Date: Saturday 25th July
Time: 13:00 - 19:30 (London time)
The year 2020 will enter the annals of history as a decisive turning point. The coronavirus pandemic, the economic collapse and the corresponding wave of popular anger and revolts have brought all the contradictions in capitalist society to the surface. Millions of people are questioning the status quo as never before, and the inspiring popular uprising in the USA is the harbinger of battles to come. The system has revealed its total bankruptcy, and despite the fervent desire of the ruling class for a return to normality, nothing will ever be the same again. We are witnessing the first stages of world revolution. Only the ideas of Marxism can offer a way out for humanity and prepare the way for the final victory of socialist revolution. Our speaker, Alan Woods, is the editor of the In Defence of Marxism website and author of a long list of books on Marxist theory.
Alan: There are moments in world history which are moments of fundamental change. We are currently living in just such a moment. It always occurs that in such times, people tend to look for historical parallels and analogies. You know, it’s like 1929 or it’s like the Great Depression or it’s like 1917 or whatever. We feel a kind of psychological comfort when we establish such parallels. We feel that we are somehow standing on solid ground. Unfortunately, now we are not standing on solid grounds at all because there’s absolutely nothing in history of the last centuries that bears the slightest resemblance to the situation which we now face on a world scale. The Bank of England recently said that this is the deepest crisis for the last three hundred years. I mean, that’s saying quite a lot. Three centuries. Quite a long time, you would think. But even this is an insufficient parallel. If you’re going to look for a serious historical parallel to the present situation, you would have to go back, in my opinion, to the 14th century, to the Black Death, which killed nearly half the population of Europe. You know, people then must have believed that they were living through a nightmare. It was a nightmare. And many people fervently believed that the end of the world had come, that the end of the world was approaching. They believed this.
Now, in historical retrospect, we can say that it was not the end of the world that was approaching. It was the demise of a particular socioeconomic system called feudalism. And actually, the Black Death, you may not realize, that the Black Death played a material role in hastening this process. That’s perfectly true. So we can say that there’s a certain parallel there, I would think, although it’s true to say of course that we have not yet, not yet at least, approached numbers of people killed that approach these frightful figures of the Black Death, that’s true. But the coronavirus pandemic, it exceeds the Black Death, to start with, by colossal global reach. And actually, nobody knows how many people have died of this terrible disease so far. The governments systematically lie and construe the figures and distort the figures. But we can be certain that the figures of deaths will reach more than a million by the end of the year. That’s absolutely certain. And the pandemic is still raging out of control, especially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but also in the United States, which after all is the richest country in the world.
Now, it is important to point out one thing, which is generally not understood. The coronavirus pandemic is not the cause of the present economic crisis, although it has undoubtedly complicated the whole situation and enormously deepened the crisis, well that’s correct. But the capitalist system, if you look at the figures, was already in a state of crisis before this disease took a grip. The slowdown in China was already existing well before this and in general there was a decrease in all kind of economic indices. That was quite plain. The trade war between China and America already existed and was getting worse, so capitalism was already heading toward a crisis, a serious crisis, well before this.
But of course, the pandemic now adds to this in a very important way. Dialectically speaking, cause becomes effect and effect becomes cause and that’s what you see. An enormous downward spiral now is taking place, which they can’t control. And this situation, as I say, is quite unique. You will not find anything like this, ever. The first difference with the past, which I would emphasize, is the enormous – the breath-taking speed of events, the breath-taking speed of the economic collapse, for example. After the Wall Street economic financial crash of 1929, it took several years for mass unemployment to really take a hold of the United States. Now, it took only 15 days for the US stock market to fall by 20%, which is the fastest decline ever seen in history. And with a matter of months or even weeks, unemployment in the USA already reached the astonishing figure of forty million. Forty million people unemployed in the United States.
This situation has taken the strategists of capital, starting with the bourgeois economists, completely by surprise. They’re stunned. The economists have shown a complete – yet again, not the first time or the second time, yet again – they’ve shown a complete inability to understand what is occurring, let alone provide a solution to the crisis. The economic forecast, so called, of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are completely useless for the simple reason that nobody can predict the outcome of the present coronavirus pandemic. The only thing with which we can predict with absolute confidence is that the situation will go from bad to worse. That is certain. In 1938, the great Marxist, Leon Trotsky, referred to the ruling class of the world, and I quote, “tobogganing to disaster with their eyes closed”, and this is precisely the position we see at the present time. And this is something different, if you think about it, it is something quite different. It’s a different situation now.
In the past, even in moments of deep crisis, such as economic slumps or wars, people felt – at least they felt – that the government, if it didn’t exactly control the situation, at least it had some sort of a plan to get out of the crisis. Now today, that’s evidently not the case. You know, there’s an old saying. It’s in English, anyway. I don’t know if it exists in other languages. “The people get the government which it deserves”. Now that is not actually correct, but what is perfectly true is that at the present time, the ruling class of the world has got the government that it deserves, most definitely. We have the holy trinity, or the unholy trinity I should say, of Donald Trump in the USA, Boris Johnson in Britain, and Bolsonaro in Brazil. What do these people represent? They’re a personification of the complete intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie in this stage of its senile decay, that’s what they represent. It’s a very pessimistic picture that faces the bourgeoisie, but in order to console themselves somehow, the economists are now predicting that “don’t worry because after this crisis is over, there is going to be a powerful recover, a rebound”, they say. This is a complete illusion. It’s a dream. You see, let’s look at the facts. In order to prevent an immediate collapse of the capitalist system, governments have poured trillions of dollars into the economy just to keep it alive. This, of course, it has succeeded, we have to admit, in preventing an immediate collapse, yes. But at what cost? And what are the costs for the future?
The effect of this is quite clear. They’re piling up a mountain of debt, and debts, believe it or not, sooner or later must be paid. And the question is very simple. Who is going to pay? That’s the question nobody wants to ask, but it is the fundamental question. By the way, it’s the same question, to draw a historical analogy, this is the same question that started the French Revolution and the English Revolution. Huge public debts and the question of who’s going to pay when the nobility and the clergy refuse to pay. The fat cats refuse to pay then and be sure that they’ll refuse to pay now also. And that started the revolution in England and in France.
It is quite clear what’s going to happen. The full weight of the crisis will be placed on the shoulders of those least able to pay – the poor, the old, the sick, the unemployed, the working class and the middle class also will be hit. And this is a finished recipe for class struggle, for revolutionary class struggle, for all countries, for every country in the world without question. That’s the real perspective. It is a perspective of world revolution, yes.
You think I’m exaggerating. Well, let me call a witness for the defence. The more thinking representatives of the ruling class are already coming to the same conclusion as the Marxists. I could give many examples. Let’s just call one for the lack of time. Please write this down. A couple of months ago, the Financial Times wrote the following, and I quote: “A return to austerity would be madness, an invitation to widespread social unrest, if not revolution.” I repeat, if not revolution, they’re clear on this, and a godsend for the populous, a present for the populous. Populous is the world they use for anyone they don’t like. In other words, the serious representatives of capitalism understand that revolution is implicit in the whole situation and they’re not mistaken. Karl Marx said, “social being determines consciousness”, that’s what he said.
What we see now is very interesting, the lighting speed of change of consciousness. This applies to all classes in society by the way, starting at the top. Crisis of the bourgeois, black pessimism of the strategists of capital. Pessimism also of the petty bourgeoisie, expressed in that other pandemic, which has a terrible effect on the universities, which has killed every single university in the world. It’s a terrible disease. No vaccine will ever be found for this. It’s called postmodernism, but we’ll leave that to one side. I think it will be dealt with in other sessions of this school. But for the Marxist, of course, the most important change of consciousness is the consciousness of the working class. And this, of course, does not proceed in a straight line. For a long time, it lags behind the objective situation – that we know. But sooner or later, it catches up, and it catches up with a bang. And that’s precisely what a revolution is and we see that taking placed now, at least the beginnings of it.
Everywhere you look, you see a growing discontent, anger, fury, and hatred of the existing order. Everywhere you look. When I say all countries, I mean all countries and we have a very striking example taking place right now with the mass demonstrations taking place on the streets of Israel, of all countries. But of course, the most graphic expression is the movement that took place and is still taking place in the United States of America. And it seems as if this movement came from nowhere, like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky, but this movement did not come from nowhere. As they say, nothing comes from nothing. It was the result of decades and generations of exploitation, oppression, poverty, bad housing, racism, police violence and so on. It was sparked off, as you know, by the brutal police murder of George Floyd. But that’s an explanation which explains nothing. There were many murders like that that took place over many decades without provoking any similar protests, but dialectics teaches us that there’s a certain point that quantity becomes transformed into quality. For millions of poor people in the USA, the murder of George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The tipping point, if you like to use that expression.
And what’s absolutely amazing about the situation in the United States is the lightning speed with which the events unfolded. There was an immediate eruption, an immediate reaction. In Minneapolis, for example, where the whole thing started, the police were forced to flee from a crowd of angry demonstrators who proceeded to burn down the precinct, the police station. I don’t believe there’s been anything remotely like that on that scale in the whole of recent American history. I don’t think so. And it’s almost as if there was a giant invisible hand which suddenly moved similar demonstrations all over America. Simultaneously, perhaps.
Now listen, this is concrete proof of dialectics in action and it is the final answer to all those wretched sceptics, pessimists, cowards, and renegades, there are too many of them, who argue that the working class would never move, and least of all, of course, in the United States. We have the spectacle of the most powerful man in the world, Donald Trump, cowering in the cellars of the White House out of fear of the demonstrators. He thought they would break into his hidey hole. Now, he thinks he can control the movement by sending in the troops, despite the fact that all his advisors, including the Pentagon, have warned against this. Just look at what’s happening right now on the streets of Portland. Violent demonstrations, violent clashes with the police. It’s almost like civil war on the streets. You know, sometimes I think that we should send a telegram of congratulations to Donald Trump and thank him very sincerely for doing our work for us so effectively. To put your minds at rest, that’s just a joke, by the way, but it remains a fact that Donald Trump now, whether he likes it or not, is unconsciously serving as an agent promoting revolution very effectively in the United States.
