Since the end of November, the bourgeois media has inundated us with an increasing load of articles and videos which denounce the supposed Russian threat to Ukraine and world peace.
Every day the calls of the bourgeoisie to fight against “Russian aggression” become stronger, especially in the United States, where to suggest that the “international rules-based order”(1) is nothing more than an imperialist myth used to justify the warmongering machinations of our capitalist class, is met with denunciations of being a Russian agent. But in reality as revolutionary internationalists, we know that we are not agents of any imperialist power, but rather that we are militant workers that struggle for the interests of our class, which include the struggle against imperialist wars.
It is relatively difficult in the US to obtain news which does not simply reflect the viewpoints and information repeated by ‘our’ bourgeoisie. Most of the time, what we see on the news presents Russia as an aggressor and an anti-democratic force controlled solely by Putin, who wants to rebuild the old Soviet Union. On the other hand, the US is presented as a peaceful force which wants to defend the supposed democracies of the world against the growing autocracies like China or Russia. NATO is seen not as an imperialist alliance but rather as a conglomeration of democracies, created to resist the supposedly ‘communist’ totalitarianism of the USSR more than 70 years ago. This is the fundamental narrative which unites almost all of the propagandists of the bourgeoisie in the US. Although there are some differences between the different sources of information, in the end this is the base from which arises what is called ‘the news’.
What we do know is that the recent events between Ukraine and Russia are an intensification of the competition between the ‘great’ imperialist powers and blocs, in this case between Russia and the NATO countries, especially the US and UK. The bourgeois media in the US report that there has been a surge in the number of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine (it is estimated that there are more than 100,000 soldiers as of early February). But what they won’t tell us are the aggressive actions of NATO and the US in Ukraine and Europe. Since the collapse of the USSR and their imperialist bloc, NATO has been increasingly expanding itself up to the Russian borders. In Ukraine specifically, the US has delivered around $2.5 billion worth of military aid to the government to fight against the Russian separatists in the East of the country, and to prepare for a future imperialist conflict with Russia.(2) Other NATO countries as well, such as Canada, have sent military advisors to Ukraine to train the Ukrainian army, again with the intent of being prepared for an eventual conflict with their imperialist rival, Russia.
The hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie is evident. When Russia sends ‘their’ soldiers to ‘their’ borders, this is denounced as a threat to world peace. But when Biden announces that he is considering sending thousands of troops to Eastern Europe,(3) in addition to the US troops already stationed there, the media praises this as a step towards preserving and defending democracy. One has to laugh when Antony Blinken denounces Russia for breaking the “principle that one country cannot exercise a sphere of influence to subjugate their neighbors.”(4) Out of all of the countries of the world, the US knows the most when it comes to maintaining a sphere of influence and subjugating their neighbors. For almost all of its history, the US has treated Latin America as their personal dominion, in which no state was able to align itself with an imperialist bloc against the US. One only needs to look at Cuba to see how the US reacts when a state in its ‘sphere of influence’ attempts to join with another imperialist bloc; that is, a never-ending punishment of economic blockade. And when the US pretends to be the champion of the “rules-based international order”(5) it is impossible not to see the cynicism of the bourgeoisie. The US does not follow any rule which acts as an obstacle to its imperialist ambitions, even its own!
