Analysis Global

The Need for a Political and Economic Alternative

By Sajid Naeem

For almost the last three decades, the whole world seems to be in the whirlwind of two apparently antagonistic theories, although for the same socio economic and political purposes. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the USSR, Francis Fukuyama presented a thesis entitled “The End of History’’. By the term and title Fukuyama never meant to suggest that the wheel of history has ceased to spin and there would no more be years, decades and centuries. In fact, the book was meant to prove to the world that the human beings have reached the ultimate destination of their evolution, that is, capitalism. Socialism is dead and not only the world doesn’t need any more revolutions but also there would none. Keeping in view this ‘’bright” side of the new perspective there was excitement, though for a very brief span of time, about ‘’The New World Order’’. America as the dominant imperialist power was the mouthpiece of this propaganda machine. Peoples around the globe were made to believe that so much of the world GDP was consumed by the cold war. Since that dark period had ended, there would be peace and harmony among the nations of the world. The economic resources of the world would now be channelized for the betterment of the general public.

Samuel P. Huntington developed a polemic to counter Fukuyama’s thesis. His book was entitled “The Clash of Civilizations”. The crux of this book was to tell the world that there would be no end to the history. The cold war era which was marked by a conflict and war of ideologies would be replaced by a clash among civilizations. The two civilizations pointed out by Huntington were Islam and Buddhism. These two were a posing threat to the Western civilization. In fact, this book envisaged the more practical course the American Imperialism and its allies were to follow in the years and decades to come. As a matter of fact, the first Iraq war had begun before the ink of the new world order had barely dried. New foes, real or imaginary had to be created. Political Islam and its offshoots, the fundamentalist organizations, which were so carefully nurtured, financed and brought up by the Imperialism itself, were declared enemies of the ‘’civilized’’ world. The two adversarial civilizations pointed out by Huntington, simply put, were the oil rich countries of the Gulf, which it was necessary to control for the imperialist economies and the Chinese cheap products which were posing a direct economic threat to imperialist economies.

It’s interesting to see how this apparently opposing thesis complemented each other. While the clash of civilizations provided the basis for imperialism to wreak havoc across the globe, there was no genuine political force left to oppose these wars either in Iraq or Afghanistan. With the collapse of the USSR, almost all the left parties were practical wiped out throughout the world. Even if there existed some left-wing parties in the name, their progressiveness now was to toe the line which originated from Washington. It was an ample proof that the leadership of all these leftwing parties firmly believed that history has ended itself in the form of capitalism. For them the class war of the oppressed masses was over. Though, the fact was just the opposite. During the second Iraq war millions poured out on the streets of the very imperialist countries which were invading Iraq in the name of so-called War on Terror after the 9/11. So, the class struggle was not off the agenda but because of the capitulation of the leadership mass movements had lost their heads and were rendered leaderless. The only organized force which opposed such imperialist aggressions was its former allies, the fundamentalists. But their opposition did nothing more than to promote and strengthen the idea of the Clash of Civilizations. The sole cause of their resentment to imperialism was that they felt badly betrayed at the end of the cold war. They too absolutely lacked any alternative to the imperialist order of world capitalism. For them it too was and is the end of the history.

There is also another side of the story. Soon the new world order of peace and prosperity turned into its opposite. The working masses even of the most advanced countries were told that the government treasuries were empty, and they will have to lead their lives without the social security benefits they enjoyed in the past. Austerity and cuts became the order of the day poisoning the lives of the working masses. In fact, the euphoria about the death of Socialism and Marxism encouraged and led the ruling classes to an absolute abandonment of the masses. The situation further worsened during the 2008 economic crisis from which the capitalist world has never fully recovered. The covid-19 pandemic brought the crisis ridden lives of the people to the brink of devastation, destroying the global supply chain and causing inflation of unknown proportion. As if this was not enough the imperialist started a new war in Ukraine to add fuel to the burning fire. Inflation and prices went sky high making the lives of the impoverished people more and more bitter.

The recent war in Gaza has once more polarized the whole world especially the imperialist countries whose governments are all out to support the Israeli imperialist aggression in the name of self-defence. But the masses clearly think that Netanyahu and his accomplices are committing genocide in Palestine. From America to Britain to Australia there is not a single country where hundreds of thousands of people have not come out to express their solidarity with the brutalized Palestinian people. There is no gainsaying the fact that it is a genocide in its most explicit form. So far more than 30,000 people have been ruthlessly killed including more than 12,000 children and 8,000 women. The number of aid workers from United Nations and other organizations killed, stands at 167. These figures manifest the whole war strategy on the part of Israel.

