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The Spectres at the G8 Feast
THERE ARE two spectres haunting the gathering of G8 world 'leaders' in Genoa this weekend. One is the growing tide of anti-capitalist movements that is laying their system under siege. The second is the increasing likelihood of all the sectors of the world economy simultaneously lunging into recession.
Even the normally tight-lipped British Chancellor Gordon Brown admitted last week: "The downturn in the world economy has not reached its bottom... it is in many ways far more severe than we expected a few months ago because it has spread from America, in particular, to Germany and, of course, we have no growth at all in Japan."
Shifting nervously from his arguments a few months ago when he said the British economy was no longer vulnerable to the economic cycle of boom and bust, Brown now admits that "no continent and no country can be insulated" from the economic downturn.
In the week since his remarks there has been plenty of concrete evidence to add to Brown's increasing twitchiness.
In Britain the job losses threatened in British shipbuilding yards are an even more tangible proof of a deepening recession.
It has been the case for some time that British manufacturing has effectively been in recession.
But the hopes of Britain's government and capitalist class of avoiding recession rested on the performance of its financial services sector.
Yet, the crisis at Marconi and at Equitable Life shows that finance capitalism is not in the rudest of health either.
On a world scale the developing crisis in Argentina (see page 9) following on from the economic chaos in Turkey, as well as the continuing economic doldrums besetting South-East Asia, confirms that capitalism is an inherently unstable system that cannot deliver security and improving living standards for the overwhelming majority of the world's population.
The inequalities produced under capitalism and the horrors experienced by billions through globalisation are not the responsibility of a few unethical big multinationals.
It is a product of the whole capitalist system.
A NEW book, Empire by US academic Michael Hardt, claims that Globalisation can be a positive force for change - meaning that it brings powerful new struggles against capitalism together on a world scale.
Yet, in the minds of all those oppressed by capitalism throughout the world, 'Globalisation' is now inevitably linked to the grasping, greedy control of the world's resources by an elite handful of the super wealthy.
The anti-capitalist protests have shown that those who challenge the capitalist system do have an internationalist anti-capitalist outlook, seeing the need to change things on world scale, though only a minority at this stage see the need to replace capitalism with a socialist society.
However, as the world recession develops, the world's capitalists will increasingly raise the ideas of protectionism rather than globalisation.
Bush's unilateral abandonment of the Kyoto protocols shows how far they will go to safeguard the interests of their own capitalist class.
And Bush's zealous insistence on pushing ahead with the National Missile Defence system indicates how unstable capitalist society could become as economic crisis escalates.
But, as the recession develops anti-capitalist protesters will be joined in their hundreds of millions by the working class worldwide, who will reject the idea that they have to pay for the crisis of the bosses' system.
Workers in all countries have no interests in common with the capitalist classes that allegedly run their countries.
Instead, workers globally have everything to gain from uniting across national boundaries to challenge and remove this rotten capitalist system.
That challenge has to go hand in hand with putting forward an alternative system.
For the protesters gathering in Genoa the key question they will face in mobilising against the world's ruling elites is to realise that capitalism cannot be reformed but must be abolished and replaced with a system that democratically plans the world's resources in the interests of the majority of the people on the planet - a genuine, democratic socialist system.
In The Socialist 20 July 2001: