As the UN-run trial of ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic began in The Hague it was clear that there were many others who could also be put in the dock on charges of genocide. This bloodthirsty killer and rabid nationalist was only a pawn in a much wider game going on in the Balkans in the early 1990s.
"The new world disorder": this is what the English-speaking press is now calling the ‘new world order' that ex-president Bush bequeathed to his successor. The panorama is terrifying and catastrophic. The list of misfortunes hitting humanity is very long...
With the recent confrontations in Macedonia, yet another part of the Balkans is on the verge of imploding into chaos. After Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, this new theatre of war threatens to further destabilise a region which has been subjected to blood and fire for ten years. And once again, the local populations are exposed to massacre and barbarity through the confrontation between rival nationalist cliques.
What is the real reason for the NATO bombing, the daily deluge of fire that is falling on Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo? What is the real reason for this war which, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, involves the direct military presence of the great powers on European soil, only a few hours plane ride away fromours plane ride away from London?
The ICC held its 13th Congress at the beginning of April, at a time marked by the acceleration of history, as dying capitalism confronts one of the most difficult and dangerous periods of modern history, comparable in gravity to the two world wars, the upsurge of the proletarian revolution in 1917-19, or the Great Depression of 1929. The seriousness of the situationiousness of the situation is determined by sharpening contradictions at every level:
As the missiles were falling on Iraq, fighting resumed in Kosovo between the Kosovan Liberation Army, and the Serbian armed forces. Once again, the civilian population has paid the price of this new outbreak of violence: massacres, forced evacuations, etc. The bourgeois media have headlined with the bloodbath in the Kosovan village of Racak. But the publicity given to the dozens of butchered and mutilated civilians is nothing but an opportunity for the great western 'democracies' to make a show of their 'horror'. It will also serve as a pretext for any future military intervention by the greintervention by the great powers - 'for peace', of course. But whatever their mock outrage today, it is none other than the western ruling classes who are responsible, and guilty of the killings in ex-Yugoslavia. Once again, a few hundred miles from the Western European heart of world capitalism, the sound of arms reminds us that there is no peace possible under capitalism, especially not in the strategic region of the Balkans, which remains at the centre of the confrontation between the great powers.
The bombing of the population
of ex-Yugoslavia by the major powers under the aegis of NATO
represents a serious escalation of capitalist barbarism. It is
accompanied by a cacophony of voices attempting to hide the imperialist
nature of the war. There are the voices of those who justify
the bombings and try to cover the sordid and bloody self the sordid and bloody self-interest
of the major powers under a veil of humanitarianism. There are
the voices of those who condemn the NATO attack in order to defend
the 'little' ethnic murderer, Milosevic, against the high tech
slaughter of the US and European powers. There are the voices
of the pacifists who appeal for a peaceful capitalism, as if
the spirit of competition weren't an intrinsic aspect of bourgeois
rule that leads inevitably to the use of armed force as one country
tries to impose its own imperialist interests at the expense
of the others.
But amid this barrage there is a clear and sane voice raised
against the war and all its bourgeois protagonists, that of proletarian
internationalism. This position in relation to imperialist war
is the foundation stone of the international working class movement
and the litmus test for revolutionary organisations. Its intransigent
defence marks out the currents of the communist left from those
of the radical bourgeoisie, who masquerade as friends of the
working class while inviting them to massacre their class brothers
in other countries in the name of siding with whichever imperialism
they identify as the 'lesser evil'. This song is as old as capitalism!
The essence of proletarian internationalism is expressed in the
words of the Communist Manifesto, drafted by Marx and Engels
in rx and Engels
in 1848: "The workers have no country ... Workers of all
countries unite!" It affirms the nature of the working class
as an international class, no part of which has interests which
are in conflict with any other sector in any other country. As
such the proletariat has no interest in the victory of either
side in wars between capitalist powers for the extension of their
spheres of influence and for world domination. On the contrary,
it is always expected to pay for the war by dying on the battlefield
and by increasing productivity for the war effort. It is always
the victim and never a victor while this system of death and
poverty has not been overthrown once and for all.
