I.O.D. on the war in Ukraine and the proletarian perspective (March 4, 2022)
Overcoming their initial surprise by the Russian state’s assault on Ukraine since last Thursday February 24, I.O.D. has resumed their analysis, and has issued a formal statement on the tangle of interests involved in this worsening conflagration. It goes well beyond any rhetoric about the indubitable Russian culprit versus the “reasonable” rest of the “international community” (minus some distinct renegade states), as a perpetual media campaign in the Western hemisphere will have it. Trying to shed light on the questions: who profits from the crime? and: what is the international situation heading towards? it provides a brief balance sheet of the imperialist contentions and shared interests implicated at world level, and formulates the dire stakes this poses, eventually for the survival of humanity.
Secondly, a concise critical assessment of the situation the world proletariat and its political minorities find themselves in, is set forth, issuing a call for their renewal: to go beyond “the same [old] theoretical and organizational framework of the Third International”, by “taking note of the many changes in the organization and in the international division of labor” since the times of the October Revolution of 1917, in order “to proceed to a new systematization of all the elements inherent to the condition of the modern proletariat” in view of “building a new communist party on a world scale.”
- Contemporary imperialism is the most criminal form of racketeering there has ever been in the history of capitalism, and this war confirms it.
- A new communist and internationalist party is needed to stop the war.
In our time, every war, even if disguised as a war of religion or national liberation, as a “humanitarian” war for the defense of human rights and respect for international law, and so on, is always a moment of that permanent imperialist war that has been raging for decades throughout the world, sowing death, hunger and destruction.
So was the war that just ended in Afghanistan, so are the ongoing wars in the Middle East, those in Africa and Asia, and so is this latest one that just began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin says he was forced to do so to defend the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass from the “genocide” perpetrated by the Kiev army.
In fact, as George Bush did at the time of the American invasion of Afghanistan, Putin could say to his associates, “Let’s not make a mistake. This is for oil. It is always for oil.” (1) And – we add – for gas and for the currency with which these are exchanged.
“Today”, Marco D’Eramo wrote back in 2014, “Putin’s Russia and ‘the West’ (i.e., the USA) share an identical vision based on the search for profit and power: in all but one point, namely, to whom profit and power should go.” (2)
Sharing and Conflict
It is therefore a scenario of both sharing and conflict, from which derives such a tangle of interests that it is not always easy to distinguish where the sharing ends and the conflict begins.
Certainly, in this umpteenth war, the United States, Russia and China have a shared interest in preventing the EU from having a common foreign policy and a common army, so as to be able to compete with them on the geo-strategic world stage on equal terms.
On the level of immediate benefit, there is undoubtedly sharing at least between Russia and the USA so that on the world market a price of gas and oil is formed as high as possible, Russia and America being producing and exporting countries.
Sharing ceases, however, when it comes to determining whether on the international market that the price should be quoted in dollars, or in euros, rubles, yuan or any other currency.
To date, most of the oil and gas extracted in the world is sold through the dollar. This “gives” the United States an enormous financial income.
For some time now, however, Russia has begun to sell a good portion of its energy products in exchange for euros, rubles, yuan or special account currencies; China is also doing the same with its goods.
The use of the dollar is shrinking and therefore the resulting income is also declining. And it would have been even more reduced if Nord Stream 2 had come into operation. Thanks to it, in fact, another 55 billion cubic meters per year would have come directly from Russia to Germany, without passing through Ukraine, all paid in euro. It is for this reason that the US tried to block its construction in every way without succeeding. (3) But just when it was about to start operating, the White House, through NATO, lit a fuse in the already burning Ukrainian powder keg. It suggested that the acceptance in the Atlantic Alliance of Kiev, after Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Romania etc., would be imminent. The tension with Russia skyrockets and a real tour de force begins, especially for the German and French, to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Meanwhile, the price of gas and oil, already on the rise for other reasons, reaches levels unseen for at least a decade.
But just when the diplomatic effort seems to be crowned with success, the ineffable NATO secretary, the Norwegian Stoltenberg (at a guess, Norway is the third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia), declares Urbi et Orbi that, if Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO troops would not come to its rescue.
The benefit of Washington and Moscow
A few days later, Russia begins the invasion, surprising everyone (4) except the White House.
