War in Ukraine: Cat and Mouse
(‘Barbaria’, February 24, 2022)
The cat and mouse game is over. And the mouse ate the cat. Daylight had not yet broken when Russian armored vehicles and combat corps entered Ukrainian soil. This time with their faces uncovered, with the insignia corresponding to their battalions and the Russian tricolor flag visible. The 2014 farce no longer made sense this time. Russian capitalism has launched its entire army, all its capacity for fire and destruction, to remind the whole world that it is ready to compete with the rest of the capitals to take as much of the spoils as it can, in a historical period of distribution and reconfiguration of leaderships of world capitalism.
Naturally, the booty in dispute is the globally understood surplus value, the sum total of that part that each one of the workers of the world is sucked by the capitalist vampire, immersed in a mortal crisis. From Kiev to Moscow, passing through Madrid, Dakar, Bombay, Chicago, Lima, Seoul, through the four cardinal points of the globe, the program of capitalism in crisis (and what a crisis: economic, ecological, social, energetic, all of them worsening without stopping) is the same: imperialist war between nations and unlimited increase of the exploitation of the working class.
The Russian bourgeoisie appeared wrapped in the cellophane of the Fatherland and the Flag, an old trick of the decadent classes. But in reality the only thing the bourgeoisie, Russian and non-Russian, defends is its markets. That is why the military intervention is indiscriminately directed against the Ukrainian and Russian working class. Both can only expect the horror of war and police terror that already exists in Russia. As the days go by and the smoke of battle dissipates, the more conscious Ukrainian and Russian workers will have no doubt that, regardless of the color of the flags, the living conditions between them are identical, that the exploitation is the same, that both are the cannon fodder of their respective bourgeoisies. And that when the fray ends and the agreement is reached, the victorious bourgeoisie will represent the totality of exploiters.
In the ideological battle, the “Western” scoundrels (with their parade of professors, experts, journalists, as well as their non-governmental organizations) want us to believe that Putin is a crackpot with a desire to be Tsar, that in Russian the bourgeoisie in fact consists only of “oligarchs” (as if they were low-class bourgeois) and that Russia would be an atavism of bygone times, with its golden domes, flags with eagle and the gigantic doors in the palaces. Nothing could be further from the truth. Putin is a faithful and conscious heir of Stalin and his capitalist regime. All his moves are aimed at making Russian capitalism competitive, with an over-exploitation of the working class on home soil, and imperialist plunder wherever it is able to impose itself. After the collapse of 1989 it has been putting the pieces back together, to the extent it has been able to, and it has done so in consonance with world capitalism. For this he has counted on the elites of the European bourgeoisie: if not, ask the Schröders, Berlusconis, Fillons and so many others.
The Russian attack on Ukraine is in the line of imperialist domination of Russian capitalism, the same that crushed with its tanks the revolt in Berlin in 1953, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 or Afghanistan in 1979. Having regained its operational capacity, it has intervened in Georgia, Ossetia, Syria, Kazakhstan and in various parts of the world by means of mercenary forces. It is this renewed capacity to intervene and compete with the Western bourgeoisies that has them horrified. And it does so with the same weapons as they do: imperialist war to guarantee itself the necessary supplies of raw materials and minerals and an increased desire to extract the maximum surplus value of the unfortunate poor who fall into its hands, no matter which country they are in. And certainly, if necessary, it wants to play in the same court as the European bourgeoisies. While Russian fighters were bombing the positions of the Western allies in Syria, nothing seemed to happen. Now, the roar of their engines reminds them that their booty is not safe, and that in the new world situation various capitalist countries are fond of it.
In an irony of history, which as we know, has been eager for these little games since Hegel, the former leader of the ranks has become subordinate, and the former lackey leader of the ranks. Russia’s new imperialist machinations would be difficult to sustain without all the support provided by China. Those who remain on the surface of political phenomena are not in a position to understand the nature of capitalism as an abstract social relationship: Chinese capitalism needed American support in the 1970s and 1980s to escape the oppression of Russian capitalism, regardless of “political differences”. Now Chinese capitalism is lending its former Russian oppressor the help it needs to become independent. What is essential in all this, what is really at stake, is that capitalism will continue to perpetuate itself without giving a damn about political forms, that nutshell only useful for the ideological game.
In our previous statement we said:
« The development of capitalism implies, on the one hand, the contradiction between the need to exploit labor and the need to get rid of it with new technologies. This leads it to a constant economic crisis, to the exhaustion of its own mechanism for producing wealth in the form of commodities. On the other hand, this same development makes it ever more difficult for the capitalist powers to maintain their hegemony over the rest, or even over a stable and robust bloc, while at the same time it drives the different countries to fight among themselves to become regional powers. »
In this historical period, which we consider a pivotal one, we are led to suffer the growing imperialist confrontation all over the world and the deterioration, if anything, of the living conditions of the world working class. This is all that capitalism is capable of offering humanity.
In the immediate future, the conflict will be resolved through negotiations, always under the threat of the resumption of warlike operations. The very complexity and intertwining of the world capitalist economy will make the set of sanctions imposed by the EU and the US look like a joke. They cannot punish Russia without punishing, in passing, themselves. It is this feeling of impotence and frustration that runs through the entire European political class.
But we do not forget. The scoundrel in Russian uniform is bombing cities and streets. Thousands of people flee from their homes to save their skins. On the horizon of all this are negotiations between the two governments. Ukrainian and Russian workers have nothing to gain in all this, and although we are far from a situation where the class is clear about its own interests, it is important to notice that demonstrations took place all over Russia against the war, which have left 1,800 arrested. Let it be the Russian working class that prevents its soldiers from leaving Russia, let it be the Ukrainian workers who take the reins of the country. Down with the Russians and Ukrainians, long live the joint action of the proletariat!
Since 1914 the workers of the whole world can only fly one banner: that of revolutionary defeatism. Against imperialist wars, the need to strike down first of all one’s own bourgeoisie. International solidarity among the workers. There is no other task, however colossal and far away it may appear at present, than to overthrow capitalist social relations. Any other way out is only a reproduction of the present situation.
To those who raise the banner of peace in the present social conditions, we reply that this amounts to perpetuating the conditions of war and exploitation. It is to let the degradation of world capitalism continue. Contrary to the vision of peaceful coexistence in capitalism, we raise the banner of class against class, exploited against exploiters, communism against capitalism, revolution against reaction!
Barbaria is a small grouping without the capacity to influence the struggle of events. But we are deeply committed to the proletarians who at this moment suffer the fire and shrapnel of two armies in combat. Our thoughts and hearts are with them all.