The Proletariat and War

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IR 65 2nd Qtr 1991

The fantastic violence of the Gulf War has served as a reminder that capitalism means war. The historic responsibility of the working class, as the only force capable of opposing capital, has been highlighted all the more. But to take up this responsibility, the revolutionary class must reappropriate the theoretical and practical experience of its own struggle against war. It must draw from this experience confidence in its revolutionary capacities and the means to fight successfully.


The world working class has suffered from the Gulf war, not only as a massacre of a part of itself, but also as a stupefying blow from the ruling class.

But the balance of forces between the proletariat and the local ruling class is not the same on each side of the battle front.

In Iraq, the government was able to send conscripts to the slaughter: workers, peasants and their children (sometimes only 15 years old). The working class is in a minority, drowned in a rural or semi-marginalised slum population. Its historical experience of struggle against capital is virtually nil. And above all, the absence of any significant struggles on the part of the workers in the most industrialised countries makes it unable to imagine the possibility of a truly internationalist combat. It has therefore been unable to resist the ideological and military control that forced it to serve as canon-fodder for the imperialist ambitions of its bourgeoisie. The ability of workers in these regions to overcome religious or nationalist mystifications depends first and foremost on the internationalist, anti-capitalist stance of the proletarians in the central countries.

The situation is different in the imperialist metropoles of Britain, France or the United States. The bourgeoisie had to send professional armies into the massacre. Why? Because the balance of forces between the classes was not the same. The ruling class knows that the workers are not ready, yet again, to pay the blood tax. Since the end of the sixties and the renewal of struggles marked by the massive 1968 strikes in France, the oldest working class in the world – and which has already suffered two world wars – has acquired an immense distrust of all the bourgeoisie’s politicians and their promises, and of the so-called “working class” organisations (left parties, trade unions), designed to keep them under control. It is this combativity, this disengagement from the ruling ideology, which has up to now prevented the outbreak of World War III, and the enlistment, once again, of the workers in an imperialist conflict.

However, recent events have shown that this is not enough to prevent capitalism from making war. If the working class went no further than this “implicit” resistance, then capital would eventually put the whole planet, including its industrial centres, to fire and sword.

The 1917-23 revolutionary wave, which put an end to World War I, showed that the proletariat is the only force able to stand against the barbarity of decadent capitalism’s imperialist war. The bourgeoisie is doing everything it can to make workers forget this, and to submerge them in a feeling of impotence, especially through the current gigantic campaign on the collapse of the USSR, with its ignoble lie: “the workers’ revolutionary struggle can only lead to the gulag and the most totalitarian militarism”.

For the working class today, to “forget” its revolutionary nature would mean a suicide that would drag the whole of humanity down with it. If it is left in the hands of the capitalist class, then human society is heading for a definitive disaster. The technological barbarity of the Gulf war is there to remind us. If the proletariat, the producer of the greater part of social wealth, lets itself be lulled by the sirens of pacifism and their hypocritical hymns to a capitalism without war, if it lets itself be dissolved in the rotten atmosphere of “every man for himself”, if it is unable to rediscover the path of the revolutionary struggle against capitalism as a system, then the human race will be definitively condemned to barbarity and destruction. “War or revolution. Socialism or barbarism”; more than ever, the question is posed thus.

More than ever, it is urgent that the proletariat reappropriate its historical lucidity and experience, the result of more than two centuries’ struggle against capital and its wars.


The proletariat, because it is the bearer of communism, is the first class in history to be able to envisage war as something other than an eternal and inevitable scourge. From the start, the workers’ movement declared its general opposition to capitalism’s wars. The Communist Manifesto, whose publication in 1848 corresponded to the first struggles where the proletariat stood forward on history’s stage as an independent force, is unequivocal: “The workers have no country... Workers of all countries, unite!”

The proletariat and war during the 19th century

The attitude of proletarian political organisations towards war has, logically, differed according to historical periods. In the 19th century, some capitalist wars still had a progressive anti-feudal character, in that they encouraged the development of the necessary conditions for the future communist revolution, through the formation of new nations and the growth of the productive forces. On several occasions, the marxist current was thus led to take a position in favour of one camp or the other in a national war, or to support the liberation struggle in certain nations (e.g., Poland against the Russian empire, the bastion of feudalism in Europe).

