Extensive analysis of the capitalist world system, inter-imperialst rivalries and war in the current epoch from a 'bordigist' perspective written in 2001.
Let’s see which kind of a war would be the USA’s possible next one, whereby huge military credits are approved and far away countries are given orders and strategic dictates. It’s not only a conjectural war because it is already happening as a close continuation of the two world wars. After all it’s the completion of gathering together a huge and destroying strength in an ultimate centre of domination and defence of the current class-regime. Such processes may develop even without an open war between the USA and Russia, if the latter’s vassallage could be secured by bringing the former’s prevaling economic forces to bear on it, instead of with military means. However, the fact is that the bullyings of the European aggressors in history, who scrambled for a province or town within cannon-shot, are laughable in the face of the brazenness of those debating publicly – and it’s easy to deduce what kind of plans should be the secret ones – if the safety of New York and San Francisco is best defended on the Rhine or on the Indus, on the Alps or on the Himalaya. The United States conquerors’ vital space is a belt running around the world (See "Aggressione all’Europa" [Aggression upon Europe] Prometeo 1949).
Politics, terrorism and war
When it first happened, we immediately situated the attack against the USA and their ensuing military reaction within a historical span comprising linked events of one process. That’s why we handed out a leaflet with the same title, when the USA attacked Afghanistan last October 7th .
Defining something is always a risky operation, since in the field of complex phenomena there is always something escaping the logic either of classification or grouping. Notwithstanding, we use (without hesitation) the word "war" in a strict sense to define the deeds of 9/11, even if they aren’t usually given that meaning, as we’ll see. It’s a war, not "terrorism", because we’re not facing a bilateral confrontation between the USA (the open society, civilization, etc.) and their enemies, but with an inter-action, with events happening "as a function of", in a scenario encompassing the whole world, where no State and no lobby imagines their interests aren’t at stake. It’s a war, because militarism is no longer particular to the military, to armies and their chiefs, to Frederick the Great or Napoleon; nor is it particular as well to that of the satirical columns of some socialist journals which at the outbreak of world war one represented cannon-mouthed and bullet-toothed fat capitalists smashing skin-and-bones proletarians. Now more than ever all society is militarized, when it is falling out of control and needs to be deeply controlled in all its parts. Finally, it’s a war because, as nobody can marshal troops against the USA, so nobody can compete with the in-depth militarization of their imperialism. And you must never fight an enemy on his own ground, as everybody knows.
Therefore, we’ll only hint towards bin Laden, the "Twin Towers", the Pentagon, even to the war in Afghanistan, simply dealing with them as items of a wider process. It’s useless to pay attention to particulars that moreover come to us through an information system "embedded" in what we are analyzing: it would be like putting our observation-point inside the thing being observed, which is always something better not to do. The chronicle has to be read with one rationale, now more than ever, when mass-communication is a weapon, just like aircraft carriers, missiles and troops: to try to understand which is the material subsoil where these deeds take their roots and above all what is to happen accordingly.
First of all, it’s useful to make it clear we won’t go into a political debate, which is totally alien to us. We don’t support Hutchinson’s thesis of the clash of civilizations, or else Fukuyama’s "End of history"; we aren’t going to deal with Eco’s "professorial" and "unbiased" theses, nor with Fallaci’s violent outpourings of what the petty-bourgeois think but daren’t say; we won’t discuss extensively if we’re coping with an aberration of Islam, nor waste our tears worrying if western democracy is going to the dogs in the face of the required war-time measures; it doesn't matter if torture is to be officially sanctioned at middle-class America's will, or else if instead of a local therapy there will be a global prophylaxis; if the satellite spy-network "Echelon" is grabbing political rather than commercial information; or if mankind is being infiltrated by commandos of imperialistic intelligence agencies. All of the above is a matter we leave willingly to "public opinion".
Analyses and verifications
We live in a world which isn’t discrete but continuous, which doesn’t obey linear laws but chaotic and complex ones, which can’t be described, like the media does, event after event, personage after personage, where the titles in capital letters of the various bigwigs’ comments are more important than an historical clash between competing imperialisms. Sure, history is studded with landmarks, but they don’t stand in a straight line, they lay out like nodes in a network instead. That’s why the most careful historians have noticed that history as such is an illusion, and that they indeed make it , by creating conventional sequences of facts, set in a certain, subjective order. By the way, this is one of the reasons why our school mocked those who used to draw their great analyses from the latest newspapers. You can’t find out the laws of social development this way, nor understand something like 9/11; where it comes from, and where it is leading to.
We know communists are blamed for not having made any predictions with their materialist method. We'll forget about criticizing this ideological silliness and simply stay at the level of the empirical facts. Just to mention only some of them that matter today, we say that: 1) capitalism can’t tolerate old modes of production and the ideas that reflect them, so tends to destroy them and to shape the whole earth according to its needs; to obtain this, rather than equalize world development to that of the countries of the old accumulation, it can’t help bringing about a relative over-population massively larger than is useful to capital for its valorization; 2) this fact, that others call globalization and we call imperialism, stirs up the need of a more and more in-depth control of the economic processes, earlier within the national territories (fascism, keynesianism, stalinism), later over the whole earth; this obviously provokes local reactions both in the countries from where globalization has started and in the countries where it has recently arrived: laissez faire capitalism is going to die out, even if seemingly this isn’t so; 3) along with this process, competition among states is becoming more and more fierce, and an increasingly lower number of states control the world; the states that won’t be won will be bought (as our school was saying of the USSR, which we defined as capitalist, when most people believed it was a socialist country); 4) the march of communism can’t be stopped: even if the counter-revolution works, it is forced to work for us (as Engels pointed out while the Prussian army was marching towards Paris in 1870); it does so in its way, but in this way it writes off problems the future revolution would run into otherwise.
As soon as we deal with events from a different viewpoint than the bourgeois one (which again and again the bourgeois themselves have to do while trying to understand these events ), we can see that every matter the marxist current has dealt with, has an experimental verification. Particular and local facts may happen either in one fashion or another, a war may burst out in such and such country, local balances between states and bourgeoisies may be upset, a corrosive peace destroying more resources than a war may drag on. Contingent facts and their predictions are meaningful only within the overall process of the becoming of this society, which shed light on them.
As early as when Marx lived, it was evident England was already decaying, as he himself pointed out, and that the USA would take over, exactly like in the past centuries, when imperialisms were ousting one another. This is a prediction we all can verify in the facts, and allows us to ask the same question: who’ll take over from the USA? The answer also implies what will take over from the domination of the strongest and unrivalled imperialism; will it be a defeat of the USA by an imperialism to come (or by two or more allied imperialisms)? The Russia-lovers would have easily bet that the USSR was going to win the race, whether in a peaceful competition or in war. Instead we were persuaded that the real clash wasn’t going to break out between the USA and USSR, as they weren’t competitors at an economical level, but it would have happened among the same actors of World War Two, without any winner of the race toward imperialistic gigantism in the long term. The point we called the "crisis of the decreasing outputs" had already been reached, the same that can also be called "historical diminishing of the relative increment rates" in industrial production. As it should be known, this is the index showing the tendential decrease in the rate of profit, which made it clear that the increment rate wasn’t going to last so long as to allow any country to reach the previous advance of the USA and their power. Therefore, there couldn’t have been the century of the Russian or Chinese imperialism, nor of any other country.
The roman empire, when it didn’t have any more foes to worry it, became its own enemy: capitalism is a live and active social form, and like all living beings has grown, developed and will die. Today, after conquering the world, it no longer has the vital force to produce a new capitalism, more powerful and globalized than the US one, a more modern one able to assimilate to itself the whole world. We’re at the apex, at the last phase that is going to put an end to all phases, right now the biggest contradiction of capital is capitalism itself. In short, there won’t be seven daughters from Brasil, Chinese coke won’t be drunk, 95% of the films we’ll see won’t be from India, and the European "Big Mac" never will be eaten, just to mention some countries economically developing and demographically strong.
War won’t be waged on a frontline of typical arrays, but will be intestine to the dying imperialisms. It’s what is happening: to use Lenin’s well-known image, mankind-larva has died and the new chrysalid, a higher living form, is getting ready to fly away after destroying the cocoon.
This is the situation where a force pinpointing the USA as an enemy to strike has taken shape, so daring as to challenge their power by knocking down their main military and commercial sites. This force is organized as a network so that, when a node is hit, the rest of the framework is safe, and looks, with its mass of capital and mode of functioning, like a rapacious multinational corporation. Who there is inside or behind this organization, if single men, states or interests, doesn’t matter. The point is that it has been born from the apparatus of imperialism itself as its legitimate creature while the latter was trying to adapt itself to a non-traditional war. The paradox is striking: "traditional" war is dead long before and a new type of war has already become traditional, the same that was earlier deemed as "atypical". This one has replaced the frontal clash of armies, navies and airforces, but is much more efficient at facing the senile crisis of imperialism, being able to infuse it with new oxygen in the accumulation cycles.
You can’t simply say: "There are terrorists hating Americans because of their misdeeds!"; "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind!"; "Neither with the terrorists nor with the USA!". And so on with the commonplaces.
Four big airliners, fully fueled because of their faraway destinations, real flying bombs, were accurately choosen to be hijacked at the same time and used against meaningful symbols of power, so as to cause an unprecedented disaster to the USA. To obtain this, you need many things: the backing of a logistics made up of many items; several months activity; hundreds of persons willy-nilly involved therein; a great deal of money; and above all a series of activities that couldn’t help setting off some alarms in the network of the intelligence of several countries. Herein we won’t deal with the technical oddities, with the four airplanes hijacked without an alarm, with the attack certainly attributed to a specific organization almost immediately, with the freakish details such as the finding of an Arab-language flying manual, whereas even a coffee-pot manual is by now in English. We’re going to deal instead with this military action in the heart both of Washington and New York and with the similar bombings to come somewhere else in the world, which all belongs to one war, which didn't just begin, obviously, on 9/11.
Those attacked and the attackers
When did this war start? But is it so important to look for its beginning as though we were writing a school-book? Since capital has become a huge repository into which single capitals stream and act as a nameless and indistinct force that is able to put gigantic investments into motion, the single capitalist has been swept away, he is no longer useful. In his place it has been necessary to build forms of international control, legislative and executive apparatuses that could measure up to the needs of a capital of such social power as we can see now. But frontiers still exist, bourgeoisies are still divided into nations, which contradicts the internationalization of capital. It was unavoidable that the bougeoisie of the strongest country should take upon itself the task of directing the world traffic of capitals. And one is an incorrigible daydreamer, if one thinks that it's possible that someone won’t pursue both his own interests and those of his country while accomplishing it.
No private bourgeois can enforce the law, which should be firm and mandatory for all, and instead is often infringed; so the modern State was created. It isn’t above the classes, but the tool of a certain class; if this class is by now superfluous, the State becomes the main tool of capital. The latter would have no advantage in using more states, whether in competition or in league: it would rather use one of them, the most powerful and efficient at controlling the cycle of production of surplus-value going on. That’s why economical and social control inside the frontiers, so vital in the 30’s, has gone beyond them. And it continues being strict class control, apart from slogans such as no to globalization and for fair and stable commerce. Besides, capitalism itself was born global and imperialistic: imagine Venice and the other sea Republics arising and developing through exchanges between them and their close neighbours! And try and imagine any of those early imperialisms developing without waging war both against the Turks and among themselves!
War and society divided into classes are complementary to each other. In the overall process leading mankind from primitive communism to its developed form, it can’t be said if the former spring out of the latter or vice versa. So, war has stirred up the development of these societies, and has contributed mostly to forward the much-worshipped idol of progress. But since capitalism has developed sufficiently and given rise to the modern world market (imperialism), war isn’t any more an event building nations nor an event settling quarrels between nations, yet it remains a regulating item at the disposal of international capital in order to enforce its rules, obviously on behalf of the strongest countries. Once the eve of the colonial conquests is over, as well as that of the conquest of the territory-bound markets, now, in the age of so-called globalization, that is of generalization of capitalism and the world market, the struggle occurs for the sharing out of the surplus-value which the proletariat of all zones has produced. That’s why the USA needn’t physically conquer a territory they control, it’s enough for them to have a firm grip on the flow of capital, that is, the flow of goods, the flow of values. That’s why, as we’ll see, it’s wrong to think the USA unleashes wars for oil in the same way as wars for colonies were unleashed. The function of oil is only one of transfer of value.
Therefore, modern war hasn’t any more as its main objective the conquest of a physical entity (a territory, a population, some resources, safe frontiers, etc.), but the conquest of value flow which allows capitalism development or even its survival in the belligerent countries. Most of the people of the world, the Japanese included, are persuaded that Japan attacked the USA at Pearl Harbor, which is certainly true, if we only look at who bombed who. But, before that attack, there was an embargo that was choking Japanese economy, and earlier Japan expanded so widely as to endanger the expansion the USA had accomplished over the Pacific to the detriment of Spain. Bombing had to be the necessary outcome of a long process, where looking for who attacked whom, is nonsense.
In a context like this (that now is by far more intricate because of capital’s very swift and complex movements) it’s evident that all the population of the belligerent countries are directly involved in war. A government’s economic manoeuvres, for instance the Maastricht parameters by the EU, are performed so that all society is involved, first of all the producing class; it is studied in order to improve Europe competition against the other competitors in the world, who are the target of a real act of war. If, as Clausewitz says, war is nothing other than the continuation of politics by other means, it’s clear that, when the economical manoeuvre escalates into a bomb dropping, the population, exactly like before, will be involved in the bombings. There is no longer a difference between fighters and civilians. An open war is waged as well by blocking the enemy’s communications and factories, that is by bombing them, killing workers therein, destroying cities and terrifying the population, which becomes a heavy logistical problem, with the wounded, homeless, refugees, and starving to care about. Since World War Two onward, the civil population has become a target, an item to study on the way to victory, as well as all other parameters.
In that case: Washington and New York as an act of a war that doesn’t start today, and won’t have an end with an act of reprisal.
Structure and idle chatter
Going back to the question: "when did this war start?", we may answer: when capitalism started. Or else, when a remarkable movement of capitals through oil rent started. It depends on how we want set the problem. If we want to study it in the context of the formation of imperialism in order to understand how it reacts, we have to start with the trasformation of mercantilism into capitalism. If we want to understand US imperialism specifically, we have at least to go back to the colonial nature of the original settlements of white populations in those lands, to the early need for wide-spread settlements to the West and South, to the need to control the two oceans and the lands overseas. If, finally, we want to understand who is bin Laden, where he comes from and why he is involved in the attack on the USA, we have to take into consideration that capitalism, at its top, has surely made capitalists useless, but hasn’t abolished private property, and so has to transfer a part of the profit, that is of the produced surplus-value, to rent. Since most of the oil lies in the subsoil of countries where Islamic peoples live, they have viewed that mass of surplus-value as their untouchable property. As if oil and surplus-value were the same thing. We don’t speake of trifles: the world consumes about 30 billion barrels of oil a year, which, on the basis of the september price, amounts to 800 billion dollars. These populations have only the crumbs, most of the rent is being "employed" through the western bank system, that, in turn, employs it in the overall surplus-value production. Oil is constant capital, an essential one, like raw material and (other sources of) energy, to form the profit rate: in a period when the latter is going down and little variations of a fraction of a point up or down are viewed as "boom" or "recession", it can be understood that the control of oil rent becomes vital. All that counteracts the fall of the profit rate is vital to imperialism: constant capital value reduction; increase in the exploitation of the working class; lowering of wages; increased competition among workers; widening of the world market; extremization of financial means. The above list is the same that Marx drafted in the relevant chapter of the third volume of Capital.
