With the global capitalist economy shaken to the core and geopolitical rivalry resulting in the disruption of global trade. The situation is turning ripe for the Third Wave of revolutions across the globe. The First Wave was from the French Revolution to Paris Commune (1789-1871) and Second Wave from Bolshevik Revolution to end of Sandinista Revolution of Nicaragua (1917-1979).
The gap between the First and Second waves was marked by the transformation of competitive productive capitalism to monopoly productive capitalism and the tendency of advanced capitalist countries to conquer pre-capitalist societies. Then to turn them into part of the formers’ respective national supply chain.
Similarly, the gap between the Second and Third waves are marked by the transformation of monopoly productive capitalism, to monopoly financial capitalism and the national supply chain is replaced by the global supply chain. Therefore, the revolutionaries need to identify the changes and formulate policies accordingly.
The Second Wave revolutions were mostly led by Marxists-Leninists and by years of experience and struggles have perfected the following steps to carry out the revolutions:
Step 1: Nations to be given the right to self-determination (Finland broke out of the Russian empire after the Bolshevik Revolution)
Step 2: Agrarian land reforms.
Step 3: Appropriation of petty producers (Stalin appropriated kulaks).
Step 4: Massive non-profit planned investment in human capital (education and health); physical capital (infrastructure and heavy industries); digital capital (3rd and 4th industrial revolution made it compulsory).
Step 5: Allow profit motive and market mechanism to take advantage of competitive cheap yet productive labour in the global market (Deng reforms in China and also Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and also North Korea even though slowed down by sanctions).
Step 6: Supply base, per capita income and wage rate have become high enough such that the global market is no longer enough to sustain growth. Hence bring state and state enterprises to start to invest non-profitably but productively to create demand (China under Xi).
In the twentieth century, most countries had feudal relations in agriculture and hence revolutionaries can start from first or second steps. Anti-imperialism, nationalism and land reformation attracted huge number of people to revolutionary parties in the period from 1917 to 1979. In the twenty-first century, we are in a situation where different countries have attained a different level of success in the above six steps under bourgeoisie or revolutionary leadership. As a result, direct imperialist governments are very few in number. Rather within a Third World country one particular ethnic group often dominates generating debate among non-dominant nations whether to form separate nationhood.
Petty producers are abundant in numbers due to lack of employment in modern industrial or service sector. They remain politically important perpetuating inefficiency and low development of productive forces within their respective countries. With the rise of the global supply chain since 1970s capital is globally mobile moving from countries with a higher rate to that with lower wage rate reducing the bargaining power of working-class with a nation to a great extent. The weak working class and strong petty producer class creates an unfavourable condition for revolution in most countries. This is in sharp contrast to the times of the Second Wave revolutions when the working-class despite being small as a percentage of the population had great influence in the production process due to their sheer bargaining power within a nation.
Contemporarily, we need to carefully observe how much Trump’s trade is weakening the global supply chain and if the working class can take advantage of the situation anywhere in the world. Nurturing revolutionary tendencies (the desire of equality among race, nation and gender) and omitting reactionary ones (the desire of privilege in the name of race, nation and gender) must be an important point for conducting the Third Wave Revolutions.
For Latin America, the scope of birth of new nations is very limited. Latin America has attained political freedom in the early 19th century during the Napoleonic Wars of Europe when Spanish and Portuguese governments were completely impotent to counter nationalist revolutions. Different nations gradually evolved thereafter more than a century of struggles. Few countries have done agrarian reforms partially or fully. Being the closest big economy and an important export destination for Latin American countries, the USA can easily create its comprador class and prevent revolutionaries from becoming successful.
Due to its struggle with US imperialism, revolutionaries need support from petty producers. If a country remains weak in the appropriation of petty producers, step 4 i.e., massive investment in basic infrastructure of human capital and physical capital becomes difficult as well. When basic infrastructure remains weak, developing productive forces and moving up the ladder in the global supply chain becomes impossible. Thus raw material export becomes the only source of earning foreign exchange for these countries. Thus the Middle Income Trap becomes permanent.
The rise of China as an important trading partner of Latin American countries is of great help. It is only after China’s economic rise that Western monopsony (monopoly as a buyer) in the global oil market ended by early 2000s. It is then that anti-imperialist forces started coming to power in Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay and Brazil. But ignoring the USA is still largely difficult due to its proximity. This is proved by the fact that US sanctions can destroy the Venezuelan economy once global oil price started to fall in 2013. Therefore, the Latin Americans may face the Middle Income Trap for a few more years until US importance in the global economy is further eroded.
