. Thompson was among the architects of the attacks on welfare. In Milwaukee County, the infant mortality rate for African Americans rose by 36% since the enactment of Wisconsin's welfare 'reform' measures.
Bush is already making proposals to pay big pharmaceutical companies for elderly people's prescriptions. This is like Clinton's failed health care plan that mainly funded private HMO's. Profits before people are as always the slogan of the ruling class.
A clear lesson of the 2000 election is that the U.S. system is a bourgeois democracy – more bourgeois than democratic. Legitimacy, not democracy, is the goal of the bourgeois class. The rich are not concerned with popular democracy of working people or the rights of Black voters in the South. The rich and their corporate contributions run the Republican/Democrat two party system. It is a method for different blocks in the ruling class to settle their differences. The capitalist class is only democratic as long as their rule is not questioned.
The Nader Challenge: Political Polarization Grows
In U.S. politics, the masses of people are disgusted with the two party system. There is almost no difference between the two. The U.S. ruling class operates a two party dictatorship of the rich.
The Democrats represent the center right with the same economic agenda as the Republicans and a status quo social agenda. If a progressive challenger, like Jesse Jackson within the Democratic Party in the 1980's, or Ralph Nader with his Green Party campaign in 2000, leads an electoral movement, the forces of the rich move fast to halt it. Nader was not allowed to debate Bush and Gore. The big business newspapers treat Nader as a strange phenomenon, like UFO's or Big Foot. Communists are correct to encourage political action independent of the political parties of the bourgeoisie.
A few years ago, the founding of the Labor Party embodied the political organization of those in the labor movement who felt abandoned by the Democrats. This political polarization follows the class polarization in U.S. society. The Battle in Seattle was a touchstone for Nader's anti-corporate, anti-globalization, anti-WTO campaign. According to a Gallup poll, oppressed nationalities were more likely to vote for Nader than whites. Nader's campaign has tapped into the sentiment of millions of people who are voting to protest the two party system and progressive activists were able to move Nader to take up issues of racism and women's oppression.
V. THE U.S. RULING CLASS AND CLASS RELATIONS
Continuing Class Polarization and Stratification the Main Feature of the Period
The U.S. billionaires and multi-millionaires – the bourgeoisie – are getting richer and richer. They own and control the wealth of the United States and large parts of the world. They get rich off the profits squeezed from the labor of the multi-national working class at home and the theft of raw materials and exploitation of peasants and workers abroad. A measure of the capitalist wealth is the highly speculative booming stock market of the last ten years. Their stocks grew into a great speculative bubble with the longest expansion in capitalist history. The bubble burst.
Capitalism is a boom and bust system, so the downturn, which is gaining momentum, was inevitable. Production plants are being shut down and workers are being thrown out of their jobs. The rich are getting richer; the working class is poorer.
The working class, as a class, has not benefited from the economic expansion. The real wages of workers have been stagnant or decreased. This has become so bad, that struggles appeared to pass 'living wage' laws. While the living wage measures affect relatively few workers, they are powerful tools to expose the declining standard of living and corporate welfare.
Minimum wage is no longer survival pay for an individual, let alone a family. For non-union workers, especially the unskilled, wages are decreasing and keeping working families in poverty. Many workers have two or three jobs.
The whole number and percentage of poor people has increased in the past decade. Poverty is a big growth area for the new global economy and there is increasing poverty around the U.S. The capitalists have restructured the economy so as to better compete with their rivals. The attacks on welfare are in part aimed at creating a pool of low-skilled, low-wage workers. Forcing people on public assistance into low-wage jobs or forced work programs exerts a downward pressure on the unionized and non-unionized sections of the working class. This is because of competition for unskilled work, and the displacement of unionized workers (such as NYC public employees).
Following the closure of many large industrial plants through the late 1970's and 1980's, more workers went into the low pay service sector or small size, high-tech industrial production. The better paying, full benefit, unionized industrial jobs became much harder to find. The whole number of industrial workers has remained about the same in the U.S., and Los Angeles has become the largest industrial city — non-union, low wage, and exploiting oppressed nationality and immigrant workers.
Service sector employment has grown dramatically over twenty years, but workers' wages dropped and the upper section of the working class shrank as the middle and lower sectors grew. Some in the upper section of the working class, the highly skilled and unionized, did better than before. The shaky market atmosphere, pointing to economic decline, will create more tension between the exploiters and the exploited, the rich and the poor.
It is important to recognize that the numbers of the multi-national working class in the U.S. have increased because the economic expansion requires millions more immigrant workers. Their situation is often more difficult than any other section of the working class. The working class has also grown because the market squeezed the lower petite bourgeoisie and forced them into the working class. Many small businesses have been ruined. For instance, when the Wal-Mart corporation moves into a county, 'Main Street U.S.A.' business owners are forced into bankruptcy by the corporation's competition. They are now employees – workers, not owners.
On the other end of class polarization, sections of the upper middle class (especially those linked to the rapid changes in the productive forces) have been pushed into the bourgeoisie as value of their stock investments skyrocketed. These newly rich, seen in many cities, are represented best by the new Seattle and the Silicon Valley culture. The new rich worship Bill Gate's billions and his power. Gate's power was the reason the World Trade Organization met in Seattle.
While there has been growth of petite bourgeois jobs in the high tech industries over the past 10 years, in the last year, there have been huge job losses in this sector. In the U.S., as well as on a global scale, Karl Marx's rule that capitalist society divides further and further into two, the exploiters and the exploited, is ever truer as we enter the 21st century. In an imperialist country like the U.S., where the American Dream – the dream of the petit-bourgeoisie – represents such an important ideological touchstone, the middle class is shrinking.
