US Imperialism: Aggressive Rhetoric, Declining Power
US President Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly could be dismissed as madman’s rants but this mad man is the leader of the strongest power on the earth. It appeared that Trump was not addressing a gathering of diplomats from across the world but his domestic constituency – white supremacists, unemployed and of course big business. Despite the lunatic streak in his ravings, Trump has been intensifying attacks on third world countries to force them to submit to US dictates. Trump wants these countries to buy more from America while America closes its markets to them and it means more sales of armaments. However, Trump’s thrust is being checked by other sections of US establishment, in some respects toning down his war rhetoric and in other cases blunting the edge of his attempted rapprochement with Russia.
Trump selected Govts. of North Korea, Iran and Venezuela for special attack though he did mention those of Cuba and Syria as well. He threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation while appreciating efforts by China and Russia on this issue. His threats were criticized by the leaders of the most countries who favoured that the issue be resolved through discussions. US secretary of state also admitted that US is opening negotiation channels with North Korea while US Army chief in his briefing to the Congressional Committee said that North Korean steps are because they perceive existential threat. US imperialism has been adopting aggressive postures towards North Korea since armistice at the end of Koran war. The real motive behind this sudden acceleration of threats by Trump is to keep South Korea firmly with US while large section of South Korean people want improvement of relations with North Korea. US and Japan are portraying threats from North Korea while the latter is only responding to provocations from them. Ruling classes in Japan too are trying to whip up hysteria on this issue to increase their attacks on working people and increase their defense spending. Hoping to benefit from the propaganda of danger from North Korea, Prime Minister Abe of Japan has gone for midterm polls.
North Korea is acting in self-defense and does not pose any threat to US, Japan and South Korea. However, they do not want to be dictated to by US. Moreover, North Korean leadership wants to keep the question of protecting their sovereignty in their own hands and do not want to depend on China. China on the one hand, does not support this stance of North Korea but it would also not like collapse of North Korea and US troops on its border.
Targeting Iran, Trump threatened to withdraw from the deal with Iran which P5+Germany had reached with Iran Govt. in 2015. Trump wants US Congress to re-impose sanctions. Based on the estimates of its intelligence agencies, Trump Admn. has till now been certifying that Iran is in compliance with the deal but he is threatening to pull out of the deal. Even the IAEA has been admitting full compliance by Iran of the provisions of the deal and rigorous nature of the inspections. However, the real issue is not nuclear weapons which Iran has repeatedly declared it does not want to build. Other signatories contend that the deal has postponed Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons by many years. The real issue is that US allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, do not wish to see a strong Iran. In fact Israel does not want any strong country in the Middle-East as they fear that such a situation will embolden Palestinians. They wish to weaken Iran and nuclear programme is just an excuse. Saudi rulers too fear that Iran’s strength challenges their rule in their own country and influence in the region. US imperialism in its drive to keep its control over the region is targeting Iran. On the other hand Iran is being supported by Russia and is increasing its influence in the region. As we have noted earlier, change in the stance of Turkey and Qatar has changed the dynamics of power relations in the region. Even Trump’s stance on Nuclear Deal with Iran has critics in US Congress and Admn. while Israel and Saudi Arabia are its strong supporters. Trump’s stance is also being opposed by European allies of the USA, Germany, France and Britain.
Indulging in vicious attacks against socialism, Trump attacked Venezuelan Govt. and threatened to impose sanctions. He also attacked Cuba.
Noteworthy was that Trump did not even mention the issue of Palestinians. This has been sharp departure from such addresses by US presidents over the past decades. In fact Trump’s address particularly dealing with Middle East bore deep stamp of Israel’s influence.
