Friday, 18 January 2019

The Ghost of the European Unity

Imperialist dynamics and the Europeanist Illusion

In the post-second-world-war period, the weakness of Europe’s defeated or devastated ruling classes demanded the reconstruction of their economic, political and military apparatus.  The USA directed this reconstruction, which was warmly welcomed by the bourgeoisie in the defeated countries as the premise for renewed capitalist accumulation.  The Marshall Plan allowed national reconstruction to be launched, once the defeated had been obliged to set up an indefinable artefact called “Europe”.  In any event, it would be the “grande bourgeoisie” to install the project for “economic integration”and put it into practice in the defence of diverse national interests. The prospect of a “politically united” Europe was, instead, an illusion of the “petite bourgeoisie” in big European states, providing the “little ideals” and driven by the need for them to be widely involved in the process of capitalist development.

 

The shift to sectorial economic organization (ECSC, Euratom, CAP, etc.) was directed by the pragmatism of the great western bourgeoisies as they recovered. The “unified project”, involving the six founder States right up to the present 27, had its greatest credit in the treaties of Brussels (1947),Paris (1951) and Rome (1957). Up to the end of the ‘60s, the project went through a time of crisis due to French-English contrasts in a climate of strong economic growth, and was taken up again after the monetary crisis of 1970, which experienced the inconvertibility of the dollar and later the cancellation of the Bretton Woods agreements. Of even more decisive importance was the world economic crisis of 1974-75. Subsequently, it was the great Japanese financial crisis of 1987 that accelerated the rate of “economic integration” under Franco-German direction, in the stress suffered by European capital under the attacks of competition between the USA and Japan.  Throughout the ‘90s and the subsequent decade came a headlong rush towards the brink: the first Gulf War, German reunification and the intervening recession, the stagnation of Japan, the crash in Russia, the Balkan wars, the economic and financial crises in Asia (the so-called “Asian Tigers”), the economic and financial crisis in America (2000-01), the revival of the second Gulf War (2003), right up to the profound economic crisis of the present which has lasted over ten years now… Over these years, as a consequence of the 1992 economic crisis, that same year saw the appearance of the Treaty of Maastricht, followed in 2002 by the institution of the single currency, the Euro.

“United Europe” was never conceived of by the national bourgeoisies as a single, supra-national State with a single Parliament, a single Government, a single Body of Magistrates, a single Army, except in the idealistic and rhetorical lucubration of marginal sectors of the right- and left-wing bourgeoisie.  In reality, the real glue and boosters of European unification - of an economic nature,  never political or supra-national - were the imperialist wars and world crises of over-production.  The “prospect of unity” of the “grande bourgeoisie”, as we have stated, had the exclusive objective of reaching “agreements on the free circulation of goods” between States, to reduce the effects of the economic crises attacking one or the other of them and all of the States together.  The community organisms of the European Union (the Council, Commission and Parliament) constitute insignificant institutions and are necessarily subordinated to the national dynamics of the individual States. Never has this proved to be so true as it is now, during the recent crises of over-production beginning in 2007-8. The “Europe of States” is the eminently real community of the “national gangs”.    

 

A brief history of economic integration

The history of the European economic-political area leading to the instauration of the single currency (the euro), is emblematic for an understanding of how the structure came into being. Up until 1993, this history demonstrates that “political unity” was never at the heart of European reality. In 1950 only the European Payments Union (EPU) was spoken of and in 1951 the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community); in 1955 the aim of creating a Common Market was announced; in 1964 a Committee of Governors of the various national banks was constituted; in 1969 a project was set up for a monetary Union; in 1972, after the storm over the inconvertibility of the American dollar, the EMS, or European Currency Snake was created, to limit the variations in the rates of exchange between the Community currencies of West Germany, France, Italy, Benelux and between the latter currencies and the dollar, whilst the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate was abandoned. The prospected creation of a European Cooperation Fund nonetheless remained devoid of reality.  IN 1979 the ECU (European Currency Unit) appears, defined as a basket, consisting of sums determined by each of the community’s currencies and the weighted average of the currencies constituting it, as a function of their gross national product.

During those years a Franco-German agreement decided to align monetary policy with the Central Bank of Germany and, in order to limit variations in the value of currency, an exchange rate was set up with intervals of 2.25% above or below the central value, known as “margins of fluctuation”. When a currency depreciated and reached the lower margin, the national central banks concerned were to sell the strong currency and buy the weaker one in order to prevent it from falling below the margin. Moreover the idea of a European Monetary Fund, which technically was to receive 20% of the gold and dollar reserves of the national central banks, was unsuccessful. Germany, at the time the political and economic voice for this area of “free circulation” found its great strength in the German mark, which became a means of stability for the other European countries, after the great, inflationist flare-up of the ‘70s and ‘80s.  Gradually, the Bundesbank took root throughout Europe as the institutional base for the EMS. The liberalization of capital movement nonetheless made the stability of currency exchange more fragile.

This gave rise, after much resistance, to the necessity for the monetary Union to be re-launched. It was clear, however, that monetary Union could only start out from a union of “National monies” and that a European central bank was needed, to be instituted simultaneously with the single currency. As is well known, all the national central banks have a long history behind them: the national currency does not only solve the issue of dematerialising gold but also the problem of integrating the capitalist system under the command of the national bourgeoisie. At this stage, in February 1992, the Treaty of Maastricht established the political rules and the four economic and social parameters necessary for entry by the various States belonging to the so-called European Union: a) a ratio between public debt and GNP not exceeding 3%; b) a ratio between public debt and GNP not exceeding 60%; c) a rate of inflation not exceeding 1.5%; d) a long-term interest rate not exceeding 2%.

However, the approval set off, since 1992, a monetary crisis: the Italian lira and the British pound suspended their participation to the EMS and, at the same time, the Portuguese escudo, the Irish pound, the Spanish peseta were devalued. In 1993, a new wave hit the French franc, which was obliged to widen the margins of fluctuation of 15%.These events once more confirmed the instability of the capitalist system, due to the public finances, to the economic crisis, and to the weakness of the Bundesbank. When the storm ended, the convergence was re-established: but the ballet inevitably started again, some time later. The set-upEuropean Monetary Insititute pushed towards a common action the national central banks for the setting-up of the European central bank  and recognized, as decisive factors the national States, and not their exclusion, and that the force which until the mid-90s was in the hands of the German marc, now resided in the Euro.

Nonetheless, its ratification sparked off a currency crisis in 1992 (the lira and the pound sterling suspended their participation in the EMS and at the same time the Portuguese scudo, the Irish pound and the Spanish peseta devaluated). In 1993 a new wave involved the French franc, which made it necessary to widen the margins of fluctuation to 15%. All these events confirmed, yet again, the instability of the capitalist system due to public finances, the economic crisis and the weakness of the Bundesbank.  Once the storm had passed, convergences were re-established: but the dance inevitably continued shortly afterwards. The European Monetary Institute that was set up drove the national central banks to take common action and establish the European central bank, recognizing not the exclusion of the national States but their presence as determining factors and acknowledging that the strength that had been in the hands of the German mark until the mid-‘90s, now resided in the Euro.

