This month we have seen British imperialism finally decommissioning its troops in Northern Ireland, after 38 years, pulling out with its tail between its legs, as described in the Sunday Times of 5 August 2007: “At midnight last Tuesday the army brought down the final curtain on the longest campaign in its history. There was no great ceremony, no Last Post, no rolling up of the Union Jack … The army slipped out of the province in carpet slippers.” Although not widely reported, this represents a huge step forward for the people of Ireland.
Meanwhile, Iran is high on US imperialism’s agenda for forced regime change, but, for the moment at least, US imperialism is holding off attempting military takeover, undoubtedly inhibited by the fact that it is facing defeat in both Iraq and Afghanistan and can scarcely afford to take on board a third, even more powerful, enemy. The imperialists’ solution is the ubiquitous sanctions, which then have to be reinforced by sanctions on those who break the sanctions.
Many rival imperialists, however, especially the European Union, are unwilling to support the sanctions, which prevent them from profiting from Iran’s need to build oil refining infrastructure. The sanction for trading with Iran would be the barring of access to the US market. However, Europeans maintain that such sanctions would be a breach of World Trade Organisation rules – justifying countermeasures against US companies doing business in Europe. In other words, a trade war is a real possibility, with a consequent weakening of both sides of the imperialist divide.
As if these troubles of imperialism were not enough, chickens are coming home to roost in the credit market. For a long time, moneylenders could make high profits by lending to people with bad credit records, or with only marginal ability to repay. In the US, this has now collapsed as a result of the further impoverishment of the impoverished and a fall in US house prices, which has lowered profits and driven investors away from the credit market. This has led to mortgage lenders being unable to deliver loans that they have promised, not just to house buyers, but also to takeover bidders for major companies. Since such takeovers are often a means of rescuing businesses that would otherwise become insolvent, this crisis is bound to lead to thousands of workers losing their jobs because of their employers’ failure to thrive.
The crisis has already led to stock market falls not just in the US but also in the UK and Europe, where it will decrease the value of investments held by every kind of financial institution, be it mortgage lenders, pension funds or investments. The chaos affecting the US economy threatens to spread to Europe in the weeks ahead.
Throughout all this, it is the duty of communists to remind all proletarians who will be affected by the putrefaction of imperialism that the solution lies in their own hands. The fatal weaknesses of imperialism are clear for all to see, but it will not fall without a life-and-death struggle. Working-class people must be encouraged by the anti-imperialist victories that are daily being achieved by the resistance forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to realise that there is no way that a class-conscious proletariat united in its determination to overthrow imperialism could possibly be defeated.