Elections in Germany
Continuing the trend in other imperialist countries, in Germany too, the ruling CDU-CSU alliance suffered a decline losing nearly 8.7% of the vote. European countries and European Union are facing a serious economic, social and political crisis. European countries are facing economic stagnation, even decline (though Germany has not been one of them) with unemployment at a high level and burden on the people increasing. European countries are also facing social crisis due to large scale influx of people from East European countries though refugees from Middle-East and Africa which have the victims of imperialist aggression are being made the scapegoat. These factors are leading to political unrest in European countries with an anti-establishment mood prevalent among the people. This mood is basically due to stagnant or declining conditions of the people but it is being utilized by xenophobic, anti-immigrant racist reactionary forces like Alternative for Deutschland (Afd) in Germany. This is happening in many other European countries as well. However where establishment is identified with conservative, rightist ruling class parties, this mood is favouring anti-neoliberal opposition either within ruling parties (like Corbyn led Labour) or even new parties with left programme like in Spain where such parties are opposing neoliberal policies particularly their adverse effects on working people. But there is a serious limitation to this mood. It seeks to see the solution to the present problems within the present system. Hence, there is very small movement toward revolutionary left.
The grand coalition of CDU-SPD led by Merkel, has intensified attacks on the working class and had imposed severe conditions on the European countries facing economic crisis. However, the grand coalition had favoured taking in refugees to an extent and took nearly one million last year. This was utilized by the rabid anti-immigrant fascist AfD. While CDU-CSU lost nearly 8.7% votes, AfD gained 8.5% votes to enter the parliament as third largest party. Another partner of the ruling coalition SPD lost 5.3% votes which were shared by Liberals, Greens and the Left Party. Decline of both the partners of the grand coalition demonstrated the widespread anger among the people. It also showed anti-people character of their rule.
In the rise of AfD, the support extended to this rabid anti-immigrant fascist outfit by the corporate media as well as sections of the administration and police force is also very significant. It demonstrates that ruling classes would like the people to go this anti-democratic party but remain within the system. AfD represents a fascist response to the growing crisis though yet dominant sections of bourgeoisie do not support it.
Amidst with deepening economic crisis in European countries, particularly in Spain, the independence aspirations of the region of Catalonia came to the fore again. The autonomous region of Catalonia Govt. conducted a referendum on October 1, 2017 which was not recognized by the Central Govt. and held unconstitutional by Supreme Court of Spain. Central Govt. obstructed conduction of referendum blocking the polling centres, dragging the polling staff, resorting to use of force in which hundreds were injured. Regional Govt. of Catalonia nonetheless organized the referendum in which nearly 43% voted with nearly 92% of them favouring independence. Central Govt. has refused to recognize the vote and has threatened Central Rule unless the regional govt. unequivocally revokes the declaration of independence which had been made after the referendum.
Yearning for independence is quite old in Catalonia. Not to go back much into history, Catalonia was the centre of republican forces fighting against fascist Franco prior to World War II and had been a centre of resistance to the fascist regime in the post-second war years. It is relatively prosperous region of Spain having 15% of the population and contributing 20% to the GDP of Spain. But leaders of autonomous Catalonia region want independence from Spain as they find greater opportunity as an independent member of European Union (EU). However, there is division among Catalonians on the question of seeking independence from Spain.
Catalonia referendum has been utilized by the Govt. of Spain to unleash chauvinist current to distract the people from deep economic crisis and rising burden on the people. Govt. of Spain is even refusing to engage with the leadership of autonomous community of Catalonia. Govt. of Spain will try to deflect people’s anger to its opposition to Catalonian independence.
Catalonia is not the only region in the West European countries. There are several of them where people have urge to seek independence. With deepening economic crisis and worsening conditions of the people and the need of the ruling classes to divert the people’s attention from its causes, many of these disputes are going to assume serious proportions.
Further Turmoil in the Middle-East : Referendum in Iraq’s Kurdish Region
Situation in West Asia was rendered even more complex with Kurdistan Regional Govt. holding a referendum on secession from Iraq on September 25, 2017. This referendum has alarmed the Central Govt. of Iraq along with Iran and Turkey where sizable number of Kurds live. Iraq Govt. has refused to recognize the referendum while Turkey has snapped links with Iraq’s Kurdish regional govt. Turkey has been the main conduit of oil exports of Iraq’s Kurdish region. Taking a stand against the referendum Turkey has established border controls of Iraq’s Kurdish region with Govt. of Iraq. Iran too has condemned the referendum. Only Israel has openly supported the referendum while US Govt. has complained of its timing.
