Russia-Ukrain crisis: war is capitalisms way of life

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baboon
Just a few words of welcome

Just a few words of welcome on the recent text https://en.internationalism.org/content/17207/significance-and-impact-wa... I think that this is a necessary clarification and a “catching-up” on the development of the present war of imperialism over Ukraine (or, if you somehow parrot the Russian ruling class and its media, “a special operation”). You only have to glance at the last 2 International Reviews – which carry excellent analyses on global and historical developments – to see the striking lack of a grip on the specifics of what the text calls this “powerful acceleration of decomposition”. The Russian/Ukrainian war has been intensifying for some time and took a significant step forward at the time of COP21 last year, the propaganda from which drowning out the increasing dangers of the acceleration of war in Europe. I don’t think that this problem comes entirely out of the blue because sometimes militarism is presented in the press of the ICC as an “aspect” of capitalism, a separate category whereas, as the text says, it can be identified as identical and synonymous with it. There is need in my opinion for greater clarification on the depth and development of the war economy; the extraction of surplus value from the proletariat remains the prime force for capitalism’s dynamic but increasingly it has to submit to a war economy which grows and grows and also filters down to depths of capitalist society and takes on its own irrational dynamic.

It now seems even more bizarre that just a while ago there was a serious attempt on here, using the figures of capitalists, at defending the idea of capitalist growth – often allied to the dismissal of the ICC’s analysis as “catastrophist” – which as we can more clearly see now was not just a diversion away from a methodical analysis on a militarism which is capitalism’s main factor of “growth” but an attack on the concept of decomposition and the very roots of capitalist decadence.

I agree with the analysis of the Machiavellianism of the US administration and that it has provoked this war and intends to try to bleed Russia dry and, at the moment, send a warning to China; everything that we’ve seen of the development of this war, right from Russia’s original attempts to negotiate, the USA’s rebuttal of this and the latter’s seeming assent to the invasion, point to the validity and strength of this analysis.

There’s a lot more to say about this text and this should provide a focus for discussion on this thread but I’ll leave it there with a reference to a couple of points made by Patrick Cockburn in the “The Independent” yesterday (also made more strongly in the text) of the complete inadequacy of world leaders reflecting the fundamentally irrational dynamic of militarism and this a factor rising out of circumstances beyond their control. Putin – not a “madman” – and his regime have made a very significant blunder and US sanctions underlying the direct policies of Biden are forcing up oil prices and will force them up even more if Russian oil shipments can’t be insured, thus further undermining the chances of the Democrats being re-elected.

Link
Quote:

Quote:

It now seems even more bizarre that just a while ago there was a serious attempt on here, using the figures of capitalists, at defending the idea of capitalist growth – often allied to the dismissal of the ICC’s analysis as “catastrophist” – which as we can more clearly see now was not just a diversion away from a methodical analysis on a militarism which is capitalism’s main factor of “growth” but an attack on the concept of decomposition and the very roots of capitalist decadence.

Thank you Baboon. As you say it was a serious attempt at discussion and i have made similar points over a long period of time basically criticising Luxemburg's markets analysis and the ICCs and your version of empirical data.  Basically i believe that discussion is constructive and presenting my arguments may well clarify issues.  What  you have not done Baboon is try to answer my questions.  As i dont know what how you actually interpret data perhaps you would respond with your analysis of the situation of capitalist economy in decadence?

Do you believe that there is no growth and no accumulation during decadence?

Do you believe that growth is reducing during decadence?

Do you believe that the economy is declining?

Do you believe that the war economy is growing and that it is shrinking the rest of the economy? (taking up your point above)

How do you interpret the data from Our World in Data that indicates increasing growth in the economy?  I know these are supplied by a bourgeois source but there is no proletarian source for such data. I also know the GDP and GNP have limitations  and dont provide precise figures on the economy and that they dont provide any info about actual levels accumulation of capital in a marxist sense.  It seems to me to however act as an indicator of trends.

Here is the source i use so perhaps you could provide the alternative source of data that you use.

https://ourworldindata.org/economic-growth

baboon
Do you have any comments on

Do you have any comments on the situation in Ukraine link and the significance of a decomposing capitalism increasingly geared up to militarism, nationalism and war?

