GLOBALIZATION: What should be our attitude?

ON IMPERIALISM

One common argument among post-colonial intellectuals is that it is too simplistic to say that imperialism has ended and that this occurred when the European empires relinquished their colonies during the few decades after the Second World War. The use of the term, neo-colonialism, is one such manifestation of this ongoing nature of imperialism. Yet it is in itself extremely contentious because it is multifaceted and loosely used, is often used as a synonym for contemporary forms of imperialism, and in a polemical way is used in reaction to any unjust and oppressive expression of Western political power. Lying underneath all these various meanings of neo-colonialism is a tacit understanding that colonialism should be seen as something more than the formal occupation and control of territories by a Western metropole. Hence while formal methods of control like the implementation of administrative structures, the stationing of military forces, and most importantly the incorporation of the natives as subjects of the metropolitan government, neo-colonialism suggests an indirect form of control through economic and cultural dependence. In this case neo-colonialism describes the continued control of former colonies through ruling native elites compliant with neocolonial powers, populations that are exploited for their labor and resources in order to feed an insatiable appetite for finished physical or cultural commodities made by the metropole.

Most Socialist parties today (if not all) have been waging an anti-imperialist struggle in the pretext that this struggle is for the benefit of the working class and in adherent with the principles of Leninism.  The immediate questions in this regard will be the following:  First, is this anti-imperialist struggle still relevant? Second, who are the real beneficiaries of this struggle? Third, is this struggle (we are talking here the present struggle against imperialism) in adherent to Leninism?  To clarify these (may be) very intriguing questions, we will tackle them one after the other.

To follow the most accepted procedure (the laying down of theoretical basis), we will tackle first the latest question mentioned above.  As far as our limited readings of Marx’s writings is concern, Marx or Engels has never mentioned that the working class must pursue an anti-imperialist struggle even during that time (late 19th century) when monopoly capitalism was already evident, and Marx and Engels already described some of the basic features of imperialism in Volume Three of Das Capital.  This is understandable in the part of Marx and Engels (of not mentioning the struggle of the working class against imperialism) because the focused of Das Capital was not in this subject and during the time of Marx, monopoly capitalism was in its very early stage, thus the material basis for analysis pertaining to this subject were “not available”.  Hence, for theoretical reference, the writings of Marx and Engels cannot fully clarify this matter which will oblige us to proceed immediately to Lenin’s positions appurtenant to the struggle against imperialism.

Lenin’s struggle against imperialism:

Before proceeding to the issues connected with imperialism, we will define first imperialism from Lenin’s definition.  Lenin defined imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism or monopoly capitalism, with the following features:

=the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life;

=the merging of bank capital with industrial, and the creation, on the basis of this “financial capital” of a financial oligarchy; the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance

=the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed.

Lenin further elaborated imperialism as capitalism in itself and that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.  It is to be noted that imperialism represents a special stage in the development of capitalism.  In its economic essence, imperialism is monopoly capitalism or capitalism in itself in a highest stage of development. We must now take special note of the four principal types of monopoly, or principal manifestations of monopoly capitalism:

(1) Monopoly arose out of the concentration of production at a very high stage.  This refers to the monopolist capitalist associations, cartels, syndicates and trust.

(2) Monopolies have stimulated the seizure of the most important sources of raw materials, especially for the basic and most highly cartelized industries in capitalist society: the coal and iron industries.  The monopoly of the most important sources of raw materials has enormously increased the power of big capital, and has sharpened the antagonism between cartelized and non-cartelized industry.

(3) Monopoly has sprung from the banks.  The banks have developed from modest middleman enterprises into the monopolists of finance capital.

(4) Monopoly has grown out of colonial policy.  To the numerous “old” motives of colonial policy, finance capital has added the struggle for the sources of raw materials, for the export of capital, for spheres of influence, i.e., for spheres for profitable deals, concessions, monopoly profits and son on.

