Monday, 05 December 2022

WHAT DISTINGUISHES OUR PARTY: The political continuity which goes from Marx to Lenin, to the foundation of the Communist Party of Italy (Livorno, 1921); the struggle of the Communist Left against the degeneration of the Communist International, against the theory of „socialism in one country“, against the Stalinist counter-revolution; the rejection of the Popular Fronts and the Resistance Blocs; the difficult task of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and organization in close interrelationship with the working class, against all personal and electoral politics.


Who is Attacking “Europe”?

This is a watershed moment. The economic, social and political crisis has converged with war to make for a situation steeped in uncertainty. Any attempt to decipher the complex web of factors leading to the new scenarios and pinpoint – albeit approximately – the trajectory of events in terms of their inevitably catastrophic outcomes, is fraught with difficulty. After the Second World War, the “Italian” Communist Left made a valuable contribution to the restoration of the staples of revolutionary Marxism and, to help us find our way, we may turn to some of their keys of understanding. One of these touches upon the historical trajectory of the “aggression against Europe”, which was elaborated upon in a 1949 article of the same name, and published in what was then our theoretical organ, Prometeo. The article contained an assessment of the differing relative importance of Russian and American imperialisms.

Russia and America: different “concentrations of power”

This was one of the topics behind the internal controversy at the beginning of the 1950s that led to the scission of the Internationalist Communist Party and the establishment of the International Communist Party – Il Programma Comunista. We believe that that discussion provides us with elements that can help us to assess the meaning and importance of the present conflict between imperialisms. Hence our decision to publish here two excerpts on the subject, both taken from correspondence between Onorio (Onorato Damen) and Alfa (Amadeo Bordiga) [our italics – Editor’s note]:

“It’s impossible for the revolutionary party not to pursue a policy of equidistance – especially if war is being waged – between a country like the USA, whose capitalistic development has run to the extreme, and Russia which, you claim, inclines towards capitalism; not being aware of this could become the theoretical precondition for new step-by-step experiences and would, in any case, shake up considerably the objectives of the revolutionary party’s strategic vision during the next imperialist war.” (Onorio to Alfa, 6th October 1951).

“First, let me address your observation regarding page 3. You ask: is it only America that inclines towards subjugating, etc? But you yourself quoted my aside: i.e., according to the nature and necessity of every major metropolitan concentration of capital, productive force and power. Not only America then, but all concentrations. Which ones, you may ask? And where will they be in subsequent historical moments? Here is the point. To do so, we must consider the following elements: land and its resources, population, industrial development, size of modern proletariat, colonial possessions like raw materials, human reserves, markets, historical continuity of State power, outcome of recent wars and development in worldwide concentration of productive forces and those relating to armaments. Thus we can conclude that in 1900 there were five or six important powers on the same front (or nearly); while in 1914 we can suppose that Germany and Great Britain squared up to one another; and today? An examination of all these factors allows us to state that America is the number one concentration, insofar as (and besides everything else, and the likelihood she would triumph in further conflicts) she can certainly intervene anywhere an anti-capitalist revolution succeeds. It’s in this historical sense that I say that the revolution today – which must perforce be international – is wasting time if it fails to take out Washington. Does that mean we are still a long way off? Okay.” (Alfa to Onorio, 9th July 1951).

***

Our party’s work in the 1950s identified the historical forces presiding over the long-lasting conservation of the capitalist mode of production with the victorious Anglo-Saxon State formations (first and foremost the USA), empowered still further by the reduction of the defeated capitalisms to vassals. As for the social and economic nature of what were then “Soviet” Russia and its vassals, their capitalist traits and counter-revolutionary, international role had clearly been affirmed. A pure illusion was thus the notion that such powers might compete – pacifically or otherwise – with the spirited development of western capitalisms, starting off from what was alleged to be an alternative or superior socio-economic model, “socialist” in nature, and a friend to those “coloured” peoples in the throes of casting off their imperialist yoke. History ran its course and when the bell rang, at the end of an anything but pacific match, all that remained of the State that had betrayed and usurped Red October buckled pacifically under the pressure of the dynamic western democracies. These were far better equipped in capitalistic terms, with superior production and income figures, while the Russian State had long accepted to conduct what proved to be an unequal battle, with the arms of the enemy, and on totally capitalistic enemy territory.

Real historical developments provided an answer as to whose Marxist perspective was correct on the issue discussed by Onorio and Alfa in their correspondence. A similar answer should be able to help us today as we try to figure out the current war, without running the risk of limiting ourselves to a generic opposition to imperialist war that would have very little to do with the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin. This does not imply we intend to underestimate the danger (flagged up at the time by those who supported the idea of “equidistance” of the communist party from any imperialism, regardless of its connoted power) that the recognition of the main enemy to beat might lead to a disastrous fall in political frontism and partisan positions. It is a principle set in stone that communists do not side with or count themselves among agglomerations of spurious powers.

