Syria: imperialist war or class solidarity!

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Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria, the massacres keep spreading. The horror of capitalism accelerates, deaths pile up. A continuous carnage that no one seems able to stop. Capitalism in utter decomposition is dragging the world into generalised barbarism. The use of chemical weapons as in Syria today is unfortunately only one of the instruments of death among many others. But there is nothing inevitable about this perspective, which left to itself will result in the destruction of humanity. The world proletariat cannot remain indifferent in the face of all these wars and massacres. Only the proletariat, the revolutionary class of our epoch, can put an end to this nightmare. More than ever humanity is faced with one choice: communism or barbarism.

The Syrian population is being sacrificed on the altar of imperialism

On Monday 21 August an attack with chemical weapons left hundreds dead in an area close to Damascus. On the internet, on TV screens and the newspapers there were unbearable images of men, women and children in agony. The bourgeoisie, without any scruple, has seized on this human tragedy to advance its sordid interests. The regime of Bashar al Assad, a butcher among butchers, has, we are told, crossed a red line: you can use any weapons to slaughter people, but not chemical ones. These are ‘dirty’ weapons, as opposed to the ‘clean’ ones like conventional bombs and mortars or even the atomic bombs the Americans dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945. But the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie has no limits. Since the First World War of 1914-18 where poison gas was used massively for the first time, killing several hundred thousand people, chemical weapons have been continuously perfected and used. The superficial agreements about their non-utilisation, especially after the two world wars and in the 1980s, were just empty declarations, which were not meant to be applied[1]. And many theatres of war since this time have seen these kinds of weapons being used. In North Yemen between 1962 and 1967, Egypt used mustard gas without restraint. In the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, towns like Hallabja were bombarded with chemical weapons, leaving over 5000 dead, under the benevolent gaze of the ‘international community’ of the US, France and all the members of the UN! But they are not just the speciality of small imperialist countries or dictators like Assad or Saddam Hussein, as the bourgeoisie would like us to believe. The most massive use of chemical weapons, alongside napalm, was carried out by the USA during the Vietnam war. Vast amounts of herbicide contaminated with dioxin were used to destroy rice plantations and forests in order to reduce the population and the Vietcong to famine. This scorched earth policy, this deliberate desertification, was the work of American capital in Vietnam, the same which today, alongside supporters like France, is getting ready to intervene in Syria, allegedly to defend the population. Since the start of this war in Syria, there have been over 100,000 deaths and at least a million refugees fleeing to surrounding countries. Looking past the discourse being poured out by the bourgeois media, the working class has to know the real causes behind this imperialist war in Syria.

Syria: it’s decadent capitalism which is responsible

Syria is currently at the heart of the imperialist tensions and conflicts which are extending from North Africa to Pakistan. If the Syrian bourgeoisie is tearing itself apart inside a country which is now in ruins, it has been able to rely on the insatiable appetites of a whole number of imperialist powers. In this region, Iran, Hezbollah from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey are all more or less directly involved in this bloody conflict. The most powerful imperialisms in the world are also defending their squalid interests. Russia, China, France, Britain and the USA are playing their part in the continuation of this war and its extension across the region. Faced with their growing incapacity to control the situation, they are more and more just sowing death and destruction, according to the old scorched earth policy (‘if I can’t dominate this region, I will set it on fire’).

During the Cold War, the period which went officially from 1947 to 1991 and the fall of the USSR, two blocs confronted each other, led by Russia and the USA respectively. These two superpowers directed their ‘allies’ or ‘satellites’ with an iron hand, forcing them to fall in line in the face of the enemy ogre. This ‘world order’ was based on the discipline of the bloc. It was a historical period that was full of danger for humanity, because if the working class had not been able to resist, even passively, the ideological march towards war, a third world conflagration would have been possible. Since the collapse of the USSR, there are no longer two blocs, no more threat of a third world war. The discipline of the blocs is in pieces. Each nation is playing its own card; imperialist alliances are increasingly ephemeral and circumstantial. As a result conflicts are multiplying and in the end no bourgeoisie can control it. This is chaos, the growing decomposition of society.

Thus the accelerating weakness of the world’s leading imperialist power, the US, is an active factor in the whole Middle East plunging into barbarism. Immediately afterthe chemical attack on the suburbs of Damascus, the British and French bourgeoisie, followed much more timidly by the American bourgeoisie, declared loudly that such a crime could not go unpunished. A military response was imminent and it would be proportionate to the crime. The problem is that the American bourgeoisie and other western bourgeoisies have been through a serious reverse in Afghanistan and Iraq, countries which are also in a total mess. How could they intervene in Syria without finding themselves in the same situation? This has resulted in some very significant foreign policy differences within the ruling class, and the recent rejection of Cameron’s call for military action in the UK parliament was a graphic expression of these divisions. On top of this, these bourgeoisies also had to deal with what they call public opinion. The population of the west doesn’t want this intervention. The majority no longer believe the lies of their own bourgeoisies. The unpopularity of this proposed intervention, even in the form of limited bombings, has posed a problem for the ruling class in the west.

The British bourgeoisie has thus had to renounce its initial bellicose declarations and move away from the path of military intervention. This expressesthe fact that all the bourgeoisie’s solutions are bad ones: either it doesn’t intervene (as Britain has just decided to do) and this is then a big statement of weakness; or it does intervene (as the US and France are still planning to do) and they risk stirring up more chaos, more instability and incontrollable imperialist tensions.

Only the proletariat can put an end to this barbarism

The proletariat cannot remain indifferent to all this barbarism. It is the exploited who are the main victims of the imperialist cliques. Whether it’s Shia, Sunni, secular, or Christian being massacred, it makes no difference. There is a natural and healthy human reaction to want to do something about this right away, to stop these abominable crimes. It is this sentiment which the grand democracies are trying to exploit, justifying their warlike adventures in the name of ‘humanitarian’ causes. And each time the world situationgets worse. This is clearly a trap.

The only way that we can express real solidarity towards all the victims of decaying capitalism is to overthrow the system which produces all these horrors. Such a change can’t happen overnight. But if the road towards it is long and difficult, it’s the only one that can lead to a world without wars and countries, without poverty and exploitation.

The working class has no national flag to defend. The country where it lives is the place of its exploitation, and in some parts of the world, the place of its death at the hands of imperialism. The working class has a responsibility to oppose bourgeois nationalism with its own internationalism. This is not an impossibility. We have to remember that the First World War was brought to an end not by the good will of the belligerents, or by the defeat of Germany. It was ended by the proletarian revolution.

Tino 31/8/2013

[1] The ‘Greatest Briton’ of all, Winston Churchill, certainly never stopped arguing for and even sanctioning their use, whether against ‘primitive tribesmen’ in rebellion against the Empire, the revolutionary workers of Russia, or the German proletariat during the Second World War: see, for example:




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