Marxism and the Ideological Crisis: The Socialist Perspective and the Collapse of the USSR

The following is excerpted from a document written by Fred Goldstein in April 2006. The discussion of the socialist perspective is as relevant today as when it was written.


The destiny of the working class and all of humanity in the foreseeable future ultimately depends upon the thoroughgoing revival on a world scale of revolutionary Marxism and on the victorious struggle for socialism and communism — the only true application of Marxist revolutionary science. Inasmuch as U.S. imperialism is the primary instigator of war and intervention, the wellspring of reaction and oppression, and the bulwark of world capitalism, in no place is it more important to fight for the revival of the struggle for socialism than in the United States. No ruling class poses such an overarching threat to humanity and to the planet as does U.S. monopoly capital.

We are mindful that this assertion is put forward in a period when the working class is on the defensive and revolutionary horizons seem distant.

Fifteen years ago (1991) a blanket of reaction fell over the planet after the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe. This terrible setback had been preceded by the opening up of China to foreign and domestic capital and the abandonment by the Chinese government of revolutionary internationalism. The subsequent 9/11 catastrophe gave U.S. imperialism an opening for a worldwide offensive.

The purpose of this document is to put forward a review and an analysis for discussion. The bulk of the material and arguments presented here pertain to the U.S. However, the trends outlined exist in all the imperialist countries, although in different stages of development.

Today, Washington’s military offensive is stalled in the cities and towns of Iraq and in the hinterlands of Afghanistan. The U.S. government is facing numerous fronts of political and diplomatic confrontation. The fact is that U.S. imperialism is steadily losing its grip on world events in spite of its “superpower” status — a sign of decline. But, with exceptions, the world movement is still on the defensive and political reaction is still a dominant force, particularly in the imperialist heartland.

One can have no illusions as to the formidable obstacles facing the revolutionary movement. Nevertheless, the fact that the task is formidable does not make it any less necessary or any less urgent. It is an indisputable fact that all economic, social, political and environmental evils of contemporary society are a direct outgrowth of the present-day profit system in its decadent stage, the stage of imperialism.

Socialism is the antithesis of capitalism, its only form of negation. There is no other historically possible resolution of capitalism’s fundamental contradictions. The antagonistic social relations created by capitalism weigh oppressively on the vast majority of humanity.

The overriding contradiction governing all of modern society is between, on the one hand, the private ownership of the world’s vast means of production by a tiny minority of fabulously wealthy corporate financiers who operate the entire system for profit and, on the other, the highly developed, interdependent, socialized global production process set in motion 24 hours a day by the labor of the world’s working class under increasingly onerous conditions.

There are no depths of criminality and barbarism to which the ruling class will not go in order to perpetuate this system of exploitation. There is no act of military aggression, no form of torture, no level of grinding exploitation, no environmental threat to life on the planet that capitalism will reject. From the genocide of Indigenous peoples to the slave trade, to the holocaust, to the expulsion of whole populations, to annihilating major cities with nuclear bombs, there is nothing that the capitalist class will shrink from in its insatiable quest for profit, its thirst for surplus value, its irresistible drive to accumulate and multiply its capital.

These acts are not simply a matter of personal greed or human nature. While greed and capitalism are mutually reinforcing, it is capitalism that creates greed, not greed that creates capitalism. The maximization of profit through the exploitation of labor power and the pillage of the world’s resources is the iron law of capitalism. To put an end to the operation of the laws of capitalism, society must put an end to capitalism itself. And the only significant class in modern society that has both the social and economic power and the deeply rooted historical class interest to end capitalist exploitation is the working class.

The recognition of these fundamental propositions is the theoretical and political starting point for the rebirth of the ideological struggle for socialism.

Period of reaction and seeds of revival

Although political reaction prevails in the imperialist world and in the U.S. in particular, nevertheless, the history of capitalism in the last century is filled with both advances and setbacks for the workers and the oppressed. There have been periods of upsurge and periods of deep reaction. While it is undeniable that the collapse of the USSR transcends in its effects all previous setbacks in the history of the working-class movement, the current period of reaction, like all periods of reaction, contains within itself the seeds of its own dissolution.

The collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe put an end to the first historic phase of the struggle for world socialism. Marxism suffered a great setback in its wake. But Marxism cannot be extinguished and it cannot be suppressed for long because it is the most effective ideological tool with which the exploited and oppressed can conduct their struggle. It expresses openly and in plain language the class truth about the workers’ true condition in society and clearly outlines the road to emancipation. Imperialism in the age of the scientific revolution is expanding and deepening exploitation and oppression on an unprecedented scale.

What is referred to as “globalization” is, in fact, a process that can only be described as the expanded export of capital and the use of cutthroat trade by giant transnational corporations to pile up huge profits at the expense of the people of the world. In short, it is a phase of intensification and widening of the imperialist plunder of the globe. This process of expanded global exploitation, which is proceeding at breakneck speed due to modern high technology, has profound consequences at home and abroad and is rapidly developing the groundwork for the next phase of the world historic struggle for socialism.

Lenin in light of the scientific-technological revolution

Lenin’s analysis of imperialism must be examined anew in light of this latest phase of the scientific-technological revolution and its impact on trends in the working class. The tendency to create relative privilege among some sectors of the working class, as Lenin pointed out in 1916, certainly still applies. But alongside it a new tendency has grown up, the tendency to destroy privilege among the upper stratum of the workers. At present, this latter tendency is outstripping the former.

In other words, the fallout from the export of capital by the industrial-financial oligarchy that rules imperialism has turned into its opposite. It is still the fundamental source of fabulous superprofits, but in the course of accumulating those profits, by the manner in which finance capital has reorganized world capitalist production, it is now leveling downward the wages and standard of living of the proletariat in the imperialist countries. Instead of fortifying social stability and class peace at home, it is reinforcing the tendency toward the breakup of stability and a renewal of class warfare that was inherent in high tech in the first place.

What began as a technologically based restructuring of industry, largely within national or regional boundaries of the imperialist countries in order to destroy high-wage occupations, has now spread internationally. It has expanded the most ruthless forms of capitalist exploitation into every corner of the globe and is also expanding the proletariat worldwide. This will compel the working class to struggle for its own liberation.

The more finance capital develops the productive forces and the more it socializes production, bringing larger groups of workers into connection with one another on an international scale, the more it also lays the basis for international solidarity as the antidote to the vicious competition among workers—and the more the system of production comes into conflict with private ownership.


Collapse of the USSR and abandonment of socialist perspective

Despite the present dominance of capital in all political, social and economic spheres in the imperialist countries, there is no question of the eventual reemergence of the class struggle. The revival of the class struggle and social upheaval is as certain as the future of intensified exploitation and crisis under capitalism. 

All the accumulating economic and demographic data available to the general public through the capitalist media confirm the Marxist prognosis of impending crisis. It is impossible to tell at what stage capitalism is on the road to that crisis. It is impossible to tell whether or not the ruling class will turn to an escalated war crisis before it arrives at an economic crisis. What is clear is that the discernible trends in the capitalist economic system, i.e., the ruthless orientation of the ruling class to decimate previous concessions to the working class and the oppressed as well as the increasing propensity toward military adventure, both lead in the direction of social upheaval and thus give additional confirmation to Marxist theory. We will come back to this later.

Overcoming ideological crisis is key

For the moment, let us concentrate on the ideological problem—i.e., overcoming the ideological crisis—which is the fundamental historic problem to be tackled in anticipation of the future struggles. Nothing could be more crucial for the ultimate destiny of the movement and of the workers’ struggle than the revival of revolutionary Marxism. Without it, bourgeois ideology and bourgeois politics in one form or another—social democracy or reformism of some type, military authoritarianism or fascism—will allow the ruling class to navigate their crisis and survive the storms that must surely come.

Ideological deterioration longstanding

The revision of Marxism in the international communist movement, particularly in the U.S., Europe and Japan, occurred long before the period leading up to the collapse of the USSR. The ability of capitalism in Europe to revive itself after the Bolshevik revolution and the subsequent victory of fascism had a deleterious influence on the Soviet leadership and the communist parties of the world. After the victory of Hitler, the communist parties largely abandoned the struggle for the socialist revolution and confined themselves to the struggle against fascism and the right-wing and for the preservation of capitalist democracy.

Removing socialist revolution from the immediate agenda was a fundamental revision of Marxism. It was a retreat to reformism.

This orientation was predominant in the world communist movement, save for the period when it was challenged by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong in the late 1950s and the early 1960s.

The complexities and evolution of the struggle between China and the USSR require an extended treatment and we will touch upon it later. For present purposes it is important to emphasize that the Soviet leadership both collaborated with and competed with imperialism (although on a pragmatic rather than a revolutionary basis) in the struggle between socialism and capitalism on the world arena.

But whatever their policy, the Soviet leaders were the guardians and administrators of the most powerful socialist country. As long as they continued to defend socialism and give assistance to the world struggle, they could never escape the implacable class hostility of the imperialists in the global struggle between the two class camps. 

No matter how many times they promoted disarmament and appealed for world peace, no matter how many times they offered to destroy all their nuclear weapons if the West would destroy theirs, they could never make a dent in the aggressive militarism of the Pentagon and the anti-Sovietism of Washington and Wall Street. If there were brief periods of “détente,” they were always in the nature of imperialist maneuvers that would easily be discarded for a return to open hostility.

All the communist parties that followed the policies of the Soviet CP were, like the Soviet CP itself, in a contradictory position with regard to the imperialist bourgeoisie. Just as the Soviet leadership both collaborated with and competed with imperialism, these CPs had a conciliatory reformist attitude toward their own bourgeoisies at home and weak foreign policies in general. But as representatives of the ranks of communist and pro-communist sections of the working class, and as allies of the USSR, they could never escape the hostility of their own ruling classes. 

