Your Wars! Our Dead! “Sir! No Sir!”

Your Wars! Our Dead! “Sir! No Sir!”

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Class War’s Presentation
Theses on the war in Ukraine (ASI)
Capital’s war in Ukraine (Clandestina)
Your wars – Our dead (FAO)
Afterword: Revolutionary defeatism (Class War)

Submitted by Guerre de Classe on February 11, 2024

Class War’s Presentation

We present here three texts (which we have translated into French) originally published on the initiative of the cluster discussion “Balkan Anarchists Against War” at the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair which took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia in July 2023 (BAB 2023).

We have a number of things to say about both the general framework in which this discussion took place and the texts themselves.

First of all, let’s set out the reasons why we didn’t physically attend this bookfair, after corresponding with the organizers and discussing with several comrades around us who were asking themselves whether or not to go.

The main drawback was the position (or the lack of a clear position) the BAB 2023 organizers finally adopted on the anarchist movement’s attitude towards the war in Ukraine.

The crucial question we all worry about is the support of some anarchists but also of whole organizations for the Ukrainian side in the current war and the space that could be given to them in BAB.

We closely follow the discussion on the topic of revolutionary defeatism versus supporting one war side, discussion that is currently going on in the movement and that also touched the bookfair organizers as they have scheduled a cluster discussion “Balkan Anarchists against War” which dealt with this question.

For us, as any discussion that is not meant to be just a sterile presentation of two opposing views, the discussion about the anarchist attitude towards war must be based on shared assumptions, on common attitudes, which for us are anti-militarism, internationalism and revolutionary defeatism. In brief, the refusal to support one or the other warring side.

If the anarchist movement (and, more generally, the proletarian movement that embodies the need to abolish capitalism as a whole) is to discuss what to do in war, it must discuss how to organize resistance to it within a revolutionary perspective (concrete actions as well as programmatic positions), not which side to support.

For us, giving space to warmongers in the anarchist movement (in the proletarian camp) and its discussion means preventing this very discussion about the vital issues of the proletariat.

At the same time as the preparations for BAB 2023, we came across an interesting stance from German speaking comrades entitled Warum wir dieses Jahr nicht auf das ABC-Fest fahren1.

We shared their opinion that organizations like “Solidarity Collectives” and others, “who want to applaud the anarchists’ authoritarian ideas (war mongering), should not be offered a platform by the anarchists. Who, with manipulative means […] works to stifle debates and at the same time strives to mobilize anarchists into war, in our opinion, had no place at an anarchist event.”

We also agreed with them that we have to “stand by the side of all those affected by the war, regardless of which state occupies the territory, whether Ukraine or Russia, as well as everywhere in the world, and declare our solidarity with all those who fight with libertarian intentions against the slaughter in the interests of various capitalist ruling factions, whether anarchists or not!

No solidarity with those who want to fight for their country, their “people” or the supposedly lesser democratic evil, regardless of whether they call themselves “anarchists” or not!”

To tell the truth, the response we received at the time from the BAB organizers was not very clear, and was far from convincing us to take part in the event. Certain militant structures (in Greece, Germany, France, in Czechia…) also expressed their doubts and disapproval. “French” comrades, for example, explicitly told us the following: “We had the idea of going, but we became discouraged when we learned that part of the French anarchist milieu was going, in the manner of a class trip, which promised nothing good in terms of the quality of debate.

The reason why we waited several months before publishing these three texts is that we first needed them to fuel our discussions, and then we wanted to get enough feedback so that we can form a real opinion about what really happened at the bookfair, and to write as a result a substantial introduction/presentation to frame this publication.