Kurdish referendum would further deepen the Turkey-Iran engagement in the Middle-East while Russia would support this alignment. Though Russian oil giant Resneft has invested much in the oil industry in Kurdish region, keeping the larger context of its engagement in the Middle-East, Russia would support Iraq Govt. backed by Iran and Turkey. Iraq Govt. would be under pressure to act against the Kurdish regional Govt. even if the pressure is brought by US imperialism. Iran definitely supports the Iraq Govt. and its influence in Iraq would grow further. Russian military intervention in Syria and military successes of Assad regime, have changed the dynamics of the region and US writ does not any longer run unchallenged in the region. Kurds have relied too much on US imperialism and its dependence on Kurds in Syria but US is no longer in the position to impose its will.
As the war against Islamic State being waged by Russia, Iran and Syria on the one hand and US, Iraq and Kurds on the other has dealt definite blows against Islamic State which has lost major part of the territory under its control, the contention between US and Russia along with their allies to control maximum areas in Syria has intensified and eastern Syria has become the new theatre of their contention. US imperialism has flattened Raqaa and killed tens of thousands of civilians there in order to hasten victory there. Earlier in Mosul too, tens of thousands of civilians were killed by US and its allies. The western media has not highlighted these civilian casualties due to its support to war against terror. In Iraq, the contention between US and Iran backed by Russia has intensified with Iraq becoming the new battleground for this. Iraq Govt. is indulging in balancing act as different sections of the Govt. owe their allegiance to US and Iran.
Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan has also brought to fore fissures among Iraqi Kurds. Some parties including Patriotic Union of Kurds (PUK) have opposed the referendum mainly its timing. Of particular contention is the Kirkuk region which is outside the area of Iraq’s Kurdish regional Govt. but has been under its control since 2014 when Iraqi Army ran away in face of swift advance of the Islamic State. Such regions constitute nearly 45% of the area under the control of Kurdistan Regional Government. Kirkuk area is rich in oil having nearly a quarter of proven oil reserves of Iraq, a country with second largest proven oil reserves in the world. Govt. of Iraq would not acquiesce in Kirkuk becoming part of Kurdistan. Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan has further added to the complexity of the situation in the region.
Doklam Standoff resolved
In the CC meeting, we discussed the standoff between India and China on Doklam Plateau which is part of disputed areas between Bhutan and China. Before the BRICS summit in Xiamen (China) India withdrew its troops from the area which it had allegedly sent to prevent road construction by Chinese Army. Indian Govt. claimed the withdrawal to be a result of agreement between the two countries. China however, denied any agreement and claimed that India had withdrawn unconditionally. Indian Govt. has not disputed this statement from Chinese side which shows that Indian Govt. is hiding the true state of affairs. Indian Govt. and the pliable corporate media is showering praise on ‘tough’ stand taken by Modi Govt. without at all discussing the present state in the region. However, the real issue is that border between China and Bhutan should be demarcated between the two countries and India should play the role of facilitator rather than obstructing it. The Chinese side also maintained silence which shows that they consider business opportunities in India to be quite important.
Economic Slowdown Deepens
The economic growth rate has declined over five consecutive quarters and it dipped to 5.7% for the quarter ending June. BJP Govt. has changed the method of calculation of GDP and it is estimated that by old method it would be about 3.5 to 3.7%. Moreover, quarterly GDP is calculated on the basis of data from organized sector and extrapolated to unorganized sector. In case of special factors affecting unorganized sector especially demonetization and GST, this calculation is obviously faulty and the real growth rate will actually much less if at all. This economic slowdown has been much talked about in the media. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha also recently wrote about in Indian Express. What is clear that this slowdown is not temporary as claimed by Modi and his ministers but signifies deep seated causes. The two factors being highlighted by the ruling class commentators are the continuous decline in private investment over the last two years and rise in NPAs which have reached nearly 10% of the banks outstanding loans and nearly 13.8% in case of PSBs. Banks are short of capital leading to decrease in lending by banks. The debate in the ruling class media is being confined to these questions. But the underlying questions are not being raised. Why there are rising NPAs? Why private investments are declining? In fact there has been sharp decline in manufacturing (last quarter figure is only 1.2%), slowdown in construction industry and lower growth in services. The real question is demand deficit. But the ruling class politicians and commentators confine this debate into a narrow confine of fiscal and monetary policy without touching the underlying causes. Ruling classes of India are not addressing the question of raising domestic demand i.e. purchasing capacity of peasants, workers and broad masses of the people. On the other hand, demand in foreign markets is in stagnation and there is not much chance of any sharp change in that in view of slow growth and protectionist trends. Ruling class politicians are evading this cardinal question only focusing on demonetization and GST. These two measures were definitely anti-people and taken in the interest of foreign and domestic corporate. These measures worsened the already bad situation. Economic growth in the two quarters before demonetization had declined. Demonetization further worsened the trend. GST was enacted to increase tax revenue and curb the fiscal rights of the states. It sought to further increase tax burden on the people and was against the unorganized sector in the interest of corporate. Now the Govt. is talking about decreasing the GST on some items due to sharp struggles of traders and entrepreneurs in Gujarat which is going to polls in a short period. The economic slowdown has spurred even corporate media and Modi Govt. has faced criticism in the last three weeks what it had not faced in the past three years.
