The oppressed nations carry the heaviest burden in the deepening crisis
Proletarians of all countries, unite!
The oppressed nations carry the heaviest burden in the deepening crisis
“There are two forces that operate in the revolutionary movement in the whole world: the international communist movement and the national liberation movement, the first one is guidance and the second is the base. The movement of national liberation of the force that operates within the nations oppressed by imperialism and the reaction.”
“… the masses in the oppressed nations are the majority of the global population, it will be a decisive weight in the world revolution.”
“the lemma that should guide the struggle of the two forces should be “Proletarians of all countries and peoples of the world, unite!”.”
“This [contradiction between oppressed nations, on the one hand, and imperialist superpowers and powers on the other] is the principal contradiction in the current moment and, at the same time, the principal contradiction of the epoch.”
“The countries of the Third World … are the zones of revolutionary storms and the base for the world proletarian revolution.”
Coordinating Committee for the Unified Maoist International Conference, “For a Unified Maoist International Conference! – Proposal regarding the balance of the International Communist Movement and of its current General Political Line”, 2022
Since April masses in Sri Lanka have struggled against the rotten land-selling government. After months of record high inflation, blackouts and shortage of food, medicine and fuel, explosive protests flared up. Already in April, the government declared a state of emergency and answered with violence, but this could not suppress the protests. In July, the masses took over the president’s house and presidential offices, and set fire to the residence of the prime minister and demanded that the president resigns. The president fled the country, and a new one – the prime minister, who for years has been as responsible as the president for the country-selling policies of the government – was selected. Ranil Wikremengsinghe was earlier ”supportive” of the protests but showed his true nature later, with violent crackdowns and arrests of protest leaders. This, of course, just threw gasoline on the fire.i This article analyzes the deepening of the general crisis of imperialism in both oppressor and oppressed countries, especially through the examples of the events in Sri Lanka.
The events unfolding in Sri Lanka are one expression of the deepening general crisis of imperialism, the economic crisis or the crisis of overproduction, as well as the political crisis. Large protests against governments of different colours are happening all over the world, for example, in oppressed nations like Iran, Argentina, Panama and Albania, in the social-imperialist China and in imperialist countries like the Netherlands, with the governments trying to keep order by reactionary violence. Especially in countries oppressed by imperialism people suffer intensely, as can be seen in the example of Sri Lanka, but also in imperialist countries the working class sees how their hard-earned wage keeps on shrinking relatively and life becomes more and more unsecure. The revolutionary situation is developing unevenly all over the world. It is clear that imperialism is incurably sick.
Currently, around the world galloping inflation rates are experienced. Countries like Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey are experiencing ”hyperinflation” with the inflation rate for example in Sudan at 260% as of January 2022.ii In Sri Lanka, inflation rate has risen to 60,8% in a short time. In the U.S. inflation was 8.5% in July, UK 10,1%, Germany 7,5%, China 2,7% and Russia 15,1%. In many oppressed countries the inflation rates are higher than in imperialist countries: for example, Estonia, that also uses the Euro, has inflation rate of 22,8%.iii At the same time, stagnation, low economic growth, is an issue for the imperialists. Normally during high inflation the interest rates go up, and during stagflation they go down to stimulate the economy. Right now the rates are going up, meaning that taking out loans and such becomes more expensive. Inflation means that the value of money depreciates and its purchasing power decreases – prices of goods are rising and at the same time, real wages are lagging behind and the gap between nominal and real wage keeps on growing. This is a mean for the bourgeoisie to increase exploitation, to take the out rising costs on the masses and keep on pulling high monopoly profits from the backs of the working class when the imperialist system plunges deeper and deeper into its crisis.
There is many causes that aggravated the economic collapse in Sri Lanka. One of the main causes was the huge amount of foreign current debt. Most oppressed nations are crushed by external debt. Regarding imperialism and external debt, the PCP said:
“Chairman Gonzalo teaches us that the modern Peruvian economy was born subjugated by imperialism, the final phase of capitalism, masterfully characterized as monopolistic, parasitic and agonizing; imperialism, although it consents to our political independence, as it serves its interests, controls the entire Peruvian economic process: our natural wealth, export products, industry, banking and finance; in short, it sucks the blood of our people, devours our energies as a nation in formation and today it also squeezes us with the foreign debt as it does with other oppressed nations.”iv
This is true also for Sri Lanka. It is a semi-colony, with its economic process controlled by imperialists. The government of Sri Lanka has for decades been following the policy pushed on it by Yankee imperialism and taking more and more external debt, which is imperialist capital, and, with the deepening of the crisis, it became unable to pay the debt, that is, it became unable to provide sufficient profits to its imperialist masters through payment of principal and interest, etc. and will have to pay more through renegotiation or consolidation of the debt, further mortgaging the country. The main holders of the debt are yankee financial institutions and instruments like the World Bank in collusion and struggle with Chinese social-imperialism. Also British, German and Japanese imperialism have their part.v Now, the IMF, a instrument of Yankee imperialism, has announced a 2,9bn dollar loan for Sri Lanka for it to be able to get through the most acute crisis. In return, the Sri Lankan government agrees to carry out economical policy changes. Through negotiations, the imperialists further enforce their control over the country, also in regards to other imperialists.
