[AW2024] Interview with the Organising committee of the Action Week

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For the week of 20-26 May, an organising committee (OC) is inviting radical opponents of war from all over Europe to a week of action and a conference “against capitalist wars and capitalist peace” in Prague. In an interview with Transmitter, the organisers explain the aim of this meeting and their view of the war in Ukraine and how various left-wing movements are dealing with it.

Submitted by Guerre de Classe on April 21, 2024

For the week of 20-26 May, an organising committee (OC) is inviting radical opponents of war from all over Europe to a week of action and a conference “against capitalist wars and capitalist peace” in Prague. In an interview with Transmitter, the organisers explain the aim of this meeting and their view of the war in Ukraine and how various left-wing movements are dealing with it.

Q: From 20.-26. of May you are planning an antiwar Action Week. What shall happen in these days in Prague?

R: Each day during this Action Week will see a different event. There will be presentations, discussions, fundraisers, protests and various types of direct action. We see the Action Week not as the D-day but as only one moment in the process of building the revolutionary defeatist community. A process that includes exchanges of texts and critiques, discussions, organization of concrete actions, continuity of the community, etc. What we hope for is that we will be able to build stronger relations in the camp of revolutionary defeatism and if possible, to reach a certain level of programmatic centralization while keeping the decentralization of actions.

Q: The slogan of your Action Week is “Together against capitalist wars and capitalist peace!” What do you want to say by using this slogan? Why do you combine the opposition to capitalist wars with these of capitalist peace?

R: War and peace are not opposite; they are parts of the same cycle of destruction and reconstruction. What bourgeoisie mean when they talk about peace is in fact the state of class war against the proletariat or in other words a status quo of the capitalist exploitation. By the logic of expansion of the market that is an inherent property of the capitalist cycle of production and exchange of commodities, each capitalist faction is forced to compete with the others. When the expansion of the market is no longer possible by non-military means, then the military means take their place. In fact, the period of the capitalist “peace” can be characterized as a period of preparation for war – arms production, nationalist propaganda, formation of bourgeois alliances. When social-democratic forces call for “peace” they call on the proletariat to be grateful that the carnage of war has ended and to accept the continuation of the bourgeois domination and capitalist exploitation. What we call for is not a peace, but the class war against our exploiters. We want to transform the capitalist war into a civil war for global communist revolution.

Q: At the end of the Action Week, you want to held an international antiwar conference? What is the aim of this conference?

R: … internationalist conference, where we will try to shift from theoretical matters towards the coordination of concrete anti-war activities.

Q: You published a list of groups and organizations you are inviting, quite a lot of them are anarchist ones. Is this conference organized by and for the anarchist milieu?

R: We do not accept the separation of the revolutionary movement into the ideological “families” of “anarchism” and “Marxism”. In fact, we consider this historical conflict to be an expression of the social-democratic tendency’s attempt to co-opt the revolutionary movement. For us the only trench line exists between the revolution and counter-revolution and it crosses both “families”. Groups and organizations were invited to participate primarily based on their revolutionary defeatist positions and practice.

This being said, it’s true that we didn’t invite any of the most “famous” so-called “left-communist” big organizations existing since decades and often identifying themselves as the “revolutionary milieu”. For us it is not a question of sectarianism but of setting criteria in order to allow a constructive discussion and advancing in the task of promoting revolutionary defeatism and encouraging its development as an integral part of the proletarian movement. We insist on the fact that we need a real discussion and not just listening to each other contributions without being able to reach any common point.

Unfortunately, based on what we know and already experimented while confronting the antiwar activity of certain so-called “left-communist” groups and organizations, we have an impression that their goal is not to build a real community of struggle but to build a pseudo “party”, moreover a mass party, modelled on the historical Bolshevik party which framed the proletarian revolutionary processes and emptied the subversiveness of our class movement.

We of course do not expect that all the groups invited to the Action Week will be programmatically at the same level, we are aware that the critique of capitalism of some of the organizations is not developed and deepened in the same way. But our hope is to be able to allow them through the discussions and common practice to reach a higher, more dialectic and therefore more radical level of grasping the reality of the world based on exploitation and therefore to open the possibility of a common struggle.

Q: Right after the attack of the Russian Federation against Ukraine in 2021, quite a lot anarchists and leftists from Central and Eastern Europe began to support the Ukrainian resistance against Russian occupation, some even joined the Ukrainian armed forces. These anarchists and leftists explained to a western left audience (that has little knowledge about the situation in these countries) that being left and progressive in Central and Eastern Europe means to support the military defense of Ukraine. What is your stance on these positions?

