Imperialism: The Highest Stage of the Capitalist Debacle

Creato: 17 Aprile 2021 Ultima modifica: 17 Aprile 2021
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From D-M-D' N°16   [IT][FR]

This text has been automatically translated by deepl.com

The downward parabola of the post-World War II capitalist economic cycle, accelerated by Covid-19, continues inexorably. Old and new imperialist powers compete for dominance of the planet, underlining the permanent conflict generated by an economic system whose actors settle their accounts through the exercise of violence and robbery. Modern imperialism is the expression of capitalism that has come to threaten life itself on earth.

The anti-historicity of the capitalist system is fully revealed in the recurrence of its crises, when the accumulated contradictions explode in all their force. In these circumstances, the paradox arising from the enormous development of the productive forces, which at a certain point are no longer able to guarantee an adequate profitability of the invested capital, emerges with great clarity. As a result, a contrast emerges between the ever-increasing wealth produced and the simultaneous spread of uncertainty and poverty among workers and in society. The current devastating situation is not caused by Covid-19, as the bourgeois propaganda would have us believe, the pandemic has certainly amplified the effects, but the crisis was already present before and is all internal to the mechanisms of capitalist accumulation. The financialisation of the mature economies was capital's response to this crisis, which has been going on, with ups and downs, for decades. This crisis has particularly affected the world's largest imperialist power: the United States of America. The measures put in place by the states, far from solving the problems, only widen and delay them.

For the USA, the domination of finance means parasitically draining surplus value from every corner of the planet. The mechanisms of this robbery lie in the seigniorage of the dollar and in the production of fictitious capital, which allow the American bourgeoisie to earn a huge financial income.[i] The United States' excessive power could not last indefinitely without its main competitors, habitually submissive in the hunt for booty, doing nothing to change things. The European Union, despite its many internal problems, has managed to erode Washington's position in the international monetary system. Recent figures show a narrowing gap between the euro and the dollar, with the dollar accounting for 41.7% of trade transactions and the euro for 38.5%. The European Union is the most important economic area in the world, a potential that has so far gone untapped, a situation that European imperialism is struggling to remedy.[ii]

The end of the Cold War, which ended with the implosion of the Soviet Union, seemed to firmly establish the United States of America as the number one imperialist superpower. That event was above all an extraordinary opportunity for the bourgeoisie throughout the world, and the western bourgeoisie in particular, to decree the de profundis of communism, in other words to pass off the death of state capitalism in Eastern Europe, so-called real socialism, as the end of illusions for anyone aspiring to a different society. The international proletariat would have to resign itself forever to capitalism, i.e. to a society that is not perfect but certainly the only one possible according to the ideologues of capital, claiming that beyond the perimeter of this system there is nothing better than empty wishful thinking. This trap has succeeded, for the moment, for the supporters of the dominant single thought.

But the facts are hard-headed, certainly the United States is still the leading imperialist power around, if only from a military point of view, but with so many internal contradictions that they risk exploding, as the recent events of the assault on Congress in Washington have shown. What has happened is an indication of the economic and social crisis into which American society has sunk, to the extent that it reminds us of the ruinous decline of their old Soviet enemies. The past US-Soviet confrontation is being replaced by a more articulated imperialist framework, still in the making, no less dangerous and brutal than the previous one. On the one hand we have the traditional brigands of old: the United States, Europe and Russia; on the other, a new pretender to the title, China, a rising power with clear ambitions to become the new economic reference centre on a global scale.

Europe wants to break free from America's suffocating embrace

The Trump administration has from the outset made it clear without half-measures, notwithstanding the originality of the occupant of the White House, that the gendarme of the world was and must remain the United States of America. The coronavirus pandemic has further stressed inter-imperialist dynamics due to the recessionary effects on the international economy.[iii] A situation which, together with the structural crisis of capital, opens up unforeseeable scenarios.