Nevertheless, the “Final statement” that the organizers of BAB 2023 quickly published on their blog was yet quite eloquent: hardly a word about the war in Ukraine, and even less about the rejection of all warring parties, about the need to support revolutionary defeatism on both sides, etc. Instead, the “Final statement” wallowed in questions related to the real class struggle but above all and fundamentally disconnected from the latter: the primacy of feminism, anti-racism, anti-fascism, struggle against patriarchy, intersectionality, defense of the LGBT community, etc. In short, everything that constitutes the most classic modern “ideological anarchism”: refusal of the struggle against exploitation considered by the libertarian supporters of the reforms of capital as “economic reductionism”, and consequently refusal of the class struggle against capitalism (whether they agree or not, whether they are conscious of it or not), and therefore the primacy of how to organize in a parallel world within the fringes of what is their emblematic obsessions: domination and oppression…

What seems obvious in any case is the lack of clear demarcation criteria for the organization of an event that looks more like a “family reunion” (in this case, the anarchist ideological family) than a genuine international meeting where the comrades present discuss programmatic advances, ruptures with everything that (consciously or unconsciously) contributes to reforming and thus maintaining the totality of the capitalist dictatorship (in times of both “war” and “peace”), and how to organize against the two warmongering camps, which in the final analysis only defend the same bourgeois order, whatever color it is clothed in…

And as proof of the lack of criteria about who is invited to take part in this event, here’s what was merely stated, based on the testimony of two “Iranian” militants who attended the bookfair (testimony published in Spanish): “Another noteworthy point was the organizers’ insistence on avoiding at all times behavior of ill-will [comportamientos animosos] between people with different ideas, particularly with regard to the Russia-Ukraine/NATO war. The refusal of any propaganda in favor of war was among the guidelines of the event.”

The logical and provisional conclusion of the above is that everyone was invited: supporters of the Ukraine (i.e. “pro-war”) and those who defend the only proletarian line, i.e. revolutionary defeatism and internationalism. And all this “beau monde” (reputed to belong to the same ideological family) was supposed to discuss in harmony, avoiding “behavior of ill-will”! If there were no question of war and massacres here, if there were no question of imposing the reinforcement of social peace by the terrorist recruitment of our class into one bourgeois camp or another, it would be hilarious, so much so that all this family harmony is to be puked on!

To say the least, and that’s an understatement, although the organizers of BAB 2023 thought they were doing their utmost to defend an internationalist and defeatist revolutionary position (and it’s true that, according to the comrades who attended it, this was the general mood at the event), this was done without any rigor, without any logic, without taking adequate measures to really prevent defensist “anarchists” from pouring out their warmongering propaganda: i.e. by imposing clear demarcatory criteria, and by not inviting groups who take a stand for one bourgeois camp against another (in this case, very often the camp of the Ukrainian State, or more rarely that of the Russian State), who wave the flag of anti-imperialism against an imperialist “aggressor” (when both camps are fully imperialist)…

To say the least, and that’s an understatement, the organizers of BAB 2023 were deluding themselves, preferring to focus on uniting the “anarchist” family rather than breaking down these ideological shackles and promoting genuine proletarian critique and practice.

“Bookfairs”, “Summer Camps”, “International Meetings”, “International Conferences”… whether they’re organized by one or other of the political families that claim to represent the historic interests of the proletariat (to put it simply: ideological anarchism, on the one hand, and the “Left Communism”, on the other), we realize that a merciless criticism of what might be called “conferentism” is really more than necessary. Why and when should revolutionaries meet, what are the criteria for such meetings, how can we distinguish ourselves from academic discussions whose only “interest” consists in ranting and raving about the pseudo “political program” of one’s little sect?

