Bourgeois society, rotten to the core, profoundly sick, once again vomits its filthy torrent of iron and fire. Each day the Ukrainian butchery displays its cortege of massive bombardments, ambushes, sieges, with columns of refugees fleeing by the million the constant fire of the belligerents.
In the midst of the flood of propaganda poured out by the governments of every country, two lies particularly stand out: the first presents Putin as a “mad dictator” readying himself to become the new Tsar of a reconstituted empire while getting his hands on the “riches of Ukraine”; the other attributes the main responsibility for the conflict to the “genocide” against the Russian-speaking populations of the Donbass whose lives the “heroic” Russian soldiers have come to save. The bourgeoisie always takes particular care to mask the real causes of war by draping them with ideological veils like “civilisation”, “democracy”, “human rights” and “international order”. But the real responsibility for the war lies with capitalism!
Another step towards chaos
Since the arrival of Putin to power in 2000, Russia has made important efforts to provide itself with a more modern army and to reconquer its influence in the Middle East, notably in Syria, but also in Africa with the sending of mercenaries to Libya, Central Africa and Mali, sowing more chaos. These last years it has not hesitated to launch a direct offensive in Georgia in 2008, then occupying the Crimea and Donbass in 2014, in order to try to restrict the decline of its sphere of influence at the risk of creating major instability on its frontiers. Following the US retreat from Afghanistan, Russia thought that it could profit from the weakening of the Americans in order to bring Ukraine into its sphere of influence, a territory essential to its position in Europe and the world, especially since Kyiv was threatening to link up with NATO.
Since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989, this is certainly not the first time that war has broken out on the European continent. The Balkans War in the early 1990’s and the conflict in Donbass in 2014 had already brought misfortune and desolation to the continent. But the war in Ukraine already has much more serious implications than the preceding conflicts, illustrating how the tide of chaos more and more approaches the main centres of capitalism.
Russia, one of the world’s main military powers is, in effect, directly and massively involved in the invasion of a country occupying a strategic position in Europe, up to the frontiers of the European Union. At the time of writing, Russia has already lost around 10,000 soldiers and many more have been wounded or have deserted. Some towns have been razed to the ground by a blitz of bombing. The number of civilian casualties is probably considerable. And this hardly a month into the war!
The region will henceforth see an enormous concentration of troops and advanced military material and equipment, with soldiers and mercenaries coming from all over the place, but also in Eastern Europe with the deployment of thousands of NATO soldiers and the mobilisation of the only ally of Putin, Belorussia. Several European states have decided to considerably increase their re-armament programmes to the first rank including the Baltic States, but also Germany which has doubled its “defence” budget.
For its part, Russia regularly threatens the world with reprisals and shamelessly brandishes its nuclear arsenal. The French Minister of Defence also warned Putin that he will have to face “nuclear powers”, before calming down to a much more “diplomatic” tone. Without even talking about a nuclear conflict, the risk of a major industrial accident is on the cards. Some ferocious fighting has already broken out at the nuclear facilities of Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia, where buildings (fortunately only administrative ones) have caught fire following bombardments.
To all this can be added a major migrant crisis in Europe itself. Millions of Ukrainians flee towards bordering countries in order to escape the war and forced conscription into Zelensky’s army. But taking account the growth of of populism in Europe and the sometimes explicit will of several states to cynically instrumentalise migrants for their imperialist ends (as we’ve recently seen on the Belorussian frontier or through the regular threats of Turkey against the European Union), in time this massive exodus could create serious tensions and instability.
In sum, the war in Ukraine carries a major risk of chaos, destabilisation and destruction at the international level. If this conflict doesn’t open up a still more bloody conflagration, it can only increase such dangers, with the risk of an uncontrolled “escalation” that could involve unimaginable consequences.
Is Russia alone responsible for the war?