MH
culture of debate?

Baboon, if you really want to encourage comments about the situation in Ukraine then why insert gratuitous criticisms of views about capitalist growth as "bizarre" into your post in the first place? 

There seems to be an unfortunate habit among some of the ICC's long-time supporters on this forum of making snarky comments about views they disagree with, without ever attributing them or giving any specific examples or quotes. Why is this?

You yourself have - very correctly in my view - previously criticised the ICC for having an incorrect position on the defeat of the class struggle in the 1980s. I thought this might make you more open to debate on different views? 

Btw I think you'll find the ICC has itself criticised a tendency towards 'catastrophism' in its analyses - see the 21st Congress.

Link
Unsurprisingly I agree with

Unsurprisingly I agree with MHs comments.  You wrote this paragraph which i will quote it again.  Are you suggesting i am not allowed to discuss this statement which appears in your contribution?  If however you want to start a new thread to discuss the issue that would be fine with me. 

baboon wrote:
It now seems even more bizarre that just a while ago there was a serious attempt on here, using the figures of capitalists, at defending the idea of capitalist growth – often allied to the dismissal of the ICC’s analysis as “catastrophist” – which as we can more clearly see now was not just a diversion away from a methodical analysis on a militarism which is capitalism’s main factor of “growth” but an attack on the concept of decomposition and the very roots of capitalist decadence.

Baboon, I think you need to justify your statements abou  bourgeois statistics  and what they are.  You seem to imply that you know what proletarian statistics really are so an explanation of what you mean is important.  I I also think you need to justify why you reject the idea of 'capitalist growth' and furthermore explain the contradiction when you suggest that 'militarism  is the main factor of capitalist growth'?

d-man
theoretical issues

I take baboon's criticism to be a general one (ie on a fundamental theoretical level, and directed to commentators in general):

baboon wrote:
sometimes militarism is presented in the press of the ICC as an “aspect” of capitalism, a separate category

Analyses that use "growth" figures are a "diversion away from a methodical analysis on a militarism".

Quote:
the extraction of surplus value from the proletariat remains the prime force for capitalism’s dynamic but increasingly it has to submit to a war economy which grows and grows and also filters down to depths of capitalist society and takes on its own irrational dynamic.

To pick up on this challenge, Link asks:

Link wrote:
Do you believe that the war economy is growing and that it is shrinking the rest of the economy? (taking up your point above)

I imagine baboon didn't claim to provide a methodological analysis himself of militarism (certainly not in that post on its own), but merely noted its absence in others' analyses, particularly those which focus on growth figures alone. That's a fair point to make, I don't think this is a criticism of Link, but just an observation (as probably Link doesn't himself pretend to provide an analysis of militarism). 

Besides numbers, such as the increasing military spending, let's try to pick on baboon's point, that analysis of militarism can be elaborated or illustrated much better by phenomena from ordinary life. For example, we were reminded (due to the fighting), that factories in Ukraine are provided with a large network of tunnels, that would apparently keep them in operation by withstanding a nuclear attack during the Cold War. This a very concrete (!) illustration how militarism "filters down to the depths" (!) of the production process. The Eastern part of the Ukraine, where the fighting is concentrated, is indeed the most heavily industrialised part of the country, some say even of the entire former SU (perhaps joan already referred this, against Mizar). In fact, it seems the original economic goal of the EU in incorporating Ukraine was to diminish this remaining Ukraine industry, and so it's not surprising that the Western-backed Kiev government is willing to destroy that industry further through actual war (since 2014).

Baboon also mentioned the nature of weaponry, that have become much more destructive today (such as cyber warfare). And there are effects changing the whole world economy. These are the profound points baboon seeks to discuss, which hopefully are worth exploring also by others.

baboon
I think that it’s the

I think that it’s the responsibility of Marxists to defend the analysis of the decadence and the decomposition of capitalism tooth and nail – and particularly in this period of it. I am not going to get involved in childish references about being “snarky” for defending communist positions.
Link can say what he likes and I look forward to his position on the war in Ukraine.
Bourgeois statistics and figures can be useful in very limited circumstances; as far as I know there is no such thing as “proletarian statistics”. What there is in the workers’ movement are analyses made within the framework of a Marxism and one of the most important of these for revolutionaries for over a century and particularly so today is the analysis of the decadence of capitalism which, during its course, sees capitalist “growth” as a further factor of its self-destruction.
 