Right from the start, however, a clause was acknowledged excluding the English pound from the Euro: and this is how the EU comes into being, on two tracks, with two currencies, leading subsequently, in 2017, to Great Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit).

The European Central Bank (ECB) was instituted on 1 June 1998 and grounded on the Treaty of Maastricht on the European Union and the “Statute of the European system of central banks and the European Central Bank”, though it did not begin to function until 1 January 1999, when all the functions relating to monetary policy and the rate of exchange of the eleven national central banks were transferred to the ECB.  On the same date the exchange rates between national currencies and the Euro were irrevocably fixed. The main objective of the European Central Bank is to keep prices under control, and thus purchasing power in the Eurozone, and to keep inflation at bay, taking care to contain the medium-term rate of inflation below (but nonetheless close to) 2%, by means of opportune monetary policies. According to the Treaty of Maastricht, the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) comprises the European Central Bank and the central banks of the 28 member states of the European Union, regardless of the single currency. However, only the governors of the national banks of countries belonging to the Eurozone take part in the decision-making processes and implementation of the ECB’s monetary policy. The so-called Eurosystem consists, in fact, of the ECB and the national central banks of the countries that introduced the single currency. The national central banks of the countries outside the “Eurozone” are instead authorized to conduct an independent national monetary policy. As long as there are member states of the European Union that do not belong to the “Eurozone”, the Eurosystem and the ESBC will inevitably continue to co-exist.

Thus, the introduction of the Euro as the single currency did not and does not change the significance of “economic integration”. It allows for “sectorial economic agreements” or “limits to production”, in order to avoid over-production in the areas of agriculture and industry, “regulation of exchange” to prevent competitive devaluation and monetary agreements. The Euro, as a common currency, acknowledges the maintenance of the “nation-enterprise” sovereignty of every State belonging to the European community in its power relations with other States.  There is no doubt, however, that with the present crisis of over-production, “the network of interests and contrasts” will become a reason for its collapse and from being a means of development it will be transformed into heavy shackles. Today American protectionism, so widely discussed because of “Trump’s customs duties”, is an aspect that derives from the very contradictions of capital.

The history of the crises that capitalism goes through on an international level reveals the imperialist nature of the system: real and financial economy are “perfectly integrated”. The Maastricht agreements remain mere artefacts fuelling instability instead of attenuating it. Its parameters (GNP, Deficit, Debt, deflation/inflation, interest rates), by which it is believed that a “stable balance” is obtained, are and always will be at the mercy of the global capitalist system as a whole: i.e. of that “financial landslide” which, as it descends, gathers momentum, since its “real dynamics” arise out of over-production. No ECB with its Quantitative Easing will be of any use to the EU for stabilizing and attenuating the immense suffering of the banks produced by the crises. Uncertainty nurtures the market, fuels its entropy and leads to the unravelling of the real economy.  The “treaties”, mere scraps of paper, as superstructures are destined to sink, carried away by the currents and the tides. The three-phase diagram of the economic-financial cycle (speculation, automatic dynamics of the crisis and destructive crisis) is the formula that will lead the bourgeois economy to catastrophe. Only the proletarian revolution, by resuming a process that ends in the overthrowing of capitalist production, will be able to save humanity from the next war plunging us into hell.

 

The European Union and the illusion of stability

The Europeanist illusion manifests itself in the out-and-out race to obtain economic growth. In answer to competition, the European States attempt at first to develop homogeneous poles of production in their national territories (areas, districts, chains of production, etc.). The most rational economic choice from a national point of view is not to increase relations of exchange inside the European Union but, particularly in times of crisis, to increase their exports towards emerging countries outside it, which allow individual countries to expand their own trade. Indeed, by intensive exploitation of the local working class, abroad, national companies attempt to obtain greater development of production in industrial spaces with low organic constituents (reduced costs of raw material, lower salaries, etc.).  The economic development is accompanied by development of production and greater accumulation of plus-value. At this point the growth differentials in the various countries boil down to an increase in competition and the distances between them get bigger, creating greater instability.

In any event, credit allowed by stronger economies to weaker ones leads in practice to the latter accruing public and private debts, especially when the economic indicators (interest rates, rates of inflation) are “governed” by large national units, which encourage the belief that the single currency is a vehicle of equilibrium, for example. The economic gap is created, according to Marx’s theory of value, by the difference in productivity between the various national systems, which increases the flow of proletarians into the industrial reserve army, at the same time liberating, through the development of automation, enormous masses of labour. The productivity of the most advanced country imposes its own pace on the various production systems and thus its production prices. The single currency prevents a real reading of the production differentials from country to country, as would happen in the case of terms of trade between currencies. Inevitably, there is an increase in the lanes, and thus also in the rates, of development. The devaluation of the weakest country’s currency (just as the revaluation of the strongest currency) would make the gap in productivity visible and give the system a way of temporarily remedying the contradiction, acting on exports: but the single currency does not allow this.  A new illusion: the productivity differentials leave no room for escape, because the situation of weakness (or strength) will continue to grow.  What the crisis of over-production clearly shows is the widening, or the growth of this gap, which is a gap in productivity that cannot be remedied without accepting the harsh conditions imposed by the strongest countries, off-loading the whole weight of growing exploitation onto the shoulders of the proletariat. The vitality of periods of prosperity, expansion and over-production are transformed into evident mortality at the end of the cycle: industrial poles, small and medium-sized industries will be swept away in the crises, unless a new and bigger capacity for production comes to their aid.

So-called integration will not, therefore, lead to political and economic stability. On the contrary, with the concentration and centralization of production, the process will determine a growing lack of economic balance over national and European territories, with the development of some areas that have a high concentration of capital and the impoverishment of others.  This is where the instability comes from: the lack of balance will create fractures of an economic and thus political nature.At this point the ruling class will experience cracks in its political front due to diverse regional and territorial interests.

The further disintegration of national territories will become catastrophic when balances are upset by deeper economic crises.  The trend towards recession will become inevitable where historical preconditions exist (strong territorial units compared to marginal areas or those forcibly annexed, populations or ethnic groups with weak internal cohesion, those imposed by previous wars or buffer zones, experienced as brakes or burdens to the development of stronger ones).

The relationship between State and territory is not just economic but also political (the politics of States are a power superstructure dealing with decisive economic and social processes, under the direction of the ruling class), so that a Europe different from the present one is possible as a consequence of new wars that would create further division of the national or European territory, with a new distribution of the booty by the victorious bourgeoisies.

It seems capitalistically reasonable to come to an agreement to protect the community’s economy.  Yet this inevitably clashes with the very nature of capital, which sooner or later overthrows any ties or agreements. Capital takes a national form but its content is international. The markets themselves, through crises of over-production, assume the responsibility for destroying any control or agreement. The need to constitute “large homogeneous areas” comes from the big Capitals that cannot be controlled by any State, or financial organism, national or international bank. Capitals that, in different forms, travel all round the world in search of valorisation, capitals that mainly find their valorisation in “gambling” with the buying and selling of various types of bonds, credits, shares, currencies, in their frantic search for a plusvalue that gets increasingly smaller in relation to the mass of global capital.

