When the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, concluded a summit of the bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with the statement that the world is ‘one shock away from a full-blown crisis’ then it is a racing certainty that the full-blown crisis is already upon us.
All week this gathering of the most powerful representatives of international capitalism had been sending out messages that managed to combine heady optimism with doom-laden predictions.
Thus earlier we were informed by them that there was indeed a worldwide economic recovery of capitalism, but that it remains ‘fragile’ and likely to be ‘derailed’ by the sovereign debt crisis gripping Europe.
For the vast majority of people throughout the world this economic recovery from the crash of the capitalist banking system in 2008 is not just fragile, it is smashed into a million pieces and can never be put back together.
This was explicitly recognised by Zoellick in a speech that was nothing less than a warning that the crisis was fuelling an unstoppable drive to revolution throughout the world.
In particular, he is clearly terrified that the crisis is driving up the price of food to unprecedented levels, creating conditions of starvation in what he terms the ‘poorer nations’.
The figures released by the United Nations show just how much food prices have risen in the past twelve months.
The cost of maize is up by 74%, wheat by 69%, palm oil by 53%, soybean by 36% while rice – the food staple for the majority of the world’s population – has only fallen by 2% from its previous world record high.
It is this intolerable rise in food prices that drove the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and is driving onwards the revolutionary upsurge throughout the Middle East and Africa.
This is what is ringing alarm bells in the World Bank and the IMF, and leads Zoellick to warn in his speech of the dangers these countries risk in ‘losing a generation’.
What he means is that youth will not put up with starvation as a necessary price to pay for keeping bankrupt capitalism afloat.
We saw this graphically demonstrated in Egypt where it was young people who led the struggle to bring down Mubarak and who are refusing to sit back and see him replaced with a stooge administration imposed by US and western imperialism.
Zoellick’s message to the imperialist powers was to the point, he said ‘in revolutionary moments the status quo is not a winning hand’.
What was meant by this was that the imperialist backing for its client, despotic regimes in the region had not been enough to hold back the forces of revolution; instead, he was urging that the imperialists support the bourgeois nationalists in these countries who have been drawn into the struggle for ‘democracy’ and are only too willing to reach an accommodation with imperialism.
Support for repressive dictatorships must give way to support for these counter-revolutionary forces, Zoellick is insisting.
What his speech reveals all too clearly is the enormous weakness of world imperialism in this epoch and the recognition that the working class is being forced by the crisis to go beyond the confines of the bourgeois democratic revolution, and into the struggle against capitalism itself.
Only the fight for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the advance to a world socialist society can prevent mass starvation for workers and the poor, not just in the Middle East and North Africa but in every country throughout the globe.
Never has there been a more favourable situation to build the sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International to lead this coming world socialist revolution to victory. This is the urgent task of the hour.