Therefore, in our discourse about war these all are pertinent: The general nature of capitalism, its peculiar phase of imperialism, and any possible breakdown of balance as regards main sources of energy for creating surplus-value.
Usually, when we make such statements, our critics rise up blaming us for being abstract and never coming to the point: they want us to tell them what has really happened and first of all what is to be done against imperialism and for the oppressed masses. Now, inside the existing system, it’s always possible to find something "to do"; there is room; for instance, for a good committee against the intervention in Afghanistan, a united demonstration, a debate among political forces, etc. But war is precisely one of those situations that erase any nuances: either you bind yourself within this space or jump out of the system. All the rest is a great lot of chatter that pours out of the parliaments and parallels and amplifies their parliamentary cretinism.
We're bothered a lot by such a passive way to put the questions, since this means dealing with the problems on the terrain of the mainstream ideology. We’ve read a great lot of leaflets about the current war. They are texts reflecting the work of generous militants whom, unfortunately, decades of pseudo-revolutionary commonplaces have mislead. Let’s take one randomly: "War Against War"; it’s a fine title, synthetic, both concise and immediate, and accords with what the Italian workers’ movement was writing in World War One. Here is another one: "Fight without faltering against the war"; a really "leninist" slogan. Except for the fact that it’s lacking something essential: a factual content; it lacks any link to the material reality of the facts. So, the exhortation to be factual would boil down to making statements without a practical content. "War Against War" and all the same slogans, if words have a sense, not only a rhetorical effect, means at least organizing an international strike while trying to stop the bombers, it needs either persuading or constraining soldiers not to embark, that is to desert, it needs to reply to the governments’ obvious reactions, with an escalation looming as a civil war. This is what Lenin said, isn’t it? But during World War One, there was in the biggest countries a strong proletarian movement, well organized and lead by class parties, that, even if they were largely avowedly reformist, we can’t even imagine now. Today, there is only petty-bourgeois shit warmongering, or else hypocritical pacifism. At the time, certain slogans had a factual sense, and could be exhortations to effectively organize strikes, defeatism, etc. Today, impotent sloganeering should be avoided, at least a minimum of empirical understanding should be shown while assessing the gravity of the situation and what are the real ratios of force; even if it isn’t quite understood what has effectively happened in New York and Washington or else what is happening in Afghanistan and elsewhere where the war is certainly developing in a latent way.
The problem is not of the Americans, who know well how to reply. On the contrary, what has happened is fine for them, since it allows them to act all over the world without giving account to anyone. The problem is not even of the so-called oppressed islamic masses, who in their way react against imperialism, often arms in hand, unifying themselves under a religion, even if the belligerent bourgeoisies manoeuvre and use them as partisans. The true problem is ours, of the western proletariat. The problem of imperialism can be solved only in the context of revolution, not by the islamic masses or of another faith, but here, where the two sole factors of revolution exist: the non-stop production of surplus-value more that encreasingly strengthen the social forces of production, and the programme forged by the past revolutions. The masses of the third or fourth world must join the western proletariat, because it’s here that the breakdown of imperialism from the inside will happen, the one condition for revolution to win, the one, without fanciful alternatives.
Imperialism and vital space
While there’s social peace in the west and passivity among the populations which are becoming increasingly impoverished (apart from hotbeds like Palestine), on 9/11 someone hijacked four airplanes, flew one into the Pentagon and two into the most symbolic skyscrapers in the world in New York. Once again, long after England’s attack in 1812, the USA have again to lament thousands of civilian victims on their own land owing to a military action. The evidence of an international network and not of "private" people having planned this action highlights the military side. And, like in the past, an act of war becomes a factor of further war. How come the USA needs to wage a war? They already control the world. Now, a country’s need of war, expansion and control can’t be measured on the terrain of ideas but facts, put into motion in spite of ideas. During the mid-1800's the USA took away a territory almost the size of Europe from Mexico within seven or eight years with a fully aggressive war. Yet, they didn’t "need" it, having immense spaces still to explore; by the way, they had just managed to reach the Pacific coast overland. On 1898, the sinking of the battleship "Maine" gave occasion for waging a war against Spain and taking away Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines . Yet, even then the US didn’t "need" to conquer the Pacific materially; the Monroe Doctrine had established long before that the Americas were the USA’s space of conquest. And effectively all those lands were a privileged market to the new rampant imperialism. It takes little to link the facts: it’s from there that the USA have made their way to Europe, Japan and ... Afghanistan.
In 1915, the passenger ship "Lusitania" incident (Germans had sunk it because it was loaded with arms, after their warning not to depart had been ignored) brought the USA to the edge of war, but they prefered to intervene in 1917, when all the belligerents were near the breaking point. For the occasion they send as many as two million soldiers. Their way of fighting was despised by the old European militarists, but they had few causalties and above all they won hands down with their superiority of means, that is of the social force of production of modern capitalism.
In the time after the war, taking advantage of the situation owing to the Versailles treaty and to the belligerent’s mutual debts, America, through its president Wilson, took the stance of middleman regarding the countries that had fought, which was the same as saying: "watch out, we're not a nation of the same kind as you are". This was true. In fact, they started their campaign against English imperialism, laying the foundations for definitively controlling global economics and finance on their own. This campaign ended by sending parachute troops to block the Anglo-French landing at Suez: here’s the inglorious end of colonial imperialism. It’s clear that, straddling between the Pacific and Europe, the US would hold the war to come on both fronts, using their usual caution by stepping in when the others had already slaughtered one another to a great extent. Again, the case for war was the sinking of ships, this time at Pearl Harbor, where, opportunely, only obsolete old battleships were anchoring as prey for a quite expected Japanese attack, certainly not modern aircraft carriers. As compared with the other belligerent’s technique and means employed in 1941-45, deployed US power was such a explosion of production, arms, machines, men and capitals the like of which the world had never seen. Its culmination was the maximum destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki: one order, two bombs, two destroyed cities, two hundred thousand dead people. Here, again, they didn’t "need" that, by then Japan was already defeated.
It’s clear we have a problem, a serious one, that no exorcizing leaflet can solve. Try and cry out "Turn imperialist war into a revolutionary war!", after 9/11 has made it clear to everybody that modern war is very different than the one fought only by marshalled armies. Imperialistic war will turn into revolutionary war, we’re sure, but not how it’s being taught by mechanistic readings of the classics. Already World War Two had changed the dynamics of the past wars. Now things have gone beyond. The Maine, Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, and Tonking Gulf incidents and their aftermaths are quite different. Now there’s no foreign power to be blamed for aggression. There’s a power grown out of the womb of imperialism (stop, please, speaking of the Islamic masses bin Laden is ensnaring) rebelling against imperialism itself to cut out its part of vital space. The German-bound lebensraum question is an invariant, but is solved in quite different ways. Imperialism tends to fill all spaces: Germans advanced until occupying Stalingrad, and the Japanese until they reached India’s boundaries; Americans just fill spaces, without occupying territories and enforcing their laws on the local people so far. The 800 occupation installations scattered all over the world are meant to occupy the whole world rather than the local space, where they stand as "guests".
Modern imperialism absolutely needed to expand from a closed system to an open one. Production, at a certain moment, had before itself the world market, and, as it’s known, "goods are artilleries that pull down any Great Wall of China". And since there’s no movement of goods without the movement of capital, the world market has turned into the world of finance capital. The latter has begun to reproduce on its own, going on creating, multiplying and annihilating ficticious capital in a closed circle, but no capital can produce interest without passing through production giving rise to surplus-value. Many times we have reminded readers that every day 1500 billion dollars are moving through the world network of communications, that the investiment funds alone are 25 trillion dollars (almost three times as much the value produced yearly in the USA), and that all this money can fly at once across the world. In the face of such a huge movement of money or rather of signs representing money, the movement of goods as compared with produced value miserably sticks to the level of 1913. The point is that imperialism is a crowded space, since it is not alone but rather there are many of them, the same as capital, which is many capitals and has many holders entitled to claim their property.
Now, many of us have realized that the events of 9/11 are very useful to the kind of policy USA "needs". Maybe, it’s less clear what is really looming, since our perception is blurred about what is going to happen. We don’t believe at all the attack on the USA has changed the world, it’s the changing world that provoked the attack; that’s why the reply was already prepared, accurately adapted, even described in the Pentagon documents. Therein, categories such as territory, nationality, ideology or religion, or country are fully unfit to describe what is happening. America was previously preparing itself to meet this challenge, as we wrote when dealing with globalization and the anti-globalization movement. The new world order will be imposed and stir up repercussions, whatever they may be.
But, let’s go back some years, so that we can discern the difference between another country’s military doctrine and the USA’s. The German military doctrine was grounded on the literal interpretation of Clausewitz’s most famous sentence: in ’39 politics had brought about a stalemate and war propelled Germany's aims "with other means". The blitzkrieg, the flash-war, was thoroughly compatible with the previous policy; the fast conquest of the western lands was a weapon to be used in the post-war talks to officially sanction the conquest of the eastern lands. The peace would have reversed the sentence, according to Clausewitz’s statement: politics would have been the continuation of war with other means. The vital space was still judged as a territory along with its cities, inhabitants, railways, etc., according to an old colonial mentality.
Neither German and also Japanese politicians nor military had understood what kind of foe they had to face. Within a few days France was rendered harmless, and England too risked a great deal at Dunkirk. America instead risked nothing, waiting for the old military doctrine to bear fruit, then stepped in against the Axes and the allied old powers. America didn't need to conquer vital space from some neighbour, but rather to prevent everyone from trespassing its vital space, that by then circled the planet. As in Aesopus’ fable, whoever drinks in the planetary stream muddies the water for the wolf, even if he stays upstream. End of the alliances. By now the USA, like a real multi-national of anonymous capital, has no more allies, it has either clients or dependents. Since then a series of international agreements have sanctioned these tools of dominance: Bretton Woods and the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the GATT (later, World Trade Organization), the UNO, everything is structured around American power.
The word imperialism was used to describe the English policy of the late 1800's analogous to the Roman empire that kept on expanding over the lands of other peoples. In early 1900's Hobson, Hilferding and above all Lenin made it clear that the essence of modern imperialism was its industrial-financial-military nature, which mirrors the international socialization of labour involving more and more countries. Today everything is driven to the maximum consequence. The Roman empire, at its apex, had huge troubles controlling its borders, but as long as its legions managed to keep the Barbarians off the limites, things were going well enough. If instead the empire has no more boundaries, it’s totally useless to have fortresses, ramparts or entrenchments; another kind of control is needed such as no central authority can exert because of the enourmous task and necessary means to carry it out. In short, the current imperialism would need a world society that could self-organize around US interests. It’s evident this is impossible.
We’ve seen that in ’56 US paratroopers occupied Suez not so much to contrast the Egyptian policy as to neutralize the French-English one. In ’58 the landing in Lebanon definitively pulled France out of the Middle East. Even before, in ’48, the USA had caused Israel to be born against the English policy in the area. That’s the end of the marine and army imperialism and the start of the airforce and the imperialism of economic control . If, in the early 1900's, a Kautsky could still think imperialism was the result of the states’ political will, today it’s more than ever crystal clear that imperialism is instead the very economic structure of modern society. States are only the stuctural reflection and function as a tool of Capital. As the socialization of work goes out from the factories and penetrates into all parts of a society, thus obliging the "holdings" or the State to coordinate single factories as if being one great factory department, so the socialization of work itself, once internationalized, obliges all states to take on a global coordination. That’s "real" imperialism, the one Lenin described in the last pages of his book.
Obviously, some reactions against this situation took place. France, for instance, with a re-discovered colonial mentality, believed it could bypass the dependance on oil (oil flow was–and is–under control of the USA) by hurling itself down the nuclear path, because of the many uranium mines laying in several French-speaking African countries, or in other countries with which France was on good terms . But within a few years any remnants of the French sway on Africa was swept away. The reaction towards independence once reverberated upon its proud force de frappe and its determination not to join NATO; today France is an Atlantic country like anyone else and the French grandeur is no more heard. The same applies to England, that, moreover, to stay ahead of the rest of Europe, has resolutely taken the direction of symbiosis with the USA, like a remora with its shark. This is the situation: either they are allies of the USA (that is clients-dependents) or they are foes. There’s no alternative. There never has been one in the empires enclosing different peoples within their boundaries. The Gauls attemped to free themselves against Rome, but Julius Caesar tell us what happened to them.
Reactions are unavoidable, and that’s why, although being inside the same system and apart from regular competition (which is a mortal fight anyways), whoever orbits around the USA winds up getting angry with their "exuberance", and can’t help running into conflicts. These cases may range from protectionism (giving rise to spaghetti or soya wars) to real fights, exerted more or less diplomatically, for the selection of important equipment and armaments, as in the case of the Airbus. If, in such a context, the violent action of some lobby is triggered off, we must realize at once that it intersects one of many nodes in a network of interests. When there was the Trieste question here in Italy, it was clear that the so-called "irredentism" was only a phenomenical aspect, while the motor of the clashes was the USA and USSR’s strategic interests, as well as those of Yugoslavia (whose existence was itself a result of the super-powers clashes) and of Italy (that didn't want to displease the USSR too much, though being the USA’s client alone); and maybe of Germany too, troubled by the historical need to have an outlet from the Brennero pass to the Adriatic sea. In the following years Italy's international policies expressed themselves both by means of mass participation (street demonstrations, repression, trade-union "splits", "popular" fights against legislative "swindles") and of the so-called "strategy of tension" (coupist organizations, bombs, hidden lobbies of power). The harsh level of the clashes stirred up a spasmodic search for ideological explanations of the facts, with blame attached now to the "reds", now to the "blacks".
Without considering the international plot that accounts for blatant inner facts, one could as well set forth an interpretation of the attack on the USA, (the widespread dissemination of anthrax included) as something wanted by the pharmaceutical firms, eager to sell tons of antibiotics and analgesics. "Terrorism" is a widespread phenomenon involving both individuals and even more so states: such events as the bomb at the Bologna station, the "dirty" war in Nicaragua, the Waco slaughter and Oklahoma City retaliation, airplanes crashing into skyscrapers are not silent: there’s always some situation whereby you can actually prove that politics turns into war by using other means. Any means.
Terror at all levels
We don’t subscribe at all to the "evil persons" theory, accounting for the slaughter of thousands of americans with the hatred of their way of life. Nor do we believe terrorism of any kind can be accounted for "materialistically" as a result of a sick society bringing about some happy-to-kill crackpots. There’s something rotten in the society, not only in Hamlet’s ancient Denmark, but there are those who can use this something very well: for an electoral campaign, for worldwide blackmail or else for dominating the world. The romantic age of the demonstrative actions, of the bombs upon the kings, of dynamite's "redeeming blast" is over forever. Now there’s war, and to see a miniature of it, just look at Palestine. Both opponents’ acts are termed as "terrorism", but neither side means to pursue a demonstrative action to create terror for deterrence; both of them pursue instead a political, territorial, ideological purpose. These are war ingredients, and this one has been lasting more than half century without any end in sight. That means the fighting forces, however they’re influenced from inside and outside, are balanced. We know Clausewitz gave much weight to the question of balance or imbalance in war-time; well, although the Palestinian slaughter may seem very unbalanced, nevertheless there are balance conditions allowing it to last fifty years without a winner. At the most, temporary imbalances have taken place, the ones Clausewitz defines as "combat suspensions". But forces able to fight haven't disappeared. In Ireland there’s a situation going back even farther. In the Caucasus there are forgotten wars, deadly ones, risking becoming endemic. Cechnya is only as large as the Italian region of "Abruzzo" and has half the number of inhabitants yet Russia has to mantain 90,000 soldiers there to cope with the so-called Islamic guerrillas.