Due to the overlapping of economic cycles, the dynamics of valorisation push forward inexorably. The parasitic dynamics of imperialism, which, for a century now, have had the upper hand over the real economy, with its average profit rates progressively insufficient for a broad accumulation of Capital, show that the immense mass of “fake capitals” is able to destroy entire, first class nations, driving them to bankruptcy. All this is an unequivocal sign of the real domination of Capital over the State and States.

The “jungle” of nationalisms, politics of defence and the proletariat in the European Union

The fact that German economic power is the material barycentre of European reality and that present economic integration has come to the point of demanding the foundation of a single currency and a European central bank does not mean that “European political unity” is possible.

We are not witnessing any change in the geopolitical landscape of the so-called "united Europe". The political reading of "economic and monetary" integration as a transition to political unity lacks reality and historical perspective.

The currency storm experienced in 1992, for example, cannot be interpreted as a “crisis of confidence in political prospects”, because that confidence was never on the agenda of a supra-national bourgeoisie: if anything, it dwells in the illusions of the petit bourgeoisie and passes through phases of optimistic euphoria and pessimistic negation. The fact that, at the time, the clash between currencies demonstrated the contradiction on a continental scale between the increasingly international nature of the capitalist economy and the national husks in which it is inevitably obliged to move, did not necessarily imply that this should translate in reality into a strategy aiming to place Germany at the centre of European unification.   

Between potential and necessity there is a gap that is not filled by formal logical. The fact that the monetary and trade agreements do not guarantee the Old Continent stability and cohesion derives from the very reality of the capitalist economy and its anarchy; the contradiction between its international nature and national husks is the result of the intrinsic and grounding dynamics of capitalist economy.  Germany has not reached, and will not reach this aim of unification for the same reason it was not attained after two world wars.  Who would challenge the historical trend towards this possibility? But the trend is not enough; material strength is needed. Only the strength and victory of national-socialism would have given sense to an objective of these dimensions, in other words European unification. But history told a different story: the imperialist Russian-American victory-pacification of the second post-war period allowed this trend to be “fenced in” and de-potentiated over a long lapse of time, imposing Russian-Atlantic political and military control. The necessary and vital objective of securing irreversible political links cannot be achieved, precisely because Europe cannot produce these links motu proprio (it is not just a case of “nations without history” but also of strong political-economic aggregations, inside and outside of Europe), not even if economic and monetary integration were to attain exceptional levels.

One huge economic illusion is the belief that European capitalist economies will lead to the disappearance of nationalisms.  Historically, Europe has always existed under pressure from the great nationalisms (from Napoleon III to Bismarck, from Versailles to Yalta), all the more virulent for the new nationalities and nations being born out of violence from the womb of Europe, when they had formerly been kept contained inside imperial containers (the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire). Two hundred years of European history have given us the raging of new wars driven by old and new, real and fake nationalities. The division of Germany after the second world war by the victorious imperialisms and the submission of the East European countries to Russia merely changed the timing for the outbreak of new wars.  The collapse of Russia inspired nationalisms that had been kept under lock and key, and also generated the disaggregation of the Balkans. Since 1989, the year Russia came apart, Europe’s territory has been shaken by new nationalistic processes. In the long term, German economic power will have to come to a reckoning with the victors of yesterday, the USA and Russia, undermining them in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. To say Germany means, in practice, the rebirth of Great Nationalism, which will spark off new wars in Europe.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, an authentic celebration of the “principle of self determination of peoples” was sparked off. In the name of the so-called “peoples’ rights”, presumed nations and communities previously kept under control were driven onto the stage and ancient nationalist nostalgias fuelled, behind which great economic interests are hidden.  An overview shows us the systemic nature of the general political instability.

Central Europe has re-awoken, with all its historical nations and national entities, from Austria to Slovenia, from Slovakia to Hungary and Poland (the Visegrad area). In the Balkans all hell has been let loose: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro.  In the Baltic Area old alliances and old hatreds have again raised their heads: Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, nurtured by anti-Russian sentiments, the former country with its ancient origins, capable of growing like a Hydra, the others being pure invention – pawns placed in Russia’s way. On Europe’s northern front in the United Kingdom (really an American colony), traditional drives towards independence are underway (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), nurtured by Atlanticism. In Spain comes the impetus towards Catalan and Basque independence. Even the barycentre of the European Union, hinging on the Franco-German area is undergoing transformation. Contrasts have risen to the surface: the Franco-Dutch rejection of the European Referendum, the political crisis in Belgium and its internal divisions, Poland’s and the Czech Republic’s rapid conversion to Europeanism ready to change its face in the midst of the economic storm, the imperialist decisionism of Sarkozy, Hollande and Macron in Africa (Mali, Libya) and the firm ‘no’ of the European and Atlantic Troika to intervention on behalf of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland are all signs of storms on the horizon.Germany’s position on non-intervention in the second anti-Iraq war should be seen in connection with these contradictions, as well as the veto on the American missile shield in Poland and in the Czech Republic, the development of exchange relations with Eastern European countries (those that were the old satellites of Moscow) and the weaving of interests with Russia, relations linked to energy and raw materials (gas and oil).  If we add Germany’s non-intervention in Libya and low-profile position on Syria, as well as the resistance to firm intervention in the Ukraine (Donbass and Crimea) against Russia, it is clear that common European interests and traditional western alliances no longer converge at all but the understandings must continue to last until war alliances have been clearly defined.  Centrifugal forces act in accordance with centripetal ones, removing all significance from these same States, creating a vacuum of political legitimacy and centrality. A central State cannot be replaced by a sum of regions or any old community architecture. The “functionalist federalism” by which the Great Illusion of the European Union was set up is crumbling away under the onslaught of the economic crisis, whilst national and regional particularisms and populisms prevail against a so-called “solidarity of the community” and the time will come when, in order to feed the middle classes, to the regionalist petit bourgeoisie squawking under pressure from the  crisis, a nationalist war and a proletariat brought to its knees will have to be offered in exchange.

It is not enough.  The national policies of the individual countries depend on the internal and external economic contradictions that the capitalist process perpetrates.  They do not aim to integrate at a supra-national level.  All “European” policies are simply supports to national policies, or respond to demands of a particular and contingent nature.  To remain such, internal political unity demands, as central data, “security and defence”, which are of a purely national nature. There is no unity without coercive force and political unity cannot help being a political State, a tool of repression and violence: thus, defence of national interests and political unity are the essential premises for the political existence of the European Union. The failure of the EDC (European Defence Commission) of the ‘50s was determined by the lack of political unity. The final blow to it came from France, whose role of “grandeur” always demanded acknowledgement even within the Atlantic Alliance itself, from which it later distanced itself,only to draw closer again today as the smell of gunpowder grows stronger.  All attempts to build a unified structure of a military nature without political unity have failed.  The attempt by a Franco-German initiative, to set up a “common European army” has gone up in smoke…

There are temporary and extemporary alliances: but no “supra-national political units”.  There is no “gradual process” that will lead from economic integration to political Unity and from there to common military Defence, because in reality there is no such process, except in the petit-bourgeois imagination. Any unity (unless it is a question of pre-war alliances, still provisional, or forced political integration) is impossible in the framework of bourgeois relations.  All the more so a military structure that means security and common defences.

