Founding Manifesto of the Rome NWBCW Committee
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has opened a new phase of imperialist war. The current war is part of the general rivalry between the great imperialist powers across the world (there are 60 wars going on on the planet right now). On the one side stands the Western NATO-USA-UK-Europe bloc (the latter with some tendencies towards autonomy, although at the moment still weak and contradictory) and on the other, Russia-China-Iran (who have similar contradictions of their own).
The structural crisis of capitalism that produced this war has reached such a depth that war itself has now become a constant in our lives. War, economic, environmental and pandemic / health crises are stacking up, significantly worsening the living conditions of billions of people on the planet. The different banners being waved just now are all within the logic of capitalism and therefore do not in any way express a real alternative.
Defence of democracy, or of the nation and “the people”, or for peace that has to be defended with arms, try to mask – with modest success – the real interests that move the great imperialist marauders in their struggle with each other. In reality, the character of this war accelerates the race towards the barbarism of a new world war. Once again, and as always, it is the working class (the proletariat) that has to pay: at the front with blood, in the rest of the world with high prices, exploitation, cuts in services, unemployment and poverty. Similarly, the most devastating consequences of the environmental catastrophe fall, and will mainly will fall, on the proletarian and disinherited masses of the peripheral countries.
Pacifism wants an impossible capitalism with a human face, but the rainbow flag movement1 demonstrated long ago what has always been obvious, namely that it does not represent a credible alternative. A real mobilisation for peace has not even taken place against this war.
The pro-nationalists – some side with Russia, others with the so-called Ukrainian resistance – are in every political camp from right to left. These are the agents advocating the involvement of the working class in the war, the promoters of alignment on one front or another.
Revolutionary internationalists, on the other hand, assert that imperialist war – in whatever shape it takes – must be deserted, that in the war workers and their children have everything to lose and nothing to gain. The only real alternative is class war, to agitate for and create the weapons for an alternative system, based on the international interests of the entire working class.
Being for class war, for the revolutionary construction of an alternative system means starting today by denouncing imperialist war, it means rejecting the logic of the war economy, of sacrifices for the war effort, of alignment with democratic and pacifist fronts. It means affirming the need for class war and proletarian revolution, circulating, immediately and in every possible place and context, the point of view of the defence of class interests and the final necessity of a revolutionary rupture, by organising the best forces of our class around this point of view.
Starting from these reflections, revolutionary and internationalist comrades in Rome – as is happening in other parts of the world – have formed a committee against imperialist war and for class war. The Rome committee at the time of its constitution declares the following principles as fundamental:
1) War is imperialist
Capital ultimately expresses its own contradictions in wars. The world war, as the previous two demonstrate (1914/18, 1939/45), is the imperialist response to the high point of the capitalist crisis. Under capitalism the final and general destruction of capital value and human beings is a necessary condition for the start of a new cycle of accumulation.
For all capitalists, starting with the largest ones, the war represents a colossal business in the form of military orders first and, above all, contracts for reconstruction later (for Ukraine there is already talk of a new Marshall Plan). The contracts will be distributed mostly on the basis of the military weight that the various powers will have deployed during the conflict. Revenue will be extorted from proletarian pockets, thus fattening capitalist profits. To understand that we are in the age of imperialism means finally recognising that for over a century the great imperialist brigands have divided the whole world, transforming it into the battlefield of their disputes.
2) No nationalism is progressive
Anti-colonial wars, even at the beginning of the twentieth century might perhaps have, under certain conditions, had a progressive anti-feudal function, and in some cases might have favoured the overcoming of colonialism but this has not been true for a long time. Every national war is today a moment of confrontation – direct or by proxy – between the great imperialist powers that divide the planet. The closely related bourgeois concepts of people, nation and national liberation have definitively become reactionary concepts, denying the necessity of class struggle and the need for a revolutionary rupture. The Kurdish, Palestinian or Chechen proletariat, the Chinese Uighur proletariat along with any other proletarians who support the national interests of their own bourgeoisie, must be shown the path of class struggle, against bourgeois interests, for the only possible alternative: a classless society without frontiers.