VI. OPPRESSED NATIONS AND NATIONALITIES
The United States was created over the course of three centuries, and before that was shaped by the arrival of Columbus in 1492. It has always and is currently still undergoing significant changes over the many decades. The National Question has been a part of the country's development from the start and is as of yet still unresolved.
From the expansion of the original 13 colonial settlements over three centuries ago to the annexation of Pacific Islands in the last half-century, nations of people have resisted the stealing of their land, the assimilation of their culture, the dismemberment of their language, and the exploitation of their labor.
In the 21st century, important issues of the oppressed nations and national minorities living in the geographical boundaries of the United States include:
- National sovereignty and broken treaties
- Police brutality and criminalization of youth
- Immigration and immigrant rights
- Exploitation of labor and racial discrimination
Asians and Pacific Islanders:
53% of all Asians live in the West, 20% in the South, 18% in the East, and 10% in the Midwest. Fully 33% of all Asians in the United States live in California. Over 96% of Asian Americans live in urbanized communities. Within the Asian American community, there are essentially two socio-economic groupings: the highly educated upper middle-class and the 'poverty class' – without college and in many cases without high school education. Asian Americans are young. 29% of Asians are less than 18 and only 7% are older than 65.
Major groupings of Asians, in approximate order of numbers in the United States are: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Asian Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Polynesian, Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, Micronesian, Chammoran.
Chicanos, Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans and other Latinos:
Over 40% of the Latino community is under the age of 18. The working class portion of the community is very large, characterized by recent immigrant status, poor working conditions, and limited English proficiency.
California and Texas have the largest numbers, but Chicago, New York and southern Florida do also. Small business ownership is not uncommon. However, high rates of poverty and unemployment are more typical. Many people that are here have fled their homelands in search of refuge in the United States. Chicanos and Puerto Ricans have been forcibly annexed to the United States.
38% of African Americans are under the age of 21. 8% of African Americans are older than the age of 65. 45% of families are headed by single women. 15% of African Americans have college degrees and 77% have high school level degrees. Women have a slighter higher educational level for both high school and college. Only 18% of African Americans earn more than $35,000 per year. 43% of family households make less than $25,000 per year. 63% of women-headed households make less than $25,000 per year. Today, only 14% of African Americans live in rural areas. 55% live in the inner city.
10% of Native Americans have four years or more of college. Average per person income is less than $9,000 per year. 31% of the American Indians live in poverty by federal government definition. 75% of households are married couples. The Cherokee Nation (19%) is the largest by percentage of total Native American population, followed by the Navajo Nation (12%). All other American Indians are less than 6% of the total.
The majority of African Americans still live in the Black Belt South and that Latinos live in the Southwest. Asian Americans are also concentrated in the West. In the "state" of Hawaii, Asians and Pacific Islanders make up over 50% of the population. Native Americans are most numerous in the West and Upper Midwest. States with large nations include: Alaska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Montana.
VII. THE STATE
Government policy has changed in the last decade – privatizing services, cutting services, slashing welfare, and adding more police forces for social control. Many jobs have been privatized at the federal, state, county and local levels. Both political parties agree on privatization, but they are careful to create new ways for political patronage in the process. The political support of private companies will guarantee both contracts and votes. The big exception has been in the forces of state repression, or "armed bodies of men", the core of all states. There are now more cops and special police forces than ever before. The State continues to employ one out of six workers, making government very important in terms of jobs and political support. The increase in cops and the cutting of social welfare and services reflects the growing ruling class sentiment of enforcing (as opposed to purchasing) social peace.
Reagan, Bush and Clinton have put more and more (hundreds of thousands) of police on the streets to control and repress the people, especially working class Black, Latino, and immigrant communities. The various "community" policing schemes work hand-in-glove with the gentrification (real estate sharks moving people out) of poor people's neighborhoods. The quadrupling of the U.S. prison population in part results from "community" policing, where neighbors turn in neighbors.
The creation of "special units", like SWAT teams, leads to more police killing. The undercover "Street Crimes Unit" in New York, which murdered Amadou Diallo by firing 41 bullets, creates an atmosphere of fear for Blacks, Latinos, and immigrants and serves to keep people "in their place."
The "Red Squad" spies are active again in many cities with local, state, and federal agents colluding to take away the rights of political activists. Police repression of political groups is more obvious and more sophisticated.
Police departments across the U.S. have raised the employment requirements to two or more years of college education and demand higher levels of training today than ten years ago. The police are more disciplined and follow orders like never before. This has made the police more aggressive and more likely to use deadly force. The street officers are following orders determined by policies which are authorized by politicians at the top. The rich want enforcement of social order; the politicians will deliver it; so the cops will create fear in the neighborhoods.
Prisons and the Death Penalty
The number of prisoners in the U.S. stands at around two million today, a dramatic increase from 500,000 in 1985. This means one out of three prisoners in the world is in the U.S. There has been a huge boom in the numbers of prisons built over the last 15 years, many of them private, for-profit corporations. New trends in prisons reflect past practices of using prisoners for cheap labor — everything from sewing clothes to answering airline customers' flight questions. The Firestone Tire plant in Decatur, Illinois, closed by the unsafe SUV tires scandal, is replacing union cleaning crews with "work release" prisoners. Boot camps and chain gangs have reappeared in the South.
The prisons are filled with men, and more and more women, who are convicted of drug possession charges. Somewhere near half of all prisoners are in jail because of the phony "War on Drugs". Separated from their children and families, the impact on poor and oppressed communities is measured in opportunities missed and future generations hurt. Drug use is a health problem, not a crime.
The death penalty continues to be used in a genocidal way against Black America and other oppressed people. State executions are, in the main, a privilege of the poor. Clinton executed convicts for political points when he was governor of Arkansas. Gore convinced the Democrats to make support for the death penalty part of the Democratic Platform at the 2000 Convention. Bush executed Texas prisoners at a higher rate than any state ever!
