THE MAIN ENEMY IS IN OUR COUNTRY (Karl Liebknecht, 1916)
In 1845, Marx and Engels wrote that: “Big industry universalised competition […] it established means of communication and the modern world market, subordinated trade to itself, transformed all capital into industrial capital, and thus produced the rapid circulation (development of the financial system) and the centralisation of capital. By universal competition it forced all individuals to strain their energy to the utmost. It destroyed as far as possible ideology, religion, morality, etc. and where it could not do this, made them into a palpable lie. It produced world history for the first time, insofar as it made all civilised nations and every individual member of them dependent for the satisfaction of their wants on the whole world, thus destroying the former natural exclusiveness of separate nations. It made natural science subservient to capital and took from the division of labour the last semblance of its natural character. It destroyed natural growth in general, as far as this is possible while labour exists, and resolved all natural relationships into money relationships. In the place of naturally grown towns it created the modern, large industrial cities which have sprung up overnight.”
That’s why, Marx and Engels also write that big industry “created everywhere the same relations between the classes of society, and thus destroyed the peculiar individuality of the various nationalities”.
Three years later, referring to the role of the bourgeoisie in history, they point out the following: “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere. […] In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes.
In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image”.
The descriptions of Marx and Engels for the era of the mid-19th century, taken literally, are of course false. The emerging capitalist production relations, as dominant relations within the socio-economic formation, were limited mainly to certain countries of continental Europe and in the American north, while the vast majority of the world was dominated by pre-capitalist societies. However, today these descriptions are absolutely true, to be considered a mere commonplace. Modern capitalist globalization is the full realisation of Marxism’ predictions.
Certainly Marx and Engels were not endowed with supernatural abilities. Their great far-sightedness was due to the fact that, having a materialistic vision of history and a scientific analysis of capitalism, they managed to distinguish phenomena manifested from the 19th century as basic features that would be the inevitable future of the world. What they highlighted in their analysis is that the determining factor is the global market, which determines the nation-state, and this scientific finding was the materialistic and realistic basis of their internationalism.
Marxist analysis concluded that the two key and interrelated contradictions that characterise capitalism are the contradiction between the social character of production and the private form of appropriation of the surplus produced and the contradiction between the world market and the nation state.
These contradictions are revealed with an evident way during the inevitable periodic crises that are due to the law of the falling rate of profit, which is inherent in capitalism and shows the limits of capitalist accumulation since: “The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself. It is that capital and its self-expansion appear as the starting and the closing point, the motive and the purpose of production; that production is only production for capital and not vice versa, the means of production are not mere means for a constant expansion of the living process of the society of producers”.
The crisis is the Achilles’ heel of capitalism, against which the bourgeoisie is basically powerless. It has no final solutions, because it itself is the problem. It is a fragmented class because of competitive conflicts and disputes, in which in order to cope with it can only be based on the states that has inherited from the past, maintain the "national characteristics" and defend "national interests". The nation is a particular historical construction that fulfills a special social mission: the creation of the nation state as of a specified area of economic and political domination of the bourgeoisie. The nation is the community of the capital, the nation state is the bourgeois state and the homeland is the territory of the bourgeoisie.
The global economy is hinged on an international chain of division of labor and on a states-pyramid, which consists a single organic unity. The inequality regime that exists between countries reflects the inevitable imbalance of the global economy. Within this international grid are manifested frictions, rivalries and conflicts between countries for the redistribution of global surplus for the interests of the relevant national bourgeoisie, which in their attempt to claim their own share they employ the nationalist ideology to establish their internal front associating the subordinate classes. The bourgeoisie is trying to resolve the crisis primarily by the depreciation of the value of labor and capital that cannot survive the competition. Within the circles of the long development of capitalism, which is the time measure of its global spread, the wheel of periodic crisis leads in conducting world wars for the redistribution of markets, the massive destruction of surplus capital and people in order to resume a new cycle of capital accumulation.
National ideology is the political key point for the general military mobilisation of subordinate classes for the benefit of bourgeoisie interests, which are put forward as national interest. Globalization of capital goes beyond nation states without destroying them, precisely because the political and social unification of humanity is in contrast to the narrow and conflicting interests of the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, the proletariat has the same interest in all nations.
Here lies the superiority and its great advantage over the bourgeoisie and for this can turn over power relations if it is based on a revolutionary strategy. The final appeal of the "Communist Manifesto" ("Proletarians of all countries unite"), is not a sentimental or a moralistic encouragement. It is the rotational axis of the revolutionary strategy resulting from the materialist conception of politics.
The break of the bourgeoisie only becomes unbridgeable in special circumstances, during the manifestation of gigantic imbalances which capitalism helps creating with regularity. Proletariat can utilize the advantage of bourgeoisie decomposition, during the conditions that it breaks out, only when it will be able to appear and act united, belonging to an international revolutionary division of labour, hitting its opponent into his own country.
That is why the proletarian revolution is national regarding to its form and universal as to its content. It requires the international struggle of the working class of each country against its own bourgeoisie. That is why the brightness of the internationalist strategy eventually sums up to one sentence:
“The main enemy is in our country”.
(Translated by greek)
Source: Enzymo The Enzyme – For a classless society, No 5, Athens, autumn 2015, p. 84-67. https://www.engymo.wordpress.com