In decadent capitalism the internal contradictions and conflicts of the system have only one possible outcome: war. There is no mystery about imperialist wars in our epoch. The lack of new markets to realize the surplus value incorporated in the commodities turned out in the process of production has plunged the system into a permanent crisis: a bitter struggle for the possession of raw materials, for mastery of the world market, for control of the planet's strategic military zones. The more inter-imperialist antagonisms are exacerbated by the economic crisis, the more the capitalist states are compelled to strengthen their defensive and offensive military apparatus. Towards the end of the nineteenth century capitalism definitively reached the stage of imperialism and today all states are forced, in order to defend their own interests, to put themselves under the tutelage of one or other of the two great powers: the US and Russia.
At the moment the wars are still local ones but in recent years the theatre of operations has been extended from Indochina, now a hunting-ground for Russia and China (which has become the main representative of the western bloc in Asia), to the Middle East, that permanent abscess, and now Africa, which is rent into potential or actual war zones: Zaire, Chad, Rhodesia, South Africa, Angola, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia.
The recent events in Zaire are the most striking sign of the heating-up of inter-imperialist conflicts. The direct military intervention of France and Belgium was motivated by the economic and political interests these countries still have in their former colonial empires, just as the French ‘blue caps' in Lebanon are just the old colonial army in disguise. It might seem tempting to compare Zaire with the imperialist adventures of the 1960s, like Vietnam, and conclude that today's events are less grave, less grim, less dangerous. But this would be a bad mistake.
In fact, the intervention in Zaire, like the intervention in Chad, is part of a concerted effort by all the NATO countries to counter the thrust of the Russian bloc. What's at stake is not one or two countries but the very policies of the imperialist blocs. (Having been forced to submit to the Pax Americana in the Middle East, Russian imperialism is now attempting to break the American bloc's grip on Africa.) American imperialism has replied with an important demonstration of how quickly it can act and how effectively the western bloc can collaborate in the face of such conflicts.
When the Zaire events took place, all the countries of Western Europe gave support to the intervention and Washington even lent aero planes. On 5 June, the six countries of NATO met in Brussels to study the situation in Africa and later, on 11 June, the ‘eleven' countries of the US bloc (including Iran, Saudi Arabia, the IMF, the World Bank and a commission of the EEC) studied the problem of financial aid in order to keep the Zaire economy afloat. Zaire is crippled by a foreign debt of 2.3 billion dollars and its gross national product has fallen by 5 per cent per year since 1976. Seven African countries have now participated in the force sent to defend Shaba; Morocco will be supplying the main body of troops to this unprecedented force. Even Egypt has given military support to Zaire, as it does in Chad.
The imperialist blocs reinforce themselves with each new conflict. We can now see clearly the correctness of our analysis when we wrote that:
"The war economy in the present epoch, however, is not simply established on a national scale, but also on the scale of an imperialist bloc. Incorporation into one of the two imperialist blocs -- each one dominated by a mammoth continental state capitalism: the US and Russia -- is a necessity which not even the bourgeoisies of formerly great imperialist powers like Britain, France, Germany and Japan can resist." (‘From Monetary Crisis to the War Economy', International Review, no.11, p.7)
The bourgeoisie has presented this new step towards open war as a ‘humanitarian' act to ‘save the whites', just as it launched the anti-terrorist campaigns in order to hide the strengthening of the state's repressive apparatus. Revolutionaries have a duty to take up an intransigent internationalist position against all threats of war, against all the ideological preparations for war. This is what the ICC has done in the declaration we're publishing here, denouncing both camps in the conflict, denouncing any attempt to hide the truth of these events behind the mystification of so-called ‘national liberation struggles' or by supporting the supposedly ‘progressive' Russian bloc. Against the PCI (Bordigist) which wrote "the Palestinian, Lebanese, Chadian and Saharan fighters who have taken up arms against ‘our' imperialism are the brothers of the proletarians in the metropole struggling against the common enemy: the French imperialist state" (contained in a leaflet of 21 May in France), the ICC insists that:
"You can't fight against imperialism by choosing one or other of the antagonistic powers to support. All those who use this language are acting, consciously or unconsciously, as the backers of imperialist war." (‘Against the March Towards World War: The International Struggle of the Working Class', ICC leaflet contained in this Review.)
