The spread of war shows capitalism is at a dead-end

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The spread of war shows capitalism is at a dead-end
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: The spread of war shows capitalism is at a dead-end. The discussion was initiated by baboon.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Role of the US

Just a quick clarification: in the two recent articles that the ICC posted of mine on Syria there was a tendency to see the west's role (US, GB, France) as similar to that of Libya - ie, the US "leading from behind". But, and it's alluded to in the above text, what Syria shows is an example of the historical weakening of US imperialism, the strengthening of centrifugal tendencies and the generalisation of chaos.  That is apart from fueling the war there is not much that the US can do.

The "great victory" of Libya continues to sow chaos in Africa with the spread of Islamic fundamentalism to large parts of Nigeria which is underwritten by massive and deadly weaponry from Gadaffi's arsenals and those supplied from elsewhere. The chaos directly emanating from Libya gives us an idea of what to expect (on a much larger scale) from the disintegration of Syria.

The spread of war is

The spread of war is relentless as comrade Car shows in this article.  It appears to be everywhere except in those areas of the world, the most "prosperous" for capital,  where it might just trigger a proletarian response. Is this by accident or design?  Its okay, the bourgeoisie "thinks", to have wars in the Middle East (that's traditional), in Africa (that's tribal) ) and to have simmerings of war in the area of the remote islands north of Japan, where China brandishes its fist; and  between  between Taiwan and the Phillipines over a murdered fisherman; and so on ad nauseam.  But in the Homelands of  Europe, China, Japan and the US, peace reigns. Well, sort of. If you can call the agony of austerity "peace"! 


Yet in these rich and prosperous capitalist heartlands (lol), there's another kind of alternative war going on. The is the gradual emergence of a financial war by the bourgeoisie waged against its captive populations, and mainly against the working class.  This war doesn't have the very obvious and televisual kind of material produced by the war in say Syria, with its daily dose of vicious and horrendous images of  destroyed neighborhoods;  the injured and the dead;  and the  hold-your-breathe stories of chemical outrages; or - a new development this - of "heroes" from one side of the bourgeoisie or the other, who cut out the hearts and livers of the defeated for the purposes of Internet viewing.  It isn't recorded whether these body parts are actually eaten by anyone!  NB. This current crop of war "images", atrocities in fact,  leave those famously captured in Vietnam far behind and even start to make the pictures of mass ethnic murderings in the Yugoslavia turmoil appear old hat. 


So its hard for stories of people suffering "at home" in Europe or the USA, as capitalism writhes in its final agonies, to attain the high drama on tv of all the real wars. After all, what's a bit of "austerity"? It's nothing to get in a state over is it?  Somebody committing suicide because "the bedroom tax" has left her financially destitute is hardly even news worthy is it, though it did get on the telly? People, specially the old,  queuing up for long hours in Emergency hospital wards, for sore throats and the like, because overworked doctors in a collapsing health service require an appointment days or a week! in advance if they're to see you at all - you could be dead in the meantime, couldn't you - doesn't have the same impact  as incipient cannibalism in the Middle East, or all the atrocities accumulating the world over. 


This is not at all to play down the nightmare for humanity caught up in one of these real hellish wars. But capitalism's crisis is only  beginning to manifest its austerity dead-endishness  in as yet a mild way, in the gardens of the West, and even in the East, so there's much to anticipate. Lets hope that one of the things we can look forward to is a powerful proletarian response. 



No accident

I agree with those sentiments on the war at home Fred and it's also important that the working class takes on the lessons of the war abroad. They are inextricably if not mechanically linked. I don't think that  it's an accident that there's no overt war where the proletariat is strongest  today and the bourgeoisie has done all it can to limit the impact of war on the working class, particularly with the consequences of the end of World War I in mind, with the development of "professional" armies, outsourced fighting forces and mercenaries. It also develops enormous ideological campaigns around its martial adventures which are hammered home by all aspects of the capitalist state from right to left. I don't agree with you that the war over ex-Yugoslavia was small fry in atrocities compared to Syria - all the same factors were at work. This was a war in Europe in a country where, a few years before high levels of class struggle had been shown. It took place in a period where the working class was disorientated by the collapse of the eastern bloc and in one of the epicentres of this collapse where the working class were smashed to pieces by the different factions of the "socialist" state. Incidentally British banks were very much involved in this war and its aftermath, Barclay's in particular along with the Bank of England. Nothing has been resolved over these territorial disputes and ethnic divisions have hardened if anything. The Balkans remain a running imperialist sore.