But also, how to organize contradiction within these events!? How can we “participate” without actually compromising ourselves by “taking part” and endorsing this whole academic circus!? How do we organize the revolutionary (but still somehow confused) elements that are there due to lack of “something else”, “something serious”, how do we help them to break away and denounce what can in no way be a real level of organization of our class antagonism…!? We hope to come back to all these crucial issues very soon…

Now, some will claim that with such stances, we really have nothing to do with “the anarchist movement”, as the Czech Anarchist Federation already asserted a few months ago about us: “It is important to note that the group Třídní válka is not part of the Czech anarchist movement, nobody has ever seen it in the streets, nobody has ever heard of it organizing any real action and it is questionable whether it has more than one member.” Let’s recall our scathing response at the time, a response not to the AFed of course, but to the comrades who expressed their support:

“Class war considers itself to be a part of the practical and historical movement of the proletariat and its struggle against the dictatorship of capital. A revolutionary social movement in which the exploited class constitutes itself as a revolutionary class, as a worldwide force united in the struggle against its historical enemy, the bourgeoisie, as a force that will eliminate all domination, all exploitation and all States. (…) Let us add that if we subscribe to an anarchist or communist revolutionary movement, we are in no way part of the “anarchist family”, which is not based on a revolutionary program, but on various degrees of affinity within anarchism as an ideology. We stand on the side of anarchy against the ideological “anarchists” who support national liberation struggles and therefore the bourgeois State and capitalism!”

For us, and for the historic communist movement to abolish the existing situation, the generic family name for the whole plethora of groups, organizations, structures, parties… that work to restore the facade of capitalism while speaking to and in the name of the workers, is “Social Democracy”, which comes under many different surnames: anarchism, Marxism, Bolshevism, Proudhonism, Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Titoism, Castroism, Guevarism, ad nauseam… Various methods of action or means are used to accomplish this mediocre activity of sabotaging our struggles: e.g. conferentism, democratism, democratic confederalism, workers’ or direct democracy, self-managementism, councilism, anarcho-syndicalism, trade-unionism, revolutionary syndicalism, base unionism, national liberationism, national-social-liberationism, ad nauseam… All of these are used for the same purpose and will all be swept away by the devastating impulses of the class war and thrown into the dustbin of history.

We come now to the texts themselves, which, as we have said at the beginning of this presentation, originate from the “anarchist” movement. In fact, two of these texts are issued by local sections of international “anarchist” structures for which we have a priori no great sympathy, since they historically represent what we denounce above as “ideological anarchism” or “the anarchist family”, which have always acted as brakes on the proletariat’s programmatic ruptures with social democracy and the capitalist order. Both organizations are, on the one hand, the anarcho-syndicalist International Workers’ Association (IWA) and, on the other, the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF)…

Nevertheless, if we wanted to extract these texts from their yoke and ideological straitjacket, and bring them back to the heart of our proletarian community of struggle, which doesn’t give a damn about ideological families and their formal structuring, it’s precisely to bring out all the richness of the discussion running through the revolutionary anarchist milieu (and other militant milieus too!) against the war in Ukraine. For beyond a number of assertions that do not break (or break only a little!) with ideologies such as that of a “lesser evil” to be defended, these texts globally stand in our camp, that of the world revolution.

The first text, “Theses on the war in Ukraine”, a contribution from Serbia’s Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (ASI-IWA), is rather classic. One paragraph, and therefore one line of argument, in fact caught our eye:

“While many comrades feel that it is important for us to say that we are against both sides in this war, which is undoubtedly true, we need to remember that we are not preachers but revolutionaries, and that it is not what we say that counts, but what we do. Therefore, apart from abstract proclamation that we are opposing both sides in the war, we have to concentrate our practical activities on something that is not only politically right but also only thing physically possible – fighting against our ruling class and its armies and warmongering.”

This stance has caused controversy within anarcho-syndicalist circles, with militants from the French CNT writing to us: “It’s an interesting document that we largely endorse, but it does have a few important gaps – as does the whole anti-war movement, a compilation of which you published recently: while the movement analyzes the nature of the Ukrainian government at great length, it says nothing (or almost nothing) about the nature of the regime in the Russian Federation. In our view, this lacks equilibrium, and can give the impression that our criticisms are more against one side than the other (even though we know this isn’t true). The “main enemy” theory as set out in this text (and in many of the texts you share) seems to us to be completely wrong. This “main enemy” theory in fact leads us to take sides with one or other of the belligerents, and is a mirror response, identical even if inverted, to those who say that the main enemy is the Russian Federation. On the contrary, we need to insist and repeat that the main enemy is capitalism and nationalism, that they are equally rampant on both sides of the front, and that we need to fight them everywhere, always.”