It’s easy to understand why US experts are worried about the situation becoming global. A worldwide Palestine with the USA acting as Israel. But without a protector higher up. A real nightmare. In our continuous conception, the real situations don’t work like computer algebra: war no-yes, zero-one. Society is more nuanced, and when war assimilates all society to itself, war too becomes more nuanced. Engels used to give the example of the parallel evolution of the relationship "bullet-armour" to prove not only the adaptation of war to society and production, but also the continuity "production-war". Bullets become more powerful and armour becomes thicker, while chasing each other endlessly. It’s a Darwinian evolution of armaments, not going from invention to invention, but keeping a relation between forces tending to destroy each other.
The same happens with the economic war among competitors: a line of products tends to overwhelm another and vice-versa in the pursuit of technical innovations, marketing, mergers, dumping, until the weakest capitalists succumb, monopoly gets the upper hand, and the state must step in with suitable laws enforcing the "free" market. Neither war as a system nor terrorism can skip this Darwinian law: there’s always a relation, an inter-action among many factors, linked in turn to the environment.
The modern concept of terror-terrorism is born along with the French Revolution, and the Jacobins related it to their power: after winning at Valmy, politics was a continuation of the revolutionary war with other means. Trotsky, in his book about terrorism, applied this concept to the Russian Revolution. But the use of terror is much older: in the bible and in the holy or mytical texts of ancient societies, the use of terror is described as a regular option, it’s not morally tainted, and always depends on the interaction of forces searching for balance in the clash. Yahveh terrorizes the Pharaoh in Egypt with not-very-humanitarian means. The Assassins, an Ishmaelite organization, took shape in the eleventh century, when they realized they were not able to fight their enemies in the battlefield, but rather with planned and continuous commando actions by super-trained and ascetically united groups. By adapting themselves to the enemy (that is by refusing to fight it on its own ground), they played a remarkable role at upsetting the network of dominion of the crusaders and muslims for as long as two centuries. They disappeared only after the Mongol invasion came bringing even greater terror. The likeness to the Special Corps and some phenomena of the current terrorism is striking.
In Ireland, where a national issue drags along without a solution, as an open war has no chance of coming up, this one takes a shape that is improperly called "terrorism". Even less militarized shapes, like populist terrorism (the one described romantically by Dostoievsky and ironically by Conrad) are engendered after all as a result of the interaction of social forces tending to a balance. US history is scattered with acts of terrorism owing to the government bloody repression of trade-union struggles. (the Molly Maguires and the Western Mineworkers). In general, therefore, whether it’s King David’s slaughters, Jacobins’ wide use of the guillotine or Bresci’s bomb, so-called terrorism is a social phenomenon springing out of forces adapting themselves to the war game they act in. Not even the destruction of the temple of Diane may be ascribed to an incendiary’s crazy will to "inscribe" his name in history. As Clausewitz says, every clash has a polarity principle, where one side tends to shut out the other, adapting itself to the means that prove to be suitable to the aims, or however that are supposed to be. Clausewitz’s principle refers not to things, but rightly to the relation being established between the sides.
The sequence of determinations leading to capitalism and its highest phase, imperialism, encompasses the genesis of modern terrorism. Historians as well have realized this. Laqueur, for instance, in his book History of Terrorism, while trying to outline an acceptable origin of the phenomenon, noticed some interesting aspects of terrorism , such as the historical "waves", the loss of the ideological background and its borrowing structures from production (organization, capitals, logistics, etc.). If we’re able to draw whatever diagram of Laqueur’s waves and single out a regularity, an order to them, that means we have to deal with the same kind of phenomenon as bullet-armour, missile-antimissile, or, if you want, predator-prey in a Darwinian habitat, the one the mathematician Volterra formalized in cyclical schemas. Laqueur denies we can have recourse to mathematical criteria to find out a law accounting for terrorism, and vows to cling to a mere exposition of the historical facts. Nevertheless his attempt lets us read between the lines that ideology and psychology have nothing to do with it, and that this society stirs up reactions, whatever they are. That’s why it’s not possible to find out a rational principle of terrorism, based on its "output". Seemingly, terrorism is useless, on the contrary, most of the cases prove empirically that it rebounds against those employing it. Why then is a part of mankind devoted to it? What material force causes half century wars to happen in Ireland, Palestine and the Basque region? Which similarities and differences can we distinguish among the several terrorisms, such as to allow us to outline a force capable of attacking the USA and their more prestigious symbols with causalties more numerous than in any single bombing since World War Two?
War issues out of society itself, puts on specific features, produces military doctrines changing over time, uses different methods and tools. Every new war begins with the features the last war finished with, but, as battles go on, itself upsets the old knowledges and imposes new ones. The USA have been preparing themselves over years with World War Two and Cold War schemas, and just when they were setting themselves to cope with the new situation a dozen years later, they have been struck so that the huge global spy-system couldn't have prevented it. If, as some have said, US intelligence knew about it and allowed it to happen because it was sure to suffer limited harm and would be able to take advantage of it like in the Pearl Harbor incident, that would be even worse.
Every revolution upsets the old military doctrines
Sometimes also in the social field a disjunction happens between the ripeness of a real situation and its "military" perception by those living in it. In past revolutions, this happened many times: Marx records the defeat of the proletarian forces in 1848, judging it positive, because there was by then a contradiction between proletariat’s means and aims. In fact in ‘48 the era of democratic revolution in France ended and the era of proletarian revolution began; only out of the defeat of the bourgeois party with its democratic attires, could the insurrectionary party rise up and head towards the new society. The latter party didn’t exist yet, not even in embryo, but was already imposed with the necessity to get rid of the old military doctrine, made up of barricades and parliament, of old muzzle-loaders and democracy. Every practical experiment, Marx said, can be swept away with the cannon, but the revolutionary theory can’t be destroyed by anyone. In this establishment of the theory, we see the historical party of revolution acting ahead of its militants, the men destined to give life to the formal party. Unfortunately, the Paris Commune burst out full of contadictions, and continued to incorporate not only barricades but also democracy. While the material facts required a contrary action, political debate was indulged in instead of marching militarily upon Versailles before the reactionaries could re-organize themselves. Revolution was going on, and the Proudhoniists and Blanquists kept on debating as to how it was to be done rather than how it was to be lead, with which programme. Unfortunately, the revolution of ’71 was headed by men whose military mindedset was left back in ’48.
The Russian Revolution managed to tune in on the historical dynamics, and to break off the military tradition that situated a whole world war with attacks upon barbed wire-and-machine-gun-defended trenches (a frightful butchery resulted, although this strategy had displayed it's effectiveness as recently as the Russian-Japanese war of 1905). By upsetting the old social relations, the revolution upset the old military doctrines as well. The Red Army was attacked on five fronts by the white armies allied with the major imperialisms and was confined to a very small part of Russia. The Red Army counter-attacked continuously with a mobile war based on fast troop transport rather than trench defence and won. It was in this kind of action that a young officer of the red army, Tukachevsky, drew a lesson that would upset the war administation for ever: the binomial man-machine created in production would become a dynamic factor of war, which thereafter would be based on the fast movement of men and machines rather than on static fronts. The armies would become mobile as well as the front and the lines of supply. The old concept of logistics was overturned along with the need to gradually occupy a territory, putting off this task to a strengthening phase following the partial victories.
In 1920 Poland, along with a white army, attacked in the Ukraine, trying to take this country from the Union. The Red Army counter-attacked and in a short time routed the slow invasion because it was tied to an endless umbilical cord of logistics. The Ukraine was reconquered and in addition the Tukachevsky-led counter-attack went deep into the enemy territory right up to the gates of Warsaw.
The Polish bourgeoisie fleed as well as the embassy attachés, panicking all the European bourgeoisie. But old-minded commanders’ worries about this new form of warfare which they hadn’t yet understood hindered the military machine. Stalin too, who wasn’t old, didn’t understand this offensive technique. The Polish and the French, who came to Pilsudski's assistance, took advantage of delays and prevented the conquest of Warsaw and the workers’ insurgency in support of the revolutionary troops.
The Red Army wasn’t an army. It was a huddle of workers and above all paesants under the command of veterans of the war against Germany and of former czarist officers. Such troops couldn't stand up against professional troops, so they fled and attacked continuously, digging very few trenchs. Necessarily, they had to invent the war of movement, based on the few railway axes they controlled. After the march upon Warsaw, it was clear that the revolution had taught everyone a new way to administer the war, even if the bourgeois armies didn’t listen to their best technicians who had grasped the point at once.
We can call the 9/11 events what we want, either terrorism or war, provided that it’s understood that the nature of the clash is asymmetrical, as people say, only if one thinks of a regular war. War itself bring about its symmetries, otherwise it can’t be carried on at all. A huge disparity of forces can’t give room to a clash, because of the stronger’s potential violence annihilating the weaker. But, if war becomes necessary (or is supposed to be, which is the same), the enemy field is infiltrated through hidden ways, just as commandos do,with all the secret logistics that are needed. In short, a local symmetry is given room by using the factors shifting the established balance. For instance, by means of a weapon the enemy doesn't have: the will to suffer a sure death for reaching an aim.
This balancing tendency, or symmetry, is, as usual, an argument of Clausewitz, but is within reach of a child’s mind. Let’s come back, therefore, to the relationship between bullet and armour, predator and prey, that is to the Darwinian adaptation of the complex social system and its manifold contents. The traffic experts know that there was a shift from the railway to the road, then more, wider, better highways were built. And they know also that to make them any wider, with even more lanes is useless for easing traffic, once eventually roads get blocked. That just would call up more of the same. In the end traffic itself reaches a new balance at a determinate flow. It’s known that in this flow of moving objects the given number of accidents tends to stabilize, whereby we can say there are such and such accident chances per number of cars, per number of kilometers travelled. The highway patrol knows with near certainty in advance, the tolerance is minimal, how many accidents will happen in a given week-end. However strange it may seem, this applies also to the number of robberies and suicides: there’s a striking statistic stability in almost every human activity, so it becomes foreseeable. Why is this statistic law applied to almost all fields and seemengly shouldn’t apply to the fields of war, of so-called terrorism and, of course, of class struggle?
The point is that it does apply all the same, even if we’re not able to catch the determinations in advance. All Laqueur can tell us is there are some "waves" we can record a posteriori; that it’s possible to make a structural analysis; that the cases can be catalogued and divided into more or less homogeneous sets; that one can try to make a phenomenology of the social tension and schemas springing out of it.
Wars are never "asymmetrical"
Fortunately, facts themselves bring us solutions supposed to be mistaken or remote formerly, like in the case of the Russian capitalism from which marxism had already removed the mask . Communism is good for that: it proves things by way of the facts and buries the chatter. We’re told communism can’t predict, it foresaw wars and starvation and instead we’re going through a very long time, almost half a century, of peace. Stop there, We're going through? The American peace means war and starvation for the five-sixths of the world. It’s not a propaganda formula: we’re speaking of official data reporting 250 open wars with hundreds of millions people killed directly or indirectly and one billion humans in this or that way forced out of their native lands. When in such a system a determinate threshold of contradictions is reached, potential forces become kinetic and war issues out of the standard control schemas: the planet’s "Palestinization" is no longer just a likely fact, but is becoming a certain one, the one unknown factor being time. That’s why the US defense department itself had foreseen this, proposing suitable measures. That’s why nobody, in the secret services, army or US administration thinks of solving this war by dropping a few bombs in Afghanistan: that would be like kicking a hornet's nest, "terrorists" will scatter all over the world even more than now.
This doesn’t mean bin Laden has declared war on the USA, that a man with a few thousand followers in a desert hideout wages war on the planetary super-power; that Islam has rebelled against western civilization, that there’s a clash of cultures. All of this arises inside capitalistic relations and remains there, as in the most classic of wars. All the actors of the drama, no one excluded, were preparing themselves. Whether little or big, the powerful or the wanna-be's, they’re all parts of the nervous system laying beneath the finger on the kalashnikov trigger, on the button of Afghan wargame, tightening on the controls of the airplane bound for the skyscraper. Armour is linked to bullets, and even the pope goes around with a glass-armoured car since he has been shot with a pistol. That means the next attempt will need to have recourse to a bazooka. But if the race becomes stalemated or the immense gap of power can’t be stopped, a way around asymmetry is sought and the impact of a thousand bombs will be obtained with cheaper arms whose "output" is much higher. Armour plating is useless if bacteria are put into the air-conditioning and a flight of aircraft bombers can’t stop a nuclear bomb carried within an ice-cream tricycle inside the City.
On the other hand, the response strategy need not be invented, it exists right now, because all parameters of the clash are known, apart from the odds of the individual case and lack of information about enemy’s moves, like in every war. If we see the world as a system, which it is high time we learned to really do, we must see its contents as parts interacting with the whole and not as discrete categories. Haven't we learned that railways aren’t only steel and tracks, but also a social relation; that a flight of aircraft bombers is not only a bombing machine but also a tool of class preservation, that the internet is a development of the social brain forseen by Marx in the products of socialized work? If we’ve understood this, it won’t be strange to us that the longer the current mode of production endures, the more war is becoming one with every-day life. Whoever wrote Bush’s speeches, has grasped three substantial points: 1) it’s war, 2) we must learn to live together with it, 3) let’s get ready to face other attacks.
The media chronicles show us the Hamas militant as a single suicide bomber burdening his body with TNT in the site of his sect and going off to blow himself up in the oppressing foe’s discoteque. It isn’t so. Chains of determinations surround such an act and start from far: since the last war, even earlier, since the powers as "liberators" drew up the boundaries not giving a damn about entire peoples, simply slaughtering them or instigating them into disastrous wars.
The habit of running after the latest make us lose sight of the Marx’s main lesson: just to see capitalism as a system and not to care what the representatives of bourgeoisie say about themselves and their class. In this system the relation bullet-to-armour as well as shark-to-fish can be seen as an energy exchange: a bullet unloads kinetic energy upon armour, that in turn has to absorb it, apart from the fact that both of them require energy to be produced. The same applies to the shark-fish relation: predator eats prey, that in turn takes its energy out of the environment – in the end, out of the sun – until predator itself leaves its carcass to the environment which metabolizes it.
Physics of the social magma
The capitalist doesn’t eat the workers directly, but absorbs their energy little by little, taking surplus-value out of them. From a physical viewpoint there’s no difference at all in comparison with the previous examples. Now, if we wanted to represent graphically the energy exchange regarding the above-mentioned cases, we could use the diagram of Volterra, the aforesaid mathematician, where the shark population swings in function of the fish they prey on, and naturally vice versa. The outcome is a sinusoidal wave-shaped double diagram that disjuncts over time. If you want, you can use this argument for Greenspan’s lowering of the interest rates: an injection of energy (liquidity) into the economic system in order to modify the energy-curve trend of the system itself (GDP). In Volterra’s diagram there’s not a point where sharks unleash war against fish, even if each eating act can be seen as separate (for instance, by a photographer catching the moment), but there’s a continuous action over time, just like in a Clausewitz’s hypothetical diagram there wouldn’t be politics or war, but a continuous turning of each into the other. In fact, the Prussian officer warns us that the basis of a theory of war can be laid out only from the totality of mankind’s military history, where in the chain ... politics-war-politics-war ... a start and an end can be established only arbitrarily. But this is the capital cycle too (...M-C-M'-C'...) isn’t it?
