War in Ukraine, pandemic, environmental disaster, economic crisis... Only the proletariat can offer a future to humanity

Printer-friendly version

For more than four months now, war has been raging at the gates of Europe. Four months of this macabre spectacle with its thousands of victims, its millions of exiles, its scenes of destruction and desolation. Four months, then, since carnage and devastation made their grand return to Europe, accelerating the spiral of war into which capitalism is sinking. This odious manifestation of capitalism's plunge into chaos and barbarism is accompanied by the resurgence of the Covid pandemic, where a “seventh wave” is currently sweeping across Europe without the slightest sanitary measure being envisaged by the different states, with the bourgeoisie leaving the populations to their own fate. Similarly, the chain of heat waves, such as the one that hit India and Pakistan last March and April, are a reminder that the cataclysms linked to climate change are increasingly threatening humanity. The most extreme effects (heat waves, droughts, floods, tsunamis, etc.) are even becoming the norm and will soon make human life impossible in entire regions.

We could add many other aspects to this accumulation and the simultaneity of disasters which demonstrate only one thing: the accentuation of the putrefaction of capitalist society and the total incapacity of the ruling class to counteract this historical trend. These three major illustrations are enough to affirm that capitalism has become an obsolete mode of production, incapable of guaranteeing a future for humanity other than that of its own destruction.

Capitalism is war

Since the beginning of the 20th century, war has been inseparable from capitalist society. It is the precise result of the historic crisis of this mode of production, as the Gauche Communiste de France pointed out in the wake of the Second World War: “having historically exhausted all the possibilities of development, and finding in modern warfare, imperialist warfare, the expression of this collapse which [...] engulfs the productive forces in an abyss and accumulates ruin upon ruin at an accelerated pace”. But unlike climate disasters or the emergence of the pandemic, militarism and the proliferation of wars are the product of the deliberate action of the bourgeoisie, which is incapable of settling its imperialist rivalries other than by the resort to arms and spilling the blood of the exploited.

The war in Ukraine is no exception to this totally irrational logic[1] and even constitutes a deepening of militarism and its barbaric consequences, as shown by the scale of the fighting, the tens of thousands of deaths, the systematic destruction of entire cities, the execution of civilians, the irresponsible bombing of nuclear power stations and the considerable economic consequences for the entire planet. The explosion of the military budgets of all the states, and the adhesion of Sweden and Finland to the basket of crabs that is NATO, are in no way marks of the famous “If you want peace, prepare for war” so hypocritically peddled by the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, the swelling of military arsenals and, more generally, the accentuation of the war economy in all directions will only increase tensions between states and are already laying the foundations for future conflicts.

A considerable worsening of the economic crisis

While the world has been suffering for nearly three years from one of the most deadly pandemics in history, and while the economic crisis and the environmental disaster are worsening, all states are spending vast amounts on arms. More than ever, the economy is at the service of war, at the service of the unbridled production of tools of destruction without the slightest economic consistency. For a gun, a missile or a fighter plane does not generate any additional value and is a pure waste, a dead loss from the point of view of capital on a global scale. Therefore, the increase in arms production, the possible conversion of strategic sectors to the military industry, the indebtedness that all this will provoke and the decrease in investments in other sectors of the economy, will considerably alter world trade and further aggravate the economic and social conditions suffered by the exploited.

In addition, the direct effects of the war itself are already being felt by a large part of the world's population: exorbitant inflation, the total disorganisation of production and supply chains, measures of economic retaliation between rival states. All these consequences of the imperialist war are hitting the exploited all over the world hard, not least with the shortage of many essential goods. Faced with this catastrophic situation, the bourgeoisie has no other proposal than the endless ideology of sacrifice, like the European governments which, faced with Russian gas cuts, exhort the population to tighten their belts by practising “energy sobriety”, all in the name of a pseudo-solidarity with the Ukrainian people. This despicable propaganda relayed by the big energy companies shows all the perfidy and cynicism of the ruling class, which never gives up trying to make the working class pay for its crisis. But the lies of the ruling class pale in comparison with the harsh reality that billions of people suffer in their flesh on a daily basis. The proof is that the world has never been so hungry. Today, capitalism and its horrors are plunging more than 2 billion people into a food crisis and almost 400,000 million people are on the brink of starvation.

The future is in the hands of the proletariat

As we have affirmed on several occasions over the last few months, the proletariat, deprived of its class consciousness, is for the moment incapable of recognising itself as a social force that can oppose war and put forward a revolutionary perspective. Faced with inflation and shortages, revolts have thus broken out on a terrain of struggle totally alien to the methods and objectives of the proletariat, as in Sri Lanka where the anger of the population has been instrumentalised to oust the president in office, thus serving as a mass to be manoeuvred in the confrontations between bourgeois cliques. In Ecuador, thousands of “indigenous” people, grouped on ethnic bases and cut off from the struggle of the working class, have also set themselves the objective of overthrowing the ruling power... for the benefit of another bourgeois clique.

However, in recent weeks, the first glimmers of workers' reactions to the increasing exploitation in the workplace and the deterioration of living conditions, as a result of soaring prices, have been expressed in the heart of global capitalism. At the end of June, more than 50,000 railway workers in Britain were on strike to demand higher wages. In Germany, Spain and France, strikes also broke out in the air industry and railways, based on the same demands. If these defensive struggles remain for the moment very embryonic, isolated from each other and contained by the unions, who are deploying their arsenal of sabotage through division between different sectors, the fact remains that they illustrate a great deal of anger in the ranks of the workers as well as a potential for the development combativity in the period to come.

But above all, these movements fully demonstrate that the economic crisis remains the best ally of the proletariat, the most favourable terrain on which it can develop its solidarity and its international unity, and gradually recover its identity and the consciousness of its revolutionary potential. It is only through these long and tortuous struggles that it will be able to extricate humanity from capitalism’s spiral of destruction and thus show the way to communism.

More than ever the future belongs to the working class!

Vincent, 8 July 2022.


[1] For further developments on the subject of the irrationality of the war see, for example “Orientation text: Militarism and decomposition”, International Review No. 64 (October 1990). In International Review 168 we will publish “Militarism and Decomposition, May 2022” which brings the subject up to date.


Decomposition of capitalism