From all that has been said on the economic essence of imperialism, it follows that we must define imperialism as capitalism in transition, or more precisely, as moribund capitalism. The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries, etc., makes it economically possible for them to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them, and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others.

Historically, Lenin’s writings pertaining to imperialism centered on the following two major issues: (1) the issue of annexation/colonization, and (2) the attitude of the different classes of society towards imperialist policy.

Let us take them one after another:

On the issue of annexation/colonization – Lenin made a clear attacked to imperialism by raising the national question. What is this national question according to Lenin vis-à-vis imperialism as a form of annexation/colonization?  Lenin states that, “We on our part concern ourselves with the self-determination of the proletariat in each nationality rather than with self-determination of peoples or nations…”[V.Lenin, ‘On Manifesto of Armenian Social Democrats’, Collected Works, vol. 6, p.327].  National demands have a democratic, not a socialist character. To quote Lenin, “Bourgeois nationalism and proletarian internationalism –such are two irreconcilably hostile slogans that correspond to the two great camps throughout the capitalist world and express two policies [more than that-two world outlook] in the national question”{LCW, Critical remarks on the National Question, October-December 1913, vol. 20}.

The above pronouncement of Lenin was further explained by Alan Woods and Ted Grant in the following way, “Bourgeois nationalism and proletarian internationalism are two utterly incompatible policies, reflecting the incompatible world outlook of two hostile classes. It is useless to twist and turn and try to disguise this obvious truth. Lenin stood firmly for proletarian internationalism and against nationalism in whatever form it masqueraded under. The fact that he opposed all forms of national oppression, and showed sympathy for oppressed peoples should not be used to disguise this indisputable fact. Lenin was the enemy of nationalism [Marxism and the National Question].

Therefore, on the context of self-determination as against colonization, Lenin made an open declaration that the struggle of the working class against annexation [imperialism] is not directed to the liberation of their nations or peoples but the emancipation of the proletariat, as a class. Marxism-Leninism transcends over national question [nationalism] and advances the struggle for international liberation of the working class.

To quote the Communist Manifesto, “The communists are distinguished from the other working class parties by this only: (1) In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. (2) In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.”

The working men have no country.  National differences and antagonism between peoples are daily more and more vanishing, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, and to the world market.

This should be the position of the working class in the context of direct colonization.  The liberation of nations or peoples is a bourgeois democratic demand under the pretext of a bourgeois democratic revolution and has its origin from a petty-bourgeoisie ideology, while the demand for the emancipation of the proletariat in each nationality is a truly revolutionary claim of the working class.  This is how sharp Lenin was in the issue of national question vis-à-vis direction of the working class.  Hence the issue of annexation/colonization is more on political question rather than economic, and this issue was highlighted during the stage of imperialist colonization through military force.  Since this stage of imperialist policy was already a bygone (Philippine context), thus this issue had lost its significant and cannot be used as a rallying call/slogan in today’s revolutionary movement, because this issue is inseparably bounded up with the bourgeois democratic revolution or the struggle for national liberation, which historically a thing of the distant past.  Trying to revive this issue and make it as part of anti-imperialist struggle of the working class today is not only un-Marxist but reactionary in form and in substance for reason that this struggle is trying to roll back the wheel of history.  Most importantly, this struggle (national liberation) was the struggle of the bourgeoisie under the national democratic revolution and not by the proletariat as Lenin stated above.  This is the reason why Ernest Mandel says:  “…the historical evidence so far does suggest that the less developed a country is, the easier it is for non-proletarian or non-revolutionary leadership of an anti-imperialist movement to make significant gains against imperialism and to mobilize broader forces against it without at the same time breaking with imperialism completely. This is what is happening in the Philippines today. Attacking imperialism without attacking the foundation of imperialism which is capitalism and not that but they don’t want to banner socialism as the only alternative to capitalism/imperialism. These people are either “shy-Marxists or left opportunists”.