The Palestinian, Chadian and Katanganese armies are the pawns of Russian imperialism while at the same time dependent on a part of the local bourgeoisie, just as the expeditionary corps of the western bloc (the French Legionnaires, the Moroccan and other troops) serve American imperialism while also defending the interests of a part of the local bourgeoisie. The proletariat has no fatherland, it cannot support any kind of nationalist movement, neither in the third world nor in the metropoles. The working class lives and acts in the under-developed countries; in reality it was the working class that was being massacred in the mining town of Kolwezi by the contending armies. The working class cannot make alliances with nationalist movements. Its only enemy is the capitalist system all over the world. The international situation is getting sharper but only the proletariat can bring down the forces of imperialism. In June 1978, while the French and western expeditionary forces were doing their dirty work in Zaire and Chad, 50,000 workers in the arsenals of the French state went on strike against their conditions of exploitation. This capacity to thwart the murdering hands of capital is the only possible response the working class can have, in NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Every day it is becoming clearer and clearer that the struggle against war is the struggle against capital.
The following declaration has been published in various languages in all the ICC's press. It was distributed as a leaflet during the events in France and Belgium.
ICCAgainst the march towards world war - the International struggle of the working class!
Zaire. They say they're intervening for ‘humanitarian reasons'. They're lying:
All wars begin with this pretext. Atrocities? They ‘forget' about them when they can't use them as an excuse anymore. What did they have to say about the massacre of 600 refugees in Angola by South Africa?
‘Knights of civilization'? These paratroopers and legionnaires? They are the most brutal and bloody of all troops. They themselves have said it openly: ‘We're here to crush the Katanganese!'
The press, television and radio protest too much. They wouldn't be making so much noise if it wasn't so hard for them to do their job of hiding the truth. The only real reason for the Kolwezi operation is the interests of imperialism. The level of noise corresponds to the high stakes involved.The intervention in Zaire marks a new step in the escalation towards a third world war!
Of course, this is nothing new. Since the end of World War II, the two imperialist blocs -- the USA and its lackeys, the USSR and its ‘brothers' -- have continuously confronted each other under the guise of ‘decolonisation', ‘the right of nations to self-determination', ‘the defense of national integrity', ‘the struggle for democracy', or the ‘struggle for socialism'. They have turned the zones of conflict into a living hell for the peoples victimized by their ‘concern'. They've done this both through massive shipments of the most murderous weaponry to the local contestants or through direct intervention themselves. The whole planet is criss-crossed by these bloody massacres: Korea, North Africa, the Middle East, Vietnam, Biafra, Bengal, Cambodia.
Today, Africa occupies a privileged position on this infernal chess-board. Each bloc is putting its pawns forward. At the moment the two camps are drawn up as follows: under the Russian colors are Angola, Mozambique, Libya, and Ethiopia. Against them stand the pawns of the USA and its British, French and Belgian yes-men: South Africa and Zaire. The more world capitalism sinks into economic crisis, the more numerous and violent these conflicts become. Rhodesia, Sahara, Ogaden, Eritrea, Chad... the list of massacres is getting longer all the time. Today we have the intervention in Zaire. Why?
1. Because it illustrates the tendency of these conflicts to move closer to a vital centre of capitalism: Europe. Zaire is an important source of raw materials and an area of major capitalist penetration for Europe.
2. Because, despite the rows between the French and Belgian capitalist accomplices, this intervention represents a response from the whole American bloc to the defiance of the Russian bloc with its control over Angola.
3. Because no such expedition in recent years has seen such wide-ranging collaboration between the Western robber states in their preparation, execution and justification for the intervention. (American planes, British materials, Belgian and French troops, blessings from the EEC and so-called ‘Communist China'.)
