THIS WEEK, the final nail was driven into the coffin of the political and economic consensus that has dominated world capitalism from the end of WW2. In a vitriolic speech by Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, to EU heads this week, he tore into US president Donald Trump for pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement and threatening every country or company that has financial or trade deals with Iran with massive economic sanctions.
This threat would potentially destroy EU banks and companies that have established lucrative deals with Iran. This comes on top of Trump carrying into practice his policy of making the US ‘great’ by declaring trade war not just on China but on Europe and the rest of the world.
Tusk said: ‘Looking at the latest decisions of Trump; someone could even think: With friends like that, who needs enemies?’ With scathing sarcasm, Tusk told reporters that the EU should be ‘grateful to president Trump because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions. He has made us realise if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.’
He added: ‘Besides traditional political challenges, such as the rise of China or the aggressive stance of Russia, we are witnessing today a new phenomenon – the capricious assertiveness of the US administration.’ He went on to call for the EU to unite ‘economically, politically and militarily … like never before’.
Under the post-war consensus, Europe and the rest of the capitalist world were supposed to be under the benign umbrella and protection of powerful US capitalism. It was to be a united force to confront Russia and China.
It has finally dawned on Tusk and the EU ruling class that this fiction has been exploded, that US imperialism is only interested in its own survival in the world economic crisis and that it is not just Russia and China that are its enemies but the whole world. The US ruling class is determined to survive at the expense of its erstwhile allies and is quite prepared to use its economic strength and its military power to crush its rivals.
It is significant that Tusk emphasised the need for the EU to ‘unite’ militarily as well as politically and economically to face the war being waged by the US ruling class. The lesson of the 20th century is that the struggle for economic domination is resolved in world war between imperialist nations.
Meanwhile, Tusk’s call for unity looks increasingly forlorn as the EU disintegrates. Italy’s new coalition government, an unlikely political combination of the far-right League and the anti-establishment 5 Star movement (MS5), spells disaster for the euro and the EU.
From opposite political positions, both these parties oppose the EU and eurozone and won overwhelming support from workers in the last elections on an anti-EU, anti-austerity platform. They intend cancelling 250 billion euros of Italian debt held by the EU central bank and a return to ‘monetary sovereignty’, a return to the Lira. Already Brussels bureaucrats are talking of this as a ‘Syriza-like trajectory’ in Europe.
The difference, however, is that Italy is not Greece; it has the third largest economy in Europe and cannot be disciplined without destroying the EU. But doing nothing to stop Italy ripping up austerity will inspire the entire working class of Europe to follow suit immediately. Whatever they do, the EU loses.
Meanwhile in Britain, the ruling class is completely paralysed by this crisis and unable to make any independent decisions about the future with the only policy being put forward by the Tories being to keep Britain in a never-ending ‘transitional period’, tied to the single market and tied to a disintegrating EU. So weak is British capitalism that it has no independent role it can play. It can only sink along with European capitalism.
With world capitalism in its final stage of collapse into bankruptcy and war, the time is ripe for the working class in Britain, Europe and America to intervene decisively and put an end to capitalist crisis with the victory of the world socialist revolution. This is the way forward.