If ever a “democratic Europe of the people” were attained, as dreamed of in the last century, it would be the highest expression of economic power of the bourgeois States, an expression of the military force that precedes war for a new sub-division of the continent. It would be a reactionary and anti-proletarian Europe, subordinate to big Capital, centralized in a few States with no fear of taking on in the European continent. In the case hoped for by the left-wing petit bourgeoisie, it would not need to expose its dictatorial side at first, because it would be able to use “social-democratic consensus”, in the sense of the present, miserable “welfare state”. To respond blow by blow to the economic struggles in defence of the working class, the welfare state would bring onto the field its powerful control apparatus, the institutional trade unions, fully integrated into this reactionary body, in order to repress the proletariat, as a pre-condition for the iron fist of hegemonic bourgeois economic power against internal and external enemies. Its  potential energy would express itself at the maximum level, ready to turn into kinetic energy. In its socialdemocratic version, it would be none other than the massive counter-revolutionary husk for resisting communist revolution.

The Europe of continental proletarian dictatorship, on the contrary, is the only revolutionary power able to decide the future of humanity. It would lead humanity away from the catastrophe of war, break national ties definitively and drive the international development of class production forces to their extreme consequence.  Since co-existence between capitalist countries and those under proletarian dictatorship would be impossible, the clash between the two forms of class dictatorship, which represent diametrically opposed economic forms, if not resolved by the victory of one of them, would cruelly destroy both of the two opposing classes. The death of the capitalist form of production will demonstrate the transitory nature of its mode of production on a historical scale. Politically united under the international proletarian dictatorship, with its continental ties broken, Europe would proceed to dismantle capitalism internationally.

The Russian-American victory, German reunification, the disintegration of Russia and stability

The problems of Europe do not coincide with those of modern Germany until the foundation of the German nation through the Franco-Prussian War.  Since 1871, “Germany” has meant great economic power at the heart of Europe and the first attempt by the working class to constitute itself as a ruling class during the Paris Commune.  It was then that the ruling bourgeois class founded its national State (trampling over the many smaller states and their currencies) with its own currency and central bank.  Successively it equipped itself with a federal political organization on the Prussian model: thus with a militarily and bureaucratically centralized structure, accumulating episodes of aggression both towards its neighbours (Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Czechia, France) and against the proletariat. Driven by its powerful production forces and equipped with a strong trade union organization (“the working class aristocracy” strongly centralized in the State), since then it has found it has to share the European continent with other states that are, however, unable to compete from a political and economic point of view, a condition of imbalance for the whole of Europe.  All the political components, expressions of the German bourgeoisie, contributed to the affirmation of Greater Germany

The Third Reich of 1933, with the centralization of political, economic and financial power overcoming the old federal structure, claimed an economic growth superior to that of Bismarck’s Germany, becoming the most advanced tool of European unification, under the mallet of the centralizing violence of Europe’s most advanced bourgeoisie. Both in the First and in the Second World Wars, Germany manifested its will to reach this objective. Such unification, by subjugating bordering States, would allow for the growth of a single great State of Europe, which the Czech Republic, part of Poland, Austria, Belgium, Luxemburg, Denmark, Holland and Alsace-Lorraine could be part of. This “Greater Germany” would stand as a gigantic economic force that was demographically strong. The unification of 1990 inaugurated a long period of recession, demonstrating how vitally necessary this unification was and how strong the Russian-American control over Europe was, in particular over Germany. The period of the so-called “Cold War” had frozen the situation of Germany both in the west and in the east. The disaggregation of Russia and the crushing economic and social crisis that ensued were a hard test for East Europe and relations with Germany. From Poland to Czechoslovakia, from Romania to Ukraine, from the minute national ethnic groups in the so-called Baltic Mediterranean to Moldavia, economic and political unrest was rife amongst extremely weak national entities.

Only by taking into account the dynamics (far more complex than those of the XXth century) that shake the economic base of so-called German Europe so profoundly, will it be possible to understand the state of the next world conflict, at the heart of which there will again be the Neues Deutschland.  The recent crises of Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Italy and the fear of the monetary union being dissolved demonstrate the fragility of the entire European economic structure.

The affirmation of the victorious powers (i.e. that Russian-American post-war care had brought stability to Europe) had become a commonplace justifying the aggression towards Germany and Europe. Political intervention, interferences by NATO or the Warsaw Pact on both fronts had become the two great factors of instability (walls, air corridors, movement of troops, escapes, reunions with families, etc.) during the Cold War. Using powerful weapons of attack (military occupation of German, Italian and Eastern territory) the Russian-American division took place and Europe had its “forced arrangement” in the Yalta agreements.  The division of the German proletariat was the final victory of the winners’ Holy Alliance. “Woe-betide the losers!” was their victory cry against the proletariat. The pretence of “European Unity” in the second post-war period, as well as its “stability”, thus coincided with the territorial division (on a military and political basis) mainly of Germany (the Federal Republic on the one hand and the Democratic Republic on the other, in two separate States) and with the occupation of the whole of Eastern Europe. A few strokes of the pen on a handful of papers served the bandits meeting in Yalta to mark out the territories belonging to one or the other of them, with Tito’s Yugoslavia acting as the hinge. Beneath the so-called “détente” lurked the violence underlying the division of territory and the general normalization of Europe. The struggles (proletarian and national-bourgeois) in Berlin in 1953, in Budapest and Warsaw in 1956, in Prague in 1968 and Danzig in 1980 were also the most important attempts to find a way out of the military occupation both in the east and in the west (occupying troops, the placing of NATO headquarters, checkpoints in the key production areas of the territory, both in Germany and in Italy, forced demilitarization, monetary and financial impositions). The division was completed on the one hand by the mass of credit from the USA (Marshall Plan), as had happened after the first world war, and on the other by the massive shift from democratic Germany to Russia of equipment, machinery, production structures that were more technologically advanced than the Russians’: thus economic and military disarmament of “Democratic Germany” to the east and financial and military subjugation to the west. Military, political and administrative occupation had made it possible to take apart the engine of production and destroy Germany’s war machinery on both sides. With the disaggregation of the Russian empire and the relative lowering of American control over reunited Germany, the general degree of European precariousness increased.