When the socialist parties of the Second International betrayed
the principle of internationalism by supporting participation
in the First World War and played a prominent role in mobilising
the workers for the carnage, the International was lost to the
working class. But the revolutionary minority regrouped around
the Bolsheviks in Russia and the Spartacists in Germany, defended
an internationalist position by opposing the war and calling
for the workers to defend their own class interests. In the same
way, with the onset of the second imperialist carnage, whereas
the Trotskyist current passed over to the bourgeois camp by supporting
the USSR and the democratic front in the name of opposing fascism,
there remained fractions of the Communist Left who maintained
the principle of internationalism and have continued to denounce
it as an imperialist war.
It is the organisations that are descended from this political
current that have responded to the NATO bombings by taking up
the only consistent and communist position:
- condemning the carnage as an imperialist war;
- calling on the working class not to defend any of the bourgeois
- condemning, implicitly or explicitly, the demands of the leftists
for the workers to defend the 'lesser evil' or 'self-determination
in Kosovo' and,
- against the myth of pacifism, affirming that only the working
class can offer an alternative to capitalist barbarism through
its own struggle as a revolutionary class, whose historic destiny
is to destroy the exploitation of the bourgeoisie and create
a new society without classes and without exploitation.
The titles of the leaflets produced by the various groups of
the communist left, immediately after the start of the bombing
of Kosovo, testify to the unity, in action, of the internationalists
in the denunciation of the war (1):
"Capitalism means imperialism, imperialism means war"
"The Kosovo war "The Kosovo war is a war of capital" (Programma Comunista);
"No to imperialist intervention in Yugoslavia! Down with
all nationalism and all bourgeois oppression!" (Le Proletaire);
"The real opposition to military intervention and war lies
in the class struggle of the proletariat, in its class and internationalist
reorganisation against all forms of bourgeois oppression and
nationalism" (Il Comunista);
"Down with the imperialist war" (Il Partito Comunista);
"Capitalism is war, war on capitalism!" (ICC).
Right from the start of the bombing of Yugoslavia the left has held meetings and demonstrations around the theme of "Stop the War". From the interventions of militants and sympathisers of the ICC across the country it is clear that these events, far from being against the imperialist slaughter, have been in favour of war, usually on the side of British imperialism's traditional ally Serbia, but sometimes in defence of the KLA. A report received LA. A report received from a close sympathiser of the ICC about a meeting held in Leicester gives a very good sense of a typical celebration of warmongering by the left.
In June, having wallowed in imperialist war under the pretext of 'humanitarianism', the bourgeoisie in the west claimed a great victory for 'democracy' over Milosevic. The so-called allies of the anti-Milosevic coalition were rushing to install anti-Milosevic coalition were rushing to install 'peace' and construct an 'independent, democratic Kosovo'. A grand project, but we saw very quickly what they really meant. The region has become one of the most militarised in the world. The great powers are staring each other out, lending rapid support to their own pitbulls, the local armed gangs under their control, in order to settle scores between themselves. And what about the dividends of peace? Before the military intervention, it was the Kosovans who were being massacred; for some considerable time the great powers were not unduly worried about it, until some of them saw it as a pretext for military intervention. Today it's the Serbs, under the 'protection' of the UN 'peacekeeping' force KFOR, who are being subjected to massive reprisals: 160,000 of them have fled Kosovo since the end of the NATO bombing and the entry of the 'allied' contingents. The tension between Serbs and Albanians has grown daily, fuelled by the various armed cliques who are under the orders of their bigger bosses.
"A victory for democracy", proof that this was a "just war", a war for the rights of man in international relations. From Blair to Clinton via Kofi Anan, this is how, after three months of butchery, the representatives of the western bourgeoisie are describing their operation in Yugoslavia. Having destroyed and slaughtered onoyed and slaughtered on a grand scale, they are now claiming to be instituting "peace", guaranteeing the "safety" of peoples, and reconstructing the ruins.
revolutions, are historic events of capital importance in demarcating the
bourgeois camp from the revolutionary camp; they provide proof of the class
nature of political forces. This was the case with the First World War which
provoked the betrayal of Social-Democracy at the international level, the death
of the Second International and the emergence of a minority which formed the
new Communist Parties and the Third International.
Up until the collapse of the eastern
bloc in 1989, the alternative posed by the workers’ movement since the
beginning of the century - war or revolution - clearly summarised what was at
stake in the situation: through a dizzying aims race, the two rival blocs were
preparing for a third world war, the only response that capitalism can have to
its economic crisis. Today, humanity is confronted, not with a ‘new world
order’ as they claimed in 1989, but with a world disorder in which chaos and
barbarism has been developing everywhere...