Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its empire we have been witnessing a breath-taking process of the economic and political reorganization of the world. Under the misleading heading ”globalization,” a flood of publications on the subject by bourgeois and petty-bourgeois economists has appeared. But hardly a one can stand up to scientific scrutiny and, above all, satisfy the demand to reveal the social causes of this development from all sides.

In the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement, too, as yet only a few important analyses of individual aspects of this process exist. An accurate and all-sided general assessment is still lacking. This can lead to misinterpretation of the new developments in society, with serious consequences, and to wrong conclusions for the struggle against imperialism and for socialism.

This book underscores the general validity of the analyses of imperialism by Lenin and of state-monopoly capitalism in Germany by Willi Dickhut1. At the same time it directs fullest attention to the new manifestations, the essential changes, in the imperialist world system. They are summed up as the reorganization of international capitalist production.

Willi Dickhut (1904–1992). KPD functionary 1926–1966. Then prominently involved in building the MLPD. Under his direction, numbers 1 to 24 of the MLPD theoretical organ, Revolutionärer Weg (Revolutionary Way), were (Revolutionary Way), were worked out.

The political starting point of this reorganization was the end of the era of the social-imperialist Soviet Union, sealed by the abortive putsch attempt of Soviet military men in August 1991. The continued existence of the Soviet Union and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) as an economic area relatively isolated from the rest of the world could no longer be maintained. The scientific and technological revolution caused by microelectronics and full automation and the internationalization of capitalist production had largely undermined the economic and political basis of superpower Soviet Union. The full integration of the Soviet spheres of influence into a unified world market and the relative assimilation of their relations of production to the far more productive relations of production in the West had become an immediate economic necessity.

The ensuing upheavals in Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet Union and the former CMEA did not, of course, have a general system-
changing character. The Soviet Union already had lost its socialist character since the Twentieth Party Congress of the CPSU in February 1956. With the seizure of power by a new bourgeoisie from the central bureaucracy of the party, economy and state, the Soviet Union degenerated into a bureaucratic state-monopoly capitalism of a new type. The only thing it then had in
common with socialism was the name.

The propaganda of the ”end of socialism,” yes, even the ”end of history,” was merely the triumphant cheering of the victorious Western powers which had defeated their social-imperialist rival in an unrelenting battle of competition. It mainly served to manipulate the oppressed and exploited all over the world
who, in growing discontent, increasingly are looking for an alternative to capitalist society.

It was not socialism but the modern revisionism of Khrushchov, Brezhnev and Gorbachov that was defeated when the Soviet Union dissolved. This modern revisionism was the philosophical underpinning of the rule of the new bourgeoisie in the Soviet Union and of its aspirations to excel its arch-rival,
the USA, and itself gain ascendancy as the world’s leading imperialist superpower.

The bankruptcy of the social-imperialist Soviet superpower was a manifestation of the rottenness and erosion of the imperialist world system in general and of Soviet-style bureaucratic state-monopoly capitalism in
particular. This failure engendered a deep crisis of modern revisionism and its aligned parties. It opened the way for the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement to fundamentally assess this negative development and overcome it. In a protracted ideological-political process, the causes and effects of and the conditions for the revisionist degeneration and the restoration of capitalism in all formerly socialist countries, without exception, must be completely clarified. This must be accompanied by reconstituting the ranks of the Marxist-Leninists all over the world on the basis of creative conclusions for the future of the revolutionary liberation struggle and for a new upsurge of the international struggle for socialism/communism.

The reorganization of international production is a temporary culmination point in the internationalization of the capitalist mode of production. It introduced a new phase in the development of the imperialist world system.

Because several major obstacles to the free unfolding of the world market were eliminated, a tremendous leap in the development of the productive forces occurred at the end of the twentieth century. No country in the world could and can remain unaffected by it. An unprecedented process of cross-border concentration and centralization in industry, agriculture, trade and banking was set in motion and profoundly changed the economic and political landscape.

The new, unified world market, to which the international monopolies have relatively free access, radically calls into question all traditional and still mainly nationally organized structures of production and exchange and the corresponding forms of communication, competition and cooperation. However, the ruling powers do not even come close, on an international scale, to creating relations of production and a functioning political superstructure which correspond to this revolutionization of the forces of production.

For all the bourgeois songs of praise for the allegedly salutary ”globalization,” the capitalist relations of power and property as the social basis of the changes were not touched, of course. On the contrary, the globally operating stratum of international finance capital revealed its predatory and inhuman essence with a clarity that can hardly be topped. More than ever it imposes its conditions on the individual economies and the non-monopolized bourgeoisie of all countries.

The national states were forced to throw their borders wide open and dispense with national protection measures against the international competition. Like swarms of locusts, the international monopolies invaded the neocolonially dependent economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America, appropriating their labor, raw material bases, state institutions, lucrative industries, and subjugating their markets in an unprecedented plundering raid. The USA as the biggest imperialist economic power profited most from this neocolonialist spoliation.