More and more people are opposed to the death penalty on moral and political grounds. Gains have been made in declaring moratoriums against the death penalty, but ending the racist death penalty will be difficult under Bush's rule.
One, Two, Many Wars–U.S. Foreign Policy and Pentagon Strategy
The U.S. is an imperialist country, so foreign policy plays a major role in the political program of the two capitalist parties. After the spectacular defeat of Hitler's fascism by the Soviet Union during Word War II, the U.S. turned on its ally and launched the cold war. The socialist countries and the national liberation movements in the Third World became the United State's main enemies for 45 years. With the fall of Soviet socialism, the U.S. empire seeks to maintain its one-superpower dominance over all other nations and competitors.
U.S. imperialism has developed a foreign policy based on the lessons of losing to the National Liberation Front and the People's Army in the Vietnam War. The U.S. has developed a strategy to fight two medium intensity wars in two parts of the world at the same time (e.g. Korea and Iraq), while maintaining stability elsewhere. The Pentagon fears getting bogged down in ground battles with national liberation forces or socialist armies, but is completely willing to fight proxy (dirty) wars and keep political goals out in front. That being said, it will do what it needs to do to maintain its empire.
Where it cannot win, it will stifle, disrupt, and harass. For instance, the U.S. will arm, train, and back Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of the Congo to harass and overthrow an independent, anti-imperialist government. In Latin America, the White House will spend billions to train and lead Colombian army battalions against the FARC and ELN, to stall the overthrow of a corrupt, narco-government.
The Pentagon cannot rely on public support from the masses of people in the U.S. Working people in the U.S. do not want their sons and daughters blood to be shed for the domination of other peoples. Anti-imperialist activists must work hard to gather support to stop the Pentagon's stealth wars which use the Third World's own sons and daughters.
The U.S. military relies on high-tech destruction and the threat of awesome force. The military has downsized in terms of bases and personnel, but billions more are spent on "mobile" and "flexible" high tech weapons. The "missile shield" is the latest Bush initiative that allows the U.S. military to strike first with nuclear weapons without worrying about retaliation. The main point of the missile shield is that it eliminates the ability of China to use nuclear weapons as a credible threat.
The Far Right
Often used by the capitalist class as an arm of the state, the far right is weaker than it was during the 1980's and Reagan era.
Under Clinton, elements of the far right (Aryan Nations, Militias, etc.) came under more scrutiny and repression. Under Bush, sections of the far right like the Christian Coalition will be a part of the ruling consensus and threaten social progress. The strongest force continues to be the Christian right, which is consistently trying to build a movement against women's abortion rights, and its adherents are shooting doctors, nurses, secretaries, and bombing medical centers. The Christian right religiously attacks public schooling — to impose school prayer, vouchers, religious fundamentalist home schooling and privatization plans.
The U.S. government under Clinton increased surveillance and repression of religious cults and the far right upon coming to office. The killing of dozens of religious cult members in Waco by order of Attorney General Janet Reno helped set the stage for the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The Aryan Nation continues to organize in the prisons and to carry out bank robberies. Despite their weakness, there is evidence that the KKK has been burning Black churches in the South. The Militia movement is no longer news, but continues to exist among rural whites in the Midwest and West. In general, the attitude we should take towards the repression of neo-nazi types is "let the tigers fight," i.e. we will not defend their democratic rights.
The relative decline of the far right, combined with some amount of repression and disruption, has shifted the U.S. government away from the far right to focus on the anti-imperialist globalization movement and the left.
Women: Oppression, Dual Oppression, and Triple
Under a Bush presidency, attacks on reproductive rights will increase and bolster the right wing movement. Bush's cabinet choices point to this and his Supreme Court choices will threaten Roe v. Wade. We can expect to see more reactionary groups protesting at clinics and attempts to intimidate women. Through public pressure, RU-486 was recently approved. This is a big gain for women's reproductive health and we can expect that the anti-choice elements will try to roll it back.
The oppression of women intensifies. The attacks on welfare involve women as the primary target of increasing economic and racial oppression. Impoverishing women was an easy, top of the agenda item for the Clinton/Gore team and will continue at the state level. The attacks on Medicare mainly affect women, as women are 75% of recipients.
Our press and media seldom report it, but violence against women, not gang violence, accounts for nearly half of all murders. Violence against women exists in every social class, but is worsened by economic crisis and downturns. The roots of violence against women lies in the control men exercise over women the system of patriarchy — what people call sexism. There is a debate today if the rise in violence against women in the last 25 years is a result of increased reporting, or is it a backlash against the women's liberation struggle. Both are true.
Amongst the multi-national working class, men have a special responsibility to be allies to their sisters, wives, mothers, and daughters. In most unions, the domination of white males continues, but a few unions are attempting to change. Women are under-represented in the leadership and their issues are ignored at the rank and file level. At work, women are harassed, underpaid, and overlooked. The United Auto Workers, as an example, failed to defend the women workers from sexual harassment at the Mitsubishi plant in Illinois. Even the left wing of labor hesitates on women's rights. Within the Labor Party, the demand for a woman's right to abortion was rejected as part of the platform. The Labor Party leadership opposed it, arguing abortion was too divisive. When do women's rights become workers rights?
Monopolization, Deregulation, Privatization: Health Care Crisis as an example
The crisis in healthcare was a major issue in Clinton's first campaign, and both Bush and Gore had to address it. The U.S. spends more on health care than any other industrial nation-an estimated $1.213 trillion for 1999. Despite this, 45 million people, most with full-time jobs, have no coverage from their job or from government Medicare and Medicaid. Many with health insurance are poorly covered and avoid doctor care and medication because of high co-payments and deductibles.