China, the only power to have overcome the pandemic and which, according to the World Bank, will close 2020 with a GDP growth rate of 2.3% and 8% this year, is becoming increasingly attractive for Europeans and even more dangerous for the United States. On 30 December, after seven years of negotiations, China and the European Union signed the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), an agreement that must be ratified by the European Parliament, concerning regulations and procedures for investments in each other's markets. These range from electric vehicles, financial services, private healthcare, shipping and aviation, telecommunications, IT, etc., to a wide variety of other sectors. Brussels brings home an important result in spite of the White House and the newly elected President Joe Biden. Once again, the European bourgeoisie, in particular the Franco-German axis, wants to distance itself from Washington, which has not taken the matter well at all.

The final phase of construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is heading in the same direction, despite the strong opposition still in place and the sanctions imposed by the US on the European companies involved in the project. An additional 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year from Russia to Germany will turn Berlin into Europe's main energy hub. This will definitively cut out American oil and gas from shale, the so-called "fracking", which is uncompetitive due to its high production costs and selling prices, and to which the pandemic and the consequent recession have given the coup de grace.

In the trade and geopolitical clash with China, Russia and Iran, Washington expects Europe to continue to act as a mere bagman, as it has always done in the past. An ally sometimes dissatisfied but always ready, in the end, to follow the leader. But times have changed and the conflict between Europe and the United States has intensified over time, deteriorating relations. The paths are tending to diverge, but real European autonomy can only be achieved with greater economic and political homogeneity, at least among the main Member States. This cannot be achieved without the creation of an army of its own that can also compete in terms of strength. Germany has repeatedly made its voice heard on this issue, most recently by French President Macron, who some time ago, in controversy with Trump, stated that "NATO is brain-dead", so "Europe must think of itself as a balancing power". European imperialism is playing a decisive game: either it will be able to assert itself unitedly in the clash between marauders for the partitioning of the world, or it will inevitably end up on the sidelines.

 

The economic and military alliance between Russia and China

The arrogance of US imperialism in addition to colliding with historic European allies has managed to weld traditionally unfriendly relations between Russia and China. The Ukrainian crisis of 2014, the continuous American provocations at the Russian border under the NATO shield to stir up the countries of the former Soviet bloc, the economic sanctions imposed dragging behind the reluctant European Union, are all episodes that together with the hostility towards China, expressed without half measures with the application of unilateral sanctions, have produced the opposite result: the isolation of Washington and the rapprochement of Moscow and Beijing.

The two countries have signed several very important economic agreements and envisaged a broader political and strategic collaboration. In addition, another very important strategic aspect must be taken into account, namely Russia's geographical position as a link between Europe and Asia, something that is of great interest to China in its expansionist plans within the European single market. Energy and military agreements are also fundamental in the game being played on the international imperialist chessboard. Without forgetting Moscow's involvement, in the role of sidekick of course, by Beijing in the gigantic Belt and Road Initiative (Bri), the New Silk Road.

However, the different specific weight of China and Russia on the world economy does not escape anyone's notice: "in 1992, according to the World Bank, China's gross domestic product was slightly lower than Russia's ($427 billion against $460 billion). In 2017, just twenty-five years later, China's GDP is about eight times that of Russia ($12.2 trillion compared to $1.6 trillion)."[iv] The trade is mainly based on hydrocarbons and weapons systems, products that form the backbone of the Russian Federation's economy, and manufacturing goods from the People's Republic. Since 2017, China has become the world's leading importer of crude oil, and of course the main buyer of Russian energy products. However, Eurasian oil and gas pipelines are currently insufficient to supply the Celestial Empire with energy, which must rely on maritime imports from the Middle East. This delay has intensified efforts to develop infrastructure projects as part of Bri's overall strategy to connect Central Eurasia, i.e. the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), composed of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus, in order to modernise and make efficient connections, and to build new pipelines through these territories.