This cartoon speaks volumes about Israeli war policy. As the stated purpose is to destroy Hamas and Hamas is hiding under the earthen crust of Gaza, the only way to destroy Hamas is to destroy Gaza. This is what Israel has been doing for more than 150 days now. Hospitals, schools, ambulances, shelter houses, rescue workers, children, women, the young and the old have been indiscriminately bombed and shot at. The solidarity which has sprung up in the Western world shows that despite the ruthlessness of the imperialist rulers, humanity is not dead. It’s only the human compassion and empathy that has forced millions of working people to express their disgust and anger in drastic actions like ‘’stop the boat’’ movement, industrial actions against the industries producing weapons for Israel. Even a young American airman Aaron Bushnell went so far as to burn himself alive before the Israeli embassy.

The question is where this anger is going to find its expression in the political field. Well, if Joe Biden is going to be defeated the most likely winner is Donald Trump. What a Change! Even from the capitalist point of view it will be a disaster not only for the American people but for the whole capitalist world order. The ultimate victim of this disastrous outcome will be the working masses of the world. Similarly, what difference would it make if Rishi Sunak is replaced by Kier Starmer in Britain?

War, of course, is the most pronounced form of destruction under capitalism. But there are many silent killers involved in this capitalist equation which have threateningly come to the fore in recent years and decades. The blind pursuits of profit on the part of individual capitalists and multinational corporations have wreaked havoc with environment and ecology. Global warming is now threatening the very existence of human species. Land, air and water pollution are threatening the whole life chain. Food and water scarcity are going to be the order of the day. Now it is not just that coastal cities will be engulfed by the rising sea level. Chicago and New York are already sinking due to ‘’silent hazard’’ of underground environmental change. 25 per cent of Tibetan glaciers have already melted away. The looming uncertainty has resulted in the worst alienation of human history. People in the developed world, where the conscious level of the general masses is supposed to be advanced too, have refused to reproduce and have children. From America and Canada to Japan, China and South Korea to Australia to the whole of Western Europe the population is decreasing at an alarming rate. What can be more alarming than the highest form of life refusing to reproduce itself!

On the other hand, there are countries where too many children are born. But here the tragedy is unfolding in another manner. For example, India and Pakistan which are home to about 1.66 billion people. The ruling class thinks, that immersed in Hindutva ideology, Modi government processes a magic wand to paint a shining picture of the motherland. According to official figures, last year, poverty in India was said to be around 18 per cent. Then The National Institute of Transforming India (NITI) announced it be marginally over 11 per cent. In a most recent report, it brought it down to mere 5 per cent. The Indian Express News has investigated these figures in a report published on 4th of March. According to it, the government distributes 5 kg of free flour to 800 million Indians, a figure which well over the 50 per cent of the population. The paper then raises the question about the need of distributing a meagre quantity of flour among these ‘’rich” Indians. The figures quoted by the same source are simply horrific.67.1 per cent of children under five are Anaemic. Anaemic women of ages from 15 to 49 years are 57 per cent. Children under five with stunted growth amount to 35.5 per cent. The socio-economic figures in Pakistan are even worse. 40 per cent of the children are going through the ordeal of stunted growth. 28 million children have no access to schools. The conditions in other south Asian countries are not much different. According to a UN estimate of March 8th, 2024, this region is home to more than 2 billion people. Imagine what these societies would look like in two decades with such a massive number of youths with stunted mental or physical growth.

With the neo liberal economic patterns of capitalist economy, most of the wealth is being concentrated in a fewer and fewer hands. According to a recent European Commission report, 2760 individuals own more than $13 trillion whereas; their tax ratio is 0 to 0.60 per cent. Oxfam in its report last year stated that the 1 per cent of the world population owns more than $26 trillion out the $42 trillion of world GDP. This concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands leaves no room for investment in human, social and physical infrastructure. The looming climate crisis, it seems, does not even exist for the policy makers of this system. Even if they acknowledge its existence, to them it’s a matter of distant future. The reality is just the opposite. The way things are going, in a matter of few years, most of life sustaining indicators may become irreversible, and some of them may already have crossed the limit. Only through the mechanism of planned socialist economy, these urgent challenges could be overcome. But economic alternative is of no use unless a political alternative is there to implement it. Such political alternatives are conspicuous on the world scale because of their absence. The sooner such alternatives are built, the better. Otherwise, we are doomed together.