The crisis in healthcare hurts patients and workers. As the HMO's and insurance companies gain control, they downsize, merge, close, or cutback. This brought a 20% to 30% return on stock shares for most of the 1990's. Many public hospitals closed or privatized. Those that remain "open for business" cut staff, contract out, and raise the level of exploitation of workers, nurses, and even doctors.
The situation was bad 8 years ago, but is worse now because of monopolization brought on by deregulation. In the past, healthcare was operated by churches, charities, and the state, with small hospitals and private doctors. Starting in the 1970's, many of the rules limiting the power of monopoly were done away with in other industries, like trucking, airlines, shipping, etc. Clinton declared healthcare open territory with disastrous results for the working class. Most politicians are ardent champions of privatization and promote cutting services and payments to the poor and working class. State governments are busting unions, selling off property, and contracting out.
Workers are overworked and threatened with the elimination of their jobs, while seeing their bosses pull in record salaries. We have seen that workers in healthcare want to fight, especially in places where nurses and other workers have joined together.
VIII. THE PEOPLE'S FORCES AND STRUGGLES
The Battle of Seattle
The Battle of Seattle in November 1999 was a big turning point. Similar to the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992, it was front-page news in every country in the world because of its militancy. Seattle was cheered by all revolutionaries opposed to imperialist globalization. The whole world learned that workers, environmentalists ("Turtles and Teamsters Together!") and young people in the U.S. are opposed to the World Trade Organization and the "Free Trade" doctrine. It proved to the critics that marching and protesting could make a big difference. The Battle of Seattle put into practice the slogan "workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!" The rich and powerful received a kick in the head as their dreams of furthering corporate globalization – where they can step up their exploitation of workers abroad and at home – dissolved in the clouds of tear gas.
After Seattle, the U.S. ruling class launched a plan to meet demonstrations with greater police and FBI repression. At Bush's inauguration, the police were five rows deep. In the Third World, where the anti-globalization protests began ten years ago, the police and armies working for U.S. imperialism are even meaner. The anti-Globalization movement refuses to stop however. It continues with militant protests at other international meetings of big capitalists. As conservatives tighten their grip within the Democratic Party, providing little alternative to the Republicans, the spirit of Seattle was carried by the people's movements to both party's conventions. Soon after that, 10,000 gathered to protest Plan Colombia, the U.S. war plan, and the death squads training at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.
In the U.S., this new movement – with its local, national, and international dimensions – has been spectacular in its creativity, determination, and anti-capitalist orientation. The participation of the AFL-CIO had a big impact on workers in the U.S. Like any movement, that involves real people, it has strengths and weaknesses, but continues to move forward.
The Labor Movement
Our experience in the labor movement is that working people are angry about their conditions and want to struggle. The strikes against concessions at P-9, Austin, Minnesota, in the 1980's, and the lock-out at Staley in Decatur, Illinois in the 1990's are past symbols of this sentiment. Bitter and losing battles, these workers fought back militantly. They saw no other choice. These fight backs also exposed the shortcomings of unions and top bureaucratic leaders.
Today, union organizers know that this will to struggle, if cultivated, will lead to more workers joining unions. The strategy of many unions is geared towards organizing the lower sector of the working class, but the middle and upper sectors share this combative sentiment.
The role of the unions has been to "do business" in a way that gives the bosses much of what they want–concessions, givebacks, speed ups, pay cuts, workers paying for health insurance. This leaves workers distrustful and wary of unions. Some unions, with reform or left leadership, help workers fight the boss. These unions are the same ones with successful organizing strategies. Fighting back is the only way we will advance our class interests. Unions that do this on a consistent basis are class struggle unions. The 1997 Teamster Strike at UPS showed the future potential for this.
Two Steps Forward
In 1991, reformer Ron Carey won the presidency of the Teamsters Union with the TDU – Teamsters for a Democratic Union – as his backbone. Then in 1995, John Sweeney and the "New Voices" reformers took control of the AFL-CIO, an important event impacting all unions and promoting organizing the unorganized to halt union decline.
For two decades before this, unions and the labor movement had been spiraling down under corrupt AFL-CIO leadership. These were the leaders who purged the communists and radicals, and brought business unionism, corruption, and Mafia rule forward in the 1950's and 60's. They were the "Kings of Cooperation", selling out workers at every turn. Then Carey and Sweeney set the stage for the 1997 Teamster UPS Strike, the biggest strike in over thirty years, and a huge victory under the slogan "Shut Down, Big Brown!" Two steps forward, showing the potential of promoting workers' struggle. There was a big step back however.
One Step Back – The Rich Chase Down Carey
The ruling class response to the UPS strike victory was to launch a government investigation of Ron Carey, find a campaign funding violation, and blow it way out of proportion. This allowed Hoffa (backed by government agents and with ex-La Rouche fascists on his staff), and the Republican Party to smear Carey and overthrow him. Attacks and smears reached to the New Voices of the AFL-CIO too.
Hoffa's seizing the President's spot was a blow to rank and file Teamster reform. Teamsters for a Democratic Union, untouched by any wrong doing, is now leading the reform movement to elect Tom Leedham to the Teamster presidency. Leedham will put the power back into the workers' hands and deliver blows to the corrupt labor aristocracy that lords it over the rank and file. This will allow workers to demand what is rightfully theirs from the bosses and owners.
The Unions and the Labor Movement
The situation in the AFL-CIO is better than a decade ago, with unions like SEIU making tremendous changes, creating big gains. Unions that embrace reform are fighting bosses, organizing new workers, and growing. SEIU is now the biggest union in the country, while Hoffa has dropped the Teamsters to number four. Large enterprises and employer groups mean big strikes are still the basic tool of workers. Witness the SEIU/Justice for Janitors strikes of 2000; the various statewide nurses and hospital strikes; airline industry strikes (including the white collar strike at Boeing); the newspaper strike in Seattle; and of course, UPS in '97 and GM in '98. Some unions have been jolted into action by a "do or die" situation.