If we observe capitalism as a system, we see that in the competition game the energy exchange doesn’t happen between capitalists and workers alone, but also between capitalist and capitalist, in that they dispossess one another in the process of concentration and centalization of capital. The premises we made don’t allow us to make ethical tirades on those who get rich and those who become poor, but let us point out a very important phenomenon: fewer and fewer capitalists-predators represent a bigger and bigger mass of capital (accumulated value, dead labour), while more and more proletarians-prey will represent a relatively smaller and smaller mass of value (salary, living labour). This is a paradoxical situation: as long as value is concerned, a huge mass of predators will need a tiny mass of prey in order ... to get more and more energy (surplus value). That’s a physical absurdity unavoidably bound to bring about massive turmoil. To begin with, the relative decreasing of workers’ number as compared to the capital mass they can animate is a contradiction engendering relative over-population: this surplus of people can’t be systematically killed, they have to be either sustained somehow or let starve. Besides, if less and less predators have to take in more and more energy, Volterra’s diagram blows up, because more surplus value can’t be taken out of fewer workers than is taken out of many. One can't work more than 24 hours, and a wage can’t go down under the sustenance level.
In such a situation, conflict is certain . At the beginning, it bursts out between those who have something to lose, that is the capitalists and middle classes (individually within the same class, and collectively against the other one). Then the conflict breaks out between these social layers and the class who has nothing to lose but wage-slavery, which it won’t be possible to paint in rosey hues eternally. Those who starve, you know, they just need to get some food first; the workers who losing the few conquests they made, initially react to defend their own interests; the bourgeois feel their huge interests threatened and having at stake what they own or think they’re entitled to own, descend into war between themselves. That’s why sooner or later airplanes crash into enemy’s skyscrapers, troops, warships and aircraft bombers are set in motion, one begins fighting and makes the others fight.
It’s not important to know exactly when large irregularities have begun creeping into the system which Volterra’s curves represent; we know precisely a peculiar feature of the system itself: the predator can’t take in energy endlessly increasing its mass to the detriment of prey which can no longer increase both their mass and number. And, in reality, the USA is facing a continuous decreasing of its relative weight in the world economy. If this is the trend, and it is, the US must face a decreasing of its specific weight similarly, that is a decrease in its importance as the dominant imperialism. But this isn’t the case: in the face of a decreasing of its real economic weight, the USA must increase its specific weight in order to maintain and indeed upgrade its dominant role. If it doesn't do that, it will succumb, and along with it–we can be certain– all the capitalistic world will have to succumb. The point is that no other imperialism has got the power and a statal unity enough to govern the world. Therefore, it’s all too true that the USA is capitalistic mankind’s salvation, and this accounts for the bourgeois perception, in the USA but also in Europe, of America stepping in to straighten out the world’s wrongs.
Without going over again one more list of the innumerable chapters in the history of US involvement in war (the best ones are by americans themselves), it’s necessary to say again that a nation’s armed and police-aimed intervention, brutal as it is, is nothing as compared with the class war capitalism as such brings about. The sway of capital is evident expecially in its going over from the formal domination upon work to real domination, that is when the production of surplus value doesn't confine itself to capitalist-worker relations or else worker-capitalist ones, but rather becomes the mechanism of all social life. The rule of capital , that is of past, dead labour over the living labour expresses itself in all the aspects of every-day life. It’s the true modern slavery no one can escape unless this society is destroyed down to its roots. The American congress ordered an inquiry commission to search for the real causes whereby the war in Vietnam escalated, and then had to be abandoned: they didn’t manage to spot them. A series of automatic mechanisms of society, of production, of personal interests, of the foreign policy and of the military brought about a thousand micro-responsibilities, one by one impossible to catch, but all of them leading irresistably to war. Someone turns up his nose, when we deny so drastically that the individual’s will may play a role in social processes. But the biggest capitalist and the highest state can only comply with trends, not create them. That’s particular to our school, since Marx on, driving us to see capitalism as a system rather than as a sum of the capitalists’ wills. That’s why this system produces war automatically.
Who brings war to whom
Usually, war and militarism are linked with arms production and extreme economic competition, but war is a general, ordinary fact. The Economist pointed out that keeping control of the oil in the Middle East, which results in a troubled military situation, costs the USA three-to-six times as much as the oil the USA imports from there. That means that little and big interventions have interconnected over time, producing an inextricable net of relations so that the system takes advantage of this waste of spending as well. Similarly the GDP of a country increases with mathematical certainty when inner discord increases. It’s striking, for instance, in Afghanistan there is the world's greatest production of opium. It financed the Taliban, but preceded them as well. In other countries cocaine is produced. Surely, someone decided to produce it, people think, so then let’s look for them and send them to jail. Few linger over the fact that the world spends as much for the so-called war on drugs as on open war without any result whatever. But, they say, the anti-drug agencies are corrupted, there are the local mafias, local goverments are conniving with them, etc. What a magnificent explanation! It can be transposed from beginning to end into a film script. Almost nobody thinks that drugs are produced instead of food because the modern system of exploitation allows a very high formation of surplus value, so that it can be easily shared out in a sector where the ratio of investment/profit is much higher than elsewhere. If somebody, for any purpose, can use the surplus value proletarians produce to buy the drug costing much more than the baking soda, the reason is that there’s a "surplus" of surplus value that can’t any longer return directly to the stardard production cycle. It returns through the finance system; that’s why there are armies of special cops devoted to detect the recycling of dirty money.
When a small war on drugs breaks out in Columbia or in Peru we don’t link it to the capital valorization cycle, while it’s more easy for us make this link for oil; but the things are really the same. Both of them are wars of the same kind meant for sharing out surplus value through rent. The big pharmaceutical corporations dispense us another kind of drug: many medicines have changed human life for the better, however it’s not by way of such medicines that profits grow colossal, but through the system making continuous and perennial the huge production and consumption of quite useless drugs. So, in the USA alone, a rich country and supposedly with healthy men, half the world total is spent on medicines, and their whole health system is even more expensive, though being, by the way, less efficient than in many other poorer countries.
Drugs, oil and medicines are three production sectors we connect within particular social contexts or with a certain foreign policy, with globalization as well as with order and law. They’re three markets entailing by themselves fierce international wars, mafias, states’ interventions, control apparatuses, even novels and movies. We can add, obviously, the armament sector, that, in terms of production, marketing and dirty business, overcomes all the rest. But there are also the food and biogenetical sectors, both of them linked to the pharmaceutical one. That comes to six, while we may also recall the raider Gardini "helped", some people say, to commit suicide, after his hazardous incursions against entrenched American interests in his desire to gain control of the chemical industry (seven), that, in turn, is linked to oil ... The wars in West Africa are owing to the struggle to control diamonds (eight), but all Africa is scattered with wars for this or that resource. The mass media war is always on the move (nine), as well as that of the mass distribution (ten), that for controlling transportations (eleven), and that of the industrial spying (twelve). You could easily go on. In the war in Somalia, for instance, both the bananamen and the oilmen were involved. That’s why you’ve not any rational criteria to decide how far you can go at linking the net of interest nodes giving rise to politics and, according to Clausewitz, to war. On the other hand, the industrial-commercial war is the continuation of competition with other means.
Here’s another way of proving that asking: "When has this war started and who is the aggressor" is senseless, and even more so than in any other instance of war. The priests of the anti-american commonplaces, those guys seeing the USA cracking down on the working class whenever they drop a bomb, are thrilling with pleasure: "it serves them right; they asked for it". They deal with imperialism as if it were an individual endowed with free will, being consequently able to commit sin. It’s obvious, then, that they hope for the just punishment, pushing themselves down to the same level as those invoking God for either side. And they stand for those attacked, whether they are workers or even Talibans. The USA is going through a severe crisis, and their decisive role in a world system well on its way to integration drives them necessarily to enforce the new military doctrine, so brazenly that they don’t even pretend any longer to that strategic isolation historically their own. They must do so, because the world is risking a crisis of which the capitalist age has never seen the like.
Business as usual?
Paul Krugman, a rising American economist, wrote an article about the relation between economics and the 9/11 attack, stating that the shock could have been even beneficial. While listing the negative factors, pre-existing the attack, he put them beside some positive consequences supposedly springing out of the attack itself. This article ran across the world at once. For Krugman, in short-term economics, the disaster of 9/11 can be compared with any earthquake or hurricane. Even taking into consideration the psychological factors, which can be overcome in a short time, the gigantic US economy would be able to absorb the effects of the event with very little trouble, were the situation a regular one. But even before the attack, the situation wasn’t at all normal . So his survey extends in time and space, as he says, and goes on to sound out first the causes of the ’29 crisis and the measures taken at the time, then the causes of the current Japanese crisis and the measures taken now. The causes are in both cases the same, but in the 30s it wasn’t known how to face them, while today well-tested measures are known. Why, then, Krugman wonders, hasn’t Japan tried to start its choking economy going again ? The point is, unfortunately, Japan has tried many times without any result whatever.
The Japanese interest rates are equal to zero. They can't be brought down more than that, it would be like paying people to borrow money from the banks. But in a certain sense this has been done: through a standard public-spending policy the state has paid to have a certain part of capitals invested in production. In 1996, for instance, Japanese expense for public works as percentage of the total product has been four times greater than the USA’s. Ten percent of the Japanese workforce has been employed in the building sector, the greatest percentage ever in an advanced industrial country, one which is moreover already crammed with buildings. This was the apex, but things have been going on this way for ten years and the economy has in no way lifted.
In conclusion, eleven times in a year the US federal reserve brings down the money cost to no avail; for ten years Japan keeps on re-launching its economy to no avail. Meanwhile Asia, Africa, Latin America and Russia are in crisis, and the mostly exporting Europe is facing a foreign market increasingly shrinking because of the others’ crises. Whenever Japan tries to reduce its public spending, recession symptoms come up. Deficit-spending doesn’t manage to turn back the trend, on the contrary, chronic symptoms begin to re-appear, showing that not even public-spending is protection from recession. So Japan, that giant of dynamic and aggressive economics, has a public deficit that has jumped up to 130 percent of the GDP in ten years; more than the various fascisms, stalinisms and roosveltisms spent in their state interventions.
The fact war stimulates economics makes Krugman optimistic about the attack aftermaths, but with a caution: the end of the speculation bubble, the interest rate approaching zero, the fall in value of real estate, the state’s announced interventions for supporting the economy (until now we know the plans for the banks, air companies, bonds for war, armaments, etc.), all of it can reduce America to a condition as bad as that of Japan. Half a million jobs lost in a month, of which a hundred and fifty thousand in the airlines alone, as a result of a trend preceeding 9/11. As the rest of the world is in crisis, Europe too risks sinking into America’s deep crisis. I’m terrified, Krugman says, of going through a zero-rate bout with attempts of straightening the economy out by 2009 (by his own calculation), I’m terrified that this won't work, because I can’t see any other device which we may have recourse to.
We know, as history proved, a generalized war isn’t only a device, but also an efficient intervention against the crisis. For instance, capitalism as it came out of World War One solved its crisis with the more terrible and ravaging World War Two. As it can be seen, we’ve before us a whole system losing energy without knowing how to renew it; so, if we take into account the whole history of capitalism, in the end not even war will be able to counter the crisis (and as early as in the Gulf war, wars cost more than they stir up production). The choices as to how intervene in the world situation aren’t optional, they’re obligatory, and no one has force enough to act bluntly pushing aside laissez faire economics and other states’ national soveregnity.
The more or less holy anthems, the flags, the orgy of patriotism, the most insistent entreaties to make business as usual, all of it is sheer window dressing in the face of the declared purpose to launch a nationwide and worldwide Marshall plan, "because the causes of terrorism have to be looked for also in the unrighteous wealth distribution". We, who view America’s compassionate capitalism with marxist lenses, translate it this way: the Marshal plan was for re-building, but before that a war is needed. To set someone "free" of course.
The system is revealed for what it is precisely when passing through a crisis. The machine of preservation of capitalism, as automatic as the one of industrial production, grinds inside its gears any remnant of Kautsky’s conception, any conception of imperialism where oppression is ascribed to the states’ will, or worse to any party or statesman’s. The international capitalist world recognizes that Greenspan has a certain skill at his task, certainly not because he can lead economics, but because of his vantage point at the Federal Reserve he can adjust the US economic policy to the data coming in from the world. Well, who decides? Is it Greenspan or rather what Greenspan reads into the state of the world? And if Operation "Enduring Freedom" is a result of the 9/11 attack and of Bush’s lucubrations all together with his quartet of oilmen sitting in the White House, as some "leftists" say, why does the 1997 Quadriennal Defense Report recommend a revolution in the military from now to 2015? Why does the Report of the subsequent four years, edited this past September, exactly specify the requirements the asymmetrical war imposes on the USA? In reality, the world had long before dictated its conditions to the USA, and now they’ve indeed received the message, but they haven’t be able to act in due time.
Global reformism, triumph of fascism
In the past number of this review, when writing on the anti-globalization movements and the outcomes of the Genoa summit, we stated that globalization and the by-products owing to the reaction to it are trifling as compared with what is beginning to happen, they’re like a simple skin eruption of capitalism, which, as a severely ill patient, will have to be given very powerful drugs to fight the illness. Such movements, which are important as a symptom of the illness, and thereby worth of studying, not at all with the intention of linking up with them, have early on undergone the hard lesson of reality. Because they hold to the train of facts, they conform themselves, and now we see the anti-globalizationists jettisoning the distinction and becoming neo-globalists by their own declaration. What accounts for this conformism, if not the fact that the former anti-globalizationists try to keep up with the galloping globalization and, as unrepentant reformists, they seek to improve, to update the movement, so as "not to leave it"?
We have respect for those feeling an impulse to fight a world they perceive as hostile, even when they can aim at the target, but the neo-global reformist objective is as laughable as the anti-globalization negation is. This imperialism-globalization is an already mature fact, but it needs an efficient superstructural control. Bodies such as the IMF, WTO, UNO, and even the NATO, let alone the G8, which signifies merely an occasion for battilocchi (would-be bigshots) to meet, are obsolete bodies, hybrids that aren’t up to the situation capitalism has brought about for twenty years now. They don’t represent a real executive power being able to dictate terms. The legend of the breach of trust of the IMF is a stupidity. Those who are in crisis apply by themselves to the Fund, that, like any bank, checks for the requisite conditions before loosening the purse-strings, and demands them, if they are lacking. Now, instead, executive bodies are increasingly required to be able to obtain authoritatively – not merely by application – that such conditions are realized: all over the world; with a military force that can impose, if necessary, capital’s general interests, just like a state within its boudaries. This is a requirement of capitalism in general, not just an american one. As for the USA, they are acting contradictorily at present, because they act only a posteriori, in the sense that the superpower, by means of its very existence affects the course of the events, and puts into motion processes that call upon it to step in directly. From now on a real reformism is needed all over the world, and we know that the true dialectical realizer of reformist demands was fascism, with the Bismarks and Mussolinis, instead of the chatterboxes of classical reformism. The neo-globalists don’t represent a movement in the vanguard of something to come, they’re the after-taste of an on-going process. The new globalization isn’t bread for their weak teeth, but rather for the strong teeth of the economic, political and military power of the USA.
