By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
It’s an unusual prediction, but the coronavirus may kill the “neoliberal Trotskyist” projects of the Eurozone and the European Union because the pan-European project has, sadly, always cared more for itself than for the well-being of its constituents.
Briefly: the major theoretical contribution of “Daddy Stalin” (to quote Che) to socialism was to insist that nations can indeed go their own way and implement “socialism in one country”; Trotskyism insists that socialism must sweep universally in a perfectly-coordinated movement. It’s clear who has prevailed – the Trotskyists remain winless. While Stalinists just roll their eyes at the bitter Trotskyist refusal to cooperate with them, the latter attempt to denigrate everyone else’s socialist victories as a victory of “Stalinism”… which is no denigration at all, but it does give fodder to socialism-ignorant capitalist-imperialists. Anyway….
The EU and Eurozone run on both the secular, earthly fervor of Trotskyism as well as the religious fanaticism that neoliberalism actually does work (despite all the lack of factual proof).
Both projects also run on capitalism of course, but the corona shutdown has destroyed modern capitalist ideology: there is no demand-side economics possible (how can there be normal demand in a shutdown?), and there is no supply-side economic solution (deregulation and tax cuts are going to work, LOL?). There is now – as socialists already knew – only the government.
This reality is what the corona crisis is laying bare (and does not logically automatically translate into totalitarianism), and this is also why “capitalism with Western characteristics” is recklessly charging towards Great Depression 2 – their ideology is fundamentally incapable of addressing such a situation.
Europe’s safety net means that they won’t be charging into astronomical unemployment, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t already a hot mess: The Eurozone is into an underreported second Lost Decade; the Yellow Vests were proving weekly that anti-European sentiment is not proof of a far-right ideology; the European Union’s handling of Brexit was showing – as they openly intended – that it was more vengeful and punitive than a wronged woman.
The mega-bailouts which will be required due to the corona economic shutdown: once these are finished the only logical fiscal remedy, per neoliberalism, will be “mega-austerity”, right? But that’s another column….
When a crisis hits and nobody can help, a nation-state can only reap what it has sown; nobody is coming to your lockdowned house to help… except if you are in a socialist-inspired nation. Thus, the corona crisis is going to not just end messianic neoliberal projects but also reveal the dignity, and superior performance of the existing socialist-inspired projects.
However, the West will continue to do all they can to obfuscate this via their propaganda. The New York Times just published Australia Says Goodbye to the World’s Longest Boom, but that is inaccurate: socialist Vietnam has had the world’s best economic growth rate since 1981. Not only has their growth rate been double that of Australia’s, but Vietnam has never had a year of negative growth whereas Australia has had three. Knowing this about Vietnam is about as basic a global, objective economic fact as it gets, but since when did capitalists and their shills ever report honestly about economics?
If the Great Recession does become the Great Depression 2 then government isn’t going to disappear nor became hyper-localised – it will become even more prevalent: it will force the return of the nation-state.
Why on earth should we suppose that Europeans will accept “more Europe” when their big, (neoliberal empire) pan-European government has been so inequality-inducing? Socialists, however, are all on board with this, but with a key twist – big government, not big neoliberal capital.
My upcoming book is called Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism and I explained why it is first Iranian, second Islamic, third socialist and in that precise order. After much public debate, and signed off on by then-Supreme Leader Khomeini, Iran decided that the needs of the nation must come before the dictates of Islam. Don’t like it? Move to Saudi Arabia. Iran’s government controls, according to many estimates, about 90% of the non-Black Market economy – more than Cuba’s government. Don’t like it? Move to the US. I am not being aggressive nor xenophobic – I am pointing out that none of this is going to change without a huge fight from the majority of Iranians.
Maybe the West won’t veer from neoliberalism and capitalism-imperialism without a huge fight either?
If so, that will only ensure ever-deepening inequality: the West’s post-corona economic future looks too bleak to put into words yet, but history shows Westerners should expect years of economic hardship for those nations who continue to sacrifice their well-being at the altar of the free market.
How many busts will it take before capitalists are as market-disillusioned as socialists?
Marx proved that capitalism is an endless cycle of boom to bust; central planning, central ownership of key industries, a vanguard party and repression of fascist speech is what socialist-inspired nations use to provide stability during the tough times and to increase mass prosperity during good times.
The corona economic hysteria – which I recently paralleled with the Y2K and 9/11 panics – is only giving us even more data about “capitalism with Western characteristics”. In short: because inflating Everything Bubble 2 was the West’s solution to Everything Bubble 1 (which popped during the 2008 crisis), we can bookend a new Western economic era without accusations of being overly premature.
