The G20, whose annual summit is being held in New Delhi this year, is a group of 19 major capitalist powers of the world and the European Union. The member countries are: United States of America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Australia, Turkey and South Korea.
Different member countries assume the role of President of the G20 by rotation every year; and India has held this position since December 2022. Before India, Indonesia held the Presidentship. India will hand over the Presidentship of G-20 to Brazil in December 2023.
Unlike the United Nations, in which all countries, big or small, are members, the G-20 is a group of the economically most powerful countries. This group of countries accounts for about three-quarters of global income as well as global trade and financial flows. It has taken upon itself the mandate to discuss and decide on fiscal and economic policies at the global level.
As has happened in earlier summits, the G-20 leaders will pontificate on major problems afflicting the world during this summit. These include the problems of unemployment, inequality, diseases, war, terrorism, the debt crisis, and environmental degradation. However, the annual G20 summits have not resulted in any move towards solving any of these problems. The reason is because all these problems have their source in the global capitalist system, which is defended by the leaders who attend these summits.
Capitalism, which is at its highest stage of imperialism, is a system in which the world market and sources of raw materials are dominated and controlled by monopoly companies belonging to a few powerful imperialist states. Social production is driven by the greed of monopoly capitalists for maximum private profits. A few imperialist powers set the direction of the world economy, to the detriment of the working class and peoples of all countries.
Each imperialist state acts in the narrow interests of its own ruling class, in competition with others, in utter disregard for the general interests of human society as a whole. At the same time, the imperialist powers are united in preserving the capitalist-imperialist system and in preventing proletarian revolution in any part of the world.
The origin of G-20 lies 25 years ago, in the aftermath of the 1997 global economic crisis. At that time, the seven leading capitalist countries of the world, headed by the USA, which called themselves G-7, decided to include the so-called emerging powers in a forum where economic and financial policies could be discussed so as to sustain the global capitalist system.
Capitalism is not only a system that concentrates wealth at one pole and engenders mass poverty at the other pole; it is also a system which is subject to repeated, devastating crises. These crises destroy a large part of the productive forces and threaten the very foundations of the capitalist system. After what is popularly known as the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the G7 came together to take some urgent policy measures to control the situation. Among other things, they felt it was necessary to include the so-called emerging powers in their formal consultations, in addition to their own exclusive group of seven. This reflected the fact that the relative share of the G7 in global economic output had started to decline, while the shares of China, India and other emerging economies was on the rise.
The creation of the G20 did not in any way mean that global economic policy had become democratic. On the contrary, it was a means to have the economic agenda of the richest and most powerful capitalist-imperialist powers legitimised, by mobilizing the support of a larger number of states.
The creation of G20 has not contributed to resolving the inter-imperialist contradictions. On the contrary, inter-monopoly and inter-imperialist contradictions have sharpened. This can be seen in the war waged by the US-led NATO alliance against Russia over Ukraine. It can be seen in the trade war waged by the US against China. The US openly violates all the internationally accepted principles governing relations between sovereign states. It imposes unilateral sanctions against other countries. Furthermore, on questions of environmental degradation, the US and its allies want to shift the burden onto other countries.
Much is being made by the Modi government about India holding the presidency of the G20 this year. There is a lot of talk about India being able to forge a “consensus” among the group and put forward the interests of the “Global South” (economically less advanced countries). The reality, however, is that the Government of India does not represent the interests of the less advanced countries or of the working people of India. It represents the interests of the Indian bourgeoisie, headed by the monopoly capitalists who are keen to expand their markets, sources of raw materials and spheres of influence on the world scale.
The ruling bourgeois class regards India’s presidency of G20 as an excellent opportunity to advance its own imperialist aims, in collaboration and contention with other imperialist powers. Behind India’s campaign to include the African Union in G20 lies the interests of Indian capitalists to further penetrate the markets of African countries and gain control of precious raw materials in that continent.
While India has emerged as a major capitalist economy headed by monopoly capitalists who are counted among the richest persons on earth, nobody can deny that India is also the country with the maximum number of very poor people. The pursuit of imperialist aims by the Indian bourgeoisie is not going to liberate the crores of people in our country from the insufferable conditions in which they live.
The G20 will not come up with any solution to the major problems that afflict our people and the peoples of the whole world, such as economic crises, unemployment, inflation and destruction of the natural environment. There is no solution to these problems within the capitalist-imperialist system.
No matter how many times Prime Minister Modi repeats the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, there is no possibility of all countries cooperating to serve the general interests of humanity as long as the imperialist system remains intact.
For a solution to the grave problems facing humanity, the rule of the bourgeoisie needs to be replaced with the rule of the working class and other working people. The capitalist-imperialist system needs to be replaced with the socialist system, a system which is oriented to fulfil people’s needs and not to fulfil capitalist greed.