When outlining the prospects for the post-war period in Prometeo in 1946, our movement asked the question clearly:

“We undoubtedly affirm that to the different outcomes not only of the great wars involving the entire world, but of any war, even the most limited, have corresponded and will correspond very different effects on the relations of social forces in limited fields and in the whole world, and on the possibility of developing class action..." (“Prospects for the Post-war Period in Relation to the Party Platform”, Prometeo, n.3, 1946).

Thus, if the outcomes of conflicts – and all the more so when worldwide blocks are involved – determine how class struggles evolve, communists cannot be indifferent to the victory of one contender rather than the other and place their trust solely in the fact that both are class enemies of the proletariat.

To prevent any misunderstanding, “three arbitrary positions” that could have been derived from the premise were specified in the same text. In brief: firstly, that the proletariat be taken in by the progressive, very noble and even “revolutionary” objectives that serve as an ideal fuel for the bourgeois wars; secondly, that it dismisses the idea that a military victory corresponds to a political defeat, and vice versa (Waterloo could not prevent the triumph of the bourgeois forces in Europe, and the fascism defeated on the battlefield succeeded in spreading totalitarian forms of class domination in peacetime); and thirdly, that “when the two solutions to the conflict are also bearers of diverse possibilities – undeniably predictable and calculable for the movement – the very exploitation of these possibilities can only be guaranteed if the main class energies and the possibilities for Party action remain uncompromised in the politics of opportunistic feoffment” [idem].

The independence of the Party and the safeguarding of its entire unchanging programme therefore remain a fundamental cornerstone. The risk of sliding into opportunism is averted as long as the Party retains complete autonomy, refuses to pursue “step-by-step” objectives in the company of other political forces and, when war breaks out, complies with indications not to deviate from radical defeatism in its own house, be it the house of a dominant imperialist bourgeoisie or that of a vassal. The concept is perfectly expressed in the “Aggression Against Europe” article:

“Wars can only become revolutions – no matter what the assessment of the war is, an assessment which Marxists will not give up – as long as the nucleus of an international class movement survives in each country. This movement must be wholly detached from the politics of governments and the modus operandi of the main military States, and it must never lodge any kind of theoretical or tactical reservation between itself and the possibilities of defeatism and sabotage of the dominant class at war, that is, of its national and military political organizations. (Prometeo, no. 13, August 1949).

 

During the discussion that took place prior to the 1952 split, the Party groups headed by Onorato Damen viewed the two imperialisms carving up the post-war world as being equal, actually attributing to the USSR the historically most advanced form of capitalism in terms of centralisation and totalitarianism. This consideration led them to see the need for an unbiased approach, or perhaps one could call it indifferentism, in relation to the outcome of the clash between the two blocks. Here is the agenda item approving the scission during the Internationalist Communist Party’s second­­ congress:     

“In the face of Russia’s concentration of capital, strength, production and power, we declare that among capitalist forces clashing on the world stage, Russia is a hegemonic power on a par with America.” (https://www.leftcom.org/files/2019-quaderni-st07.pdf, p.33.)

By contrast, those comrades who would later establish Il Programma Comunista, and who had recognized that American imperialism’s limitless concentration of counter-revolutionary power was the mainstay of worldwide capitalistic domination, drew the inevitable conclusion that only by means of its destruction could the entire system collapse. Each successive victory for the system would, on the other hand, be a harbinger of even harder times to come – “measurable in decades or generations” – for the proletariat across the world. The diriment factor was the assessment of the economic and social nature of the USSR – totally capitalistic for Onorio, leaning towards capitalism for Alfa:

“Walking towards capitalism, where the foundations have already been laid (as in America) means walking in the opposite direction to socialism. But walking towards capitalism where these foundations are historically absent or incomplete, means the opposite, or rather: walking in the direction that leads to socialism. The latter case is clearly that of Russia and – even more so – its backward satellite States and allies. So they mustn’t be reviled for the economic policy of power but for the anti-classist policy of the party, which passes off the walking towards socialism for being in socialism, with incalculable anti-revolutionary effects for the entire international system.” (“Cervello marxista, deretano di piombo [Marxist Brain, Leaden Rear End]”, Il Programma Comunista, no. 19/1955, available in our website).

The diverse assessment of the USSR’s concentration of power at that time and in a historical perspective, thus brought about the following tactical position:

“Repudiation of any support for imperial Russian militarism. Open defeatism against its American counterpart” (in “Per la riorganizzazione internazionale del movimento rivoluzionario marxista [For the International Re-organization of the Marxist Revolutionary Movement]”, Il Programma Comunista, no. 18/1957, available in our website) (1).

There were no missiles, invasions or “revolutions” behind the collapse of the USSR, thus confirming our movement’s view of “Soviet”-style imperialism, summed up in the almost oxymoronic definition of “weak imperialism” in 1977:

“The USSR’s commercial structure and level of debt allow us to state that while its designs are imperialist in nature, and it detains a corresponding area of political and economic influence (obtained during the last great carve up among imperialist thieves), its imperialism is nonetheless ‘weak’ to the extent that, for the USSR, the export of capital and the weaving of the corresponding network of economic and, particularly, financial interests all over the world have a secondary character, while it is precisely on those elements of imperialist politics that the US bases its dominion, very much more firmly than simple military strength. Even at the more basic level of simply exporting goods, Russia still struggles to stay ahead of many second string political and economic rivals in absolute production terms. In actual fact, she searches for capital on the world’s financial markets and looks to the commercial markets for industrial products.” (“La Russia s’apre alla crisi mondiale” [Russia Opens up to the World Crisis]”, 1977, reproduced in Perché la Russia non era socialista [Why Russia Wasn’t Socialist], Quaderni del Partito comunista internazionale, no. 10, 2019).

