If these points are a broad summary of where you stand we would like to hear from you.
1. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is no isolated act. It is the beginning of a new period of imperialist competition which threatens more generalised war in a way not seen since 1945.
2. No country today is outside the capitalist system. The intensification of imperialist rivalry is a product of the still unresolved economic crisis of capitalism which is now decades old. In that time capitalism has been compelled to resort to many expedients to manage an economic crisis brought about by the fall in the rate of profit. What this has brought to the world working class is more intense exploitation, greater precarity of jobs and a continuing decline in workers’ share of the wealth they produce. Not only is this system leading to war but its insatiable pursuit of profit is leading to the destruction of the planet.
3. But globalisation, financialisation and so-called neo-liberalism, all responses to the fall in the rate of profit, ended up in the dramatic bursting of the global speculative bubble in 2008. They have only spun out the crisis – not solved it. The contradictions of the system are mounting and no state is immune from them.
4. One of the most glaring contradictions is that the West transferred investment to low wage economies in the 1980s. The biggest beneficiary was China, which built its economy through the massive exploitation of its low wage workforce to supply cheap commodities to ease the pressure on the dwindling incomes of Western workers. This cosy arrangement for world capitalism though began to fall apart as soon as China’s economic rise began to compete with the US across the planet. A marriage of economic convenience hit the rocks and became more transparent after the speculative bubble burst in 2008, thus intensifying the already existing contradictions of the system.
5. The bursting of that bubble would have led to a global capitalist crisis not seen since 1929 if the states had not intervened to absorb the debts of the financial system. But quantitative easing has not solved the overall crisis nor has stepping up exploitation to inhuman levels. What capitalism requires is a massive devaluation of capital which goes beyond writing off existing assets and this requires generalised war. This propulsion towards a generalised war has been gathering momentum for some time. With fewer and fewer options open to the leaders of the world, there is less and less room for compromise on what are “national interests”. The more desperate they become the more likely they are to use weapons of mass destruction which threaten the future of humanity (in even shorter order than the very real threat posed by climate change). In fact the menace of global war is bound up with the environmental catastrophe that is already taking place as a result of the accelerating depletion of natural resources and the destruction of the environment by an increasingly crisis-ridden system.
6. The one force capable of preventing this catastrophe, and war in general, is the world working class, whose collective strength can first paralyse the war effort, then overthrow the capitalist order. Wage workers throughout the globe share a common material position as creators of the world’s wealth which lands in the hands of their exploiters. As such, they have no country and no national interests to defend. They alone are in position to create a new classless society in which there are no states, where production is cooperative, and designed to meet the needs of all and not the profits of a few. Thus the conditions exist for a world community of freely associated producers where people give what they can and take only what they need.
7. To achieve this the working class needs to get organised, or perhaps, re-organised. In the daily struggle against wage cuts, etc., workers will be compelled to form strike committees, elected and recallable by all workers, to unite their struggle. But this alone will not stop the capitalists’ attacks. Separate struggles in one sector or workplace are easily dealt with by the bosses and their union accomplices. Any strike committees need to unite into a wider class movement which can begin the process of overcoming the existing state.
8. It is inevitable that in this process some workers will come to recognise the dead-end of capitalist existence before others. It is imperative that the former organise politically on an international level in order to offer a clear way forward. This will not come about immediately, especially not after decades of decline in workers’ struggles in the face of the capitalist onslaught. However, the situation today in Ukraine is a warning of what governments have in store for workers everywhere and we need to respond, not only to daily exploitation, but to the political plans of “our” leaders.
9. In the current situation of humanitarian disaster we have no illusion that a movement of the class can arise soon, even if history has now taken a new and desperate turn. We need to build something together opposed to both exploitation and war. Even if the current crisis in Ukraine ends up in some patched up deal, this will only sow the seeds for the next round of imperialist conflict. The invasion of Ukraine has already thrown Russia further into the arms of China and rallied NATO and the EU around the US and its aims.
10. Capitalism means war and it is capitalism that has to be stopped. We therefore propose to set up “No War but the Class War” committees wherever we exist and invite individuals and groups who oppose all nationalisms and recognise that the only war worth fighting is the class war to end capitalism and its bloody imperialist conflicts to participate in them. This will allow today’s scattered revolutionary minorities to combine their forces and take the message of our need to fight back to a wider working class.
11. “No War but the Class War” is an international initiative but not the International. That will only come about when the class war develops into a movement capable of overthrowing the global capitalist order. It does, however, offer a political compass for revolutionaries from different backgrounds who reject all the social democratic, Trotskyist and Stalinist politics of either outright siding with one imperialism or another by deciding that one or the other is a “lesser evil” which should be supported, or endorsing pacifism which rejects the need to turn the imperialist war into a class war, thus confusing and disarming the working class from taking up its own struggle.
12. Finally, we must emphasise that this is not a call for pacifism, which is basically just a plea to return to “normal”. The problem is about “normal” – it is the capitalist system itself which generates the forces that lead to war. Being against war without calling for the end of capitalism is like expecting capital not to produce profits without overthrowing the system of exploitation, when the latter is the necessary condition for existence of the former.
Comrades of the Internationalist Communist Tendency