The plundering of the South's natural resources, which is demanded by the pursuit of the model of wasteful consumption to the exclusive benefit of the North's affluent societies, destroys any prospect of development worthy of the name for the peoples in question and therefore constitutes the other face of pauperisation on a worldwide scale. The ‘energy crisis’ is the product of the will of oligopolies and a collective imperialism to secure a monopoly of access to the planet's natural resources. I deduce from this that the pursuit of the expansionist strategy of the late capitalism of oligopolies will inevitably clash with the growing resistance of the nations of the South.
The current crisis is therefore neither a financial crisis nor the sum of multiple systemic crises but the crisis of the imperialist capitalism of oligopolies whose exclusive and supreme power risks being questioned once more by the struggles of the entire popular classes and the nations in the dominated peripheries, even if they are apparently ‘emerging markets’. This crisis is also at the same time a crisis of US hegemony. Taken together, the following phenomena are inextricably linked to one another: the capitalism of oligopolies, the political power of oligarchies, barbarous globalisation, financialisation, US hegemony, the militarisation of the way globalisation is operated in the service of oligopolies, the decline of democracy, the plundering of the planet's resources, and the abandoning of development for the South.
FROM ONE LONG CRISIS TO ANOTHER
The financial meltdown in September 2008 is part of the long unfolding of the crisis of an ageing capitalism, begun in the 1970s. Industrial capitalism, which was triumphant in the nineteenth century, entered a crisis from 1873 onwards. Profit rates dropped and led to a period of globalised domination of the capital owned by the financialised monopolies. The dominant discourses of that time praised colonisation (‘civilising mission’) and described globalisation as synonymous with peace, earning the support of the workers' social democracy.
The period following and lasting beyond the Second World War was the period of ‘wars and revolutions’. In 1920, the Russian Revolution had been isolated following the defeat of the hopes of revolution in central Europe. The ‘long twentieth century’, 1873-1990, is therefore both the century of the deployment of the first systemic and profound crisis of ageing capitalism and that of the first triumphant wave of anti-capitalist revolutions (Russia, China) and the anti-imperialist movements of Asia and Africa. The second systemic crisis of capitalism began in 1971. It started with the abandonment of the gold convertibility of the dollar, and was followed by the collapse of profit rates, investment levels and growth rates. Capital responded to the challenge as in the previous crisis, by a double movement of concentration and globalisation. This new ‘belle epoque’ was from the onset accompanied by war, the war of the North versus the South, started in 1990. Just as the first financialised globalisation had led to 1929, so the second produced 2008. Today we have reached this crucial moment, which announces the probability of a new wave of ‘wars and revolutions’. This is even more so since the ruling powers do not envisage anything other than the restoration of the system as it was before the financial meltdown.
CRISIS OF CAPITALISM OR CAPITALISM IN CRISIS?
Contemporary capitalism is first and foremost a capitalism of oligopolies in the full sense of the term. This globalised financialisation expresses itself by a transformation of the ruling bourgeois class, which has become a rent-capturing plutocracy. The oligarchs are not only Russian, as is too often presumed, but rather and much more so American, European and Japanese. The decline of democracy is the inevitable product of this concentration of power for the exclusive benefit of the ‘oligopolies’.
The new form of capitalist globalization is the passage from imperialisms (those of the imperialist powers in permanent conflict with each other) to the collective imperialism of the triad (the USA, Europe and Japan). The first crisis of profit rates led to the armed conflict begun in 1914, which continued through the peace of Versailles and then the Second World War until 1945.
In contrast, the second wave of oligopolistic concentration, begun in the 1970s, constituted itself on totally different bases, within the framework of a system, which I have described as the ‘collective imperialism?’ of the triad. In this new imperialist globalisation, the domination of the centres is no longer exercised through the monopoly of industrial production (as had been the case hitherto) but by other means (the control of technologies, financial markets, access to the planet's natural resources, information and communication, weapons of mass destruction, etc.)
The real battle is fought on this decisive ground between the oligopolies who seek to produce and reproduce the conditions that allow them to appropriate the imperialist rent and all their victims - the workers of all the countries in the North and the South, the peoples of the dominated peripheries condemned to give up any perspective of development worthy of the name. I have described the new globalisation which is being built as an ‘apartheid at the global level’, covering as it does the militarised management of the planet which perpetuates in new conditions the polarisation which cannot be dissociated from the expansion of the ‘really existing capitalism’.
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