But in every case, the workers’ movement has always considered war as a capitalist scourge whose first victims are the exploited classes. Important confusions existed, at first because of the immaturity of historical conditions, then because of the weight of reformism. At the time of the First International’s foundation (1864), it was thought that a means to put an end to war had been found in the demand for the replacement of standing armies by people’s militias. This position was criticised from within the International itself, which declared in 1867 “ that it is not enough to abolish standing armies to do away with war; to this end, a transformation of the entire social order is also necessary”. The Second International, founded in 1889, also took position against wars in general. But this was the golden age of capitalism, and of the development of reformism. The International’s First Congress went back to the old slogan of “replacing the standing armies with people’s militias”. At the London Congress in 1896, a resolution on war declared: “the working class in all countries must oppose the violence provoked by war”. In 1900, the International’s parties had grown, and even had representatives in the Parliaments of the most important countries. One principal was solemnly stated: “the socialist members of parliament in every country are required to vote against military and naval credits, and against colonial expeditions”.

But in reality, the question of war had not yet been sharply posed. Apart from the colonial expeditions, the watershed between the two centuries was still marked by peace between the main capitalist powers. It was still the “belle époque”. While the conditions that would lead to the outbreak of World War I ripened, the workers’ movement seemed to be advancing from social conquest to parliamentary triumph, and for many the question of war seemed to be a purely theoretical one.

“All this explains – and we are speaking here from experience – the fact that we, the generation that struggled before the 1914 imperialist war, perhaps considered the problem of war more as an ideological struggle than as a real and imminent danger; the conclusion of several serious conflicts, such as Fashoda or Agadir, without recourse to arms, led us to believe, wrongly, that economic “interdependence”, the ever more numerous and tighter links between countries, formed a sure defence against the outbreak of war between the European powers, and that the different imperialisms’ growing military preparations, rather than leading inevitably to war, confirmed the Roman principle “si vis pacem para bellum”: if you want peace, prepare for war” (Gatto Mamonne, in Bilan no. 21, 1935 [1]).

The conditions of this period of capitalism’s apogee, the development of the mass workers’ parties with their parliamentary representatives and their enormous union bureaucracies, the real reforms torn from the capitalist class, all encouraged the development of reformist ideology within the workers’ movement, and of its corollary: pacifism. The workers’ organisations were infected by the illusion of a capitalism without wars.

Against reformism, there emerged a left wing that stuck to revolutionary principals and understood that capitalism was entering into its phase of imperialist decadence. Rosa Luxemburg, and the Bolshevik fraction of the Russian Social-Democratic party maintained and developed revolutionary positions on the question of war. At the Stuttgart Congress of the International in 1907, they managed to have adopted an amendment that shut the door on pacifist conceptions. This stated that it was not enough to fight against an eventual outbreak of war, or to bring it to an end as quickly as possible, but that during the war it was necessary “to profit in any way possible from the economic and political crisis to rouse the people and in this way hasten the collapse of capitalist domination”. In 1912, under the pressure of the same minority, the Basle Congress denounced the coming European war as “criminal” and “reactionary”, “accelerating the capitalism’s downfall by inevitably provoking the proletarian revolution”.

Despite the adoption of these positions, when war broke out two years later the International collapsed. The leaderships of the national parties, rotten with reformism and pacifism, lined up alongside their national bourgeoisies in the name of “defence against aggression”. The Social-Democrat members of parliament voted the war credits.

Only the revolutionary minorities within the main parties, grouped around the German Spartakists and the Russian Bolsheviks, continued the fight against the war.

The revolutionary struggle puts an end to World War I

The revolutionary forces were now reduced to their simplest expression. When they met for the first time at the international conference of 1915 at Zimmerwald, Trotsky could joke that the proletariat’s revolutionary representatives could fit into a few taxis. But their intransigent internationalist position, their perspective of revolution rising from the war, and that only this revolution rising from the war, and that only this revolution could put an end to the barbarity that had been unleashed, were to be born out by events. By 1915, the first strikes broke out against the privations caused by the war, notably in Britain. In 1916, the workers in Germany and Russia took up the struggle, despite ferocious repression. In February 1917, a demonstration of Russian working class women against shortages set in motion the process that was to lead to the proletariat’s first international revolutionary attempt.

We have not the space here to recount, even briefly, the history of the struggles that put an end to the imperialist slaughter through the Russian workers’ soviets’ seizure of power in October 1917, and the 1918-19 insurrection by the German proletariat. We want here to highlight, nonetheless, two fundamental lessons of this experience.