Now, we should not exaggerate. We should never exaggerate, comrades. We must adopt a – always keep a cool head. If you ask me, “Is there a revolution in the United States today?” I answer no, of course there’s not a revolution. But if you ask me if something fundamental is changing in the USA, I answer emphatically yes, oh yes. This is a turning point. A turning point in the history of the USA. A turning point in world history because the USA my friends is not just any country, is it? It’s a key country in the world.
And what do these events in the USA, what do they show? I’ll tell you what. It shows the enormous power of the working class once it starts to move. Power of the masses, if you like, because it’s not just the workers. Many sections are involved. By the way, not just blacks, but whites as well. And what this shows, what this shows us, is that there is a power in society which is more powerful than the strongest state army or police force. And by the way, there are serious splits in the ruling class as a result of this. Serious splits. Even with the army, serious splits. And Lenin explained that splits in the ruling class is the first condition for a revolution, actually. That is quite true, but there’s a problem here, not just in the USA, but there’s a general problem, and it’s a central theme which should occupy the mind of every comrade which attends this school today. On the one hand, you see the tremendous power of the spontaneous movement of the masses, that’s perfectly true, and that’s the prior condition for all revolutions, actually. The movement of the masses. Yes, but in and of itself the spontaneous movement of the masses is not sufficient to guarantee the success of the revolution. Never sufficient. What is required is an organization and a leadership that is capable of showing the way forward, and unfortunately, that is precisely what is lacking in the USA, in Israel, in Britain, in France.
Wherever you look, it’s the same story. In India and so on, of course. Nevertheless, the crisis is a deep global crisis. It affects every country in the world. Let’s take China as an example. Until recently, China was one of the main motor forces driving the world economy in the last period, but dialectically, things turn into their opposite. China is no longer seen as part of the solution, it’s a big part of the problem. China has built a formidable industry with a large productive capacity. Yes, but the internal demand in China is not sufficient to absorb this colossal productive capacity. China must export to survive, but its success in the field of exports, for example, companies like Huawei, have provoked a furious response, particularly from the USA, where Trump is pursuing his policy of “America first”. His slogan is “let’s make America great again”, but he forgot to add the second part of the sentence – “at the expense of the rest of the world”. Now he’s imposed severe tariffs against China, against Huawei, yes, but he's also at war in that sense with Europe. And economic nationalism, now that’s the name of the game. That’s the predominant tendency now. The trade war between the USA and China is a symptom of this phenomenon. And this protectionism threatens the whole delicate, fragile fabric of world trade that was painfully put together in the decades following the Second World War. This threatens the capitalist system with a complete catastrophe. A deep slump far, far more serious than the depression of the 1930s. That’s the real perspective.
The consequence of this, of course, is very serious for all countries, even the so-called “richer” countries, but for the poor countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, it spells an absolute nightmare. Lenin once said that capitalism is “horror without end”. The truth of that statement was recently demonstrated by a statement issued by the World Health Organization, which warned that over 265 million people will be threatened with death by starvation by the end of this year, and that is undoubtedly true. That is the reality of our world in 2020. The pandemic, of course, has the most terrible effects in these countries. Latin America is now one of the focal points. It’s rapidly spreading in Africa and in India also, where it’s a terrible situation. In India, out of a workforce of 471 million, only 19% are covered with social security. Two thirds have no formal employment and at least 100 million are migrant workers. And this feroucious reactionary Modi tries to solve the pandemic by expelling millions of people living on the streets of Delhi, Mumbai, and other cities, sending them home to their native villages and therefore spreading the pandemic to the places least able to resist it. Nobody knows how many people have died in India, but the real figure will be absolutely horrendous. There’s been nothing like this since the partition of 1947.
And in general, you see the stinking hypocrisy of the bourgeois so-called “experts”. They have a very simple solution, of course: maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly. Wash your hands regularly in countries where sometimes 250 people share a single water tap. And how do you maintain social distancing in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, or Mumbai, or Karachi, or any of those places, townships in South Africa, and so on? It’s impossible. And therefore, the entire situation is absolutely impossible. It’s impossible for the masses to live. Let us put it very simply. In order for the people to live, the capitalist system must die. And the masses are prepared to fight. They’ve shown this in one country after another. They are showing it in one country after another.
The problem is one of leadership, comrades, it’s a very simple question. Sometimes people say, the clever people say to me, “Oh, you are very simplistic. It’s a simplistic solution. You can’t reduce everything to leadership”. Well, I am a very simple man. I like simple ideas and simple solutions and I believe it’s correct what Trotsky said in 1938 when he wrote that the crisis of humanity can be reduced in the last analysis to a crisis of the leadership of the proletariat. That’s a fact. And you see the complete bankruptcy now of all tendencies of reformism, including the former Stalinists, who are the worst kind of reformists and traitors. These ladies and gentlemen, for generations, have controlled the masses, in India in particular, but in other countries also. In Italy, France, they were in control. In Britain also, the Labour Party is in control, okay.
But I’ve got news for the reformists. The crisis of capitalism is also inevitably your crisis, the crisis of reformism. Everywhere you see the same tendency. The masses are desperately seeking a way out of this crisis. Of course! And therefore, in this search for a way out, they will turn to all kinds of options. One of the features of this situation – you can see this quite clearly, and we must be prepared for this, we must understand what it means – is violent swings on the electoral plane to the left and to the right, oh yes, oh yes. That’s an expression of people’s attempts to find a way out of the crisis. You can’t blame them for that. But all political tendencies and leaders are going to be put to the test, and that especially applies to the reformists, both of the left and the right varieties. The left reformists in particular have shown complete bankruptcy. Sometimes, under pressure of the masses, they can adopt a very left-sounding demagogy and rhetoric. We must not be deceived by this, although we’ll give them critical support against the right wing – that goes without saying, but we must keep a level head. And what you must understand is that these guys, they have a lot in common with the right of course. Both of them – neither of them, shall we say, have any perspective of abolishing capitalism. They believe that capitalism can be reformed and made more humane. You know, capitalism of the human face and so on. Yes. And these guys have got the cheek, the impotence to accuse us of being utopians.
My dear friends, the Marxists are the only realistic tendency in the world, the only tendency that looks facts in the face and tells the truth. The reformists, particularly the left, actually, have fooled themselves and they’ve tried to fool others. But these illusions will be clearly exposed by the course of events, as we already saw in the case of Tsipras in Greece, or I might add even the case of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Sanders in the USA. Now, if you look at the world situation, just look at it through the eyes of an ordinary person who is not a Marxist and what do you see? Everywhere you see a picture of unmitigated horror: mass unemployment, hunger, starvation, disease, wars, suffering, disease and death. And people who lack a scientific Marxist understanding of history could be excused for drawing pessimistic conclusions, and most people do draw pessimistic conclusions. But you see, what we are seeing here are symptoms. They are merely the external manifestations of an underlying disease. I was no good whatsoever weeping and wailing and complaining about the symptoms. Imagine if you go to the doctor with particular symptoms. You don’t expect the doctor to pull out a handkerchief and start weeping. Wouldn’t be much of a doctor, would he? And like a good doctor, we must be capable of analysing the symptoms in order to explain the underlying cause.
And here I believe yes, you could look for historical parallels. Yes, I think so. We’ve seen the same symptoms before. For example, in the decline of the Roman Empire, which took place over a period of some centuries, two or three centuries, and was accompanied by the most frightful economic, social, moral, and philosophical degeneration. Oh yes. Instead, that long period of decline did not proceed in a straight line. It never does, you know, it never does. There were periods of recovery, just as a dying man sometimes will display the symptoms of recovery, which are merely the prelude to a further and irrevocable collapse. Like slave society in the past, like feudalism also, the capitalist system now has reached a point of irreversible decline. It has outlived its historical role. It is no longer capable of anything resembling progress.
That’s why, by the way, the postmodernists deny the existence of progress in general. Yes, they’re incapable of understanding that capitalism is incapable of progress, that’s what they don’t understand, and therefore they deny the existence of progress in general, which is a childish assumption to make. And in the state of its senile decay, capitalism presents a serious threat, not just to civilization, but even to the existence of the human race itself. It is poisoning the air we breathe, the water we drink, the seas and the oceans, and therefore, they are placing in jeopardy the future of life on Earth, as a matter of fact. Yes, it’s a frightening picture, and one can understand the pessimism of the middle-class people who complain about this or that, the Greens, and so on. But these people are all pessimistic, you know, completely pessimistic, because they can’t see beyond the symptoms. They don’t understand that beneath the symptoms, the frightful symptoms of terminal decay, a new world is struggling to be born. And it is our duty, the duty of revolutionaries, to do what? To make this death-agony of capitalism as short as possible. To bring about the birth of a new system, a new world. And therefore, to assist the birth in such a way that it occurs as soon as possible and with as little pain and suffering as possible.
You see, comrades, the facts speak for themselves, really. It doesn’t need much more explanation than that. The capitalist system, if you like, is on life support. It’s on a ventilator. It depends on oxygen, in the form of what? Of trillions of dollars handed over of public money, of the state. Yes, but just a minute please. Just a minute. According to all the theories of the bourgeois economists, of market economics, the state is not supposed to play any role whatsoever in economic life. That was the slogan, wasn’t it, of all these economists, Hayek and all the other gang, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union, which allegedly showed the death of socialism, according to them. The end of history, according to Francis Fukuyama, although I note that Mr. Fukuyama now changed his tune. Now he says no, it’s not the end of history at all and capitalism is now in crisis. Well, well. Thank you very much Mr. Fukuyama. See, the question is very concrete, isn’t it? It’s very concrete and very simple. If the capitalist system cannot survive unless it’s cropped up on the crutches of the state, why not abolish it altogether and let the state take complete control of the economy to save it from falling into complete and absolute bankruptcy? And why do the working class not take control of the state, if it comes to that, and take over from the hands of these corrupt, useless bureaucrats which control it now?