A small correction baboon. I

A small correction baboon. I wasn't saying the war in the Balkans was"small fry";  god know it was ghastly enough, and its legacy too. What I was trying but maybe failing to say was that on the bourgeoisie's daily war spectacle on the tv, they seem currently able to make much more out of the Syrian running sore than they perhaps did with some of their earlier attempts at presenting their atrocities for a public needing to be brow-beaten and frightened.  But maybe I've got this wrong too. However, I take your point about the Balkans horrors taking place after a period of working class turmoil and then disorientation with the fall of the USSR.  I hadn't thought of that.  But then I must confess that in the 'nineties I  had more or less given up on the idea of communism being anything more than a nice idea, and tried to ignore what was happening in the Balkans as much as possible, along with a lot of other stuff. Please forgive me!  I try now to make up a little for my previous misunderstandings. 

no forgiveness

No forgiveness necessary Fred. It's a good point you raise above about the relationship of the economic attacks and the struggle to imperialist war. It's a difficult question for the working class (another one!) and one we need to continue to address

Economic motives for conflicts

Presumably there are those who profit from arms manufacture and arms trading who directly benefit from conflicts, thus their order books need to be kept full, stocks of weaponry used up and new orders secured.  Maybe the names of major and minor firms thus engaged worldwide are known to researchers ?  Could the ICC provide an article based on the facts of the situation ?  I suppose that that would be alongside and partially exemplify the traditional understanding that imperialism in itself generates wars to gain raw materials and markets, within constant competition between rival nations, on top of the exploited and suffering working class of the world.

~ There are, but...

There are particular sectors of industry, maybe some countries, that do profit from arms manufacture and mercenary armies but overall the production of the means of destruction is a loss for the accumulation of capital and another factor draining the economy. Within its decadent mode, and as capitalism rots on its feet, imperialist war becomes more and more irrational with the economic stimulus becoming subservient to the pure waste of imperialist rivalry. At one time, during capitalism's ascendency, war was something of an investment. Today, right now, there are areas of the globe destroyed by war that will never be rebuilt by capitalism. Look how Syria has descended into a ruin that's even worse than Iraq and Afghanistan that are going in the same direction. Arms races such as those in the Middle East and the Pacific - and it's similar with the present costly upgrading of nuclear weapons and delivery systems - are a pure waste.

The ICT currently have an article on Syria which explains everything in terms of oil, pipelines and profits which neglects the point that this devastation is an overall loss for capital - let alone the populations and the working class. Within the communist left there is a difference between the ICC and the ICT on this question and one article on this website "Reply to the IBRP, part 1, The nature of imperialist war" confronts the question and refers to more articles. 

Far from showing the life of capitalism, the spread of imperialist war shows its complete bankruptcy.

Shock! Horror! It said on the

Shock! Horror! It said on the news this morning that if the UK government cuts back its financing of the army as planned  THE BRITISH ARMY WILL BECOME INCAPABLE OF WINNING ANYMORE WARS!#!!  My god. How awful! Does that mean that we wont be able to lustily sing Rule Britannia and The British Grenadiers anymore?  (My iPad typed "brutish" for British - does it think for itself? And Rule Brittania is about ruling the waves of course - this means saucy sailor boys not army squaddies.   But the message is the same. CUTBACKS. AUSTERITY where it even hurts the bourgeois more than it hurts us. That is in their  ability to win wars. It's like being suddenly castrated isn't it?) 


