on the International Situation

[From the Political-Organisational Report adopted at the Fifth Party Congress, December 1992.]

1. In the last five years or so, the world has witnessed events of truly world-historic significance. As the twentieth century draws to a close, contrary to Lenin’s expectation of a worldwide victory of socialism, world capitalism seems to have emerged victorious over socialism after 75 years of bitter struggles.

This has even led Mr.Francis Fukuyama, a noted bourgeois ideologue, to declare the end of history in the sense of history understood as ‘a single, coherent evolutionary process’. According to Fukuyama, ‘no higher social form than liberal capitalism can be conceived of’ and ‘the sources of inequality will increasingly be attributable to the natural inequality of talents, the economically necessary division of labour and to culture’.

Any tension within this system of capitalism and liberal democracy, Fukuyama tells us, will arise henceforth not from class antagonism, ‘but from liberal democracy’s tendency to grant equal recognition to unequal people’. Will such tension again lead to the eclipse of liberal democracy by fascism which is based on differential treatment to unequal people? Fukuyama is silent on this, but with the demise of Socialism in Europe, Nazism is definitely on upswing in Germany, France and Italy, this time targeting the immigrant population.

2. The end of the Second World War was at the same time the beginning of a cold war between the USA and Soviet Union which later came to be known as the contention between the two superpowers. The two military blocs of NATO and Warsaw Pact faced each other in Europe in a contention which gave rise to an unbridled arms race and stockpiling of nuclear bombs capable of destroying humanity several times over.

3. The paramount importance and centrality attributed to this contention between imperialist and socialist blocs by Soviet leaders invariably demanded the lining up of all socialist countries, communist parties and Third World movements behind the Soviet Union. In real life, this gave rise to a split in the socialist camp. The Czechoslovak invasion in 1968 and the subsequent evolution of the concept of limited sovereignty turned the East European countries into Soviet satellites.

4. The Soviet Union, acting as a superpower, soon overstretched itself. Locked in perpetual tension with China, it incurred the nationalist wrath of East European countries, entered into military pacts with several Asian and African countries and finally got embroiled in Afghanistan.

Internally, the socialist system in Soviet Union had long lost its vibrance and became ossified. The process of decomposition had started long back, but it all lay hidden behind the bloated ego of a superpower. The bubble had to burst some day. With the loosening of the Soviet grip by the middle of ’80s, East European countries, one after another, started going out of the Soviet orbit and, by implication, against the Soviet prototype of socialism in their countries. With the superpower status in shambles, there wasn’t any more bond left, which could hold together the Union itself.

5. The changes in Romania, Yugoslavia and Albania too preceded or followed the collapse, albeit each in its own way. The so-called phenomenon of Euro-communism succumbed to the first winds of change and bared its social-democratic essence. Pro-Soviet communist parties in almost all the European countries overnight switched their allegiance to various shades and varying degrees of social democracy. The CPSU itself, like the proverbial dinosaur, had lost its capacity to move. It produced its own Frankenstein in perestroika and glasnost.

6. Germany emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the post-cold war period. East Germany was taken back into the fold of West Germany and its head of state, Honecker, is now awaiting trial in a German prison. The new, ‘unified’ Germany has taken a keen interest in instigating the break-up of Yugoslavia. In short, the post-war checks and balances against Germany have all collapsed and German economic and political clout is again on rise, both within and without the framework of EEC.

7. The ’80s also saw the consolidation of Japan as an economic superpower second only to the United States. Backed by this economic might, Japan is now striving for an active political role in the international arena. This is clearly indicated, among other things, by its advocacy of restructuring the Security Council in order to get a permanent seat in the Security Council and its recent act of amending its constitution to send its troops beyond the country’s frontiers to Cambodia on a UN peace mission. With the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the consequent weakening of the US umbrella, Japan has embarked on an ambitious programme of militarisation. Its defence budget is now the third largest in the world.

8. Alongside Japan, the Asian tigers — South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan — have also recorded a spectacular economic advance. They are now being closely followed by Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Together they account for 10 percent of the world trade. In contrast to the declining economies of America and Britain, Asia is being projected as the mega-market of the ’90s.

9. China has emerged as the latest powerhouse of the global economy with an annual growth rate which is projected to surpass that of Japan and Korea in the ’90s. Backed by this growing economic strength, China is also gearing up for an active role in world politics as part of the developing world. Conducting a 1,000 megaton nuclear test, joining the NAM as an observer, normalising relations with South Korea in anticipation of Japanese advance and, more recently, signing an agreement with Iran for the sale of a nuclear reactor ignoring US objections — these have been some of the major Chinese initiatives in recent months.

10. The United States, the ideological victor of the cold war, is now trying to institutionalise its global domination through what it euphemistically calls the ‘new world order’. The war it fought in Iraq was meant to convey this specific signal. Latest American actions in Iraq only confirm that the pretext of freeing Kuwait under UN mandate was just a cloak to shield its real intentions. However, the American supremacy is facing challenges from many quarters and its ambitions notwithstanding, in real life it is only a superpower in decline.

11. The present epoch is still best characterised as that of imperialism and proletarian revolution. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the Soviet bloc, the contradiction between socialist and capitalist countries no longer remains a major world contradiction as an independent category. The contradiction between imperialism and the Third World, on the other hand, is only sharpening. Just as Soviet attempts to establish its hegemony over the socialist camp had only helped cause a split among socialist countries, its attempts to subordinate the Third World’s contradiction with imperialism to the socialism-imperialism dichotomy too had only resulted in a division in the Third World, thereby weakening and distorting its anti-imperialist role. Now freed from the Soviet factor, as the Third World has to wage its own struggle against imperialism, it also shows a better spirit of unity and determination. Pro-Soviet countries within the Third World have surely suffered a temporary erosion in their bargaining power, but in a world marked by growing inter-imperialist contradiction they are fast readjusting their relations and regaining their lost strength. Moreover, all the remaining socialist countries belong to the developing countries of the Third World and stand in contrast to imperialism primarily in that capacity. In the present historical period, the contradiction between imperialism and the Third World therefore remains the principal or central contradiction.