Comrade Vinod Mishra on Globalisation

T he Sixth Congress of CPI(ML) is being held at the close of the 20th century, the century which witnessed major upheavals of world historic significance: rise of imperialism, two successive world wars, rise of socialism and the end of the colonial era, and finally the collapse of Soviet system and the advent of globalisation. The century is marked by tremendous advances in science and technology, with humankind developing weapons of self-destruction on the earth while at the same time embarking on colonising outer space; and so also there have been rapid strides in the exchange of information and goods that have made the world look like a global village. …

The imperialism that arose in the early years of the century, became discredited by the middle of it and now, in the closing years, is seeking to redeem its prestige in the guise of globalisation. If the old imperialism gave rise to a class of ‘coupon clippers’ who thrived on speculation in the stock markets, globalisation has led to the emergence of a whole class of currency speculators who find a respectable representation on the IMF board. Enormous growth in currency trading has created a huge mass of ‘world money’, aptly described as the ‘virtual money’. As an economist noted, “It fits in none of the traditional definitions of money, whether standard of measure, storage of value, or medium of exchange. It is totally anonymous. But its power is real.” The money has total mobility, because it serves no economic (productive) function. The volume of this money is so gigantic that its movement in and out of a country have far greater import than normal flows of finance, trade or investment. Once a national economy, like that of India, gets fully integrated into the global economy, years of hard-won economic gains can be wiped out by just a few weeks run on its currency.

Domination of this ‘virtual money’ symbolises complete detachment of capital from its productive functioning. It further reinforces the parasitic nature of present-day global capitalism. And hence, even though the 20th century closes with setbacks for world socialism, the coming century is sure to open with resurgence of new ideas, new forces and new movements for a better world order, for a new edition of socialism.

(from the Inaugural Address to the CPI(ML)’s 6th Party Congress, Liberation, November 1997)
The year 1998 has been one more tumultuous year in this era of great uncertainties. Amidst the reigning chaos, however, one may discern, through a deeper probe, certain subterranean trends that are most likely to erupt in major upheavals with the turn of the century.

Till yesterday the apologists of globalisation boasted that the ‘golden age’ of capitalism has come to stay and that they had answers to all the problems of the world economy. But 1998 changed all this. With the collapse of the Asian Tiger economies and the crisis fast spreading to Latin America, the panic button has been pressed. Now the shadows of a world-wide recession are looming large and the policy-makers at the IMF and the World Bank, unsure of themselves, are not coming forth with the usual prescriptions with any degree of confidence. Clueless about the causes and, therefore, of the solutions, global managers are hinting at various alternative options including the increased role of the state in economic planning. Till the other day this was anathema to the rabid proponents of neo-liberalism. Breaking the norm of the last decade or so, the Nobel Prize in economics this year was awarded to Amartya Sen, the philosopher economist who advocates a safety net both for the poor and the rich in case ‘something goes wrong’. One wonders whether the spectre of the ’30s and the need for advance redressal measures have prompted the Nobel Committee to prop up the Third World avatar of Keynes!

As a consequence of these debacles to the project of globalisation, the ideological and political climate of the world is changing once again. For the present, however, social democratic interpretations of Marxist thought is on the ascendance but the deepening crisis and increasing political action of the youth and the working classes, across the globe, provide favourable conditions for the regrouping of the forces of revolutionary Marxism.

(from Comrade Vinod Mishra’s last article, “Hold High the Banner of Revolutionary Marxism and Strive Hard for Greater Successes”, Liberation, January, 1999)