Now part of this school, and I think a big part of it, will be directed against this wretched nonsense of postmodernism, which maintains that you can’t understand history, there are no laws to history, no logic at all. It’s merely a series of actions, that’s all. A mystical idea, which we reject totally. By the way, it doesn’t even make logical sense. It seems that the whole universe is governed by laws, from the biggest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particle. According to them, the only thing which is not governed by laws is ourselves. A child of six could see that that’s an absurd statement to make. History has its own laws, which it’s our duty to understand. Without such an understanding, we will never rise to the level demanded by history. History does have a causality. History does have its own laws, its own causality. And in that sense, yes, we are historical determinists, oh yes, we are historical determinists. In the sense that we understand that the general processes of history function according to definite laws.
Sometimes there’s some confusion over this, so let me explain. Determinism is not at all the same thing as fatalism. It’s totally different. Marx explained many times that men and women make their own history. You see, but nevertheless, when a given socioeconomic system enters a stage of decline, the objective conditions for social revolution are placed on the ordines of the day. But whether that revolution will succeed or fail is not an automatic question. It depends on the active involvement of the subjective factor. In other words, the revolutionary party and its leadership. Now, some of you might know that I’ve been working on the English Revolution. I’m producing a book. I’ve done a series of podcasts about it. It’s a very interesting question. And in the seventeenth century, that revolution, the first bourgeois revolution, if you exclude Holland, was fought out under the banner of religion, although fundamentally it was a class question, as I have explained. The Puritans believed that the end of the world was approaching, and that the kingdom of God was at hand, something they considered was inevitable. The Calvinists actually believed in predestination, that everything was ordained by the will of God, which could not be changed. Yes. But this conviction, it was a firm conviction, did not in any sense reduce their revolutionary fervour and determination to bring about this new world as quickly as possible. On the contrary, it spurred them on to great feats of revolutionary bravery and audacity. And it’s the same for us today. And we must approach the task of the socialist revolution with exactly the same spirit of revolutionary determination.
The reason that I say these words is that some people say, “Ah well, is socialism inevitable?” I say yes, it’s historically inevitable. Well in that case, why don’t we just sit down and wait for it to happen? Well, of course, it doesn’t work like that. The capitalist system is dying on its feet. It reminds me of these monsters, you remember, in the old horror films. It’s dead, yes, it’s dead, but it refuses to die. It clings desperately to life and by prolonging its life in these circumstances, it is dooming millions of people to a horrible fate. The problem is the capitalist system is not going to collapse under the weight under its own contradictions, that’s not going to happen. Lenin explained that there’s no such thing as a final crisis of capitalism. The capitalist system can emerge even from the deepest crisis, oh yes. Can it get out of the present crisis? Well it could. It could. If it is not overthrown, it can. Oh yes.
But that’s not the point. If it emerges from this crisis, what will the result be? I’ve already said what the result will be – decades of suffering, of austerity, of oppression, and so on and so forth. The economists some years ago put it rather well, I thought. It said, “people want to return to normality”. This was after the crisis of 2008. Yes. People want desperately to return to normality. That’s the case now, isn’t it? People want to return to normality. That’s actually the main base of support for reformism. That’s why most people are not yet revolutionaries because they are still hoping desperately for a return to what? A return to normality. You have to understand the psychology of the masses. But the economists give a very good reply to that. They say yes, sooner or later we will return to normality. Yes. But it will be a new normality, it’s said. A new normality. A terrible perspective of degeneration, decay, decline, death by starvation of millions of people, destruction of the gains made by the working class, and even then, sooner or later, that will just provoke an even deeper slump, an even deeper depression. That’s all. So, what conclusion can we draw? The line of history now is entering into – it’s a declining line. There can be this or that temporary recovery. We must be prepared for that also.
But a serious recovery, a serious economic upswing, is entirely ruled out. It’s absolutely ruled out. And therefore, we must draw the conclusions. If you say A, you must say B, C, and D. The task of this school is to explain the basic ideas of Marxism, to the new generation in particular. I note with enormous pleasure and pride the fact that over 6000 people have signed on for this school, which is a marvellous achievement, from over 100 countries, and I wish you all welcome, comrades. You are all our comrades and friends. You are the future. And we must use this school. For what? To sharpen our weapons. The weapons which will ultimately destroy the capitalist system.
What are these weapons, at this moment in time? At this precise moment, we’re not doing it with machine guns or hand grenades. We’re not talking about that kind of weapon. No, there’s a more powerful weapon than that – the weapon of ideas. And Marx said that ideas become a material force when they grip the minds of the masses. Comrades, we must utilize this school. Every minute of it must be used to the full to study in depth the marvellous ideas of – the theoretical arsenal of – Marxism in order to arm the new generation of fighters with the necessary weapons which are needed to guarantee the victory of the working class. That is the only way to out an end to this nightmare of capitalism and prepare the birth of the new world, which will open up a new page, a glorious page in human civilization, utilizing all the marvellous machinery and technology that exists under capitalism, in a genuinely rational, democratic, and scientific system of economy, which will abolish the evils of unemployment, homelessness, exploitation and oppression of women, and open up a new and glorious phase in the history of mankind. Comrades and friends – that is our task. That is the only thing that’s worth fighting for and sacrificing for in the 21st century. Comrades, forward to victory! Long live the working class! Workers of the world, unite! Forward to communism!
Josh: First of all, I’d like to thank Alan for his excellent introduction to the session, and I’d like to congratulate the comrades on this inspiring event. Greetings from Britain.
Now I’d like to talk briefly about the effects of the crisis in Europe. Europe has entered its deepest crisis since the Second World War. Since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in February, over 130,000 people have died from the disease, excluding the UK.
As in the rest of the world, the lockdown measures used to fight the pandemic have triggered the deepest recession probably in the history of Europe, the basis of which was laid in the years following the 2009 Euro crisis. The European commission expects a contraction across the EU of over 8% in 2020, and expects the E.U. economy to be smaller in 2021, by the end of 2021, than in 2019.
To put that in context, the 2009 recession, which almost broke up the Euro; that saw a decline in GDP across the EU of only 4%, so this crisis is expected to be twice as bad in the best case scenario. I say “best case”, because this prediction makes two assumptions: (1) that a second wave of the pandemic will not cause any significant further disruption (which is extremely unlikely) and (2) that trade with the UK will remain unchanged, which is next to impossible, so it goes without saying that this is the deepest crisis the European Union has ever faced. In fact, it is an existential crisis. The European project began in a period of upswing for European capitalism and world trade. It was and is essentially an attempt by the capitalists of Europe to overcome the limitations of the bourgeois nation-state, which had become an absolute fetter for European capitalism.
But the unification of separate national ruling classes, with different and competing interests, is impossible. During a boom, the contradictions and conflicts of interest could be softened by sharing out the loot, essentially. But now, the situation is moving rapidly in the opposite direction, and European integration is going into reverse.
The crisis has affected all of Europe, but not equally. Of the 130,000 killed, almost 100,000 have died in Italy, France and Spain. Further, Spain and Italy are expected to lose 11% of GDP in 2020, and France is expected to lose 10.5% of GDP, much more than other countries.
This means that mass unemployment and social unrest are inevitable, even with billions of euros in stimulus measures from the state. But these countries are also among the least able to carry out stimulus measures to combat the crisis. All three already have more public debt than the total size of their economies. And with a rapidly shrinking economy and falling tax receipts, some of these states will see their debts spiral out of control.
We are already seeing this with Italy. Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise to over 180% this year. That’s the same level as Greece! This debt simply cannot be repaid, will not be repaid. It is the third biggest economy in the Eurozone. It is too big to fail, yet too big to save.
Now Ted Grant once explained that you cannot bind together economies that are moving in different directions, and the crisis has exposed deep divisions in Europe. For more than four months, the European leaders have been completely paralysed, as a split emerged between the southern debtor states, including France, which, significantly, has effectively sunk into the status of a southern economy now, and the other side, the richer northern states, led by Germany.
So, after months of deadlock and faced with the possibility that Italy might fall out of the Euro, Germany has now shifted its position and the heads of the EU member states finally announced a compromise deal this week. This deal will take the form of a, a special rescue fund, a recovery fund, of €750 billion in non-repayable grants, and also loans.
This has been hailed as an historic turning point. The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, described it as one of the most brilliant pages in the history of the E.U. Now, considering the entire history of the E.U. is nothing but the decline of European imperialism, that’s not much of an achievement. But more importantly, without a big upswing in world trade and European capitalism, which is ruled out, the measures intended to combat the crisis today will turn into their opposite tomorrow.
Italy and Spain in particular will receive billions of euros in grants, but to satisfy the right-wing northern governments in places like the Netherlands, as part of the deal Italy and Spain will have to commit to a programme of cuts to pensions and attacks on workers’ rights before they receive a single euro.
This means that first, the so-called “aid” from the E.U. is in fact intended only for the bosses and will actually mean a worsening of the situation for workers. And second, while it may avoid the immediate breakup of the E.U., now, it is paving the way for an even bigger crash in the near future.
Either these governments will do as they’re told and carry out cuts, which will provoke a huge revolt (imagine the strikes we saw in France over the last couple of years on an even bigger scale, across several countries) or, alternatively, under pressure from the masses, and their own right-wing nationalists, those governments will not carry out the cuts, in which case we will see major confrontations on an even bigger scale than the revolutionary events in Greece in 2015.
The only other alternative is that northern countries, Germany, in fact, pay more to maintain the status quo. But as we’ve seen with the rise of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), this cannot go on much longer. This raises the urgent need for an independent, international, and internationalist alternative, to the crisis and to the E.U. To try to maintain the E.U. is to renounce the fight and the crisis being faced by European workers today. Any concession to the chauvinist projects of each national ruling class will lead nowhere, whilst sowing further reactionary divisions between the workers.
Only a socialist United States of Europe can end the crisis faced by European workers, can unite them on the basis of genuine solidarity and workers’ democracy. This can only be achieved by the expropriation of the European capitalists by the workers of Europe, united along, no, across, national lines.