Other agreements and investments, again mostly Chinese, concern the Silk Road on Ice that follows the Arctic route through northern Russia, a project that would significantly reduce the time it takes to sail between the east and west of the globe, with all that this would entail in commercial and military terms on an international scale. On this point, bourgeois cynicism shows that it has no limits. The capitalist brigands want to take advantage of the climate change they themselves have caused in order to transit more easily through the melting ice. The North Pole, moreover, has long been a battleground between the powers for the exploitation of the huge raw materials in the subsoil. As has so often happened in the history of this shameful system, the consequences for the environment in the event of accidents are easy to imagine. In any case, the intensive use of this fragile territory for economic purposes will have detrimental effects. So much for sustainable development and the green economy! Business is business, the world may collapse for the bourgeoisie, but the only thing that counts is profit.

Beijing and Moscow are moving forward across the board, including in industrial cooperation. Cooperation agreements concerning the so-called Digital Silk Road see China's massive participation in the telecommunications sector. Huawei's 5G network will cover a large part of the Russian population and territory.

Not everything, however, is as idyllic as it might appear; weakness in the face of the common Yankee enemy makes a virtue of necessity. Russia, in the first place, is very careful not to be crushed by the powerful 'friend' that towers over it economically and financially. The pompous declaration of a "comprehensive strategic partnership for coordination in a new era" signed by Putin and Xi Jinping in June 2019 expresses well the vagueness of the commitments and the prudence of the relationship. This is not a real alliance but a non-binding rapprochement, both parties wanting to keep their hands free. Changes of front between imperialist states are certainly nothing new.

China as new centre of gravity

A few decades were enough for China to transform itself from a third world country into a major imperialist power. Having swept away the Maoist epoch marked by a decidedly backward state capitalism, naturally smuggled in as one of the many variants of realised communism, the less doctrinaire successors of their predecessor were able to make available to international capital a disciplined and very cheap local labour force. Capital from the advanced countries rushed to invest in the People's Republic, finding ideal conditions for the exploitation of the abundant labour force that moved en masse from the countryside to the cities. In a short time, new megalopolises sprang up like mushrooms to accommodate the mass exodus, with all the consequences that this entails, as historical experience teaches us. Pollution, urban sprawl, deforestation, and many other disastrous phenomena are the result of turbo-capitalism in Chinese sauce. Rapid environmental degradation is the cause of the development of deadly new diseases, and Covid-19 is the dramatic testimony of the ruinous relationship between this mode of production and nature.

From being a land of conquest for foreign capital, China is rapidly becoming the largest factory in the world, capable of producing advanced technology on its own and investing in every corner of the globe. Such an impressive development in a short period of time had never been seen in the history of capitalism. The aforementioned project of the New Silk Road, despite the hindrances caused by the pandemic and the hostile American attitude, aims at Chinese expansionism by means of infrastructures connecting the different geographical areas: "It is a grandiose project that includes more than eighty countries, accounting for 36% of the GDP, 68% of the population and 41% of world trade. Although the initiative is only defined in its broad outlines, with few projects already implemented, China must be credited with having succeeded in launching an all-encompassing programme for the development of almost three continents that neither the United States nor Europe have even attempted to conceive."[v] So, we are talking about huge investments in both advanced and poorer countries. Especially in the latter, the Dragon makes loans to carry out infrastructure works whose profitability is very uncertain. Conclusion: many African states are no longer able to repay their debts and are forced to make all sorts of concessions. Insolvencies become a means to strangle third world countries and make them financially dependent and in perspective to obtain concessions to build military bases.

