Without grasping the meaning and significance of the objective and subjective conditions of the revolution, together with their dialectical interaction, it is impossible to develop a revolutionary strategy that will lead the working class to victory. The distortions that have emerged, and will continue to emerge, from this question can be lumped into two opposite categories. On one end lies the one dimensional interpretation of the objective condition of revolution, and hence an overestimation of the capacity of the working class for a spontaneous revolt.
When we examine the necessary conditions for a successful proletarian revolution as a whole, we must speak of three principal premises. The first one is related to the general conditions of production across the world. Productive forces must reach a certain level of development that would allow socialism to replace capitalism. Secondly, a class that possesses both the intention and capability to carry out such historical transformation must come into existence. That is to say, the position occupied by the working class in the economy must allow it to launch such a radical change. And thirdly, the working class must be prepared to carry out the revolution. While the first two conditions involve the objective basis for the overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialism, the last one corresponds to the subjective factor of the revolution. In order not to drift towards voluntarism or spontaneity on the question of revolution, one must properly grasp the objective and subjective factors of proletarian revolution.
The main distinguishing feature between reformist and revolutionary tendencies in the workers’ movement lies in the question of whether or not there is will, tenacity and preparedness to heighten the organised class struggle against the bourgeoisie. The idea that capitalist crisis will somehow be followed by a new period of economic recovery, where measures to improve workers’ rights will be back on the agenda, is an utterly pacifist, conciliationist and reformist notion.
The relationship between the economic crises of capitalism and the struggle of the working class should not be interpreted in a mechanical manner. Rather, it must be analysed on the basis of the dialectical relationship between various objective and subjective factors that determine the actual course of events. Economic crisis does not automatically lead to an upsurge of the revolutionary struggle of the working class. The mutual interaction between economy and politics has a much more complex nature. The way workers respond to crisis is determined by various factors such as the political and organisational level of the workers’ movement, its general mood, its determination to combat, or exhaustion. Under unfavourable circumstances, the working class may suffer setbacks in the face of economic crisis, allowing bourgeoisie to heave a sigh of relief.
Capitalist economy inherently contains seeds of crisis. However, it would be utterly erroneous to argue that crises will spontaneously lead capitalism to its destruction. Unless it is overthrown through a revolution of the working class, it can continue to exist, going through new periods of booms and crises. Some assert that the ongoing crisis will mark the end of capitalism. This idea was also put forward during previous crises. While it seems very difficult for capitalism to overcome the deep crisis it is currently engulfed in, and moreover that capitalism becomes weaker with time in terms of overcoming its crises, it would be erroneous to link the collapse of capitalism with the prophecy of a final crisis.
Under conditions of confusion and demoralisation created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, workers’ movement suffered a major setback in terms of the level of class consciousness and organisation. This allowed the world bourgeoisie, which was on the verge of a crisis, to breathe a deep sigh of relief. The capitalist class seized the historic opportunity with both hands, stepping up its neoliberal economic policies that had already been in progress. This represented an all-out attack against the gains made by the working class and plundering of social funds. It was owing to this all-out attack that capitalism secured a temporary recovery throughout 1990s.
In addition to its ordinary working mechanism named industrial cycles, capitalist economy is also characterised by non-cyclical, more prolonged upward and downward fluctuations that involve far more complex factors. This type of fluctuations is nothing more than a combination of different economic and political events capitalism has been through. Such periods of capitalist development, each having its distinctive characteristics, still contain industrial cycles that consist of boom and crisis phases. Therefore, the existence of such long-term fluctuations does not invalidate the Marxist analysis of industrial cycles.
Aside from the reality of periodic crises that break out on the basis of industrial cycles, the changes in the pace of capitalist development over long periods have continuously preoccupied Marxists as well. There have been many debates concerning the fluctuations in the curve of capitalist development that have been identified to occur over the course of decades. In these debates there have been certain conceptions developed in an effort to deepen the understanding of the workings of capitalism, without drifting away from basic tenets of Marxism. But there have also been other interpretations that are at variance with foundations of Marxism, leading to various misconceptions. The analysis of “long waves” that will be discussed below belongs to the latter category. Let us underline an important point to prevent any misunderstanding regarding the target of criticism. To be able to comprehend concrete fluctuations in the curve of capitalist development, it is of importance to analyse long periods with different characteristics. There is nothing to criticise about it. What deserves criticism, however, is the type of “long waves” theory which, in effect, is used in place of periodic long cycles, as seen in the case of Kondratiev.
With the development and spread of the banking system, the work of allocating capital, which had previously been managed by private money lenders and individual capitalists, was taken over by banks that grew on substantial scales. Thus, banking system and credit mechanism became the strongest lever to push the capitalist production beyond its limits. With the utmost intensification and centralisation of capital in the age of imperialism, massive growth of banks and the domination of finance capital, the credit system gained central importance in the workings of capitalism. The need for loans grew incredibly as a result of the fact that capitalist production and trade made colossal progress not only within national borders but also on an international level.
In an effort to escape the fact that economic crises are inherent in capitalism, bourgeois economics has long claimed that crises are completely accidental, resulting from factors such as fluctuations in wages and prices. Yet, such fluctuations are not the cause but the result of the boom-crisis cycle as both wages and prices are generally dependent on the course of economic development. Capitalism contains within itself the possibility of crisis, which manifests itself in the form of overproduction. It is not some incidental factors that play the decisive role in turning possibility into reality, but some fundamental laws inherent in capitalism. The law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall occupies a central position with respect to the outbreak of capitalist crises.
