By Eduardo de Almeida
There is a crisis in the imperialist world order, which now includes the war in Palestine. The crisis is affecting the war and, at the same time, is strongly fueled by it. This is a new center of the global class struggle.
The General Picture of the Crisis
The downward trend of the world economy, which has been present since the recession of 2007-09, is currently expressed in the anemic growth of the international economy. It has been marked by recession in parts of Europe, a decline in world trade and growing debt problems in semi-colonial countries. There are pronounced inequalities from country to country in the context of a broader global decadence.
The conflict between decadent U.S. imperialism and rising Chinese imperialism has reduced world growth and imposed even tougher competitive standards on the bourgeoisies of each country, which are forced to compete with Chinese standards.
There are more and more political crises which are causing severe divisions within the bourgeoisies, such as the current one in the U.S. Congress, as well as in many countries around the world.
The growth of the extreme right internationally is another expression of this decadence.
There have been very harsh repercussions in terms of the living conditions of the masses, which have led to social explosions in various regions of the world, which have sometimes been unexpected or even unprecedented. Nor has this process been homogeneous, as many countries have experienced a decline in social movements.
The crisis of the world order has translated into political and social polarization, with an uneven sharpening of the class struggle. It is an extremely heterogeneous process, with different rhythms and intensities in each country. But there is a growing trend of confrontations between revolution and counterrevolution.
The crisis and the frequent absence of revolutionary leaderships have limited the development of these processes and have often led to new defeats.
The mobilizations in France against the pension reform were the largest in decades and were ultimately stopped by reformist leaderships. The strikes in England, and now in the auto industry in the U.S., mean that a direct workers uprising has reached parts of the imperialist countries. The uprising against French imperialism in the African Sahel, with coups against puppet governments, has also brought unprecedented elements of anti-imperialist mass mobilizations not seen for many years.
The war in Ukraine is an expression of this crisis of the world order, and at the same time it is aggravating it. Russian imperialism has tried to restore its sphere of influence by occupying Ukraine. But the result has been a quagmire of epic proportions.
Now it is U.S. imperialism that is taking the central role in defending Israel, with all the wear and tear that this role entails.
A Region Torn Between Revolution and Counterrevolution
This is a region historically polarized between revolution and counterrevolution in convulsive processes.
The domination of the imperialist powers, especially the U.S., is based on local bourgeoisies that can only distribute oil revenues through bloodthirsty dictatorships.
First, this is the location of the largest oil reserves in the world, which are strategic for imperialism.
Second, the presence of the Israeli state ensures the military domination of imperialism. On the other hand, it is a factor of permanent political radicalization, conflicts, and wars. Israel cannot coexist democratically with a wave of Arab people who oppose the usurpation of Palestinian territories.
Thirdly, the social contrasts are brutal. The oil wealth and the poverty of the masses make the region literally a powder keg. After the period of bourgeois nationalism, such as Egyptian Nasserism and the Baath Party in the 1950s, came the recolonization of imperialism with the capitulation and incorporation of the local bourgeoisies.
These corrupt and repressive bourgeoisies have an extremely luxurious standard of living in the face of the misery of the masses.
The fourth element is that the region is almost entirely characterized by hated dictatorships that have existed for dozens of years.
The great upsurge of the “Arab Spring”, a massive revolutionary process between 2010 and 2013 against these dictatorships, was generally defeated. As part of these struggles, the civil war in Syria, which began in 2011, was crushed by the Assad dictatorship with the direct support of Putin’s air force. Now there are signs that the fighting is beginning to resume.
In Egypt, General Sissi led a coup in 2013 against the Morsi government of the Muslim Brotherhood, the first elected government in Egyptian history. Now the dictatorship is beginning to show signs of a major crisis with the resumption of some mobilizations.
The brutal class antagonisms and national oppression cannot be resolved within the framework of bourgeois democracies.
The maintenance of the hated dictatorships and the existence of Israel renew the political radicalization of the process every day.
On the other hand, the revolution has severe limits when it comes to deepening this process. In general, there is little support from the working class and the revolutionary leaderships are practically absent. This combination prevents the mass movement from advancing and opening up to a more advanced stage of revolution. This is present in the heroic history of the Palestinian people, as it is throughout the region.
In Israel, the far-right government of Netanyahu faced a major political crisis when it tried to push through a judicial reform that would overthrow the country’s Supreme Court. At the same time, it was betting on even harsher attacks on Palestinians by encouraging Jewish settlers to take action in the West Bank.
The Palestinian action on October 7 was a major political blow to the arrogance of the State of Israel and especially to Netanyahu, who claimed to be in absolute control of the situation. As a result, he had to call for a unity government with the opposition in order to recover politically and go on the counter-offensive.
Inter-imperialist Conflicts in the Region
US imperialism is hegemonic in the world as well as in the Middle East. However, even if it continues to exert itself, there is a clear decline of US hegemony. The defeats and the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq (2011) and Afghanistan (2021) are an expression of this.
However, it remains the hegemon and the main supporter of the Israeli state, which has already received $3.8 billion in military aid for 2023, now reinforced by another $2 billion offered by Biden. The U.S. also has direct relations and a partnership with the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates. Before the Palestinian attack on October 7, the U.S. supported Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Israel, similar to what the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain did three years ago.
Russian imperialism has economic and political interests in the region, and is essentially supported in a bloc with Syria, Iran and Hezbollah (in Lebanon). China has important and growing economic interests throughout the region. It is the largest importer of oil from Iran (87% of Iran’s oil exports last month) and Saudi Arabia. But it also does business with Israel. It has tried to assume a role of guaranteeing bourgeois stability in the region, and even promoting a rapprochement between Arabia and Iran, which goes against US diplomacy.
Despite the disputes, the alliance between these blocs against revolutionary processes has proved to be strong in Syria and has been a fundamental part of the defeat of the civil war in that country.
With regard to Palestine, there are agreements between the two blocs against the Palestinian cause. But there are also important political differences. While US and European imperialism openly and militarily support Israel, the Russian and Chinese imperialism rely on the reactionary “two-state” strategy of the Oslo Accords, which has already proved to be a failure. They are for a “negotiated peace.” They will not defend the Palestinian cause, as many reformists think. But they won’t be on the military front of the crisis like the US and European imperialism.
If the Ukrainian war has plunged Russian imperialism into a major crisis, it is now US and European imperialism that will have to openly assume their counterrevolutionary role and its consequences.
A Growing Crisis
The war in Palestine could further accelerate and polarize the crisis of world order. Both in its impact on the economic crisis and in political radicalization at the international level.
Major mobilizations in support of the Palestinian cause are already taking place. In the US, there have been large demonstrations in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York, as well as in Europe (Italy, France and other countries). In Arab countries such as Jordan, Yemen, Egypt and others, there have been large mobilizations.
On the other hand, the far-right is growing all over the world, and is often associated with evangelical sectors.
The Bonapartist reactions of the imperialist governments are another expression of this polarization. There is an explicit persecution of supporters of the Palestinian cause in the US and Europe. In France, there are bans on pro-Palestinian demonstrations and threats to outlaw parties that support this cause.
At the time of writing, Israel is finalizing preparations for a ground invasion of Gaza. This will increase this polarization and political radicalization around the world, adding to the wear and tear that already exists on Zionism.
The possibility of a new Arab Spring or a third Intifada could also greatly increase the crisis of the imperialist world order.
There is a new and explosive global conjuncture that has just begun and could take many directions.