As can be seen, Lenin made a unique dialectical and dynamic contribution to the national question, which will find its place among the theoretical treasure-houses of the workers’ movement. Our task remains the expropriation of the monopolies, the elimination of borders and the free association of peoples. In that way will the national question be finally resolved.

On the issue of imperialist wars- Lenin many times repeated that the position of the proletariat (especially the “vanguard party”) must be against the proposition of the opportunists of defending the fatherland , instead Lenin calls for the preparation of the proletariat for the overthrow of their “own bourgeoisie”.  When the opportunists pose the question “either we recognize (they state) in principle our duty to defend the fatherland, or we leave our country defenseless”. Lenin corrects this formulation by saying:  “That presentation is fundamentally wrong.  This is how the question stands in reality:  Either we allow ourselves to be killed in the interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie, or we systematically prepare the majority of the exploited, and ourselves, for seizure—at the price of less sacrifice—of the banks and expropriation of the bourgeoisie in order to put an end to the high cost of living and war.” This statement of Lenin was totally forgotten by the new breed of opportunists.  Like the old opportunists in the labor movement, their grandsons and daughters today after smelling an impending war in Afghanistan and Iraq immediately rushed to the frontline and shouted “peace not war” and “no to US imperialism”.

On the issue of attitude of the different classes of society towards imperialist policy– With regard to this subject Lenin pointed to two internal effects of imperialism.  Firstly, monopoly – the foundation of imperialism – created a tendency for technical progress to retard and stagnate.  Secondly – and most importantthe super-profits of imperialism made it possible ‘to bribe the upper strata of the proletariat, and therefore foster, give shape to, and strengthen opportunism’. (Marxism after Marx p.96)  Based on this analysis, Lenin says: “By the critique of imperialism, in the broad sense of the term, we mean the attitude of the different classes of society towards imperialist policy in connection with their general ideology” [Lenin, Imperialism, the highest stage of Capitalism]. Thus as far as proletarian revolution is concern, the most dangerous effect of imperialism is its capacity to bribe the upper strata of the proletariat and consequently strengthen opportunism.  This was true in the case of Kautsky & his cohorts because of their opportunist tendency produces opportunist understanding of imperialism.

Kautsky and his cohorts reduced imperialism into a mere policy of the capitalist rather than a stage of development of capitalism as expounded by Lenin.  To fight imperialism {as a mere policy}, Kautsky called up for the regulations of protective tariffs in favor of free trade and peaceful democracy.  Lenin denounced this attitude of Kautsky as substituting petty-bourgeois reform for Marxism.

To quote Lenin, “to use this as an argument in favor of free trade and peaceful democracy is banal, it means forgetting the essential features and characteristics of imperialism, substituting petty-bourgeois reformism for Marxism” [Lenin, Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism- Critique of Imperialism].

Thus from economic point of view, combating the policy of monopoly capitalism or imperialism implies advocating “free trade”, which was denounced by Lenin as petty-bourgeois opportunism.  May be most Marxists will scream in chorus that combating the economic policy of imperialism does not automatically follow that they are for free trade.  We must remember that imperialism is monopoly capitalism; therefore combating monopoly (in economic sense) has no other direction but either free trade or socialism, the opposite of monopoly.  Evading from this painful reality is nothing but another form of opportunist deception, which has been the common argument like the opportunist forefathers.

To be more specific, we will take up as an example the present struggle against GLOBALIZATION which in essence an economic policy of imperialism.  Although globalization covers the ideological (neo-liberalism), political (New World Order) and organizational (WTO) aspects but these aspects are mere mechanism for the realization of the defined economic aims.  The demonstrations in Seattle and Mexico for example, the major issues/demands raised in the said demonstrations were: (1) the contents of GATT which are disadvantageous to the developing and underdeveloped countries (the main issue here is unfair competition) and, (2) the appalling effects of globalization to the local industries of the second and third world countries and the awful effect to the working class was added (as decoration).  Is these demands not geared towards restoring free trade or “free competition and protection of local bourgeoisie”?  Only political hypocrites will not admit these obvious facts.

