Imperialism & War

Imperialism & WarClausewitz, the German military theoretician, insisted that “war is a mere continuation of policy by other means”. This goes to the heart of the matter. War is merely an extension of the struggle between nations and classes by other means, and the struggle between nations is merely an extension of the competition between the major multinational corporations. 

Capitalism is riddled with war. In a constant struggle over the profits they have extracted from the labour of the working class, the various imperialist powers engage in various forms of armed conflict. The complete domination of US imperialism, which was euphemistically referred to as pax americana, means open conflict between the imperial powers is excluded. Yet, that doesn’t in any way exclude small wars. In fact, the past few years have seen millions of people displaced and dead in conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. 

As long as capitalism remains, as long as competition between multinational corporations remains, so will armed conflict. The Second International in its famous Stuttgart Resolution advocated the use of the crisis brought on by war to further the socialist revolution. That remains the attitude of Marxists to this day. We fight against imperialist wars, but we understand that the only way to finally rid humanity of the misery of war is to rid it of the capitalist system itself. 

On 28 June 1914, two pistol shots shattered the peace of a sunny afternoon in Sarajevo. Those shots reverberated around Europe and shattered the peace of the whole world. This was the beginning of the Great Slaughter. Could it have been avoided? Alan Woods uses the method of Marxism to answer this question. He explains that, actually, whilst individuals play an important role in history, to explain events such as wars, one must look at deeper causes.

At a recent public meeting at Queen Mary University in London (hosted by the Marxist Student Federation), Hamid Alizadeh of marxist.com provided a history of the Kurdish national liberation struggle, looking at how Kurdish fighters have consistently been used as pawns by the imperialist powers in their belligerent games.

In the third episode of IMTV  the International Marxist Television channel, hosted by the UK section of the IMT, Socialist Appeal Francesco Merli provides a Marxist analysis of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

The spectacle of celebrations for the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday 14 May stood in stark contrast with the bloodshed in Gaza, where on the same day, 59 Palestinian demonstrators were killed and more than 2,700 injured by Israeli snipers. As we stated in a previous article, the mass resistance movement by Palestinians in Gaza for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees of 1948, and against the 12-year-blockade by Israel, has been growing despite the harshest repression by the Israeli Army.

In the bourgeois media today, Afghanistan is portrayed only in relation to Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, warlords and drug cartels. While these ills are a sad fact of life in Afghanistan today, that was not always the case. 40 years ago, a revolution almost shook the country out of its backwardness, only to be thrown back after the imperialist-backed, fundamentalist counter-revolution. To understand the current situation in the Middle East, as well as the rise of the reactionary forces, it is necessary to understand the rise and fall of the Saur revolution in Afghanistan in 1978.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the Western response to gas attacks in Syria. Trump, Macron, and May have all been banging the war drums over the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad. But the atrocities in Syria mask the Western imperialists' own role in propping up reactionary regimes in the region and perpetuating a never-ending humanitarian disaster in the Middle East. At the same time, their bellicose rhetoric acts as a useful distraction for these imperialist leaders, who are all facing criticism and opposition back home.

Hamid Alizadeh speaks at a recent meeting of the LSE Marxist society about the political situation in the Middle East, from the Arab Spring of 2011 to the present day. Hamid provides a overview of the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary developments in the region over the past seven years. Today, the focus is on the civil war in Syria and the heroic struggle of the Kurds. But crisis is also brewing in Saudi Arabia, home to the main bastion of reaction in the region. Hamid discusses the processes unfolding in all of these countries, as well as the increasing contradictions facing American imperialism, which is no longer able to play its hegemonic role of the past.

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After all the fuss, noisy propaganda and manoeuvres at the United Nations, the so-called Syrian ceasefire has broken down suddenly, shamefully and irrevocably. In reality it was an abortion that was dead even before it was born.

At the 2017 October Revolution festival in London, Fred Weston discussed the question of imperialism from a Marxist perspective.

This in depth article deals with the horrors that capitalism has inflicted on humanity. In the first part of this article we see the real face of the capitalist class, both its predatory nature on a global scale and its capacity for violent suppression of any mass popular revolt that challenges its right to rule. Some will say, yes but this was in the past; now the system has become more civilised and humane. Recent history shows that this is utterly false.

There has been much confusion on the left about the events that have unfolded in Syria in the past five years, with some supporting Assad as a supposed "anti-imperialist", while others have supported the so-called "Syrian revolution", de facto ending up in the same camp as the western imperialists who support the so-called "moderate rebels". In order to cut though this fog of confusion it is necessary to analyse the nature of the Assad regime, what it was and what it became, and also the process which cut across the initial revolutionary movement of the Syrian youth in 2011, transforming revolution very quickly into counter-revolution. Here we provide a list of the key articles we have

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Niklas Albin Svensson discusses the Marxist perspective on war, analysing the various positions taken by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky in relation to the wars seen throughout the 19th and 20th Century. What is the relationship between capitalism, imperialism and war? What demands should Marxists pose in relation to wars? And what is the perspective for a Third World War today?

In this talk from a 2016 Socialist Appeal day school, Daniel Morley discusses the question of Imperialism - what Lenin described as "the highest stage of Capitalism".

The saying goes that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. To this list we must add diplomacy, which is lying raised to the level of an art form.

As western media overflows with damning images of the atrocities carried out in Syria's Aleppo, the humanitarian disaster in Yemen is being more or less quietly brushed under the carpet. The reason? The west is elbow deep in the Yemeni tragedy.

The recent NATO summit in Warsaw was full of contradiction and tensions between members of the alliance. The fragility of NATO’s power and the instability of world relations were on display for all to see.

At the 2015 Labour conference, shortly after Corbyn’s victory, Labour members voted in favour of a Unite motion to only support air-strikes on Syria if they have United Nations (UN) backing. More recently in the Commons vote to authorise this bombing, in the absence of UN support, Diane Abbott, a key Corbyn ally and Labour left-winger, urged caution, saying that “if some MPs are intent on military action, surely their first step should be to pressure Cameron to obtain some kind of UN resolution?”.

The publication of the Mexican edition of Lenin’s Imperialism, could scarcely come at a more appropriate time. No book has ever explained the phenomena of modern capitalism better that this. All of Lenin’s predictions concerning the concentration of capital, the dominance of the banks and finance capital, the growing antagonism between nation states and the inevitability of war arising out of the contradictions of imperialism have been shown to be true by the entire history of the last 100 years.