Notwithstanding all its limitations, for over 40 years the “Soviet” giant served to stem the advancing global tide of Atlantic capitalism, physically subtracting from its grasp a vast number of lands, and exercising a political, ideological and economic influence on countries embarking on modern development, and offering them an alternative to the “neo-colonial” subjugation of the West. Following the “Soviet” collapse at the beginning of the 1990s, the entire world became an open hunting ground for western capitals eager for valorisation while, by fair means or foul, the gargantuan political-military apparatus of the United States proliferated, extending its tentacles into every nook and cranny of the increasingly vast and interconnected world of trade and capital.

In this context of frenzied conquest and plunder, the imperialist trajectory of ex-“Soviet” Russia seemed definitively compromised. It had lost its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe; it had sold off its immense resources to western agencies by means of a bourgeoisie that had risen from the ranks of the upper echelons of “Soviet” bureaucracy; its society was in meltdown and there was the very real prospect that the Federation would dissolve into a mosaic of new independent States. And the Russian proletariat paid a very heavy price. (2)

After the 1990 collapse, the liquidation process of what remained of the State born of the October Revolution was not a consequence of any military confrontation but, rather, a result of the huge concentration of power represented by US capitalism. In the “Aggression Against Europe” article (1949!), it was thus argued that Russia’s “vassalage” to the US might not be a consequence of the effects of military defeat, but a result of its “corrupt leadership organization”:

“Even in the absence of a real war between the USA and Russia, this process could come about if the vassalage of the latter could be secured under the immense economic pressures wielded by the world’s most powerful capitalistic organization – perhaps, in the future, the Anglo-American State which is already being talked about – and by means of a compromise which would see Russia’s leadership organization allowing itself to be bought out at a high price. There would be no need for an out and out campaign of destruction and occupation […]”.

 

This is precisely what occurred in the terrible final decade of the last century. With Yeltsin at the helm, Russia was well and truly ransacked by the capitalist West, and a new ruling class made money hand over fist at the expense of a population exposed to the delights of a market freed from the ties and constraints of public control. At long last the newly impoverished Russian proletariat discovered what real democracy was all about.

At the end of the 1990s Russia looked to be on the verge of throwing in the towel, a victim of the sucker punch inflicted by the world’s supreme – and only – dominant imperialism. The implosion unequivocally confirmed what our movement had been saying with regard to the socio-economic nature of the USSR: in its advance towards capitalism, it had collapsed due to the action of factors typical of a completely mercantile society. Had this not occurred, neither the defeat in Afghanistan nor the manoeuvrings of enemy imperialisms (which nonetheless played their part) would have sufficed. Behind the disintegration was the formidable pressure of world markets on the still budding capitalistic structure of the USSR and its satellites and the gradual penetration of western goods and capitals within the confines of its vast protectionist territory, along with lifestyles and ways of thinking typical of “western civilisation” (as a hegemonic result).

Both the propensity of American imperialism for global domination and the relative weakness of Russian imperialism were confirmed by historical events, but they were already clear to our movement in times of total “bipolarism”:

“Those who are dazzled by Russian imperialism to the extent that they forget the appalling force of domination and oppression implicit in American power, risk becoming victims of the democratic and fair-weather liberal deviations which are the worst enemy of Marxism. Unsurprisingly, the liberal-democratic message has its pulpit in the home of the world’s most powerful imperialism. These admirers fail to see how Russia, whose expansionism remains colonial in nature (occupying territories of minor States), is still in the inferior phase of imperialism: the imperialism of armies, i.e., the kind of imperialism that was defeated twice over in the world war […] All existing States are enemies of the proletariat and the communist revolution, but they are not on an equal footing. What matters more than anything for the proletariat (which will witness all the world’s States uniting against it as soon as it moves to take power) is that it becomes aware of the strength of its most mighty enemy, better armed than all the rest, and capable of reacting to offence anywhere in the world” (“Imperialismo delle portaerei” [Aircraft-Carriers Imperialism], Il programma comunista, no. 2/1957).

The democratic and fair-weather liberal deviations – with their pompous “end of history” formula once the USSR had collapsed – are still the worst enemy of Marxism. Their ideological onslaught remains constant and their immense propaganda machine is able to pass off the most brazen acts of subjugation – culminating, if needs be, in warlike devastation – as commendable acts of “liberation and progress”, perfectly in keeping with the traditional colonialism that brought “civilization” to a “world of backwardness and ignorance”.

Still today the West expects to be able to impose a flagrantly decadent and threadbare ideology on the world. An ideology that associates economic liberalism with an idea of “freedom” centred upon the individual and their insatiable “needs” to be satisfied in the market; a freedom only apparently at odds with the introduction of totalitarian forms of social control (poorly camouflaged by media hypocrisy) in “liberal and democratic” societies marred by growing violence and currents of divisiveness. One effect of the systematic overturning of historical truth and the equally systematic misrepresentation of facts that would otherwise cut the ground from under the official versions, is the unsurprising transformation of today’s followers of the ultra-Nationalist and pro-Nazi Ukrainian, Stepan Bandera (1909-1959), imitators of the traitorous butchers of Jews and Russian and Polish proletarians during the German occupation: in defence of Ukraine, they are being peddled as patriotic heroes and freedom defenders (3).

And neither will it come as a surprise to learn that today, in Germany, the keenest supporters of the war against “autocratic” Russia are to be found in the radical and pacifist “lefter-than-left” Green party, that can also boast the Minister of Foreign Affairs among its members in the coalition government. The green lady minister seems convinced that Russia’s defeat will herald the end of fossil fuels (which Russia is guilty of exporting), and that the high road to the flowery world of renewables will be opened up with bombs. In the variegated world of the European “Left”, similar kinds of idiocy can be found everywhere. The only difficulty lies in distinguishing between these real, useful idiots and the mercenaries who have been hired to turn the spit-roast (in times of genetic engineering means there’s nothing to prevent hybridization between the two!). We have always maintained that beneath the veneer of the pacifist lies a warmonger, and that if you scratch a democrat you’ll find a fascist. The notion that false opposites are destined to join as one in an anti-proletarian stance is a historical necessity our Communist Left has always flagged up, and today the facts would increasingly seem to bear us out. A healthy sign for those who can see the final judgement of History in what appear to be paradoxes.

The Limits of Current Russian Imperialism

To conclude on the “concentration of power” represented by the current imperialisms, it cannot be denied that the United States remains by far the dominant player. So much so that in its role as a global rentier State it can allow itself a never-ending and constantly growing foreign deficit to guarantee a continual flow of goods and capitals across continents and oceans.

How can we define the nature of the Russian State today? Straddling the end of the last century and the new, the Russian bourgeoisie regained control of State power under the auspices of Putin’s governments, thus exorcising the danger that Russia might disappear as an autonomous “concentration of power”. These governments enacted an authoritarian sea change among institutions and reaffirmed the ties between the State and large monopolistic groups on new grounds, thus providing the Russian concentration of power with a strategic perspective.

The “Bonapartist” breakthrough sought by the social and economic powers that Putin stood for met with little resistance from a proletariat whose “blood and tears” experience during the decade of western democratic wonders was still fresh in the memory. Moreover, the new regime had also imposed powerful limits on blood feuds within the oligarchies and on the independent actions of those oligarchical sectors most closely tied to the centres of western finance, and the protagonists behind a huge outflow of capital to foreign tax havens during the 1990s. Within the context of a general increase in capital movements to and from abroad, the stabilisation was conducive to a considerable return flow in the form of direct investments. It should be stressed that the return flow “was largely centred around energy and raw materials, the retail trade and other services, while the industrial sectors (excepting the food industry) lagged behind, in stark contrast to China.” (4)

This data is extremely useful when seeking to define the nature of Russian capitalism and its limits. If we consider the export of capital – a characteristic trait of imperialism – it transpires that the direct foreign investments of Russia amounted to just 4% of those of America in 2021 (UNCTAD data), even if they had grown notably since the 1990s. And they were directed for the most part towards an area that coincided with ex-“Soviet” territories. The income that helped feed investment inflows was concentrated primarily in the energy and raw material sectors but not the industrial sector, where the dependence on foreign production persists. 

All these elements serve to confirm that the definition of weak imperialism attributed to the USSR by our movement is still largely relevant when it comes to measures carried out by the Russian power. Today Russia is less exposed to foreign debt and is more dynamic in the export of capital, but it remains heavily dependent on industrial products imported from abroad and returns from energy. Russian ambitions to turn the clock back and resume its past imperialist role (in truth greatly restricted, as the country’s failure to live up to expectations and its eventual collapse demonstrate) embrace a substantial military potential that cannot be supported by an adequate economic base because it depends on the export of energy and raw materials and their oscillating prices.

With these assumptions, Russian imperialism – the projection of interests of huge domestic monopolistic groups – is able to flex its muscles within an area adjacent to the still vast borders of the Federation, yet well short of the hegemonic ambitions beyond what is considered to be an albeit extensive area of “security”. As at the time of the USSR, capital exports and the possession of a corresponding network of economic – and particularly financial – interests all over the world” are of secondary importance compared with the dominating traits of army imperialism. The intervention in Ukraine – like those in the past in Caucasia or Central Asia – is confirmation of this. And while it is true that the military initiatives in Syria and North Africa project Russian interests well beyond the borders of regional power, their undertaking is motivated principally by military and strategic considerations as a response and effort to contain the pressure of American imperialism. As the eastward expansion of NATO demonstrates, the threat from the West in Ukraine is undoubtedly military in character and comes complete with a formidable system of intelligence (5). It is instrumental to paving the way for financial penetration, the plundering of Ukrainian agricultural, mineral and energy resources and the brutal exploitation of Ukraine’s proletariat. In this sense it is totally imperialist in character (6).

Taking into consideration the limits of Russian imperialism, the “military operation” in Ukraine would have been suicidal if the overall context hadn’t already changed, if the earlier equilibrium between opposing concentrations of power hadn’t already fallen through and if the State hadn’t embraced a broader strategic perspective, Eurasian in outlook. A year after the foundation of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2014 (the year of the Maidan coup d’état), Putin himself announced the setting up of the project for Eurasian integration, which is currently going full steam ahead, courtesy numerous infrastructure projects promoted and financed mainly by China (7).

In its perennial see-sawing between East and West, Russia has today been cast aside by Europe and thrown into the arms of the up and coming powerhouse on the block, China. If Russian imperialism does indeed have the “military” limitations we spoke of, “China possesses all the classic characteristics of imperialism delineated by Lenin: state-monopolistic capitalism, exportation of capital, an expansionist drive to conquer foreign markets and spheres of influence, an expansionist foreign policy geared to establishing control of trade routes, etc. Russian imperialism is different in nature. Its objectives are more circumscribed and are dictated in large part by strategic and military considerations.” (8).

Thus, the strengthening of Sino-Russian ties is the chief factor behind the shift towards new scenarios.

War Against Europe with Eurasia in Mind

We should like to return to our 1949 Prometeo article, a surprisingly lucid piece that is almost prophetic in its tracing out of the historical directions events would eventually take during the clash between imperialisms. There was nothing particularly intuitive or ingenious underpinning the predictions, but there was a historical vision along Marxist lines that went beyond any immediatist vision and projected a long-term perspective. The Ukraine crisis of today corroborates the validity of the predictions, including those pertinent to the characteristics of the coming war. So we had to wait seventy years? Okay!

 

To the question: “What will America’s next possible war – for which immense military credits are being voted) – look like?…”, the answer is that it would be “the most earth-shaking act of aggression, invasion, oppression and enslavement in the history of the world”. And, in addition, we are told, “the war is already under way because the undertaking is strictly bound up with American interventions in the European wars of 1917 and 1942. All considered, it is the crowning moment of a process that sees the concentration of an immense, destructive military force in a supreme centre of domination and defence of the current – capitalistic – class regime, and the fashioning of ideal conditions to suffocate the revolution of workers in any country across the world.” (“Aggressione all’Europe”, cit.)

The war in Ukraine has provided the Atlantic powerhouse with the much sought after opportunity to re-assert itself as the undisputed master of the western assembly to the detriment of its European rivals-allies, while dictating policy on all the main fronts (information, domestic politics, energy, war and the economy). What we have here is, therefore, the latest step along the road towards that “aggression against Europe” which began in far away 1917, and which our movement recognized as the fundamental trajectory of inter-imperialist relations. Castrating Europe yesteryear may have signified annihilating the only potential imperialist adversary on the way to world conquest. But today – after helping to reduce Europe to a politico-military nonentity by caging it up in a non-State (the EU!) – the aggression continues unabated: hence the attempts to demolish its productive force, annul the conditions underlying the German surplus and, after severing any structural ties with the vast Eurasian markets, to reduce it to a sub-branch status – economically as well – of the Atlantic imperialist centre. (9)

With the war in Ukraine, Europe’s complete subservience revealed itself in ways that would have been surprising if the historical premises had not been quite so self-evident. The deplorable and unconditional support of the European bourgeoisie – flaunted so convincingly in certain sectors, in others with gritted teeth – for America’s decision to pursue a prolonged war against Russia only serves to ratify the decline and complete subjugation of Europe’s time worn capitalisms, which even go so far as to deny themselves an autonomous defence policy for their own vital economic interests. By breaking the natural link between Western Europe’s economy and Russia’s energy resources, Germany’s industrial system is the first to go to the wall, with wide-ranging consequences for the rest of the continent. It is a direct attack on the very foundations of the European capitalism that revolves around the German magnet, with political-military subjugation performing the same function as the carpet-bombing that wiped out the productive capacity of the Axis powers.

It is also the continuation of the attack on the Euro, which dared to challenge the hegemony of the dollar. In fact when the Euro was introduced, the reaction of the United States “was all too familiar. They started poking around looking for pockets of destabilization: in the Middle East the Iraqi question stands out, while in Europe there was Yugoslavia. The bombing of the European country led in particular to an immediate 30% devaluation in the value of the Euro (which had started off very positively); the invasion of Iraq in 2003 sparked off a dizzying increase in oil prices, while that of Libya brought an end to the pan-Arab currency project pegged to gold.”  (A. Visalli, Krisis, cit. in note 2).

There is no shortage of examples of what the author (with a sensational formula) calls “the geopolitics of chaos”.

The “sanction mongers” predicted that one of the first effects of the sanctions imposed on Russia would have been the collapse of the rouble. Instead, its value went up in concomitance with steep rises in the cost of energy, while the Euro quickly fell off a cliff, below parity with the dollar.

The war in Ukraine is, then, to all intents and purposes, a proxy war between the United States and Russia, but it is being fought on European soil, with European cannon fodder, with devastating consequences for European economic structures and the living conditions of European proletarians. And so, once again, and above all, a war against Europe. Despite the ruinous historical precedents – from Napoleon to Hitler – Europe persists in viewing Russia as an Eastern threat, and instead of seeing it as a part of Europe, and a bridge towards the Asian Orient, it views it as something to subjugate and ransack. And so, as in preceding wars, “Europe’s flock of bourgeois imbeciles” (see “Ancora America” [America Again], in Prometeo, no. 8, 1947), which Stalin's USSR joined during the Second World War, shoots itself in the foot by entrusting its destiny to a cumbersome Atlantic ally generously disposed to supplying European suckers with credit, bombs and also, today, highly expensive (and really poor quality) gas.

One of the reasons for the United States tightening its grip on the West is that it can then speed up its efforts to encircle Eurasia. First it has to enlist a Germany-dominated Europe as a subordinate before proceeding to crush Russia and, later, China. The new phase is simply the latest in “a single invasion that passed through Versailles in 1917-18 before setting off for Berlin. Only Berlin? No, you still applauding fools, Moscow too…” (Aggressione all’Europa, cit.).

Today the still applauding fools include a truly vast and unprecedented array of corrupt, lowlife politicians still pulling the strings of governments on behalf of the Atlantic master, albeit with less confidence now after descending many steps while “selling off the honour of their State” (“America”, Prometeo, no. 7. 1947) – a fact unlikely to arouse feelings of indignation among communists, since everything boils down to a question of price, under capitalism. (10).

More than seventy years after the publication of “Aggressione all’Europa”, the predictive power of Marxism proves its worth, and Moscow – no matter if it is no longer “Soviet” since it is still there standing up to the new imperialist drive to conquer the world – remains the objective of a new surging ambition to complete the project of Eurasian submission.

Today Russia is Europe’s last bulwark against the expansion of American imperialism from the Atlantic to the Urals. Beyond these mountains lie the immense spaces of Eurasia whose inestimable wealth is a mouth-watering prospect, and a point of contention with the great new enemy: China. China’s present strength is a product of the self-same expansion of American and western imperialism from the moment that – with the advent of the “unipolar” world – the excess capitals of western imperialist centres began pouring into the huge Asiatic basins of a low-cost labour force, stoking up the impetuous development of Chinese capitalism. Gradually this capitalism developed under the guiding hand of the centralised State until it reached the stage where it could statistically compete with and surpass the records of the old Atlantic master; and as it continued to supply the American market with goods and capitals in exchange for dollars, so the reality of an interchange – which supplied one pole with workers, goods and capitals that were the fruit of productive processes, while the other was paid in international fiduciary currency underwritten by a growing public debt financed by the self-same suppliers of capitals and goods – became more evident and unsustainable. As the process developed, the economic power ratios necessarily changed: on one side there was an excessive rise in financial values – more and more artificial– while on the other there was an enormous building up of productive forces, i.e., of the fundamental prerequisite at the very basis of that power.

The self-same economic processes of capital expansion that had worn down the protectionist set up in the “Soviet” sphere of influence until it broke apart, had irreversibly undermined the foundations of American economic power. In the America-centric “unipolar” set up, an interdependence had been established whereby all the main actors could benefit. The capitals, albeit with growing difficulty due to the general fall in the rate of increase in production, found ways to valorise themselves in the productive hotbed of Eastern Asia, before then flowing back into the financial centres of the dominant imperialism. This was all very well until the crisis of so-called globalization triggered by the 2008-2009 collapse. The sole guarantor of interdependence that was functional to the worldwide capitalist order was – and still is – American military power, beyond compare when it comes to financing, technologies, deployment of forces in every area of the world and interventionist strategies, be they direct or via partisanships recruited directly in the field.

NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe is one of America’s main strategic gambits in a pincer movement aimed at encircling Eurasia, where the greatest threats to the continuation of her global imperialist influence are concentrated. By now the line-ups of the future (or present?) war seem more or less definitive: Anglo-Saxon world, Japan and the European Union versus China, Russia and Iran. The rest of the world sits on the fence, waiting to see how the forces play out. Old, belligerent capitalisms in decline versus new, emerging capitalisms. Advocating a “pacific” expansion of its own sphere of influence, China saw Ukraine as an essential hub in its attempts to create infrastructures of interchange on land and sea (Silk Roads) in the direction of Old Europe.

China’s penetration of Ukraine took the form of huge investments, in perfect keeping with the standard mode of an imperialism in expansion. Call it “pacific”, but the Chinese approach falls within the clash dynamics of imperialisms and, as such, could easily turn into a war if her efforts were unceremoniously hampered by the dominant imperialism which, in turn, could interpret events as an “act of aggression” against the old order.

If Ukraine is an essential hub for the three main concentrations of power (United States, Russia and China), her being invaded is a challenge to the centuries-old western hegemony in the world. As such, the situation is unacceptable for the old rulers. The very fact that Russia has dared to challenge the Atlantic colossus in war is a sign that questions are being asked about that hegemony. Either it reasserts itself according to the new forces in play, or it disappears. 

Capitalism at stake

On a superficial level, what we have here are two alternatives: a strengthening of Atlantic global supremacy, or the affirmation of a new ‘multipolar’ order that stretches out along the different silk roads emerging from Chinese production hubs, huge integrated Eurasian land infrastructures that extend seawards in the directions of Africa and Latin America.

Faced with alternatives of such powerful concentrations, the prospect of direct confrontation – and possibly an all-out war – is not hard to imagine. In the northern hemisphere, tension is mounting: in Europe, the position of Germany – running with the hare and hunting with the hounds up until recently, siding with the east economically and very firmly with the west politically – is once again crucial. The situation demands that a choice be made. America requires Germany’s allegiance, and the price she seems willing to pay is that of allowing its ally-enemy to rearm in an anti-Russian context. But with the imposition of sanctions on Russia, it is Germany that is currently paying the highest price in socio-economic terms. On a wider scale, and in a much more advanced phase of the “aggression against Europe”, we have a scenario similar to that of the Kosovo war, when NATO attacked Serbia on the pretext of discrimination against the Kosovo Albanians, and Russia was impotent to act. Unsurprisingly, the border between Kosovo and Serbia is once again becoming a dangerous hotbed of tensions, and Russia would be hard pressed to keep its distance if war were to break out. NATO’s war against Serbia was first and foremost an attempt to delimit Germany’s presence in the Balkans after the civil war in Yugoslavia had opened the floodgates to German capital in the area. Up until now the growing sphere of German influence in the East has been of a mainly economic nature, with politics taking a back seat. But current developments may well confirm the re-launching of Germany as an active imperialism, militarily speaking too, albeit still in a subordinate role.

In the Pacific area, too, nerves are taut as America continues to fan the flames of discord (Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan proving the latest example). The front line runs between the eastern coast of China and Japan to the north, Formosa and, to the south, along the entire coastal and insular arc that denotes the maritime transit routes between the Pacific and Indian oceans. Japan is also rearming at pace, and could be given the green light by the USA to develop the atomic bomb (if it hasn’t already been given).

The world would seem to be on the verge of an all-out war, but we have to remember that the confrontation in progress is the result of the terminal crisis afflicting the capitalist mode of production. While the recurring economic crises, with their devaluation of fixed capital, sackings, etc., create the preconditions for recovery on more advanced foundations in terms of organic composition and capitalistic concentration, war sets about its radical task of physical destruction of fixed capital and surplus labour. Yet today’s economic crises are always longer and more potent, as the capitalistic world’s enduring failure to overcome the effects of the Great Crisis of 2008-2009 proves. Capitalism is facing a long-lasting stagnation.

War instead expresses the level of development reached by the forces of production in arms systems, which translates into a correspondingly destructive force. Today an all-out war would be too risky a solution for all involved, especially if the two sides possess symmetrical military potential. Yet even if the odds against one side winning and enjoying the fruits of victory are low, war still cannot be excluded: the governing classes of a decadent system cannot be entrusted with making sensible decisions, and once the sabre-rattling begins there’s every chance boots will soon be on the ground. If, as we hope, this does not happen, it is likely there will be an intensification of the permanent war underway since the fall of the USSR. Alongside all the military exploits and ever more powerful and sophisticated weaponry, an increasingly important role will be played by economic sanctions, currency conflict, cyber-attacks, the information war and totalitarian State control of the people. This might not be an all-out war as we generally understand it, but rather a war that will extend to all walks of life, oppressively affecting civilian populations: a total war, then, political at heart, extremely ideological (11), and destined to last. The emergency policies put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic can be seen as a scaled down experimental model of what a similar war could mean for civilian populations in terms of social control, conditioning, repression, restrictions and rationings. The home front will take on a decisive role, becoming the fertile terrain for a reinvigorated class struggle:

“If war finds its starting point in the defeat of the working class, and if the enterprises of imperialism find the path marked by the downward spiral of the international revolution, the reasons for the revolutionary revival of the proletariat are contained within its vey dynamics. The atomic bomb may or may not be used by imperialism as a technical tool of war. But no matter how over-archingly powerful it is today, or may appear to be, the one thing imperialism will be unable to swish aside is the international and internationalist A-bomb revolution of the working class.” (“Corea è il mondo” [Korea is the World], Prometeo, no. 1, 1950).

Nothing new under the sun. War is in the very nature of capitalism, and although it may lie dormant for long periods characterised by transitory conditions of illusory social peace, it is as irremovable as the class struggle itself. If Capital firmly prepares for war and pursues the accumulation of violence of its arsenals, it is because it knows that, sooner or later, it is going to have to face up to its historical enemy. Once again, from “Corea è il mondo”:

“The world’s greatest force of expansion and aggression – little does it matter if we’re talking about arms, dollars or cans of meat – is brooding in the depths of America’s gigantic production facilities”.