The first is that, contrary to the claims of the bourgeoisie’s disgusting propaganda, the exploited classes are not impotent and weaponless against capital and its wars. If the proletariat is capable of uniting consciously, if it succeeds in discovering its own enormous strength, then it can not only prevent capitalist war, it can disarm the power of capital and overthrow its armed power by disintegrating it. The revolutionary wave which put an end to World War I has provided practical proof that the combat of the working class constitutes the only force able to halt the military barbarity of capitalist decadence, and this society’s only revolutionary force.

The second lesson concerns the relation between the proletariat’s struggle in the workplace and the struggle of soldiers in the barracks and at the front. However important the soldiers’ struggle, and the fraternisation of German and Russian soldiers in the trenches during World War I, they were not at the heart of the revolution which put an end to the war, but a moment within it. These actions were preceded by a whole fermentation in the factories, whether in the form of strikes, or of demonstrations against the effects of the war. Soldiers’ desertions, and actions against officers only became truly massive and determining once they became part of the proletarian movement, which shook the bourgeoisie’s power in its economic and political centres. Without the massive political and revolutionary struggle of the working class, there is no real struggle against capitalist war.

The proletariat unable to prevent World War II

The proletariat did not succeed in renewing its revolutionary struggle during World War II, despite the hopes of the revolutionary minorities, and despite the workers’ struggles that marked its end, especially Germany, Italy and Greece. The fundamental reason was that the working class had not yet got over the physical and ideological defeat it suffered during the Social-Democrat and Stalinist counter-revolution of the 20s and 30s.

The defeat of the 1919-23 German revolution, the isolation and degeneration of the Russian revolution have had tragic consequences for the whole workers’ movement. The very form that the counter-revolution took in Russia during the 20’s and 30’s – Stalinism – has been a source of inextricable confusion. The counter-revolution came dressed in the clothes of the revolution.

Despite their exemplary combativity, the Spanish workers’ struggles in 1936 were derailed onto the terrain of anti-fascism and the defence of the bourgeois republic. On the international scale, fascism and anti-fascism (notably the left parties and the Popular Fronts) shared the task of enrolling the workers by terror, or by lies presenting bourgeois democracy as a workers’ conquest, to be defended to the detriment of their own class interests. By the time war broke out, the proletariat was ideologically under control. The bourgeoisie turned the workers into cannon-fodder once again, without them being able to rediscover their class consciousness and their ability to resist and organise. The horrors of war were not enough to open their eyes, and set them anew one the road to revolutionary struggle.

The ruling class had also learnt from experience since the First World War. In 1917-18, the bourgeoisie had been “surprised” by the proletarian revolutionary struggle. This time, it kept constantly in mind, at the beginning, but especially at the end of the war, the immense fear it had felt 25 years before. With absolutely conscious cynicism, Churchill left the Fascist government, supported by the Germans, to suppress the workers’ revolts in Italy during 1943; Stalin stopped the Russian army within sight of Warsaw, allowing the Nazis to massacre the popular uprising in the city; and the Allied forces, after the German bourgeoisie’s capitulation and in cooperation with it, prevented the return of POW’s to Germany in order to avoid any explosion that their mingling with the civilian population might have provoked. The reasons for the systematic extermination of the civilian population by the allied bombardments of the working class districts in Germany (Hamburg, Dresden: twice as many dead as at Hiroshima) were not purely military.

During the war, the bourgeoisie was dealing with proletarian generations whose revolutionary strength had been shattered by the deepest counter-revolution in history. All the same, the ruling class took no risks.

On the whole, the effect of the war on the world proletariat was of another annihilation, which it would take decades to recover from.

The renewal of the class struggle since 1968

Since World War II, the planet has not had a moment’s peace. The main imperialist powers have continued to confront each other militarily, mostly through local conflicts (Korea, the Arab-Israeli wars) but also through the so-called “national liberation struggles” (Indochina, Algeria, Vietnam, etc). The working class has only been able to suffer under these wars, as under the effects of capitalism as a whole.

But with the massive strike of 1968 in France, followed by the struggles in Italy 1969, Poland 1970, and elsewhere, the proletariat returned to the historical stage. It rediscovered massive combat on its own class terrain, and escaped the crushing weight of the counter-revolution. At the very moment that the capitalist crisis provoked by the end of the reconstruction period pushed world capital towards a Third World War, the working class was detaching itself from the dominant ideology, slowly, but enough to make its immediate enrolment in another imperialist massacre impossible.