In addition to the CAI trade agreement between the European Union and China, about which we have already spoken, another very important historical achievement has been reached by the People's Republic in South East Asia, in what is practically its own backyard and beyond. Trade and economic integration relations between China and the ten countries of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian States), populated by 652 million people, have been progressing apace for some time. In August 2020, trade, despite the pandemic, "reached $430 billion, up 7% from the previous year. ASEAN has thus overtaken the EU as Beijing's top trading partner. "6 Complementing the already remarkable achievements, on 15 November 2020, another free trade agreement of extraordinary geopolitical importance, linking the Far East and the Pacific, was reached between China, ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). It is an event capable of shaking up the strategic balance at international level given the importance of the countries involved and their economic size: "the RCEP will create an area of economic cooperation of 2.2 billion people, producing 30% of global GDP and 27.4% of global trade. The group of member countries covers 50% of global manufacturing, 50% of automotive production and 70% of electronics production. And the bloc could become even more important if India, which withdrew from negotiations in 2019, decides to join in the future. The region currently attracts 24% of foreign direct investment and is the most dynamic internationally, thanks in part to a successful strategy in containing the coronavirus pandemic." [vi]

This is yet another great success for China and yet another failure for the US, which has worked hard to prevent it in the region: "The RCEP is the biggest agreement of its kind ever signed. And without Washington! To see China towering majestically over this hitherto hostile South-East Asia is a unique turning point in history. [vii]The excellent economic performance contrasts with the military vulnerability, also evident in South East Asia, that Beijing displays vis-à-vis Washington. For example, although China's coal production meets most of its domestic needs, oil consumption is rising steadily and transits through the Strait of Malacca, the world's second-largest strait for energy traffic after the Strait of Hormuz, and any maritime blockade in such a sensitive area would be a real danger: "China is highly vulnerable to a maritime blockade: it imports 60% of the crude oil it consumes, 90% of it by sea.[viii] Being an economic power is not enough to dominate if you are not equally strong militarily. This is why the Dragon is intensifying its efforts to excel also in the military field. Collaboration with Russia is a step in this direction, but the results achieved by its own forces are remarkable: according to recent figures, China has become the world's second largest arms manufacturer, behind only the United States.

A giant with feet of clay

In spite of China's growing role in the world, there are still disruptive critical issues within China that could undermine its aspirations as a great imperialist power. The issues of separatism in Xinjiang and Tibet, the protests in Hong Kong and Taiwan, are only some of the many open problems, which are undoubtedly not easy to manage.

Even more complex and thorny for China is the demographic argument in relation to geo-climatic conditions. 94% of the population lives in 46% of the territory, the remainder being uninhabitable: "The population has long since exceeded the capacity of the local ecosystem to support it. According to Chinese scientists, from the point of view of eco-sustainability, the country's optimal population is between 700 and 800 million people; in particular, water reserves are adequate for no more than 250 million individuals, food reserves for about 330 million and mineral reserves (if used rationally) for about 950 million. With a current population of 1.3 billion, China has therefore far exceeded its ecological limits."[ix] Hence the active policy of the Chinese authorities in stimulating and programming emigration; a tool used by Beijing to carry out a sort of colonial expansionism and penetration of its capital. A strategy that has already been effectively adopted in South-East Asia: "Beijing considers the diaspora a key tool to increase its interests in the region. It is estimated that there are more than 35 million Chinese here, i.e. 60% of those displaced worldwide." The same applies to the vast and sparsely populated Siberian territory, which is rich in natural resources. For the Kremlin, the issue has ambiguous implications, both in terms of opportunities and risks. On the [x]one hand, Russia has every interest in favouring settlement in semi-inhabited territories that could generate wealth; on the other, it fears the overwhelming presence of its bulky neighbour: "Perhaps it is no coincidence that in the last five years there has been an explosive growth in the number of Chinese in Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. Local residents (not only Russians, but also representatives of the indigenous peoples of Siberia, such as the Buriati) speak bluntly of "expansion" to describe the ongoing dynamic. » [xi]