Like the Teamsters however, most unions are still in decline and their leadership needs change in fundamental ways if there is to be a definite turnaround in the labor movement. Union membership does not determine the level of class struggle, but like strike numbers; it is a way to measure whether things are moving forward. The private sector is at its lowest level since Hitler was defeated, while the public sector has seen small gains in new members. No big changes either way.
A Tired Electoral Strategy
In politics, the unions appear as a lap dog, all squeaky bark and no bite. The AFL-CIO begs from the Democratic Party, pouring millions down their sewer. Some of the only recent opposition they give the Democrats concerns reactionary protectionism in regards to China. Instead of reaching out to Chinese workers' common interests, U.S. unions portray them as our communist enemy.
Nader's anti-corporate campaign, and the indecision of the UAW and Teamsters in supporting Gore, did more to get Gore speaking out on workers' issues than all the money thrown at the Democrats. Finally, an initiative around the immigration rights of six million workers was brought forward and then downplayed during the presidential election. It has yet to reappear.
A Communist Approach
Our approach as communists continues to be to unite with the reform leaders of the AFL-CIO and local unions when we can, while initiating struggles with the boss and organizing for greater rank and file power. We want to transform the unions. At times this will butt up against the unity we have with reform union officials. We build militant minorities at the work places to do battle with the boss and to reform the union, and we also raise class consciousness of the workers, study Marxism-Leninism, and build units for leadership of the class struggle. There are 2 fights in the trade union movement: against the boss and against union leaders who collaborate with management
We need to put our unions on a class struggle basis. We stand for unions of, for, and by the workers, that take up the fight against the discrimination and stand for equality. We need to put an end to the situation where many of the unions are little more than businesses run for the benefit of bureaucrats. We recognize that the Sweeney AFL-CIO leadership has taken control of the institutions of unions at many levels and are making changes. They have not yet succeeded in turning around the decline in workers' conditions and much more is needed if we are to beat back the capitalist attacks. Attacks will be brutal with an economic downturn and Bush in the White House. We want class struggle, not cooperation.
Seattle and the Unions
Seattle created a new context for the union movement. Many workers now voice disgust with corporate control and world environmental damage. Sweeney and the AFL-CIO mobilized the largest part of that protest. Sweeney's boldness in joining the protest and in contributing to the motion that led up to Seattle are important changes for the AFL-CIO. This goes back to the fight against NAFTA; cross border solidarity with workers in Mexico, including those in the Maquiladoras; new organizing among immigrant workers; and union support, especially from UNITE for United Students Against Sweatshops. Seeing U.S. unions act as part of the worldwide anti-globalization front is a whole new reality.
The movement that erupted in Seattle is a culmination of efforts by the working class here and internationally, together with their allies, to resist capitalists. The anti-globalization movement focuses on the human misery caused by the IMF/World Bank/WTO assault on the poorer nations of the world. The polarization of wealth has created a protest movement against it. It is a truly worldwide movement.
Struggles Of the Unemployed/Underemployed Sections of the Working Class
Back in 1994, FRSO recognized that the struggle of the lower sector of the working class would intensify in the future, as polarization occurs and the exploitation of workers intensifies. Clinton's "Welfare Reform" laws hit the masses of poor, low-wage workers and large parts of the oppressed nationality communities hard.
Resistance to the attack on welfare included a nationwide day of protest. Some cities saw militant protests by the urban poor, but the fight back is uneven. Twenty-five years of anti-welfare propaganda by ruling class mouthpieces and the creation of low-pay, no-benefit jobs has helped produce public sentiment to support attacks on welfare.
We are opposed to time limits on welfare, hold that benefits should be raised, support the right to education, and oppose any attacks which single out immigrants.
Most unions do next to nothing to support welfare, even though union jobs are being privatized and replaced by "welfare to work" workers, or prison labor on "work release". Some union leaders will not defend their own members, let alone unorganized workers! Compare this with France, Canada, or other countries where the unions led general strikes to defend the social safety net. All workers will benefit from a union movement that can unite with the demands of nonunion workers. Unions need to build alliances with the organizations of the unemployed and underemployed.
The National Liberation and Oppressed Nationality Movements
Within the borders of the United States, national liberation struggles resist the exploitative and expansionist policies of United States imperialism.
We hold that the Chicano nation in the Southwest (Aztlan) and the African American nation in the Black Belt South are oppressed nations, and that communists have the responsibility to uphold and fight for the right to self-determination, up to and including separation (independence).
For Native Americans, and Hawai'ians, the primary demands have been for self-determination, land, cultural autonomy and language rights. For African Americans, Chicanos, Latinos and Asian Americans; equality, democracy and freedom have been the main political demands recently. This is reflection of the objective development of the national movements in this period.
Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. We support the movement for independence.
Class Forces In The National Movements
The national liberation movements are composed of various classes, though over 90% of oppressed nationality people within the U.S. are working people (proletarians). There is a small middle class (petty bourgeoisie) and a tiny exploiting class (bourgeoisie). The national movements within the U.S. generally unite all classes against national oppression, though collaborators and betrayers exist. The policy of FRSO is to organize the working class within the national movements to lead the fight for national liberation against imperialism and on to socialism.
The National Bourgeoisie
The interest of the national bourgeoisie is determined by their wealth. Their wealth comes from the ability to exploit their own people or act as an intermediary for the white ruling class. The national bourgeoisie of oppressed nations within the U.S. are small and seek control of dependent nations, or doubly oppressed peoples. They understand that without imperialism feeding off the blood of their own people, they would be stronger. So they resent the imperialists and tolerate them until the conditions are more favorable to assert national independence.