This downturn/stagnation has resulted in steep job losses. “Textile to capital goods, banking to IT, start-ups to energy, the economy’s downward spiral is leaving a trail of job losses across both old and new economy sectors.” Indian Express (October 2, 2017) According to the report, 67 textile units shut down between 2015 and 2017 resulting in 17,600 workers losing their jobs. Exports constitute 40% of the production in textile and apparel sector. Garment exports have risen only 0.21% over the last year while domestic demand is subdued. Most of these units are in the powerloom sector while data on the closure of textile units in the decentralized sectors is not available. GST has particularly hit hard the SMEs in textile hubs like Surat, Bhiwadi and Ichalkaraji.
Capital goods major Larsen & Toubro have cut 17,000 jobs in six months ending March 2017. Capital goods sector is struggling as downstream sectors suffer from low demand. Even major IT companies like TCS, Infosys and Tech Mahindra have cut jobs. HDFC banks cut jobs by 6,096 in January-March 2017 having cut 4,581 jobs in the preceding quarter. According to Indian Express report, renewable energy sector which the Govt. claims to be one of the thrust areas, suffered job losses with Wind Gear supplier Suzlon Energy Ltd. and turbine maker ReGen Powertech have retrenched well over 1500 employees. A total of 212 start-ups, another propaganda mascot of Modi Govt., have shut shop in 2016 which is 50% higher than in the previous year.
The underlying basis of this slowdown which is an expression of deepening economic crisis- agrarian industrial crisis- should be exposed. Without addressing the problem of low demand, it is not possible to address this crisis in the long run. For this purchasing capacity of peasants should be improved and that can be done only by carrying out thorough land reforms and increasing the margin for peasantry i.e. between cost of inputs and prices of produce. To improve the purchasing power of the workers, contractualization must be stopped and well paying permanent jobs must be created. To address this crisis, welfare schemes should be further developed and expenditure on health and education should be increased many fold. The ruling classes with their focus on corporate profits will not do this. The developing movements must bring this aspect on the agenda so that struggle for new democratic revolution is strengthened.
The impact of Govt. policies is being felt by all sections of people. Peasantry is badly affected. If their crops are bad they suffer and if their crops are good then also they suffer because the prices collapse. The agrarian distress which continuously affects landless and poor peasants including share-croppers is also affecting middle peasants and even rich peasants. The terms of trade between agriculture and industry are being further changed against the agriculture. Ruling classes want to decrease the number of people dependent on agriculture without providing any alternate employment. They are being robbed of their existing world without giving a new. The situation is good for the emergence of a powerful peasant movement.
The problem of employment is worsening. Any way ruling classes were pursuing the model of jobless growth and now with slowdown, situation will be worse. While creation of permanent jobs is any way in decline, the creation of any employment is also only one sixth of those becoming eligible for jobs. Modi Govt.’s promise on jobs like its other promises has fallen flat. There is a good prospect of developing a movement for jobs.
Modi Govt. is serving the foreign and domestic corporate and have no concern for the people of the country. There is increasing inequality in India since the implementation of new economic policies and its pace has quickened under Modi Govt. The share of top 1% in the national income has risen from 6% to 22% over the last three decades while the share of lower half of the population has declined from 24% to 15% over the same period.
There is declining per capita availability of food as well growing hunger and starvation in the country. Rather than addressing this growing problem, Modi Govt. is bent on dismantling PDS and further deprive availability of food to the vast sections of people.