Our aim must be nothing short of the European socialist revolution. And it is our urgent task to build an international Marxist organisation capable of leading the workers to victory. Thank you.
Adam: Thank you, Hamid, for giving me opportunity and congratulations to all the comrades who are participating in this marvellous historic event of Marxist University. In recent history this is one of the biggest Marxist events being organised across the world and 119 countries are being represented. Definitely for Pakistan and the whole region of the subcontinent this is a huge opportunity in which comrades from all over the country, from India, from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are participating in this event and are contributing to these very important discussions which are very important for the future of this whole region in the world.
The ideological battles are key in this situation and these are very important for the poverty riddled region of the subcontinent and South Asia. In Pakistan, we can really understand what Lenin said, that capitalism is horror without end. Even no author has in the past imagined such horrible crimes, such horrible social conditions in which millions of people in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are being forced to live under capitalism. Even before this COVID-19, crisis in Pakistan was exponentially expanding every passing day. Hundreds of thousands of workers are being unemployed every day before this COVID crisis, the health and education crisis was killing, and people noticed on a massive scale. Under the dictatorship of the IMF, the World Bank, and imperialist powers like America this whole economy was being ravaged and pillaged by the ruling class, and the ruling class of Pakistan was compromising with those imperialist powers and attacking the working class.
Even before COVID there were huge attacks of privatization, attacks on the living standards, wage cuts and around 70% devaluation of the currency. After this COVID-19 crisis everything has been expanded and the crisis is now moving towards a catastrophe of this capitalist system in Pakistan and this whole region. And the attacks of the ruling class, the blood thirsty capitalism have increased and is feeding now on the bones of the working class, it’s eating their flesh and drinking their blood like a vampire – haunting the lives of millions of people living in this country. Health system has almost collapsed, and people are dying without any health care facilities, and there is no one to take care of them. All the government figures about the deaths by COVID or the infections, or every other figure is a big fabrication, is a big lie, is an insult to the whole situation of the working class particularly. The ruling class of this country is an insult to humanity. They are the worst creatures ever produced in the history of the human civilization; they are bloodthirsty wolves. These people belonging to the ruling class and their imperialist powers. They look like human beings with their eyes, with their face, with their bodies but in fact they are worse than the wolves, worse than the beasts in the jungles. After the COVID crisis rather than providing facilities to the working class and the masses, they started more attacks on the working class and turning more and more people to their death, to the graveyards. The Prime minister of this country says that the best place to rest is the grave, and people can only do the rest in a peaceful place there, and he is attacking with more and more anti-working class policies.
After the COVID crisis the black market of all the essential items have reached unprecedented levels, whether they are medicines, whether it is bread, whether they are basic necessity items to survive. The medicines required for the treatment of COVID – their prices are being raised exponentially and people are dying because of lack of medicine, because of lack of hospitals, not in hundreds and thousands but in tens of thousands. And what the government is doing, it is lining the black market by these policies, this privatizing hospitals even during this pandemic, it is attacking the health workers with wage cuts, with sackings, with layoffs, with so-called notices and institutional actions against the health care workers. Already health workers are dying because of COVID and other things.
In a situation where other governments in the world are providing, in some cases, money to the household, to the low income people, providing special packages – the government in Pakistan has announced a policy of ending pensions for the elderly, which will affect hundreds of thousands of poor old people across the country. All these policies are being dictated by IMF, and World Bank, and imperialist powers of the western countries, especially the United States of America. In the annual budget announced last month the health budget was cut, there was a huge cut in education budget, but there was a huge increase in the defence budget, on arms, buying of arms and other luxury facilities for the top class of this country. There is an orgy of loot and plunder going on in this country, and there is economic massacre of billions of people going on here. There have been reports of people going without food for 10 days, for 2 weeks or even more, and many people are dying because of hunger, because of lack of basic necessary items to survive. Many people are doing suicides and there are very few reports coming but there are more incidents which are not being reported.
This whole society has been sent into an abyss of a social crisis, there are rapes of women and very innocent small children mostly by Islamic fundamentalists and there is huge attacks of oppressed nationalities, or religious minorities, on the most vulnerable people in the society – this is an never ending hell going on in this country that’s unleashed by this ruling class, by this capitalist system. After the COVID crisis the unemployment has reached unprecedented levels – more than 70% of the work force is unemployed, and there are huge wage gaps in already heavily underpaid workers. In many industrial areas there are COVID cases, still the owners of those industrial units are hell bend on keeping the workers on the jobs. Many workers have been laid off and sent home without any wages, without any arrears.
There is a serious political crisis in Pakistan, there is no political party which represents any section of the masses now. All political parties which were representing some sections in the past have lost all their support in their respective constituencies; and they are part of one faction or the other faction of one imperialist power or another, or one faction of this state or the other. All the state situations are in a serious crisis and are collapsing. Whether they are judiciary, whether they are district administration, where there’s a parliament that’s become a puppet – all these are serious crisis of the state.
In this situation the state repression has reached unprecedented levels and Trotsky said, “the more the state becomes hollow, the more barbaric it becomes”. The media, electronic and print, have been strangled; there is big censorship on all kinds of publications and newspapers and everything; and journalists are being abducted in broad daylight by the state authorities. There is a big censorship on social media as well; Facebook posts against the government can land you in prison. If anybody tried to organize protest against unemployment, against price hikes, they have been threatened of abduction, of torture, and false cases against them. And political workers are being abducted without any charges, without any warrant, anybody’s house could be raided by scout agencies and picked up and thrown in prison without any trial, without even any farce of vote or even justice. And there is no way out in this system available for people to even express their anger, express their dissent against these governments, against all this loot and plunder.
Then there is the crisis of the ruling class, which is hanging between different imperialist powers and trying to pin one against the other. Then there is the crisis that even the Chinese intervention has not helped the economy in Pakistan. Rather than the promise of flowing rivers of milk and honey there is more poverty, more exploitation by this Chinese capitalist state in Pakistan. Situation in India is not different as well, where there is a big attack on the working class by the Modi regime. And he is attacking the workers, the political activists like never before, and throwing them in prisons on false charges who were being involved in anti-government protests early this year. Some of these thrown in prison have been infected with COVID and their lives are at risk. There is huge repression going on in Kashmir where there is curfew, where there is army repression, state repression, hundreds of thousands are being subjected to this curfew; then there is COVID lockdown, and then there is arrests, and there is dissolution of the Jammu-Kashmir assembly and their constitutional status have been changed.
And then there are movements in Kashmir, in India and Pakistan and people will come out eventually against these brutal attacks. They will come out against these brutal regimes, against the brutal ruling class and the imperialist powers – either of America, of China, of Saudi, of any other country in the whole region. And they will come out against the crime of partition, which was done by the British imperialism to install capitalism, to defend capitalism in this region. We will move forward to undo the partition of Bengal, down to the partition of Punjab and solve the issue of Cashmere through a socialist revolution in this subcontinent. Socialist revolution in this region will only be a start of a world socialist revolution to end capitalism on the face of this Earth. And this is the only movement to realize the slogan of Karl Marx, of “Workers of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains!” and a socialist future is the only future that can get rid of this brutality. Thank you very much!
Serge: Comrades, a revolutionary salute to all those who have organized this event and to all those who are listening to us now. The report from Alan has given us the big picture, the big picture that we need to use on how to act. There is a convulsive situation on a world scale which has never been seen before. There will be revolutionary situations, but we need a revolutionary organization to take the leadership in these situations that will come and go like waves breaking on the beach.
There is a social war by the bourgeoisie against the working class which threatens to throw us back to the previous century, to the 19th century. The weapons that they use are xenophobia, ethnic wars, sectarian wars, and wars on an international scale. The bourgeois democrats threaten to destroy the victories won in the past by the working class and especially they do this through reformist parties. These parties fighting in the name of fighting against the coronavirus pandemic are attacking the working class. The socialist party France Insoumise has voted for 3 billion euros and later 43 billion euros to be given to big business in France. In Belgium, the socialist party voted to put a bourgeois party in power. In Germany, the SPD formed a block with the right-wing parties. In Spain, PSOE, Unidas Podemos and the communist party tried to save the right wing. In Portugal, the left-wing socialist party passed a law prohibiting strikes during the pandemic. In the UK, Labour and [Peace?], both left and right, voted for a plan to save the capitalists. In Brazil it’s no different. There is a resistance and a struggle across all of these countries to fight against the attacks on the working class. Despite the pandemic we’ve seen protests, massive protests across the US, India, even China, and Brazil as well. In Brazil, the PT and the PCB signed an agreement alongside an enormous amount of parties, including ex-ministers of Bolsonaro’s government, to support the government. And they voted alongside the bourgeois senators and the Bolsonaro ministers to freeze all social payments.
It is in this context that we are building Esquerda Marxista – the Brazilian section of the IMT. We have great obstacles to overcome. The revolutionary wave from last year 2019 hasn’t disappeared, but has been suppressed, and it will come back again on an even bigger scale. And it is in this context that the IMT has organized this university to fight in defence of the ideas of Marxism and to spread the revolutionary ideas. More than 5000 workers, students, and young people from all corners of the Earth participating in this event is a great historical moment. It irrefutably demonstrates the necessity to build a Marxist organization to lead the masses, that helps build revolutionary mass workers parties. Our task – to start building socialism.
And I will end with a phrase that everybody knows but it is crucial because it describes who we are and what we are fighting for. And particularly to those who are listening for the first time how we discuss these ideas of theory and how we build the IMT. “Messiahs and great bosses we don’t expect anything from anyone. Soon you will see our bullets before your generals”. We are unified together – we will fight together for the International. We will fight and we will overcome, comrades. Long live the socialist International! Thank you!
John: First of all, I’d like to send warm Bolshevik greetings to everyone around the world from here in the United States! As Alan explained, we are living through a perfect storm of economic, political, and social crisis, and this is all part of a process of worldwide revolution.