Another important fact is, as the Middle Income Trap will keep GDP per capita stagnant and thus equal sharing of a stagnant income may become an urgent necessity with popular politics. Economic inequality is acceptable only when the entire economy keeps growing. The Middle Income Trap ironically may help revolutionaries from this perspective. Hence we can conclude that the Latin American revolution will be long term, slow and discontinuous.
Managing the petty producers will be an essential part of the revolution. Therefore, economic inequality, gender inequality, race inequality will remain important contradictions. Revolutionaries must seek larger investment in defence and develop productive forces there with the help of anti-US imperialist forces like China, Russia Iran and North Korea. If Latin American revolutionaries can create one military-industrial complex at least to the level of Iran or North Korea, US imperialism will have to concentrate more in its backyard forcing the empire to go down even quicker before the competition from China, Russia and Iran.
Africa is experiencing a high population growth rate and by 2040 will become the only continent that will add people to the global population since all other continents will have more deaths than births. Consequently, Africans will definitely play the most important role in global growth and politics in the coming days. But until now, high population growth has caused a high dependency ratio (more children and aged than those in working age). Therefore growing economically will not be easy for Africa. Other than a few exceptions like Ethiopia, not many countries are showing good growth yet.
Moreover, growth is still highly dependent on raw material exports. Human capital development is still lagging. Currently, the only good news is the Chinese investment in African countries. Physical capital and infrastructures are being created with the help of Chinese investments. It is also helping Africans to reduce dependence on its erstwhile colonial masters of West especially France and USA.
In the Franc currency zone, China has exceeded France as the top investor in several countries. The current French President Emmanuel Macron clearly gave these countries warning against the rise of Chinese influence. In other African countries too the influence of China has risen considerably despite threats from the USA. This power rivalry and high rates of poverty can create a situation of proxy civil war/hybrid wars.
The presence of strong tribal bonds and tribal rivalry can further accelerate the process. Revolutionaries have to work very hard to innovate ways so that they can turn such situations in their favour. Tribal tensions can result in the rise of new nations. Strong pre-capitalist relations can act both as positive agents of revolution as well as negative agents of reaction. Only after managing these, the question of successful development of productive forces can come. That is why the revolutionaries, need a foothold in Africa as the continent is surely the future of mankind.
This region is full of revolutionary potential. India, Bangladesh Nepal and Pakistan from the point of demography can become a stunning story of economic growth. Nepal has already seen anti-kingship/monarchy movements by armed communists. The successful merger of armed communists and constitutional communists and their electoral victory may prove to become a new model for Third World revolutionaries in the coming days.
Many military strategists suggest that Chinese navy can overrun the Indian Ocean by 2025. Thus the Indian ruling class is afraid that India cannot stand before the might of China aggravated by its religious and ethnic divisions. Therefore, the Hindutva fundamentalist regime under Narendra Modi (the BJP Party) was brought to power by the deep state, with the hope of its ultra-conservative and radical approach might ruthlessly suppress minority ethnicities and freedom-seeking nationalities to help India counter the rise of China.
The Hindutva fundamentalists are gradually destroying the liberal democratic institutions of the Indian Republic and further stimulating the ethnic divisions both on religious and linguistic lines. India being a huge country with a lot of resources has been able to plan its infrastructure industries more successfully than most of the other Third World countries despite having no significant agrarian reforms and suppressing many nationalities. Thus India has recorded good growth rate since the 2000s but signs of slowing down are clear now.
India is dominated by the cow belt politically, demographically and hence economically too. Thus non-cow belt ethnicities (significant minorities) are gradually feeling the heat of fascist politics incorporated by the fundamentalist regime of BJP. If communists can organise the national emancipation of non-cow belt ethnicities and use geopolitical rivalry of Indian ruling class, India is definitely an excellent place for a twenty-first-century revolution. The Communist movement is already strong in non-cow belt areas of Bengal, central Indian tribal areas and Kerala in the south. The Indian communist movements until now divided on the constitutional line and armed revolutionary line. But suppression by Hindutva fascist policies they may be compelled to unite.
Pakistan has relatively less ethnic tensions (united by religion), but, without any agrarian reforms and being not so endowed with human and natural resources, the country has a very weak economy. It has been bailed out by IMF 18 times since independence. The Pakistani army and intelligence have won against a former superpower USSR and is now winning against the USA in Afghanistan due to their effective understanding of Afghani tribal mindset. But those geopolitical victories have done little to energise its economy. Further, the Rising Hindutva fascists in India is pressuring Pakistan to continue to invest a lot in defences. Thus Pakistan may be forced to do agrarian reforms and struggle against its feudal and comprador capitalist class. Revolutionaries of Pakistan can take this opportunity.
