ONCE AGAIN THE ALTERNATIVE:
WAR OR REVOLUTION
If linked: [French] [German] [Italian] [Spanish]
Once again the alternative:
War or Revolution
[top] [content] [end]
In the period immediately following World War II, the myth that capitalism could march forward without the inevitable crises and world wars it had known in the past had at least the appearance of being true. The great business of the reconstruction of a good part of the planet and especially of Europe, and the strict regimentation of the working class who was forced (even under the heel of military occupation) to rebuild with its sweat what it had been made to destroy with its blood, enabled capital to embark once again on its cycle of accumulation on a gigantic scale. This post-war boom was presented as eternal by the bourgeoisie and gave fuel to its myth of future harmonious development - a myth which it utilised for the sole purpose of enlisting the collaboration of the working class in its own exploitation and oppression. In the economic sphere this was the myth of peaceful competition, in the area of diplomacy it was the myth of negotiated resolutions of conflicts and non-interference in the affairs of other countries, and on the military level it was the myth of the balance of power.
According to this myth, the differences between states and between powers were destined, if not to disappear, at least to diminish little by little. Conflicts would not totally vanish, but they at least would not escalate into violent antagonisms. All capitalisms would have access to the world market under more or less equal conditions. The small capitalisms would not cease to be small but they would find their legitimate place in relation to the great capitalisms; and in the long run, if not in the immediate, the disequilibriums would be compensated for. In the same manner, the «community of nations» was supposedly destined to evolve in the direction of increasing harmony and the division into blocs (which would not be rigid) would be just as natural, mutually beneficial and non-antagonistic as the international division of labour between the imperialist countries and the underdeveloped areas.
After the frictions of the cold war, there came détente. The joint Russo-American domination sanctioned at Yalta and Potsdam confirmed the following principle: it is true that all states are equal, but some (especially two certain ones) are more equal than others. Under the protection of these two states, the other states gradually regained their vitality and, on the periphery of the «civilised world» still others were born without causing serious disruptions for the world order. If wars broke out - and they certainly did during the last thirty years! - they remained localised and contained at the periphery of the part of the world «that counts». Above all they did not merge into a single conflagration of the long colonised people against imperialism - something which the two partners, Russia and the U.S., were equally interested in preventing and which they did their utmost to extinguish, each in its own sphere of influence utilising the most efficient technical means and political, financial or military resources.
Although the second imperialist carnage was not concluded by a formal peace treaty, the world lived (or believed to live and progress) within an entente analogous to the Treaty of Vienna which «stabilised» Europe by an entente between powers a century and a half ago. It is not by chance that Kissinger passed himself off as a second Metternich (the architect of the Treaty of Vienna) and that his «strategy of small steps» was designed not to disturb the equilibrium but instead to seal the fissures in the static edifice of a de facto peace.
The true reality was that behind the veil of increasing prosperity the irrepressible causes of collapse were maturing. Today the «equilibriums» of economic expansion and peaceful commerce have been shattered. The political and diplomatic equilibriums have begun to be shaken (and everything indicates that the situation is moving more and more in the direction of a break) while the spectre of a social crisis becomes increasingly menacing. Confused realignments of forces are appearing which themselves are the prelude of violent upheavals. We are witnessing, most importantly, the gradual shift of their epicentre (which follows the path of the economic crisis) from the periphery of the capitalist world to its heart, i.e. to Europe or more precisely Euro-America. The system of weights and counterweights on which rest peaceful coexistence, the development of «equal» and «mutually advantageous» exchange, the recognition of the sovereignty of the two «super powers» in their respective «empires». and the balance of power is thus put in jeopardy. The basic strategy of the «small steps» has rapidly lost its function. It is the hour for great dynamic steps on the path which is necessarily leading - although certainly not in the short run - to a confrontation. Let us be very clear: in the process of maturing are the preconditions for the only true capitalist solution for the crisis, general war.
As is usual, what immediately comes to the eye is not the central nucleus of reality but its external manifestations. It is the competition between the different powers, fighting over shares of the world market or seeking to mutually rob from one another the reserves of raw materials in Africa or the Middle-East. It is the inclination both of Europe as a whole, as well as of the principal European states (in different proportions depending on their economic and financial weight), to «rely only on themselves». It is the conflicts continually reappearing among the various «developing» countries which are crushed by the enormous weight of forced development and which increasingly oscillate between the different imperialist powers, simultaneously detesting and courting them, deploring their unwanted presence but nevertheless knowing it is indispensable if they want to receive weapons and capital. It is the emergence of China as a great power, rising from the ashes of a million socialist illusions spread among its proletariat and peasantry. It is the never extinguished turmoil of the Near-East.
All this is tragically evident, just as it is evident that within each country which is drawn into the whirlpool of the crisis, the rivalry between individual capitals develops with methods which are no longer those of simple «competition» but those of open commercial war. The same is true for the rivalry between countries regardless of whether or not they may be «allies». But just as behind the peripheral crises there looms the world crisis, behind these various conflicts there stands the struggle with drawn swords between the US and the USSR, a struggle which is both military and political, no longer local but necessarily world-wide although its main theatre is Europe. We must not therefore misinterpret the periodic attempts at independence by one or another of the advanced capitalist countries of Europe and Japan or by one or another of the internal political forces: in spite of appearances, it is the United States which more than ever rules the game in the West. Even if none of its present or potential competitors can bear the yoke of the U.S. without discomfort, all now more or less submit to its law which is nothing other than the law of the dollar.
