Eighteenth IMCWP Held at Hanoi
THE Communist Party of Vietnam hosted the 18th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties, which was held for the first time in a socialist country, from October 28-30. The theme of the meeting was, “Capitalist crisis and imperialist offensive - strategy and tactics of the communist and workers’ parties in struggle for peace, workers’ and peoples’ rights, socialism.” M A Baby, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and head of the international department attended the meeting. Below we publish extracts of the CPI(M) intervention at the meeting.
As we had been discussing for the past few years, the global capitalist system continues to remain in crisis. The World Bank in its Global Economic Prospects Report (June 2016) states that the world's economy is still struggling to regain momentum. It has downgraded its growth projection of January 2016 by 0.5 points ie, from 2.9 to 2.4 in July 2016, stating that the global 'headwinds' had been consistently underestimated in the recent years. The exuberance displayed by many world powers in declaring that the world is out of recession is also a reflection of this underestimation. In this background, it warns that the balance of risks for the global economy are increasingly tilted towards the downside.
On the other hand, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised concerns over ballooning global debt that has reached 225 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and warned that it could lead to yet another financial crisis. Two-thirds of it consists of liabilities of the private sector which carry great risks and as the IMF itself states, 'excessive private debt is a major headwind against the global recovery and a risk to financial stability'.
What had happened during these years of crisis is that while profits are soaring, peoples' incomes are falling. The Mckinsey Global Institute has estimated that during the course of the eight years of present crisis, 81 percent of the US population are in net income brackets that continued to remain flat or declined. Similar figures for Italy were 97 percent, for Britain 70 percent, France 63 percent and so on.
The 80 wealthiest people in the world, all together own $1.9 trillion, nearly the same amount shared by 3.5 billion people who occupy the bottom half of the world’s income scale. This clearly shows how the wealth is getting concentrated in few hands. The richest 1 percent of population controls nearly half of the world’s total wealth, a share that is also increasing. In almost all countries, the mean wealth of the wealthiest 10 percent of the population is more than 10 times of the median wealth; for the top one percent, it exceeds 100 times the median wealth in many countries; in the most unequal nations, it can approach 1000 times the median.
Another alarming feature is the increasing power of multinational corporations, which has reached a level ‘never before seen in human history’. According to a recent Report: “Today, of the 100 wealthiest economic entities in the world, 69 are corporations and only 31 countries. This is up from 63 to 37 a year ago. At this rate, within a generation we will be living in a world entirely dominated by giant corporations”. Further, the Report states that MNCs like Shell, Apple, and Walmart earn more revenue than the world's 180 'poorest' countries, a list that includes Ireland, Greece, Israel, South Africa and Colombia – combined.
Some of the trade agreements that the US wants to push through – the Trans Pacific Partnership pact (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – also showcase finance capital's preferential treatment to corporates over people.
Finance capital, which is enforcing a cut on social welfare in the name of 'austerity' is on the contrary encouraging an increase in the spending on military and defence. Except for the three years between 2011 and 2014, global military expenditure has never seen a fall. Data released by the NATO in July 2016 shows an increase of military expenditures by all the alliance partners put together. The spending by the alliance in 2016 is targeted to reach US $918 up from US $892 billion in 2015. The increased military spending is not only to cater to the needs of the military-industrial complex, but also to use its military arm as a threat to prise open the markets for resources and end products. It is with this objective that US led imperialism is intervening in all the regions of the world – whether it be West Asia, North Africa, Latin America, Asia-Pacific or the Korean Peninsula. These nefarious designs of imperialism should be resisted and fought back by strengthening our struggle for peace and people-to-people bonds of solidarity and friendship.
Thanks to imperialism and its rapacious plunder of natural resources, we are living in a time of 'uncertain destiny of human species', as Fidel Castro, calls it. A fraction of the monies spent on arms and armaments, if spent on developing sustainable models of alternative energy, the future of the world could have been much more safer. But here again profits are playing a key role in defining the priorities. As communists, we should take an active role in addressing the question of environment and in the survival of human race.