Today, after 20 years of stalemate where the ruling class has been unable to unleash its “solution” of worldwide apocalypse, but where the proletariat has not had the strength to impose its own revolutionary solution, capitalism has entered a state of decomposition which engenders a new kind of conflict: the Gulf war is its first major concretisation.

For the world working class, and especially for workers in the main industrialised countries, the warning is clear: either the class will be able to develop its fight to a revolutionary conclusion, or the dynamic of decomposing capitalism, from one “local” war to the next, will eventually call humanity’s very survival into question.


First of all, what the working class must reject.

Pacifism means impotence

Before the Gulf war began, as before the First and Second World Wars, capitalism was readying its physical weapons, its warmongering brainwash, and its ideological weapon of capitalism.

“Pacifism” is not defined by the demand for “peace”. Everybody wants peace. The warmongers themselves never stop proclaiming that they only want war in order to prepare for peace. The distinguishing feature of pacifism is its claim that it is possible to fight for peace, as such, without touching the foundations of capitalist power. The proletarians whose revolutionary struggle, in Russia and Germany, put an end to World War I, also wanted peace. But their combat’s success was because they fought not with the “pacifists” but in spite of and against them. As soon as it became clear that only the revolutionary struggle would stop the imperialist slaughter, the workers of Russia and Germany found themselves facing not just the bourgeoisie’s “hawks”, but also and especially the original pacifists: the Mensheviks, the “Socialist Revolutionaries”, the Social Democrats, who defended both ideologically and militarily what was dearest to them: capitalist order.

War does not exist “as such”, outside social relations, in other words relations between classes. In decadent capitalism, war is only a moment in the life of the system, and there can be no struggle against war without a struggle against capitalism. To struggle against war without struggling against capitalism is to be condemned to impotence. The aim of pacifism has always been to make the revolt of the exploited against war harmless for capital.

History gives us edifying examples of this kind of manoeuvre. The efforts that we can see at work today were already being vigorously denounced by revolutionaries 50 years ago: “The necessity for the bourgeoisie is precisely that, with hypocritical talk of peace, the workers be turned away from the revolutionary struggle” wrote Lenin in 1916. The use of pacifism has not changed: “The unity of principle between the social-chauvinists (Plekhanov, Scheidemann) and the social-pacifists (Turati, Kautsky), lies in that both, objectively speaking, are the servants of imperialism: the former serve it by presenting the imperialist war as a ‘defence of the fatherland’, while the others serve the same imperialism by disguising the imperialist peace that is being prepared today with talk about a democratic peace. The imperialist bourgeoisie needs both kinds of lackey, with each kind of nuance: it needs the Plekhanovs to encourage the peoples to massacre each other shouting ‘down with the conquerors’; it needs the Kautskys to console and calm the exasperated masses with hymns and declamations in honour of peace,” (Lenin, January 1917).

What was true during World War I has invariably been confirmed since. Today, yet again, with the Gulf war, the bourgeoisie in all the belligerent powers has organised the pacifist machine. “Responsible” (having taken part in government, in the sabotage of strikes and other forms of the struggle of the exploited classes, or having played the recruiting sergeant in previous conflicts) parties, or fractions of political parties are given the job of taking the lead in the pacifist movements. We must “demand!”, they say; we must “impose!”... a peaceful capitalism. From Ramsey Clark (one-time adviser to Lyndon Johnson) in the US, to the Social-democracy in Germany (the same ones who sent the German proletariat into World War I, and was directly responsible for the murder in 1919 of the revolutionary movement’s most important figures, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg); from the pacifist fractions of the British Labour Party to those of Chevenement and Cheysson in the French PS, via the Stalinist CP’s of France, Italy and Spain (with their inevitable Trotskyist acolytes) whose have long since become master recruiters of canon-fodder: all these fine people have appeared at the head of the great pacifist demonstrations of January 1991 in Washington, London, Paris, Bonn, or Rome. All these patriots (whether they defend big countries or little ones – Iraq for example – changes nothing) obviously believe in peace as little to day as they did yesterday. They are simply playing the part of pacifism: channelling the discontent and the revolt provoked by the war into an impotent dead-end.

