Cities completely devastated, hospitals in total collapse, crowds of civilians wandering the streets under the bombs, without water, food or electricity, families everywhere crying for their dead, children haggardly searching for their mothers under the ruins, others mercilessly torn apart... This terrifying apocalyptic landscape is not that of Warsaw or Hiroshima after six years of world war, nor that of Sarajevo after four years of siege. This is the landscape of "21st century capitalism", the streets of Gaza, Rafah and Khan Yunis after just three months of conflict.
Three months! It took just two short months to raze Gaza to the ground, take tens of thousands of lives and throw millions more onto roads that lead nowhere! And not just by anyone! By "the only democracy in the Near and Middle East", by the State of Israel, an ally of the great Western "democracies", which claims to be the sole repository of the memory of the Holocaust.
For decades, revolutionaries have been crying out: “Capitalism is gradually plunging humanity into barbarism and chaos!” Here we are... Down with the masks! Capitalism is showing its true face and the future it has in store for all humanity!
A giant step into barbarism
What is happening today in the Middle East is not just another episode in the long series of outbreaks of violence that have tragically punctuated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. The current conflict has nothing to do with the old "logic" of confrontation between the USSR and the United States. On the contrary, it represents a further step in the drive of global capitalism towards chaos, the proliferation of uncontrollable convulsions and the spread of ever more conflicts.
The level of barbarity on the scale of Gaza is perhaps even worse than the extraordinary violence of the Ukrainian conflict. All the wars of decadence have resulted in mass slaughter and gigantic destruction. But even the greatest murderers of the twentieth century, the Hitlers, the Stalins, the Churchills and the Eisenhowers, only engaged in the worst horrors after several years of war, multiplying the "justifications" for turning entire cities into heaps of ashes. Yet it is striking to note the extent to which the streets of Gaza already bear a striking resemblance to the ruined landscapes at the end of the Second World War. This whole clique of barbarians has been swept along by the scorched earth logic that now dominates imperialist conflicts.
What strategic advantage could Hamas possibly have gained by sending a thousand assassins to massacre civilians, if not to ignite the fuse and expose itself to its own destruction? What are Iran or Israel hoping to achieve, then, if not to sow chaos among their rivals, chaos that will inevitably come back to hit them like a boomerang? Neither state has anything to gain from this hopeless conflict. Israeli society could be profoundly destabilised by the war, threatened for decades to come by a generation of Palestinians bent on revenge. As for Iran, while it stands to gain the most from the situation, this can only be a Pyrrhic victory! Because if the United States fails to curb the indiscriminate unleashing of military barbarity, Iran is exposed to harsh reprisals against its positions in Lebanon and Syria, and even to destructive attacks on its own territory. And all this at the risk of destabilising ever larger regions of the planet, with shortages, famines, millions of displaced people, increased risks of attacks, confrontations between communities...
Even if the United States is trying to prevent the situation from getting out of hand, the risk of a generalised conflagration in the Middle East is not negligible. Because, far from obeying the "bloc discipline" that prevailed until the collapse of the USSR, all the local players are ready to pull the trigger.
The first thing that stands out is that Israel has acted alone, arousing the anger and open criticism of the Biden administration. Netanyahu has taken advantage of the weakening of American leadership to try to crush the Palestinian bourgeoisie and destroy Iran's allies, thereby opposing the "two-state solution" promoted by the United States. The indiscipline of Israel, which is more concerned with its own immediate interests, is a huge blow to Washington's efforts to prevent the destabilisation of the region.
After three months of atrocities, it’s more and more obvious that the war between Israel and Hamas will have dramatic global consequences: on the economic level, with the semi-closure of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, a world commercial hub now being hit by Houthi rockets and drones, or on the humanitarian level with several million people forced into exile.
Above all, the recent clashes between Israel and Hezbollah, like the American and British strikes in Yemen, already risk opening up a new front with Iran and its allies. Such an extension of the conflict would be another step in Washington’s loss of control over the world situation: obliged to support its Israeli ally, this would be a new blow to its policy of encircling China and supporting Ukraine, with all the dangers of escalation hanging over these regions.
The war in Gaza like the war in Ukraine shows that the bourgeoisie has no solution to war. It has become totally powerless to control the spiral of chaos and barbarism which capitalism is inflicting on the whole of humanity.
Who can end war?
The proletariat in Gaza has been crushed. The proletariat in Israel, stunned by the Hamas attack, has allowed itself to be taken in by nationalist and war propaganda. In the main bastions of the proletariat, particularly in Europe, if the working class is not ready to sacrifice itself directly in the trenches, it is still incapable of rising up directly against the imperialist war, on the terrain of proletarian internationalism.
So is all lost?... No! The bourgeoisie has demanded enormous sacrifices to fuel the war machine in Ukraine. In the face of the crisis and despite the propaganda, the proletariat rose up against the economic consequences of this conflict, against inflation and austerity. Admittedly, the working class still finds it difficult to make the link between militarism and the economic crisis, but it has indeed refused to make sacrifices: in the United Kingdom with a year of mobilisations, in France against pension reform, in the United States against inflation and job insecurity.
While the Ukrainian conflict drags on, the Israeli-Palestinian war rages, and the bourgeoisie redoubles its efforts to fill the heads of the exploited with its despicable nationalist propaganda, the working class is still fighting! Recently, Canada has seen a historic movement of struggle. Unprecedented struggles, with expressions of solidarity, are taking place in the Scandinavian countries. The working class is not dead!
Through its struggles, the proletariat is also finding out what true class solidarity is. In the face of war, workers' solidarity is not with the “Palestinians” or the “Israelis”. It is with the workers of Palestine and Israel, as it is with the workers of the whole world. Solidarity with the victims of the massacres certainly does not mean maintaining the nationalist mystifications which have led workers to place themselves behind a gun and a bourgeois clique. Workers' solidarity means above all developing the fight against the capitalist system responsible for all wars.
Revolutionary struggle cannot come about with a snap of the fingers. Today, it can only come about through the development of workers' struggles against the increasingly harsh economic attacks by the bourgeoisie. Today's struggles pave the way for tomorrow's revolution!
EG, 8 January 2023