If the Russian bourgeoisie has opened hostilities in order to defend its sordid imperialist interests, the propaganda presenting Ukraine and the western countries as victims of a “mad dictator” is a hypocritical masquerade. For months the American government has been warning of an imminent Russian attack, a clear provocation, while claiming that it wouldn’t put boots on Ukrainian soil.
Since the dislocation of the USSR, Russia has been continually threatened on it borders as much in Eastern Europe as in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The United States and the European powers have methodically pushed back at the Russian sphere of influence by integrating a number of eastern European countries of into the EU and NATO. This was also the significance of the eviction of the ex-President of Georgia, Shevardnadze, in 2003 at the time of the “Rose Revolutions” which brought an American clique to power. The same goes for the “Orange Revolution” of 2004 in Ukraine and all the conflicts which have followed between different factions of the local bourgeoisie. The active support of the Western powers for the pro-European opposition in Belorussia, the war in the High-Karabakh under the pressure of Turkey (a member of NATO) and the settling of accounts at the top of the Kazakh state have only accentuated the feeling of urgency within the Russian bourgeoisie.
Just as much for “Tsarist” as “Soviet” Russia, Ukraine has always represented a central stake in its foreign policy. For Moscow in fact Ukraine is the sole means for direct access to the Mediterranean. The annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 already followed this imperative of Russian imperialism, which is directly threatened by encirclement through regimes backed by the Americans for the most part. The will of the United States to draw Ukraine towards the West is thus seen by Putin and his clique as a real provocation. In this sense, even if the offensive of the Russian army seems totally irrational and doomed to failure from the beginning, it is for Moscow a desperate “power grab” destined to maintain its ranking as a world power.
Perfectly lucid about the situation in Russia, the American bourgeoisie, although divided on the question, did not fail to push Putin into action by multiplying these provocations. When Biden explicitly assured everyone that he would not intervene directly in Ukraine, he deliberately left a vacuum that Russia immediately used in the hope of stemming its decline on the international scene. This is not the first time that the United States has used such cold Machiavellianism to achieve its ends: already in 1990, Bush senior had pushed Saddam Hussein into a trap by claiming not to want to intervene to defend Kuwait. We know the rest…
It is still too early to predict the duration and extent of the already considerable destruction in Ukraine, but since the 1990s we have known about the massacres of Srebrenica, Grozny, Sarajevo, Fallujah and Aleppo. Anyone who starts a war is often doomed to get bogged down. In the 1980s, Russia paid a heavy price following the invasion of Afghanistan, which led to the implosion of the USSR. The United States has had its own fiascos, weakening it both militarily and economically. All these adventures ultimately ended, despite apparent initial victories, in bitter setbacks and considerably weakened the belligerents. Putin's Russia, if it doesn’t suddenly fall back after a humiliating defeat, will not escape the stalemate, even if it manages to seize the major Ukrainian cities.
All countries and all wars are imperialist
“Russian imperialism”, the bourgeoisie says - as if Russia were the quintessence of imperialism in contrast to the helpless Ukrainian chick. In reality, since the entry of capitalism into its period of decadence, war and militarism have become fundamental characteristics of this system. All states, big or small, are imperialist; all wars, whether they claim to be “humanitarian”, “liberating” or “democratic”, are imperialist wars. This is what revolutionaries had already identified during the First World War: at the beginning of the 20th century, the world market was entirely divided into the preserves of the main capitalist nations. Faced with increased competition and the impossibility of loosening the grip of the contradictions of capitalism through new colonial or commercial conquests, national states built up gigantic arsenals and subjected the whole of economic and social life to the imperatives of war. It was in this context that the World War broke out in August 1914, a slaughter then unequaled in the history of humanity, a dazzling expression of a new "era of wars and revolutions".