The IMT has always explained that the US would not be immune from this process. We’ve always highlighted the United States’ inspiring revolutionary and labor traditions. We explained that revolutions don't respect borders. And above all, we’ve explained that in a society divided into classes, you will inevitably have class struggle.
The US was once a pillar of stability for world capitalism. Now it is entirely destabilized and plays a destabilizing role. The COVID-19 crisis continues to rage. The US has seen over 4 million confirmed cases so far. Over 1 million new cases in the last 15 days. But the real figures are much higher because of the disastrous state of testing. Over 1,000 people are dying from coronavirus every day in this country. And there has been a rush to reopen the economy, because of course they need to keep the profits flowing. 91,000 people have died since the country was formally “reopened.”
At the same time, there are growing calls for another national shut down since the first one was botched so badly. This has all compounded the economic calamity that was prepared by the entire previous period. Unemployment is officially just over 11%. But in reality it is at least double that, because people who lost a job but are not actively looking for work are no longer considered to be part of the labor force.
There have now been over 50 million unemployment claims in the last few months. There are over 800k people unemployed in New York City alone. Trillions of dollars in revenue are being lost for cities and counties. This is forcing cuts or reductions to already stretched social services, mass layoffs for workers. The number of working business owners fell by over 3.3 million over the course of just two months, that's a fall of 22%, the largest drop on record.
Back in April, they asked restaurants how many thought they could survive a 6 month shut down, and only 15% of restaurants thought they would still be open by this next December. There is a restructuring of society and the economy on a scale not seen in decades. On top of this there’s the unprecedented handout of trillions of public dollars to the banks and large corporations.
While millions of people are going hungry in the United States and 20 million may lose their homes in the next period, Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon, has added over $50 billion to his personal wealth this year alone. And of course it is Latinos and Black workers, young people in particular are being hit hard. These are the layers of society that most often have the most precarious jobs and are the first to be fired.
Thousands of front line, essential workers who had to keep their jobs, risked their lives, lost their lives
But the workers are also fighting back. There have been hundreds of wild cat strikes demanding better pay and protections. Many of these have also been combined with actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. In fact, the entire West Coast of the US and Canada, 29 ports, were shut down for 8 hours by longshore workers.
The police murder of George Floyd was like a match thrown onto a drought-stricken prairie, a very dry forest. Now his murder was not an accident, but it was a historical accident that expressed an underlying necessity— and that’s the need for the masses to fight back against centuries of misery, of racism, of humiliation, of exploitation.
The movement spread like wildfire, it swept the entire country. Over 2,000 cities held protests. That includes small towns of just a few thousand people. In fact, it's estimated that 10% of the US adult population participated in at least one of these protests—that’s around 25 million people. And as Alan noted, the racial demographics of the protests have almost exactly matched the overall population.
Now as you’ve probably seen on your television screens, the state’s response was outright brutality. 200 cities imposed curfews. Tear gas was used on protesters in at least 100 cities—and yet the movement continued and refused to back down for weeks. A police precinct in Minneapolis was burned to the ground. Police were seen running away from protesters like rats. Donald Trump had to hide like a troll in a cave under the White House. We even saw defense committees emerging in working-class neighborhoods in several cities.
Now, poll after poll over the last few years has tracked the rising interest in socialism in the US, this was given a big boost by the Bernie Sanders campaigns. Big majorities among the youth now support socialism, millions of them even support communism. And it's not only among the youth.
But perhaps the most significant poll in the recent period was one that found that 54% of Americans supported the burning down of the police precinct in Minneapolis! That’s an astonishing figure! This is support for a de facto act of insurrection, not in the abstract, but in practice!
But inevitably, without a revolutionary leadership and an outlet, the black lives matter movement is ebbing. The state has more or less regained its balance, at least relative to where it was a few weeks ago. Trump is sending anonymous federal agents to cities controlled by Democrats, such as Portland. He wants to present himself as the candidate of law and order while painting the Democrats as the party of anarchy and disorder.
Although, of course they are one of the parties of capitalist rule in this country. Because on top of all of this, there is a presidential election in November. Trump is potentially in trouble, Joe Biden is leading by a significant margin in several polls. There are growing splits in the Republican Party.
Many of Trump’s supporters seem to have finally abandoned him over his disastrous handling of the pandemic. But we should but never count Trump out or underestimate the rottenness of the Democrats or how much millions of workers hate them. Remember, Joe Biden is the establishment’s choice.
After Sanders capitulated yet again, that great disappointment of millions of people is gradually turning into support for a new mass party to the left of the Democrats. We must be clear that unless and until the American working class organizes and builds a party of its own, until it breaks with the vicious cycle of lesser-evilism, something even more to the right than Trump can and will emerge in the future.
Comrades, the recent elemental movement of ordinary workers and youth has had a profound and life-changing impact on the consciousness of tens of millions of people in the US. It has shown the world that the US is not a big, reactionary block, it's shown the world that revolution is possible in this country
And this is only the beginning of the beginning of this process of polarization, of crisis, of struggle, of victories and defeats. But at root this remains a crisis of capitalism. And there’s only one way out of this crisis. The world working class has to kill capitalism before it kills us. This is our historic mission.
Hans: Comrades greetings from Germany, the cradle of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, to comrades watching this magnificent session all over the world. This is an inspiring moment, and Alan Woods has already outlined how the crisis has an unprecedented and global dimension.
The crisis is already hitting Germany really hard, and this is only the beginning of a turning point with long lasting consequences. This underlines that the ideas of scientific socialism are very modern in the 21st century. Now there is one myth in many brains, which says the Germans are happy with ‘mama’ Merkel, and will never fight. I would like to expose this myth. The present pandemic is just a trigger, not the deep root of the present capitalist crisis of overproduction.
This pandemic reveals all the deep problems, scandals, inequality, imbalances, privatizations, contradictions, injustice and grievances that have existed and piled up for a very long time. This crisis is now being used to redistribute wealth in favour of the ruling class, the rich and speculators that always try to make a fortune out of any crisis. But already, towards the end of 2019, symptoms of the deep economic crisis have accumulated in Germany. Gross Domestic Product in Germany last year in 2019 only grew by 0.6 percent which is nearly zero, and in the motor car sector which is a key industry for Germany already in autumn last September, October there were clear symptoms of overproduction.
Long ago, a bus of BMW car companies said, I know there are too many cars globally but there are too few BMW cars. Now in summer 2020, which is a hot summer, we get daily messages about threatening workplace closures and massive sackings, destruction of jobs in the motor car sector, in airlines, shipyards, department stores, mall shops, in most sectors of the economy. There are local protest demos up and down the country from day to day but there is no alternative, and no joint struggle nationally and internationally offered by the trade union and workers leaders.
Out of the German miracle in the past few years was the enormous cartelization and cheap labour, and those workers on temporary jobs and contracts are the first to lose their jobs now and to be sacked! The official unemployment figures admit a growth of unemployment from 2.2 to nearly 3 million now, but this does not express the real dimension of the crisis. Unemployment statistics do not include self-employed people, many of which are faced with ruin as a result of the lockdown, nor does it include students without rich parents and grants a serious problem as they’ve lost their casual jobs due to the lockdown and must finance their courses and their existence.
Now whereas in the United States you hear about forty million being made unemployed in the question of days and weeks, in Germany they have an instrument still to buffer this development a bit. In Germany in April there were ten million workers out of work but had not lost their jobs, and were on short term compensation, which is a sort of subsidy out of the workers funds and the national labour exchange. Now there are still 6.8 million workers on short term compensation money, hoping for better times and fearing unemployment at the same time. Take this 6.8 million and compare this to the peak of the 2009 crisis and you see the difference, because then in May 2009 the peak figure was 1.44 million workers on short term compensation only.
One of the advantages of German Capitalism has been in the last few decades modern industry highly dependent on exports. Exporting not only industrial goods, vehicles, machine tools and chemicals, but also millions of tons of pork. But this advantage of Germany Capitalism dependent on exports is now turning into an enormous disadvantage as we are faced with the crisis. And this explains why the ruling class in Germany and Merkel present themselves as Pro-European and desperately try to keep the Europeans together somehow, because most exports go to European countries, and comrade Josh from London has spoken about the European Union already. The present crisis is increasingly affecting the South of Germany.
Historically prosperous areas with traditionally high living standards and low unemployment, with big employers such as Daimler, BMW, Audi and others. But those areas will be hit hard now as in the first six months of 2020 sales of the car industry have slumped by 35 percent, and in the second month of 2020 the slump was even 47 percent. Many figures indicate that the question of the crisis in these industries especially in the South is very serious, some fifteen thousand jobs are at stake at Daimler alone, and two thirds of the industries in the South West are pessimistic about the future and the coming months. And of course the masses of workers are being blackmailed to accept any sort of sacrifices and give up many of the gains they have fought for in the last decade.
At the same time, retired Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche receives a pension of 4250 euro a day. Now while the big car manufacturers have accumulated reserves of some one hundred billion euro all together, many of the smaller industrial enterprises and suppliers around the motor car producers could go bankrupt this coming Autumn. There are fears that this might trigger a new banking crisis. So we’re faced with a totally new situation when the employers are really on the offensive and try to destroy everything the workers have achieved in living standard and quality of life. For instance, recently the government bailed out Lufthansa from bankruptcy with nine billion that they could have used to completely nationalize Lufthansa, but of course they didn’t want to.
Anyway, comrades, time is up, but I want to try to underline that there is a readiness of the working class in Germany to fight as we’ve seen in some places, for instance one factory in the Southern most town of Sonthofen there was a five week long struggle against the closure of a factory! And there could be a big strike movement in the public transport sector where after years of privatization, worsening of conditions has enraged the militancy of the workers which has grown enormously. There is also a movement of youth which we see with the solidarity with Black Lives Matter which attracted tens of thousands in June.
So to sum up, there will be enormous bitterness and struggles in Germany, and I would like to quote not Engels but a liberal member of parliament to finish my statement. Liberal parliamentarian Marco Buschmann said “Quite soon revolution could be in the air if things continue like this, as soon as the German middle class will find out that their job is finished and their private savings through shares are bust, they will radicalize.” Comrades I could give you many more examples but the main thing is we must be prepared, for this future we need a socialist program to use the potential of industry and science, not for private profit but for the benefit of mankind and the environment. The slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe is more urgent than ever and we need a Marxist leadership and therefore let’s go forward to building the IMT! Thank you.