Furthermore, their fundamental connection to the world socialist camp remained precisely in their commitment to defend the USSR, which was perpetually confronted by imperialism during various crises in the global class war against socialism. The defense of the USSR was their remaining, much-diluted connection to the Bolshevik revolution, even though the revolutionary legacy of Leninism had long ago been abandoned.

They might have carried out this defense in a pacifist or other nonrevolutionary way. As followers of the Soviet leadership, they engaged in apologetics for false policies. But at the same time they had to stand up to vicious, unremitting bourgeois and social democratic red-baiting during anti-Soviet campaigns. The defense of the USSR against imperialism became a world dividing line between those allied with the socialist camp in some way and those who lined up with imperialism in an anti-Soviet crisis.


By the 1970s, this tension between right-wing reformist politics and defense of the socialist camp came to a head in the three largest European CPs — in Italy, France and Spain. The leadership of the Spanish CP propounded the concept of Eurocommunism, an alliance of the European CPs that would no longer have to defend the USSR. The Italian CP called for a “historic compromise” between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and for entering into the bourgeois government. While all three parties moved sharply to the right, the Italian and Spanish CPs openly abandoned their defense of the socialist camp and turned toward anti-Sovietism. This was a final and complete rupture of their last connection to communism and a defection to imperialism.

The evolution of this development and its significance for the working class movement was analyzed and elaborated in the very important compilation of articles by Sam Marcy entitled “Eurocommunism: A New Form of Reformism,” written in 1975-1977 and published in 1978 and available on the Marxist Internet Archive.

The basic significance of this development was “the transformation of the CPs from social reformist parties into social chauvinist parties with an anti-Soviet orientation. This is what is new. This is what is truly alarming.”

Marcy described the immediate events leading up to this historic shift to the right and then put it in its broader context:

“It is the fierce and unrelenting pressure of [U.S.] imperialism in full collaboration with the European ruling class to enlist all sections of the population in an anti-communist crusade against the Soviet Union. This is the most important, the key central fact of the contemporary world struggle.”

Marcy pointed out that Foreign Affairs, a central organ of ruling class strategic thought, “raised the perspective of ‘the exporting of what has come to be known as Eurocommunism from West to East, signifying a historic shift in the direction of world communism.’ [Their emphasis.] By this is meant,” continued Marcy, “the export by the imperialists and their willing tools of counterrevolutionary theories and influence into Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.”

Gorbachev intensifies the crisis

It was only a decade later, in 1985, that this current did move from “West to East” and surfaced dramatically in the Soviet Union with the coming of the regime of Mikhail Gorbachev. In effect, Gorbachev abandoned the world socialist perspective and began the demolition of socialism in the USSR under the slogans of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (reconstruction). Instead of “openness” for proletarian democracy and “reconstruction” of socialist industry, his domestic policies gave the green light to the nascent bourgeoisie in politics and economics. 

He and the grouping of technocrats and bourgeois-oriented financial experts around him adopted a foreign policy version of the Italian CP’s “historic compromise,” which was really a code word for surrender. Full-scale collaboration with imperialism was their fundamental orientation. Gorbachev agreed to allow the imperialists a free hand in Eastern Europe and offered not only to deepen collaboration with imperialism, but, most importantly, to end the competition between socialism and capitalism — that is, abandon the support for socialist countries and national liberation movements and disavow the world socialist perspective. This, of course, led to the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe.

Gorbachev, backed by a new bourgeois social layer, turned out to be a transitional figure on the road to capitalist counterrevolution. He began to break down the monopoly on foreign trade, opened up the right to exploit labor, began to undermine the planned economy by putting enterprises on a profit-making basis, denounced “wage leveling” and increased the salary gap between the lower-paid workers and the higher-paid, even further rewarding the already privileged managers and the technical and scientific intelligentsia. In short, he made an open assault on the fundamental institutions of the socialist economy, using a distortion and misapplication of Lenin’s New Economic Policy as a cover.

This threw the world movement into confusion, creating ideological chaos and further splits to the right.

At the same time, the great Chinese socialist revolution had exhausted its revolutionary momentum, both internally and on the world arena. The left had been defeated. The Deng Xiaoping leadership, which was committed to market reforms, had taken over. Thus, there was no revolutionary ideological alternative for the broad communist and socialist movement.

Collapse precipitates broad retreat

The collapse of the USSR and the emergence of triumphal imperialism precipitated the abandonment of the socialist perspective and of Marxism on a broad front.

The USSR was the embodiment of astounding achievements of socialist construction, science and social welfare for the workers. At the same time, the very leaders who presided over socialist construction had an inglorious record that included the abandonment of fundamental socialist norms of proletarian internationalism in foreign policy and proletarian democracy in domestic policy. It was a contradictory phenomenon, but nevertheless most class-conscious workers, revolutionaries and progressives, whether they adhered to the line of the Soviet leaders or were opposed to it, all took the permanence of the USSR for granted and regarded it as the material fortress of socialism, the most durable attempt to build socialism in the world, with all its errors, defects and deficiencies.

Even those in the movement who had vilified the USSR and declared that capitalist counterrevolution had occurred long ago, either as far back as Kronstadt in 1921 or with the advent of Stalin or with the ascendancy of Khrushchev in 1956, were in shock when the real capitalist counterrevolution came.

Marxism and the collapse

Does collapse invalidate Marxism and socialism?

The fundamental question is whether or not this historic setback refutes or invalidates the science of Marxism and all its revolutionary implications and prognostications. Do these setbacks demand a fundamental modification of the revolutionary socialist perspective in its classical Marxist form?

In the struggle to revive the revolutionary socialist perspective, it is necessary to deal with Marxism, with Leninism, and with the question of the meaning of the collapse of the USSR. We intend to show that the collapse of the USSR is in no way a disqualification of socialism, nor was it the result of flaws in socialism. It does not require any revision of or abandonment of Marx — or of Lenin, who developed Marxism for the age of imperialism.

Marxism — the science of society

With respect to Marxist theory in general, Marx put the study of society on a scientific basis. He uncovered the laws of social development and studied in-depth the laws of capitalism. He worked in the middle of the 19th century, yet his works are the basis for understanding all subsequent development of modern society up until today. Indeed, the capitalist world economy, with its anarchy of production, overproduction and race to develop the means of production, all with the exploitation of labor power as its driving force, operates today in much the same manner as that described in the “Communist Manifesto” and subsequently analyzed in “Capital.”

No bourgeois theorist of the 19th century, or the 20th for that matter, has either refuted Marx or given any effective alternative theory. Before the collapse of the USSR, bourgeois economists and political scientists were reduced to vulgarization and vilification of Marx as life confirmed his ideas. They would go silent every time their economy went into a periodic crisis of overproduction, creating havoc for millions of workers. It would be the height of folly to abandon such a powerful, explanatory theory — on purely scientific grounds alone.

Marxism a tool for liberation of a billion people

But more to the point, Marxist theory is a revolutionary science of the working class. Implemented in practice by revolutionary leaders like Lenin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh, Clara Zetkin, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Celia Sánchez, Vilma Espín, Agostinho Neto, Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel, Jiang Qing, and others, along with millions of their followers, Marxism was a guiding light in the liberation of a billion workers and peasants from capitalist wage slavery and imperialism in the 20th century. What is more, the anti-imperialist spirit of Marxism and Leninism inspired many more millions who threw off the yoke of colonialism and achieved national independence.

Before the Bolshevik revolution, almost every square mile of the planet was directly under the domination of one imperialist power or another. Capitalist wage slavery and colonial superexploitation were evils that afflicted most of the world’s population. The socialist revolutions of China, Korea and Vietnam contributed directly to the liberation of what was then one-fourth of the human race.

These great historic accomplishments, whatever setbacks have occurred, should be cause enough to fight tirelessly to hold onto revolutionary Marxism and to fight for its revival.

A historic setback, not defeat of system

What occurred in the USSR and Eastern Europe constituted grave and historic setbacks to the cause of socialism, the workers and the oppressed all over the world. But these setbacks must be understood for what they represent qualitatively — for what they are and what they are not. They were defeats in the class struggle between two hostile and irreconcilable class camps. The defeats resulted in a drastic change in the relationship of forces between the workers and the oppressed peoples on the one hand, and imperialism on the other.

Marxism and the socialist perspective do not anywhere state or even imply that such defeats cannot take place. These defeats are not in any way in contradiction to Marxist theory or historical experience. The “Communist Manifesto” opens by stating that the driving force of history is the class struggle. Nowhere does it posit the victory of socialism and communism worldwide on a utopian conception that there will be no great and even historic setbacks along the road. On the contrary, only Marxism itself can scientifically explain those defeats and draw the necessary lessons from them.

Collapse of the Second International

In 1914, on the eve of the first great inter-imperialist war, almost the entire leadership of the European socialist movement in the Second International supported the war efforts of their own imperialist powers. These socialist leaders thus betrayed their pledge to oppose their own ruling classes and to turn the war into a civil war for proletarian revolution.

It was a stunning collapse of the leadership of a mighty working class socialist movement built up over a period of 50 years of struggle — comparable in impact at the time to the collapse of the USSR. It suddenly left millions of workers without leadership in the midst of a war crisis and at the mercy of their respective ruling classes, who plunged them into fire and blood. Tens of millions were killed and maimed before revolution and rebellion put an end to the war. Polemics by Lenin documented the historic magnitude of this betrayal. He, together with Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg of the German Social Democratic Party and the leaders of the Serbian socialist party, not only opposed the war but also called for the defeat of their own ruling classes.