Faced with fierce competition and the omnipresence of war in every nation, small or large, two phenomena have developed which constitute the major characteristics of the period of decadence: state capitalism and imperialist blocs. “State capitalism […] responds to the need for each country, with a view to confrontation with other nations, to obtain the maximum discipline within it from the different sectors of society, to reduce to the minimum clashes between classes but also between rival fractions of the dominant class, in order, in particular, to mobilise and control all of its economic potential. Likewise, the constitution of imperialist blocs corresponds to the need to impose a similar discipline between different national bourgeoisies in order to limit their reciprocal antagonisms and to bring them together for the supreme confrontation between the two military camps.” The capitalist world was thus divided throughout the 20th century into rival blocs: Allies against Axis powers, Western bloc against Eastern bloc.
But with the collapse of the USSR at the end of the 1980s, the final phase of the decadence of capitalism began: the period of its generalised decomposition, marked by the disappearance of imperialist blocs for more than 30 years. The relegation of the Russian “policeman” and, de facto, the dislocation of the American bloc, opened the way to a whole series of rivalries and local conflicts hitherto suppressed by the iron discipline of the blocs. This trend of every man for himself and increasing chaos has since been fully confirmed.
Since 1990, the only “superpower”, the United States, has tried to establish a minimum of order in the world and slow down the inevitable decline of its own leadership… by resorting to war. As the world had ceased to be divided into two disciplined imperialist camps, a country like Iraq thought it possible to lay hands on a former ally of the same bloc, Kuwait. The United States, at the head of a coalition of 35 countries, launched a murderous offensive intended to discourage any future temptation to imitate the actions of Saddam Hussein.
But the operation could in no way put an end to every man for himself on the imperialist level, a typical manifestation of the process of the decomposition of society. In the Balkan wars, the fierce rivalries between the powers of the former Western bloc were already exposed to broad daylight, in particular France, the United Kingdom and Germany which, in addition to the murderous American and Russian interventions, waged war through the means of the various belligerents in the former Yugoslavia. The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, in turn, marked another significant step in the chaos striking at the heart of global capitalism. Leftist theories about American greed for oil profits being a major cause of these wars were fundamentally refuted by their staggering cost. It was above all in the context of the USA’s efforts to reassert its global authority that it had to unleash the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, in the name of "the war against terrorism".
America imperialism launched itself into a veritable headlong rush: during the second Gulf War, Germany, France and Russia were no longer content to just drag their feet behind Uncle Sam, they flatly refused to engage their soldiers. Above all, each of these operations only engendered such chaos and instability that the United States ended up getting bogged down, to the point of having to leave Afghanistan in a humiliating fashion 20 years later, leaving behind them a field of ruins in the hands of the very same Taliban they had come to depose, just as they had already had to abandon Iraq in the grip of an immense anarchy, destabilising the whole region, in particular neighboring Syria. In the period of decomposition, precisely by seeking to maintain its rank as the first world power, the United States became the main propagator of chaos.
The United States provokes chaos on the doorstep of one the principal centres of world capitalism
Today, the United States has undeniably scored points on the imperialist level, without even having to intervene directly. Russia, a long-time adversary, is engaged in an unwinnable war that will result, whatever the outcome, in major military and economic weakening. Already, the European Union and the United States have announced the way it’s going: according to the head of European diplomacy, it is a question of "devastating the Russian economy"... and so much the worse for the proletariat in Russia who will pay for all these retaliatory measures. Along with the Ukrainian proletariat, it is the first victim and the hostage of the unleashing of military barbarism!
The Americans have also regained control of NATO, which the French President recently announced was "brain dead", considerably strengthening their presence in the East and forcing the main European powers (Germany, France and the United Kingdom) to assume more of the economic burden of militarism for the defense of Europe's eastern borders. This is a policy that the United States has been trying to implement for several years, notably under the presidency of Trump, and now continued by Biden, in order to concentrate its force against its principal enemy: China.