R: We don’t call ourselves “progressive” or “leftist”, as these labels don’t signify anything else than the progress of the Capital and “left-wing” of the Capital. We however completely reject this position and we consider these so-called “anarchists”, that support one side in the inter-bourgeois war or even directly participate in its army, to be our enemies and to be part of the State. We also completely reject the idea, that this is somehow natural position of the anarchists in Central and Eastern Europe, because they are closer to war. As evidence to the contrary, we can mention the group “Assembly” from Kharkov, that lies directly on the trench line and is constantly being bombed, who share with us the revolutionary defeatist positions against both sides of the war.

Q: In Germany, Poland, as far as we know in Czech Republic too, there is a remarkable opposition against the military support for Ukraine and the redistribution of public funds to the military. This opposition is culturally and politically mostly right wing, its members sympathize often with Russia and Putin. How should, by your point of view, a left that opposes “capitalist wars and capitalist peace” deal with these movements?

R: In Eastern Europe, the “populist” right-wing is the new “left-wing” – after the classic social-democratic / “socialist” parties became the partisans of the “austerity measures” – the nationalist parties (including post-Stalinist “communist parties”) stepped in to become more effective expression of the historical social-democracy. These movements are channeling real anger of the proletariat against the decrease of the living conditions towards the electoral support, useless tame demonstrations, small scale violence against immigrants, etc. At least in Czech Republic, we don’t know about any expressions of autonomous proletarian perspective in these movements. If we see any such expression, we can try to intervene, push the contradictions, etc., regardless of which political current is trying to co-opt them. For example, Gilets Jaunes movement in France was at the very beginning also somehow framed by right-wing.

Q: There is a position in some radical left circles that in regard of the risk of an unfolding new world war a new “Zimmerwald” is needed, referring to the meeting of dissident factions of the European social democratic parties in 1915. Shall your meeting be a kind of a new “Zimmerwald”?

R: No. We consider this to be only a first step in the development of the common militant activity between the participant groups, the aim is not to formally and artificially create “a new international”, although while getting organized internationally we somehow contribute to push, encourage and structure a genuine international proletarian revolutionary defeatist community of struggle. In this way, it’s obvious that the positions of the participant groups towards the war must be clearly revolutionary defeatist one. We do not discuss with warmongers!

Now about the reference you made with Zimmerwald, we would like to expose a few things that will surely be criticized by self-proclaimed “left-communist” groups. We would like to emphasize that the Zimmerwald conference and the Manifesto that resulted from its debates is in no way an expression of the revolutionary movement. Even if it is generally considered as the very expression of the break with the Second International and its counterrevolutionary and pro-war position, we have to insist on the fact that from the revolutionary point of view it was nothing else than an attempt to put the Second International back together, to save it in order to continue its social democratic and therefore counterrevolutionary politics. The inconsistent and pacifist Manifesto of Zimmerwald conference is not calling for revolution; for turning the bourgeois war into class war. It is calling for peace and return to normality. Normality of exploitation and misery…

However, some communist militants who took part to the meeting didn’t agree and refused to sign the Manifesto. They tried to formulate another perspective than a bourgeois peace: to turn the guns against the officers, to organize desertion, to fight against our own bourgeoisie, to fraternize with the proletarians of the opposing armies… to transform the civil war into an international revolutionary war. And this in opposition to the counterrevolutionary program of the International and its different member parties.

So, for us it is a mistake to refer to Zimmerwald conference as such. We do not want to participate to a “new Zimmerwald”. On the contrary we are of course very enthusiastic to participate to a real attempt to organize revolutionary defeatist forces against the war and against capital!

Q: The situation we live in is terrifying. There is a rising risk for a global military conflict and yet no force visible that opposes militarization and war on a global level. What could under these conditions be hopefully the outcome of your activities in Prague?

R: As answered above, this is a first step in practical coordination of the militant activity between the groups opposed to all sides of the war and opposed to both war and peace. We can’t speculate what the outcome will be.

History showed us so much that the proletariat never rose up in the name of “great causes” but on the contrary that many “insignificant” reasons or pretexts can ignite what exists under the yoke of General Capital and set ablaze the whole of the world and its social relations. Have just a look at WW1 and how the revolutionaries of the time were so pessimistic in front of slaughters lasting for years and proletarians killing each other under the bloody banners of “their” respective nations and bourgeoisies. And suddenly, in 1917, breaking through the veils of ignorance and submission, confronting the black sun of capital, our class rose up and started to try to sweep away and destroy what destroys us…

Let’s never forget that revolutionaries don’t spark revolutions by their own will but when revolutionary dynamics are developing, it’s the duty of revolutionaries to participate to them, to take part, the push the movement, to clarify the aims and targets, to clear the confusion in the ranks of the militant proletariat, to give and provide the direction towards the abolition of the capitalist nightmare!

This interview was originally published in Transmitter magazine