ON Thursday, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, issued the starkest warning yet that the debt crisis gripping the eurozone is set to bring down the entire world banking system and usher in an epoch of protectionism and isolationism leading inevitably toward war between the capitalist nations as they battle for survival against their rivals.
Speaking from Washington, Lagarde represented the view in the IMF that Europe is heading for a massive recession in 2012, stating: ‘The world economic outlook at the moment is not particularly rosy. It is quite gloomy.’
Gloomy’ doesn’t do justice to the future that Lagarde mapped out in her speech.
In a pointed swipe at Tory leader David Cameron’s use of the veto over the Franco/German plan to impose a German-led financial and political dictatorship over Europe, she demanded that nation states either ‘co-operate’ or face the risk of ‘retraction, rising protectionism, isolation’.
To underline the seriousness of the crisis she continued: ‘This is exactly the description of what happened in the 1930s, and what followed is not something we are looking forward to.’
What followed the international crash of the capitalist system in the 1930s was the emergence of fascism throughout Europe and world war as the Imperialist powers fought it out amongst themselves.
This is the future the IMF is holding out for the working class internationally, a complete vindication of Lenin and Trotsky’s characterisation of imperialism as being the highest and last stage of capitalism and the epoch of wars and revolution.
As if to underline this, on the very day of Lagarde’s speech the US announced that it would impose extra tariffs on Chinese imported goods in a tit-for-tat exchange over China levelling increased taxes on imported US cars.
Trade wars have always been a precursor to shooting wars.
Capitalism in its final stage of Imperialist barbarism can only solve its crisis through war against its capitalist rivals and civil war against its own working class to destroy all the gains made in Europe and across the world since 1945, and drive workers back to conditions of poverty and destitution not seen since the Victorian era and before.
But today is not the 1930s.
Then, the working class of Europe and the world had suffered defeats at the hands of the bourgeoisie, defeats caused not by weakness but through the betrayals of the reformist and Stalinist leadership of the working class.
In 1926 the British general strike was led by rotten reformists of the TUC who were determined not to challenge for power and preferred to lead their members to defeat rather than overthrow the government and challenge for power.
In Germany in 1923 the Communist Party refused to take the power, while in the 1930s the powerful German working class was completely split by the policies of the German Communist Party acting directly on the orders of Stalin himself. His theory of the ‘Third Period’ was that the German working class had to smash the Labour Party before it could take power. The CP denounced any united Front with the Labour Party. The slogan of the hour was that ‘After Hitler our Turn’.
It was this split that enabled Hitler to come to power as the saviour of bankrupt German capitalism and drove forward to the bourgeois dream of a capitalist Europe united under the iron boot of German imperialism.
Today the working class internationally is undefeated.
On the contrary, the impact of the crisis is having a colossal revolutionising effect on the working class, especially the youth who are in the vanguard of the struggle against capitalism across the globe.
But the bitter lessons of the 1920s and 1930s must not be ignored. The defeats were caused by the refusal of reformism and Stalinism to lead the struggle for power. They led to the hungry thirties and war.
Only by building revolutionary sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in every country to lead the working class to power can capitalism and imperialism be smashed and the victory of the world socialist revolution be assured.
Join the WRP and Young Socialists today and join us in the fight to build the leadership demanded by this crisis.