This editorial gives the broad outlines of our analysis of the events of summer ‘83, at the time of appearance of this issue of the International Review which is devoted to the reports and resolutions of the 5th Congress of the ICC. These events illustrate the orientations of the Congress texts with regard to the threat of war and the ideological campaigns of the bourgeoisie.
The summer of 1983 has been marked by the hotting-up of inter-imperialist tensions on a world scale:
-- the Chad conflict in the heart of Africa, which has been going on for years, has gone onto a higher level owing to the determined intervention of the armed forces of the western bloc, most notably of France;
-- the Lebanon conflict, after several months of relative calm, has savagely caught fire again and Beirut is once more under a hail of bombs;
-- finally, the destruction of the South Korean Boeing 747 by Russian fighters has demonstrated the hypocrisy of the American bloc which does not hesitate to use civil passengers as hostages in a sinister game of espionage, while the USSR has shown that it had no hesitation in killing them for the sacrosanct defense of national territory and military secrets.
There has been an intensive propaganda campaign around these events, amplified by all the media, with the aim of dulling consciousness and kindling fears of a third world war. All this propaganda tries to show that the adversary is the real aggressor, the true barbarian and warmonger, and the western bloc is a past-master in this art: if troops intervene in Chad, it's a response to the aggression by that ‘crazed megalomaniac' Khadafy, the ally of the Russians; if American, French, Italian and British troops are stationed in Beirut, it's to ‘protect' the freedom and independence of the Lebanon from Syrian imperialism, supported by Russia, etc. These are all alibis which hide the real point: it's the western bloc which is on the offensive and which is demonstrating its superiority by attempting to rid Africa and the Middle East of the last vestiges of eastern bloc influence.
Precisely at a time when the great powers are negotiating about Euro-missiles and armaments in general, all in the name of peace (Madrid, Geneva, etc), there has not been such an intense war effort since the Second World War. Increasingly sophisticated and murderous armaments are being designed, produced in huge quantities and deployed all over the world. To use this weapons technology the great powers are more and more being led to intervene directly in military operations: the USSR in Afghanistan, France in Chad, France plus the USA, Italy and Britain in the Lebanon, etc -- not to mention the numerous strategic military bases being set up and maintained over the globe.
The so-called divergences within the American bloc -- between France and the USA, for example -- are nothing but a smokescreen of propaganda which seeks to mask the real unity, the real division of labor, between these allies and the Russian bloc. This shows that if the speeches are different -- Reagan on the right, Mitterand on the left -- the aims and results are the same: militarism and imperialism in defense of the same camp.
Faced with this pressure, Russia is in a position of weakness -- on the economic, military and political levels. Unable to really support its allies on the periphery (Libya, Syria, Angola, etc), saddled with a weapons technology which is falling behind that of the west, bogged down in the Afghanistan conflict, the eastern bloc also finds that its capacity for military mobilization is weakened by its difficulties in controlling the proletariat -- as the 1980-81 strikes in Poland showed.
If the western bloc is able to take advantage of this situation, it's because it has so far been able to muzzle the class struggle in the main industrialized countries, through an intensive utilization of democratic and trade union mystifications, and through relentless campaigns about war (Falklands, E1 Salvador, middle East) which have disorientated the working class and reinforced its passivity. The different conflicts with their toll of massacres should remind the proletariat of its historic responsibilities. Pinned down by the crisis, the world bourgeoisie is intensifying its military preparations for war. The only obstacle it encounters on this road is the class struggle of the proletariat. All the diplomatic verbiage about peace is pure propaganda: all wars are waged in the name of peace. There is no peace in capitalism. Only the communist revolution, by doing away with capital, can do away with war and the threat of war.
However, if the present passivity of the world proletariat, especially in its main concentrations in Europe, is permitting the accentuation of inter-imperialist tensions, the road to a third world war is not open. The working class is passive, but it is not yet mobilized and it has not been crushed. The bourgeoisie in all countries is well aware of this, and the western bloc is proceeding cautiously, only using professional troops, and developing a whole propaganda campaign which doesn't aim at an immediate and direct mobilization, but which seeks -- by stirring up fear of war -- to demoralize the working class and prevent it from struggling.
At a time when the bourgeoisie is more and more obviously on the war path, when military budgets are devouring social spending, when unemployment is hitting millions of workers, when the miseries imposed by austerity are becoming more and more dramatic, a response by the western proletariat would be a key factor in opening up a perspective for the struggles of the world proletariat.
The future of humanity -- war or revolution -- depends on the ability of the main fractions of the working class to throw off the dead weight of the ideology of resignation which bourgeois propaganda seeks to sustain.