Germany and Japan know that they necessarily are not two locomotives beside a third, but two supplementary and auxiliary motors of a single locomotive, the U.S. They may groan each time the latter imposes its demands, but in the end they submit, conscious that they have no other choice. In the same way but in a different sphere, the big show of national independence characteristic of Gaullism can well be taken up by the Communist Party of France, but the course of the latter leads irreversibly to Wall Street just as much as does the course of French President Giscard d'Estaing or Socialist Party leader Mitterrand, even if it is under other forms. The same is true for Italian Communist Party leader Berlinguer and his Spanish counterpart Carrillo: insofar as they serve the Italian or Spanish national interests, they must be oriented in the same direction as Andreotti or Suarez, towards the USA.
We are witnessing Eurocommunism on one side and Moscow s desperate although vain and contradictory calls to order on the other. At one pole there is the thrust of the Eastern European countries in their attempt to displace the axis of their search for capital and the axis of their commercial exchanges towards the West; at the other pole there are the worried tugs on the rein by the Kremlin. There are the oscillations of the «third world» and the sudden reversals of fronts of the Islamic countries in their anxious search for arms suppliers. In China there are the denunciations of heroes alternating with the rehabilitation of former renegades, the comings and goings, in every sense, of leaders who are committed to the search for new pawns (whether willing or unwilling) for their own game. All these are only the changing and local aspects of a constant and general polarisation of forces which is occurring not only on the economic level but also on the political and military level. They are, at the bottom, the manifestations of a conflict which is progressively maturing with the centre of imperialism, the U.S., taking the offensive today. The USSR, militarily strong but relatively weak economically, is on the defensive and is becoming increasingly encircled.
We of course are not dealing with an established fact but with a process which does not at all proceed in a linear way and which, as it unfolds, does not exclude the opening of breaches where in the present state of things there seems to be a solid front. The development of this process (which we predicted thirty years ago while the world was in the middle of an orgy of democracy, peace and beginning economic boom) is reflected in the accelerated arms race - with preference for conventional weapons, and this is not by chance - and in the spiralling expansion of the industry and commerce of armaments. It is reflected in the continuous swelling of the state machineries and police apparatuses, in short, in the merging, the osmosis, between democracy and fascism which we call «armoured democracy». All these in turn feed the nightmare of social tensions which are provoked by the crisis and even by the therapy which is adopted everywhere - with the indispensable and necessary complicity of opportunism - in an attempt to pull out of the crisis.
«Do not force us to become a police state», Willy Brandt implored after the last attack by the Red Army Faction. In this statement Brandt just repeats the bourgeois lie that the lamb of democracy, at the price of its soul would be forced to turn into the wolf due to the explosions of individual terrorism. The truth, Messieurs apostles and defenders of the established order, is that the «ultra-democratic» police state did not wait for a «gang» to perfect its apparatus. Instead individual terrorism and the ideology of the «propaganda of the deed» which distinguishes it are the desperate reactions to the pressing, suffocating, octopus-like omnipresence of the police state (just as they are a reaction to all the pathological phenomena of a decaying society, of which the new state monster is only one manifestation). This police state is not specific to a particular country and it does not take form as a result of whatever particular event (such as the terrorist attacks); in fact is was born after World War II when the «ultra-democratic» victors imposed a regime of permanent military occupation, with overt police functions, over the territories which were divided up. Its severe measures are only the extension of techniques of repression developed against social «misfits» and dissidents at the experimental laboratories of Sing-Sing or Alcatraz in the West and Lubianka in the East and bequeathed to the «liberated» countries as well as to the «liberators» of second rank.
There is a tragic irony in the first signs of the «human rights crusade» whose hypocritical preaching accompany the physical preparation for the armed confrontation (but it is an irony which is not a novelty in history since the U.S. has already played it out twice). In this crusade we see the flag of freedom, human rights, pluralism and anti-dictatorship planted on all the towers of the international prison built by capitalism following a world massacre unparalleled in magnitude and ferocity; this prison is the most immense ever built in its sinister history, it is the prison of U.S. imperialism.
This is why in this tragedy of unemployment and underemployment, of wage reductions to a minimum (whether through actual wage cuts or through the workings of inflation), and of factory despotism pushed to the extreme, the workers must learn to see the true face behind all the talk of democracy, freedom and human rights. The course we are on not only is heading towards the imposition of still heavier sacrifices in regard to the proletariat's conditions of life and work but it is also heading towards the call once again for the proletariat to shed its blood. This future massacre will be for the workers «own good» of course, just as it is for «their own good» that they are forced to submit to an always greater exploitation in the factories and in the fields. The workers must recognise that against this future they have only one weapon, but one that is invincible, a weapon that runs counter to all the deceitful crusades for freedom, national independence, and civilisation which we are told we must defend just as we are supposed to defend our national boundaries. This weapon is the uncompromising class struggle: the solidarity among all the exploited above all the boundaries of factory, trade, or nation; revolutionary defeatism in regard to the national economy in times of peace and in regard to the nation in times of war; organised class violence and, tomorrow, the red dictatorship.
Source: «Communist Program», No. 4, april 1978
[top] [content] [last] [home] [mail] [search] [webmaster]