The idea of stability arises out of petit-bourgeois political considerations (in their pacifist, Europeanist and pro-German versions). In a capitalist régime the status quo, aiming at normalization, may derive either from a “balance of power” or from the presence of a “superpower” that counterbalances dynamic losses of balance by using force, rapidly adapting to variations. In reality, after emerging from the disaggregation of the Russian empire and German reunification, since the ‘90s, Europe has revealed a state of economic and political uncertainty and promises new, future upheavals. The acceleration towards European economic and political aggregation and the impetus towards Russia demonstrate this instability: in fact the main fault lines have spread east. The incline has caused Germany’s economic-industrial, and thus also political, machinery to spread in that direction. Today, as in the past, its traditional flood lines are Poland, the Baltic countries to the north, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Croatia towards the Adriatic. As Germany consolidated under reunification and Russia disintegrated, as well as Eastern Europe the whole of the Balkans also destabilized.  Not the recomposing of the Balkans, about which there was so much philosophizing (the “freedom of the Balkan peoples”!), which the second World War had painstakingly unified under Tito, but the disaggregation due to the pipelines and gaslines that cross the corridors of the Balkans right to the heart of Germany. Like a tsunami, the effects of German reunification have multiplied to the point of breaking up (in parallel and in synchrony) the one-time Russian empire and the Balkan countries right up to the borders of Greece. American support for Russia in the period of transition after the fall of the Berlin wall was necessary for the country’s political recovery: in particular the support for Gorbachev and Eltsin avoided catastrophic economic instability, which would have fallen onto the shoulders of Poland and Ukraine encouraging the process of German overflow.

NATO’s positioning to the east has two sides to it today: one turns to united Germany, the other to Russia, potentially destined to recover its old imperialist positions in eastern Europe and Asia. On another front, hemmed in by East Europe, Turkey and the Middle East, a crisis looms in the whole of the Caucasus area, rich in natural gas and oil: chaos arises in Chechnya and Georgia, Ossetia, Azerbaijan and above all Afghanistan, which sees the Taleban fighting the Russians with the support of American arms. With the failure of Gorbachev’s (pro-German) “House Europe”, the East European territory is and will continue to be increasingly shaken by destabilizing transformations. A “lone path” towards the east by Germany, or in the close company of Russia (exchange relations regarding raw materials-technology) outside agreements to the west, would change the strategic post-war scenario  (the so-called Franco-German pact, the rigid Europeanist vision and all eyes focusing on Russia). The guidelines of politics are never “free paths”: they are geopolitical paths running along the power-lines of capital, which continues, in its “international substance” to be imprisoned in a “national form”. Cutting through them means disconnecting the system of “dynamic balances” (dictated by the anarchy of the system) present up to this moment.

 

European Germany and the antagonist nations

For Germany, being an undeniable power in continental Europe amongst so many other neighbouring States has been a calamity and not a mark of fortune. The joint dominion of the continent in the two world wars (GB, Germany, France) drove it to “flash wars” with millions of deaths.  The dynamics of history did not allow the “will for power” to fully play out its role. The firm desire (though the political schemes were exaggerated, both in the present and in the past) under Kohl to attain unification cost a decade of immobility and growing pains.

Great Britain, the historically antagonistic island, saw in the monetary Union an opportunity for an area of free exchange and a large market. Rejecting all community ties, it regarded with diffidence the prospect of German sovereignty in Europe, ratified and strengthened by an effective monetary policy and, nonetheless, did not remain outside European history. It remained, as in the past, leaning on the USA, awaiting new opportunities for a return to the stage, because willingly or not, Great Britain is a central part of European history. Its abandonment of the community context with Brexit has amply demonstrated this.

France, continuing instead its old colonial politics in Africa, did not give up its ideas of grandeur and has not accepted, nor will accept, any politics that subordinate it to its historical antagonists, Great Britain and Germany. For a long time it has kept alive a political-economic alliance with Germany, even going so far as to share military drills. The pacifist position shared with Germany in the second Iraq war was no coincidence.  The Franco-German axis, by which the post-war economy was reconstructed in the two countries, and the shared path of economic integration starting from the end of the ‘70s concluded with the change in the historical reasons for German reunification. The function of the two countries as the historical guardians of European stability assigned to them in the post-war periods as difficult allies but necessary to one another in order to confirm the position in the west and to check political drifts towards the east, saw this bond as strategic. Direction of alliances and at the same time of antagonist drives does not arise and last eternally but always depends on economic events and power factors determined by the development of Capital. Although obliged to integrate, in the future France and Germany will be induced to make their differences felt more strongly: they will be obliged to broaden their scope of action in favour of widening their economic-demographic mass (which can in no way be seen as united from a political point of view) and reach out towards other Eastern European countries, clashing in their “organic” Russian-German relations, especially in the buffer areas and in the Balkans. No particular political efforts are required to the east, since the “buffer nations” have a long history of economic and political integration with Russia, who attempts to pull them back into the lost economic space, subjected as they are to the American political and military pull of NATO. The economic dynamics of Capital nonetheless act strongly on the Russian side with its energy links – gas and oil pipelines.

 Germany has been and remains the only nation that is not sceptical towards Europe (it is the only one that has drawn competitive economic advantage) whilst the other States, faced with political or economic challenges, have time and again turned aside, especially during the crises. The “German” project for the single currency is conceived and supported in the name of its own economic stability and the best definition of its own area of influence: thus the European monetary union is pure integration with the “new” mark – or Euro. If we add that, for the sake of a rapid exit from the crises, world capitalism imposes an immense mass of capitals, which will inevitably mean a greater nationalistic and protectionist trend, the legitimacy of Merkel’s decisions to save the “top heavy” European scaffolding can be understood. They are legitimate because the scaffolding known as European Union rests on very few solid structures and weighs on the centre of force which is Germany itself which, as well as increasing its own profits, and in the presence of a unified national workforce, sinks its roots into a strongly controlled and controllable mass of immigration, capable of broadening the productive consumption of a growing mass of active and reserve, and at the same time unproductive population (middle classes and working-class aristocracy), capable of delocalizing production and exporting goods and capitals everywhere. Her decisions are grounded because, as the crisis grows, the situation developing all around them will soon enter a phase of decomposition with the emergence of contrasts in the triad USA, Germany and China.

The military and economic force exercised by the strongest capitalism, the German, in the long term has not stood up to the great challenges of the last century in the context of world capitalism and will not hold out today, either, in the face of the great, now “aged”, industrial powers, or in the face of the new young capitalist forces of Asia. This may mean that the axis of contradictions in the old Europe, squeezed between West and East, could become, as in the past but by reason of more widely ranging factors, the site of future storms. This direction of the march towards the East and with a demographically greater mass (83 million) is “negatively” conditioned by the community process, which has set up a body of ties to its detriment. Yet, without them, the greatest protectionist blocks and political sell-outs would occur; it is thus understandable that Germany, the exporting nation par excellence, will remain nailed to the need for constant, slow but significant expansion, unless wider ranging events place it in a great strategic alliance, avoiding the solitary path or subordination to this “economic community” which represents a trap, as well as a necessity.

In the meantime, political unity, not founded on any mutual factors, except for econometric parameters, will be lost.  The weaker countries will be on sale to whoever offers most (in economic, political or military terms), rather than having a sole guide - Europa Felix.  The subordination of the weaker countries is “won” in the economic compromise played out day by day, crisis after crisis, not in a forced alliance within a fake unity.  This is why the German issue will increasingly be identified with the European issue in a national and nationalistic vein only.  To think that the European Parliament, the Council of Europe (a sort of Higher Chamber of States) are the premises for a united Europe (on the institutional model of a continentally extended German State), of which the monetary union is the glue, the hard core and, once extended, will take the direction of European unity, means failure to understand the relations between economy and politics, which would be reduced to a simple, first grade equation. To affirm that the political-economic commitment of the States, above all the German State, provides the strategic turn towards a united Europe, that this strategy is forcing the rate of procedure towards convergence, that the defence (saving what there is to be saved!) of national industries is just an extemporary hitch whilst waiting for the reality of the single currency to get rid of all protectionism from the community and the international scenario, means failing to grasp anything about this fragile and improbable reality.