Contrary to projections, in India too there is an all round deterioration in people’s livelihood. The economy continues to plunge into a deeper crisis imposing greater burdens on the vast majority of our people. The country’s foreign policy is in shambles and importantly our social fabric is sought to be assiduously torn apart. Notwithstanding the claims of this government of high GDP growth, which is now officially estimated to be 7.1 percent this year, the ground realities suggest otherwise. That these figures are suspect, is now being confirmed by international agencies. The Financial Times has said that India’s GDP growth rate according to the earlier standard of measurement should be 4.3 percent.
The latest figures show that there is a serious crisis that has engulfed the Indian industry. The index of industrial production in July has registered a minus 2.4 percent growth, the manufacturing sector which is the crucial provider of employment has registered a growth of minus 3.4 percent. 12 out of the 22 main manufacturing industries have registered an absolute decline in growth.
The agrarian crisis continues to deepen. The real rural wages have been in the negative ie, saw a fall in absolute terms since October 2015. Peasants suicides are estimated to have gone up by 40 percent from 5,650 in 2014 to 8,000 plus in 2015.
Official figures estimate that urban unemployment in August was 11.24 percent and rural 9.18. As is well known these estimates are deeply flawed. The burdens on the people through price rise continues to intensify.
On the other hand, Indian corporates owe banks over a whopping $127,767 millions in terms of the loans that they had taken which are not being paid back. The top ten corporate groups owe $8623 million as of March 2016. The government is now seeking to wave off such loans or to restructure them. Such a huge loan waiver for the corporates is given down when the poor peasant is prosecuted for the meager loan of a few thousands and his property and cattle confiscated. It is this debt burden which is the main cause for growing peasant suicides.
In opposition to this sharp decline in the livelihood standards of the working people in the country and to safeguard the legitimate democratic rights of the working people and against these policies of neo-liberal economic reforms that this government is pursuing, the recent call for general strike given by the central trade unions evoked a widespread response in the country. Nearly 180 million workers have participated in the strike.
In order to ward off the growing discontent against the economic policies, religious intolerance and hatred are being sown in the society. Attempts are to divide the society on various lines of identity – religion, caste, ethnicity, nationality, etc.
Our Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is trying hard to expose the designs of the ruling classes and unite the people. Sustained, militant, class and mass struggles against the exploitative economic policies will be the basis on which we are trying to mobilise people on an alternate platform. Together with these, we are taking up the issues concerning education, health, culture and other myriad aspects that are directly under threat from the ruling classes. It is on this basis that we are putting in our best efforts to build a broad-based unity of all the Left and democratic forces. This unity can be built around a strong Communist Party. Towards this end we are concentrating all our efforts.
The ruling classes in our country have launched one of the most vicious attacks on our Party to physically and ideologically eliminate it. In Bengal, hundreds of our comrades are murdered, thousands are driven away from their homes and their properties are forcibly confiscated. Rape is used as a political weapon. Even in Kerala, where we are heading the provincial government, there is a planned attempt to murder our comrades and destabilise the government.
Throughout the country authoritarian trends are on the rise and attempts are on to curtail dissent and protest. Labour laws are sought to be amended to favour the corporates. Student rights too are sought to be curtailed in an attempt to depoliticise university campuses. It is in this overall background that the CPI(M) led Left governments in two provinces – Kerala and Tripura – are trying to project and provide an alternative before the people, being aware of all the limitations that the existing State structure imposes.
We are aware that resisting the attacks of the ruling classes on the people and building of a strong communist party should go hand in hand. As Comrade Ho Chi Minh had stated, it should be “building while fighting”, all the while “upholding the thorough revolutionary stand of the working class” and “keeping close contact between the Party and the masses”.
Ho Chi Minh identified “Capitalism and imperialism” as “very dangerous” enemies that need to be fought and defeated. This is a task that can be performed only by the communists. Of course, neither defeating capitalism nor building socialism is going to be easy. The Great October Socialist Revolution, whose centenary we are going to observe shortly had demonstrated this historical truth.
It is our unshakable faith in Marxism-Leninism and an iron will to fight and to win that should guide our struggle for a classless society.