Another alarming issue in terms of overpopulation is the relationship between urban and rural areas. In China, the population of cities has only relatively recently overtaken that of the countryside. The traditional family registration system, hukou, certifies an individual's residence and establishes different rights for citizens from different geographical areas of the country. The registration systems are different and tied to place of birth, generating disparities between those who belong to the hukou of a large city versus those who belong to the hukou of a small rural village, as different types of welfare depend on this classification. As a result, the services to which one is entitled in a metropolis, school, health, etc., are quite different from those offered in a small rural town. Such a discriminatory system produces first- and second-class citizens: "In fact, it is the mostly young peasant migrating to the city workshops, but still tied to the countryside by the hukou, who is the golden goose of China's industrial development in recent decades."[xii] The mass migration of hundreds of millions of peasants to the cities, discriminated against and disliked by the local population, super-exploited in the factories, has allowed the foreign and Chinese bourgeoisie to make huge profits. On the other hand, the peasants who have been transformed into wage earners are guaranteed neither services in their temporary places of residence nor job security: "In fact, the tremendous work rhythms cannot be sustained by the workers for long, which generates a continuous turnover that only a large and qualified reserve of labour like the Chinese one is able to compensate for with adequate timeliness." [xiii]

 

The regime is trying to change the hukou system, which is no longer functional to the needs of Chinese capitalism, which despite considerable progress in agriculture still has an excessive land division: "It is a question of modernising agriculture by overcoming the parcelling out of land, thus gradually putting an end to the hukou and using land taxation to establish a modern self-sufficiency system and boost internal consumption. "This is a very [xiv]risky operation with a high social impact, we are talking about 200 or 300 million peasants who will not be able to find employment in the city, the introduction of new technologies in factories will not be able to absorb the excess labour. The introduction of new technologies in the factories will not be able to absorb the excess labour. Then the minimal support represented by the hukou, the right to use the land, the refuge of the migrant who returns to the countryside in case of dismissal or necessity, will also disappear.

All against all

China, the factory of the world, the greatest producer of surplus value extracted from the fierce exploitation of its workers, from which mainly multinationals have benefited, has been a breath of fresh air for declining capitalism. But now the dragon is playing on its own, most of the profits stay at home, and proposes itself on the world market as a great imperialist power with which everyone has to reckon. Chinese foreign investments, as a consequence of the enormous assets in commercial exchange, in this historical phase, are characterised by being still linked to the value chain, with peculiarities close to the capitalism described by Lenin in Imperialism: "For the old capitalism, under the full dominion of free competition, the export of goods was characteristic; for the most recent capitalism, under the dominion of monopolies, the export of capital has become characteristic". In contrast, American imperialism presents the mature traits of an aggressive, militaristic, and economically parasitic imperialism, being able to use the levers of finance to divert surplus value worldwide to the detriment of competitors. These differences are destined to diminish because the inter-imperialist clash presupposes that everyone is competing on the same level, i.e. the US's competitors must free themselves from the seigniorage of the dollar and strengthen themselves financially and militarily.

As far as attacking the dollar is concerned, the EU has an advantage over China, the euro being the second most widely used currency in the world. The Achilles' heel of the Union, to date, is the lack of political cohesion and the prevalence of national interests, problems that if not overcome will be a serious handicap for the bourgeoisie of the Old Continent. Europe, as we have seen, is clearly lagging behind in military terms, while China, with the support of Russia, has become a respectable and constantly growing military power, capable of guaranteeing remarkable qualitative and quantitative standards in war production. China is currently one of the world's largest arms producers and exporters. Despite this, the United States remains by far the leading military power. On the economic front, Russia and China are working together to de-dollarise their trade. While the use of the dollar between the two countries has fallen sharply, the use of the euro and of their respective currencies, the rouble and the yuan, is growing. The common goal is to attack the dollar and accelerate its downsizing in the international financial system. In short, the reasons for conflict are growing and the tensions between the imperialist states are fuelling the expansion of permanent war.

