On 19th April 2012, the Indian bourgeoisie launched Agni-V, its version of an intercontinental ballistic missile, and gave another boost to the already raging arms race in Asia. With this test India joined the select club of global imperialist gangsters who possess intercontinental ballistic missiles. Agni-V is supposed to have a range of 5000KM and is supposed to be capable of hitting Shanghai and Beijing.
The launch of Agni-V provoked a drum beat of rejoicing within all sections of the Indian bourgeoisie. For days on end, the entire print and electronic media was full of boastful propaganda about technical and military achievements signified by this launch. There was reckless talk of the new capability to hit all parts of China and other hostile countries. Factions of the Indian bourgeoisie were busy assuring themselves that with the launch of Agni-V they are now better equipped to confront its enemies and to fulfill its global imperialist dreams. The media also tried to use all these drum beats and propaganda to instigate intense patriotic fever.
Intensifying arms race in Asia
The launch of ICBM Agni-V by India is just one expression of the frenzied arms race developing in Asia today. There are numerous players engaged in this game and India is one of the major players in it.
In the middle of March 2012, Indian and world media were full of stories that over the last three years India has been the biggest arms buyer in the world. According to a report in NDTV on 21 March 2012, India has replaced China as the world’s largest arms buyer, accounting for 10 per cent of all arms purchases during the past five years. In Feb 2012, India placed an order for 126 Rafale MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) fighter jets from Dassault of France. To cost 20 billion USD (TOI, 1 Feb 2012), it is considered the largest single order for military equipment in the history of capitalism. This order is in addition to another order for 272 Sukhoi-30MKI fighter planes worth $12billion under execution from Russia.
According to the Statesman of 17 March 2012, India has increased its defense spending by 17.6 percent to $47 billion.
But even this frenzied militarisation is not enough for the Indian bourgeoisie. We can see this in another campaign waged in the Indian media in April 2012, just a few days before the launch of Agni-V. In the beginning of April, the head of the Indian Army wrote a long letter to the Prime Minister. This letter told the PM that the Indian army is not equipped for war as it does not have sufficient arms and ammunitions. The letter was leaked to the press and was taken up by the parliament. After discussions with the heads of Army, Air Force and Navy, the parliament has now declared that Indian forces do not have sufficient arms and ammunition to wage a war. Although having an element of faction fights, this campaign primarily served two functions for the bourgeoisie. One is to swamp and hide the fact from its own people that India is already a huge spender on armaments – the biggest buyer in the global arms bazaar. The second is to convince the exploited population that even more needs to be spent on militarisation.
We should be clear on one thing – the Indian bourgeoisie is not the only one engaged in frantic militarisation. All countries in Asia – Japan, South and North Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia etc are engaged in the same race. Saudi Arabia and its sister Emirates are spending nearly 100 billion USD on militarisation. China is leading the arms race in Asia today and has doubled its military spending to nearly 150 billion USD this year. Even the global cop, the USA, has accelerated its military spending focused on Asia in general and China in particular.
Why this arms race in Asia?
In the beginning of last century capitalism entered its phase of decadence. What this meant was that existing world markets got divided among the main capitalist powers and these markets were no longer sufficient to absorb the products of all the capitalist nations. To expand or even to exist, each capitalist country was compelled to snatch necessary markets from its rivals. The only alternative available to every capitalist country was to confront its rivals in massive global military confrontations and to defeat them or to accept defeat and subordination to its enemies. This was the stark alternative that led to gigantic militarisation throughout Europe and America from the beginning of the 20th century. It was the stark alternative which was monstrously played out in World Wars One and Two, each of which led to the slaughter of millions of people and the destruction of whole nations and continents.
Since the end of the second war, this process of military confrontation and preparation for them has gone on unabated among the old imperialist powers till today. In the period of decadence capitalism can survive only by war. As a result all countries are permanently engaged in furious preparations for war.
In the last few decades the economic power of China, India and many other countries in Asia has multiplied. Now capitalism in these countries is faced with same alternative, the same choices as the advanced capitalist countries started facing last century. And these newly ‘emerging powers’ have been responding to the situation like old imperialist powers, which is to undertake a massive process of militarisation and preparations for war. We can see this underway throughout Asia.
This despite the fact that the working class in these countries, above all in India and China, lives in abject poverty, misery and in a condition of mass unemployment.
As we have seen, the Indian bourgeoisie like its counterparts in other countries is also engaged in an accelerating process of militarisation. The recent launch of the ICBM is situated in this sinister continuity. It is an effort by the Indian bourgeoisie to gain parity in destructive power with its immediate imperialist competitor, the Chinese bourgeoisie.
Bourgeoisie and working class have nothing in common
The arms race is inevitable for a decadent capitalist system. It results from material conditions of advanced phase of decadent capitalism. Today, capitalism lives and can only live by war. The bourgeoisie cannot get rid of this.
On the other hand the working class is the main victim of all the competition between capitalist nations. Wars and war-mongering tends to destroy its unity and weaken it in front of its class enemy, the bourgeoisie. Preparations for war intensify its exploitation and worsen its living conditions. And the wars by which bourgeoisie of different nations try to settle their scores come as the greatest attack on the working class. It is the working class which pays the price of wars of the bourgeoisie by its lives. Due to its position within capitalism, only the working class can put an end to wars of the bourgeoisie by destroying capitalism.
What should the working class do?
The bourgeoisie is never tired of using every means to deepen the impact of nationalistic fervor in the working class and toiling masses. In past, nationalism has been very effectively used by the bourgeoisie to crush revolutionary upsurges of the working class. It is enemy number one of the world working class. The working class should develop strong indignation against the poison of nationalism and firmly defend the principle of internationalism.
The working class cannot and should not take sides in imperialist war and war preparation. It must condemn all war-mongering. Response of the working class in India to the launch of ICBM by ‘its’ bourgeoisie cannot be anything but condemnation and denunciation.
The working class has to intensify its class struggle everywhere in the world against intensifying attacks on its living and working conditions. Self-organisation, extension, politicisation, territorial and international unification of these struggles are indispensable for marching forward toward the goal of putting an end to the global capitalist system, the root cause of all social and economic problems, of the arms race, war-mongering and war. This alone can save humanity. There is no other way.