Boom 1: 1865-1914 – The formative years of modern capitalism, which included covered-up, denied, and unknown holocausts of famine, epidemics and poverty in non-Western countries/colonial subjects. These were all wilfully created: historians know that “we must allow the rules of the free-market to reign no matter how many die in a famine or epidemic” was the open official justification time after time by ruling colonialists. Socialism had difficulties during its formative years, as well; however, the Late Victorian Holocausts and the Making of the Third World were not provoked by Cold War, and its highest ideal was “the White rich should have the freedoms required to rule unopposed”. Booms for the West during this era, but busts for everyone else that were so terrible that many nations have still not recovered.
Bust 1: 1914-1921 – WWI and aftermath: A war started by Western bankers & imperialists to forestall anti-banker socialism.
Boom 2: 1921-1929 – the “Roaring Twenties”
Bust 2: 1929-1945 – the Great Depression and WWII
Boom 3: 1945 – 1975 -The “30 glorious years” for the West, but not for their imperial-turned-neo-imperial (ending direct rule to replace with local puppets) subjects.
Bust 3: 1976-1991 – Widespread recession: blame the Arabs for finally exerting some control over their natural resources; blame the Japanese for increasing expectations of better quality.
Boom 4: 1991-2001 – Dot.com boom; banker entrapment of Eastern Bloc boom; stupid actions/investments caused by alleged “death of socialism”/TINA; Iranian Islamic Socialists defeat Western puppet Iraq and say, “Hey, where did everyone go?”
Bust 4 – 2001-2008 – War on Terror good for Pentagon’s contractors, not for anyone else. For the 99% this Bust era has continued until 2020.
Boom 5 – 2009-2019 – This boom was limited to the Western 1%. They got “socialising the losses” bailouts, QE Infinity and ZIRP; the 99% got minijobs, austerity and stagnant wages.
Bust 5 – 2020-? – Corona crisis and incredible overreaction by countries which believe in “Capitalism with Western characteristics” launches Great Depression 2. 1% and 99% now on same cycle together. News flash: there will be no quick ‘V’ recovery (see “Boom 5”).
Pretty, pretty bad record for the 99%, eh?
Now compare this with socialist-inspired countries:
China: “Century of Humiliation” ends in 1949: Seventy years later they are the undisputed #2 superpower.
Vietnam: Since the end of the French & American Wars and the victory of socialism: Says Hello to the World’s Longest Boom.
Iran: Since end of Western-forced war with Iraq: second-highest increase in UN Human Development Index from 1990-2014. Inhuman triple sanctions in 2012 (UN, US, EU) go unopposed by fake Western leftists; Washington’s attempt at “$0 in oil sales” force Iran to rely on 25 years of gains as Great Depression 2 starts (although that war-era command economy experience will surely come in handy now).
Cuba: Since 1994 (the “Special Period” – caused by the Soviet elite’s wilful, undemocratic implosion of global socialism) Cuba’s annual growth rate has never been negative and almost always superior to that of US ally Mexico. Cuba is perhaps the most solidly-united socialist nation despite a decades-long, genocidal Western blockade.
North Korea: No nation was more decimated by the West, so they had nowhere to go but up. And they did – up until the late 1960s the West was embarrassed by how much smaller North Korea outshined their southern brothers and sisters. Solid growth continued until the Special Period disaster, which lasted a full decade. Despite the endless and enormous war games, (semi-)genocidal blockade, efforts at provoking starvation (North Korea isn’t Cuba, with its well-organised, lush agricultural fields outside of Havana — it’s 80% mountains and only 17% arable land) North Korea has almost always posted solid economic growth prior to ruthless Trump.
The data couldn’t be clearer: the faith-based system of neoliberalism has obviously been led by false messiahs, whereas despite disasters both natural (corona) and unnatural (sanctions, blockades, Cold War, Hot War) socialism has provided more stable economic growth.
Want stability and progress? It’s the socialist-inspired nation-state, stupid.
Trotskyists, of course, are not a huge problem like neoliberal-neoimperial capitalists but a minor part of the obvious solutions.
China was blockaded for decades, but they are a continent – just imagine what the smaller nations could do if the West called off their Cold Wars and didn’t need so spend so much preparing/cleaning up Hot Wars? The answer is obvious: widespread emulation would ensue, spelling the end of Western capitalism-imperialism.
Many smart (semi-)dissidents in the West just can’t break free to get to that point above, sadly – they insist that reformism of capitalism-imperialism is all that is necessary. Nonsense, and unproven.
Similarly: In my lifetime I will wait for the revealing of the Mahdi before I wait for the arrival of Trotskyism’s universal victory – the needs of the nation-state simply cannot wait.
What socialist-inspired politics has always concluded is that a drastic change to the perpetually-busted system I briefly outlined is needed, not yet another bailout for that system’s rich profiteers.
The West’s corona panic led to an immediate rush to bail out their parasitic class with the money of the victims of economic parasitism, yet again. Will the corona bailouts permanently bust the Western system?
Or will the West actually sufficiently bail out their debt-slave citizenry this time? To use a lazy journalistic phrase which I detest: it remains to be seen.
Socialists (of all the different varieties) however, have seen enough.
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.