Ukraine: faced with the threats of imperialist war, defend our living and working conditions all over the world
(IGCL, February 20, 2022, Leaflet)
Will the Russian army invade Ukraine? Or will the war be limited to Donbass and the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics? Will the troops also massed in Belarus intervene, immediately expanding the war to the borders of Poland, the Baltic States and the European Union? If so, what will be NATO’s reaction? One fact is already clear: the threat of imperialist war, including nuclear war, is striking in Europe. Already, a further step towards generalized imperialist war has been taken.
The spiral of imperialist rivalries, exacerbated by the crisis and economic competition, is growing inexorably. It forces each bourgeoisie, primarily in the main imperialist powers, whether they like it or not, to take the road to war. Faced with its economic decline and the questioning of its international leadership, the United States is using its unparalleled military power and threatening the whole world with it. Its policy of containment, economical and above all military, towards Russia and China makes of Ukraine and Taiwan the potential Pearl Harbors of today and tomorrow. It forces the other imperialist powers, particularly the Western European ones, to fall in line behind them, trapped as they are by the sudden and rapid imperialist polarization of US vs China-Russia.
The perspective and the dynamics, the process, of the generalized imperialist war, of a Third World War, increasingly acts and intervenes on the course of events. Inevitably. Faced with its perspective, and faced with the local wars that punctuate its march, there is only one possible answer: proletarian internationalism. The proletariat, exploited and revolutionary class at the same time, is the only force that can oppose the imperialist war. And, as a first step, to slow down the race that leads to it.
First and foremost, “the working class has no fatherland” proclaimed the Communist Manifesto in 1848. This is even more true today. Displaying and defending proletarian internationalism in the face of any imperialist war means that the proletariat must not choose one side against the other. This is the feeling that seems to animate most of the proletarians of Russia and Ukraine. But this feeling will not be enough to stop the military confrontation if it should happen. It would still be necessary for the proletariat of one or the other country, or even both, to engage in a resolute dynamic of mass strike, advancing their class interests – low wages, inflation, poverty, misery affect both sides of the border – against the additional sacrifices they will be called on to make in order to defend the “motherland”. Unfortunately, while the mass strike of the proletarians of Kazakhstan has shown them the way forward, no indication of workers’ struggles has appeared from either country – to our knowledge of course – that would make it possible to envisage an immediate response to the threat, or even the outbreak, of war. It would probably be only in the long run that the proletariat of Russia and Ukraine could free itself from the massive nationalist propaganda, from the chauvinist atmosphere and, in spite of the predictable and brutal state repression, engage in the struggle for its own class interests.
Likewise, the international proletariat, in the first place European, does not seem to be in a condition to react immediately to a war that would break out on the borders of the European Union. Certainly, a timid international revival of workers’ struggles seems to be emerging in recent months. It confirms that the European bourgeoisie does not have its hands completely free to march to generalized war. However, its dynamic is still far from being sufficiently assertive to be able to counter, or hold back, its immediate imperialist designs. For all that, this is the way to go if we want to slow down the march to war, even if only minimally, and then to clear the way for the proletarian alternative to the coming capitalist catastrophe, crisis and generalized imperialist war.
Defending one’s living and working conditions without taking into account the capitalist economic logic is not only the only way to defend one’s class interests but also to weaken, to slow down, even to sabotage, the industrial and political preparation for the generalized war and the march towards it. For the moment, and facing the threat in Ukraine, this is the only concrete answer that the proletariat is able to put forward. This is the watchword today, in Russia and Ukraine, as well as in the whole of Europe and elsewhere, facing the sounds of jackboots and the first exchanges of shells on the front line.