The Petty Bourgeoisie
The interests of the petty bourgeoisie vacillate between service to the existing order and independence. Their independence is little, tied mainly to the white bourgeoisie. The petty bourgeoisie lives in fear of falling into the proletariat, yet lacks either the ambitious drive or capital to join the bourgeoisie in exploiting the people directly. They wield social influence among the people, but lack real political or economic power.
The interest of the working people is solidly anti-imperialist as it is also anti-capitalist. Its strength lies in being the vast majority of the people and the fact that working people actually make society run. The key is to organize the working masses in order to realize the power they have to change the world.
Current Mass Struggle
'Race' was central to the United States becoming a global power. Today racist national oppression is reproduced as the U.S. ruling class faces long-term crisis and seeks higher profits. In recent years, we have seen a rise in national oppression through exploitation of and attacks on immigrants, "English Only" laws, criminalizing youth, slashing welfare, stealing land, and the theft of elections.
The oppressed nations and nationalities made big gains through civil rights and national rights struggles in the 1950's and 1960's. Since Reagan, these rights have come under heavy attack and rolled back affirmative action programs that expanded the petty bourgeoisie.
Gentrification pushes oppressed nationality communities out of inner cities and police brutality is the sharpest weapon in aiding this ethnic cleansing. The attack on the safety net disproportionately harms oppressed nationality families, women, and children. The false "War On Drugs" criminalizes oppressed nationality youth. The media uses racist code language and promotes stereotypes-welfare mother, affirmative action, quotas, drugs, gangs, drive by. Imprisonment of Black and Latino men has a huge impact on oppressed nationality communities.
FRSO's experience in the Black, Chicano, and Asian Movements has been at the grassroots level, at the level of day-to-day struggle. The interconnected demands for political power and consistent democracy are important in the respective liberation movements.
The Movement Against Police Brutality
In every city across the U.S., there are local and citywide anti-police brutality groups and coalitions, mainly organized by Black activists and ministers in response to hundreds of police murders since the beating of Rodney King. Turnout at protests by every oppressed nationality and immigrant group is building because of police brutality, frame-ups, and murder — as seen in the Black rebellion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Protests are more common because the police refuse to change, street activists agitate for action, and militants are providing leadership. The middle class leaders of the national movements often make deals with big city politicians, and the movement needs to develop class-conscious leaders. From a Black woman in L.A. shot dead for sleeping in her car, to Northwestern University football hero, Robert Russ, shot dead in Chicago for DWB, to Amadou Diallo filled with bullets by a New York City police death squad, the killing machine is systemic. The police are on a collision course with the masses of oppressed people, but oppressed nationalities will not be "kept in their place".
The people's resistance is becoming more and more politically focused with each passing act of brutality. There will be bigger outpourings of protest, like the tens of thousands in New York City, as groups form coalitions. More people will defend themselves from police attacks. People are fed up!
The Movement To Free Political Prisoners
The growing movement to free political prisoners has committees in every city and many college towns. Activists' education work, large protests, and hundreds of thousands of petition signatures have popularized the cases of Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier, who remain behind bars for crimes they did not commit. The Puerto Rican movement had big success with their amnesty campaign. As did the Asian American movement which won freedom for Wen Ho Lee despite the screams of right-wing racists in the State Department and Pentagon.
The Black Movement
The Black movement saw the largest mobilization of Black people in history during the Million Man March. Soon followed by the Million Women March. These massive mobilizations of Black people reflected the continuing consciousness and experience of Black people as a nationality. The message of the marches was not particularly towards political change, but the effect was to create more movement and organizing in Black communities across the U.S.
A Civil War between the new South and the old South continues to be waged. With statewide organizing by Black community coalitions, we see a number of racist rags ripped from the masts of State Capitols. Mississippi is holding out, with the voters forced to choose between one confederate flag and another. Black politicians and ministers protested and denounced Bush's sham election.
The Chicano/Mexicano Movement
The population of Chicanos, Latinos, and Central Americans in the Southwest grows along with their political organization and power. Elections are more and more important, especially to the middle classes. Chicanos have positioned themselves within California's state government and are eyeing the governorship and the mayor's office of Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest city. The masses of La Raza, by contrast, struggle to survive on low wages, poor working conditions, and remain connected with homeland issues. The recent embrace of immigrant workers by the AFL-CIO has been well received and unionization is growing significantly. Conditions of life have improved little, however. Social conditions and public services are still designed to be inferior. Uniting the ambitions of a growing petty-bourgeoisie and the masses of poor people in the fight against national oppression is a difficult challenge.
An Example – Chicano Community Organizing in LA
Over 50% of the students in Los Angeles Unified School District are Chicano, Mexicano, or immigrants from Central America. Education rights impacts 70% of the Chicano/Latino people in Los Angeles. The problems include dropout rates as high as 50%, overcrowding, use of substitutes as full time teachers, and poor resources. These conditions sparked a wave of organizing around the "anti-juvenile crime" measure Proposition 21 that sought to jail high school students for petty crimes. Many youth became politicized during this campaign, while progressive teachers within LA Unified Schools focus on the structural inequalities of the system. The Chicano petty bourgeois got involved after the ouster of the superintendent of schools Ruben Zacarias. These events have created favorable conditions to organize.
The Puerto Rican Movement
The Puerto Rican movement displayed the biggest outpouring of national sentiment in two decades during the 1998 general strike against corporate privatization/globalization. The national question is a class question. Last year the Puerto Rican Independista Movement scored a huge victory with several conditional pardons of Puerto Rican nationalist prisoners. Now, the Puerto Rican Movement has halted the Vieques bombings and elected a governor on the platform of opposition to the bombing of Vieques. Through persistent struggle, the Puerto Rican people have created good conditions for their movement for independence.