KT
Trap

I agree with Baboon that The ICC’s ‘Report on imperialist tensions (May 2022) The significance and impact of the war in Ukraine’ is an important – and self-critical – elaboration of its previous analyses of the unfolding military, economic and social crises stalking civil society held hostage by the rotting relations of decadent capitalism.

There were last week some important confirmations of these analyses, albeit from some unusual sources.

The Pope (no less!) says Russia was maybe ‘provoked’ into invading Ukraine or, as the ICC says, lured into a trap. (Guardian Tuesday June 14)

UK Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral ‘Sir’ Tony Radakin, confirms the not-so gradual bleeding dry of Russian military capability as a result of falling into the ‘trap’: “The UK’s “highest-ranking military officer said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had lost 25% of Russia’s land power for only “tiny” gains and it would emerge a “more diminished power” while strengthening Nato.” (Guardian Friday June 17). China is, of course, the underlying object of the US and NATO’s ‘passive aggression’.

And finally, the catastrophic fall-out of the war in Ukraine analysed in the ICC’s May report on imperialist tensions was confirmed by the United Nations via its Food Aid Director David Beasley headlined “Marching towards Starvation” – Beasley said that after the economic crash of 2007-09, riots and other unrest erupted in 48 countries around the world as commodity prices and inflation rose. “The economic factors we have today are much worse than those we saw 15 years ago,” he said, adding that if the crisis was not addressed, it would result in “famine, destabilisation of nations and mass migration”. (Guardian, Friday June 17).

Rampant inflation, mass starvation, enforced mass migration, increases in arms budgets and the production of weapons of mass destruction and their corollary – military massacres – these are the growth areas of capitalism. Further theoretical discussion of the underlying dynamics of these trends might usefully be continued in the well-established and interesting threads on this Discussion Forum, Growth in Decadence - What does it mean? and in particular Growth as Decay.

 

joan
goal EU : incorporating Ukraine =diminishing Ukraine industry

 

d-man wrote (# 147)

In fact, it seems the original economic goal of the EU in incorporating Ukraine was to diminish this remaining Ukraine industry, and so it's not surprising that the Western-backed Kiev government is willing to destroy that industry further through actual war (since 2014).”

This is an interesting view, also new to me.
I don't know if I understood it correctly, but I understand it as follows :
- Ukraine's membership of the so-called "European Union"(EU) (for which the candidature of Ukraine and Moldova has just been approved and for which Ukraine shows great gratitude (there is even talk of a "historic" decision)) is in fact a "poisoned gift". Because Ukraine's incorporation into the EU and the road to it means the diminishion /destruction of existing industry. Perhaps this is comparable to the more "peaceful" "sanitation" of industry in the former East Germany after the "Wende", where a lot of obsolete companies were shut down as well. Much more than industry in Western Europe, industry in the ex-"Soviet Union" and in the whole ex-Eastern bloc was and is still largely focused on heavy industry with a large energy consumption of fossil fuels (in addition to nuclear energy).
- Thus, in the context of the transition to more sustainable energy, which is also considered necessary by the "more intelligent", "more forward-looking" parts of the bourgeoisie (Note 1), the diminishion/destruction of Ukrainian industry is a good thing.
And if that can be done by military means at the moment, then that is also a good thing. No account has to be taken of all kinds of demolition permissions , the workers will probably also accept more and more easily attacks on their living conditions, because the argument will be "because of the war there is no other way".

Probably Zelensky and his entourage hope to get a lot of help from the richer, more modern equipped parts of the EU after the “sanitation" of the outdated industry.

(Note 2)
But first of all that remains to be seen, given the ever-increasing problems for all parts of world capitalism.
And secondly, Ukraine, like many other candidate countries, is far from being a member of the EU.
North Macedonia (under the name of Macedonia one of the republics of Yugoslavia) already applied for membership in 2004, Montenegro in 2008, Albania and Serbia in 2009.Turkey even applied for membership in 1999.