Bangladesh being a country of mono religious and mono linguist ethnicity can inspire other ethnicities of South Asia to build its own nation-state. Bangladesh had some sort of agro reforms when landowner Hindus left the country in 1947. Its recent economic performance is also quite impressive. It is considered by global economists as one of the future growth centres. But geopolitical problems can derail its economic growth. Already mass migration of Rohingyas due to ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Myanmar has resulted in great number of refugees in Bangladesh. Now the New Delhi Hindutva fascist regime is talking about pushing Muslims of Eastern India into Bangladesh. These will create deep tensions within Bangladesh and ultimately destroy its economy. Thus revolutionaries may capitalise in Bangladesh too, despite the fact that the first two stages are partially complete there.
In South-East Asia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei form one of the ideal cases of capitalist development in the Third World. A Communist party led anti-imperialist guerrilla war forced the British colonial government to accept agrarian reforms and also to form a constitution that allowed right to self-determination. Thus three nation-states gradually came into being amicably after the British left. Successful nation-states and agro reforms led to the fast development of these countries.
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are market socialist states and are showing considerable growth. These countries have the potential to grow almost five times in the next two decades than what they are now. Other economies which have the same potential of success if it incorporates the socialist way and they include the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia. All of them until now are showing average growth between 3 and 5 percentage. They are mainly raw material exporters and rely on the static comparative advantage of cheap labour. They have few agrarian reforms, their planned investment in infrastructure is weak and hence their chance to develop productive forces using global market is limited. Unfortunately, under the present capitalist leadership, they are destined to fall into a middle-income trap like Latin America.
Thailand, on the other hand, is already under this trap. Question of national determination is important in each of these states. Indonesia recently faced West Papuan nationalist protests, Thailand has separate nationhood seeking Muslim majority provinces in its south. Many different ethnicities are in conflict with the Myanmar government in its northern and eastern borders with China and India respectively.
The Philippines has a Muslim rebel province and has a long history of the communist guerrilla movements. Indonesia also had the third-largest communist party in the world which was destroyed by the comprador capitalist ruling class. It can be argued that the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia can see revolution if properly managed. But one point must be remembered, due to proximity to China, these economies will have greater chance to grow. As China will try to move up the ladder of the global supply chain, lower-end production will shift to these economies. Thus the middle-income trap may not be as severe in these countries as in Latin America.
The West (North-America and Western Europe)
Record numbers of people are now supporting socialism in the USA but the Western working class will remain in a dilemma. As the Third world especially China is raising its productive forces by taking advantage of cheap labour, the Western working class has to compete with Eastern cheap labour. Thus there is a rising fascist trend among the Western working class to blame the global supply chain and development of China. Large migration from the Third World also is making working-class anti migrants. Hence fascists are scoring political success.
How can revolutionary leadership of the West tackle this?
Western revolutionaries must propagate the fact that if all Third World countries can raise their productive forces like China, their people will have less incentive to migrate to the West. So helping Third World countries to grow like China is the duty of the Western working class. To protect the latter from the ill effects of the global supply chain, revolutionary leadership must support barriers on the global flow of capital and goods.
But how can Third World develop then?
Third World needs Western capital and market to earn foreign exchange with which it buys and learns superior technology. Western revolutionaries must provide new economic schemes by which free superior technology can be given to the Third World. This will help the Western working class to avoid the pains of the global supply chain as well as keep upgrading productive forces of the Third World.
Evidently, the global economy will lose in the form of reduced efficiency but the gap between the Third World and West in terms of productive forces and hence wage rate will be reduced. Once this happens, the global working class will gain the upper hand as global capital cannot migrate from higher-wage countries to lower-wage countries any more. Besides this, the Western working class needs to address reallocation of wealth from profitable but unproductive asset trading to productive but not profitable state-led spending.
The Third Wave revolutionaries will learn a lot from the experience of the Chinese Communist Party. The party line of raising productive forces of China to the level of First World as primary contradiction has been proved to be perfect. The party has also perfected the model of development. It is also fighting US hegemony on the following front: Ideologically against liberal democracy and racism; Economically by forming multilateral institutions like Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank, New Development Bank and the Belt Road Initiative; Militarily by strengthening the Chinese army and navy.
The global revolutionaries must also learn how the Chinese Communist Party manages a vast private sector and keep the capitalist class under control while allowing the full spirit of money motivation. These control mechanisms must be understood elaborately. Only then the Third World can develop its productive forces fast and reduce the gap with the First World. China is now developing Globalisation 2.0 where Belt Road infrastructure investments are becoming the main driver of global demand in sharp contradiction to Globalisation 1.0 where the US asset trading market was driving the global demand. In fact, this is the leading front of socialism versus capitalism. President Trump’s trade war is already leading decoupling of US-Chinese economies. This will only sharpen the competition between the two versions of globalisation.