In just one day, the price of gas rose by 12.7%, reaching 927 euros per cubic meter; after a few days, Germany was in fact forced to postpone sine die the start-up of that Nord Stream 2 so disliked by America, to which it could not do any better: [the latter] obtained what it wanted practically gratis et amore Dei. The other side of the medal – there is always another side of the medal – is that this war could give a strong acceleration to the integration process of the European Union, so hated by America.
And Russia? Has it fallen into the trap set by NATO or has it also moved with a view to its own precise advantage?
According to experts, thanks to the non-opening of Nord Sream 2, the price of gas could reach 2000 euros per cubic meter. If this were the case, Russia would collect solely from Europe the same amount of euros as today by selling half of the gas it sells now, to divert the surplus to China.
Moreover, except for a total and unlikely military defeat, it will definitively annex the self-proclaimed independent republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, that is, the most industrialized and wealthy area of the Donbass. In short, even for Moscow, while taking into account the negative effects of sanctions, which are normally more harmful to those who impose them than to those who suffer them, there could be a nice booty. Here too, of course, there is a downside. It runs the risk, once all doors to the West are closed, to find itself without any possibility to free itself from the coils of the Chinese dragon.
A tacit agreement?
Nonetheless, putting all the pros and cons on the scales, it cannot be ruled out that some kind of agreement, more or less tacit, has been reached between the Kremlin and the White House, at the expense of the EU and Ukraine itself, which risks ending up in a pile of rubble. Time will clarify all of this.
In a world where profit, and therefore money, the universal despot in whom it is embodied, dominates unchallenged, even that which apparently seems impossible becomes possible. Shakespeare had already understood this when he made Timon of Athens say to money: “Thou visible God! That solder’st close impossibilities, And makest them kiss!” (5) In its presence there is no life, [not] even the most precious, that cannot be sacrificed, no object or thing that cannot be destroyed, no beauty that cannot be scarred and annihilated. Nothing is worth it and everything is worth it, even a kiss between the most bitter enemies.
In any case, agreement or no agreement, in the last instance, it is the proletariat, the whole proletariat, the Ukrainian proletariat as well as the European one, the Russian proletariat as well as the American one, the Chinese proletariat and that of the whole world, who will pay for it.
To the delight of the war industry, military spending increases and automatically social spending is reduced. The price of gas and oil increases, the oil companies make staggering extra profits (in recent months, solely in Italy Enel has increased its profits by 33%), but wages are cut by the inflation that follows. Not to mention the young proletarians forced to act as cannon fodder on the war fronts, and the immense suffering and deprivation that are inflicted on civilian populations.
Whichever way you look at it, economic, human, civil, the proletariat and all those who live by their work and not by profits and various rents, have only to lose from the war. To oppose it and to remove the dictatorship of profit from which it derives is really an undeniable necessity. All the more because if the dictatorship of money remains, assuming that the war in Ukraine will cease, other fronts and more virulent ones will open, as punctually happened after the USA withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Nor can we exclude – given the strong instability of the current inter-imperialist balances and the ongoing clash for their redefinition, with the United States in decline and China on the rise – that it will become widespread, putting the survival of humanity itself at risk.
We need a new communist and internationalist party
The proletariat, however, is in a state of total political, ideological and organizational disarmament, so it is easier for it to remain entangled in the logic of imperialist war following this or that fraction of the international bourgeoisie than to stand up against the war and the causes that provoke it. It is necessary to take note that so many changes have taken place in the organization and in the international division of labor that it is simply impossible to overcome so much subalternity by remaining anchored to the same [old] theoretical and organizational framework of the Third International. It has to be clearly stated: the path that led to the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 is unrepeatable in its specific terms, as capitalist development itself has overcome many of its peculiar presuppositions.
It is necessary to take note of it and to proceed to a new systematization of all the elements inherent to the condition of the modern proletariat, and from there to identify the paths along which to develop the process of building a new communist party on a world scale, without which the same watchword “revolutionary defeatism” – despite all its compelling relevance – is destined to remain devoid of any meaning.
Istituto Onorato Damen, March 4, 2022.
Translation: H.C., March 7, 2022.
Minor corrections: March 13, 2022, April 2, 2022.
1 San Francisco Chronicle, November 2 2001.
3 See: Giorgio Paolucci, January 28, 2020, Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Libya: the world captive of permanent imperialist war. (Also on this website)
4 And, for what it may be worth in our small way, so are we.