As a reply to such understanding of the things, we have to insist that we have to directly organize across the “enemy line”. Not doing that would mean to sacrifice the comrades in the “enemy camp” to the repression of the capitalist State, to let them bleed on the front, to abandon their struggle against “their own” bourgeoisie and push them to accept the inter-class unity of “social peace”, which can only ever benefit the bourgeoisie. In the CNT statement we can see the tendency to sacrifice the proletariat in the “enemy camp” and its struggle against “their own” bourgeois structures. The same approach appears also in case of the pro-Palestinian current in the recent movement against the Israel/Palestine war, but it exists also in many “anti-NATO” or “anti-Western imperialism” expressions in the movement against the war in Ukraine.

Comrades in countries like Serbia or Turkey, who in the recent capitalist conflicts sit “in the saddle”, should assume the role of the militant links facilitating the internationalist organization of the militants living on the opposing sides of the bourgeois conflict. In particular case of Serbia, we understand and trust the analysis of the comrades, providing the evidence that Serbia is progressively more and more falling into the “NATO camp” and organizing the struggle against the “NATO camp” military efforts in Serbia is the most important. But at the same time, the concrete militarist effort of Russian State in territory of Serbia – like recruitment centers of Wagner mercenaries, deliveries of weapons and military material to Russia, etc. cannot be ignored – on the contrary it has to be denounced, opposed, sabotaged and attacked!

In order to better explain the ASI’s courageous stance, criticized here above by their French anarcho-syndicalist colleagues, let’s quote now the Internationalist Communist Group (ICG), which asserted that the enemy is our own bourgeoisie:

“In such circumstances, to declare oneself against the war and the bourgeoisie in general, without taking a concrete action against the increase of exploitation that all war generates is only a simple propaganda formula and not a revolutionary direction for action. In effect, bourgeois war concretises itself above all else as the war of a state against “its” proletariat, that is to say against the proletariat of that country, to grind it down, to liquidate the revolutionary minorities and to drag it progressively into the bourgeois war. This shows that it is indispensable, inescapable, indisputable to assert the fact that “the enemy is in our own country”, that it is “our own bourgeoisie”, “our own state”. It is in the struggle to bring about the defeat of “its own” bourgeoisie, of “its own” state that the proletariat really assumes internationalist solidarity with the world revolution. Or, to speak from a more global point of view, the world revolution is constituted precisely in the generalisation of the revolutionary defeatism of the world proletariat.”

And the ICG to continue:

“Historically, revolutionaries have also distinguished themselves from centrists by their appeal for the independent organisation of soldiers against officers, for the leadership which they give to the concrete action of sabotaging the army, by the call to shoot “your own officers” (and by their energetic struggle to put this into practice), by the fact of turning rifles away from the “external enemy” and pointing them at the “officers” of the fatherland.

In fact, the experience of war and revolution, and in particular the concrete experience of what is called the “First” world war has allowed us to clarify the point that the call for revolutionary struggle against bourgeois war is completely insufficient and centrist in practice if it is not accompanied by its practical concretisation, that is to say open struggle against “its own” bourgeoisie, for the defeat of “its own” state.”

And finally, here’s what the ICG has to say about all the sniveling pacifists:

“During the so-called First World War, the Centre of the Second International (in opposition to its Right which declared itself for “defence of the nation”) claimed to oppose revolution to war and launched slogans as radical as “war on war”. But, at the same time, it opposed revolutionary defeatist calls because, so they said, (like all the army generals!) that would benefit the national enemy, and so they ended up proposing slogans like “neither victory nor defeat”.”2

Now, without wishing to hammer the final nail into the coffin of anarcho-syndicalism, let’s recall its “glory days” and its total “bankruptcy” in the days before the outbreak of the two great bloody orgies that set the world of value ablaze in the twentieth century.