Alessandro: Good afternoon comrades, greetings from Italy! As Alan has mentioned, we are at a turning point in the relationship between classes at an international level. In Italy as well. I’m going to explain now in a concise manner. The atrocious, corrupt and deplorable way the current government has managed the pandemic has stirred up a fury in the masses of Italy. This anger has been strengthening during the second phase of the confinement when industry has opened up again. Because after the enormous sacrifice of the workers, has been to double the workload, remove holidays for the workers, they’re working 14-hour days including on the weekends without extra pay even though the government promised this beforehand. Now they’re denying these pay-outs, especially among health workers who have been risking their lives during the pandemic.
Comrades, we’re not moralists. This anger that has been accumulating in the working class is something that will have severe consequences in the future. And we’ve seen this many times in the past. The calling for the strikes from below that we saw for the 10th of March was completely spontaneous, against the leadership of the trade unions. There’s been an extraordinary mobilisation of the working class in which 100,000 workers have been implicated/involved with, mainly industrial workers, who are completely furious with the ruling class who have complete disinterest for the interests of the workers. This represents a complete shift, a complete change in the political situations.
You have to go back to the 90’s to 1992 and 1993 which is known as the era of the “screws” to find a mobilisation of this magnitude, with these characteristics of spontaneous mobilisation from below and mainly in the biggest factories in the country which represents this fearsome anger that is bubbling up amongst the masses. In fact, this workers mobilisation has changed the government’s position. It has changed the policies of the trade union bureaucracy. For example, they’ve won the freezing of the law of sackings which has never been achieved in this country. Sure, it’s temporary sackings, and the strike that was called was only a partial strike. The bosses are back on a very strong and brutal offensive. This is a recipe for working class struggle in the coming autumn.
But what is essential, comrades, is that this mobilisation of the working class broke the social peace, broke the national unity, which the reformists and the trade union leaders had agreed with the bosses and with the government. In this situation, our organization in Italy has not only begun to grow massively and significantly amongst the youth but most importantly among the young workers. We’re launching a fight against the reformists and the trade union leadership while looking for new social paths. There are no conditions for social pacts. Alan and Josh have explained very well what is occurring in the European Union. Angela Merkel, it’s true, has changed her position though it was a partial change but a necessary one because we couldn’t maintain the position with Italy and Spain, the same position that they had with Greece in 2013 and 2014. Greece represents 1.2% of the European GDP and Portugal represents 1.3%. Italy is 12% of the European GDP which is 10x more. You cannot allow the bankruptcy of Italy. And they also have other problems.
The enormous state debt that Josh explained, is mainly a debt held by the Italian banks which could bring down the whole of the European Union which has reached a staggering amount of 98 billion Euros. Italy continues to be the second industrial power-house of Europe not in volume but in added value. The collapse of Italy would mean the collapse of the European Union. And on top of that we’re going to see what happened with Greece and Portugal because this crisis is so deep it’s provoking a commercial war between China and the US. The main fight is going to take place on the grounds of the European Union between these two countries. China practically bought the port of Pirreus in Greece.
For the first time, the Yuan has been entered into the European economy. This is what’s happened in Portugal and it’s called the Pandabond. There’s an enormous penetration of Chinese capital in Greece and Portugal and the self-claimed China is trying to do the same, penetrate into Italy with various agreements with the government. Merkel and Macron have changed their position to create fortress of the European Union in order to block the penetration of Chinese capital which is looking for markets in Europe.
We’re passing through a very interesting time comrades. A sudden change in the consciousness of the working class. I don’t have time to explain now but what will happen amongst the youth will be earth shattering. After four months of closed schools and closed universities there are no conditions to return to opening again in September. The teachers are on a war-footing and so are the students. I can’t say any sector that is not on a war footing demanding change. And at the same time, an abysmal crisis of the trade union leaders and reformists who have never had such a low level of authority during a movement. These are the ideal conditions for the construction of a revolutionary organization.
I remember a splendid article that Ted Grant wrote many years ago, in 1941 during the Second World War, ‘Preparing for power’. You have to read it, you have to study it – we have to prepare ourselves to build the organisation, develop cadres and sink roots into the workers’ movement. The crisis is very deep, we’re still not ready for our task but we are taking important steps forward. And I want to say to the comrades that we too have launched a fight within the major trade unions in Italy declaring a trade union class current, combative and revolutionary. And these are the ideas that workers are looking for, especially young workers.
This is our task comrades, what we’re developing across the world there’s important advances within our International, in the UK, the USA, in Brazil, in every country where you look. There’s a radical and fundamental change in consciousness which has closed off a long period of ebb, which has ended now in Italy. Now we have no excuses, we have to take the initiative, we have to build the organisation, what thousands and thousands of young workers are looking for. An organisation with the ability to end this rotten capitalist system. It’s a system that has reached its end historically. But it’s true that it it’s not going to end by itself. We have to build a strong, international party which allows the working class to take power and end this system. Thank you comrades.
James: Thank you Hamid, so comrades, greetings from London. I’m going to talk about the situation in Britain. British capitalism was already in trouble before the pandemic. Now with the coronavirus, Britain is entering its worst crisis for at least 300 years. The OECD predicts that Britain will experience the worst downturn of any advanced capitalist country. They predict GDP to collapse by 11.5% by the end of the year, and that is without a second wave of the virus! This is the product of the long-term decline of British capitalism over many decades. The ruling class has largely abandoned industry, in favour of speculation.
The working class has been relentlessly squeezed, to maintain profitability. Millions are forced to work in the so-called gig economy, on 0-hr contracts, for poverty pay. The economy was therefore extremely fragile before the pandemic. Thousands of zombie companies were being propped up by an influx of cheap credit. Living conditions were already desperate. Last year, 14m lived in poverty. The pandemic will therefore push millions over the edge. Unemployment is predicted to skyrocket to at least 12% by the end of the year. This is approximately 4m workers. Already, large companies have announced over 100,000 job losses. Tens of thousands of small businesses will go bankrupt. Those still in work will see their conditions brutally attacked, and this is all before the impact of Brexit which will come into effect at the start of next year.
Negotiations with the EU have currently stalled. If they fail to reach a deal it will be a calamity for British capitalism. Many industries won’t survive the imposition of tariffs, they will simply shut down production. Millions of workers are hoping that Brexit will provide relief from the nightmare conditions they experience. Many supported the Tory government in order to get Brexit done, but a capitalist Brexit won’t solve any of their problems. In reality they will be magnified. What support the Tories had from some workers due to Brexit, will be largely replaced by anger.
Already the Tories are becoming deeply unpopular, due to their handling of the pandemic. The ruling class needs serious leaders in a period of deep crisis, but all they have is Boris Johnson, a clown, surrounded by other clowns. The government’s response to the pandemic was a disaster. Their initial plan was to go for ‘herd immunity’ instead of a lockdown. Boris Johnson told people to “prepare to see your loved ones die.” When it became clear that hundreds of thousands would die and overwhelm the healthcare system, the government changed course, but it was already too late.
Britain has one of the highest excess death rates per million in the world. Over 65,000 people are estimated to have died as a result of the pandemic. It is thought that about half of these deaths would have been avoided if the government had imposed a lockdown earlier. Many thousands have died due to the lack of Personal Protective Equipment. The whole of the government’s response has been shambolic. Although there was an initial boost in support for the government, they are now becoming hated. As a result, support for independence in Scotland has risen to around 50%. This further complicates the situation for the British ruling class. A situation which will only get worse.
The pandemic has resulted in a colossal government budget deficit. This year alone the deficit is predicted to be between £350 and £516bn pounds. This will require huge austerity to eliminate. They will need to implement cuts of three to four times those seen in the previous decade. Remember, that austerity was partly responsible for transforming the political situation. It had a big impact on consciousness. In 2011 there was a massive wave of public sector strikes, involving over 3m workers. In 2014, the Scottish independence referendum nearly saw the breakup of the UK. In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, and in 2016 we had the Brexit referendum. Since then we have seen the collapse of the government, and the Tories suspend parliament. The ruling class is split. It cannot govern in the old way. Nothing remains as it was before.
This process will rapidly accelerate, as a result of this crisis. Services have already been cut to the bone. Councils are at breaking point. Eight out of 10 local councils are facing bankruptcy by the end of the year. Massive austerity will be the order of the day. The British working class is facing a catastrophe in the coming months and years. Class struggle will be unavoidable. The trade unions have already seen an influx of new members. The effect of these events on consciousness will be dramatic. More and more, people are becoming open to revolutionary ideas, or drawing revolutionary conclusions, but the leaders of the labour movement are attempting to hold back the struggle. Keir Starmer is attempting to drag the Labour Party back to the right, but with these conditions of radicalisation, he will have a battle on his hands. The anger below the surface will have to find an expression somehow. Overall, the ground is being prepared for a social explosion! Thank you comrades.
Jorge: Okay comrades I want to make three points in this discussion.
The first one is that already before the pandemic and capitalist crisis that we’re living in there were revolutionary events taking place. In Latin America, for instance, in the second part of last year we saw a succession of mass movements with insurrectionary characteristics. We had the mass movement which overthrew the governor of Puerto Rico just one year ago from now. We also saw last year, months and months of national uprising in Haiti, against the president, Jovenel Moïse. A movement where repression could not stop despite the fact that hundreds were killed.
Then in October we saw a national uprising in Ecuador, against a package of cuts and austerity measures imposed by the government of Lenin Moreno in that country. The masses converged on the capital, there was a national strike. And the government was forced to flee the presidential palace and abandon the capital. The masses organised a Peoples’ Guard, an indigenous guard, to defend themselves against repression, and attempted to install a Peoples’ Assembly in place of the national parliament. This was not simply a protest movement, it was an insurrection, which repression could not stop despite the fact that about twenty people were killed.
