Capitalism worldwide is in a deepening and accelerating crisis. The liberal world order of the last 75 years is collapsing, and U.S. global dominance along with it. While all capitalists are in crisis, China’s capitalist rulers are emerging as the leading threat to become the new dominant imperialist. The war in Ukraine looks to be the first move towards direct war between the big imperialists. The combination of economic crisis and sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry is pushing the world toward World War III, with nuclear war on the table.
The U.S. ruling class is both challenged by a rising Chinese-led coalition and consumed by its own internal divisions. As bosses worldwide try to navigate their multiple problems, fascism is advancing as the dominant form of capitalist dictatorship. The Chinese and Russian bosses have cracked down on opposition within their ruling circles, with billionaires disappearing or falling off balconies. In the U.S., fascism looms on the horizon as the finance capital bosses struggle to bring the Koch-Murdoch led forces into line—or, failing that, to smash them. They must also prepare and enlist workers in the U.S. for wider war. For the international working class, fast-rising fascism means more frequent and sharper attacks.
In those countries still clinging to the form of liberal democracy, including the U.S., the capitalist bosses are struggling, as Marx phrased it, to “rule in the old way.” In Fascism and Social Revolution (1934), R. Palme Dutt warned the Communist International that capitalism in extreme crisis takes on the form of fascism. Dutt sounded a failed call to reject lesser-evil unity with liberal sections of the ruling class and instead to fight for workers’ power through revolution. While we disagree with parts of Dutt’s analysis, we wholeheartedly believe that the working class faces a choice today no less stark or critical than in the early 1930s: a choice between fascism and communist revolution. There is no in-between.
It is with this sense of urgency that we launch a new online edition of PL Magazine Our task is to define this historic moment, to reject the false promise of lesser-evil capitalism, and to build the fight to liberate our class through communist revolution.
The need for a communist society—a society designed to serve workers’ needs—is more urgent than ever before. Capitalism has put humanity at existential risk. Since erupting in 2019, the global coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly seven million people—just the latest catastrophe of racist, sexist, profit-driven healthcare. Long before COVID-19, childhood diseases stole (and continue to steal) millions of young lives each year. Communicable diseases, including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and cholera, kill nearly 50,000 people every day. These are all essentially diseases of poverty. As the World Health Organization notes, all of them could be largely prevented or cured with basic sanitation, nutrition, and quality healthcare for as little as one dollar per person.
In truth, the world’s most persistent and deadly pandemic is not COVID-19 but capitalism itself. The bosses’ insatiable drive for maximum profits kills millions more each year with imperialism, imperialist war, and global warming, an existential threat to human survival. Despite abundant scientific data that the planet is verging on environmental collapse, the capitalist rulers continue to rake in hundreds of billions of dollars from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, capitalist climate change is setting vast areas on fire or drowning them under floodwaters or parching them with historic droughts. Beyond extreme weather, the unnatural disasters of war, poverty, social instability, and criminal inequality have created more than 30 million refugees. Another 100 million are internally displaced in their countries of birth.
Despite the decay and devastation of capitalism, we cannot give in to despair. Although the titanic communist revolutions in the Soviet Union and China were ultimately reversed, their lessons still inspire us today. In the not-so-distant past, nearly a billion workers, peasants, and soldiers turned the world upside down and replaced capitalist values and economic relations with communist principles and practices. The working class changed the world. There will come such a time again.
PL Magazine seeks to stimulate writing, discussion, and organizing among the masses who desire and deserve a better world. With no exaggeration, ours is a struggle for survival. The capitalist rulers are neither able nor willing to solve the problems that plague their rotting system. The poisons of racism, sexism, patriotism, and identity politics are indispensable pillars of capitalist ideology. To create a new society, our class must rid itself of these pathologies. Our aim is to encourage workers and students to translate communist ideas into action and to help develop a mass revolutionary movement worldwide.
This online magazine will supplement Progressive Labor Party’s newspaper, Challenge/Desafio, with articles of greater length and depth. Though the world is changing with ever-quickening speed, PLP’s core principles have stayed unshakeable since our Party was created in 1964. We believe that a better world will come only when communist revolution smashes imperialism, racism, sexism, and all forms of social and economic inequality. We encourage readers to respond with comments, questions, suggestions for future articles, and their own contributions.