Let’s not forget that in the summer of 1914, many of the “working class organizations” that had openly declared to be anti-war (but without “venturing” to the point of defending the defeat of their own bourgeoisie), changed the side before you could say knife. For example, the French “revolutionary socialist” militant Gustave Hervé who had written in the newspaper La Guerre Sociale that we should “plant the national flag on the dunghill”, and who quickly joined the defense of “the country in danger”. Another example is the French CGT, the jewel of international anarcho-syndicalism at the time, which after years of anti-militarist propaganda, joined the ranks of war supporters and sacred union, making general mobilization feasible, or at least facilitating it without too many problems. The only people in France who tried to do something against the war preparations, against their own bourgeoisie, against their own exploiters, were genuine anarchist militants who had already long since broken with the CGT and anarcho-syndicalism, the latter ending up in the arms of collaboration with the French State.

And finally, let’s recall how Spanish anarcho-syndicalism ended up taking a stand for one bourgeois camp (that of the left, the Republic and anti-fascism) in the “civil” war, opposed to the other bourgeois camp (that of the clerical right and the military led by Franco). It was thanks to the CNT’s “critical support” that the Popular Front won the elections, and was thus able to develop an antifascist republican politics which practically opposed the proletariat’s boosts in its struggle for social revolution.

In the final analysis, this “civil” war was nothing more than a loophole through which the proletariat was lured away from its real class terrain on which it had been for years confronting its own exploiters in Spain. While the bloody battles that took place during the so-called “Spanish War” were never more than the preparations for mobilizing the proletariat into the future mass graves of the Second World War (in the name of the bourgeois polarization fascism versus antifascism), it’s clear that the role played by the Spanish CNT and by international ideological anarchism was to disarm our class, disarming it “politically”, “socially”, programmatically, and capsizing it from its class terrain, from the defense of its immediate and historic class interests towards the defense of one bourgeois alternative against another. In this respect, the CNT has played a direct part in enlisting the proletariat in the bourgeois war, and has therefore never defended true revolutionary defeatism and internationalism… Once again, the revolution will be sacrificed on the altar of defending a bourgeois camp considered as a “lesser evil”…

After this long digression on anarcho-syndicalism, let’s come now to the second text “Capital’s war in Ukraine”, contribution from Greece’s Clandestina group.

We obviously agree with their critique of nationalism and anti-imperialism, but on the other hand we discern some contradictory elements in the following positions: the support of “Rojava experiment” and the differentiation made of YPG from Ukraine’s “Territorial Defense”, the equation of “internationalism” with “supporting the Slavic Macedonian people’s right to self-determination in the 1930’s” by the “Greek Communist Party” (a position which was actually based on the alignment with the policies of the Stalinist Komintern) and the positive appraisal of anti-colonialism and the “global justice movement”.

About the so-called “Rojava Revolution”, let’s not forget that we’ve already published an entire bulletin dealing with this issue (bulletin No.13 – Summer 2021), and we don’t intend to develop it any further here. In Rojava as in Ukraine, it’s the same “misunderstanding” of the social matter, of what capitalism fundamentally is as a social relation, of what its State is and what its different levels of structuring are, that make militants who openly claim to be social revolutionaries fall into the trap of supporting any kind of “experiment”. To paraphrase Marx, what matters is not what you think of yourself, or what you claim to be, but what you actually do, in practice. So, in the particular situation of each of these two conflicts, all these defenders of Rojava or Ukraine are and will remain, until they break with their practice of supporting an eternal “lesser evil”, nothing else than auxiliaries obeying the orders of their respective headquarters, in short, in both cases “NATO’s anarchist brigades”…

And now for the third text, “Your Wars – Our Dead”, a contribution from the Federation for Anarchist Organizing FAO/IFA from Slovenia and Croatia, here are a few comments we’d like to highlight.