The working-class movement was rescued from this historic setback by the Bolshevik revolution three years later, which turned the entire international situation around, from disaster to revolutionary upsurge. In the wake of the revolution, the collapse seemed to fade because its effects were overcome by subsequent events. But it is a demonstration that setbacks of the greatest magnitude are part and parcel of the long struggle against capitalism and for the socialist revolution.

Imperialism and the collapse of the USSR

Peaceful collapse of USSR and bourgeois distortions

What made the collapse of the USSR such a great ideological setback for Marxism was that it took place without an internal struggle by the workers or any discernible assault by imperialism. If the counterrevolution had triumphed by a civil war, openly fomented and backed by an invasion, and the USSR had perished in battle after resistance by the workers, as happened with the Paris Commune of 1871, the effect on the world struggle would have been entirely different.

But the collapse without a battle by the workers to defend the socialist system against capitalist counterrevolution opened the floodgates to bourgeois ideologists and propagandists to preach the end of socialism in history and to declare it fundamentally flawed and disqualified as a social system. By extension, Marxism was declared obsolete.

It was the absence of open battle by the workers under the leadership of sections of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in defense of socialist property that must be explained. This factor is supposed to be the ultimate “strong point” in the bourgeois argument that socialism is fatally flawed. But these so-called “strong points” are based upon several great bourgeois lies.

The role of imperialism

The first lie is that the imperialists were innocent bystanders. They simply sat back and watched as socialism “imploded,” as they put it, from a self-generated internal crisis. In their celebration of the so-called failure of socialism, bourgeois pundits omit mention of the fact that imperialism never gave the USSR one moment’s respite from an unrelenting campaign of counterrevolutionary sabotage for the entire 74 years of its existence.

They neglect the traumatic effects of the extraordinary external pressure that the Soviet government faced from imperialism, beginning with the early military intervention of 14 imperialist armies after the revolution to the protracted interwar imperialist encirclement and blockade. They gloss over the fact that Western imperialism encouraged Hitler to march to the East and did little to impede the Nazi invasion of the USSR, in which 20 million people died and 25 million were left homeless, not to speak of the devastation of the entire western section of the country. The effects of 45 years of so-called Cold War are also discounted as a factor in the bourgeois analysis of the collapse.

U.S. imperialism emerged from World War II to galvanize Western and Japanese imperialism for an all-out struggle against the USSR and China. U.S. imperialism engaged in nuclear terror and the continuous development of new and more deadly weapons systems. It imposed an economic and technological blockade, carried on political and diplomatic warfare, employed the CIA and every means of sabotage and dirty trick in order to bring down Soviet socialism. These were the predominant factors in the collapse of the USSR. To declare socialism a failure in the face of an all-out attempt to destroy it before it could even begin to function properly is a contradiction on the face of it.

Technological blockade a crucial factor

The second lie is that socialism was defeated in an equal competition. It is impossible to overestimate the detrimental effect on socialist development of the technological blockade of the socialist camp, organized and enforced by U.S. imperialism during the Cold War. The long-run success of socialist construction depended upon raising the productivity of labor. Under socialism, unlike under capitalism, the increase in the per capita production of society is used to raise the standard of living of the masses. The imperialists compiled obscene wealth based upon the plunder of the entire world and used their advantage to promote the development of science and technology, first and foremost for military advantage, but also for industrial technology in the quest for increased rates of exploitation of the working class.

The U.S. organized an informal but stringent front of all the capitalist countries, with headquarters in Paris, by which thousands of items of technology were declared banned for shipment to the socialist camp. It was called COCOM and operated in secrecy. Violations of its prohibitions were punished by fines and the ban was enforced. In the struggle between the two social systems, imperialism did all in its power to retard the free economic development of the USSR and all the socialist countries.

Imperialism did not dare permit a genuine competition between the planned economy and the capitalist market. It deliberately deprived the socialist camp, the USSR in particular, of access to what should have been universally available human knowledge. Only on that basis would it have been possible to test the power and efficiency of the two social systems. What the capitalists knew was that even with all their advantages and with all the disadvantages faced by the USSR, and in spite of the blockade and immense burden of military spending, the Soviet economic and scientific accomplishments were formidable. The imperialists knew that permitting the Soviet Union to compete economically under anything resembling fair and equal conditions, with free access to world markets and technology, would end up demonstrating the superiority of the planned economy and nationalized property.

USSR and imperialism in relation to workers and oppressed

The capitalist version of the struggle between the USSR and imperialism is that there were two equal “superpowers,” one based on socialism and one based on capitalism. And capitalism won out. But nothing could be further from the truth.

While U.S. imperialism and the other imperialist powers were plundering the oppressed peoples of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and getting wealthier and wealthier from their exploits, the USSR and the socialist countries were diverting precious funds from socialist construction to give aid to liberation struggles, socialist countries and nationalist regimes throughout the world. From Vietnam to Angola to Cuba to southern Africa, relations between the USSR and the oppressed peoples were a cost to socialist construction borne for the sake of international solidarity in the struggle against imperialism. Imperialism, on the other hand, operated in the underdeveloped world to garner superprofits.

In addition, each act of assistance to an embattled socialist country or a national liberation movement brought the Soviet government into conflict with U.S. imperialism in the global class struggle. The most dramatic was the Cuban missile crisis, in which the Pentagon was a step away from launching a nuclear attack. Conflict brought new threats of war and greater military spending, also to the detriment of socialist construction. The military-industrial complex in the U.S. thrived on war, which was also an artificial means of stimulating the capitalist economy, while the working class paid the bills. In the USSR, military spending was antithetical to socialist construction. It disrupted economic planning and was a constant diversion from civilian spending in an economy that was struggling to overcome its initial underdevelopment and was, at its height, only one-third the size of the U.S. economy.

Furthermore, under capitalism the entire goal of the system is to keep the working class in a permanent state of subsistence living in order to increase the profits of the capitalists. The ruling class will only give the working class what it has won in struggle — and then will try to take it back. Only the organized workers have any protection at all and they are a minority of the working class. The bourgeoisie has no responsibility to see to the needs of the workers.

The USSR and the socialist countries, on the other hand, were responsible for the workers. They had to contend with imperialist militarism and economic sabotage while trying to build socialism and while carrying the basic responsibility to meet the social and economic needs of the workers. Wall Street and the Pentagon were not burdened with having to provide free health care, free education, vacations, pensions, early retirement, low-cost housing, etc., to the entire working class. But the USSR provided all those benefits.

The competition between the two social systems was completely lopsided in favor of imperialism, from a purely economic point of view, because the systems were based on irreconcilable class differences.

Marxist theory and Soviet contradictions

Marxism and the historical prerequisites for socialism

The other big lie is that the internal crisis that finally led to counterrevolution was the result of characteristics inherent in the socialist system. All serious so-called “sovietologists,” the bourgeois “experts” on the USSR, studied Marx and Marxism as a prerequisite for waging ideological war against socialism.

Every one of them knew full well that its economic and cultural underdevelopment, its numerically weak proletariat in a vast peasant country such as tsarist Russia, was an unfavorable social and historical foundation upon which to build socialism.


Having studied Marx and the Russian Revolution, they were aware that socialism can only develop properly on the basis of a high degree of development of the productive forces and a numerically strong, culturally developed working class. Marxist theory posits these conditions as essential economic prerequisites to the healthy, normal building of socialism.

The first task, of course, is for the working class to seize political power and liberate the means of production from the capitalist possessing class. Only under conditions of highly developed production, already achieved by advanced capitalism, can it then rapidly develop the economy to achieve a level of abundance and begin to distribute the ample social wealth among the masses. Under these conditions the socialist revolution can immediately reduce the atmosphere of social tension created by poverty and material scarcity, eliminate the struggle for survival that plagues and dominates the life of the masses under capitalism, insure a sense of material security for all the workers and the non exploiting population in general, and begin to establish socialist relations on the basis of nationalized property and social and economic planning to meet human need.

It is a fundamental premise of Marxism that capitalism is the transition to a higher social system after thousands of years of class societies. Ancient Greek and Roman slavery and then feudalism were based on land and agriculture. Relatively primitive instruments of production were mainly suited to the individual and the productivity of labor was low. The social surplus above what it took society to survive was limited and was seized by the slave-owning and serf-owning landed ruling classes, who had gained political control over society and created the state. The class struggle under slavery and feudalism was over that limited social surplus.

Once capitalism developed and applied science to nature and production, it created gigantic means of production and the modern working class. It developed the productivity of labor to such heights that the material basis for a vast social surplus undreamt of in all previous epochs was created. Once set free from the restrictions of private property and the profit system, the workers using this developed technology could produce an abundance of goods and services sufficient to allow all humanity to reach a level where all people could be supplied with whatever they needed to live a decent life.

With socialism, the pressuring of workers to spend their whole lives condemned to being cogs in a wheel of one exploiting capitalist enterprise or another would end. Labor would be contributed to society for the benefit of society, not for the sake of enhancing the wealth of the bourgeoisie. Science would be used to ease the burden of labor rather than increase it, as under capitalism. Classes along with class exploitation would be abolished and the basis of oppression and domination would have evaporated. Human history would truly begin.

Thus the objective role of capitalism in history was to raise the level of productivity of labor of society to the point of abundance, which would be the basis for communism, and to create the working class, which would overthrow the bourgeoisie and take possession of the means of production for all of society.

The Bolshevik revolution and the evolution of Soviet society can only be understood within this framework of a scientific Marxist analysis of the role of capitalism in history and the overall conditions for the advancement of socialism.