4. Because the ideological campaign which has supported the military offensive is also unprecedented in its scope and in the hysteria it has tried to stir up.
For all these reasons, the intervention in Zaire is a fundamental step in the escalation towards world war.The other liars of the bourgeoisie
Apart from those who have openly backed this expedition, some of the most hypocritical liars in the bourgeois cam are:
Those who protest against the intervention, not on principle, but because it didn't respect the diplomatic and constitutional rules. Fundamentally, they defend the same imperialist interests as their national capital.
Those who advocate pacifism, moral pressure, international conferences, action by the United Nations, and other schemes to ‘stop wars'.
Wars don't happen because of a few war-like or evil-minded governments. They are part of capitalism's way of life, especially since the beginning of the twentieth century. Ever since World War I, this system has only been able to survive through a hellish cycle of destruction, in which each period of reconstruction after one war simply prepares the ground for an even bigger crisis than the one before. A crisis which the bourgeoisie can only ‘solve' through an even more devastating and murderous war.
Just like the 1929 crisis, today's crisis has no solution. As with the 1929 crisis, the economic crisis today can only lead capitalism into another world butchery. This is proved day after day by the deterioration of the economic situation in all countries of the world, including the so-called ‘socialist' ones.
This is proved by the constant aggravation of conflicts all over the planet.
This is proved by today's intervention in Zaire.
To advocate pacifism is to advocate passivity and submission to capital's war-machinery. It simply opens the way to war.
Those who, speaking ‘in the name of the working class', offer the workers no alternative than supporting the other imperialist bloc. You can't fight against imperialism -- which today is the way of life of every nation in the world -- by choosing one or other of the antagonistic powers to support. All those who use this language are acting, consciously or unconsciously, as the backers of imperialist war, no less than all the others.What is the way out?
There is no way out within capitalism. This system must be destroyed before it destroys humanity.
Only one force in society can do this. That force is the working class. It's already shown this in 1917 in Russia and in 1918 in Germany. It alone can jam and paralyze the machine that's dragging the world towards a new holocaust. It alone has the power to abolish exploitation, oppression, classes and nations. It alone has the power to create a new society: socialism.
In order to do this, the workers everywhere must go onto the offensive against capitalism. In the countries where the class is being directly dragooned into these massacres, it must denounce the brutal chauvinism which is being thrust upon it in the name of ‘national liberation' and other lies. The only possible response is that of the Russian workers of 1917, the German workers of 1918:
1. fraternisation with the workers in uniform of the other camp.
2. turning your guns against your own exploiters and governments.
3. turning the imperialist war into civil war.
In the countries of the Third World, where these imperialist wars are presently taking place, the proletariat has already begun to struggle on its own class terrain. There can be no way out except to carry this struggle forward.
In the centers of capitalism, particularly in France and Belgium, which are now in the front-line of the imperialist attack, it is the same. No way out for the workers except to renew the struggle against austerity and lay-offs. Why?
1. Because the intervention in Zaire and the attack on workers' living standards are part of the same offensive by capital.
2. Because, whether workers like it or not, they are already mobilized in the war effort. It's their exploitation which is paying for the growing military expenditure.
3. Because the only way of showing their internationalism, their solidarity with their class brothers directly hit by the war, is for workers in the heartlands of capital to fight against the common enemy that confronts them all. That enemy is their own national capitalist state.
4. Because, after the professional troops, it will be conscripts who will be sent to the slaughter. And the bourgeoisie won't stop there. Each step in the preparation for generalized war opens the way to the next step.
Workers of all countries, your class response can't wait. Renew the struggle begun in 1968. The struggle the bourgeoisie has temporarily managed to divert into the dead-ends of support for bourgeois democracy, ‘the left', electoralism and trade unionism.
Take up the battle cry of your class: the workers have no fatherland! Workers of the world unite!
International Communist Current