It only took one night for the thunder of guns and the howling of bombs to resound again in Ukraine, at the gates of the historical cradle of a now rotting capitalism. In a few weeks, this war of unprecedented scale and brutality will have devastated entire cities, thrown millions of women, children and old people onto the frozen roads of winter, sacrificing countless human lives on the altar of the Fatherland. Kharkiv, Sumy or Irpin are now in ruins. In the industrial port of Mariopol, which has been completely razed to the ground, the conflict has cost the lives of no less than 5,000 people, probably more. The devastation and horrors of this war are reminiscent of the terrifying images of Grozny, Fallujah or Aleppo. But where it has taken months, sometimes years, to reach such devastation, in Ukraine there has been no "murderous escalation": in barely a month, the belligerents have thrown all their forces into the carnage and devastated one of the largest countries in Europe!
War is a terrifying moment of truth for decadent capitalism: by exhibiting its machines of death, the bourgeoisie suddenly removes the hypocritical mask of civilisation, peace and compassion that it pretends to wear with unbearable arrogance, typical of ruling classes that have become anachronistic. It is pouring out a furious torrent of propaganda, all the better to conceal its real face – that of a mass murderer. How can one not be seized with horror at the sight of these poor Russian kids, conscripts of 19 or 20 years old, with their adolescent faces, transformed into killers, as in Bucha and in other recently abandoned areas? How can we not be indignant when Zelensky, the "servant of the people", shamelessly takes an entire population hostage by decreeing the "general mobilisation" of all men from 18 to 60 years old, henceforth forbidden to leave the country? How can one not be horrified by the bombed hospitals, by the terrified and starving civilians, by the summary executions, by the corpses buried in kindergartens and by the heart-rending cry of the orphans?
The war in Ukraine is an odious manifestation of capitalism's dizzying plunge into chaos and barbarism. A sinister picture is emerging before our eyes: for the past two years, the Covid pandemic has considerably accelerated this process, of which it is itself the monstrous product. (1) The IPCC is predicting cataclysms and irreversible climate change, further threatening humanity and biodiversity on a global scale. Major political crises are multiplying, as we saw after Trump's defeat in the United States; the spectre of terrorism hangs over society, as does the nuclear risk that this war has brought back to the fore. The simultaneity and accumulation of all these phenomena is not an unfortunate coincidence; on the contrary, it bears witness to the condemnation of murderous capitalism in the court of history.
If the Russian army has crossed the border, it is certainly not to defend the “Russian people” “besieged by the West”, nor to “help” the Russian-speaking Ukrainians who are victims of the “Nazification” of the Kiyiv government. Nor is the rain of bombs falling on Ukraine the product of the “delirium” of a “mad autocrat”, as the press repeats every time it is necessary to justify a massacre (2) and to conceal the fact that this conflict, like all the others, is first of all the manifestation of a decadent and militarised bourgeois society that has nothing left to offer to humanity but its destruction!
They don't care about the death and destruction, the chaos and instability on their borders: for Putin and his clique, it was necessary to defend the interests of Russian capital and its place in the world, both of which have been weakened by the West’s increasing advance into its traditional sphere of influence. The Russian bourgeoisie can present itself as a "victim" of NATO, but Putin has never hesitated, faced with the failure of his offensive, to carry out a dreadful campaign of scorched earth and massacres, exterminating everything in his path, including the Russian-speaking populations that he had supposedly come to protect!
Nor is there anything to expect from Zelensky and his entourage of corrupt politicians and oligarchs. This former comedian is now playing to perfection his role as an unscrupulous flatterer for the interests of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie. Through an intense nationalist campaign, he has succeeded in arming the population, sometimes by force, and in recruiting a whole pack of mercenaries and gunmen who have been elevated to the rank of "heroes of the nation". Zelensky is now touring Western capitals, addressing all the parliaments to beg for the delivery of more and more weapons and ammunition. As for the “heroic Ukrainian resistance”, it does what all the armies in the world do: it massacres, plunders and does not hesitate to beat or even execute prisoners!
All the democratic powers pretend to be indignant about the “war crimes” perpetrated by the Russian army. What hypocrisy! Throughout history, they have never stopped piling up corpses and ruins in the four corners of the world. While crying over the fate of the population victimised by the "Russian ogre", the Western powers deliver astronomical quantities of weapons of war, provide training and all the necessary intelligence for the attacks and bombings of the Ukrainian army, including the neo-Nazi Azov regiment!
Above all, by multiplying its provocations, the American bourgeoisie has done everything possible to push Moscow into a war that is lost in advance. For the US, the main thing is to bleed Russia dry and to have a free hand to break the hegemonic pretensions of China, the main target of US power. This war also allows the United States to contain and thwart the great Chinese imperialist project of the “New Silk Road”. To achieve its ends, the “great American democracy” did not hesitate to encourage a totally irrational and barbaric military adventure, and consequently increasing destabilisation and chaos in the vicinity of Western Europe.
The proletariat must not choose one side against the other! It has no homeland to defend and must fight nationalism and the chauvinist hysteria of the bourgeoisie everywhere! It must fight with its own weapons and methods against the war!
To fight against war, we must fight against capitalism
Today, the proletariat in Ukraine, crushed by more than 60 years of Stalinism, has suffered a major defeat and has allowed itself to be seduced by the sirens of nationalism. In Russia, even if the proletariat showed itself to be a bit more reticent, its inability to curb the warlike impulses of its bourgeoisie explains why the ruling clique was able to send 200,000 soldiers to the front without fearing any workers’ reactions.
In the main capitalist powers, in Western Europe and in the USA, the proletariat today has neither the strength nor the political capacity to oppose this conflict directly through its international solidarity and the struggle against the bourgeoisie in all countries. It is for the moment not in a position to fraternise and to enter into a massive struggle to stop the massacre.
However, although the current tide of propaganda with its attendant demonstrations risk leading it into the dead end of defending pro-Ukrainian nationalism or into the false alternative of pacifism, the proletariat of the Western countries, with its experience of class struggles and the shenanigans of the bourgeoisie, still remains the main antidote to the death spiral of the capitalist system. The Western bourgeoisie has been careful not to intervene directly in Ukraine because it knows that the working class will not accept the daily sacrifice of thousands of soldiers enlisted in military confrontations.
Although disoriented and still weakened by this war, the working class of the Western countries retains the potential to develop its resistance to the new sacrifices generated by the sanctions against the Russian economy and by the colossal increase of military budgets: galloping inflation, the rising cost of most of the products of everyday life and the acceleration of all the other attacks against its living and working conditions
Already, proletarians can and must oppose all the sacrifices demanded by the bourgeoisie. It is through its struggles that the proletariat will be able to create a balance of force against the ruling class and thus hold back its murderous arm! For the working class, producer of all wealth, is, in the long run, the only force in society capable of putting an end to war by taking the path of overthrowing capitalism.
This is, moreover, what history showed us when the proletariat rose up in Russia in 1917 and in Germany the following year, putting an end to the war in an immense revolutionary wave. And before that, as the World War raged on, revolutionaries stayed at their posts by intransigently defending the elementary principle of proletarian internationalism. It is now the responsibility of revolutionaries to pass on the experience of the workers' movement. In the face of war, their first responsibility is to speak with one voice, to firmly wave the flag of internationalism, the only one that can make the bourgeoisie tremble again!
1) In China, the pandemic is making a strong comeback (as shown in Shanghai, in particular). It is also far from being under control in the rest of the world.
2) Of course, it is true that from Hitler to Assad, via Hussein, Milosevic, Gaddafi or Kim Jong-un, the “leaders” of the enemy class frequently suffer from serious psychological disorders.