ON NEO-COLONIALISM?

What is this “neo-colonial” status of the Philippines as some would like to call it? To answer this intriguing question, let us go back to what ‘colonialism’ is all about. Colonialism means direct annexation of strong country over weak country through the control of their political life while neo-colonialism means ‘new form of annexation or semi form of annexation’ (How semi-is semi? Where did it start? When it will end? How new is new?). To some, neo-colonialism means the control of a stronger country over weak country through economic and cultural means. If this is the way they interpreted neo-colonialism, following their line of argument, it follows that all countries affected by “Globalization” nowadays including US are neo-colonial states. Think about it.

Neo-colonialism is a mere “strategy” of imperialist powers (Don Nabudere, The Political Economy of Imperialism, pp.212-241). It is still imperialism and by destroying capitalist private property relations, we are automatically destroying imperialism and there is no other option but through a socialist revolution. Again, it is useless to talk about waging socialist revolution if the present mode of production is not capitalism and it is also futile to discuss and talk abot socialism if our society is not capitalist. It is also a waste of time to attack imperialism/globalization without attacking its foundation which is capitalism.

Since the granting of our “independence” in 1946, the Filipino people has been responsible in electing their officials from top to bottom regardless of whether genuine and democratic elections was truly democratic or not, Nowhere we can find that a foreigner is the one running the Philippine government (politically) since the granting of our independence. What socialist groups should look into and put more importance is the “class liberation”.

Some argues that the treaties signed by Philippine government with foreign imperialists make our country semi-colonial. If this is the line of argement then it also follows that the other contracting party to the signed treaty is also semi-colonial state. This is foolishness.

Lenin is more concerned on the struggle against the foundation of imperialism rather than concentrating on its manifestations (or strategy as what Don Nabudere called it) in the form of policies.  This means that instead of exhausting the energy of the working class in combating the imperialist policies (war, war on terrorism, globalization etc.), the proletariats should rather direct its struggle on the foundation of imperialism, i.e., abolition of capitalism in general.

As Hilferding correctly pointed out, “It is not the business of the proletariat to contrast the more progressive policy with that of the now bygone era of free trade and of hostility towards the state.  The reply of the proletariat to the economic policy of finance capital, to imperialism, cannot be free trade but socialism.  The aim of proletarian policy cannot today be the ideal of restoring free competition which has now become a reactionary ideal but the complete elimination of competition by the abolition of capitalism”.

Thus our present struggle against imperialism must concentrate to the abolition of capitalism and struggle against opportunism otherwise it is not only sham but un-Marxist in form and in substance.

As what Lenin had said: “…there was created that bond between imperialism and opportunism. The most dangerous of all in this respect are those who do not wish to understand that the fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism”.

Unfortunately, most “Marxists” today (wittingly or unwittingly) forgot these very essential points in Lenin’s struggle against imperialism, and instead they are busy exhausting the energy of the proletariat in “reforming the policies” of imperialism (imperialist war in Iraq, war on terrorism, globalization etc.) which have no connection whatsoever with the abolition of the foundations of imperialism.

Confused Marxist-Leninist would fight imperialism/globalization with the slogan of free trade, protectionism and reforms. Marx called these slogans as bourgeois socialism [Communist Manifesto- Conservative, or Bourgeois, Socialism]

Some again will defend their ignorance of Leninism by saying, “The slogans of free trade, protectionism and reforms are mere tactics to fight imperialism/globalization in the context of reforms and such tactics are geared toward establishing alliances with different social classes [domestic capitalists, petty bourgeoisies, etc]. We can’t openly banner socialism.” Is this correct?