Killing of Gauri Lankesh and Communal Drive
Gauri Lankesh, a fearless journalist who supported the people’s struggles including those led by communist revolutionaries, who wrote and worked against Hindutva bigotry and attacks against minorities and Dalits, and who was a supporter of legacy of Basavanna in favour of treating Lingayats as separate religion, was gunned down outside her house on September 5, 2017. Her killing followed the similar killings of rationalist Narendra Dhabolkar, progressive writer & CPI leader Govind Pansare, writer Prof. M.M. Kulburgi. All these intellectuals exposed Hindutva brand of politics. This killing aroused wide anger among the different forces. A big demonstration was held on September 12 at Bengaluru. All India and state level committees have been formed to organize protests in different parts of the country as well as centrally.
Gauri Lankesh killing has further exposed the real fascist character of RSS and its affiliates. Not only BJP MLA openly admitted the link of her killing with her writings against RSS, Prime Minister Modi himself has been following accounts of many who wrote hate mails hailing her murder. Even after comments in the media, Mr. Modi has not discontinued following them.
Even as the activities of RSS cadres in the name of ‘Gau Raksha’ are being exposed, RSS chief has come out in defence of these elements as these are none other than RSS activists and their murderous activities are part of the RSS design to deepen communal division in the country by targeting Muslims.
BJP Conspires with Dera Sacha Sauda
Killing of more than 41 supporters of the Dera on August 25 in Panchkula after Dera Chief Gurmeet Singh was pronounced guilty by the CBI Court in two rape cases showed a deep seated conspiracy between RSS-BJP and Dera chief. More than a lakh dera followers were allowed to assemble in Panchkula close to court premises, non-enforcement of section 144 despite court order, no action despite intelligence reports of collection of inflammable material by Dera functionaries. The conspiracy was to pressurize and terrorize the Court by a huge gathering and to free the Dera Chief if that fails. Commandos appointed by the state govt. along with Dera officials were to free him. Punjab & Haryana High Court not only foiled this conspiracy but also exposed the RSS-BJP game plan. The High Court spoke of collusion between BJP Govt. and Dera prior to the pronouncement of judgment and after Panchkula violence charged the state govt. for allowing burning of the city due to political considerations. A detailed comment on this has already been published in ND, September 2017.
BJP Govt. attacks girl students in BHU
Yogi Adityanath’s RSS-BJP Govt. of UP unleashed a massive violence against girl students of Benares Hindu University (BHU) who were protesting against lack of security for girl students. Though that incident became the precipitating point, the discontent among students was brewing for some time. A large number of students were injured in the lathicharge and a number of false cases were framed against them.
This attack by RSS-BJP Govt. is part of the series of attacks on students and teachers of institutions of high learning. The aim of these attacks is to terrorize the students and crush their spirit of enquiry and dissent. BHU has been added to the list of the universities like JNU, HCU, Jadavpur University, IFFI Pune etc. RSS-BJP leaders are forgetting the lesson of history that whosoever suppressed the students came to grief. Students’ struggles deserve the support of all the democratic, progressive and revolutionary forces.
Attacks on Kancha Illiah Condemned
Hyderabad based well known intellectual and writer Kancha Illiah has been under the attack. Death threats have been issued to him and attack has been made on his car while he was travelling. These attacks and threats are ostensibly at the printing in Telugu as a booklet a chapter of his 2009 book. These attacks and threats display upper caste chauvinist mindset which do not tolerate any enquiry or writing about their role in society in the past or present. On the other hand, a number of books demeaning Dalits and oppressed castes are being freely published and even revered. These attacks and threats must be strongly condemned as an attack on the democratic rights.
Politburo also noted the growing attacks on the democratic rights by the Central and various state Govts. As people’s anger and dissatisfaction increases, the Govts. are trying to decrease the avenues of the expression of this. There are attempts to bar protests at Jantar Mantar which had been allowed after protests were barred at the Boat Club and India Gate. Now even this site is being taken away. In Telengana, KCR Govt. has barred holding protests at Indira Park which had been venue of protests since long. Similar curbs are being placed in other states as well.
Politburo, CPI(ML)-New Democracy
October 5, 2017