Joti Brar, vice-chair of the Communists, delivers a timely and crucial talk on the continuing imperialist drive to war against Russia, China, and many smaller nations that are not fully under the thumb of Nato imperialist countries. Buy the original pamphlet here.
As VI Lenin pointed out, imperialism strives for domination. It strives for control over resources, control over markets and control over opportunities for profit-taking. It strives to extract maximum profit – no matter what the human or environmental cost – and to keep profits, markets and resources away from both its imperialist rivals and from the great mass of non-imperialist countries.
The world is experiencing the deepest-ever crisis of imperialism, and the billionaire rulers of the capitalist world are desperate to save their failing system. The competition for fewer and fewer available sources of profit is intensifying, and so is the competition to control resources.
In this situation, any area of economic activity that is not already producing maximum profit for imperialism becomes a target – as do independent countries (like Syria or Libya or Venezuela) that refuse to allow full imperialist control of their resources and markets.
As Josef Stalin pointed out, no amount of working or wishing for peace, or of clever diplomacy, can stave off war for long in a world where crisis-ridden, profit-hungry imperialism exists, because:
“For all the successes of the peace movement, imperialism will remain, continue in force – and, consequently, the inevitability of wars will also continue in force. To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism.” (Economic Problems of the USSR, 1951)
Russia and China are imperialism’s principle targets because:
(a) Russia has enormous economic resources and its nuclear military capability is second only to that of the United States.
Not only is it able to resist imperialism itself, but it can also offer military, and sometimes economic, support to less powerful allies threatened by imperialism.
For example, Russia’s highly effective intervention in support of the Syrian government against the west-backed invasion of jihadi death squads has proved that Russia’s existence as an independent force not only stops the imperialists expanding their domination, but even threatens their present avenues of superexploitation.
Its present operation to root the nazis out of Ukraine and defend the people of the Donbass, who have been under siege by west-backed fascistic militia for eight years, is another example of Russia’s increasing ability to defend its borders and its allies.
(b) China is also economically and militarily strong. It regularly assists other developing countries who are trying to break free of imperialist domination by helping them build infrastructure (roads, railways, power stations etc), by lending at fraternal rather than extortionate rates and by transferring knowledge, equipment and skills to help countries lift themselves up.
The Belt and Road initiative is the fully-fledged development of this policy, which now presents poor and superexploited countries with a real alternative to the IMF debt-trap.
Imperialism’s military build-up against Russia and China
John Pilger pointed out years ago now that we have witnessed the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two along Russia’s western frontier: “Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.
“Ukraine … has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with nazis, … who openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian-speaking minority …
“In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia … the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks and heavy weapons …” None of this is being reported in imperialist media, or it is distorted and presented as Russian aggression.
As regards the imperialists’ ability to wage war unimpeded, which they have taken full advantage of since the collapse of the USSR, the last time that a so-called ‘humanitarian’ resolution was allowed to pass in the United Nations security council was in the build-up to the war against Libya eleven years ago.
At that time, Russia and China decided not to veto the resolution imposing a ‘no-fly zone’. The imperialists took this abstention as permission to launch a Nato blitzkrieg that overthrew the government of Muammar Gaddafi and destroyed 40 years of independent, secular, people-centred development in Libya.
Since the downfall of the Libyan government, Russia and China have quietly moved away from the policy of appeasement and have become the principal cornerstones of today’s axis of anti-imperialist resistance. It is clear that the spread of imperialist-backed terrorism around the globe affects them both – directly (as in the case of Chechnya and Xinjiang) and indirectly (by undermining many of their key allies such as Syria, Iran, etc).
It is equally clear that so long as they remain as independent economic powers – whatever their economic system, no matter how reasonably they behave, and whether or not they follow a policy of appeasement – Russia and China will find themselves the target of imperialist hostility.
Their best protection lies in building up their network of allies, in strengthening their defences and in mobilising their people to defend their countries and their allies from attack.