Marx on transition to communism

Karl Marx laid the basis for a materialist analysis of the problems facing Soviet socialism in his famous work “Critique of the Gotha Program,” written in 1875. In one section of this work he was developing the concept of the transition from capitalism to communism. Without being schematic and without going beyond what could be known at the time, Marx tried to anticipate the broad development of the revolution from its early stages, after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, to the stage of fully developed communism.

What is most instructive is his analysis of the period after the seizure of power, which we today call socialism and Marx termed the first stage of communism.

“What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundation but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges (emphasis F.G.).”

Marx explained that a socialist revolution would require a considerable effort at the outset to overcome the backwardness and economic limitations imposed by capitalism — even a revolution achieved under the most favorable conditions of taking over a highly developed capitalist economy, which was his assumption at the time of writing.

Internal contradictions and the collapse

Legacy of feudalism and capitalism

At the time of the Russian Revolution, tsarist Russia was the poorest capitalist country in the world, just emerging from feudalism. The Bolsheviks inherited an underdeveloped country. Society was stamped with the “birthmarks” not of highly advanced capitalism but with those of feudalism and recently developed capitalism. The population was largely illiterate and culturally backward. The revolutionary government was immediately besieged by an imperialist encirclement. It had to build the basis for socialism while lifting the country up in a matter of years to an economic and cultural level that the developed capitalist countries had taken centuries to accomplish.

Far from a relatively relaxed economic and social atmosphere in which the struggle for survival is drastically diminished by socialist distribution of abundant goods, the USSR was beset on all sides, attempting to build up a socialist economy under conditions of extreme scarcity and imperialist pressure. None of the Bolshevik leaders anticipated having to build socialism under such primitive conditions. Once the revolution was defeated in Europe and the USSR was isolated, there was a desperate struggle to raise production.

Production could not be developed in a leisurely, experimental manner. Forced development was regarded as a matter of survival, given the economic isolation and the military preparations in the imperialist countries, particularly once the rearmament of German imperialism got underway.

Departure from socialist norms after Lenin

Even during the darkest times in the early years of the revolution, when Lenin was still at the helm, the party carried out open and fierce debates on matters of foreign and domestic policy, what amounted to matters of life and death. Proletarian democracy was practiced as best as it could be under those dire circumstances.

In Marx’s study of the Paris Commune, “The Civil War in France,” he dealt in detail with the workings of the first living dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx declared:

“Its true secret was this: It was essentially a working-class government, the product of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economical emancipation of labor. …

“The first decree of the Commune … was the suppression of the standing army, and the substitution for it of the armed people.

“The Commune was formed of the municipal councilors, chosen by universal suffrage in various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working body, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.”

In other words, the representatives were not only responsible for enacting decrees but for carrying them out.

The police and all other officials in the entire administration were also subject to immediate recall and directly responsible to the Commune. But most importantly, from the point of view of preventing the government from becoming a source of privilege and eroding the class essence of the Commune,

“From the members of the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workman’s wage. The vested interests and the representation allowances of the high dignitaries of state disappeared along with the high dignitaries themselves.”

Lenin paid the closest attention to all of Marx’s findings about the Commune, and applied them to carrying through the revolutionary seizure of power. From a proletarian point of view, the Commune was the most democratic form of government in history. Lenin tried to adhere to the revolutionary democratic standards established in 1871 as closely as possible and particularly the law about party members and officials getting paid no higher than the wages of higher-paid workers.

Under the extreme conditions of cultural and economic poverty, even Lenin had to concede that it was necessary to give some privileges to “experts” to hold on to them during the period of consolidation of the revolution, when the most elementary functions of administration, engineering and so on had to be carried out and the working class had yet to be able to take over these functions.

But as regarded the party and the government, the early Bolsheviks adhered to the “law of the maximum,” meaning no one could place their rewards above those of the workers.

None of the Bolshevik leaders at the time thought that they would have to live with such tension between the aspirations to build socialism and dire material deprivation. They all expected that the German revolution and the revolution in Europe would come to their rescue. According to Marxist theory, their task would be next to impossible if the Soviet Union could not obtain material assistance to support the building of socialism.

But the revolution in Europe was defeated by 1923. Lenin died in 1924. After he died, the socialist norms of the Commune were gradually abandoned, including the law of the maximum. What began as material incentives to foster production grew to become institutionalized, excessive privileges for the upper stratum of society. A differentiation among the workers was promoted. Socialist social relations were subordinated to the development of production. Privilege grew side by side with socialist construction and military development.

These bourgeois tendencies were nourished by the ever-present imperialist military threat and economic blockade. They distorted and eroded the normal operations of socialist institutions, especially proletarian democracy and the direct involvement of the workers in the building of socialism. This permanent war of imperialism against Soviet attempts to build socialism on a drastically insufficient material foundation induced the gradual degeneration of the political leadership and socialist institutions and social relations among the population. The long-term exclusion of the workers from politics led to their alienation and ultimately left them unprepared to recognize, let alone resist, the capitalist counterrevolution when it finally came.

Thus the fundamental defects in Soviet society were not attributable to socialism, to socialist property, to socialist planning, or to working class rule. On the contrary, it was the departure from socialism and the insidious progress of the poisonous legacy of capitalism, bourgeois selfishness and opportunism arising on the foundations of a scarcity enforced by world capitalism that undermined the attempt to build socialism. It was the re-emergence of the bourgeois struggle for individual advantage that fostered privilege and undermined the collective, cooperative spirit necessary to build socialist society.

This inheritance from capitalism, nurtured by imperialism, inserted itself gradually into the party, the government and the planning process and eventually eroded the fundamental pillars upon which socialism could be constructed — particularly the most important pillar, the revolutionary enthusiasm and allegiance of a class-conscious working class.

Despite the extraordinary material and scientific accomplishments of the socialist planned economy, the abandonment of the struggle for socialist equality and direct workers’ rule proved fatal. A privileged sector rose above the working class, retained a monopoly on statecraft, acted as surrogates for the workers in building socialism and became, over time, a breeding ground for bourgeois counterrevolution. But even with all its material disadvantages, the USSR could have overcome these reactionary tendencies had it not had to deal with the overwhelming pressure of imperialism — i.e., if it had been free to develop socialism

Sino-Soviet split

It is impossible to fully understand the collapse of the USSR without reference to the split between China and the Soviet Union. This split, fostered and nurtured by U.S. imperialism, ultimately weakened both China and the USSR. It helped lead to the retreat by China from proletarian internationalism and toward unprincipled alliances with imperialism and, eventually, to the introduction of the capitalist market on a massive scale.

This split was one of the greatest strategic achievements of imperialism in its struggle against socialism. To grasp this it is only necessary to use one’s imagination and conceive of how different world history would be had the People’s Republic of China, the most populous socialist country, and the Soviet Union, the most powerful socialist country, been able to form a rock-solid socialist alliance of mutual aid and solidarity and stand shoulder to shoulder against imperialism in the post-war period.

But it was precisely to prevent such a development that imperialism left no stone unturned to forestall and break up what would have been a natural alliance between two class allies, facing the same class enemy.

The complexities in the evolution of this split require extensive treatment beyond the scope of this document. No summary treatment can do justice to those complexities; nevertheless, some basic outlines can be noted.

China shakes the world

The triumph of the Chinese Revolution in 1949 shook the world on both sides of the class barricades. On the one hand it meant the liberation of one-fourth of humanity from colonial slavery, feudalism and comprador capitalism. On the other hand, it constituted a great setback to the historic ambitions and aspirations of Wall Street to dominate China, with its vast potential markets and resources. Washington had to watch as the Chinese Red Army chased the U.S. puppet forces of Chiang Kai-shek off the mainland onto the island province of Taiwan.

The U.S. was engaged in a Cold War confrontation with the USSR in Germany and Eastern Europe. Without letting up one iota on its pressure on the USSR, the Pentagon began to menace China with the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific. It then launched a massive invasion of Korea and marched north toward the Chinese border. With its revolution only two years old, the Chinese Red Army came to the aid of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and helped repel the U.S. military back to the 38th parallel.

Ideological debate

The U.S. kept the People’s Republic of China from taking its seat in the United Nations Security Council and pursued a hard line against the PRC while keeping military (including nuclear) pressure on both countries, China and the USSR. As they were being put under this kind of relentless pressure by imperialism, an ideological struggle broke out between the leadership of the Chinese and Soviet parties over what orientation to adopt in the struggle. The Chinese leadership emphasized a Leninist approach of not relying on accommodations to keep the imperialists from going to war. They also emphasized support for national liberation struggles and promoted the classical Marxist conception that socialism could not be achieved by peaceful means.

The Soviet leaders, on the other hand, were promoting the concept of fighting for peaceful coexistence with imperialism. Their position was that the existence of nuclear weapons changed the equation and that world politics, including the support for national liberation struggles, had to be subordinated to what they considered to be a struggle against nuclear confrontation and for world peace. While not excluding revolution, the Soviet leadership left a big ideological loophole for reformism by claiming that the peaceful transition to socialism was one viable option for the proletariat.

State-to-state struggle

In the midst of this debate, the imperialists began to stir troubled waters. While keeping China under the gun, they began to maneuver with the Soviet leadership, whom they correctly perceived as “soft.” The Soviet leaders began to take the ideological struggle with China to a state-to-state level. Khrushchev went to meet with Eisenhower at Camp David in 1959 for talks on a so-called thaw in the Cold War. But the Soviet leadership never consulted with China on the visit. In 1960, the USSR withdrew all its material aid to China and in 1963 the USSR signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Kennedy administration, again without any agreement or prior consultation with China.

