US PRESIDENT Donald Trump launched a world-wide trade war last Friday with his declaration that he will impose a 25 per cent tariff on all steel imports, and a ten per cent tariff on all aluminium imports, to put teeth into his ‘America first’ policy.
French economy minister, Bruno Le Maire responded that there would ‘only be losers’ in a trade war between the US and the EU, and called for a ‘strong, coordinated and united response from the EU’.
He was joined by European Commission head, Jean-Claude Juncker who pledged: ‘We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk.’
China, a major steel producer, has also condemned the move, with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson saying: ‘If all countries followed the example of the United States, it will undoubtedly result in a serious impact on the international trade order.’ It has also indicated that it has its own financial nuke of last resort, that it could dump China’s holdings of US bonds, notes and bills priced at $1.2 trillion onto the market, creating the conditions for the greatest crash ever.
Trump has meanwhile responded by tweeting: ‘If the EU wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on US companies doing business there, we will simply apply a tax on their cars which freely pour into the US.’ A second tweet decried the ‘$800 billion dollar yearly trade deficit because of our “very stupid” trade deals and policies’. Trump added: ‘Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!’
Capitalism is now embarking on a course of ‘mutually assured destruction’ as trade wars will see companies and countries go under, as world trade collapses along with stock markets, and the threat of a third imperialist world war emerges to ‘continue the political struggle by other means!’
In deciding for a trade war to put ‘America first’ Trump has had a ‘Cecil Rhodes moment’.
In his book Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism Lenin refers to Cecil Rhodes and what he told his friend the journalist Stead in 1895. This was: ‘I was in the East End of London (a working class quarter) yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for “bread! bread!” and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism…. My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war. . . The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists.’
Trump and his political friends are fearful that the US working class will rise up in a civil war to overthrow US capitalism, unless it is able to produce some jobs and some prospects for the working class. He has deduced that the only way to avoid a colossal civil war in the USA is to put the US first and to create civil war situations in the EU and elsewhere. For all of the Trump belecosity he reflects a ruling class that is fearful of its future and wants to put up walls not just to keep out Mexicans but to keep out the commodities produced by its former clients and allies.
He has broken with the US as the ‘leader of the free world’ epitomised by President Kennedy’s statement of 26th June 1963, in a divided Berlin that: ‘I am a Berliner,’ in favour of ruining his EU rivals from Berlin to Brussels with a cut-throat trade war, to stave off revolution in the USA. The US can no longer bear the cost of both defending the ‘free world’, and preserving the the rule of capitalism at home.
It is the working class of the world that must now deal with the greatest ever crisis of the capitalist system that is rapidly emerging. Marx’s slogan of the hour was and remains: ‘Workers of the world unite you have a world to win and nothing to lose but your chains.’
Armed with this outlook the working class of the world must unite to deal with the capitalist crisis by putting an end to capitalism on a world scale through the victory of the world socialist revolution.
This means building the revolutionary leadership of the Fourth International in every country. There is not a moment to lose!