The class struggle continues to play a central role in the process of capitalist accumulation, albeit it takes different forms depending on the socio-economic context. In order to map out the unfolding of the class struggle it is necessary to specify key concepts related to the (a) varied conditionsand dominant sectors of capital in the global economy (b) nature of the class struggle (c) the principle protagonists of class struggles (d) character of the demands (e) mass struggles.
Capitalist accumulation is unfolding in a very uneven pattern with important consequences for the nature and intensity of the class struggle. Moreover, the particular responses by workers and especially the capitalist state to the general condition of the economy has shaped the degree to which class struggle intensifies and which of the two major “poles’ (capital or labor) has taken the offensive.
Conceptual Clarification In analyzing contemporary capitalism, the most striking distinction is between three radically different conditions facing the capitalist system. These include countries experiencing (a) high growth, (b) stagnation, (c) deep crises. High growth capitalist countries are sharply divided between those which are (a) commodity boomers, largely exporters of agro-mineral-energy products, mostly found in Africa and Latin America, (b) manufacturing exporters – largely found in Asia (China, India,South Korea) .
Crises economies can be sub-divided into three groups.
(a) Fast recovery economies include
(b) Slow recovery or stagnant economies, include
(c) Prolonged and deep crises economies, includes Portugal, Spain, Greece, the Baltic and Balkan countries, which are bankrupt, with rising double digit unemployment (between 15% - 20%) and negative growth. They carry a heavy debt burden and are implementing severe austerity programs designed to prolong their economic depression for years to come.
Just as there are uneven patterns of capitalist development, the same is true with regard to the class struggle. There are several key concepts that need to be taken into account in the analysis of class struggle.
First, there is the distinction between ‘class’ and ‘mass’ struggle. In
Secondly, there is the distinction between ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’ class struggles where class organizations either fight to extend their social rights and increase wages or struggle to preserve or limit the loss of wages and living standards.
The class struggle is a two way proposition: while workers and other exploited classes struggle from below, ruling classes and their states engage in class struggle from above to increase their profits, productivity and power.
The class struggle takes various forms. The majority of class struggles today are over ‘economic issues’, including an increasing share of national income. A half decade ago throughout
With these concepts in hand, we cannot proceed to analyze the relationship between countries and regions in varying degrees of crises or growth and their relationship to the varying degrees and types of class struggle.
Uneven Development and Class Struggle The countries experiencing high growth, whether in Asia based on manufacturing or in
Among the most promising signs of the advance of the class struggle are the real and substantial socio-economic gains achieved by workers over the past decade in Latin America.In
Argentina unemployment has declined from over 20%to less than 7%,real wages have risen by over 15% ,the minimum wage,pensions and medical coverage have increased substantially and trade union membership has expanded.Similar processes on a lesser scale have taken place in Brazil:unemployment has fallen from 10% to 6.5%(March2011),the minimum wage has increased over 50% over the past 8 years and several hundred landed estates have been occupied and expropriated because of the direct action of the Rural Landed Workers Movement.In Latin America,while social revolutionary politics have declined since the mid, 2000’s the economic class struggle has been successful in extracting substantial reforms that improve the livelihood of the working class and impose some constraints on neo-liberalism’s rapacious explotation of labor,in sharp contrast to what is occurring in Anglo-America and Southern Europe.