Sri Lankan currency sunk 80%, making imports more expensive, causing misery on the peoplevi. In addition, travel restrictions during the pandemic harmed the tourism industry, and consequences of the imperialist aggression of Russia on Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia pushed by Yankee imperialism, the sole hegemonic superpower in the world today.
In the 1970s, with the election of JR Jayawardena, the uncle of the current president, Sri Lanka started aggressive economic reforms in the name of so-called ”free market”, in reality, centralizing power to the government, with unconstrained executive rule, suppressing trade unions, welcoming imperialists into the country with open arms and ”liberating” the economy by compressing it into the hands of big ”western” monopolies, leading to increased poverty and increased exploitation. Imperialist monopolies received tax freedom and access to cheaper labor, and at the same time, the government cut spending on ”wellfare programmes”. At this time the big bourgeoisie also aggravated national-shovinism among the people, driving the Tamils and Sinhalese further away from each other. As every government since the 70s, the government of Rajapaksa continued on this line. The government continued on tax cuts for the rich and massive foreign loans on public infrastructure, projects, that ultimately failed. Sri Lanka was regarded as the ”model student” of South-East Asia by the imperialists with its government listening carefully to the instructions of IMF and Davos, the instruments of yankee imperialism.vii Similar economic collapses are bound to happen in also other countries oppressed by imperialism.
It is important to bear in mind that these developments are not, as the bourgeoisie all over the world tries to claim, result of short-term reasons like the war of aggression in Ukraine or the pandemic, and something where we just have to stick together, show ”solidarity” by suffering, this is the result of the incurable disease of imperialism, developed over a long time even though aggravated and manifested through the recent developments, a crisis where the bourgeoisie increases exploitation and attacks the working class, and it is right to struggle against these attacks and imperialism.
The perspectives are therefore bright for the revolution. Lenin said: ”What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and
want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.viii”
The bourgeoisie is clinging onto power by any means, but it also shows that it is weak, even in imperialist countries it cannot keep on bribing the working class as it did, as wider and wider masses are driven to more and more dire conditions, in oppressed countries it is showing how every regime despite promises is serving the imperialists, imperialism can just offer more suffering, more war and hunger to the vast majority of the people in the world. As stated before, everywhere in the world we see the increasing activity of the masses, with powerful protests flaring up. And everywhere there are struggles that do not break into the bourgeois media, there is everyday struggle, quiet but powerful, masses searching for leadership.
The masses are screaming out for change, for better life, ultimately for power, for the leadership that can guarantee them the power and solve their issues. This is also seen in the example of Sri Lanka. It has been clearly shown that the issues deep-rooted in imperialist oppression will not be solved by regime change. It is also shown that despite the heroic struggle of the masses, without the leadership of the communist party, the movement is not able to truly unite the people against imperialism. Sri Lankan tamils are hesitant to participate in the current protest movement, as it is dominated by the Sinhalese and for example uses Sinhala national symbols, even though some efforts have been made to include the Tamilsix. The tamils have been protesting against the reactionary state for a long time, and also waging armed struggle against it, and the masses still carry the memories and destruction of the civil war with them. In August, it became 2000 days since Tamil mothers started a protest campaign calling for justice for those who have been abducted in the conflict by the Sri Lankan reactionary forces. At least 138 people have been killed during the protests.x Many tamils see the protest movement as hypocritical after they have for decades faced shortage of electricity, food and medicine as a measure taken by the government in the civil war, horrendous torture, execution of Tamil liberation fighters, rape of female prisoners of war and civilians who were queuing for food by the reactionary army of Sri Lanka, questions, that have not been adressed by the leadership of the movement. The protest movement expresses the justified hatred of the masses and is heroic struggle for their revindications, but only under the leadership of the communist party this struggle can be united with the struggle for power, and it can truly lead to true change.
Therefore, what lies ahead of us is the task of fighting against imperialism, bureaucratic capitalism and semi-feudalism in the oppressed countries, and in the imperialist countries, to struggle for the revindications of the masses and against the attacks of the bourgeoisie, and uniting these struggles with the struggle for power, struggle for the constitution or reconstitution of the communist parties in every country as marxist-leninist-maoist, mainly maoist, militarized parties, to initiate new people’s wars.
iThe Guardian.com 10.07.2022: Sri Lanka crisis timeline: from galloping inflation to a president’s resignation
iiInflationdata.com 21.05.2022: Worldwide Inflation by Country
iiiTradingeconomics.com: Inflation Rate – By Country
ivPCP 1988: The Democratic Line
vSrilankaguardian.com: Real debt trap: Sri Lanka owes vast majority to West, not China
viAbcnews.com 10.07.2022: EXPLAINER: Why Sri Lanka’s economy collapsed and what’s next
viiColombotelegraf.com 22.07.2022: Sri Lanka Is A Neoliberal Failed State
viiiV.I. Lenin 1915: The Collapse of the Second International
ixTheguardian.com 22.06.2022: ‘We want justice, not fuel’: Sri Lanka’s Tamils on north-south divide
xThe Hindu.com: In Sri Lanka, Tamil mothers of disappeared mark 2,000 days