After the so-called Asian crisis, The IMF patching-up intervention was of no avail. As in all violent crises, the situation turned out for the better spontaneously, with millions of lost jobs, wage lowering, fictitious capital written off, lowering of prices, currency devaluation and consequently a recovery in competitivity and exports. In a couple of years the situation settled down. But this happened partly because the Asian economy, important as it is, has a relatively slight volume in comparison with that of the whole world headed by the biggest imperialisms; partly because China, which was in an opposite trend, absorbed the blow and was able to keep on growing without devaluing its own money. The asian crisis rang an alarm-bell, by showing more than ever how easy it is to trigger a systemic crisis.
For global capitalism, a too-complicated system ill with ungovernablity, self-regulation is a problem, not an advantage, as laissez faire economists say. It’s a problem which brings to the surface an old question that the bourgeoisie, as individuals, are inclined to forget, but, as a class, they don’t forget so easily: the class struggle. It was possible that entire economies in Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia) were intensely shaken by the crisis and millions of people sank below the level of sustenance, but such a crisis wouldn’t be possible in the West, where a simple judgment about the social ripeness there makes the bourgeoisie beware the potential of organized rebellion. The starving masses of Asia took to the streets and pulled down some governments, but they didn’t have the same potential force as the Western masses have, the ones that could stop the world economy by rejecting class collaborationism.
The capitalist West can’t let a severe crisis resolve itself spontaneously. If we continue dealing with the system as a whole, we see that it is make up of many parts, moreover they are living, that is having complex organic– not mechanical relations – these include: capitalists, workers, machines, consumer goods, craftsmen, idlers, professional men, lumpen-proletarians, factories, offices, parasites, etc. The large number of different components make it hard to see behind this social magma a very simple reality, the same one described in the last section of Marx’s Capital, whose title is " incomes and their sources": all society lives off the value taken out of the producing workers. In a modern country, most people, say, as much as 80-90 percent, live off the value the remaining 10-20 percent produces. The system is so potentially unbalanced that the least hindrance in sharing out the surplus-value inside each country would start into motion a chain of disasters, moving from the classes living off the surplus-value of the others, but which they absolutely require because they can’t sell themselves at a lower cost, unlike the workers when jobless. And they can’t become workers, who are all-too-numerous by now, because of advanced mechanization.
Capital is indifferent as to whether there are deaths from starvation or from riots. In the face of relative over-population it’s going to react with merely statistical criteria, and containment of the phenomenon. But with 9/11 it has shown once more its weak point in calling upon Americans to do business as usual, to work, and above all to buy as usual, to continue taking airplanes, to spend on amusements, to continue to circulate money in order to animate the productive cycle. The American capitalists are worried about consumption in the coming Christmas season. Their matter-of-fact attitude make them familiar with this empirical index, that’s more reliable than the economists’ models and politicians’ fibs, and they know from experience that it shows the repercussions on the subsequent investments in the field of the means of production, that foundation of the whole economy. Capital's circle of valorization i.e. "produce and buy" has some inner flaws: for instance, the fact the Western wages have to compete with Asian ones sooner or later, and the western youth have to work two or even three jobs, 12 hours a day, for half the pay than previously. It’s hard to buy and spend, all the more so if you work 12 hours instead of 8, so producing fifty percent extra, that somehow someone will have to buy (for instance, nine pairs of shoes rather than six). But how do you find this consumer, if wages are lowering? As the monetary value of goods and then the average wage of the labour-force lowers, where will surplus-value be accrued so as to sustain the unproductive 80 percent of society? If you invest even more in means of production and reduce the wages rate in the value of goods...
A hellish vicious circle, that can’t be endless and allowed to settle down spontaneously in the society, if one doesn’t want riots which turn into revolution. No theoretical model, no pragmatic behaviour of the states is actually based on so-called free trade, on the spontaneous adjustment of the market. Any dynamic model, rotten as it may be with a false ideology regarding the fate of capitalism, tells us that beyond certain limits the social question comes up. In the capitalist darwinian jungle someone evolves, someone integrates themself well and someone else can’t do it and dies; individuals have a rather fast birth and death, classes die harder, but they too aren’t eternal. They react, fight for life, try to overwhelm one another, but, in the end of the fight, it’s found that bourgeoisie can’t do without proletariat, but proletariat can do without the bourgeoisie, and by killing capital, it kills itself and all the other classes, to the advantage of mankind. Historically, therefore, it’s the proletariat that is attacking, while the bourgeois defend their useless survival. And they defend it with all they may have recourse to, trying above all to involve proletariat into their own doom, to tie it to themselves, so that it doesn’t rebel against them. That’s why the bourgeoisie must secure it, and while they don't care about billions of starving people, they’re constrained to create mechanisms of social safeguards for their own main enemy.
Terrorism as such comes and goes, but insofar as in a society the need for war is being developed, its methods are directed immediately into the development of the paraphenalia of war. The bourgeoisie is used to this as well. It has developed the appropriate bodies: regular police, but also secret services for all purposes, special troops, armies of experts. It has impressive means for utilizing social phenomena, as well as for destroying and re-building a society. No wonder, then, as the current facts prove, terrorism is either employed or fought rather indifferently by the bourgeoisie, according to its interests and self-preservation. As the past facts prove, and as certainly future facts will also, there is a terrorism with the mark of the state on it. The USA, first of all, unscrupulously used the opportunity presented by the comprador and butcher bourgeoisies who more or less spontaneously acted as their servants. What the bourgeoisie can’t get used to is the fact that the same unscrupulousness can’t be used in relations with proletariat, for the simple reason that the latter is the basis of all society. Single capitalists behave arrogantly towards this problem, and single statesmen do not even understand it, however capitalism and the bourgeoisie develop self-defences against these stupid fellow-class-inhabitants, and, on the whole, they pay a lot of attention to the social question. In the chaotic movements that are typical of capitalism, at last such individuals and groups or the least unaware trends develop an understanding and knowledge, in the broad sense, that, for instance, a larger rate of surplus-value transferred to the oil rent affects, as we saw, its sharing out in the world. They realize that if this surplus-value doesn’t come back through the bank system, it is taken away, stolen from the western cycle of capitalism, and thus from the relations between capitalists and proletarians. In a poorly accumulating system, the least swing of the balance between wages and surplus-value can give rise to a fight for the relevant social "rates" to be differently shared out.
Germany shows us the clearest example of this phenomenon. It has a very rigid social framework, and, even if it has very high labour costs as compared with the rest of the industrial world, the ratio of surplus-value/wage (exploitation rate) isn’t called into question because neither the German proletarians nor the internal system of consumption could bear a drastic dimunition of the general wage (the relatively high unemployment and social subsidies included). The peace among classes is safeguarded for the time being, even if explosive factors are being accumulated for the future, when both this social policy and the present economic policy for competing with other countries will be no longer possible.
As it can be seen, it is not difficult to return from terrorism in a broad sense, that is the war among bourgeois factions, to the material questions underlaying the relations among states, to questions regarding class relations. Evil, God and Islam have nothing to do with it. Marx’s schemas are never simple representations of reality, but evidences of relations, where every represented item is a function of another, where oil is constant capital, that along with wages and profits make up the trinity of a fundamental equation: Profit rate = surplus-value / (constant capital + wage), whereby, if oil increases its price, automatically profit rate decreases, particularly if wages are not reduced. But, who will buy goods, if the western proletarians wages are low and the rest of the world is starving? Naturally, this is only an example, the capitalist world doesn’t live on oil alone. This argument can and must be extended: there are all the other raw materials, both mineral and organic but, above all, there are the relations among the various competing bourgeoisies. A capitalism starving the world provokes reactions and repercussions, no wonder, but when the strongest countries’ capitalism tends to starve even its home-proletariat, partly due to its own nature and partly by way of the other competing capitalisms, then devices of defence to the bitter end are released, that are nothing but that policy we defined as the antechamber of war, that, in turn, is the same policy going on with other means. But these devices don’t work, can’t work, because they would need international cooperation, whereas relentless competition is ruling. All the more so they can’t work at will in the West, in countries where production and the social framework is matched to a political framework, both bourgeois and proletarian, that is the historical memory of the class struggle stratified in an organization which compromises, breaches, and revolutions have shaped for more than two centuries.
In our research about the complexity of nature and men’s attempt to find out its laws, we came across a hypothetical mathematical model where the course of evolution of primitive economics arrives deterministically at exchange, money, capitalism, classes, trade-unions and the proliferation ... of communists. The edited model is neutral, but those who describe it and its main actors aren't neutral at all. They’re permeated with all the relations existing in the society they live in, and they can’t help representing them even in a computer program. That’s why in the Pentagon documents, as a result of wide simulations by models, the new challenge of the "asymmetrical war" is forseen for the most part.
Nobody has played with variable-scenario models as much as the military, from the models in various scales where tin soldiers were moved in the Napoleonic age, to the more or less realistic scenarios of modern computer wargames. And, as anyone who has played nothing but Risk learns at once, world geopolitics always imposes the same moves. Rough as the scenarios are and as scanty as the bourgeois knowledge of the social world is because of their adherence to the law of value, even their models happen to represent a society pretty realistically. About twenty years ago, in a Pentagon wargame, the scenario foresaw a dominoes effect that, starting from Poland, would end up putting the USSR into a crisis, unleashing World War Three. The "game" parameters can’t come from the game itself, it’s the programmer, affected by the social brain, that inserted them, thus obliging the computer to give answers according to players’ suggestions. So, in the US strategy, the equal enemy (Russia) gave place, in a very short time, to a range of possible "rogue" enemies that could have run counter to the US regional politics (North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria); then to another equal enemy to come (China), and in the end to a "widespread" enemy being able to impose an "asymmetrical war". In the past standard models, such an enemy didn’t exist, now, in the age of an actual need of global control it does. And it’s striking how well it fits the way a power like the USA has to prepare. In the last scenario a probable and definite enemy doesn't appear any longer, but rather an unknown and unfocused one. The military doctrine and deployment of men and means no longer has to respond to a perceived "threat", but to a range of "chances". In the new wargame the aim isn’t any longer to foresee who will be the next enemy, but how whatever enemy could go deep into the US defences and strike. That means constructing around the world a network of prevention and response, and in the above-mentioned quadriennal document by the Pentagon it’s written in minute detail which way and with which means. It’s easy to understand that all of this presents the malevolent image of a monstrous world system of spying, deterence and killing. The only thing missing in the document is a hint on how to kill the future enemies’ mothers, as in the movie Terminator.
The global need of a military control is closely linked to the global need of an economic and political control on which the former depends, and which the big capitalists begin to insist on. Peace, democracy and tolerance being respected, of course.
The big financier and his world model
The international speculator George Soros is used to fighting for an "open society" where the role of money as the one (moral) value is mitigated to achieve a smooth and a thoughtful control of global capitalism which should take over from the spontaneous control that acts wildly and brings about disasters. Because of his in-depth knowledge of the financial system, he stands on a very favorable vantage-point in order to survey the problems of globalized capitalism , so that he is called upon for his opinion and advice by the American congress. He has also written several books. One of them, The Crisis of Global Capitalism, half deals with his philosophical theory on the open society, and half, while speaking of "behind the scenes" financial facts, interprets various social events and proposes his solutions for a better world. He outlines the core essence of imperialism flawlessly, even if with words we wouldn’t use, of course. This man, who is snubbed by the economists even though he was able to compete with no less than England herself, successfully speculating against the pound sterling, tells us, in brief, that global capitalism is like an empire without territory and that it is not a thing but a relationship between world capital and those it rules. As in all empires it has a center and a periphery, and the former live off the latter. The former supplies capital and the latter uses this capital with a price to be paid. The center hasn’t a site, it’s "nowhere", because the more active and vital part of capital is its movement. By its own nature, the capitalistic empire doesn’t pursue balance but rather expansion at all costs. And its innate tendency towards expansion will ruin it if it is not controlled, because it’s not expanding over territories but over the life of mankind. This isn’t a novelty, Soros says, the phenomenon was already known at the time of the Hanseatic league and Italian city-states, but now it has recourse to the global communication network, which allows it to be present and active all over the word at the same time. The global capitalist system, in that it’s extra-territorial, collides against all existing states (even the USA), because they thwart its expansion.
After another four chapters, the basis of Soros’ programme is described, that is: a world order doesn’t exist; The USA, as the sole surviving superpower, can’t secure it; and in order to obtain it, the USA should head all the international institutions, and after renewing them, lead a coalition of other capitalistic countries in the launching of a world Marshall plan, starting from the ex-USSR’s ruined territories; the UNO, IMF, WTO need to be revivified, etc. etc. At this point the argument becomes vague and full of gaps. It’s not accounted for how on earth the UNO can have a world order accepted, although along with a rain of dollars, without breaking the states’ boundaries, that the author himself, as we saw, judges to be a hindrance for capital. At the time of the Marshal plan, Europe was militarily occupied and laws were made by the USA, who also minted coin. "What is needed is an state of international right", Soros says, "How to enforce it? Only out of the cooperation among the democratic states, which should give up part of their sovereignty and contrive a way for getting other states do the same". And he concludes: "Intervening in the inner questions of another state is an operation laden with dangers, but not intervening may be even more harmful". After 9/11–even if the big speculator-philanthropist didn’t think of intervening this way–very powerful forces are making the world put up with the fact that not intervening in the others’ sovereignty is much more harmful than intervening. And the global military plans are ready long before, much sooner than a renewal of the UNO may occur, let alone a world executive. Soros is right, apart from his language and conclusions: The closed society of the Amerikans backing insane regimes throughout the world like a Costa-Gravas’ movie is dead once and for all. Humanitarian reasons have nothing to do with it, they are no longer useful. Now, those madcap regimes come within the range of "risks" to beware of, just like the rebels they oppressed. Mostly, they are reactionary regimes that rest on the survival of ancient customs; increasingly capital can no longer bear old societies, hybridized with capitalism, that are a barrier for it. A crystal-clear example of that, is the Islamic world.
Oil as a value channel
Islam has nothing directly to do with all of this. Oil is a rent and rent is a part of surplus-value, as we said; well, the marxist theory of rent states that a modern landlord gains his share only because there’s a capital cycle where even his income is produced. Oil doesn’t belong to the shepherd grazing his sheep over oil-fields, it belongs to the capitalist system using it, making petrol, plastic, fertilizers from it. Every other form of ownership belonging to the ancient societies has been swept away. The marginal fragments still left count for nothing.
Oil produces a money flow from the industrial countries to the oil-rich ones, and then to world capital using it for this or that investment. But 400 billion dollars are now held in the so-called Islamic banks. Since in the Islamic world usury is forbidden, they gather money for investing directly in buildings, production, trade, etc.and instead of interest, they gain payment for services rendered. So the rigid rules of the Koran are said to be circumvented, but what matters more is that "Islamic" finance, for those to whom it applies, turns out to be less constricting than the "regular" one, and more closely integrated in its parts because of its ability to sustain ancient relations, even tribal ones in Arabia. Another 500 billion dollars coming from Islamic countries is deposited in order to accrue interest in Western banks, and a sum not exactly known is invested in real estate in the metropoles all over the world, that is into rent, that is in any case a drainage of local surplus-value. Finally, there are the joint-ventures in productive activities abroad. A couple of trillion dollars in all isn’t a big amount as compared with the mass of capital circulating every day in the world (about 1500 billion dollars), but what matters is the current trend. Draining surplus-value from the industrial countries is increasing the Islamic capital mass by 15 percent a year, while the Western gross accumulation is about 2 percent. Should this trend keep steady over time, Islamic finance capital would reach the same mass as the American GDP within a dozen years. This growth, that isn’t a result of the mere circulation of fictitious capital, but of surpus-value mainly issuing from the most industrialized countries, would produce a severe fracturing in the world of global capital. An "Islamic dollar" is unthinkable; since money has existed, it has no adjective, and capital requires that the cycle should be: ...money-goods-production-goods-money..., that is it requires that surplus-value returns back to production that created it, or rather it requires that more returns instead of less.