In the stagnant ‘developed’ imperial countries, the state has proceeded to impose the entire cost of the ‘recovery’ on the backs of workers and public employees, reducing employment, wages and social services, while enriching bankers and the corporate elite. The US, England and France have witnessed a sharp class offensive from above which in the face of feeble opposition from a shrinking bureaucratized trade union apparatus has largely reversed many previous social gains by labor. Essentually the struggles of labor are defensive, attempts to limit the roll back but lacking the class political organization to counter-attack reactionary budgetary measures which cut social programs and reduce taxes for the rich, widening class inequalities.The most intense class struggles have taken place in the countries with the deepest economic crises, namely,
And substantial Indian communities,class conflict combines withecological,class,national and ethnocommunity demands. In other words the distinctions drawn earlier between offensive/defensive and economic/political class struggles are fluid, subject to changes as the struggle and its context changes. The dramatic rise of the class struggle in high growth China reflects the growing labor shortages in the coastal regions, the huge profits to a new class of billionaires ,the intense exploitation of labor and the entry of a ‘new generation’ of young workers with alternative options to working in a ‘single plant’. The ‘socialization’ of large concentrations of workers in big plants, in close proximity, facilitates collective action. Sharpening inequalities, especially in light of the rapid growth of super rich capitalists linked to corrupt political officials and unresponsive state controlled trade unionists has led to ‘spontaneous’ class direct action.Tthe radicalizing impact of inflation is evidenced by the outbreak of a large scale strike of truckers in China’s biggest port Baoshan in Shanghai:the workers were protesting rising fuel costs and port fees.According to one report “Chinese officials have warned that soaring prices and rampant inflationofficial corruption pose the greatest threat to Communist Party rule.(Financial Times 4/23-24/11 p1) Politically oriented trade union struggles have recently come to the fore in
Conclusion While on the surface there is a decline of revolutionary political class struggle from below, there is the potential for economic struggles to become political in so far as inflation erodes gains and political leaders fix rigid ‘guidelines’ on wage advances. Secondly, as
 On workers struggle in
 La Jornada 4/8/11 the Bolivian Workers Confederation demanded 15% wage increase. In 2010,
 “Emerging markets inflation surge” (Financial Times) 4/14/2011, p. 1 “
 On Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget compare New York Times 4/13/11 and 2/14/11. The later budget speech emphasizes over $4 trillion in cuts over 10 years largely affecting the social net, a major concession to right wing Republican extremists.
 The Greek workers have organized over 6 general strikes between 2009-2011 see DROMOS (The Road)
 Data compiled from International Labor Organization Reports on Employment 2010-11.
 See All Jazeera Feb – March 2011. On the repressive role of the new military junta see Al Jazeera 4/7/2011.
 Reuters 2/14/11.
 The incapacity of the Arab social movements to take state power repeats a similar problem earlier in the decade in
 On the general strike in
 On the first round of the Peruvian presidential elections and center-left populist winner Ollanta Humala see BBC “
 According to one account “rising labor costs are an issue (in
 On Chinese billionaires see Forbes March 2011. As a result of “a rash of disputes between May and August (2010) employers were hit by strikes or other problems. This resulted in pay raises notably a 30% increase at Foxcomm the Taiwanese manufacturer”. Financial Times 2/16/11, p. 3.
 Correo de Orinoco,
 The general strike of
 Congressman Ryan a Republican has proposed the privatization of social security and the senior health program (Medicare) and a draconian reduction of spending for health care for the poor and disabled. President Obama followed up with his version of regressive social cuts somewhat on a lesser scale but in the same direction. See Obama speech to the American people White House press release April 3, 2011. New York Times April 14, 2011, p. 1.
 Discussions with shop delegates and Luciano Vasapolla, secretary of the militant Italian trade union movement “Reto di communisti”
 On the negative impact of the financilization of capital and military spending on the productive economy see Michael Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall ed The Global Economic Crises (Montreal: Global Research 2010) ESP. Ch. 3, PP. 72-101 and Ch. 9, pp. 181-211.
 For a clear exposition of the relation of imperialism and domestic decay see James Petras and Morris Morley, Empire or Republic? American Global Power and Domestic Decay (New York: Routledge 1995).
The “World Social Forum” and other such “left forums” are mainly speech making opportunities for the chattering classes made up of academics and NGO’ers. In most cases the foundations and sponsors explicitly prohibit them from taking a political position, let alone organize material support for ongoing class struggles. None of the major working class general strikes in Europe, Latin America or
 Despite the demonization of the social and Cultural Revolution in
James Petras is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by James Petras
UK Company Law and Tax Enforcement Is So Bad It’s Almost as if the Government Wanted to Encourage Tax Abuse - UK tax scamming goes mass, abusing the contact and trace program to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.
16 minutes ago