As for the previous text, there are very strong affirmations, but mixed with its contrary! Let’s first emphasize some of those very strong affirmations:

“Despite the importance of local factors, the war in Ukraine is not based in a local political conflict. Rather, Ukraine, its population, its landscape, its resources, cities and fields was chosen as the terrain of a military confrontation between two powerful capitalist centers. Geopolitically speaking the core of the issue is thus not Russia versus Ukraine and for sure not Russians versus Ukrainians. It is a battle between centers of economic and political powers that align themselves to two competing models of global political system and have at their disposal the military and other tools to stake their respective claims. Despite the many differences in their economic and political models both models are rooted in capitalism, militarism, nationalism and therefore necessity of large-scale exploitation and destruction. The war in Ukraine is thus not a war between people, but a war between great systems of capitalist domination. In it, people are only dying.”

And maybe now the most dialectical part of the text:

“As long as capitalism as a world system is not dismantled the states will remain the mechanism through which a tiny minority impose authoritarian rule over the world in such a way that requires war in order to reproduce itself. Thus, it can be claim again that capitalism is war. (…)

For us, the enemy in this war is war itself. For us, the states, which need the war in order to impose themselves over the population, are the enemy. For us, the enemy is capitalism that needs states and wars to perpetuate its grip on the world. For us this is the core of the anarchist analysis and politics. Without them the anarchism as a clear, specific political position and practice makes no practical or theoretical sense.”

Let’s now talk about what we absolutely didn’t appreciate: their stances about Yugoslavian myths of workers’ State under Tito’s yoke, etc. are very problematic and we completely removed these paragraphs from this brochure.

Back in December 2012, when a very short but very radical wave of struggle swept through Slovenia, we got in touch with local anarchists and exchanged a few arguments about these events. It emerged from this discussion, and generally speaking, that anarchists aren’t really “fans” of the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat that they wrongly attribute to Leninist and Bolshevik tendency within the working-class movement. What is clear according to experience of our class is that the dictatorship of the proletariat has never existed nowhere in the world and historically. The so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat” that ruled in Russia, China, Cuba, Yugoslavia was nothing but a form of the pure and sheer capitalistic dictatorship over the proletariat, and worse in the name of “communism” and/or socialism that also never existed in real, except as a tendency in our class struggles and insurrections…

In this way we find the position developed in the text of the comrades towards Yugoslavian Tito’s regime very strange because even if the text doesn’t claim this “socialist” regime (what would be crazy for anarchists who are supposed to puke on all States) it nevertheless considers some sympathetic and popular aspects in it… Aleksander Simic (from the former class group Torpedo in Serbia) explained very clearly in his text “The workers’ movement in Serbia and ex-Yugoslavia” that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” in Yugoslavia was actually a dictatorship of the party, and we would even say a dictatorship of their party, that of the Bolsheviks, the Leninists, the Stalinists, the Titoists, etc. ad nauseam, these far left (and capitalist) Social Democrats!!!

But coming back to the real and genuine dictatorship of the proletariat, it’s nothing but how our class get organized to impose its human needs over the class of the capitalists: that’s to say, insurrection, expropriation of the expropriators, abolition of exploitation, private property, State, police, army, government, religion, money, wars… and therefore also oppression and domination!!!

If now the expression dictatorship of the proletariat doesn’t satisfy anarchists (and we can pretty well understand that), and in order to not stay on this formal linguistic terrain, you are of course free to find other words but please keep intact the real and genuine content of this process of abolition of the old order!!!

That being said, we wish you a good reading of this brochure…



5 months 1 week ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on February 12, 2024

We stand on the side of anarchy

The working class dictatorship is simply the imposition of our needs over those of the capitalist.

I advise you, comrade, to cut the preamble to these seven words quoted above.