The Asian Movement
The Asian American National Movement continues to fight against national chauvinism through civil rights campaigns in the U.S. Freedom for Wen Ho Lee, anti-Asian violence, and work for documented immigrant rights has been the concentration of the mainstream, while the left has focused on solidarity with homeland struggles.
The Asian left is explicitly anti-imperialist and develops theory to apply in their practice. This new Asian left is in the beginning stages of coming together organizationally. The character of it is young, majority women, and Pan Asian (mainly Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, South Asian, and Vietnamese). The movement today is less tolerant of white chauvinism, sexism, homophobia, and heterosexism because of the active participation of many women and gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. The movement is located mainly in the community, not on the campuses, although many of the participants are students. There is also some participation of union staff organizers.
There are two different types of organizations in the Asian national movement: organizations of one nationality (e.g. Filipino, Korean, South Asian) where their main organizing is in supporting the anti-imperialist struggles of their homeland, and pan-Asian organizations.
In summary, the national movements are experiencing an increase in activity from 1997 to 2001 over the previous period 1994 to 1997. The political goals are self-determination, democracy, freedom, and equality. The movements are broad ideologically and currently led by the liberal, middle forces. The Left, however, is growing in level of organization. For the most part, the petty bourgeois and the proletarian forces do not work together. The base areas for the national liberation movements are being expanded. In the future, police brutality work and other locally organized grassroots struggles will likely be the primary locations of struggle. International solidarity is also important in the movement. The movements that are developing have a strong youth orientation and are open to multinational, coalition style political work around the issues. Following FRSO's last Congress, we undertook to build mass bases, create networks, and deepen organizing in the national movements.
The Environmental Movement
The environmental activists did the world a favor by helping to shut down the WTO Conference at the Battle of Seattle. They created huge waves of motion against imperialist globalization within the U.S. Corporations and governments are being exposed and people are coming out on the side of environmentalists. Concessions are being forced from the system. While the Contract on America and NAFTA attacked 30 years of gains through citizen action, it also created more struggles. Ralph Nader notes this as the reason why he ran as the Green Party candidate.
The Bush administration's decision to pull out of the Kyoto agreement to reduce emissions showed that the U.S. industrialists do not intend to cut their production of poisons if it means cutting into profits. The "pro-environment candidate" Gore came up with the insane idea that the U.S. could buy the pollution credits of Third World countries, but no one was buying his idea. The U.S. capitalists refused to reach agreement with the rest of the world. The pollution continues to kick out of the smokestacks, pour into the rivers, lakes, and oceans, and fill up the dumps. The Bush administration has generally handed over environmental policy over to the energy industries
The environmental movement has changed, with more and more of its grassroots leaders understanding imperialism and globalization, embracing social justice and fighting racism. It continues to grow and develop in a positive direction.
Students are organizing on class and economic issues like never before. Students are out to stop sweatshops, support workers rights, unionize teaching assistants, and fight globalization. The United Students Against Sweatshops has met with some success in the last few years. The struggle to stop Third World workers from being abused and to expose the big corporation's slimy policies has burned like a prairie fire across the U.S. Students have sat-in, gotten arrested, and gone to jail to stop workers from being exposed to dangerous work conditions and to support workers' being paid living wages. Many students are learning their most important lessons about college from these struggles and moving on to support union drives locally or becoming union organizers themselves.
The Graduate Employees Organizations have won many unionization drives for those who do most of the real teaching at colleges and universities. Wages, benefits, and working conditions are improving after 15 years of declining standards. Being a pro-union educator is no longer just solidarity for these TA's.
In the recent past, oppressed nationality students have organized protests in California against attacks on affirmative action and in NYC against cutbacks. This involved mostly Asian, Chicano/Mexicano, Black, Puerto Rican, and immigrant students. The recent California Prop 21 targets and criminalizes oppressed nationality youth. We are sure to see more racist attacks and more struggle with Bush in the White House.
The Battle of Seattle represented so much and never would have happened without the important role and militancy of college students and youth that poured onto the streets to shut down the World Trade Organization. The fight against imperialist globalization began in the Third World, but the whole world was watching as the protest developed over that weekend and then was carried to Washington D.C. and to the Democrat and Republican conventions.
Another important student movement has developed around shutting down the School Of the Americas (SOA). Started 10 years ago, the protest in Columbus, Georgia now gathers 10,000 people each year, including a wide range of students, mostly from religious based colleges. The protest seeks to shut down the U.S. military base where Latin American death squads and torturers are trained. This is the school of human rights abuses. The movement has grown by leaps and bounds and many students are learning about the bloody nature of U.S. imperialism.
Students also continue to be involved in stopping the sanctions and U.S. bombings of Iraq. Many also protested Clinton's bombing of Yugoslavia and breaking it up into little pieces for U.S. domination. Students are beginning to organize around U.S intervention in Colombia.
Conditions in Latin America, especially the northern part of South America, have created huge progressive and revolutionary movements. The big issue now is the U.S. sponsored war in Colombia, which involves U.S. advisers, pilots, training, and logistics support, along with a $1.8 billion aid package for Blackhawk helicopters and other high-tech equipment (not to mention the CIA, DEA, and other covert military operations). The U.S. is launching its counterinsurgency war to prevent the FARC and ELN guerrillas and their revolutionary supporters from seizing power. The conditions exist for a revolution in Colombia; it is a matter of organizing the people to make it successful in the face of direct U.S. intervention. Bush will continue Clinton's war policy in Colombia. Our duty is to build the anti-war movement and stop U.S. intervention.