After all the “petitions”, the “demonstrations” in the company of all the ruling class’ “concerned people”, the “progressive” priests, the show-biz starts and such like “lovers of (...capitalist) peace”, what can there be left in the minds of those who thought that this would be a means of opposing the war, if not a feeling of sterility and impotence? Pacifism has never prevented capitalism wars. It has always prepared and accompanied them.

Pacifism always has a “radical” fellow-traveller: anti-militarism. In general, this is characterised by a more or less complete rejection of “peaceful” pacifism. It calls for more radical methods to combat war, directly attacking military force: individual desertion and the “execution of officers” are its most typical slogans. On the eve of World War I, its best known exponent was Gustave Herve, and he encountered a certain echo in the face of reformist social-democracy’s flabby pacifism. In Toulon, France, one poor soldier was so far taken in by this “radical” language that he even tried to shoot his colonel. Needless to say, this got nobody anywhere... with the exception of Herve who ended the war as an abject patriot and supporter of Clemenceau.

It is obvious that the revolution will also be expressed in desertions from the army, and the struggle against the officers. But in this case, as in the German and Russian Revolutions, these will be mass actions by soldiers, and a part of the mass proletarian struggle. It is absurd to think that there can be an individualist solution to so eminently social a problem as capitalist war. At best, this is an expression of the suicidal despair of the petty bourgeois incapable of understanding the revolutionary role of the working class, and at worst it is a dead-end consciously used by the police to reinforce a feeling of impotence in the face of militarism and war. The dissolution cannot be achieved by individual actions of nihilist revolt; it can only be the result of the conscious, massive, and collective revolutionary action of the proletariat.

The struggle against war can only be the struggle against capital. But the conditions of this struggle today are radically different from what they were during the revolutionary movements of the past. In the past, proletarian revolutions have all been more or less directly linked to wars: the Paris Commune sprang from the conditions created by the 1870 Franco-Prussian war; the 1905 revolution in Russia was a response to the Russo-Japanese war; the wave of 1917-23, to World War I. Some revolutionaries have deduced that capitalist war is a precondition, or at least a highly favourable condition, for the communist revolution. This was only partly true in the past. War creates conditions that do indeed push the proletariat to act in a revolutionary manner. However, firstly, this only happens in the defeated countries. The proletariat in the victorious countries generally remains much more strongly subjected, ideologically, to the ruling class; this counters the worldwide extension of revolutionary power, which is vital to its survival. Secondly, when the struggle succeeds in forcing the bourgeoisie to make peace, it thereby deprives itself of the extraordinary conditions that gave birth to it [2]. In Germany, for example, the revolutionary movement after the armistice suffered badly from the tendency of many soldiers returning from the front to forget everything but the desire to enjoy the peace they had so dearly won. Moreover, as we have seen above, by the time of the Second World War the bourgeoisie had drawn the lessons of the first and acted to prevent any revolutionary social explosions.

Above all, however, and quite apart from all these considerations, if the present historical course is ever overturned and a war breaks out involving the masses of the proletariat in the imperialist metropoles, then it will set in motion such terrible means of destruction that there will be no, or virtually no, possibility of fraternisation or revolutionary action.

If there is one lesson that workers must retain from their past experience, then it is this: to struggle against war today, they must act before a world war; during it will be too late.

An analysis of today’s historic conditions allows us to state that the conditions for a new international revolutionary situation could arise without capitalism having been able to enrol the proletariat of the central countries in a generalised butchery.

The processes leading to a revolutionary proletarian response are neither rapid nor easy. Those who today lament the lack of an immediate response to the Gulf war by the proletariat in the industrialised countries, forget that the revolutionary response to war in 1917 only came after three years of dreadful suffering. Nobody can say when and how the world working class will raise its combat to the level of its historic tasks. What we do know is that it will come up against enormous difficulties, not the least being the debilitating effects of the general atmosphere of decomposition engendered by capitalism’s advanced state of decadence accompanied by the widespread spirit of “every man for himself”, and the nauseating stink of putrefying Stalinism. But we also know that, contrary to the period of the economic crisis in the 1930’s and of World War II, the proletariat in the central countries is neither physically crushed nor has its consciousness been destroyed.

The very fact that the proletariat in the great powers could not be enrolled in the Gulf war (forcing the governments to use professionals); the multitude of precautions taken by governments to justify the war, are so many signs of this balance of forces.

As for the effects of this war on consciousness in the class, in the short term they have provoked a relative paralysis, accompanied however by an anxious and deep-seated reflection on what is historically at stake.