Finally, the movement dissipated, because the leadership reached a deal with the government, a compromise with the government, and they were not prepared to take the fight to the end.
But all the conditions were there for the overthrow of the Lenin government. This was then followed by a national uprising in Chile, between October and November and December. The movement started as a protest against the increase in the fares in the Santiago, Chile subway system, a movement which was led by the very young school students, the liceístas, and amongst them particularly very young women were at the forefront of this movement.
But this was only a spark, in reality the movement was against the whole regime. People said this was not about thirty pesos, which was the fare increase, “this is not about thirty pesos this is about thirty years.”
Meaning thirty years of anti-working class policies which had been applied in Chile by both governments of the right and governments of the “left”. The government of Piñera used brutal repression against the movement, declaring the state of emergency, a curfew, bringing the army on the streets, but this did not stop the movement. The people organized in Peoples Assemblies and Cabildos Abiertos, which are open mass neighbourhood meetings.
And also like in Ecuador, they organized self-defence for the demonstrations, which in Chile they were called Primera Linea (the Front Line). This culminated on November 12 with a general strike, which came from below. The right wing government of Piñera was against the ropes. But it was saved at the last minute by a “national agreement” signed by all parliamentary parties, from the right to the left, with the only exception of the Communist Party. But the Communist Party did not offer a different perspective. Having no clear leadership or clear perspective, the movement dissipated, eventually.
But this is only a temporary question. The lockdown, put everything on hold, on pause. But in the last week we have seen the resurgence of the movement, in the battle over the question of the private pension system, the AFP. There has been a strike of the dockworkers, there was a national pots and pans protest, despite the lockdown.
Splits in the ruling class and the pressure from below led to a defeat in the parliament of the government.
The government is seriously weakened and could fall at any time. A new uprising is in the cards, because all of the reasons that led to the uprising in October-November remain there. In both cases, Ecuador and Chile, we see common elements, common features. One, an insurrectionary movement which is not cowed by repression. Two, the masses organising their own bodies of struggle, under different names. Three, the organisation of self-defence by the movement against state repression.
In Chile and in Ecuador, the only thing that prevented the overthrow of the regime and the possibility of the workers coming to power, was the lack of a revolutionary leadership. And these are the types of movements, insurrectionary movements, which we will see more of in this period that we are in.
We already saw them last year in Sudan, in Lebanon, in Algeria, in Iraq. And I will say that the Black Lives Matter uprising in the United States, also shares some of these features, particularly in the case of Minneapolis, and in recent days in Portland.
The second point that I wanted to make very briefly, is to note that there is now a generation of young people, who became politically aware at the time of the previous crisis of capitalism in 2008.
For them and for the generation after them, their whole lives have been marked by capitalist crisis, austerity cuts and mass movements. They are wide open to socialist and communist ideas. And they have played a key role at the forefront of the movements that I have mentioned.
Finally, about the impact of the current crisis on consciousness. If we look back to 2008, that crisis gave rise to mass protest movements and a general questioning of the capitalist system. Which saw the indignados in Spain, the Occupy movement in the US, Syntagma Sq, in Greece, and many others.
That then had a political expression, in the rise of movements like Syriza, Podemos, Melenchon, Sanders, and Corbyn, which at least in name seem to be challenging the capitalist austerity. Those formations were put to the test and they failed, because they remained within the limits of the capitalist system.
The crisis that we are living in now will be deeper than the one in 2008. And therefore, the impact on consciousness will be bigger as well, and will be also placed on top of the previous experience. The terrain will be favourable for us, for revolutionary Marxists, but nothing is automatic in class struggle. We need to build a revolutionary leadership. Thank you.
Niklas: Greetings from London, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that it is raining here today.
I want to speak about the economy. The capitalist economy is in its deepest crisis, and there is no way out. In the 1950s and the 1960s, capitalism experienced a massive upswing, particularly in the West. And with that economic growth, it allowed a number of reforms, for workers in the west in particular. But ever since those decades, things have gotten gradually worse. Growth has fallen, investment has fallen, and productivity of labour, the growth of that has fallen as well. And to combat this, the ruling class and their governments introduced serious attacks on the working class.
Their aim was to make capital cheaper by raising profits, to increase the amount of credit in the system to boost investments, but investments kept falling, and workers had to work harder and harder, and they were getting less and less back. The ruling class told us in those decades that if we can only bring growth back to the levels of the past we could also bring back the reforms of the past. But in spite of all the attacks, no growth came and no reforms came. And then the crisis of 2008 hit. Again we were told to work harder and eventually we'll get back to growth, but very little growth was forthcoming and what little economic growth that came was appropriated by the capitalist class. The commentators talked about the “feel bad” recovery.
Then about 9 months ago, the recession began again. It started in Japan and Germany in the autumn and winter of last year, and then in January we had coronavirus come along. And they could have stopped the coronavirus, they could have at the very least slowed down the outbreak significantly, but in the crucial month of February they prevaricated. They were too scared of the consequences that this would have on the economy, or on their own national economy, more like. Because the governments already knew that the economy was in a bad state, and if they closed down things would get worse. And so, they had to close down anyway, but the economic consequences, as well as the human consequences were much worse because of this prevarication and delay.
But now they're telling us that the crisis is caused by the coronavirus, and they claim that the crisis of 2008 was caused by bad mortgages in the United States, they claim that oil was the reason behind the crisis of 1973, and so on. It doesn't take a degree in economics to understand that this crisis was not caused by the coronavirus. The virus only made a bad situation worse. So for a whole period, they had been attempting to solve the crisis by lowering the cost of credit, by lowering interest rates, and this has gone on since the 1960s, really since the 1980s in particular. But this only led to a massive explosion of debt, world debt is now estimated to be 250% of GDP, which is two and a half times the world economy. That's the size of the debt, and that's up from around 100% in the mid 1960s. In particular, it has grown dramatically in China in the last 10 years as the Chinese are trying to replicate what the rest of the world, or the advanced capitalist countries, had been doing prior to 2008.
Despite all this growth in debt, investments didn't grow and productivity did not increase, or very little. It only grew by 8% in the whole of the decade after the fall of 2008. Now we are facing another crisis and this time they can't lower interest rates because they are already at zero. All they can do is expand, yet again, their programs of quantitative easing, which is basically printing money, and they are doing this now in order to fund unprecedented budget deficits by governments. In the US we’re meant to have a conservative president, a Republican president, and I don't know if you remember the Tea Party movement, the congressmen and congresswomen who supported the tea party are now backing Trump, and these are supposed to be the party of reducing the state debt and no budget deficits. But now the US federal deficit is 24% of GDP this year. And it might even get bigger because they're horse trading in congress, trying to come up with another rescue package. The average deficit in advanced capitalist countries by central governments is 17%, and that doesn't even count the huge amount of loans that they are handing out to big business all around the world.
We are told that the state had no role to play in the economy, but now the state is the only thing keeping the economy afloat, by running these massive deficits. How long can they keep this up? Well there is no precise answer to that question. At some point they will have to reduce these deficits, and it's no accident that they are now talking openly about the threat of revolution. Well, when I say they're talking openly I mean they are talking in the business press, where no worker can hear what they are saying, but the question is going to be raised, as Alan mentioned, of who is going to pay? At some point that question will be posed. This is not a normal, cyclical crisis, the kind that happens every few years. But this is long term, this crisis has been coming for a really long time, and they've been pushing it off, trying to postpone that evil day, that they can no longer postpone it. This is the fundamental crisis of the whole system and there are only two ways out: socialism or barbarism.
Alan: Well comrades, I am faced with an impossible task. All the comrades spoke extremely well but I'm very limited for time, so I’m afraid I have to be very telegraphic.
First of all I think comrade Jorge Martin was quite right to remind us that these revolutionary upheavals which we can see on a world scale already began last year. Tremendous revolutionary movements in the Sudan, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Ecuador and Chile and other countries, so that underlines the point that I made earlier, that these upheavals today do not come from nowhere but they are the result of an accumulation of anger and rage which is developed over at least the last decade if not decades. We have to understand that sudden and sharp changes are implicit in the situation, and as comrade Jorge said quite correctly, people are wide open to our ideas. There is clearly a developing anti-capitalist mood developing now in all countries I would say, the party reflects of course the obscene levels of inequality that exist in the world. The Gulf that separates rich and poor today has never been seen in history I think. And therefore our ideas are seen as relevant today, they’re relevant because for the simple reason that they accurately reflect the real situation. That wasn't always the case by the way and of course particularly in the country like the US.
I listened with great attention to the intervention of comrade John Peterson, my old friend John. And he pointed out, which is it if you think about it it's an astonishing figure, but at least 10% of the population of the United States actually participated physically in these revolutionary protests 10%. I'm not sure if 10% of the population participated actively in the revolution in 1979! I'd have to check my facts. But listening to John, I just remembered I saw a very interesting program on television last night, it was about the Black Panthers. That was an extraordinary movement, I remember it very well, I was around at the time, but this was a movement, it was not a Black Nationalist movement. That’s entirely false. They were militant ant capitalist revolutionaries, course the starting point was the black people’s struggle against the oppression of the black people of course, but they understood very clearly that the Blacks were oppressed not just because they were black but because they were poor and because they were workers, they understood the class question. And they appealed to the white working class and the white youth, and they got quite an echo as a matter of fact.
Yeah but they didn't get the kind of echo, you see, now in these latest movements. It's tragic actually because they were crushed, they were brutally crushed by the police precisely because of a deliberate decision. It was on the program by Edgar J Hoover, this bastard, this reactionary swine who led the FBI at the time. He made a conscious decision to crush them because he could recognize them as a serious danger to the established order. He decided, they decided to crush them and by god they were brutally crushed.
This kind of uprising, that's what they were aiming for, to provoke a mass uprising like the one that you now see developing in the states. I was thinking, what's the difference you know, what is the difference between then and now? Even in those days you had the beginnings of a crisis of capitalism that was just starting. Yeah that's true but it did not yet reach the critical point where masses of people begin to question the existence of capitalism – that point had not yet been reached, unfortunately. I think that up until quite recently, John will correct me, until fairly recently not many people in the States actually would question the existence of the capitalist system as such, I think, I think that's a fair observation.