As is known, capitalism is based on generalised commodity production. The fundamental feature of capitalist mode of production lies in the fact that the outcome of the production process is not only the value but also the surplus value. Nevertheless, for a well-functioning economy, producing more surplus value is not enough. It must be realised in the market as well.
In accordance with the dialectics of the process of development, the periods of economic stability feed the self-confidence of capitalists and their ideologists on the one hand, while at the same time they serve as fermentation processes of the problems which would produce the disappointment of the forthcoming period. A concrete example can be given from the present crisis. During the boom period which preceded the last great economic crisis, bourgeois economists constantly proclaimed that capitalism entered a new epoch which would witness an uninterrupted growth.
Despite all its ups and downs, capitalist system displayed a general economic dynamism during the period between the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the 21st century. Following deep crises and the two big world wars which had cost lives of millions, this period of dynamism gave rise to a popularisation of the idea that “capitalist production process has changed its character to a great extent.” Economists proudly announced, with their chests puffed out, that capitalist system had reached enough maturity to overcome crises and entered a new epoch leaving behind all characteristics of the old one.
Capitalism is in a state of deep crisis. This crisis is far from being one of the ordinary crises of capitalist economy. By all evidence it is a deep system crisis of historical importance. Capitalism is at an historical impasse, argues Elif Çağlı in her article. After her booklet titled "Crises of Capitalism and Revolutionary Situation" she explains the nature of capitalism with a special emphasis on the role played by credit mechanism, referring to Marx who made a special emphasis on the role of credits in the workings of capitalist economy. While the credit mechanism helps the system overcome certain problems, it reproduces them on a greater scale. Çağlı makes the point that the credit mechanism as well as other tools used by capitalism is now quite worn out. They have almost completely lost their efficiency in overcoming great crises. Capitalism has also lost its capacity for a great scale transformation and reforms that might save it a new era of freshness and provide the broad working masses a genuine welfare.
Capitalism makes the mankind suffer hell. The reign of a handful capitalists makes billions of people all over the planet suffer in the grip of hunger, poverty and deprivation, unemployment, incredible inequality and injustice, bloody wars, oppression and torture, endless decay and alienation. The only force that can save mankind from this swamp and lead it to socialism is the working class which is said to be “extinct”. The truth is that, the billions who strive to survive through selling their labour force in return for a wage, i.e. the working class, still have nothing to lose but their chains. But they have a world to win!
Under present conditions where the working class has no revolutionary international organisation, there is no other way of struggle than to labour and work out revolutionary Marxist solutions and try to carry them over to international platforms. Therefore it is inevitable to get involved in various experiments to solve the question of international organisation of the working class. It must be kept in mind that all great revolutionary advances could be successful thanks to revolutionary class attitude, which means plunging into actual work without being intimidated by difficulties and daring to experiment.
The struggle for the creation of the international organization of the working class requires intransigence in principles and flexibility in tactics. Neither opportunism pursuing short term so-called political achievements nor sectarianism unwilling to see and accept anything other than its own small organization can be of any use for this struggle. The reality we face today in the issue of building the revolutionary international organization of the proletariat puts very important responsibilities and tasks over the shoulders of the internationalist communists. Those who are self-confident will continue revolutionary efforts in every field undertaking these responsibilities and tasks. Those who are not intimidated will move forward. All big problems in history have been resolved this way.
Although such experiences are pleasing in themselves since they carry forward the mass of the class, they are by no means enough for the working class to break the chains of wage-slavery and achieve freedom. Conditions of emancipation can develop depending on the quality and quantity of the distance taken by workers towards political consciousness and organisation. In this respect, it has a vital importance to make sure that at least the vanguard elements of the class are capable of answering the questions such as “what kind of organisation?” or “what kind of a unity?” in a way to carry forward the struggle.
The importance of theoretical struggle on national question springs essentially from the need to take a correct political attitude based on Marxist foundations in the face of the liberation struggle of oppressed nations. Marxism is not an impressionist or positivist philosophy limiting itself only with interpreting the world, but an integral world view which strives to change the world and develops in an inextricably dialectical relationship with revolutionary practice.
The process of the capitalist development of Turkey is a rather belated process with respect to the West. This historical delay flows from the peculiar socio-economic structure upon which Turkish capitalism developed. For this reason, in order to understand the peculiarities of Turkish capitalism, it is necessary to have an overview of the economic and social history of the Ottoman Empire that forms the historical background of modern Turkey today.
The wave of popular uprisings that started in Tunisia and continued with Egypt embracing North Africa and the Middle East has reached a new phase. Though one needs to analyse the situation in Egypt in the aftermath of Mubarak’s overthrow, there is no doubt that the process of mobilisation of millions and Mubarak’s eventual step-down in itself is already a serious source of inspiration in the eyes of other Arab peoples. New upsurges of mass movement that are taking place especially in Yemen, Bahrain and Libya are a demonstration of this fact. Whatever the short term results of this mass wave of revolt it is clear that there is a new era in this region unfolding and that nothing will be the way as they were so far. The social-political struggles to take place in this region in the period ahead and the kind of regimes to be established will be the focus of attention for revolutionaries as well as bourgeois political realm.