Europe between globalisation and protectionism

The fear of protectionism, the out and out defence of national production, the block on imports reveal signs of an overall change underway. The frequent considerations on economic recovery, the need to lower deficits and the public debt, the attention to anti-deflationary policies to contrast the tendency towards the slowing down of the economy and to reintroduce so-called welfare, “well-to-doism” (i.e. the growing purchasing power of salaries, mass employment with remodulation of flexibility and job precariousness) show that the real economy is increasingly dependent on financial structure and the growing poverty of the working class.  Today, right in the midst of the crisis, everything is changing: accounts are in the red everywhere, deflation joins uncertainty in jobs and acute growing poverty, the real economy is a wreck and social buffers are a necessity to avoid a social showdown. Regional pay scales are praised, company “profits” are promised instead of “salaries”, linking them to productivity, working hours are made longer by contract, unrest and strike action are more frequent but less intense.  Whilst “devaluated” capitals, bad debts, “trash bonds” for investments and financial activity (in reality dead capital) are released, salaries and employment are under attack, large and small companies are closing, the profit margin is falling and with it the economic supports to industry and agriculture are decreasing. A market unconditioned by protectionism (with no import duty and no barriers) is mere illusion, it would be an “absolutely free market”. To think of forces of production free from State control and at the same time see the State as the true architect of capitalist economy means failing to grasp the dialectic relation existing between capital economy and the State.  It is economism (and therefore vulgar materialism) to believe, on the other hand, that delegating the creation of money (as a prerogative of the national State) to a supra-national organism like the Central European Bank, which in any case has its limits in the national banks, might lead Europe’s capitalist reality to a superior political level.

The old policy of support for agriculture (the furious quarrels between French, English, Italian and today Polish agricultural nationalism), the overcoming of the Maastricht parameters by France, Germany and Italy (flexible as rubber – because of the economic crisis – but not at all flexible for other, weaker countries) and the action taken to defend their power industries by the French and Italian States (see the Enel against Edf affair in Egypt) do not move towards balance but towards a fight. If we consider all the previous elements in an international context, including Germany’s and Japan’s submission (by the agreements at the Plaza Hotel in New York on exchange rates signed on 22 September 1985) to American economic policy, first with the devaluation of the dollar and then with its re-evaluation, and if we add that since the latest 2007-8 crisis Germany and Japan may end up politically defeated, squeezed in the iron grip of the USA-China by reason of the emerging economies of Asia, it can be seen that on the agenda there is only one way out for the two imperialist nations: to resume their power politics.

Protectionism within an area of so-called free trade does not cease, just as it does not cease within a State (national subsidies are none other than forms of protectionism for big industry). The difference in prices between industrialized and depressed areas, which no statistics office can hide, between agricultural and industrial products, between salaries and wages, are just forms of protectionism, which merely create a widening gap between wealth and poverty and thus between centralization and concentration of Capital. If this protectionism grows increasingly at an international level, with customs duties on raw materials, food products, power and technology and if foreign imports are blocked and exports expand, the market ends up by cancelling itself. The capitalist mode of production gradually determines breaks between nations, countries, areas, regions, continents, low-profit companies (the more modern) and others with high profit margins (the more backward).  The trend towards development, increasingly fuelled by monopolies, which cannot be contained within national borders, is not a discovery of so-called globalization, a sort of border between old and new capitalism.  Competition has grown worldwide but this is not a recent product of capitalism.  The growth of more and more gigantic industrial groups, able to control the continental market from positions of clear advantage does not necessarily eliminate national, intra-European or continental protectionism. Strong community protectionism towards competitors would imply an existing “economic unit” that punishes itself and a self-excluding political unit.

The effect will be the onset over the next few years of trade wars between community areas and, even more so, between continental areas and thus political-military clashes.  This scenario will be accompanied by the objective failure of European monetary policy.  There is no doubt that these events may give rise to new scenarios: but to think that American or Chinese imperialism are the “objective factors” that will upset the balance in Europe and with it the old imperialist powers as well, in particular Germany, moving “freely” on the world stage, means believing in the omnipotence of Super-imperialism, which instead is starting to disintegrate.  On factual analysis, historical reality reveals greater complexity than what is rationally constituted: this does not depend on the will of the competitors, but on huge economic forces entering into conflict.

The political and military dependency of Germany in the international context

The political and military power of the bourgeoisie is always linked to its economic strength. Germany would seem to be an exception: economically strong but politically weak, the German bourgeoisie has a powerful industrial structure capable of conversion into a war industry (it is no coincidence that steel and aluminium are the crux of the contrasts over American import duty). The Franco-German axis, the military links with the USA (military bases in the so-called European Union), however, are not tools of freedom for German sovereignty but rather signs of stewardship, thus of dependency. All the programmes of a political and military nature (presence of the UNO, NATO membership, intervention policies outside the area, direct and indirect participation in so-called pacific undertakings, military collaboration with France) are aspects of conditioning and at the same time signs of the need for Germany to assume a decisive political role in the world and particularly in Europe in the future. Great Britain’s exit from the European Union was the sign of a “free rein” for an old link, binding Germany not only to Great Britain but indirectly to the USA.  A greater impulse from America for the country, by means of NATO, to assume direct responsibilities in Eastern Europe might mean a decisive anti-Russian shift. Germany, with its strongly homogeneous economic structure, is capable of facing the demands of globalization in any direction, from the USA to China.  In the last century it “freed” older and weaker nationalities to the East, which then became subordinated to the stronger economies, from which they receive their means of survival (subsidies and arms).  The axes on which Europe rests have always been unstable: the north-south axis, with the extremes of old English and Italian capitalism and with Germany at the centre, pushes the former out of the area (towards the USA) and causes the latter to slip towards the centre (towards Germany), especially the more economically advanced northern Italy; the west-east axis, this too centring on Germany, has never stood up to periods of great economic-social crisis, with France too close and Russia too decentralized.

The strength of German capitalism can hardly fail to constitute Europe’s real problem. European instability is growing with the economic-political development of Germany: the more the dimensions of its power emerge, the more the need for it to be downsized makes itself felt. Germany’s participation in the Balkan wars drove it to become the true economic and financial partner of the Balkan States. The mark became normal currency in the area: and this was of no small concern to the States of the European Union.  The Russian crisis dragged with it Serbia and Kosovo, involving them in war and devastating the Balkan peninsula. NATO’s acceptance of Polish, Hungarian and Balkan membership redesigned the whole area from the point of view of military alliances, as well. The war also had as its objective the conquest of the power corridors (natural gas from the Caucasus), which cross the whole of the Balkans. The old rail project which, at the end of the XIXth century, led from Berlin to Damascus and to Baghdad, raised its head again in the first and in the second World Wars and in recent objectives as well, causing Germany to intervene.