At this level, the Gulf war is distinct from the World Wars of the past in one particularly important aspect: the World Wars were special in that they hid from the proletariat the economic crises that they sprang from. During the war, the unemployed disappeared into the army, the factories which had shut down restarted to produce the weapons goods necessary for total war: the economic crisis seemed to have disappeared. The situation is quite different today. Just as the bourgeoisie unleashed its hellfire over the Middle East, its economy, at the heart of its industrialised zones, plunged into an unprecedented recession... with no hope of a new Marshall Plan. At the same time, we have witnessed a war that clearly announced the apocalyptic perspective of capitalism, and the deepening of the economic crisis. The first has given the proletariat the measure of what is at stake historically, the second is creating the conditions that will force it, in responding to the attacks on its living conditions, to affirm itself as a class and recognise itself as such.

For today’s generations of workers, the present situation is a new historical challenge. They will be able to rise to it, if they are able to profit from the last twenty years of economic struggles which have taught them the worth of capitalism’s promises, and what this system’s future holds in store; if they are able to take to its conclusion the mistrust and hatred that they have developed for the so-called workers’ organisations (unions and left parties), which have systematically sabotaged all their important struggles; and if they are capable of fully understanding that their own struggle is only the continuation of two centuries of combat by our epoch’s revolutionary class.

To do so, the proletariat has no choice but to develop its struggle against capital, on its own class terrain, a thousand miles from the inter-classiest terrain of pacifism and other nationalist snares.

This terrain can be defined in the most clear-cut way as a viewpoint on each moment of the struggle: the intransigent defence of workers’ interests against those of capital. It is not the trade union terrain, which divides workers by national, region, or industrial branch. It is not the terrain of the unions and left-wing parties, which pretend that “the defence of workers’ interests is the best defence of the nation”, to conclude that workers’ struggles should take account of the nation’s interests, and so of the national capital. The class terrain is defined by the irreconcilable opposition between the interests of the exploited class and those of the moribund capitalist system.

The class terrain has class, not national frontiers. By itself, it negates the foundations of capitalist war. It is the fertile ground where the dynamic develops which will lead the proletariat to assume, from the defence of its “immediate” interests, the defence of its historic interests: the world communist revolution.

Capitalist war is no more inevitable than the aberrations of decomposing capitalism. The capitalist mode of production is no more eternal than were the ancient slave-holding societies, or feudalism. Only the struggle to overthrow this society, and to build a truly communist society without exploitation or nations, can rid humanity of the threat of destruction in the holocaust of capitalist war.

The only struggle against war is the struggle against capitalism. The class war is the only “war” worth waging.


[1] Workers like Gatto Mammone who thought, before 1914, that the question of war was an “ideological” one, forgot (like those who only a short while ago let themselves be lulled by the hymns to “the end of the Cold War” and the united Europe of 1992) that the development of economic interdependence, far from resolving imperialist antagonisms, only serves to exacerbate them. They forgot one of marxism’s fundamental discoveries: the insoluble contradiction between the more and more international nature of capitalist production, on the one hand, and the private, national nature of the appropriation of this production by the capitalists on the other. Under the pressure of competition, the search both for raw materials and for outlets for its production leads each national capital to develop, irreversibly, the international division of labour. There is thus a constant international development of economic interdependence amongst all the national capitals. This tendency, which has existed since the dawn of capitalism, was reinforced by the world’s organisation into two blocs following World War II, and by the development of so-called “multinational” companies. But capitalism is nonetheless incapable of abandoning the basis of its very existence: private property and its organisation into nation states. Moreover, the decadence of capitalism has been accompanied by a strengthening of the tendency towards state capitalism, in other words each national capital’s dependence on its state apparatus overseeing the whole of social life. This essential contradiction between internationally organised production, and continued national appropriation is one of the objective bases for the necessity and possibility of a communist society without nations or private property. But for capitalism, it is an insoluble dilemma which can lead only to chaos and the barbarity of war.

[2] The war has incontestably played an enormous role in the development of our revolution; it materially disorganised absolutism; it dislocated the army; it breathed daring  into the hesitating mass. But it did not create the revolution, and this is fortunate because a revolution born of war is impotent: it is the product of extraordinary circumstances, depends on an external force, and in the end proves incapable of defending the positions it has won(Trotsky, in Our Revolution, writing about the role of the Russo-Japanese war in the outbreak of the 1905 Revolution in Russia.)


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