The election of Donald Trump as president of the USA, which closely followed the unexpected result of the EU referendum in the UK, has created a wave of unease, fear, but also questioning across the world. How could our rulers, those who are supposedly in charge of the present world order, allow such things to happen – turns of events that seem to go against the “rational” interests of the capitalist class? How did it come about that a chancer, a narcissist thug and hustler is now at the head of the world’s most powerful state? And more important: what does this tell us about where the entire world is headed.
On the 11th November, the ICC is hosting a Day of Discussion on the Russian Revolution. Several comrades have been already been reflecting seriously on the importance of this all-important episode in the history of working class struggle. A comrade on our discussion board, Link, has already reposted a presentation he prepared for a previous meeting on the topic. It can be found on our discussion forum here.
The text that follows has been sent to us by a close sympathiser of the ICC. We are publishing it in the hope that as many comrades as possible will read it prior to the meeting in the hope that it will stimulate further thought and discussion.
We encourage all comrades to attend the meeting if they are able and to consider making further contributions, either in the form of texts or participating on our forum.
For the most “responsible” factions of the world bourgeoisie, the international upsurge of populism has created a succession of problems and obstacles, not least Brexit and the unpredictable reign of Trump in the USA. In the last few months we have seen some vigorous attempts to stem the populist tide, the most evident expression of which was during the French presidential election last April/May, when weighty international figures like Merkel and Obama, plus the French Socialist Party and others gave their unqualified backing to the pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron, widely seen as the most effective barrier to the populist, anti-EU Front National. However, the underlying social forces generating the populist tide have by no means gone away and its political expressions continue to exert a real weight in bourgeois political life. The result of the general election in Austria – coming soon after the spectacular gains made by the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland in Germany - provides further confirmation that populism is much more than a political bubble and expresses a real dysfunction at the roots of capitalist society.
Prior to capitalism, many societies had developed mythologies of the end of the world. The apocalypse anticipated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam, seen as the final destiny of this world, was understood to be the precursor of a new heaven and a new earth that would last for all eternity; whereas in the Hindu vision, new worlds and even new universes are endlessly born, dissolved and reborn in a vast cosmic cycle.
But if the idea of the apocalypse is not new, what is new in the capitalist mode of production is first, that the world inhabited by humankind for hundreds of thousands of years can be destroyed by the technologies that human beings themselves have created, rather than by supernatural beings or an inexorable fate. And second, that such a destruction would not be the prelude to a new and better world, but destruction pure and simple.
Since the end of August the army of Burma (Myanmar) has been persecuting, torturing, raping and killing thousands of inhabitants of the state of Rakhine (traditionally also called Arakan), people from the Muslim Rohingya minority. This is a particularly impoverished area to the west of Burma, a country where the great majority of the population are Buddhist. Rejected and deprived of civil rights for decades, the Rohinigya have been victims of even more extreme violence since the attack on around 30 police stations by an armed group calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
The 2016 UK Referendum on membership of the EU produced a result against what the central factions of the British bourgeoisie considered as their best interests. The international populist tide was amplified with the election of President Trump. And the specific political difficulties of the British government were exacerbated by the general election of June 2017. Called to increase the Conservative government’s majority and strengthen its position in negotiations over British withdrawal from the EU, the election resulted in a loss of seats and the need to form an alliance with the DUP from Northern Ireland.