Germany’s central position wavers when faced with the huge and unpredictable dimensions that world financial imperialism has assumed and to which all countries are connected. At the beginning of this new century, which has been hit by the biggest crisis since 1929, the world financial system’s network became increasingly powerful and viscid.  Globalization took the form of an immense centripetal force, at the same time emerging as an immense centrifugal force. Financial transactions attain values of thousands of billions of dollars, which are equivalent to the entire yearly GNP of a country like Italy, and a tiny percentage of them is capable of creating catastrophic effects even in relatively strong countries.

There is no escape from these dynamics of “financial warfare”. The central mass of Capital is not to be found in a single nation or continent, even though nations and continents possess enormous gravitational masses. In Europe, Germany is this centre of gravity (immense masses of goods and capitals). In economy (and physics), the science of the dynamics of mass locates the barycentre close to the nucleus, even if the “dynamic effects” may manifest themselves far from the barycentre itself, perhaps in the weakest link in the chain connected to the centre of gravity. A widespread illusion is that the economy possesses intrinsic qualities of peace and well-being: this gives us to understand that, under the control of democracy, the “wild spirits of capitalism” may be tamed and channelled in the direction we wish: that technology possesses within it the antibodies for defeating the wild spirits of liberism; that economic challenges can be answered by other economic challenges, growth rates by higher rates, productivity by greater productivity.  And lastly, it appears logical and merely common sense for arms, created on an economic terrain, to be banned from the conflicts (?!). But “goodwill” will not destroy the “wild spirits of capitalism”, the anarchy of the markets and the volcano of production, the law of unequal development, the growing poverty accompanying the funeral chariot: the great economy, high rates of development travel in cast-iron tanks, devastating and destroying whole territories invaded by goods and money. The military challenges will therefore increase. The armies of capital are the goods carried by the tanks. The winners and losers in the last two wars boasted high levels of production and advanced production relations: they were the new knights of the apocalypse (the USA, USSR, Germany, Japan), with huge potential for development, armed to the back teeth and with an enormous logistic structure and historical consensus.

 

Economic integration, the monetary union and political unity

There is no direct process leading from economic integration to political unity in Europe. Political unity would imply the formation, either underway or already operational, of a “unified State”: it would thus require a political State, supported by a “supra-national bourgeoisie”, with an awareness of its historical role, in particular against the proletariat, its real adversary, closed in the cages of the single States. Today, what is know as “the project for European unity” is transferred onto paper day by day.

The political unity of the European States would obviously be far more than economic integration (or a free exchange area) and more than a monetary union: it would be an expression of the strength of the “great supra-national capital”, which has subjugated much of national capitals (agrarian, industrial, commercial and above all financial).  All this, however, is inconceivable as a “natural development”. The shift from economic integration to political unity is qualitative and not quantitative.  This means that, if real unity exists, this is because there is a political unity preceding it.  Economic unity between national units is destined to collapse in the long term, because it can only exist in the form of the forced absorption of one State into another or their “spontaneous” subordination, or, lastly, as the consequence of a war that would confirm the victory of one of them by means of violence. A political unity must already exist: indeed, the national State is the political representative, the superstructure of power of the entire bourgeois class (not the sum of the various economic sectors of the same class). Political unity, which is constantly undergoing change, comes to the bourgeois State due to the fact that the bourgeoisie, as a class, represents capital in its historically and economically conferred reality, necessary for its wider accumulation. On a European scale, the many, historically formed, national bourgeoisies are in conflict on the economic plane as on the political.

The creation of a European central bank can certainly further economic integration, since it represents the system of the national central banks.  With a broader range of action than that of the individual national central banks, the European central bank has greater functions and responsibilities, which guarantee the independence of the individual banks. Its prerogative is to manage not “economic policy”, but “monetary policy”, which together represent both the real and the financial economy: in other words, the prerogative is to take decisions that influence the exchange rates and interest rates, in the interests of keeping prices stable.  The so-called supra-national and national co-operation is at risk of conflict, despite having established common rules on some fundamental parameters in an area particularly subject to the profound contradictions of the capitalist economy. National production first and foremost - imports and exports of goods and capitals, management of credit from the national central banks, fiscal policies, budgetary policies, industrial policies – it cannot escape the national context the bourgeoisie is subject to.

Money does not regulate the entity of value (this is an illusion of the bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoisie): money is a measure of value, a means of exchange, a means of payment and is only an active force when it is Capital, or when it allows the creation of plusvalue. When it is a constant entity (however great) it does not vary in the slightest. Money, when it is income, is only a sterile product of capital. When it is capital, it determines the module, direction and rate of accumulation; when it is money, it in no way determines the dynamics of the processes of circulation, development of markets and growth of the capitalist economy.  Only variable capital, applied to the means of production, produces plusvalue.  Ever since it first appeared on the scene, money, with its entity, has nonetheless been a constant vehicle of instability, whilst Capital is the true cause of this instability.  Capital increases internal competition between the producers of goods: all production sectors reveal what is intrinsic in them, average social value (the time spent at work that is socially necessary for the production of goods), which always varies over time.  Productivity does not reduce the lack of balance between the various production sectors: on the contrary, it pits these sectors one against the other.  The way in which fusion, centralization, concentration and productivity is increased alters the production process, creates competition, war between industry and agriculture and between small, medium-sized and large industrial and agricultural sectors.

Monetary union, with the single currency, does not lead to the stability of the “Europe system”. First of all, it points to the fact that there is real instability present in the economy, which is in need of an Order, a Diktat regarding exchanges, interest rates and prices. The regulation of flows of capital-money is required by real production, by the over-production of capitals and goods, the drop in the average profit margin. Contradictions in production and circulation, valorisation-devalorisation and velocity, are indicated by flows of money in the same way as a fever indicates the presence of illness.

The monetary union also means a slow and irreversible “tendential loss of sovereignty” of individual national States, due to the growing socialization of so many national production sectors and the gigantic, non-national production units – socialization that can only be achieved in practice through socialism (and nonetheless cannot come into being without that period of transition known as “dictatorship of the proletariat”, destined to revolutionize the mode of production and social distribution in a form that is no longer mercantile). The monetary union is certainly a political act, which marks the fact that profound economic and political imbalances have matured (devaluation of entire nation-enterprises, increasingly broad economic and political contrasts within the ruling class, the half classes and the proletariat), due to the dynamics of capital requiring a remedy.

In the medium term, capitalist economic development is producing and will continue to produce catastrophic effects in Europe. The dynamics of profit require ever greater and wider-ranging concentration and centralization to win at a higher level of competition based not only on individual nations but on aggregates of nations, continental agreements, agreements in monopoly sectors of varying sizes, agreements which will prove to be grounded on shifting sands, on paper, ready to explode and blow up at the next economic crises.