The reactionary governments of the neocolonial countries in most cases willingly opened their doors to imperialist finance capital. They hoped to get an appropriate share of the spoils from the sellout of their countries. But everywhere traditional industries had to give way to the international systems of production of highly productive monopoly industry or to the low-price trade streams from all over the world. And so these countries often were deprived of the last vestiges of economic sovereignty and independence.

Accompanied by the deceptive propaganda of neoliberalism, a worldwide process of privatization and monopolization of state-owned enterprises and government institutions set in, ruthlessly gorging often hard-won social gains which had long appeared to be secure.

At the same time the traditional role of the bourgeois state as central regulator of the national economy increasingly gives way to a system of worldwide competition between the national states for providing the best services to the international monopolies for the optimum expansion of their capital and a favorable political environment. At the center of the reorganization of international production is the tendency towards the relative dissolution of the national-state organization of the relations of production and exchange, which is replaced by the international linking of the most progressive modes of production and exchange under the rule of international finance capital. A wave of cross-border mergers and takeovers began to restructure the corporate landscape. The competitive struggle between the international monopolies adopted the character of a mutual battle of annihilation.

At the same time, in the production places of the international monopolies and the special economic zones that go with them an international industrial proletariat emerged which in the main is integrated into a world-spanning production system.

The rapid development of telecommunications, in particular the Internet, brought international finance capital extraordinary growth in the second half of the 1990s. Fantastic speculative profits gushed out of the stock markets. This was accompanied by enormous leaps in the productivity of wage and salary earners as lean production was introduced in industry and administration and all-round flexibilization of working hours prevailed. This led the capitalist exploitation of human labor power into a new dimension. The international carousel of mergers turned ever faster until it became bogged down in a new world economic crisis at the start of the new millennium.

The reorganization of international production is a vain attempt to stay the destabilization of the imperialist world system by subjecting the entire world still more thoroughly to the dictates of international finance capital. It was unable to solve a single problem of the imperialist system, however. On the contrary, it has aggravated and deepened the system’s proneness to crisis. A new international structural crisis thus developed, becoming the pacemaker of a worldwide crisis of overproduction at the start of the third millennium. The crisis of the system of neocolonialism became even deeper. The global environmental crisis has intensified threateningly. Growing unemployment, underemployment and poverty, mass destruction of the livelihoods of small peasants, call the circumstances of life of the world’s masses into question. The chronic crisis of the bourgeois family system has become an international manifestation. The more or less pronounced economic convulsions of the national economies sharpen the latent political crisis in all countries. Even the previously relatively stable imperialist countries were not unaffected by this. Because the imperialist world system is increasingly coming off the hinges, the ruling powers seek safety more and more in expanding the state force apparatus and dismantling bourgeois-democratic rights and liberties.

The uneven development has initiated a new phase of the struggle for the redivision of the world among the largest international monopolies and the biggest imperialist powers. War and reaction is the central message of an outmoded social system.

What was once pretentiously heralded as a ”New World Order” by US President George H.W. Bush has turned out to be a new international political disorder. This destructive and self-destructive process has assumed vast and general dimensions. The law-governed striving towards a fundamental solution must, of course, remain an unrealizable illusion within the narrow limits of capitalist society. A way out is imaginable ultimately only on an international scale and in the form of revolutionary transformation to a socialist societal system.

The imperialist world system is characterized by an allround intensification of all fundamental contradictions and growing instability. This justifies speaking of a new, fifth phase of the general crisis of capitalism since the beginning of the 1990s.

The development of the productive forces manifestly has initiated a new historical phase of transformation which finds visible expression in the higher development of the international class struggle. The exploited and oppressed all over the world do not want to sink in capitalist barbarism and are looking for a societal way out. In the imperialist centers, after long years of relative calm the class consciousness of the working class has reawakened on a broad front. In a series of countries neocolonially exploited and oppressed by imperialism, in Latin America in particular, the destabilization of society has progressed to an extent that a process of transnational revolutionary ferment has set in. A worldwide ”anti-globalization,” environmental and peace movement is fighting the inhuman effects of the reorganization of international production and the political disorder accompanying it.

In the early 1990s, Willi Dickhut put forward the farsighted thesis that the response to the internationalization of capitalist production must be the international proletarian revolution. As basis thereof, the international proletariat must exercise its leading role in relation to the proletarian and nonproletarian masses in the struggle against imperialism.

It remains the task of the Marxist-Leninists to comprehensively analyze the new phenomena of the imperialist world system and to give answers to the arising ideological, political and organizational questions of the proletarian class struggle. It is crucial to discover those factors in the new social development that are an expression of the accelerated material preparation for a new society without exploitation and oppression and that pave the way for a new upsurge of the struggle for socialism/communism.

This book is meant as a contribution to the ideological and political discussion and unification within the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement. It is intended to show the flag and propagate the way of the international proletarian revolution. That includes the struggle of world outlooks against the main reformist, revisionist or adventurist theories and practices which the international proletariat must come to grips with in fulfilling its historical mission. Without gaining victory in this preparatory battle in the ideological- political field, it will be impossible, in practice, for the international proletarian revolution to win.

January 2003

Stefan Engel



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