The year 2011 was perhaps the most turbulent year in recent history. The Arab Spring, the European Summer and the American Fall were an upheaval that traversed the planet. For the first time in history there were demonstrations in more than 900 cities across the world in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US. The main cause that triggered this massive response of the workers and youth throughout the world was the eruption of a rebellion in the very womb of imperialism.
World capitalism was shaken on a world scale from its most formidable bastion. A renewed vindication of Marx's internationalism was there for the world to see. Revolution and class struggle that had been declared finished and dumped into the trash can of history by the leading lights of the ruling elites around the world were once again on top of the agenda. The banking default became a sovereign default and the economies of weak bourgeois states of the advanced capitalist world from Iceland to Greece started to collapse. However, the revolts that erupted due to economic and social conditions in Tunisia and elsewhere were painted by the media as struggles for "democracy" against dictatorships. But the demands of the protesters from the democracies of Israel to the US defied and falsified this denigration.
US imperialism had installed dictatorships and engineered coups throughout the last century. From Pinochet in Chile to Ziaul Haq in Pakistan, it was the main architect and the supporter of the most brutal and bestial military regimes. There are several incidents that expose the imperialist attitude towards its own democratic fabrications when they failed to fulfil their designated role of the preservation of capitalist rule. When the Greek colonels took power through a military coup in 1967, Phillips Talbot, the US ambassador in Athens, lamented it as "a rape of democracy". His cynical CIA chief of station replied: "How can you rape a whore?" Today the hypocritical laurels of democracy portrayed by imperialism are a mere deception to divert the class struggle. They prefer flourishing democracies because in normal situations it is the most economical way to defend their interests. As the economic crisis unravelled beyond control and the weak bourgeois democracies were hesitating to carry out drastic austerity cuts against the masses, the bankers and the imperialist bosses switched over to "technocratic" autarchies in Greece and Italy without any pangs of guilt or remorse. There was not a murmur of protest from the "vibrant" and democratic media.
If they have no problems with dictatorships and autocratic rule, their flirtation with and use of religion has been an important device of their policy. In the 20th century, modern Islamic fundamentalism was the product of US foreign policy in the Middle East and the so-called Muslim world. The main aim was to exploit the religious sentiments of the masses to disrupt the revolutionary movements and class struggle in these societies. It was specially invoked after the defeat of the Israeli, British and the French imperialists in 1956 at the hands of Gamal Abdel Nasser who had inspired a Pan-Arab revolt against imperialism. Today the imperialist support for the despotic obscurantist monarchy in Saudi Arabia and the reactionary regimes of the Gulf States is the cornerstone of their policy in the region.
The main strength of the revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world was their spontaneity, yet it was also their principle weakness. The absence of a Leninist revolutionary party was the main cause of the dithering of these revolutions. The policy of "reconciliation" was brought into play yet again. The coalitions between the Islamic parties and the so-called secular forces were orchestrated by the imperialists in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. The CIA's former strategist Bruce Riedel was the main ideologue of the "new contract" between the imperialists and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. British intelligence indoctrinated and sent back Rachid Ghannouchi from his luxurious exile in London to sabotage the Tunisian revolution. However, these regimes with semi-religious despotism and a facade of bourgeoisie democracy will not solve any of the problems that were the real causes of this revolt. In the present scenario, the masses will return sooner rather than later to the streets. A new wave of revolutions would not be deceived by the Islamists and civil society. It will have to be fought to the finish.
If 2011 was a turbulent year, the year 2012 will be far more troubled. There is a seething revolt in society as the capitalist crisis on a world scale deepens. The US Republican Party's frontrunner for presidential candidature, Newt Gingrich, said: "The elections in 2012 will be as important as those of 1860." In that year Abraham Lincoln won the election that led to the American civil war. In the background of the Occupy Wall Street movement, this time round it will be a class war. The class contradictions in the US are exploding.
In Europe and the advanced world, this is the first post-war generation that faces lower living standards than their parents. The severe austerity measures have induced a new norm in which the workers are losing the social benefits that they had won with struggles of more than half a century. The European proletariat is not going to take this lying down. A new class war impends. In China, the beginnings of village occupation revolts against vulture capitalism have frightened the ruling elite. The workers' struggles are erupting at lightning speed. The elections in Venezuela this year can end up in a civil war between revolution and reaction. With the tide turning on a world scale, the balance tilts towards the victory of revolution. In Mexico, López Obrador is up for another electoral battle. In 2006 he mobilised millions against electoral fraud. Hundreds of thousands were in the central city squares. This time they will not just sit in protest. Once millions are on the march, the Mexican revolution would be on the order of the day. In the subcontinent, the incumbent political parties are discredited and the masses are yearning for a change.
Under capitalism nothing is going to improve, but only worsen. The first stirrings of revolution are resonating everywhere. The period of questioning has given way to an outright mass revulsion towards this system: its economics, its politics, its ethics, its morals and its society are decaying. With the New Year a new epoch is dawning. Revolutions and periods of reaction will alternate and erupt suddenly. Mankind now ultimately faces the choice between barbarism and socialism. The choice is obvious. Can we ensure it?
[This article was originally published in the Pakistani Daily Times on 25 December]