The Chinese leadership regarded this break of solidarity as an act of betrayal directed against them. This escalation by the Soviet leaders of the ideological split into a rupture in state-to-state relations was soon reciprocated by China. The Chinese leadership went overboard and falsely characterized the Soviet Union as “social-imperialist,” thus laying the ideological basis for an eventual anti-Soviet alliance and the abandonment of proletarian internationalism — which was what the ideological struggle had been about in the first place. China’s support for the U.S.-backed UNITA against the MPLA in Angola, which was allied with the USSR, was just one tragic consequence of the split.

China was a completely underdeveloped country, needing significant material support for the development of a socialist base. Being cut off from the USSR, it eventually turned to capitalist methods and an open door policy to Western capital. Once the alliance was in tatters and both states were in conflict, U.S. imperialism tore up the so-called détente with the USSR and began its anti-Soviet “full court press.”

Bourgeois propagandists/analysts exclude any account of this monumental, long-term Machiavellian campaign by imperialism to bring about this horrific split when they try to indoctrinate people with their version of the so-called failure of socialism. The bourgeois interpretation of the collapse is one of the greatest mutilations of history.

Achievements concealed

In addition to suppressing the real causes for the collapse of the USSR, the bourgeoisie is silent on its achievements. The revolution took a backward, rural country from the status of underdevelopment to become the second-greatest industrial power in the world. The socialist planned economy never had a single year of declining production (save during World War II)—not a single recession or depression. It largely defeated the Nazis. It launched the space age with Sputnik. It carried out the largest construction projects in history. It provided the first universal program of free or low-cost social benefits to the entire working class while maintaining guaranteed employment.

It was the first government to establish a national legislative body based upon representation of the various nationalities. It instituted a vast affirmative action program for formerly oppressed peoples. It granted suffrage to women before that right was won in the United States. In its early years, before the departure from socialist norms, it established the right of women to divorce on demand, to abortion on demand, and in general tried to overcome the patriarchal system it inherited. It declared sexual preference to be a private matter, striking down all the old anti-gay laws.

And it did all this without bosses, without capitalist exploitation. It showed the way to the future.

The Soviet Union after Gorbachev was broken up into a fragmented array of smaller capitalist states taking the place of the federated republics. The descent of these former Soviet republics socially and economically after the triumph of capitalism gives a scientific demonstration of how much the USSR, with all its defects, had represented a social system superior to capitalism, from the point of view of the workers and the oppressed.

Despite the fragmentation, this new array of capitalist societies exists on the same land mass, has the same productive forces, the same geographical features, the same historical and cultural conditions, stretching over one-sixth of the earth’s surface, as did the USSR which preceded it. The capitalist counterrevolution affords a truly rare instance where two societies can be subjected to a scientific comparison.

Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, prostitution, the social and economic degradation of women, destruction of social insurance of all types, capitalist-style inequality with billionaires growing out of the plunder of state resources, rampant crime, national antagonism and racism are among the most prominent social and economic evils that have reappeared since the undoing of three-quarters of a century of Soviet rule. The United Nations has documented the plummeting of life expectancy, the rise in infant mortality and other indices of social decline. These afflictions, so characteristic of capitalism, had been either entirely eliminated or greatly mitigated during the Soviet period.

In Eastern Europe, which has been colonized by the transnational banks and corporations, women and children are sold into sex slavery and prostitution in the West. Millions of workers have had to emigrate just to find jobs.

Lessons on first phase of struggle for socialism

The political movement must extract from the Soviet experience those universal features that were responsible for the enormous progress of the working class and for society as a whole. They began with the establishment of the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, the expropriation of the ruling class, the nationalization of the means of production, the monopoly of foreign trade and central planning based upon human need. These progressive social features, which brought the extraordinary success of the USSR, must be clearly distinguished from the retrogressive legacy of the old society that contributed to the demise of socialism. Whatever distortions, misuse, misapplication, etc., of these socialist measures may have taken place, they will, properly handled, be fundamental to building socialism in the future.

The first seizure of power by the working class took place in Paris in March 1871 with the establishment of the Paris Commune. The Commune broke up the capitalist state, abolished the standing army, put in its place the popular National Guard, legislated on behalf of the workers and the middle class, and created a revolutionary proletarian dictatorship that was the most democratic government of the people in history. It was crushed before it could begin its real work of social transformation. The Commune lasted 68 days before it was overwhelmed by the forces of the French bourgeoisie and drowned in blood.

It was 46 years later, in the midst of an imperialist war, that the working class finally succeeded in not only seizing power, but holding it in Russia in 1917. The Bolshevik revolution, led by the party of Lenin, thus began the first true phase of the struggle to build socialism in the world.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks never expected to be able to hold power in Russia on a long-term basis. They felt they would succeed if they could hold out long enough for the revolution in the big, developed capitalist powers in Europe. But the revolutionary impulse given by the Russian Revolution was pushed back by the counterrevolution in Europe. The revolution then spread east, culminating in the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949. It also spread to the Korean peninsula, then to Southeast Asia, Cuba and Africa. But the imperialists after World War II were able to stabilize their rule at home and keep the socialist revolution on the periphery.

The exception was the revolutionary uprising of 1974 in Portugal, which was forced back by the threat of NATO intervention. But Portugal was the poorest of the European powers, drained by a colonial war in Africa, and the Portuguese bourgeoisie was so poor, relative to the rest of Western Europe, that it had been unable to stabilize its rule.

In retrospect, without diminishing the mistakes and betrayals of leaders, the overriding historical fact is that the first phase of the struggle was fought out on the most unfavorable terrain for the sustained success of the socialist revolution, on the terrain of underdevelopment. Marx’s prognosis that developed capitalism was the historical basis for successfully building socialism has been borne out in the global class struggle. The ability of the material strongholds of world capitalism to revive and develop, and the inability of the working class in the imperialist countries to come to the aid of the socialist camp by overthrowing their own bourgeoisie, allowed imperialism to split the socialist camp and to finally overwhelm the material bastion of socialism, the USSR. What the collapse of the USSR showed is that socialism cannot be permanently secure on the globe until it spreads throughout the world and imperialism is destroyed.

The collapse of the USSR ended the first phase of the struggle for socialism in the world. Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vietnam and China (with all its contradictions), represent that first historic phase that began in 1917. Whatever concessions they have made, even China with its dangerous opening to capitalism, they have held out so far and have not succumbed to capitalist counterrevolution.

The revolutions led by Fidel Castro, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh and Mao Zedong accomplished the overthrow of imperialism by the merging of the national liberation struggle and the proletarian revolution. Each revolution was uniquely created and adapted to the national culture, the historic traditions and the class conditions of each country. At the same time, each has its roots in the Bolshevik revolution.

What is needed to permanently secure their revolutions is for the working class in the imperialist countries to rise and take its proper place in history, consummating the next phase of the struggle through the proletarian revolution.

The collapse of the USSR was followed by the longest (but not the strongest) capitalist upturn in the century. The bourgeoisie, the U.S. imperialists in particular, were delirious. They thought they had escaped their fate forever. The capitalist system had triumphed over socialism. The specter of communism that Marx wrote about in the Manifesto had been exorcised once and for all. The world was all theirs for the taking.

Ideologists were writing about “the end of history.” Economists were writing about the “new economy” that had finally overcome the boom-and-bust business cycle.

The Clinton administration stepped up its attacks on the workers and oppressed at home, balancing the budget on the backs of the workers. In the most outrageous violation of international law and all previous norms of international conduct, Clinton rained missiles on Afghanistan and Sudan, exercising the new, post-Soviet superpower arrogance. He carried out a brutal bombing campaign against Serbia, bombing Belgrade and other civilian targets with Nazi-like callousness. Gen. Wesley Clark, the NATO commander of the war, sent a shot across the bow to the Chinese government by bombing its embassy in Belgrade. U.S. forces had a brief but sharp military confrontation with the Russians. All this was carried out to the cheers of the capitalist establishment. U.S. imperialism began to flex its muscles in all directions.

But then came the crash of 2000, with massive layoffs followed by a jobless recovery, and the laws of capitalism began to reassert themselves. Washington went from being an open advocate of empire to prisoner of the quagmire in Iraq. It has to face the fact that the independent countries of the world refuse to bow down and surrender their sovereignty and right to self-determination and self- defense.

The world is too big for the U.S. to conquer. The masses of people in the 21st century, having passed through almost a century of revolution and national liberation struggles, are on a far higher cultural, technical and technological level than were the masses of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when imperialism first triumphed and divided up the world. In the course of globalization, i.e., of expanding its exploitation, capitalism has not only brought into existence a vast new working class but has necessarily supplied it with technological and military knowhow. The very means of exploitation will be turned against the bourgeoisie and become the means of liberation.

The more it attempts to conquer the world, the more its fundamental strategic weakness, its “feet of clay,” will become apparent. To prepare for the crises and opportunities ahead, the movement must go back to Marx and Lenin, must arm itself ideologically, so that it can intervene and help guide the coming struggle of the workers and oppressed to class victory.

The collapse of the USSR did not abolish the fundamental contradictions of capitalism that gave rise to the Bolshevik revolution in the first place. In an irony of history, the collapse of the USSR, by removing many barriers to a new phase in the global development of capitalism and imperialism, has accelerated the globalization of imperialism, which is rapidly laying the material and social basis for the next phase in the struggle for world socialism.


Concerns of masses shut out of impeachment hearings

By Fred Goldstein.

Nov. 16 — The Democratic Party leadership has chained the progressive masses to a defense of U.S. ruling-class militarism as the price for impeaching Trump. 

Tens of millions in this country and around the world justifiably want to see the right-wing bully, racist, misogynist bigot Trump brought down. But they are being forced to choose between Trump, who wants to blame his troubles on Ukraine, and the camp that wants to attack Russia.

This a completely false and dead-end choice.