On the question of tactics– Leninism uses tactics as means of attaining the strategic plan for building socialism. Tactics are part of strategy, subordinate to it and serving it. Tactics concern themselves with less important objectives, winning a particular engagement, or a particular battle. Tactics change according to flow and ebb while the strategic plan remained unchanged. Tactics must serve strategy and not strategy serving tactics. The strategic aim of the working class is the abolition of bourgeois private ownership. The call for free trade, protectionism and reforms as tactics does not whatsoever serves strategic aim for building socialism not even serves the democratic demand of workers for higher wages and job security, instead, it automatically serve the interest of the local capitalists [it will consolidate the local capitalists and intensify local class exploitation].

On the question of struggle for reforms– the present day situation tells that the struggle for reforms was already a bygone, in fact, we are now in the period of counter-reforms, and therefore, there is only one road left for the working class, the best option as dictated by the material condition of our times, the struggle for socialism.

On the question of open declaration of the call for socialism– Some might say, “The call for socialism should not be openly put in forefront. We cannot openly declare our revolutionary agenda in public. That is why we have to use tactical calls to hide our strategic aim for building socialism.” Is this the correct attitude of a revolutionary working class?  To punish the attitude of our shy-Marxist-Leninist comrades, Marx states in his Communist Manifesto, “The communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social condition. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution.”

The nature of today’s struggle “against imperialism”, i.e., struggles against imperialist war, war on terrorism; globalization, etc. are not only falling away from the principles of Leninism but has become un-Leninist in general.  This can be seen in the nature of demands raised by these movements as we have stated above.  The opportunist contents of the present struggle “against imperialism” have already surpassed the opportunist tendency during the time of Lenin.  Today’s struggle “against imperialism” not only has romanticized the struggle against the policies of imperialism but put it in the pedestal as if that this struggle is the most paramount concerned of the proletarian revolution. There is may be a narrow possibility that the correct answer to this unfortunate event is none of the above.  Whatever reasons behind this, the painful reality shows that our anti-imperialist struggle is no more than an “empty phrase”, and falling-short from Leninism and fast approaching to opportunism.

Another painful reality is that any gains we may achieve from our anti-globalization struggle the workers will benefit nothing but exhaustion of their energy, a waste of resources and the real beneficiaries are the local bourgeoisie.  For the benefit of those who may seek to disagree with this conclusion, we will mention few examples.  Our major demands in anti-globalization struggle were: (1) protective tariffs, (2) protectionism, (3) anti-trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation.  Essentially, this struggle has no other direction but “protectionism and free trade” [if we are shy to openly declare the call for socialism] as we have been stating many times that the working class will benefit nothing from this.

ON GLOBALIZATION

The next interesting question is what will be our stand on the issue of globalization?  Before answering this question we will try first to analyze globalization in the context of development of capitalism and its effects to the working class struggle for socialism.  It is important to note that capitalism unwittingly produces the seed of socialist society, first by producing its grave digger-the proletariat, second, capitalism consolidates the scattered and small petty production, third capitalism obliterates individual (peasant and petty, and all subsections?) production into a socialized production, thus in short, capitalism unconsciously prepare the grounds and material basis of socialism.  In this stage of capitalist development (obliterating the remnants of feudal mode) is progressive in nature as far as development of society is concern and the proletariat has no business opposing this development instead the class must support these progressive aspect of capitalism not because the working class is for capitalism per se but because this “struggle” will facilitate the development of the proletariat into a class.

Now on the issue of globalization, we will take as a point of departure the points we have stated above.  Like the early stage of capitalism, (obliterating the remnants of feudal mode) it is indisputable fact that globalization intends to obliterate the national distinction and remove national barriers (in economic aspect) and eventually make the world into a one large community.  Consequent, this will lead to the doing away of barriers between workers of different nations, and will lead to the more and more closer ties among workers of different nationalities.  This is the other side of the coin (globalization) which most Marxists overlooked and instead gave great emphasis to the other side of the coin.  The question now, is this (previously mentioned) effect of globalization is not progressive, in the point of view of social development and in building socialism?  It is progressive of course, because it will provide a material condition for the transformation of working class struggle from localized (national) into an international struggle against global capitalism.