Russia and Eastern Europe
The Russian revolutionaries must learn from China and revalue the success and critic of Stalinist USSR. Russian revolutionaries must declare de-Stalinisation was a wrong policy. Similarly, changing the Communist Party role from the vanguard of the advanced working class to vanguard of mass was a mistake too. Glasnost prescription of dismantling dictatorship of the Communist Party was among the biggest mistakes. Above all, claiming a planned economy as a socialist mode of production must be rectified.
The Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong’s critic of Stalin mainly dwells on the fact that planning is part of the superstructure and not base. Hence in socialism, mode of production was still commodity production just like capitalism. Russians must also learn from Deng the importance of the market in allocating resources to what consumers want and the role of private entrepreneurship for innovating new products and identifying comparative advantage.
Since private entrepreneurship must be given a role, advanced working-class dictatorship (control that limited the negative effects of crony/opportunistic capitalism) is even more necessary to keep the capitalist class under control. Russia under Gorbachev brought private enterprise and dismantled communist party dictatorship simultaneously. Thus big capitalist oligarchs got full control of the production and political process. This prevented Russia from having good effects of market and individual entrepreneurship.
The former socialist countries are already recording major voices in favour of its socialist past. Anger against oligarchies, weak economy and emigration gives the communists in Russia a great chance to come back to power. But before that, they need to rectify the above four mistakes done by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Rest of East Europe can then follow Russia as well.
West Asia (Middle-East), Central Asia and North Africa
From Afghanistan to Morocco lies the arid region with few agro centres. Its pre-capitalist society mainly consists of tribal, animal husbandry merchants and farmers. Typical feudalism is not very prominent in this region. Thus the scope for land reformation other than Egypt and Iraq is really weak. Oil supply and high oil rent since the 1970s have made modernising forces even weaker.
Since 1979, we have seen the rise of Islamic politics in Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq that has vitally changed the region. Sometimes Islamic movements supported imperialism, sometimes opposed it. The success of Iran in science, technology, sports and geopolitics clearly shows we need to study these revolutions with a lot of concentration. The victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan against the USA may represent yet another success in the coming years.
In some cases, communists have become strong forces like in Iraq, Turkey and autonomous Kurdistan of Syria. But they are very insignificant when compared to the rise of Islam. With low birth crisis hitting the industrial world in the coming days, the politics of Islam may become even more powerful. This region is developing on its own dynamics with its distinct history and geography. We need to stimulate anti-imperialist tendencies among Islamists which is clearly there among those in Afghanistan and Iran.
If another crisis hits the US economy which is highly likely, the US financial market will be even less important in driving the global demand. Socialist model of Chinese Globalisation 2.0 will start to dominate. Strategists say that China can already defeat the USA in the Indo-Pacific theatre and by 2025, the Chinese navy will be strong enough to flush out the US navy from the Indo-Pacific region. It is then that US soft powers that will start to evaporate and many countries across the globe will fall into crisis.
The Chinese economic growth created a high price of raw materials and thus many Third World countries enjoyed its fruits. But as the Chinese growth is moderating raw material price is falling and thus hurting many Third World countries economically. The global flow of capital will also fall further after the coming crisis (already falling since 2008 crisis) making it impossible for many countries to finance current account deficit.
Thus many economies will be in tatters. Among them, the USA, Russia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia may see a rise of revolutionary politics. While in the USA, the main problem for socialists is to divert resources from Wall Street and Pentagon to infrastructure and household, in Russia it is self-reliance of the economy and destroying the power of the oligarchs that should be taken care of.
With the Chinese growth moderating, mankind needs a new region of high growth. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia can lead the world in this prospect only if they go through a successful revolution. While economic crisis can force Pakistan to go for anti-feudal and anti comprador capitalist class revolution, it is a geopolitical crisis that can break Bangladeshi ruling class.
For India and Indonesia, economic crisis, ethnic tensions and geopolitical contradictions with rising China together can create an ideal situation for revolution. Right to self-determination of nations will be the most important condition for revolutions in India and Indonesia. The First Wave succeeded only in West Europe and partly in the Americas. The Second Wave succeeded in non-Western World. But Third Wave has chances to succeed both in Western countries like the USA as well as in Third World countries like India.
Yes, the Third Wave will be even more successful than Second Wave just as the latter was more successful than First Wave. Progress is inevitable.