This line of argument has been set forth by Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Adam Shiff and company, their lawyers and their corporate backers. The political masterminds behind this impeachment strategy have set up the proceedings to be especially harmful to the workers and the oppressed.

Legitimate reasons to want Trump out

Let us recount some of the legitimate reasons that people want to get rid of Trump. 

He called Mexicans rapists and criminals on his first day running for office and has continued to vilify immigrants ever since. He has forced migrants fleeing gangs and death squads fostered by puppet imperialist governments away from the U.S. southern border. 

Trump cruelly separated families at the border, put children in cages and moved children and parents hundreds of miles apart without any way of reuniting them. And he has waged a war on Black and Latinx immigrants, calling Africa and Haiti “shithole” countries, and more.

Trump also tried to ban Muslims from the country. He has been sued by 14 women for sexual assault. He has bragged about abusing women and grabbing their genitals.

He has moved legally against LGBTQ2S peoples’ rights. He has pardoned war criminals and reactionaries. He has used the White House to constantly enrich himself. 

Silence on tax breaks, deregulation, U.S. militarism and aggression

As for his attitude toward the ruling class, Trump has handed the military record budgets and given the commanders wide authority to launch operations in the field, despite disparaging NATO. He has plied the bosses and bankers with tax breaks to the tune of $1.5 trillion. He has given the corporate plunderers gifts of environmental and safety deregulation, while plundering and poisoning the land, sea and air — all the while characterizing the very real danger of climate change as a hoax.

As the impeachment hearings are going on, the Trump administration is waging war on the Bolivian Indigenous leader, three-time President Evo Morales. Bolivian generals trained in subversion and repression by the U.S. School of the Americas put the Bolivian masses under assault.

At the same time, Trump and Pompeo have been trying to overthrow the progressive, anti-imperialist Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro.

The Pentagon has moved to seize Syria’s oil wells and has assisted Turkish president Recip Erdogan in persecuting the Syrian Kurds.

Not a word about all this in the hearings.

Yovanovitch the “corruption fighter”

Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine and a star witness for the Democrats, was presented as a brave “corruption fighter.” Her testimony followed a State Department official, George Kent, and another U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor. 

One may ask who gave any U.S. official the right to investigate “corruption” in another country. If the Cubans or the Russians sent officials to investigate corruption in the U.S., they would have to send massive delegations to K Street, the White House and all federal offices of the U.S. capitalist government, because the U.S. ruling class governs by corruption. In addition, state houses and city halls are virtually occupied by lobbyists from every type of business group and individual corporations. But no such thing would ever be permitted here. That would be denounced as meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.

The criminal behavior of Biden  

Joe Biden’s connection to Ukraine is that he pressed to get Ukraine into the imperialist European Union and into an anti-Russian alliance with the U.S. after the elected Ukrainian government of Victor Yanukovich was overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated fascist coup in February 2014.

The Obama-Biden administration collaborated with fascist elements to put a right-wing government in power in Kiev. It is important to go back to the tape-recorded phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in February 2014. 

The European Union was planning a soft takeover of Ukraine, trying to undermine that country’s economic ties with Russia. The U.S. intervened in its own interests by encouraging fascist mobs to call for the overthrow of the elected government. The Ukraine Parliament pulled the police off the streets, allowing the mobs to break up the parliament. That is when Nuland made the infamous “Fuck the EU” comment, in which she openly expressed Washington’s preference for the ultra right-wing Fatherland Party, rife with fascists, to take over the government. (Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2014). When the smoke cleared, the Fatherland Party was in office and President Yanukovych was forced to flee.

Washington’s takeover of Ukraine was part of a plan to complete the encirclement of Russia and to eventually reinstall a Yeltsin-type regime to do its bidding.

Between 1999 and 2004, despite Washington’s earlier pledges not to do so, the U.S. extended NATO’s reach to surround Russia. During this period, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia all joined NATO. Only Ukraine, which also shares a long border with Russia, remained outside the imperialist military alliance.  

The war in the Donbass

There is no disputing the fact that the $400 million in aid voted by Congress was held up by Trump in his corrupt attempt to extort the Zelensky government to open up public investigations of the Bidens and Burisma as well as alleged Ukranian interference in U.S. elections in 2016. But this aid  was meant to fight off the people of East Ukraine, who have resisted the right-wing regime in Kiev. They don’t want the International Monetary Fund or the European Union or U.S. imperialism to dictate their form of government. The $400 million was to give tank-killing missiles to Kiev to stop their righteous resistance. 

The resistance is supported militarily by Russia. It is part of the geopolitical struggle between Washington and Moscow, but the support for the Donbass resistance is progressive. And so was the seizure of Crimea, which, like Donbass, is largely a Russian speaking area.  

The imperialist bureaucrats who testified at the impeachment hearings are being hailed as heroes for fighting to get weapons to be used against a justified people’s war in East Ukraine.

Lost in all the criminality is the fact that Hunter Biden got $50,000 a month from Burisma, the first privately owned natural gas company in Ukraine. This means that Biden makes more for a month than most workers in Ukraine make in a year — for just being Joe Biden’s son. Was Hunter Biden an expert in natural gas? Was he a corporate wizard? Or was he simply the son of the U.S. vice president? His position is a clear case of pure nepotism and influence peddling in the wake of the fascist overthrow.  Yet he is being depicted as a victim by the Democratic Party leadership.

Impeachment a trap for the workers and oppressed

The Democratic Party leadership has carefully orchestrated these hearings to exclude all subjects that are of concern to the progressive masses. There has not been a word about corporate giveaways, accelerated destruction of the environment, record military budgets, massive and growing inequality, wage erosion, underemployment, poverty, food deprivation or voter suppression in their calls to save their “democracy.”

All the capitalist media have broadcast this reactionary circus. No commentators have criticized the politicians for leaving out the genuine concerns of the people. This has been one big election maneuver for the Demcratic Party leadership in the run-up to the 2020 elections. It has been one great evasion of the real burning issues of mass concern. It has revealed in bold relief the fraud of capitalist parliamentarism. 

If there were any semblance of democracy in this process, mass organizations would have been given the opportunity to frame the questions, call and cross-examine witnesses from the ruling-class establishment and frame the articles of impeachment in accord with the needs and desires of the people. 

Of course nothing even approaching this is possible under capitalist democracy, which is designed to foster the interests of capital and suppress any anti-capitalist dissent.  

What is really needed is a mass mobilization, a giant coalition of the workers’ and community organizations, student and immigrant rights groups, women’s and LGBTQ2S organizations, to mobilize on the ground and drive, not just Trump, but the capitalist politicians, the government bureaucrats and the lobbyists from their positions of privilege and political strongholds. This would be preliminary to launching an attack on capitalism itself.  

Posted to on Nov. 17, 2019.


Contradictions in the impeachment struggle

By Fred Goldstein

The impeachment struggle against Trump poses many contradictions.

On the one hand hundreds of millions of people around the world would like to see Trump brought down in the hope that this will alleviate his administration’s oppressive, racist, and corrupt rule.

On the other hand, the impeachment struggle is, at bottom, a struggle by various factions of the ruling class to keep Trump from undermining the strength of U.S. imperialism at home and abroad.

Tens of million have suffered from Trump’s various forms of reaction. From the gag rule against abortion counseling, to immigrant families separated from their children, to Muslims and immigrants whom he has vilified, to Iranians suffering under sanctions, to Venezuelans and Cubans under threat from all sides, to Palestinians under Israeli occupation, to Zimbabweans under U.S. sanctions, and environmentalists watching the administration allow the extreme pollution of the air, drinking water, land and oceans. Trump has cultivated the ultra-right and fascist elements with his racist defense of killer cops as well as attacks on African and Caribbean countries. 

On the other hand, Trump has antagonized sections of the ruling class as well. He has weakened the NATO alliance, pulled out of the U.S.-sponsored Transpacific Partnership, pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, abused the Mexican government, the Canadian government, the German government, sided with the Brexit forces in Britain, and done numerous things to offend the allies of U.S. imperialism and to damage the military and diplomatic structure built up by Washington over decades. 

Three hundred so-called “national security” experts have supported the articles of impeachment. What are “national security” officials? They are CIA, NSC, FBI and all the agents of sabotage, subversion, special operations, and dirty tricks, whose job it is to undermine, remove or destroy all obstacles to the advancement of U.S. capitalist and imperialist interests at home and abroad. 

Trump’s corruption

Of course it would be foolhardy to ignore Trump’s corruption. The Biden scandal would not have come out if he were not so contemptuous of capitalist norms and processes. It is hard to measure degrees of corruption in bourgeois politics, since it is so pervasive, but usually presidents wait until they leave office to enrich themselves. Trump did not wait. 

He openly cashes in on the presidency to bolster his personal fortune right out in the open and in defiance of capitalist political decorum. He has spent 300 days of his presidency on Trump properties spending government money. He has refused to put his properties in a blind trust and turned them over to his sons. He has had military flight crews stay at his hotels. And the Saudi monarchy, among others, have rented entire floors in his D.C. hotel.

So openly trying to get a government to put a hit on Biden, his political opponent, is just business as usual for Trump and the corrupt circle around him. 

The Democratic Party leadership and Ukraine scandal

The Democratic Party leadership has been given new life in the struggle against Trump by the Ukraine scandal. Trump tried to withhold $400 million in military aid to the reactionary regime in Kiev that is fighting the independence forces in the east of Ukraine until they came up with dirt on Joe Biden, Trump’s electoral opponent. 

Trump did so openly in a telephone call that was partially recorded in notes taken by Trump officials.  Some version of those notes were made public, and in them Trump tells the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Volodymyr Zelenskiy to “do me a favor” and  “look into corruption” by Biden and his son Hunter. Trump had held up the military aid that Congress allocated to Ukraine well before the phone call to be used as leverage.