Selling war to the proletariat of the imperialist countries
As well as using its media, imperialism is also able to use social democrats to repeat its anti-Russia and anti-China propaganda lies to the working masses – and their lies are all the more effective for their apparent ‘left-wing’ credentials and trade union connections.
In Britain, this group includes many revisionists who call themselves communists, Trotskyites and, of course, both the ‘left’ and the right wings of the Labour party. These charlatans describe the nationalist anti-imperialist bourgeoisie of Russia as ‘gangster capitalists’ and describe any attempt by Russia to defend its allies and neighbours as ‘imperialism’ – a term they also apply to economic assistance given by China to oppressed countries.
Within the anti-war movement, such forces work to strengthen the imperialist case for war by amplifying our rulers’ pro-war propaganda. They declared that Russia had invaded Ukraine in 2014, for example; they repeated the lie that Colonel Gaddafi and President Assad were guilty of ‘killing their own people’; and repeated the lie that China was responsible for the decline of the British steel industry.
Meanwhile, our so-called ‘anti-war leaders’ also vehemently oppose all attempts to mobilise physical opposition to the British war machine, and instead urge workers, in the name of ‘unity’, to confine themselves to writing to MPs and going on peaceful weekend demonstrations that disrupt nothing and disturb no-one.
Since Covid, they’ve been relieved even of organising these tokenistic events, happily settling into a life of online seminars attracting and educating no one at all.
The real power of workers, as the people who actually have to do the fighting, produce the weapons, transport the materiel and transmit the war propaganda is not just overlooked by our so-called anti-war movement, but actively suppressed.
Imperialism means war
In conditions of crisis, the imperialists view resistance to their domination as an unacceptable and outrageous obstacle to the desperate quest to find profitable opportunities for investment – a need that is inescapably propelling them to war.
Despite the fact that war waged against Russia and/or China would inevitably involve the imperialist countries themselves as theatres of war, imperialist desperation is such that it is being driven to war regardless, and is making frantic war preparations.
We can see the provocations in Ukraine in this light. In preparation for war against Russia, the USA is desperate to destroy Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, because this dependence threatens to destroy Nato’s integrity. Both US president Joe Biden and British prime minister Boris Johnson have been quite open about this aim.
But in going along with this, the Europeans will be participating in an act of serious self-harm. The Russians can find other customers, but where will Europe get alternative gas and oil supplies from? The USA might offer it US liquid natural gas (LNG) in its place, but the price will make the products of European industry, and German industry in particular, totally uncompetitive.
Meanwhile, despite all human logic, which begs us to learn from history and stop repeating the same old patterns, history confirms that the drive of the imperialists to war can only be stopped by the working class taking state power.
So we are faced with a stark choice: either prevent the drive to World War Three by making revolution, or allow that war to take place – with all its horrific consequences – and in that most painful way finally recognise that only socialism can save humanity.
In light of all the above, it must be concluded that:
- Imperialism means war, and imperialism in crisis is being driven inexorably towards a world war against Russia or China or both.
- Imperialist war against Russia and/or China differs from imperialism’s wars to impose or defend neo-colonial domination in that the theatre of war is likely to extend to the imperialist countries themselves.
- Neither Russia nor China has expansionist ambitions against imperialist homelands (or anywhere else).
- Therefore the anti-war working class of the imperialist countries must make common cause with all the peoples being targeted by imperialism, and must work to physically frustrate its war efforts.
- Non-imperialist countries must stand together against imperialist aggression and regard any attack on one as an attack on all.
- Appeasement of imperialism might occasionally delay the onset of war but it is just as likely to encourage warmongering as to prevent it – as we saw in the case of the UN-approved ‘no-fly zone’ that facilitated the destruction of Libya and the overthrow of its progressive government.
- As imperialism – the cause of war – is the last, inevitable and most rabid stage of capitalism, everything must be done to dismantle the system of capitalist production for the market and to replace it with planned production to meet people’s needs.
Ultimately, only socialism can rescue humanity from the imperialist drive to war.