But when was the last time the British Bourgeoisie won a war.  It certainly wasn't their much vaunted victory over fascism in the 2nd. World War which rendered the country bankrupt and put a decisive end to dreams of Empire; killed millions on both sides; and produced a National Health Service to keep returning worker/soldiers  quiet, though even that is now in tatters.  Did they score a resounding victory in the 1st. World War. Did anybody score a victory in that one?  Or was it at Balaclava or wherever the valiant 500 rode into "the valley of death"?  In fact, and come to think of it, do the bourgeoisie ever really WIN their wars, or do they merely and sordidly vanquish and destroy some competing side, in the name of freedom usually, which supposedly gives them access to more trade, more exploitation of workers, and more profits. How can anyone interpret this foolish childishness as any sort of VICTORY? 


So if the British Army, or any other gang of despoiling gangsters around the globe, become incapable of waging war and mayhem; then three cheers for that!  But it won't happen.  PM Cameron has rushed in to say it won't happen - does that mean it's actually inevitable? - and various army big wigs are being treated  lavishly in tv time  to urge the cause of war as something they assume we all still take for granted. They could be wrong though. The only war we need these halcyon days  is the class war. Three cheers for that. 


One of the features of the beginnings of the protest movement in Turkey was the demonstrations by numbers of the populations in the border towns against the presence of jihadis being transported to the war in Syria. These demonstrations, which started in October last year, weren't accompanied by support for the Erdogan regime. Far from it, they were de facto part of a general movement against imperialist war in the region and these sentiments, however much a minority, fed into the swelling of the general protest movement.

In Libya, there have been protests and demonstrations by populations against the fundamentalist armed gangs that are everywhere in this country after the British and French "triumph" over Gaddafi. I saw a report that Libya's third largest city, Misrata I think, had a one hundred and fifty different militias alone as this country totters on the edge of breaking apart. For obvious reasons there is not a lot of reporting on the precarious situation of Libya in the British press nor of the demonstrations against the Islamist gangs that in Benghazi in particular have turned quite violent.

Channel 4 News aired a report last night on a protest by large numbers of the population in Aleppo against their new bosses, the al-Qaida linked al-Nusra Front which, with its massive arms, repression and "order" is representative of the new ruling class.  Aleppo is an industrial city and there are still a large number of workers and their families present in the city. Two-thirds of the city, the eastern half, is in "rebel" hands and Assad's army controls the other third. Food is scarce and expensive and to get it the population has to brave Assad's snipers and the humiliating Israeli-type checkpoints set up by the jihadis. The crowd turned on the jihadi's with shouts of "You're all the same! The same thieves!" "Shame on you!" And they chanted towards them "Shabiha, Shabiha", the name of Assad's murderous goon squads. It was interesting that even in the crucible of this war there was still this expression against both sides coming from predominantly working class voices. The fact is that elsewhere al-Nusra is the new management of some oil production and it seems that this also involves the connivance and complicity of the Assad regime. Business as usual!

In Egypt, just prior to the ousting of Morsi, the crowds in Tahrir were carrying slogans against US imperialism and others denouncing the British embassy with names of those who were "advising" the Muslim Brotherhood government of Morsi. This was studiously avoided by all the BBC reports at the time. Such anti-imperialist protests can lead to the support of democracy and reinforce nationalist illusions but in this case there was a glimmer of understandiing of the real "power behind the throne" of the MB by American and British imperialism.

class voice

Thank you for another quality post: as you say, it is hard to get news from such war zones and what is reported in established media tends, unsurprisingly, to selectively amplify the 'chaos' 'in some foreign country' 'risk of de-stabilising' 'faction' 'sect' clichés, with the blithe, insidious subtext, of course, that it is all 'tragic deviance' from some 'normality/order' which must be restored.

Your focus on the industrialised quarter of Aleppo and the workers rallying cry 'against both sides' 'all thieves' shows that the class does not just lie down mystified: I have often got the impression (perhaps just the eye of the beholder) on some threads that this or that physical defeat, derailment in struggle of the workers - or simply apparent passivity - is too easily mechanistically identified with a reduction or even obliteration of awareness/consciousness. I formulate it more as the positive reverse of -say- alcoholism: you pick up where you left off (in this case it being the disease that trucks along subterraneously)

I find the ICC's broader analysis and position on decomposition confirmed: organised barbarism (WW1/WW2) being no longer an option for The Ruling Class :disorganised barbarism follows and is not 150 'rebel' armies in Libya almost a text book example.



