"Guaranteeing peace by preparing for war"

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Since the outbreak of the barbaric conflict in Ukraine and its deterioration into a terrible war of positions, the massacres in Israel and Gaza and the threats of conflagration in the Middle East through a direct conflict between Israel and Iran, the tensions around Taiwan, the uncontrollable appetites of capitalist nations are leading bourgeois politicians to the “discovery” that the capitalist world is a sinister basket of crabs. At the start of the conflict in Ukraine, their speeches immediately tried to convince us that we had to break with "angelism" and agree to prepare for "high-intensity warfare": to make sacrifices in order to fuel new mass murders and destruction! Of course, in the name of "peace" and the "defence of democracy"...

An ideological offensive to justify armament and prepare for war

In a context of accelerating imperialist tensions where every man for himself is the rule, the Western bourgeoisies, in Europe and the United States, are redoubling their efforts to propagate the worst warmongering campaigns in the media. In a totally cavalier move, President Macron, supported by the heads of state of seven European countries, has taken the lead in asserting that the possibility of sending Western troops to Ukraine "should not be ruled out". In Great Britain, General Patrick Sanders advocated "doubling the size of the British army" and called for ordinary citizens to be prepared for "civic mobilisation". He was joined by the head of NATO's military committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, who said in a speech: "The responsibility for freedom does not rest solely on the shoulders of those who wear the uniform [...]. [...] We need a change of mentality in the public and private sectors from a time when everything was plannable, predictable, controllable, efficiency-driven... to a time when anything can happen at any time". In short, they want to be able to mobilise the population for the "war effort" and prepare troops for combat.

While such statements were widespread and controversial, they were immediately contradicted by the divisions and tensions between the various bourgeois factions. But they all agree on one thing: that we should support one side in the war, in this case Ukraine. All the speeches are unanimous in asserting that "Ukraine is fighting for us" and that "if we lose, the Russian army will be on our doorstep". It was against this backdrop that NATO's seventy-fifth anniversary took on special significance, celebrated with great pomp and circumstance while emphasising that Putin's stalemate in Ukraine did not make him any less dangerous. And while Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear that there were "no plans to send NATO troops to Ukraine", he was keen to point out that "NATO allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine".

This is all about preparing people's minds to accept the principle of war and its sacrifices. This is all the more important because, as Rosa Luxemburg pointed out at the time of the First World War, "war is methodical, organised, gigantic murder. In order to bring about systematic murder in normally constituted men, it is necessary [...] to produce an appropriate intoxication. This has always been the usual method of belligerents. The bestiality of thought and feeling must correspond to the bestiality of practice; it must prepare and accompany it"[1].

Naturally, from this point of view, the primary aim of all the warmongering today is to justify the dizzying rise in military budgets everywhere. In this respect, the impressive increases in arms spending in the Scandinavian countries (20% in Norway, for example) and in the Baltic states are highly symbolic of this new frenetic arms race. In fact, all European countries are making major efforts. Poland, for example, is aiming for a record 4% of its GDP (the highest rate within NATO); Germany, with this year's budget (€68 billion), will reach 2.1% of its GDP for the first time in over thirty years; and France is planning to spend a whopping €413.3 billion over seven years.

Today, the involvement and efforts to be made in terms of arms spending are taking on a new quality. However, since the end of the First World War, "peace" has in reality been nothing more than a mystification, with so many corpses piling up. Following the collapse of the Eastern bloc, the new "multipolar world" has only generated chaos, increasingly involving the armies of the great imperialist powers in costly conflicts, first and foremost the armed forces of the United States. But the gigantic sums of money now being planned are being spent in a context of accelerating decomposition and a dramatic deepening of the economic crisis which followed the brutal shock caused by the Covid epidemic.

The need for class struggle

The current situation is marked by stagnating industrial growth, and even signs of recession, while debts continue to grow and inflation continues to erode wages. It is in this very poor context that the bourgeoisie needs to attack the workers even more in order to strengthen its military resources. To put it plainly, the bourgeoisie has no other choice, given the spiral into which it is being dragged by the bankruptcy of its system than to coldly plan attacks with a view to preparing for war and imposing austerity in order to drag us further into its logic of destruction.

Such madness, and the new economic attacks that it entails, can only favour the conditions for a continuation of the class struggle. In reality, the ideological campaigns on war paradoxically reveal that the bourgeoisie is walking on eggshells in its attempt to impose austerity. All its concerns are confirmed by the resumption of workers' struggles at international level, particularly in Western Europe and North America. Such resistance, despite its great weaknesses, testifies to the fact that the working class in these countries is not prepared to "die for the fatherland".

WH, 10 April 2024


[1] Rosa Luxemburg, The Crisis of Social Democracy (Junius Pamphlet), 1915


New warmongering campaigns