A clarification about China is necessary. There is a pseudo-Marxist literature of supposed revolutionaries and 'leftist' intellectuals who do not recognise the imperialist nature of the Chinese state. For some, the People's Republic is pursuing its own specific path to socialism. For others, we are faced with an original society with undecipherable characteristics. These judgments do not reflect the reality of the facts, but are steeped in ideology and theoretical assumptions that distance us from the prospect of a real alternative to capitalism. They are often the usual rehash of state capitalism as socialism.

What is more obvious than the mammoth New Silk Road project as a demonstration of China's imperialist strategy? It involves infrastructure programmes of all kinds with huge outlays of financial capital. Beijing's export of capital to the many countries involved in the Bri takes the form of direct investment and the granting of loans. Trains run along the Silk Road and the influence and expansionism of Chinese capital runs even faster.

Another crucial point that characterises the actions of the Chinese government, for example, is the plundering of natural wealth in Africa. China buys up large tracts of agricultural land at bargain prices to compensate for insufficient domestic food production. The same applies to the raw materials needed for its industrial apparatus. The brutal exploitation of the labour force of backward countries leads to dependency and devastation of the territory. Chinese imperialism has nothing to envy from its rivals.

It is possible to go further

The continuation of the systemic crisis of capitalism gives rise in society, more or less unconsciously, to the feeling that something is broken, that it is no longer possible to go on as before. The individual depersonalised of his humanity in bourgeois society is merely a commodity, and when he cannot even function as a commodity he can be thrown away as something useless. Capitalism with a human face, as the reformers would have us believe, is a deception. There is no such thing as good capitalism, producing real wealth objectified in goods and services, and bad capitalism, selfish and speculative. There is a capitalism that in the course of time goes through different phases, and like all things has a beginning and an end. Making profits is the only raison d'être of this system where only the God of money counts. The valorisation of capital is becoming more and more problematic, if profits fall everything becomes more complicated, investments in the production of goods become less and less profitable: "the development of financial capital, instead of being antithetical to industry, is instead the 'last refuge' of industrial capitalism, which makes it possible both to avoid a crash in the 1930s, with the consequent destruction of surplus production capacity and over-accumulated capital, and to raise the rate of exploitation and thus avoid a collapse in the rates of return on capital. But on the one hand it moves the problem forward without solving it, and on the other it adds new inflammable material in the form of financial bubbles destined to burst, with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic feedback effects on capitalist basic mechanisms." [xv]

 

The deterioration in living conditions and the lack of prospects for a society radically opposed to capitalism, without exploitation and without social classes, has led many proletarians into the trap and into the arms of the reactionary and populist parties of capital. The ideological control of the ruling class, in any case, cannot resolve the gigantic and insoluble contradictions of the capitalist mode of production. Nor can it mystify the nature of a system based on exploitation and the transformation of every aspect of human life into cash. The bourgeois propaganda that would have us believe that capitalism is the only possible social organisation is countered by a bleak and constantly deteriorating reality. Forget the end of social classes and the unstoppable progress of civilisation! On the contrary, we are in the presence of a world that is being characterised, as never before, 'in two great enemy camps, in two great classes directly opposed to each other: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat', as Marx and Engels perfectly anticipated in the Manifesto. Never before has the divide between classes gone so far, wealth is concentrated in a few hands, while poverty is rampant and affects even the once wealthy social strata.

The criminal capitalist system is leading to catastrophe. It is the cause of the degrading human condition. It is the cause of the destruction of the planet. It is the cause of the pandemic. The bourgeoisie is willing to do anything to save itself. The capitalist accumulation process must go on at any cost. It cannot stop for a moment, not even in the spread of the virus, because it is mainly the poor and the elderly who die. In the meantime, the bourgeois states continue to print money, increasing the public debt to be passed on to the community. The huge mass of fictitious capital in search of remuneration is all placed on the shoulders of the proletariat, which in the meantime sinks deeper and deeper into poverty: "Thus, in the dramatic days of the coronavirus pandemic, it has never been so clear that it is only human labour that allows society to reproduce itself, and on the other hand that the thirst for surplus value in finance and production is an obstacle to this reproduction, but the only "solution" adopted at an economic level is to increase fictitious financial capital more and more, in an endless spiral of growth.» [xvi]

The bourgeoisie is afraid that the proletariat will turn against it. That's why it keeps on making hammering propaganda with its television and print media sycophants to try to convince them that social classes no longer exist, that we are all in the same boat and that the capitalist order is immortal. So many falsehoods that reveal fear, because the proletariat exists, and how, and could understand that it must get rid of this rotten system as soon as possible: capitalism.