But now as John said, there’s a huge change in consciousness. He quoted the figures for the rise of interest in socialism in the US, there are many polls, very interesting polls. I haven't seen the one that John quoted, but I remember a few years ago, this is when Bernie Sanders had just begun to be accepted as a candidate, as a potential candidate, and if my memory serves me correctly this is a couple of years ago, if my memory serves me correctly 67% of the youth said that they would vote for a socialist candidate, which is incredible. Even more incredible was the comments by some right-wing journalist. He said, Oh well there's no need to worry about this, I wouldn't worry too much, that's just the youth, young kids, but when it comes to older people, people above the age of 65, only 33% would support a socialist candidate. I thought to myself, Jesus Christ! After decades of constant attacks against socialism and communism, which they said was the same, vicious anti-communist propaganda, the fact that 33% of people above the age of 65 would vote for a socialist candidate, I think that was an extraordinary state of affairs.
And that was a couple of years ago, the figures have moved on since then. 54% supported the burning down of the police precinct in Minneapolis, astonishing. That, as Jon said is a revolutionary act, insurrectionary act, and it had the support of 54% of the population. I would describe that not as a huge change, I would describe it as a seismic change! Of course we mustn't exaggerate, of course, I agree with John appraisal, that it's just the beginning of the beginning, that's a fair comment.
Yes, but the main point is not so much that, the main point is something fundamental is changed in the United States, you better believe it. These events represent a fundamental change and I will say, nothing will ever be the same in the United States ever again, nothing. For the first time ever, for the first time ever, the road of socialism, the road of revolutionary socialism and Marxism in the US is now wide open. So watch this space.
Comrade Alessandro made some very pertinent points I thought about the situation of the Italian working class. The Italian ruling class, I think are playing with fire. They've all forgotten a little detail, all of them, and the trade union and labour leaders, they forgot a little detail. The Italian working class has got revolutionary traditions, you better believe it. And you see, the fact that there is no reformist Workers Party in Italy now, socialist party disappeared years ago and the Communist Party the mighty Italian communist party also disappeared years ago, it was a party of millions! Now, from the standpoint of the Italian ruling class is that a good thing or a bad thing? I answer, it is a very bad thing and a very dangerous thing from their point of view because in all countries now it's the reformist leaders, reformist political and trade union leaders that are the only prop, basically of the capitalists, propping them up. In Italy, the communist party played that role very effectively, for decades actually. Therefore, the choice is between going downhill in a car with bad brakes, and going downhill with a car with no breaks at all!
Once the Italian workers get on the move and everything that Alessandro just said indicates that is well on the way, the seething anger, the seething indignation, of course. The crisis of Italian capitalism is probably the most severe of any European nation at the present stage. To quote Lenin’s phrase, it's probably the weakest link in European capitalism at the present time, I believe that that's correct. And once the Italian workers get on the move, look out! And the Italian youth, of course. It would be like 1968, 1969 again on a vastly higher scale. Fortunately we have a very good section, a very strong section in Italy and we are poised to make big gains, I am certain.
And of course this is in the context of a severe crisis of European capitalism, which comrade Josh dealt with very effectively, I thought. The European Union is breaking apart, it's clear, under conditions of crisis economic nationalism now comes to the fore. They’re all defending their own patch, their own country, their own nation, their own interests. In the European Union, new fault lines are appearing all the time, not just with Eastern Europe but with the Poles and the Hungarians, and so on, that's been the case for some time. But particularly, with the poorer countries of southern Europe and the wealthier countries of the North, and that came to a head in the recent summit meeting which they had, which really broke up violently, it was a violent meeting. Apparently at one stage, Macron banged the table and said he was going to walk out because the Germans and the Swedes and the Finns also and the Dutch in particular were refusing to hand over the cash. Macron, he warned them, he issued a warning, he said, if we can't do this today, I tell you the populists will win. Today, tomorrow, the day after, in Italy and Spain, perhaps in France and elsewhere! In other words it was a threat that the European Union was going to break apart, it seemed to be on the verge of doing that. In the end they stitched together some kind of a deal but I think it will not solve anything and these cracks are going to continue.
Then of course you’ve got Brexit. To cheer everybody up, we have Brexit, which of course as James stated correctly, it'll be a catastrophe for Britain, particularly if they leave without a deal, at the moment that seems to be on the cards. This would be a disaster for Europe but an absolute catastrophe for Britain. I sometimes wonder what in the hell is in the heads of these politicians, in London in particular. They really believe Britain, it’s like in the good old days when Britain ruled the world and Britain ruled the empire. They’re going to have a very serious awakening from their stupid dreams when they leave Europe, it will soon be seen the reality of Great Britain. What’s Great Britain, for god's sake? An insignificant little island off the coast of Europe, that's what Great Britain is.
I think James pointed out correctly, but the national question in Britain has not been resolved, there's a burning hatred of Boris Johnson, in Scotland in particular, burning hate. Scots voted to stay in Europe so they're not happy about this position at all. And now 54% of the people of Scotland are in favour of independence, and it seems that figure is being maintained, this is something new. Johnson’s so alarmed he went to Scotland, yesterday I think or the day before yesterday, to appeal to people to stay in the union. That went down like a lead balloon, I think he would have done better to stay in London. And then there's the special relationship between Britain and America. That's the special relationship, the servant and his master. And if, it is possible Scotland breaks away from the union for the first time in 300 years, Boris Johnson will no longer be the Prime Minister of Great Britain but the unfortunate leader of little England.
The Tories are increasingly hated but what's the alternative? Under Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party was an attractive proposition for millions of people. He’s a left reformist, of course, with all the limitations of a left reformist as we saw. He should have taken action immediately against the right wing of the Labour Party, against the parliamentary labour party, that's what we were advocating all the time, deselection. But typical of a left reformist, he was weak, he didn't do that. He didn't do what he should have done, and therefore they launched a savage attack against him, every day. They sabotaged Labour’s camp, they didn't want Labour to win the election and they got what they wanted, they lost the election. With a massive campaign, a vicious campaign in the Tory Press of course, and they got what they wanted and Corbyn did unfortunately resign, which opened the way now to the return of the right-wing, the victory of Starmer, who is right wing of the worst kind. What he wants is a national government, with himself as prime minister I assume.
Unfortunately at the moment the Labour Party is paralyzed by coronavirus, it is not meeting. Quite a few people are leaving, disappointed, but at the same time there's an enormous radicalization, the same radicalization that Alessandro referred to in Italy also existed here. Therefore, enormous possibilities are opening up here also, but I can't say much more, because I'm running out of time but they're huge possibilities. Again we have a very strong section which can take advantage of this situation.
But I have to bring my remarks to a close, because we have another very important point on the agenda, which is the collection. We need money to build this organization, of course. But there is a question, why are we internationalists? It's not a sentimental question, because we like foreigners, like the friends of the United Nations, and organized petty bourgeois organizations like that. We like some foreigners, we strongly dislike others... No. Our International is based on objective reasons, solid reasons. We live in one world, and the interconnection of this world has never been greater than it is now, this very school indicates that. Even the coronavirus demonstrates the truth of internationalism as well, as Mr Trump found out. This man actually resisted coronavirus by putting a block on the airports, as if you can stop the virus by blocking the airports. The virus doesn't respect frontiers my friends, as you know. Yes, and the socialist revolution also does not respect frontiers. That's why we're internationalists, because the world demands internationalism, that's the answer to the problem.
Even I think some bourgeois scientists and doctors understand that in a way. What do they say about the coronavirus? They say it every day, the only way to tackle this is by combining all the resources of the world, the scientific and all the resources of the world. And what happens under capitalism? Even on such an elementary question as the coronavirus, which threatens the whole of humanity, instead of reaching a harmonious collaboration and a pooling of the gigantic resources of the world to combat what is a common threat of the whole of the human race, they are fighting like dogs possess whatever vaccine may be created, for themselves. That in itself illustrates the rottenness, the corruption, the complete degeneration of capitalism in the 21st century. I rest my case, but it doesn't stop there, does it.
Other comrades have made the central point, we have an urgent task to perform, to create that vehicle, that necessary instrument for changing society, by that I mean the creation of a revolutionary party, and a revolutionary international because we are internationalists. Alessandro, I think, made a pertinent statement, He said, and he's right, the comrade is a realist and I approve of realists. He said as follows: we are not ready yet. And that’s true in general, we are not ready yet. But we have taken some important steps, that's also true, comrades and friends, that's also true.
The International Marxist Tendency has taken some very important steps forward in building Marxism. Everyone recognizes that, our friends and even our enemies recognize it. They don't like it but they have to admit that it's a fact, and this school this marvellous school, this inspirational school, is just such a step, an important step forward for the International Marxist Tendency. So what should we do? I'll tell you something: the building of a revolutionary party, is actually a whole collection of small steps, small tasks. The road to big success and big advances can only be prepared by a series of small steps which every single one of you can do to spread the ideas of Marxism. Sell the books, the literature, the Marxist newspapers, collect money, we need money. Like any army, you know. Napoleon said that finances are the sinews of war. And of course the collection which will take place now is an important one, and therefore I’ll finish, I have one message for you: you can make a difference, my friend, you yourself.
Whatever conclusions you draw from this marvellous school, you must not draw the conclusion, well it's all OK but what can I do about it? I can't do anything. Yes, of course, you as an isolated individual of course, you can't do anything as an isolated atom. You're impotent, of course, that's true. But we are not isolated atoms, are we? We are part of a great class and a great movement, the movement of the working class. And what we have to do, what is necessary, what you can do immediately is to pick up a phone or go to your computer and make up your mind to join us, in the most important task that we face at the present time. The sacred task, the secret task of carrying out the proletarian socialist revolution on a world scale, and open the door to a new and glorious future for the whole of humanity. It's in your hands.