We live in an age when nations don’t know which way to turn in order to attract capital from around the world, and they set up areas especially suited to this purpose. The process of fixing surplus value in oil through a politically orientated banking system, and the real development of many industries in this region (not only those manufacturing raw materials) can turn the Islamic world into an attractor of resources, it would be complementary to global capital that is in turn an allocator of resources, as it’s said in the jargon of budgets. We know that the frenzy for valorization may shift a resource allocation worth many billions of dollars overnight by way of a governmental decree establishing advantageous terms in a certain territory. Should western capitalism exploit its own proletariat and then transfer its gains to the islamic world? It’s unthinkable. No capitalist could accept such a flow. We recall that the world consumes about 30 billion barrels of oil a year, and thereby the oil rent alone sums up to 600 billion dollars (at 20$ a barrel). Since the muslim countries’ oil reserves are about 70% of the world's, as the other reserves are going to run out, the petro-dollars are going to be fully absorbed by the Islamic finance.
Today the oil price hasn't been raised yet, in spite of the war and OPEC decision to limit its production, because Russia makes up for the market with a controlled over-production. Putin’s current commitment is a huge gift to the USA and a further sacrifice for the Russian people. Considering the enourmous gap which divides the two economies, that is a true surrender, even worse than a military defeat. But it doesn’t seem that Russia can shoulder this task for nothing, unless it’s willing to supinely accept being written off as a power from the surface of the earth. Surely, this relation, as well as all the other ones the imperialisms will have with ane another, will weigh on the scales as much or more than any bombing on the desert lands of Afghanistan.
For decades the USA have been using their position as superpower not only to foster their capitals’ world flow, but also to turn others’ troubles to their advantage. It’s obvious that the industrial countries not owning oil are handicapped in competing with the USA, which has oil-fields in its own country and as well trades most of the world oil. After the Yom Kippur war and the subsequent oil embargo by the Arab countries, the USA took up the tenfold increased oil price easily, because this fact valorized their home oil wells, which the law of rent was about to make them close down (the most fertile and productive field establishes from which less fertile field cultivation is no longer profitable), and mainly because Europe and Japan, their stronger competitors, were brought to their knees. This policy is the same as bin Laden has set as a basis for his platform of holy war against the "crusaders" and for the Umma, the united Islam. In other words, today a part of bourgeoisie theorizes and practices a system of drainage of surplus-value to the detriment of the other bourgeoisies. It lays hold of the oil rent to enable development in zones of the earth where conditions are particularly unfavorable (deserts, lack of water, lack of facilities), and that consequently require very high costs of accumulation.
Unlike competition and the free market, rent is instead a monopoly owing to ownership and its main feature is that it is outside any competition and unaffected by it. To use Soros’ metaphor, there is an extended rebellion of the periphery of the empire against the centre, and, consequently, increasing attempts by the centre to keep control. In such a context, every project providing that national sovereignty should be renounced for the common good is mere wishful thinking. While diplomacy is patching together a policy of total consent, the laws of capitalism deepen the contradictions among the national interests. At the same time when important parts of the periphery wish to free Islam’s holy places from American control, as well as, comprehensively, the rest of the Islamic world, that is precisely these places where most of the oil is deposited.
Obviously, it’s easy for Western capitalism to show the war for what it in fact partially is: a chapter in the clash between modern capitalism and the remnants of old societies. But there’s a lot of hypocrisy in doing so. The media carpet bombing shows us crowds in tatters and fighters in traditional dresses, turbans, sandals in the sand, faded jellaba, men and animals in the dust, picturesque imagines of a life that is by now no more like that in most places. But capitalism’s stronger hatred isn’t towards ways of life dying out by themselves, it is directed rather towards the unnatural union of capital with the structures of the old societies, which is mainly evident in Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates. Capital unscrupulously uses ancient forms, when they’re useful for accumulation, but in this case it has to cope with a capitalism more modern than the USA’s, handled by a tribal society that rebels against it. It’s not that Americans hate such monstruous historical hybrids, on the contrary, it looks fantastic to them. They’ve always admired such admixtures of high-tech and archaism, half-way between Las Vegas and Flash Gordon. It’s capital that is fed up with the old societies of nouveau riches, when they "do business on their own", and mingle the Prophet’s stern laws with the worst bribery by dint of petro-dollars, overlooking the interests of the leading capitalism.
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of separating tradition and the sway of capital, and the latter will take over. Who, if not the USA, will be the fittest tool for the purpose? And the US will lend itself to it willingly, finding every possible justification, whether ethical, political or economic. American imperialism has already swept away Mexico, Spain, Germany and Japan, France, England and the USSR as rival powers in the classic play of competition, and it will have no problem cracking down on those calling into question its control of a part of the world surplus-value. The islamic banking network is one issue, but there is also all the periphery trying to escape from the centre’s control and beginning to behave intolerantly towards the latter’s self-interested manifestations of "civilization" labelled "exportation only". If, beyond that of oil, the rent of iron, copper, uranium and raw materials at large were cartelized, the world would become ungovernable. When the oil producers had not yet formed a cartel, oil was relatively expensive, because of the clout of the Majors’ who pocketed super-profits for their control of oil commercialization and refining. When OPEC was born, there was, paradoxically, a period of price reduction, as a result of the broken monopoly by the coming into the market of other producers (mainly Russia) which the majors addressed. When, after the embargo following up the Yom Kippur war, the trend of re-appropriation of the rent by OPEC proved to be irreversible, the majors differentiated their interest and managed to absorb the very high increases in the cost of oil without losing their super-profits at the expense of the consumers
Even in the case of oil rent, the USA ends up by fighting what they themselves have built. As in Marx’s best pages about British imperialism, the USA creates and feeds the forces that will be their enemy. Need we add that they create and feed not only the competing forces inside capitalism, but also the revolutionary forces bound to pull it down. This system will be destroyed and – he may cry 'shame', who sees in this assertion too much determinism and too little political will – the dialectic of the revolutionary process will drive the biggest imperialism, whatever it may do to save itself, to continually beget antagonist forces. Furthermore, while trying to save itself, it will start into motion processes that will be useful to the future society, as in the attempt to centralize control of the world, that a classless society will be able to reverse into its dialectical opposite, when using them.
As for the leaflet "War against the war", we’ve already addressed it so let’s take another: "We support unconditionally the causes and struggles of the oppressed islamic masses". Let’s read well: "unconditionally", "causes", "oppressed islamic masses". Let’s see if they tally with what Marx said, for instance in the Manifesto, where, in the last page, he stated that " the communists support everywhere every revolutionary movement against the existing political and social conditions and that in its rebellion put in the first place the property question". In Marx there’s nothing unconditional; the communists support every revolutionary movement: please, is there anyone who can tell us something making sense about the revolutionary movement opposing at present the USA’s imperialistic action? Who can tell us where it is, what shape it is taking, what is its programme, which are its actions and with what tactics, that is which class alliances it has designs on. Let’s be clear, we beg you.
Now, let us speak of the "causes". We don't have before us a movement arising from the impoverished conditions of the masses and organizing itself to overcome them in the context of a revolution, even if within bourgeois bounds. We’ve before us bourgeois persons (with pre-bourgeois features) making use of the masses’ backwardness and misery as a weapon in a war between bourgeoisies. If the documents bin Laden produced against the capitalistic Saudi bourgeoisie and in favour of the "oppressed islamic masses’ taking possession of the oil resources aren’t convincing (it may be imperialistic propaganda), one can directly check the Saudi monarchy’s direct action which funded the most reactionary and anti-historical islamic resistance for decades. It’s not just the "islamic" masses that are oppressed, billions of human beings are oppressed, unfortunately entrapped in the clash of interests among bourgeoisies and their inner factions. There has never been and will never be an independent movement of the "oppressed masses": when a movement takes shape, it is influenced either by the proletariat or by the bourgeoisie. And for he who claims to be a communist, it is foolish to support unconditionally any movement. Instead it’s necessary to spot the main factors allowing him to support it. In the case we deal with, to support it, one would need to understand, apart from all the possible complications owing to the "concrete situation": 1) if we have before us a bourgeois revolutionary movement either against old production modes or against a colonizer preventing national independence; 2) if we have before us a proletarian revolutionary movement which the "oppressed masses" may join so that together they can blow up the system. Variants within the schema can be found, but further points can’t be added in the context of the communist revolutionary process and its tactical options, historically given and not to be chosen.
Marx and Engels surveyed the clash between Russia and England in Afghanistan for the leadership in central Asia, and always saw the question from a military view-point, as a war between states; even if at the time, because of the existing colonies, a social clash actually could have occurred , which would have made a revolutionary movement against the present state of things rise and develop. In the account of the Afghan insurrection of 1841, Engels, during the war, never speaks of revolutionary masses, but of tribes impatient towards the foreigners. They besieged the English army in Kabul, brought about its surrender and then slaughtered it systematically, sniping at it during its retreat to Jalalabad, where only one survivor arrived. Engels' account is quite closely reminiscent of today’s events. What was interesting at the time, in the absence of revolutionary movements, was the big geopolitical clash between Russia and England, the one that could have turned Europe upside down. In fact, when in 1878 a war between Russia and England against France and Germany loomed, Marx notes that the wave of jingoistic nationalism would submerge the revolutionary movement for years. And, in the same year, in the face of the successful Russian manoeuvres against England in Afghanistan, he writes that such operations are interesting at present only because, whatever Russia may do on the world stage can’t but speed up its dreadful end.
Today a war against the USA isn’t possible, and at present nothing can speed up "the dreadful end" of imperialism except imperialism itself. However, even if war takes on "atypical" forms unlike the past, we don’t feel authorized by this fact alone to change our attitude on a clash between bourgeoisies. How can anyone not understand that the clash is happening entirely within the bourgeois ranks and that the all-too-famous Islamic masses side as partisans with either one bourgeois faction or another? Siding with some partisans devoid of any revolutionary course means nothing but plunging into the mainstream ideology that has designed and used them in its history, as when the Russian-American imperialism fostered a "resistance" against the Italo-German one.
The recent events seemingly put before us a very complex situation , but it can be reduced to a few main items, that actually make it simpler than it was in other ages. We have the experimental verification that imperialism isn’t the product of governments, states or what is worse, some men’s will to oppress the world, but it is governments, states and men that are constrained to abide by stronger material drives than themselves. Consequently we see all the ideological and constitutional frameworks which the so-called free world stood upon being torn down. Even for he who identifies himself fully with the system, today it’s no longer enough to uphold the myth of the difference of freedom between the West and the rest of the world, so the American way of life is becoming a stale pattern. For he, who instead idealizes the fight against imperialism, the opposite myth is crumbling, that of cruel dictatorships fed with dollars, of Contras partisanship quoted on Wall Street, of Amerikans in the pay of the CIA unleashed across the world to torture, plot and foster desaparecidos. American freedom is truly another thing as compared with the Taliban obscurantism and puritan and racist America is truly scornful of the lives of others; but even the opposite myths are falling in the face of the material power of a history gathering all of us together under capital’s flag.
For many it is no longer so urgent to line up under the partisan flags of opposing crusades, even if the two majority factions still invoke aloud "God bless America" and "Holy war on America". The monstrous capitalist system has ended up by bringing inside America what until now has been judged to be external to it. Because America doesn’t manage to beget precise opposite fields for waging a war like the past ones, it bombs itself by means of a Wahabite mystic, but also by means of true Americans who can no longer put up with the old liberties being torn down, as with Unabomber, the attack on Oklahoma City, the widespresd dissemination of anthrax and 850 more or less armed patriot groups acting against the US administration can prove. Material interlacings of interests, such as the Bush administration’s connexion with the oilmen, but not only that (already Clinton signed an anti-terrorism law suspending constitutional rights), are eating up "freedom" at the very fount of its myth and burning down any hindrance they come across, even the founding fathers’ holy amendments. A brazen statism brutally aimed at saving profit is growing enourmously, despite the trumpeted statements of laissez faire economists. The suspension of constitutional guarantees has overcome the law and become an absolute power. People are imprisoned on suspicions and in the media the official introduction of torture is being debated without shame. Institutional personnel are publically making lists of proscription, jingoistic demonstrations are being driven into hysteria, religious fundamentalism is becoming extremized. All of these are regular manifestations of American capitalism’s life which we admit we can find in every period, but are now so exacerbated as to touch off a generalized neurosis, a national agony, as it is called, punching up the consumption statistics of psychopharmaceuticals and filling the waiting-rooms of the brainsqeezers.
Imperialism in a despairing defence
Imperialism is the supreme phase of capitalism, and as capital abhors frontiers, it’s normal in capitalism that not only goods and money, but also social facts are imported and exported. After all, it’s not even true there’s a "one-way" cultural imperialism: Hollywood produces less American and more international movies than the old colonial powers produced French, English, German and Italian movies. America’s music is everything but American, from jazz to country, to Gabriel’s "ethnic" contaminations, old England’s revenge, sending its former colonies’ sounds into America. Imperialism has to react against the Barbarians’ invasion, and does it by defending itself. It can’t allow war to come home, not even ancient Rome ever allowed its own army to come within its walls and declared them sacred. When the national guard’s tanks attacked the Waco sect and slaughtered virtually all its members, there were some who rose up, because a limit on constitutional sanctions had been broken down. So an internal war has the power to blow up the self-regulating mechanisms of the state: the human rights charter, constitutions, laws and...the holy profit rate. In fact, the buying and selling of labour-power is a stronghold of bourgeois freedom: it’s a piece of goods set on the free market, where there’s freedom of alienating it at a certain price and of exploiting it intensively, once it is bought.
Against internal attacks on its strength, America defends itself in the one way history make available to it: by trying to keep the war at the empire’s limits. Otherwise It would succumb once and for all, and the bourgeoisie of the whole world know well that if the USA falls, they will fall too along with the whole bourgeois domination. Krugman is speaking out, and tells us that, whatever may happen, the USA can’t afford a ten-year recession and become like Japan. But if the situation becomes uncontrollable the risks will be still greater. For instance, will the USA start debating about the energy running their factories and air-conditioning their houses in a land where on average the cold rages six months a year and the heat does the other six? Will they refrain from levering this energy, knowing it is a wonderful means to hold their bigger competitors at bay? Will they allow the dollar to stop being the world currency and to become waste paper? Will they downgrade their power after drawing upon themselves so much hatred in the span of a century? The reaction to their decay would be much more violently anti-american than the re-thinking of modern history that the scholars of so-called revisionism are doing. They would be attacked from everywhere and in all ways and would likely be swept off the surface of the earth.