[i]        Lorenzo Procopio, Analysis of a crisis that will change the global imperialist framework, published in DMD' No 15, May 2020.

[ii]       Data taken from https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/l-ascesa-apparente-ruolo-internazionale-dell-euro-AD2Sv47

[iii]      Gianfranco Greco, The ghosts of a coming recession. Its implications on the class and international levels, which appeared in DMD' no. 14, September 2019.

[iv]      Gian Paolo Caselli, The weak economic roots of an acrobatic understanding, appeared in Limes 11/2019, p. 108.

[v]       Ibid, pp. 109-110.

[vi]      Ibid.

[vii]     Martine Bulard, Free trade bomb in Asia, published in Le Monde diplomatique/il manifesto, January 2021.

[viii]    Collin Koh, Malacca the eye of the needle, which appeared in Limes 6/2020, p. 145.

[ix]      Aleksandr Khramčikhin, Siberia the living space of Beijing, appeared in Limes 11/2019, p. 77.

[x]       Giorgio Cuscito, China does not (yet) dominate Southeast Asia, published in Limes 6/2020, pp. 115-116.

[xi]      Aleksandr Khramčikhin, Siberia the living space of Beijing, appeared in Limes 11/2019, p. 83.

[xii]                Raffaele Sciortino, I dieci anni che sconvolsero il mondo, Asterios Editore, Trieste 2019, p. 142.

       The text presents interesting insights into the decadence of the system and the supremacy of fictitious capital in modern imperialism. At the same time, the political translation of social phenomena leads the author to conclusions that are disconcerting, to say the least. The author sees neo-populism as a kind of shell that anticipates possible next steps to overcome capitalism. Since the proletariat is currently unable to express its own independent action, it is dragged along by the reactionary forces of capital. But these are still manifestations of deep unease. For example, on Brexit the author writes: "The vote - like it or not - has a clear class connotation. Lower middle class versus upper middle class, urban peripheries versus capital, working class versus finance, the City, and Eurobureaucracy'. Again, in the US, class contradictions led to Trump's election: "while the financial-military dome aided by the liberal media empire that runs the Democratic party thinks about how to interrupt the unforeseen run of the president of the miserable". Mass mobilisations against the elites, such as that of the gilets jaunes in France, are, for the author, the bearers of potentially alternative demands to the system: "We are at the definitive s/composition of the proletarian subject... The characteristic ambivalence of the neo-populisms from below thus lies in their being the expression of class demands, but of a liquid hyper-proletarian class, dissolved in its complete subordination to the relationship of capital... no longer class against class, already the expression of the contradictory and yet inseparable relationship between capital and labour for compromise solutions on the common ground of development, but in nuce a tentative search for common solutions for a classless community to be constituted in the face of the advancing disaster". The latter statement is reminiscent of the positions of the communist current. Beyond the author's good intentions, to decree the end of the proletarian class and to see in populisms something other than the simple fact that they are reactionary bourgeois organisations is to make a big mistake and to fall politically into misleading positions.

[xiii]    Ibid.

[xiv]    Ibid, p. 149.

[xv]                Ilario Salucci, Discorrendo di imperialismo, I libri di Crisi Globale, April 2020, p. 117.

       Downloadable from: https://crisiglobale.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/ilario-salucci-discorrendo-di-imperialismo.pdf

[xvi]    Ibid, pp. 117-118