Groups have done ongoing work to stop the U.S. sanctions against Iraq, to the embarrassment of the Democratic party. The U.S. sanctions are finally crumbling under the weight of opposition from the rest of the world. Similarly, the opposition to the Yugoslav War was short-lived and intense, just as the war was. These two wars, along with the U.S. military interventions in Haiti, Yugoslavia, and Somalia in the early 1990's, caused confusion amongst anti-war forces in the U.S. Those without a solid understanding of U.S. imperialism bought the Democratic party's line and lies about "humanitarianism". For them, peace equals the absence of war, not the presence of justice. They do not understand that self-determination cannot exist when an imperialist country is occupying a socialist or Third World country. Under Bush, we may find these forces more willing to unite with us in opposing U.S. imperialism.
The Palestinian people are heroic and their children brave. They deserve the support of everyone opposed to injustice and war. Israel exists only because the U.S. needs it as a spur in the midst of all the oil producing countries. The Palestinian people are calling their new intifada the "War of Independence". This signifies that they are not looking for negotiations and deals that give them part of what belongs to them. The demand for a democratic, secular Palestine has renewed life with the current uprising. We should plan for a protracted struggle.
The U.S. appears to be everywhere it should not be — Colombia, Congo, Philippines, Korea, Cuba, Yugoslavia, Turkey, etc. The U.S. may bomb or invade any of these places, but we need to be prepared to take the streets and oppose U.S. war. Solidarity trips, of the type the Cuba Coalition and Venceremos organize, or the trips to Chiapas, Colombia, and the Philippines, should be encouraged across the country with all types of people.
The late 1980's and early 1990's saw the blossoming of a new wave of queer struggle. The AIDS epidemic led to a second wave of the lesbian and gay civil rights movement that changed GLBT life and U.S. society. Out of that movement came a "Queer" identity which is as much a political identity as a statement of sexual orientation and community allegiance. This identity developed from the AIDS struggle. That fight helped break down all types of barriers, cultural, family, school, work, marriage (the final straight domain), sexuality, and even the military.
The Queer Movement continues to be strong and diverse in its fronts of struggle. President Bush is no friend, and Clinton/Gore successfully channeled the lesbian and gay civil rights movement into the more narrow concern of gays in the military and the unspectacular "don't ask don't tell" policy. It is likely that the Bush presidency means a setback for the queer movement and an advance for the right. Like the women's movement, the contradictions of race and class, but also of gender, exist within this movement. The fight for transgender equality still needs to be fought not only within mainstream society but also within the queer community itself. The Queer struggle is weakened by the co-optation of its upper class leadership by the Democrats. Nonetheless, the impacts of the Queer Liberation struggles of the late 1980's and early 1990's are clearly apparent in moving the issue of queer rights to the mainstream.
For the next four years, women will organize protests, demonstrations, rallies, and defend their medical clinics from the far right and Bush. Already there are significant International Women's Day events in big cities where the tradition had quieted down. Grassroots organizing is heating up.
The women's movement drew inspiration from and was influenced by the civil rights and anti-war movements. The 1970's saw Roe v. Wade and the Equal Rights Amendment. The 1980's saw huge marches defending reproductive rights in D.C. and college campus "Take Back The Night" marches to defend women's rights to be free of male violence.
Today women continue the struggle for equality in the work place, helped in many ways by the affirmative action laws created as compromise with the civil rights movement. In many situations, these laws helped white women more than oppressed nationalities. Despite the efforts of the National Organization of Women in California, affirmative action has been rolled back, hurting especially Black and Latina working class women.
Black women organized a Million Women March in Philadelphia on October 25, 1997, to promote the leadership of women within the Black liberation movement. This followed the Million Man March which, while positive, promoted traditional male roles and the secondary role of women. The Million Women March was organized by grassroots activists from the top to bottom, and the main speakers were Winnie Mandela and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The march developed the idea and reality that African American women are equal partners and leaders.
The women's movement is composed of feminists and women from different classes, ethnic nationalities, and sexual preference. The unity of women that exists at times is fragile. The Democrats have co-opted the wealthier white women from this movement. The same class polarization in society is reflected within other movements.
Women continue to be the backbone of struggle in many people's movements — oppressed nationality, anti-imperialist, trade unions, welfare rights, independent politics, and queer liberation. Many new women continue to join the ranks, and will shape the future of the women's movement as they work.
1 This concentration of capital in the big capitalist powers may come as a surprise, since there is a view in many circles that all capital flows go to the Third World. Some individuals and organizations on both the right and the left have attempted to define globalization and neoliberalism as new phenomenon, distinct and separate from imperialism. In fact, these phenomenon are not new. Where they represent something particular to the last decade the difference is quantitative and not in any way fundamental. For this reason (and a number of others which make up the content of another entire paper) we prefer the use of the terms imperialism or imperialist globalization as the most accurate description.
2 1999 projected after-tax household income, Congressional Budget Office figures analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute.
3 Census Bureau – 1999 American community survey.
4 Left Business Observer
5 "…Uneven development and a semi-starvation level of existence of the masses are fundamental and inevitable conditions and premises of this mode of production (capitalism). As long as capitalism remains what it is, surplus capital will be utilized not for the purpose of raising the standard of living of the masses in a given country, for this would mean a decline in profits for the capitalists, but for the purpose of increasing profits by exporting capital abroad to the backward countries. In these backward countries, profits are usually high, for capital is scarce, The price of land is relatively low, wages are low, and raw materials are cheap. The necessity for exporting capital arises from the fact that in a few countries, capitalism has become 'overripe' and (owing to the backward stage of agriculture and the impoverished state of the masses), capital cannot find a field for 'profitable' investment. – "Imperialism, The highest stage of capitalism" V.I. Lenin, pp. 73 & 74