Well, why not? So says he who absorbed the non-american bourgeoisies’ hatred more than he did class hatred, that isn’t surely a sentimental habit; if the world rebelled against the USA, the revolution would be nearer. So argues he who has understood nothing about what is written in the Manifesto, and so means as a "revolution" any attack on any "Winter Palace". The revolution, that is communism, is an actual process we’re living in, and the hour of attack isn’t brought nearer automatically from a clash among bourgeoisies. Never is it to be said: there’s a revolutionary situation, but, unfortunately, the party that can lead it is absent. If the clash among bourgeoisie does’t meld with the proletariat’s preparation, with the "oppressed masses’" uprising, and consequently with the conditions developing a revolutionary party, the situation is by all means counter-revolutionary. As it can be seen, this doesn’t come down to the Americans, whether good or bad, but to an historical course that can’t be stopped, making all the actors play their parts out to the end. It’s time to get rid of the meagre vision of those asserting that the revolution is a act of will to be prepared. The revolution is the mode of existence of mankind marching towards its becoming and we are immersed in it. The revolution isn’t to be prepared, it’s us who have to prepare ourselves for it. The same applies to the revolutionary party. The would-be revolutionaries who want to get to the revolution "by building" parties are like those bourgeois who wanted to go into space during the space race in the 50’s and 60’s: in reality they were sitting in a rocket and orbiting 200 km high, that’s the distance from Rome to Naples. But that motion in space already existed, seeing that the earth has moved in space for billions of years. OK, then they went to the moon, but it’s a trifling shift as compared with the size of the universe. In the 'space' of the revolution, we’re already there and "just" have to know how to find our bearings. That’s the one way we can have the party and the attacks on the Winter Palaces. Joining the revolution and enabling ourselves with a patient work to lead it represent a will (or better, a reversal of praxis) of a quite higher power than the one ingenuous utopians cherish. We mean, it will be grounded on real conditions, on material ratios of force and not on ideas, wishes, hopes. That is the one way the communist party will be able to take an active and conscious part in the so much expected as unavoidable revolutionary breakdown.
Someone who was perplexed asked us in the past if perhaps we weren’t supposing an invincible super-imperialism, when speaking of America. Someone else asked us if perhaps we weren’t underestimating its power, that, just because it is "super", it has in itself force enough to still find room to grow in the underdeveloped world. Someone else asked us if perhaps we weren’t hypothesizing an automatic course of the collapse of capitalism and an automatic raising up of the new society, thus belittling the subjective factor of the party and class. All of them are unfounded worries. American imperialism is really "super" and unrivalled, no doubt; it’s impossible to compare today’s America with the England that in the 19th century ruled the other imperialistic powers. Not even in the time of the cold war was there real competition between imperialisms, as we’ve seen, considering that the USSR was a military giant, but an economical dwarf and a financial nullity. On the other hand, just because of its immense ecomomic and military power as a super imperialism, America is facing an increasing need of surplus-value: for valorizing its huge capital (dead labour) it has to exploit living labour more and more, which means to produce and sell wider and wider, but it is impossible to do so by impoverishing the world and creating a huge mass of useless men as a result of the existence of its own and other subordinate imperialisms. The subjective factor isn’t belittled at all when setting up unemotionally the issue of the war among imperialisms and among classes: on the ground of the ripeness of the facts and real ratios of force it’s proven that the catastophe, the point of bifurcation dividing this capitalistic world and the future society is a supreme act of will. Only it is neither that of an individual nor of a sum of individuals, but is the reversal of praxis by the party. At the point of bifurcation named October 1917, the party was troubled internally: either temporary government and constitutional assembly or insurrection and grasp of power. What won, as it’s known, was the week that wasn’t to be let pass by, but the victory was a consequence of being able to leap into the future with an act not arising at all from a Lenin’s brilliant brain, but from the full consistency of the twenty years’ previous struggles.
Politics’ bastard product
With the attack upon the Pentagon and Twin Towers and with the US war in Afghanistan and across the world we face such a point of bifurcation. Not yet ours, but that of the America-led survival of world capitalism . Sooner or later that was to happen and eventually has happened. Many people wise after the fact are now finding that society has been brooding over all of this previously and that its super-structure has been churning out novels, movies, scenarios, military doctrines, and enforcements of the law in the face of the threats of the "terrorists" themselves. In a short story from many years ago, when China didn't possess intercontinental rockets yet but already had A bombs, the USA was being destoyed by means of a Chinese firm diseminating A bombs carried by vans transporting imported shrimps. The USA must do something long before too many shrimp vans are going around. They go 'ballistic' over quite negligible dangers. How could a country whose vital space runs around the world stand an Israeli-Palestinian situation extended worldwide? US imperialism, just because it is "super", turns out to be very vulnerable. Not only as to the attacks of a military kind like 9/11, but also as to scores of causes that can come out of any node of the ungovernable system. Here is the point: the system needs to be governed just because it is being proven more and more chaotic and out of control.
If in such a situation a challenge is launched from a rampant imperialism, that improves itself financially by siphoning off surplus-value from the developed world and, in addition, has niches of fundamentalism preaching the coming back into existence of forms of societies capitalism is sweeping away (not Islam, religions die more stubbornly than anything, but the very appeal to archaic social forms), then the ingredients are all there for an eruption of a world-wide clash. Global, because in capitalism relations are so interwoven that it’s impossible to hit Afghanistan without hitting at the roots of what has led bid Laden out there, that is the Saudi and Middle East equilibrium, and without intervening in a world police operation even in their allies’ home affairs. If a change was in the offing, since 9/11 it has become anxiously operative. The US wanted to name the counter-attack "infinite justice", then it changed its name because someone reminded them that only divine justice was infinite. The next name "enduring peace" proves that the ethnic-religious approach is an equivocation: as the terms "justice" and "peace" are variable value judgements bearing no empirical meaning, all that remains are the terms "infinite" and "enduring", that mean the same for all. In short, all that the fantasy of the crisis cabinet has managed to bring forth is the concept of an endless war.
Let’s come back to von Clausewitz and his definition of war as continuation of politics and vice versa. He himself, at the end of his treatise, states that politics is intelligence, and war that continues the former’s achievements is a tool of it. The decision on which should be the factors of war and which objectives have to be achieved is thereby thoroughly and solely within the province of politics. If war is a mere tool, from a higher viewpoint it turns into politics: rather than diplomacy it develops battles. This dialectic between politics and war is set by Clausewitz in a complex scenario made up of countries, alliances, territories, peoples, industries, etc. So, it abides by the laws of chance and responds to probability, a situation making impossible a full knowledge of all parameters and consequently turning war into a "bastard product" with regard to the logics underlaying it and pervading its intelligence, that’s politics.
If this lack of knowledge and control impose on the idealist Clausewitz the use of the phrase "bastard product" with regard to a ideal pattern, we materialists must pay much attention when we define terms such as "terrorism", "war", "competition", "economics", etc. As we’ve seen, in game theory inter-action is important, what happens "as a function of", and in such dynamics it’s not so obvious that war shows itself only and in any case with aircraft-bombers and tanks; it’s also possible that networks of opposite interests arises and civil airplanes smash into Manhattan’s offices. Clausewitz knows well that in the complex relations preparing a war there are no breaks, that all happens in the same time and goes on towards an outcome that won’t be "the final equalization of the numberless relations war is depending on, but rather of some of them that temporarily are prevailing", thereby, "obviously war is grounded on a play of probabilities, chances, luck or lack of luck where the logical strictness of deduction often drifts away and proves to be only a clumsy and unhandy tool of intelligence. One can deduce from it that a war may be more or less "war", that is war admits different grades of intensity". Modern imperialism imposes war in its large sense as a inner mechanism of its own functioning, so in our current’s works we can find articles such as "Aircraft-carrier imperialism", "Old and new imperialism", "The planet is little" (where there are notes on Afghanistan laying in the "heartland"). All of them link the war issue to the nature of imperialism, not only because it leads to an open war, but because it always behaves as if it were in a theatre of war, even when it has to settle import-export disputes, say, bananas versus spaghetti.
For a theory of imperialist war today
In 1960, in a meeting of the International Communist Party, it was stressed there wasn’t any work about "a theory of war in the capitalist and imperialist age" with regard to the colonized masses. Today a work about the world capitalist arrangement with regard to the so-called "oppressed masses" should be undertaken. In reality, they are not so much oppressed by imperialism (who view them as mere superfluous population) as by their national bourgeoisies. Must we change our concept of imperialism, perhaps? Obviously, we must not. We are used to dealing with marxism as a science of invariants (that is, as any branch of the modern science), but often many forget that, in science, "invariant" doesn’t mean "not varying". Instead it means that in any coherent group of problems some invariants can be referred to even when putting together very different situations. Similarly, the Renaissance artists, real global scientists, were able to keep shapes unvaried when going over from a three dimensional subject to a two dimensional pictoral surface. But long before that the opposite had been found: that is, out of a project with two dimensional drawings the ancients were able to draw three dimensional objects. A simple mathematical instance is given from the fact we’re able to draw the areas of numberless triangles out of one formula, that is the same in any case.
Men draw out of the explanatory power of invariants a kind of principle of authority, so that they accept a formula, a voluntary dictatorship of algorythms. An algorythm is in short a machine for knowing and will be kept on being used at least until a more powerful method will be found. We wonder why the same shouldn’t happen in the social science, more dynamic and complex as it may be. Instead it doesn’t: people get always entangled in gross contradictions even when things are crystal-clear.
For instance, in the 50s, when the two main allies of world war two became enemies and waged a war upon each other (that was named "cold" just because they confronted each other through proxy fighters), the weaker, the USSR, termed its foe’s attitude "neo-colonialism". Now, we can even accept it being called colonialism of a new kind having military bases on the vanquished’s soil, imposing on them boundaries and laws, ruling out their national sovereignty in home and above all foreign politics (Italy’s pattern is exemplary); but, in the face of an "invariant" situation, that is with the same features, if not worse, keeping consistency should have made us aware that both imperialisms’ trumpeted crusades were of one kind. Instead many millions of people on either side were ready to swear for sure that was the rival who denied freedom. Likewise with the clash between East and West in Korea and Vietnam by means of their semi-bourgeoisies. Who can ever understand what the war in Vietnam was if he can’t understand what modern imperialist war is, what American (that is world) economics is? What was such a war for? Did they want to replace the French who had just been driven out? Not at all. The USA haven’t any colony, even though they have colonized the world. How? By preventing their rivals from having any. The rivals did need "vital space" in a classical sense, but the Americans didn’t, and have always taken it away from the others, precisely from their rivals . The old powers – and Russia was an old power – had to colonize some territory to have further markets, while America had to colonize the market and afterwards a territory was useless to them. Old colonialisms’domination was political, Americans’ current one is economical: that’s why, according to Lenin’s iron-clad definitions against Kautsky, now there isn't any longer a revolutionary "national question" even if the bourgeois national questions are springing from everywhere. That’s why all of them are mistaken, and mistaken badly, who deal with the "oppressed masses" question, while neglecting the invariants.
If there were the same situation as in 1920, when in Baku the International launched the slogan of a "Jihad" of the colonized peoples against imperialism, the formula would be the same. The marxists have always been contrary to crusade-like bellicosity and maybe such not merely lexical indulgences laid the foundations also of those formulas leading to the disaster of the stalinist counter-revolution, of which most anti-stalinists are also the heirs. But then (though Zinoviev – il ballista [the fibber], as the italian delegation camarades nick-named him – let himself be carried away during congresses at the time of the revolution) it made sense to appeal to the unity of all the oppressed peoples, because: firstly, at the time, such was the historical trend, driving the representatives of these peoples to meet in Baku, in the heart of an actual world revolution; secondly, because there was the International involving into its action the proletariat across the world from America to China. In conclusion, the formula calculating numberless triangles can’t calculate even one circle. The invariance of a formula must meet the requirements of a quite definite group of problems, as wide as it may be.
All of this enables us to say that also the current war, from the "airplane rain" to the bombing in Afghanistan, has to be viewed from the viewpoint of today's imperialism, the one under the American flag, the one that is enemy to all the others and has swept all of them away; that colonizes the world without having colonies; that trys and finds its vital space in the whole planet; that uses others’ troops and doesn't need any limes or strengthening it. In Afghanistan, nothing different will happen from what is the follow-up of this historical course: in 1898 the USA attacked Cuba in order to reach the Pilippines; in 1917 they landed in Europe to reach the heart of the old colonial imperialism; in 1941 they landed there again in order to sweep it away once and for all; in 1945 general Patton, a good interpreter of the historical trend and reluctant to carry out orders received after the Yalta pacts, ran with his tanks eastwards; The A bombs upon Japan were already "global", being dropped as a warning to everyone; in 1950 in Korea American troops almost reached the Chinese frontier and the US military contemplated the use of A bombs upon Peking; in 1953 Americans turned down a "call for help" by the French in Indo-China, who were defeated at Dien Bien Phu; in 1956 American troopers were parachuted at Port Said and prevented the English and French from occupying the Suez Canal, making them disengage; in 1958 the sixth fleet landed the marines in Lebanon; in 1961 American troops landed in Vietnam, this time answering to the comprador Diem’s "call for help", although he was already a puppet of them; in 1964, since they didn’t manage to shut down the guerrillas, they sent 300,000 men and the airforce started bombing the North; later, the retreat from Vietnam solved the contradiction of a global imperialism being involved in a local war with traditional troops. Since then there are no longer ambiguities: the USA’s continuous war-politics-war is carried out in their own image, and, once Russia collapsed, becomes only politics, in the sense that the international politics becomes a US inner question and their military force becomes a global police force in every respect. On the other hand, let’s look at Italy: ever since the ambassador Clara Booth Luce, Italy’s inner politics has been an American home affair, as it is fully proved by the current governments’ behaviour in the Gulf war, in the Balkans and in Afghanistan.
If a predator eats all prey he starves
These mondial cops have 800 military bases scattered through 140 countries with 250,000 soldiers, most of them specialists (they were 520,000 in the 80’s). They have common pacts of military action with 60 nations and carry out on average 170 armed manoeuvres a year, of which about sixty are multi-national. The bases possess extra-territoriality and no one can poke his nose into them. They prove to be a well hidden but efficient network for controlling the territories. It’s useless, therefore, either conquering or occupying them, it suffices to control them. If necessary, the client states look after supplying logistics and troops, and a power such as the USA gets them easily. Let’s imagine for a moment a Berlusconi breaking the orders he’s received: the day after he would be in jail for turning up again tangentopoli (Italian bribery-gate) clamorously. Craxi tried to assert the national sovereignty and we know what happened to him. Andreotti backed a mediterranean policy of appeasement with the Arab world and was swept away along with his party (the DC) altogether. That doesn’t mean necessarily that the US administration planned specific actions against these men. Let’s put it that way: the USA express certain trends and a subservient milieu accomplishes them.
In the debate about this war, so-called asymmetrical, there were curious comments such as: the USA prepared themselves for "Star Wars" and proved themselves vulnerable to the attacks with "poor" arms inside their land; They were getting ready against Korean and Chinese rockets, as if they still were in cold-war times; now, they’ll have to come back to the use of land troops and sustain causalties they can no longer tolerate since Vietnam. And they’re supposed to send as many troops as earlier or at the least as in the Gulf war. We can’t know if there will be need of sending remarkable scores of troops, but if this happens, the reason will be that a mixture of star wars and land troopers will make a profit. In Afghanistan both Russia and England’s Armies were destroyed, the most powerful land troops in their age. No American army will be destroyed in Afghanistan, we can be sure of it.