For the Europeans, the situation represents a diplomatic defeat of the first order and a considerable loss of influence. The conflict fueled by the United States was not wanted by France and Germany which, because of their dependence on Russian gas and the market that this country represents for their own goods, had nothing to gain from this conflict. On the contrary, Europe will experience a further acceleration of the economic crisis under the impact of the war and the sanctions imposed on Russia. The Europeans therefore have had to line up behind the American shield after the diplomatic weakening caused by Trump's flippancy had made them hope for a strong comeback of the old continent onto the international scene.
Is the fact that the main European powers are forced to line up behind the United States the beginnings of the formation of a new imperialist bloc? The period of decomposition does not, in itself, prohibit the constitution of new blocs, although the weight of every man for himself considerably hampers this eventuality. Nevertheless, in this situation the irrational will of each state to defend its own imperialist interests is greatly reinforced. Germany has been dragging its feet somewhat in enforcing sanctions and continues to walk on eggshells over the question of further sanctions on the Russian gas exports on which it heavily depends. Moreover, it has not ceased, with France, to intervene by offering a diplomatic exit to Russia, which Washington is of course seeking to delay. Even Turkey and Israel are trying to offer their "good services" as intermediaries. Eventually, with the increase in their military spending, the major European powers could even seek to emancipate themselves from American tutelage, an ambition that Macron regularly defends through his “European defense” project. While the United States has undeniably scored points in the short term, each country therefore also tries to play its own cards, compromising the constitution of a bloc all the more easily since China, for its part, is unable to gather any significant powers behind it. The war is currently holding back China’s ability to defend its own interests and objectives.
China is the ultimate objective of American strategy
However, the manoeuvres of the American bourgeoisie are not aimed solely or primarily at Russia. The confrontation between the United States and China today determines global imperialist relations. By creating a situation of chaos in Ukraine, Washington has above all sought to fetter China's advance towards Europe blocking, for a still indefinite period, the "silk roads" which were to pass through the countries of Europe from the east. After threatening China's sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific region with, among other things, the creation of the AUKUS alliance in 2021, Biden has just created a huge divide in Europe, preventing China from transporting its goods by land.
The United States has also succeeded in showing China's impotence in playing the role of reliable partner on the international scene since it has no other choice but to support Russia in a very weak way. In this sense, the American offensive that we are witnessing is part of its more global strategy of containment of China.
Since the wars in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and in the Middle East, the United States has become, as we’ve seen, the main factor of chaos in the world. So far, this trend has been confirmed first in the peripheral countries of capitalism, although the central countries have also suffered the consequences (terrorism, migration crises, etc.). But today, the first world power is creating chaos at the gates of one of the main centres of capitalism. This criminal strategy is led by “democrat” and “moderate” Joe Biden. His predecessor, Donald Trump, had a well-deserved reputation as a hothead, but it now seems obvious that to neutralise China, only the strategy differs: Trump wanted to negotiate agreements with Russia, Biden and the majority of the American bourgeoisie wanted it bled white. Putin and his clique of assassins are no better, just like Zelensky who does not hesitate to take an entire population hostage and sacrifice them as cannon fodder in the name of the defense of the fatherland. And what about the hypocritical European democracies which, while crying crocodile tears over the victims of war, deliver phenomenal quantities of military equipment?
From left to right, democratic or dictatorial, all countries, all bourgeoisies are leading us on a forced march towards chaos and barbarism! More than ever, the only alternative available to humanity is: socialism or barbarism!
EG, March 21, 2022
 For a comparison, the USSR lost 25,000 soldiers during the nine years of the terrible war which ravaged Afghanistan.
 “Against Russian imperialism, for an internationalist leap”, Mediapart, March 2nd 2022.This article with an evocative title borders on farce, especially on the part of its author, Edwy Plenel, a great defender of French imperialism who openly calls for war.
 “To understand the Ukraine-Russia conflict, look to colonialism”, The Washington Post, 24th February, 2022.
“Decomposition: the ultimate stage of decadent capitalism”.