As the days pass, it seems as though the bourgeoisie is conditioning us for some type of conflict with Russia. Currently, it is difficult to predict in what direction the events are going to lead us, but NATO is not united in how to answer the mobilizations of the Russian bourgeoisie. Some, like the US and UK, are much more combative in wanting to defend Ukrainian ‘sovereignty’ and support them in a potential invasion by Russia. The Eastern NATO countries like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are also aligned against Russian imperialism. But other NATO countries, significantly Germany and France, are not as interested in being aggressive against Russia because they depend on Russia for their gas. Biden has already announced that he does not have intentions of sending US troops to Ukraine to fight against Russia if there is an invasion. But the options are still open for the US, and the US has said that it is considering the option of supporting a Ukrainian insurgency if Russia invades.(6)
And is Russia going to invade? We do not know the secret conversations of the Kremlin, but we are able to outline a few general facts about what Russia desires as an imperialist power. Putin and many in the Russian bourgeoisie view the collapse of the USSR and the expansion of NATO over the last 30 years as a mortal threat to their ability to function as a strong imperialist actor in the world. The growing proximity of NATO towards Russian borders is also unacceptable for them, and because of that during this century, they have taken measures to defend what they consider as a buffer zone between them and the Western powers, and demand their own influence over this zone. In 2008 for example, when Georgia was attempting to join NATO, Russia invaded the country and currently maintains the existence of two separatist regions there, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Something similar occurred in 2014 when the US and EU supported the ‘Euromaidan’ uprising in Ukraine, which overthrew the pro-Russian government and replaced it with one that was friendlier to the Western bourgeoisie. Soon afterwards, the Russian minority in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine rose up against the new government, and Russia occupied Crimea while materially supporting Russian separatists in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. The situation there has continued essentially like this for the last 8 years, with a ‘static’ war in the separatist regions. With this situation, it is not very favorable for Russia if they invade Ukraine. Although that scenario is not impossible, what Russia desires to extract from the recent troop movements is not a military occupation of Ukraine, but rather a guarantee that Ukraine will never belong to the imperialist sphere of NATO, and that Ukraine be under a government which cooperates with the Russian bourgeoisie. Failing that it would be enough for the situation in Ukraine to remain unstable for Russia to prevent its absorption into NATO just as it has done with Georgia since 2008.
The Anti-War Perspective
In whichever case, it is our fundamental duty as internationalists to oppose all of the steps towards war by our governments. We must expose all of the propaganda of the bourgeoisie with our own internationalist propaganda, which does not align with any imperialist side (whether it be the US, Russia, China, or others), but rather which defends the political independence of the working class.
The workers of one country share the same interests as the workers of the other. This is a fundamental principle of Marxism, which postulates that “workers have no fatherland.”(7) It is for this that the workers of the US don’t have any interest in fighting against and killing the workers of Russia, nor do Russian workers against Ukrainian workers, etc. If they send us to the battlefields, we have to do as the Russian, German, and French soldiers did during the First World War, or as many US soldiers did during the Vietnam War; that is, refuse to kill our fellow workers under a different flag, and make war against those that send us to fight!
But one cannot begin the struggle against imperialist war in a vacuum. We have to contextualize the recent machinations of the world bourgeoisie within the global crisis of capitalism, which now extends 50 years ago to the beginning of the 1970s. The bourgeoisie does not walk down the path towards war just because they feel like it, but rather because they find that, in addition to attacking the working class, it is the only path to alleviating their cyclical crisis of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall over time. Additionally, while the crisis continues exacerbating itself in its impact on the working class, nationalist mobilizations and propaganda are useful tools in distracting our class. Instead of recognizing that the bosses are our enemies, our bosses want to fool us into thinking that our enemies are over the border.
The working class is the first to be the victim in the crisis of capitalism, whether it be in the form of its attacks against our conditions (for example, throughout the Covid crisis of capitalism, the wages of the working class have been lowered due to inflation, among other factors), or in the form of being used as pawns of the bourgeoisie in their imperialist conflicts. It is for this that we have to become conscious of the fact that the working class is the only force capable of putting an end to war. This can be achieved through the class struggle. Currently the responses of the working class against the attacks of the capitalist class are very disproportionate; while our standards of living have become increasingly precarious, there is no generalized response on the part of our class. Nevertheless, there is hope. The last two years in the US saw an increase in strikes,(8) and although the total number is relatively small, especially when one compares it with past decades, it indicates to us that the working class is trying to recover its voice in some form. And in Iran for example, the working class there is an inspiration for us all.(9) There the working class is showing an incredible level of combativity, with around 100,000 oil workers organizing their own strikes and struggle committees outside of the control of the unions, demonstrating a path to follow for other works in Iran as well as for workers across the entire world.
If we truly want to put an end to war, we as revolutionary internationalists must participate in whatever manner that we can in these struggles of our class. We must point out to the rest of our class the need for organizing our own struggles, and for not delegating our power to anyone, whether they be the unions or whatever party. Yes, now we are small, swimming in a sea of counterrevolution and reaction. But through our efforts, we can build an international body of the most class conscious section of the working class, that can act as a reference point for the rest of our class in the battles of the future. This cannot be a government-in-waiting but rather a tool in the hands of the workers. This is the task which the Internationalist Communist Tendency intends to fulfill; for the survival of humanity, we hope to be successful.
It is with this that we end by saying:
No war but the class war! Down with the movements towards war on the part of the US and Russian bourgeoisies! For the independent struggle of our class!
Felix (Internationalist Workers’ Group)