This vision as indicated by d-man seems to me not exaggerated or far-fetched at all for the gangster gang that is the bourgeoisie, but also here some more facts and sources are very welcome.
Note 1
When I speak here (and also in Note 2) of "more intelligent", ""more forward-looking" parts of the bourgeoisie, I do not mean that today, as in the 19th century, there are still progressive factions of the bourgeoisie, with which the working class could form certain temporary coalitions in order to achieve certain goals (e.g. the adoption of social legislation, the extension of the right to vote, etc.).
Note 2
This reminds me involuntarily of the story, or rather the fable, that Hitler and/or other leading Nazis would have foreseen that after a possible defeat of Nazi Germany and after their death there would be massive aid in the reconstruction and that Germany and the Germans would then have a bright future.
Politicians of the bourgeoisie may be clever, cunning and Machiavellian conscious, but that they would be so far-sighted is really asking too much of them.

 

 

 

 

d-man
joan wrote: This vision as

joan wrote:
This vision as indicated by d-man seems to me not exaggerated or far-fetched at all for the gangster gang that is the bourgeoisie, but also here some more facts and sources are very welcome.

This is the view about the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement, which Yanukovich in late 2013 postponed signing it in its then existing form, a reason being stated (in November 2013) as the realisation of what the impact on Ukrainian (ie Donbass) industry would be (ie diminish it):

wiki wrote:
According to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko Ukraine will resume preparing the agreement "when the drop in industrial production and our relations with CIS countries are compensated by the European market, otherwise our country's economy will sustain serious damage".[62]

This economic matter seems a basic point to understanding the course of subsequent political (and as I suggested, also military) developments. 

joan wrote:
Probably Zelensky and his entourage hope to get a lot of help from the richer, more modern equipped parts of the EU after the “sanitation" of the outdated industry.

Perhaps that was what Yanukovich hoped, by extending negotiations, to get, but apparently EU patience ran out on him (the agreement was signed in 2014, so Zelensky merely follows a done deal).

joan
clarification diminishion/destruction industry Ukraine

I wrote in # 150

- Thus, in the context of the transition to more sustainable energy, which is also considered necessary by the "more intelligent", "more forward-looking" parts of the bourgeoisie (Note 1), the diminishion/destruction of Ukrainian industry is a good thing.
And if that can be done by military means at the moment, then that is also a good thing. No account has to be taken of all kinds of demolition permissions , the workers will probably also accept more and more easily attacks on their living conditions, because the argument will be "because of the war there is no other way".”

(set in bold here by me)

Just a clarification, although most readers will understand it in the right sense.

But it must be clear: I am expressing in the quoted text a possible point of view of (parts of) the bourgeoisie. It is not my point of view, nor do I think it can be the point of view of the working class.

Of course, there is a need for a diminishion/destruction of many parts of industry, and not only in Ukraine, but it must be done in a conscious, deliberate and planned way, taking into account the interests of the workers, of humanity and of the planet.

And therefore also not by means of war.

d-man
underdevelopment

To add to my above post (#151), where I gave the wiki-quote of Vice Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko's claim that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement would harm Ukrainian industry, here's another version of the claim, according to the WSWS (8 November 2013):

wsws wrote:
The EU has demanded that the Ukrainian government impose significant spending cuts and economic liberalisation, which will further intensify the social crisis in the country. Experts also expect that when European industrial standards are introduced, many Ukrainian products will no longer be economically competitive, and that the flooding of the country with goods from Europe will ruin sections of Ukrainian industry.

The WSWS article also said the same harm (ie out-competition and destruction) could come from a potential Ukraine-Russia union (ie Russian oligarchs buying Ukrainian industry out). So probably this is just a general phenomenon, like the richer EU countries' industry outcompeted the southern-European countries' industry. Or perhaps how with NAFTA, US products outcompeted the Mexican companies (in particular in agriculture). So I would not call this (prospect of destruction of Ukrainian industry) a radically exceptional, or particularly Machiavellian evil plan.