The Ukraine question is like Russiagate on a smaller scale. But politically it is, in essence, the same thing. The Democrats first opposed Trump by playing the Russia card over and over. Instead of pointing out the outrageous disenfranchisement of masses of voters, particularly people of color, and instead of attacking Trump’s racism, misogyny, anti-worker, and anti-environmental policies, they focused endlessly on the cry of collusion with Russia. First of all these Democrats are allied with the military industrial complex. But second of all, they assumed that this would be the easiest way to go about fighting Trump. If there is anything about the ruling class that is generally recognized, it is their hostility to Russia (and China). So the quickest and easiest way to attack Trump is to call him soft on Russia and a friend of Putin.

This put them squarely in the camp of the militarists. What they did not reckon on was the complete domination of the Republican Party by Trump and his intimidation of both the House and Senate Republicans.  So until they won the majority in the House, they were stymied. 

Nancy Pelosi was stalling on opening up an impeachment struggle despite the numerous crimes of Trump – against immigrants, women, his open profiteering from the presidency, etc.  Then the revelation about the Ukraine issue fell into their lap. Trump bumbled into it. It came to the surface and they have seized upon it. 

The background to the Ukraine crisis

It is no accident that the Ukraine issue has become the focus of the impeachment struggle. It was the Obama administration, with Joe Biden as vice president and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine under Viktor Yanukovych in February of 2014.

The Obama/Biden/Clinton administration collaborated with fascist elements to put a right-wing government in power in Kiev. It is important to go back to the tape-recorded phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in February 2014. 

The European Union was planning a soft takeover of Ukraine, trying to undermine its economic ties with Russia. The U.S. intervened in its own interests by encouraging fascist mobs to call for the overthrow of the elected government. The Ukraine parliament pulled the police off the streets allowing the mobs to break up the parliament.  That is when Nuland made the infamous “F… the EU” comment in which she openly expressed Washington’s preference for the ultra-rightwing Fatherland Party, rife with fascists, to take over the government. (Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2014). When the smoke cleared, the Fatherland Party was in office and President Yanukovych was forced to flee.

On Biden the “victim”

Biden, who has been made the victim of Trump’s maneuvers, is a thoroughly reactionary racist, sexist politician, in addition to being a foreign policy reactionary.

In 1991 Biden was head of the Senate panel that oversaw the persecution of Anita Hill by 10 white male senators who allowed her to be vilified by Clarence Thomas who had been nominated for the Supreme Court. Thomas went on to be one of the most reactionary members of the court.  Biden presided over the hearings and participated in her vilification. Among other things, as the head of the panel, he failed to investigate her allegations against Thomas, failed to bring her witnesses before the committee, and acted as if he did not believe her. (Washington Post, April 26, 2019)

In 1994 Biden was a Senate leader. He wrote and had passed the largest crime bill in U.S. history. The bill added 60 new death penalty offenses; it eliminated Pell grants that allowed prisoners to get an education; it provided for funding for 100,000 more cops on the streets; it appropriated $9.7 billion for more prisons and it included the notorious “three strikes” provision which mandated life sentences for anyone convicted of three crimes. 

Under Biden’s and Bill Clinton’s leadership mass incarceration soon followed.

Impeachment leaves the masses out of the struggle

The impeachment process is strictly for ruling class politicians and lawyers. They shape the charges and the arguments. They call and question the witnesses. The masses are totally shut out of the process and their grass roots interests do not see the light of day. 

Trump should be tried for a whole host of crimes against the people. Witnesses should be called like immigrant mothers who have been separated from their children. Black, Latinx, Native and Asian people who have been victims of racism should testify against Trump’s casual remarks equating Nazis to those opposing Nazis and white supremacy. 

LGBTQ2S people who have had friends murdered or beaten by Trump-loving bigots should testify; Black people whose relatives have been killed or beaten by the racist cops should be allowed to tell their stories indicting Trump.  The same should apply to people who have lost their health care, their pensions, their jobs, etc. 

Furthermore, it would be one thing if Trump were impeached under pressure from the enraged masses in the streets, on the campuses, and in the workplaces. But at present the masses are relying on the ruling class to fight their battle against Trump. He and his whole administration and their enablers should be swept into jail for their crimes.  That might bring some genuine relief to the working class and oppressed. 

First published on website Sept. 29, 2019.



Tariffs, trade and overproduction

Posted to on August 25, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

All signs are that an economic downturn is coming. While the capitalists are the first to moan and groan about the declines in the stock market and bond market, an economic downturn is a crisis for the working class. It means layoffs, short shifts, reduced hours, general instability and suffering for the workers and oppressed.

What is needed in the coming period is for the working class, the unions, the unorganized in various organizations and communities to overcome disunity and passivity in time to fight back and push the crisis onto the backs of the bosses. 

There is endless speculation now about whether or not Trump’s policies, particularly the trade war with China, are causing or accelerating the downturn. But to be clear, should there be a downturn, capitalist overproduction would be its cause.

Behind Trump’s trade war

What is driving the trade war and the tariffs, which are really a tax on the working class, in the U.S. as well as in China? Trump is desperate to create the jobs he promised in his election bid in 2016. He thinks his reelection depends on it. He thinks that a tariff war will force U.S. corporations back to the U.S., where they will offer new jobs. This is Trump’s fantasy. It is utterly false and based upon total ignorance.

U.S. corporations have rushed to position themselves in China over the years because China’s workers had relatively low wages, there was a vast population of peasants streaming into the cities, along with a growing educated population, and a strong  infrastructure built by the socialist government. China provided both a vast internal market and a platform for exporting commodities to third countries, including the U.S.

In short, being in China was profitable and it still is. The corporate bosses will refuse to  give up their profits just because Trump tells them to. Of course, many of them wish that they could get out of China for other reasons: Wages are rising, there is communist influence on the workers, the bosses fear of the strength of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and they hate to conform to rules and regulations laid down by the CCP and the Chinese government. 

Some bosses are trying to find low-wage alternatives in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore, and other places. But shifting supply chains, finding infrastructure and breaking up production patterns is not as easy as Trump makes it sound. 

Giant corporations like Boeing, Caterpillar, Apple, GM, GE, among others, have large capital investments in China. Many of them were counting on a full-scale capitalist takeover, which would have allowed them to dominate China. But it is clear that such an overturn is not happening.

Trump’s tactics in the trade war with China also reflects the deep and growing hostility of the U.S. ruling class toward China, especially its socialist structure and its increasing political, economic and military influence in Asia and the world.

Capitalist overproduction is the problem

In their attempt to shore up the U.S. economy Trump and the ruling class are really up against capitalism itself. The capitalist economy operates according to it own laws. 

Marxism shows that consumption and production are indissolubly linked. It also shows that every downturn begins, not with a decline in consumption, but with a decline in production. Where production declines, profits decline, and capitalists rush to protect their profits by hitting  the workers with layoffs, wage cuts, cuts in hours, elimination of benefits, whatever it takes to keep profit margins from falling or to slow the fall.

Why are the imperialist countries — Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, among others — either in a manufacturing decline or headed toward one? There is only one reason. There is a decline in markets for manufactured commodities. 

China, a socialist country, is not in a depression, but the rate of growth in the economy has declined from 5.7% in December 2018 to 5.5% in February 2019. But this is still a higher growth rate than anywhere in the world capitalist economies (Reuters. Business News, March 13, 2019). 

It is a law of capitalism that production expands at a rapid pace while consumption expands, if at all, at a snail’s pace. That is because the masses of workers get paid very little while profits boom.  Profits and production outstrip consumption; that is an iron law of capitalism. That is what leads to capitalist overproduction.

The enormous productivity of labor makes it such that the mass of the working class cannot buy back all that they produce. High technology in production has aggravated this situation and has made the crisis of overproduction worse. With automation, fewer workers produce more commodities and services in a shorter time. This is what accounts for the vast number of workers who are excluded from  the unemployment statistics — those who have dropped out of the official workforce altogether, who cobble together part-time jobs off the books to live and use other means to survive. 

Any talk of downturn, recession, depression, etc., should set off alarm bells among the more advanced workers. It should be a clarion call to workers’ leaders wherever they are to start organizing a fight back. 

Workers must demand to keep their income flowing by whatever means available, whether payments by the capitalists out of their profits and savings, or by the government directly, through jobs programs. An economic downturn is an emergency for workers. It should be treated as such. 

Trump is desperate to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. to try to shore up his electoral base. But the manufacturing index has shown contraction in the U.S. for the first time since 2009. This decline in manufacturing is certain to be followed by a decline in consumption. 

The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence report, which is the capitalist’s gold standard, has shown a drop in popular economic confidence in the future. That indicates a further threat to consumption. 

Amazon and other online retailers have driven out brick-and-mortar stores and closed down malls. These devastating events, driven by high tech, may pump up the bottom line at Amazon but at the same time they spread unemployment and poverty across the country. 

The number of workers in stores and malls who are laid off far exceeds the number of workers put to work at Amazon fulfillment centers or Fedex or UPS. When a store or a mall closes, retail workers lose their jobs and so do maintenance workers, window and floor designers, fast food workers who served the customers in the malls, etc. No matter how you slice it, workers take it on the chin when online retailers drive stores and malls out of business. 

The contradictions of capitalist exploitation have raised a dire threat to the working class and the capitalist economy. Trump should be ousted because of his unspeakable racism, misogyny and bigotry, as well as his vicious anti-immigrant policies. But the real problem is capitalism itself.


Trump tariffs clash with globalized capitalist production

Published on website, July 7, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

The Trump administration is caught between its “America First” super-imperialist, great power chauvinist politics on the one hand, and the capitalist world division of labor on the other hand. 