I ommittted a question at the end of the above with regard to the Big Puppet Masters:

By what means might one guage the 'graph' as it were of 'loss' or 'regainment' of control by these Imperialist Powers and get a handle on their ever more desperate need for at least 'containment'?

BTW I agree also that - although they can sell 'lethal equipment' (the euphemism in this arena I believe) to both sides, war isn't good for business any more - at least not in the simpler way that Vietnam was.


Yes, AS, I agree with the

Yes, AS, I agree with the central point of your first post in that there is a tendency to underestimate particular movements in a framwork of not seeing a "response" or of not seeing an "adequate response" from the working class. The protests in Aleppo against al-Nusra (which, echoing the first protests before the war, included mostly workers, men, women and youth) and the initial anti-war protests in Turkey, were a thousand times more profound than any theoretical description of imperialism. Marx said something about the strikes of workers being a much more profound critique of capital than anything written about it. I don't think that we should overestimate these small efforts but neither should we dismiss them. They contrain a concrete critique of imperialism that we want to see generalise.

On the point in your second post on the gains and losses of imperialism: The situation is so fluid in the Middle East that it's difficult to be precise but the Egyptian and Turkish protests have certainly caused problems for imperialism (Britain and the US particularly in their backing of the MB) and their dynamic is one that is opposed to the spread of war from the various bourgeois factions. We can see how tenuous and dangerous that this can turn out with the situation of Egypt now - where the army is apparantly popular while settling scores with the MB (and innocent civilians). Imperialism, in all its forms around the Middle East, is not going to go away.

Regarding the war in Syria, the aim of the US and Britain now seems to be to keep it to a stalemate and suck the blood of population in their fight against the Assad regime. The Geneva II "peace talks", put off from June to late August, have now been postponed to next year. The general perspective is still a war with Iran and in the meantime growing chaos, uncertaintly and fights and squabbles within the anti-Assad front. Like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, we see disintegration spreading and above this the weakening of US authority that further feeds these components of disintegration.


Lone voices

Re: 'the apparently popular army ...' you appositely describe above . A few nights ago I heard on the BBC World Service, where at least one hears (at 3 am GMT of course) real voices from these zones in one's own ear, a reporter asked protestors in Tarhir Square (after Morsi's ousting):

" , let me get this straight, you lay down in the tire tracks of the tanks with your children to get Mubarak and the army out of power and now you are trusting the army to oversee this new transition after Morsi?"

' .. no ... we don't trust the army':  said one: a bystander added: '.no..we don't trust army ....we use army'

Just lone voices.

I also agree with your analysis re the Imperialist Powers' deliberate procrastination, stalemate 'laissez faire' stance in Syria. Some time ago, Cameron met -in stately manner- the King of Saudi Arabia .Private Eye (not all schoolboy sarcasm) revealed that the subtext was to sell him helicopters I think (probably more accurately 'the future possibility of helicopters') He failed.

My Marxist intuition - with no scientific base - produced a couple of surmises.

1) The 'Special Relationship' boys would -ideally- liked to have sold 'stabilising infrastructural aids' as well as 'lethal equipment' to Saudi in the hope that they could pass the Imperialist buck - as it were. No dice.

2) So...they will procrastinate on Syria, while screaming in The House of Goons about 'something must be done now'. Then I pondered and again  - with no scientific base - thought: I think they may wait for a bigger war (Iran) and again wildly imagined that they might hope to pass the buck of, at least, the first strike to The Israeli State Capitalist Machine ...

Pure speculation of course.


(BTW my degree was in Arch and Anth and although not particularly inclined to read 'Blood Relations' I out-of-datedly at least know the terrain. I have a stone from the homo habilis strata in Olduvai Gorge here on my desk: lived with the Masai: you're right about 'modern ethnography' being a spurious base for anything. Would you mind PMs re: hand-axes / Len 'Marxist' Williams' Woolly Monkey Sanctuary at some carbon date in time ? -plus or minus 5,000 years)





Feel free AS

Feel free