Wars can’t be won only with technologies and force, but both of them help a lot, expecially in theatres of war made up mostly of non-urbanized desert lands. Just to take some examples, all the Afghan territory had been satellite-scanned. On the internet satellite photos of shelters and trenchs have been published long before bombing. "Drones", small remote-control aircraft that are silent and almost invisible with the naked aye, can patrol a territory and observe and relay objects and movements the satellites can’t track down. Such aircraft are guided directly from the USA via satellite by a pilot sitting before a videogame-like console. Once a possible target is spotted, they hit it with their onboard rockets, or relay its position through GPS (global positioning system) and signal its location to aircraft-bombers, or else, if the target is big, important and mobile, "light" it up with a laser beam, so that it can be hit by half-intelligent bombs (the so-called intelligent ones are supposed to do all this by themselves, as the "cruise" missile does). This work of relaying and aiming has been also done by commandos in contact with the aircraft-bombers transported by helicopters to spots the satellites have signalled (usually, heights overlooking objective within laser reach). Their rivals’ armament is quite useless, and we couldn’t help smiling when hearing how seriously journalists were speaking of anti-aircraft reaction during the first bombings. The Talibans were likely to possess a modern communication network via satelitte-phones, but in such a case they must have used them very little, because they would have been "tracked down" at once. However, a military organization such as al Qaeda isn’t expected to make the mistake of structuring itself pyramidally, with its summit in one place and country; rather, it is likely to be structured network-like, as all the clandestine organizations in the world. That’s why "star wars" aren’t effective against it, except for slaughtering, besides civilians, some thousands of unlucky people recruited from the regime.
In the continuum of war, in the cycle of bullet-armour or predator-prey, even if blunders had been made by those who’re under bombing now, later they would be able to prevent them, thus provoking in turn a further adaptation of those who bomb. And if the "terrorist" network were destroyed to the last man, it would raise again up-to-date, consequently more skilful in the fight than earlier. Because, apart from the clearness that a bin Laden is a mere product of the USA, it’s the very need of the world being shaped after the US interests that make it unavoidable the cycle can’t stop at all. If the USA are the one predator left, it’s in the course of things that their prey should not die out. Most of mankind will be food, energy, vital space for the US market, but a part will also produce antibodies continually, a tough-strained DNA will grow claws and fangs being able to harm a foe severely. And it’s not so unlikely that it will happen with other means than a proliferation of bin Ladens and the like. If for instance a Europe with its back to the wall were constrained to overcome its regular and regularly incurable divisions, it could become, long before bombs might start dropping, a mutant prey starting to enjoy a predator’s part. Considering that the dollar is "the" international currency and considering that a great deal of dollars have been "created" outside the USA, joint operations between Europe and Japan could have been decreased in value relatively easily. That would be worse than a declaration of war, because the US super-buyers couldn’t stand a month with a dollar devalued beyond a certain limit.
Obviously, that doesn’t happen now, because it’s profitable to the European super-sellers (German and Italy first of all) to export to the USA. But let’s suppose that India and China represent within ten years a market of 3 billion consumers that may replace the one of the USA: then it would be profitable instead to set oneself free from the guardianship of the cumbersome ally. The USA couldn’t afford such a thing without simply succumbing. The Asian market will be the future’s battleground and the current chapters of the general war show us how, in that future, it will be fought.
Game theory and military doctrines
The planet really is shrinking. What is happening today allows us to make a certain forecast: that of a general war of all against all and following the existing ratios of force. It’s not true there are forty friendly countries in the anti-Taliban coalition: there are forty countries finding a temporary glue in a quite unstable balance. The giant lie which they attempt to smuggle in is that of all the media trumpeting the "embrace" against terrorism: we don’t face a clash of civilizations, not even a clash between civilization and barbarity; this is the highest manifestation of civilization. Let's not join the chorus of the bourgeois moralists who think the current society the only one possible and that there never was the like of it. We willingly concede to such people they’re right from the viewpoint of their world. This is really the superior civilization, the supreme phase mankind has reached: this is really "the" civilization. And as it’s impossible to go back, whatever society will take over from this one, whatever will follow can’t be anything but communism.
We’ve already said US imperialism has gone over from a phase of attack, that lasted a century, to a phase of despairing defence. But we add, according to the marxist theory of counter-revolution, that if the USA have gone over to a defensive stance, that means communism (the real movement overthrowing the current state of things) is more than ever attacking.
One may be dubious on this or that detail, but the great geo-historical design is clear. This is not the US war against Afghanistan, and later won’t be the US war against another specific country either, in spite of states or figures grotesquely spotted as "rogue". It’s not even a retaliation war against the instigators of 9/11, as, by the way, the US administration itself is speaking about. This is the US pre-emptive war, so that the world order takes its shape in image and likeness to the American interests, and does it spontaneously, so that the super-power isn’t constrained to deploy forces and means it hasn’t and won’t ever be able to have.
We’ve hinted at game theory. Well, it was developed first by the mathematician von Neumann and can be defined as the theory of the rational behaviour of persons acting in a situation of conflicts of interest. At the beginning the theory was based on zero-sum conflicts, that is on situations where the stake won by one is lost by the other, as in gambling. It’s easily understood this isn’t the situation we’ve described when speaking of bullet-armour and mainly of capitalist-competitor or else predator-prey: if the bullet passed through the armour once and for all, the dynamics leading to produce both of them would end; if the capitalist defeated the competitor once and for all, he would be the only one left in the world and capitalism would end (the reason has been dealt with previously in our review); if the predator consumed the prey once and for all, he would starve. But early on that theory showed some potentialities that could be applied to very complex scenarios, where the chance determinations and known conditions allowed the selections of several possible options, whose consequences couldn’t be entirely known in advance. As it can be seen, we’re coming nearer to the situation of war-game von Clausewitz described as a bastard product with regard to the ideal pattern of battle. A multi-player situation consisting with known determinations, chances and conscious choices needs coalitions, where a player, unavoidably, can maximize its winnings even taking advantage of the others’ strategies. In an abstract model, where players are of equal strengths, the outcome is uncertain, that is the player maximizing his profits can’t be known; it depends on the variables at stake and on the chance. But in the real world, variables at stake are quite well known, as well as the player being able to maximize its win, that’s the strongest, the one who can at the start disrupt the others’ coalitions. As long as he has this capability, of course.
If we try looking for our invariant pattern in history and refer to capital as an empire, as even a Soros has by now to refer to it, we see that, after all, some determinations can be checked to be always the same. Ancient Rome too was an empire with dangerous enemies. Its centre was guarded by choosen troopers, the pretorians; Its periphery was continually defended by troopers coming from the province, the mercenaries. The pretorians fought very rarely, even if they were paid three times as much. On the periphery there were no friends, only "clients" or enemies. The clients were bought, the enemies, if they dared to enter the limites, were annihilated. Until the first century AD Rome had an aggressive policy of expansion. As the empire was getting larger, the army too was to be enlarged, by drawing troops from the annexed peoples and from its client states. In the second century AD the frontiers had become too wide and the raids in the outer lands were combined along with the needs of defence and barriers, like the famous Hadrian's Wall. The motto divide and conquer came out of practical needs: Rome, materially, couldn’t face its enemy when united. In the thirth century AD Rome’s policy was reduced to be more defensive than offensive: at first fortifications and outposts towards the enemies’ lands allowed the legions to obtain a depth of manoeuvring that barriers didn’t; later on the bulk of the troops were kept back off the stronghold, to take advantage of the enemies’ initiative and be sure to write them off once they entered the empire’s territories. This strategy of deep internal defence lasted until the fifth century; it allowed the Roman empire to cope with any sort of enemy by means of mobile and less expensive troops than those of regular armies encamped alongside the fortified barriers for a thousand kilometers. It did not have the ability to assure a battlefield win on every occasion, as is proven by clamorous disasters, but, in the end, it assured the final victory, that is the empire’s integrity. We known how things ended in the end: the mercenary armies started to elect their emperors, and, as they were made up with non-romans, caused the empire to disgregate from within: in the end, even the emperor was barbarian.
In an empire without frontiers, a deep internal defence can’t be measured by penetration in kilometers into one’s own territory but by interference in one’s own strategy. What’s invariant is the end of an aggressive strategy and the beginning of a defensive one, internally, the strategy supposedly assuring the final victory, regardless of the lost battles. After all, World War Two already had these features, and what America did was a counter-attack, even if the attack was due to the its very existence. The USA don’t at all mind civilization, God, Allah, Afghanistan, women forced to wear the burka, gangs of cut-throats now cheered as liberation armies, now doomed as evil-doers, they don’t mind that the UNO will try to install a national government and even, by now, Russia’s intentions on central Asia. All of it is an ingredient for the propaganda soup. What the USA really wants is that the accumulation cycle appearing to be very scanty shouldn’t stop and, as a result, coalitions or whatever forces constitute a real danger shouldn’t take form.
"Rogue states" geo-politics
Let’s observe the globe, which is the one way to observe America’s vital space. As the geo-politicians say, let’s watch it the way Americans do, that’s considering North and South America as being in the middle of the world. To the east the Atlantic is an American inner ocean, West of them the Pacific is bounded by Asia. The two limites are Europe and Japan, so far client states. The enemy is partly wide-spread and partly located in the "rogue states", that are outside, so far at least, the USA’s influence as well as Europe’s and Japan’s. One of these states, North Korea, that preceeded South Korea in modern industrial accumulation, is ending like Russia in its small way, because of its isolation from world capital. Its population is reduced to starvation and sooner or later it is likely to be annexed to South Korea. We can erase North Korea from the enemies’ list all the more so in that the Korean peninsula may play an important part in favour of the USA in the near future, when the opposing sides are clear enough in Asia.
In the list (varying from one source to another) remain: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Lybia and Afghanistan. Looking at the globe, this bunch of enemies appear to be so conspicuous, so concentrated and identified that it remind us there is nothing random in the interlacement of the world’s geo-historical tissue. It’s not accidental, therefore, that the evil islands surround the sole muslim countries allied to the good: Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the former representing political moderation and the latter oil wealth and islamic financial capital. The industrialized world's awareness of its reliance on oil rent came about in the '70's. Capitalism had to defend the property which it itself rests on and at the same time to deny this right, meaning in the case in point simply sharing out. In short, non-industrial countries (consequently not producing surplus-value by themselves ) could arbitrarily take a rate of that produced in America, Europe and Japan’s factories. The levelling out of the overall accumulation main curves and synchronization of the main countries’ economies allowed us to state that the crisis had become chronic and also war would have, sooner or later, shown the rivals not to be America and Russia but America, Japan and Europe. A war bound to become chronic in turn, following its parent’s (the crisis) doom of synchronization. At any rate, its not us who discovered this condition of permanent war, but had been foreseen by our school as early as 1945.
In such a situation, while Egypt continues to represent political stability, Saudi Arabia has been shown, apart from single governments’ behaviours (but who is ruling in Saudi Arabia right now?), to back materially movements judged as "terrorist" or however dangerous to the established balances much more extensively than diplomatic hypocrisy permits. So it’s unavoidable that, while the war in Afghanistan is going on, Saudi interior relationships of force will be blown up by the USA themselves. Or rather, on the whole the war started in Arabia before that in Afghanistan. In fact it was the US armed presence in the Gulf bases, mainly in the holy places, that caused a charge of impiety to be brought against the king and princes linked to the USA, then a holy war had to be proclaimed against them. Since then, interior upheavals have followed one after another and probably haven’t ended yet (the royal house princes number 7000).
Since the Gulf war, Saudi Arabia has been held under constant pressure, and the permanence of the American bases in the area has been secured by Saddam Hussein’s presence, the more demonized as danger number one to the other Arab states, the more unlikely to be removed. In fact, it’s very meaningful that general Schwarzkopf was stopped on his way to Bagdhad, while he was about, according to persistent propaganda, to do away with the devil himself. The permanent bases upset the old balance and, above all after the USSR collapsed, Israel is little by little losing weight as a hinge of the USA’s local policy, and is even going to turn into a ungrateful, inconvenient and cumbersome ally.
The war in Afganistan will go on until the declared objectives will be reached, but it’s certain that it is already going on in other frontlines, that are less visible but not less important. A war not journal-and-television noteworthy. Airplanes, bombs and, maybe, troops represent a demonstrative action, a political replay going along with the fluttering flags and preaching priests, may also be a deterrent to the countries in the black list, but the main part of the war will have nothing to show to the audience, nothing at all. There’s nothing spectacular in a bank chart, in a murder in some hidden hole or in the invisible action of those penetrating the enemy lines materially or through the consoles in the operation rooms.
On the other hand, Echelon isn’t only used to spy on "communists". This imposing satellite spy-network is used mostly to keep an eye on industrial competition, diplomatic movements, the flow of capital and economic transactions that may be dangerous for the US capitalist order. In the permanent war all which is done by the "others" is potentially a hostile action. We can be certain such a system will be in the short term completed with many spys recalled from the white-collar desks they had happily reached. But also with a new large recruitment, as already indicated by the experts pointing out the spying failure before 9/11.
Accumulating tools for the revolutionary class
By now they're speaking of special laws, of a free hand for commandos to move into countries judged as "suspicious", a free hand to intercept, kidnap, imprison and torture. All of it is called "terror" and will be allowed or rather invoked as absolutely necessary for fighting terrorism. A classic homeopathic procedure keeping up with the opposing campaigns. We’re seeing just the early development of a new evolution in the field of the binomial relation bullet-armour, predator-prey. Away with the national barriers and consequently with every hypocrital appeal to the mythologized national sovereignty; and instead a free hand for institutionalized terror across the world.
Terror will beget a non-stop emergency, that advantageously will boost the process of globalization, even on its political side. The USA all of a sudden remember they haven’t been paying their yearly share to the UNO; Kofi Annan is rewarded with the Nobel prize; India and Pakistan are granted an end to their sanctions overnight, a new pre-established government is about to land at Kabul (a script of ’45, earlier acted out in Germany, Italy and Japan). All of it make us suspicious that the useless advisory assembly in New York may be recycled as a legislative power paralleling the new executive power bound to take form. The judicial one is already active and busy with Milosevich’s file, let alone the military one. At least if the bourgeoisie had an international understanding, as capital has, it would behave this way, whether the anti-globalization or neo-globalization movements like it or not. It’s clear that the one bourgeoisie with an international vision is the American, even in spite of most of its individual bourgeois. That’s why America, in the face of the other states’ servility will be able to dictate its own law as never before to these governments’ "free will" in prostituting themselves. On the other hand, the more a government is under blackmail, the more it is useful to America’s strategy, as Italy’s experience teaches.
On the other hand this play won’t last eternally. Sooner or later the competing bourgeoisies will attempt to free themselves, to unite, to escape from America’s more and more choking dominance. A power like Japan can’t keep on surviving in a suffocating situation, as it has been doing for ten years, unless one imagines a capital not valorizing itself and going on through cycles of simple reproduction, that’s through a schema where all surplus-value is consumed unproductively. A power like Germany can’t wait until it comes to a "Japanese"end (anyway it is already on the right course). A power like that of the oil monopoly at large can’t afford to come back to the conditions preceeding the 70’s, in the light of the fact that by now local growth is absorbing most of the oil incomes and their shortage would result in a sure ruin.
All things considered, all this is played exclusively on the basis of surplus-value and its sharing out in the world. But surplus-value is past labour to be brought back into the production cycle so that a new exploitation and its consequent surplus-value may take place again. Every confrontation, every exploding contradiction among states can’t help but involve the producers of surplus-value , who will upgrade their capability of reply simply by using the arms a globalized world places at their disposal.