--

If I can turn to the very general issue of the ICC taking political positions, or making political statements (like against war); if we make statements about military campaigns (which are a form of politics by other means), is it then not also imperative that communists take a position on (non-military) political issues, such as eg some social policy, or eg Brexit, eg (in 2013) the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement? It seems that it should be possible, that we could have independently denounced and warned about the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, without thereby being seen as merely supporting Yanukovich government's decision (of not signing it). But I don't know if we did make such a warning then (the WSWS perhaps did, but it's not clear if anyone in Ukraine paid attention to their political statement/intervention).

joan
2x the same&tanks for "destruction industry Ukraine"

- I see that I have again "succeeded" in making a post appear twice.   (# 152 & 153 )
Sorry for that.
- Thanks d-man for the explanation and source reference to "diminishion/destruction industry Ukraine".
Your most recent contributions (# 151 & 154) had escaped me for a while.
I have to read them again thoroughly, but I wanted to inform you that I "received" them and thank you.

MH
underestimating the threat of generalised war?

I agree with the ICC's text “The significance and impact of the war in Ukraine” that the Ukraine war represents a significant acceleration of capital’s descent into barbarism. If Rosa Luxemburg described capitalism’s final phase as a series of catastrophes for humanity, just in the last two years we have seen a dizzying accumulation of catastrophes: continued evidence that capital’s survival now threatens the planet, a global pandemic, a major imperialist war in Europe and the worsening of the global economic crisis.

The article notes that the invasion of Ukraine caught the ICC by surprise, and Baboon also criticises the ICC for its ‘lack of grip’ on the situation. For Baboon, the source of the problem is a weakness in an understanding of the war economy. Maybe. I agree there is a need to clarify exactly what we mean by the war economy. Sometimes I do think the quoting of figures for military spending risks missing the main point: in decadence, capitalism is a war economy, and it is not possible or meaningful to separate them, especially today.

But why is it this weakness has become a problem today, with this war?

Alternatively, is it something to do with the ICC’s schema of ‘decomposition’, and the increasingly dogmatic interpretation of it by the ICC majority, that led to an underestimation of the threat of a major war between NATO and Russia? That’s certainly what minority comrades seem to be arguing. 

See this for example from Ferdinand:

“A consequence of the neglect of the economic polarisation by the last International Congress is the underestimation of imperialist tensions and of the threat of war … the Resolution downplays the danger of a future bloc constellation …  The majority view has not yet drawn the consequences of our recognition at the 23rd International Congress that the concept of the historic course is no longer useful for the analysis of the present. It still tries to understand the current situation within the old scheme of the Cold War … Whether the alliances in formation do become “stable blocs” or not is not the central question if we want to analyse the danger of a generalised or nuclear war – both of which are most serious threats to a communist perspective.”

And this from Steinklopfer, for whom, in the period since 1989… 

“…the tendency towards wars between the major powers, and thus towards world war, is also exacerbated, as are all the tensions generated by the moves towards the formation of new imperialist blocs and by the moves to foil them. The failure to understand this leads us today to gravely underestimate the danger of war, in particular emerging from the attempts of the United States to use its still existing military superiority against China in order to halt the rise of the latter, just as we are seriously underestimating the danger of military clashes between NATO and Russia (this latter conflict, in the short term at least, being potentially even more dangerous than the Sino-American one since it contains a greater risk of leading to thermo-nuclear warfare). Whereas the ICC is fatally reassuring itself of the unlikelihood of world war because of the non-existence of imperialist blocs, the very considerable danger at present is one of major wars between leading powers, gravitating around the attempts to move towards such blocs on the one hand, and to forestall such attempts on the other.” (my emphasis)

These criticisms were both written before the war in Ukraine. I think if I was comrade Steinklopfer I would be trying very hard today not to say 'I told you so!'

While i can't personally claim any such prescience, I do broadly agree with the ICC minority on this question and I would be interested to hear other comrades' views. I also want to come back to the question of whether it is correct today to talk of a US-led NATO bloc, or whether, as the ICC majority continues to insist, it’s only a ‘temporary alliance’.

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