To quote Lenin:  “The proletariat cannot support any consolidation of nationalism, on the contrary, it supports everything that helps to obliterate national distinctions and remove national barriers, supports everything that makes the ties between nationalities closer and closer or leads to the amalgamation of nations. To act differently means taking the side of reactionary nationalist philistinism” [Lenin, Collective Works, Critical Remarks on the National Question, October-December 1913, vol. 20].

Unfortunately, our present struggle against imperialism in the Philippines (globalization) is in direct contradiction with Lenin views above quoted.  If so, will we support globalization?  We think this is a wrong question.  The question is, if we let ourselves and the working class to be used by the bourgeoisie to defend their class interests in the guise of patriotism against the imperialists/bourgeoisies of other countries instead of directing our struggle towards capturing state power in our own country.  This is an “imperialist war” and taking side either for local or foreign bourgeoisie is betrayal of the socialist revolution.

So now what should be the line of march of the proletariat against imperialism/globalization?

The answer to globalization is neither free trade nor self-determination or protectionism policy but socialism. Why not free trade? The demand for free trade means the rolling back of history and such demand would only serve the interest of the local-petty bourgeoisie rather than directly facilitating the emancipation of the working class from capital bondage.  Why not self-determination? Again, this issue in the Philippine context has already run-out of time and that Lenin would rather focus on the liberation of the working class rather than spending time on the liberation of nations or peoples which has no direct effect to the emancipation of the proletariat as a class in each nationality. Why not protectionism? Capitalism has already reached the stage of monopoly therefore it has already destroyed the walls of protectionism globally and continuously destroying them. Why socialism? Socialism transcends the boundary of nations and peoples, its mission is not to roll back history and most of all, has no business in preserving social classes. Only socialism can facilitate the genuine liberation of the working class {nationally and globally} from the slavery of capital onward building socialism/communism and only communism can tear down the division of the world.

Our revolutionary demands:

*Consolidations of the working class nationally and globally

*Forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions

*Expropriation of the monopolies

*Elimination of borders and the free association of peoples.

*Onward building socialism

*Formulation of genuine Marxist-Leninist communist international

Our practical demands and calls:

* Abolition of visa and other related requirements (for workers searching for job opportunities only) from one country to seek employment. This demand is within the premise that capitalism has turned the labor-power as a mere commodity, therefore if the other commodities have been liberalized, the labor-power as commodity must also be liberalized.  This demand will spare the working class who may seek job to other country from a very costly processing and other fees, and most instances where used by the fixers and corrupt government officials to collect money from the applying workers.  This also meant to give an equal opportunity to every worker who may seek employment in any part of the globe.

* Demand for the formulation of international labor laws (binding and obligatory to all states) that will protect the workers from abuse of the employers (e.g.  just compensation based on international standard, job security, workers benefits, protection against employers abuses, unconditional respect for the right of workers to form unions and associations, etc) and these laws must be applicable regardless of age, sex or nationality. This demand aims to:  protect the workers from abuse of their employers, elimination of racial discrimination especially the workers coming from backward countries, unifying the working class from different nationality to fight for their common good, and eventually the elimination of workers rivalry among themselves. If commodity has been globally liberalized, then the workers has all the reason and justification to protect their democratic rights also in the global scale through the formulation of international labor laws, independently created by the working class themselves.

* Demand for the creation of international workers association. Hence the capitalists has already organized their ranks in a global scale (WTO), the workers must also call for the organization of international workers-led association.

* Removal of all placement fees and agency system. An international agency must be created to facilitate the employment of the working class and must be free of charge.

*Criminalization of unjust labor practices and other violations of the rights of workers.

*Demand for the equal profit sharing

*Abolish labor-only contracting

*Equal access to job opportunities worldwide

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