At every turn the contradiction between capitalist private property and world-wide socialized production becomes an obstacle to capitalism itself. In particular, the global interests of U.S. imperialism and the global economic structure of world capitalism today sharply contradict the Trump administration’s political goals.

Trump and his minions want to overturn the political and economic structure built up by the U.S. capitalist class in the past century. They want to realign the relationship of forces in a way that further subordinates the imperialist rivals and economic satellites of Washington and Wall Street. 

Trump has taken aim at Germany, France, Britain, and the entire European Union, Japan and China, as well as Canada (a minor imperialist country), Mexico, India, Turkey, Indonesia, and Thailand, among others. China is a special case which will have to be dealt with in a separate article.

Globalization and the socialization of production

The term “globalization” is a useful geographical designation of how workers produce goods and services, that is, commodities, today. It is highly descriptive since production of a single commodity takes place in sequence in different parts of the globe. However, from a Marxist point of view, the more scientific economic designation is the socialization of the productive forces on a global basis.

The capitalist class has forced the world working class into a vast, involuntary division of labor in which workers must cooperate, on pain of losing their means of survival, to produce the world’s commodities. But the economic surplus, the surplus value that arises from these global production chains of exploitation is reaped by the bosses. Even the workers who have jobs are left with barely enough to live on. 

Global chains of exploitation are a modern form of the socialization of production carried on within the framework of private property!

Thus, as Trump proceeds with his economic wrecking ball, he is up against the fundamental contradiction of capitalism — the contradiction between socialized production and private property. Friedrich Engels, a co-founder of Marxism, along with Karl Marx, explained this at the dawn of modern capitalism in his classical work “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” (published in 1880, excerpted from his more extensive book, Anti-Duhring, published in 1878):

“This contradiction, which gives to the new mode of production its capitalistic character, contains the germ of the whole of the social antagonisms of today. The greater the mastery obtained by the new mode of production over all important fields of production and in all manufacturing countries, the more it reduced individual production to an insignificant residuum, the more clearly was brought out the incompatibility of socialized production with capitalistic appropriation.”

Tariffs: Trump’s blunt instrument

Today Trump is using tariffs as a blunt instrument to bully countries around the world to hand over their profits to U.S. capitalism. 

What are tariffs? In the imperialist era they are a tax levied on imports by a capitalist class in one country in the struggle against its rivals. The country upon which the taxes are levied suffers a decline in exports and the government of the country levying the tariffs collects the tariffs/taxes in its treasury. 

From a working class point of view, tariffs must be seen in the same light as automation. Like automation, tariffs are part of the world competition between capitalists. Tariffs, like automation, is a tool by which the capitalists fight each other in the world market. 

But this fight is carried on at the expense not just of capitalist rivals, but also at the expense of the working class. Workers in the country that has tariffs levied on it loses jobs because this country’s exports decline. Workers in the country that levies tariffs pay higher prices because the importing capitalists pass on their extra costs to the workers. 

Usually tariffs are met by counter-tariffs. So in a tariff war between the bosses, as in any war, the workers are the real casualties. 

‘Globalization’ and the complexity of socialized production

In his tariff campaign Trump is running afoul of imperialist globalization at every turn; his actions have provoked retaliation from capitalists.The threat, later withdrawn, to levy tariffs on Mexico to get political leverage in his racist struggle against immigrants is a case in point. 

Trump threatened to put a 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods and to raise the tariff another 5 percent every month up to 25 percent if the Mexican government failed to prevent immigrants from crossing the border into the United States.

According to Burgess Everett and James Arkin of Politico, at a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans earlier this week, “White House deputy counsel Pat Philbin and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel faced brutal push-back from the GOP, according to multiple senators, with some threatening that Trump could actually face a veto-proof majority to overturn the tariffs.” (Politico June 5, 2019)

If the Republican Trump loyalists in the Senate rebelled against their leader, it’s because the capitalist donors dug in against this. Mexico exports $345 billion to the U.S., much of it automobiles, automobile parts, agricultural products, clothing, etc. 

Other examples of the intricate and interwoven nature of global supply chains apply to Japan and Canada as well.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) says about 8 percent of its members’ total annual sales are built in and imported from Mexico by way of U.S. railways, making them susceptible to the tariffs. JAMA represents Japanese exporters, manufacturers and importers in Canada. It represents Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru. 

Canada’s largest auto supplier, Magna International, has 32 manufacturing and assembly plants in Mexico, where it employs 29,175 people — more than in either Canada or the United States. (Automotive News, Canada, June 5, 2019)

A number of Japanese firms have their production bases in Mexico. Honda Motor Co., for instance, exported around 120,000 vehicles made in Mexico to the United States in 2018, accounting for around 80 percent of the cars it produces in Mexico, which is also home to large assembly plants owned by Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. (Japan Times, May 31, 2019) 

There are over 700 Japanese companies employing thousands of workers in Mexico. So Trump could also trigger a trade war with Japan because of his threatened Mexican tariffs.

The bosses experienced Trump’s threat against Mexico a threat against them. The Chamber of Commerce threatened the administration with a lawsuit. And the monopoly donors to the Republican Party told the U.S. Senate that they did not want a tariff war with Mexico and Canada.

The tariffs campaign was part of Trump’s reelection bid. Trump is desperate to get reelected and avoid prosecution by the various court jurisdictions that may bring charges against him. In his desperation, Trump ignored the complexity of the U.S. ruling class’s broader economic problem. 

Trade fight with EU and Asia

The United States is also intensifying its trade fight with the European Union over aircraft subsidies. Washington has proposed additional tariffs on EU goods worth $4 billion along with another $21 billion in tariffs it is demanding for European Airbus planes.

The tariffs, announced on July 1 by the United States Trade Representative, cover 89 products including meat, cheese, pasta, fruits, coffee and whiskey. They could be added to a list of EU Airbus exports that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said in April would be subject to tariffs.

General System of Preferences (GPS) status exempts 3,500 items from U.S. tariffs. GPS status is meant for formerly oppressed and colonial countries, designated as “underdeveloped.”

In its struggle against Asia, the Trump administration has threatened to remove the (GPS) status from India, Thailand and Indonesia. Turkey has already lost its GPS status. 

U.S. dairy producers took aim at India and Indonesia, while pork producers targeted Thailand. Medical device manufacturers also filed a petition to exclude India from receiving preferential treatment from the U.S. 

All elements of the U.S. ruling class know that they have a compliant friend in the White House who will do their bidding for the most part, even if at times they have to buck him in the Senate or in the courts. They have reaped the benefits of his corporate tax cuts, deregulation campaign, and land giveaway policies for the energy, mining and timber industries.

With the trade war, the Trump administration is striking out in all directions to put economic pressure on the entire capitalist class world-wide. Its goal is to increase the domination of the U.S. imperialist monopolies.

The contradiction of socialized production vs. private appropriation

The contradiction between the socialized character of production and the private appropriation of the products of labor was emphasized by Vladimir Lenin in State and Revolution, which was written in preparation for the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

Lenin explained that imperialism was the stage of capitalism that would lead to socialism. Bourgeois economists at the time were evading the nature of imperialism by reducing it to the “interlocking” of corporations. Lenin answered:

“Skilled labor is monopolised, the best engineers are engaged; the means of transport are captured—railways in America, shipping companies in Europe and America. Capitalism in its imperialist stage leads directly to the most comprehensive socialisation of production; it, so to speak, drags the capitalists, against their will and consciousness, into some sort of a new social order, a transitional one from complete free competition to complete socialisation.

“Production becomes social, but appropriation remains private. The social means of production remain the private property of a few. The general framework of formally recognised free competition remains, and the yoke of a few monopolists on the rest of the population becomes a hundred times heavier, more burdensome and intolerable.” 

Fast forward to the 21st century. In 2005 New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote about how his Dell computer was made, describing in great detail how workers spread across numerous countries in Asia contributed to its production. He summed up his findings:

“‘The total ‘supply chain’ for this computer, including suppliers of suppliers, came to about 400 companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, mostly the latter, with about thirty prime suppliers.” (The World Is Flat, Freidman, 2005, cited in Low-Wage Capitalism, Goldstein, 2008)

This author described these supply chains in Marxist terms in Low-Wage Capitalism (2008) as follows: “These so-called supply chains, which are really chains of exploitation spread throughout the globe by the giant monopolies, in partnership with finance capital are the business model for all the global capitalists. And the lesser capitalists fit themselves into this framework.” 

Capitalism is becoming an obstacle to the survival of the masses

The increasing inequality of wealth in the U.S. is something that the capitalists and financiers are deliriously happy about. That is why Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised  $105 million in the last quarter for his reelection bid.

That is why the capitalist media gave Trump a billion dollars worth of free media publicity in 2016 and why they continue to give the widest possible coverage to his every tweet. They care nothing about Trump’s cruelty to immigrants and their children;  his enabling and accelerating environmental and planetary destruction; his work, every day in every way, to transform the political structure of capitalism in a right-wing, authoritarian direction.   

The U.S. working class is an integral part of the world-wide socialized labor force. Through its hands pass much of the world’s wealth. However, almost none of that wealth stays in the hands of the working class; the lion’s share goes to the exploiting class. 

Sooner or later this fact is going to reach the consciousness of the masses. Sooner or later they will not be able to go on in the old way, suffering the deceptions of the bosses, their politicians in both parties, and the capitalist media. Capitalism is becoming an obstacle to the survival of the workers and oppressed. That obstacle must be removed.

In the long run, no trade war or imposition of tariffs can change the fundamental contradictions of capitalism or stave off its inevitable collapse.