3) For the independent initiative of the working class
The crisis and the war lead to serious worsening of the conditions of proletarian life. The first reactions of anger, struggle and protest are already beginning to occur in the world. The NWBCW committees cannot create struggles, but when they do occur they have a duty to intervene to oppose the dominant democratic, populist and nationalist ideologies – as well as the merely humanitarian-pacifist logic – that still plague our class; they have a duty to oppose it and to urge a response and a mobilisation that is class conscious and politically anti-capitalist and revolutionary.
Drawing on the proletarian lessons of the past, the analysis of what our class is facing today and the predictions about how its conditions will worsen, we reiterate that real opposition to war, sacrifices and the war economy, and its social, political and human costs, must start from the immediate problems we are concretely experiencing. The opposition arises from the concrete manifestation of the attacks on our living and working conditions, of which bombs and war are only the most infamous expressions.
Those who delude themselves into opposing war and its consequences without referring to the struggle against the capitalist system that produces it, are in fact tying the hands and feet of the proletariat to this system of exploitation. Today, more than ever, the struggle for the defence of our interests, even immediate ones, must immediately be linked to the prospect of an alternative system, to a political anti-capitalism.
The economist and radical-reformist slogans that are also today proposed by "antagonistic" political circles and by "combative trade unionism", which have always been unrealistic and counterproductive, now take the form of a social-chauvinism that binds workers to their condition of exploitation, denying the possibility of an alternative system and which, therefore, restricts our class horizon to the miserable offerings of capitalism. The methods of struggle that these forces propose obsequiously observe bourgeois legality for the most part, respectful of what capitalism allows and tend to divide the class. Furthermore, these forces base themselves on the total denial of any practical discourse of an anti-capitalist and revolutionary type.
To defend its immediate interests, the working class has to focus on self-organisation from below starting with mass assemblies to develop self-organised struggle led by strike committees, of elected representatives who can be recalled at any time. But even this is not enough. The fight against imperialist war must be part of workers’ discussions, it must be the glue between the struggle for the defence of their immediate interests and the construction of an alternative system. Fighting for class emancipation means building on those moments of discussion and the political and organisational tools necessary to deal with the qualitative leap in the level of consciousness and action that the situation requires, beyond immediate and economistic demands. This, within the material possibilities of the situation, is an important part of the work of the NWBCW committees.
4) For revolutionary organisation
War is both an expression and accelerator of the capitalist crisis, the working class is the first to pay the consequences and is therefore the only one that can really oppose war and capitalism. Any future wave of struggle will take an anti-capitalist direction only if it also takes step towards building a revolutionary organisation. Only in this way will the perspective of anti-capitalism be rooted and the class will be able to advance both in organisational and conscientious terms towards its definitive emancipation from the system of exploitation and war.
5) For the international system of the revolutionary organisations of the workers and the proletariat
The only real solution to the problems of war, imperialism, the economic, environmental, and war crises is the revolutionary rupture. This means the total rejection of the current capitalist system's domination over the human being and the environment, the denial of its inhuman laws that are expressed in the division into classes, in exploitation, in money, in profit, in war.
Only a revolutionary process can initiate and create a new world, a new model of social and human relations based on workers' assemblies, to produce goods aimed at satisfying needs, in harmony with nature. A society in which everyone can give as much as they can and receive back what they need, a classless society, without money and without borders.
If these points are also a broad summary of your position, then the way to closer discussion is open.
5 August 2022
- 1Reference to the PACE flag, a peace symbol used mainly in Italy and a few other European countries. First used in the 1960s, it became popular during the "Pace da tutti i balconi" (peace from every balcony) protest in 2002, in response to the impending invasion of Iraq.