Since money is the measure of value, a valid currency for everyone must be based on unified criteria for the universal production of value and plusvalue (theory of value).  Now, in the final analysis, as Marx explains, the national currency is a reflection of the internal exploitation of the labour force and this creates different rates of plusvalue as well as different profit rates. Capitalism works if there are different internal rates of exploitation, if there are profit differentials, both national and international – differences which, however, must inevitably level out into an average profit rate that tends towards zero.  If this occurs, indeed, in the very process of its flattening out, the capitalist economy hits a crisis. Eliminating the differences in national or international profit rates means, however, eliminating the very dynamics of capital, the real flow and reflux of capital.  The formation of an area of uniformity of capitalist production is impossible: the field lines in the capital economic field never possess regularity-linearity-symmetry; attempting to eliminate competition in a group or coalition of States, such as those in Europe, is the same as claiming to have eliminated it between national industries. The vitality of capital is founded on the generation and development of increasingly large units of production, themselves determined by the previous overall development of the economy. These units possess potential energy, given the organic relationship between fixed and variable capital. The energy dynamics cause the tendency in these units to diminish not their growth but their rate of growth, or speed of growth, as accumulation increases in absolute terms, so that their ageing and death are certain and thus many are dragged into fusion and concentration, otherwise they encounter certain economic death.

We communists deny the possibility in a capitalist régime for supercapitalism (national and/or international) to form a single national or international monopoly able to overcome the anarchy of the market and the ensuing swamp. The trend towards the formation of huge poles exists and is inevitable but there is no possibility of there being one and only one capitalist pole on the planet, just as it is impossible for there to be a single magnetic pole. Just as the large national capitalist units do not fully annul the other national sectors, although there is a “tendency” from the point of view of accounting for the formation of a sole national capital, in the same way that there is no possibility of a sole, global, capitalist enterprise forming. The real world trend towards this monad points precisely to the death of capital.

The European monetary union “is not just a technical factor”

Monetary union is not simply a technical matter and does not regard solely aspects of pure “economic integration”; in the monetary Union many political issues are involved and political institutions that have been especially created, but this is not sufficient to sustain the passage towards political unity, particularly supra-national unity.

Within a national State, the currency marks the presence of a ruling class, the bourgeoisie, that has imposed its dominion on all the other classes, on the small and medium bourgeoisie, the middle classes and the proletariat, present on the national territory.  In the case of Europe, the affirmation of a permanent régime, not a transitory period, of “single currency” would show that the many weak sectors of the national bourgeoisies (Europe’s small and medium bourgeoisie), beaten on an economic and political plane, had, in practice, accepted a role subordinate to a “predominantly non-national” bourgeoisie, that had obliged the national equivalents to submit to it.

The rule of a “predominantly non-national” bourgeoisie over the others (national), however, would not become manifest on the economic plane without manifesting itself on the political plane, as well and above all at a military level.  The monetary union, a reflection of the ruling political-economic power, should have at its disposition a political-economic direction: i.e. a unified State, rigid banking and economic centralization in the widest sense of the term, and the (State by definition) capacity to impose sanctions. But it is here that the contradiction occurs: this process can only come about accompanied by blood and tears whilst a national bourgeoisie, or whoever else on its behalf, cannot accomplish it. It can only be done by a power that is independent of the “nation”: the proletariat. The imposition of the dollar on the economies of the losers in the second world war is an example of this.  Even in the presence of national currencies, the dollar has managed to determine the whole of European history (and still does), partly since the bourgeoisies have begun marching without their previous economic protection (e.g. the inconvertibility of the dollar into gold at the start of the ‘70s) and in the presence of a weakening of the American economy itself and the progressive reduction of their economic distance. Without annulling national currencies, the dollar has been able to dominate Europe’s national currencies: it has circulated in such quantities as to impose an almost forced régime in its own money, conserved in the national banks alongside  gold, and in this way it has subjugated these currencies to the power of the dollar: i.e. of the American economy. The Latin-American area was also subjugated to the power of the dollar without the various national currencies being annulled.

The national Federal Reserve (America’s central bank), the International Monetary Fund, or basically American capitalism, have conferred on the dollar the function that once belonged to gold (that of a world currency).  The dematerialization of the general equivalent in favour of the dollar came about in 1944 at Bretton Woods, right after the end of the second world war.  The gold standard collapsed because it would no longer have been able to sustain the contradictions of economic development in the post-war period, its end was ripe and the forced decision was merely the final blow.  In turn, it was not the crisis that generated the twilight of the dollar (its inconvertibility), but capitalist development itself, since the dollar was then incapable of spontaneously producing the premises for a new season of cycles of survival: the economic crisis of 1974-75 was only just appearing on the threshold. The political decision of 1970-71 was the reflection of an “extraordinary” post-war period that left contradictions strewn across the battlefield and announcing catastrophes, fueled by a long and massive productive accumulation.

The Gold Standard of the second half of the Eighteen Hundreds, from 1873 to 1914, had worked in the same way as the dollar but “had not been able” to stop the first world war and subsequent crises from breaking out. A monetary régime can vehicle a process but not prevent the system from encountering a crisis. It was the two wars, the crisis of 1929, that decreed, in the midst of contradictory decisions, the end of a system of gold equivalence, showing the inherent fragility and instability of the bourgeois capitalist system; it was thus tools of power and violence that decreed the end of the pound sterling, and the mark as well, which had launched into the economic-monetary enterprise together with the dollar.  But the transition was determined by an act of political imperialism, not by an agreement: the fact that the various national puppets were there, hanging by their strings, was mere scenography.

What were the objectives that the international monetary system of Bretton Woods had set itself? Precisely the same as those of the European Central Bank today: i.e. stability from a continental perspective and with the agreement of the leading capitalist nations. By what means?  As usual: control of exchange rates, prevention of competitive devaluation, freezing of credit, system of bilateral compensation, equalization funds, international trade, multiple exchanges.  Its “formal collapse” did not come about because of events connected to the war, in which American power was defeated, but because of increasingly critical, intrinsic, economic dynamics, which had begun to make their effects felt at the start of the ‘60s (the first American crisis dates back to 1958). In the case of Europe, the passage from national to supra-national currency would certainly start out from greater coordination between economies (though increasingly integrated) than in the past: but this would not have been sufficient, unless conditions of a political (power) nature were imposed by capitalism (and thus by the strongest bourgeoisies). But the bourgeoisie – the dominant bourgeoisie – cannot detach itself from its nation and from “its” economy and cannot help imposing its war diktat. The American Constitution, despite being federal, is based on a unified political, economic and military force: it cannot stand as an example of mythological “voluntary union” (suffice it to examine the history of the United States and its brutal “war of annexation”, called “War of Secession”). The operational margins are not technical data but political: the mere parameters of Maastricht are not enough (public debt/GNP = 60%, deficit/GNP = 3%) to close the gates on capitalist anarchy. Neither an ideal acknowledgement, nor a juridical form, nor a constituent and constitutional political system is sufficient.  “Brutal systems of sanctions” would be required against the recalcitrant bourgeoisies in order to obtain this political unity, and that would determine an increasing lack of cohesion in the precarious balance between the bourgeois forces, more and more acute internal struggles, right up to the point of “civil wars” or imperialist wars. The proletariat itself, in the contingent conditions of “class for capital”, could not help being driven, in the presence of its international communist party,to fight not only for the defence of its own living and working conditions, but above all for the destruction of the capitalist mode of production, through class dictatorship.

International Press

 

                    

            

 

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