Is this still true today? The United States is making moves to reaffirm its position as the world’s policeman, but the show of strength and swagger emerging from its current international, military and diplomatic actions lacks the efficacy of yesteryear. The downsizing of its worldwide role, its relinquishing of its position as lynchpin of global capitalistic integration and the “exorbitant privilege” of the dollar, may all lead to an unprecedented domestic crisis which would already appear to be in the making. Unable to put paid to the process of Eurasian integration, the USA is taking cover by enlisting the support of key NATO members and its closest allies in the Pacific (Japan, Australia and New Zealand). However, its aggressive and provocative behaviour conceals an inability to bend opponents to its will solely by virtue of its continued superpower status.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was by no means condemned unanimously across the globe, and many countries refused to go along with the application of sanctions. Rather than Russia being isolated internationally, it is the United States and its western vassals, with all their holier-than-thou sanctions and their warmonger posturing. The “South” of the world is largely against sanctions, pursuing a policy of pacification and unwilling to doff its cap to the old lord of the manor. We observe with great interest the difficulties currently afflicting the United States. Generously stocked in arms and dollars it may be, but its gigantic production facilities have been largely dismantled in the race to secure greater profits abroad and it is no longer in a position to support those arms and dollars in the long run. This is the objective basis of America’s spasmodic activism: it built up during the global development of capitalism from the 1970s crisis on, and is at the origin of today’s serious difficulties. Russia’s survival may well be under discussion, but even more so perhaps is that of the United States.

The world of mutually respectful sovereign states devoted to common growth – envisioned by the ideologues of the new multipolarism, by the Eurasian ambitions of Putin and  by“pacific” Chinese projects – is, in our objective analysis, far from being a possible and desirable alternative. (12) It’s not only the United States that is in crisis, but the entire set up that has, up until now, guaranteed the stability of world capitalism. To believe that a pacific cooperation between States can come after this is, for as long as capitalism continues to survive, pie in the sky.

The crisis in American leadership has led to a stalling of the world’s capitalistic order. A new financial shake-up – the harbinger of another massive worldwide recession – looms on the horizon, while mass protests against the already visible effects of the economic crisis are spreading like wildfire. As the historical crisis of over-ripe capitalism takes shape and the basic conditions underlying American supremacy crumble, these are signs of a long-awaited change of scene.

The contest between newly emerging imperialist blocs is all to play for and no outcome can be taken for granted. But the most desirable solution is that which our movement indicated back in 1950:

“During the second imperialist war, 1939-1945, this party [of the revolutionary proletariat – editor’s note] should have likewise supported the breaking up of politics and acts of war within all states. A Marxist could, however, have preserved the right – without fearing that the usual libertarians accuse him of sympathizing with a tyrant – to calculate and investigate what might have happened if Hitler had triumphed in London, and England had collapsed. This self-same Marxist may well demonstrate that, for at least the last twenty years, Stalin’s regime has not been a proletarian regime [that of Putin requires no demonstration! – editor’s note], but will preserve the right to weigh up the positive revolutionary consequences that a – sadly, unlikely – collapse of American power would have in the event of a third war between states and armies”. (“Romanzo della guerra santa”, [Romance of the Holy War], Battaglia Comunista", no.13, 1950, reproduced in Il proletariato e la guerra, Quaderni del programma comunista, no.3, 1978).

The scenario described in the above article taken from the “Sul filo del tempo” [On the thread of time] series has changed in one important respect today: the greatly wished for collapse of American power (unrivalled for so long) is no longer “sadly, unlikely”. The Atlantic superpower’s current activism arguably betrays symptoms of a crisis that has never been dealt with before, neither at home nor abroad: a crisis that may help to bring about the long-awaited collapse. This is not ideological anti-Americanism, and we’re not making concessions to “third worldism”. No sympathy here with any country’s bourgeois classes, always ready to pounce on the proletariat whenever it sticks up for itself against oppression and exploitation. And no “trust” in the ability of the bourgeoisie to be the bearer of “national” interests, unless they be their own highly limited class interests, which are forever contrary to those of the proletariat. However that may be, we cannot help but be overjoyed at the prospect of the old beast being overthrown, forced to finally plod offstage with the tail between its legs and compelled to face up to a proletariat that has been robbed of even the most meagre crumbs of income resulting from worldwide exploitation. In this case, new and highly promising scenarios would present themselves. Seventy years down the line, and Alfa’s lapidary reply to Onorio still sounds relevant: “the revolution is wasting time if Washington State isn’t taken out”.

With the war in Ukraine, the historical trajectory indicated by the “Aggression Against Europe” article in Prometeo (1949) re-emerges forcefully into the light. The United States is cashing in: either with us or against us, the only guarantors in the West of military security and the basic principles of a free world – but, more than anything else, the eternal creditors of the Europe that was reborn from the ashes of the last World War. Europe is paying an exorbitant price, but what’s at stake is the survival of capitalism. Clearly, the unipolar set up has fallen through, and the Russian “aggression” against Europe – if we can call it that – is the final nail in its coffin.

NOTES

1 – For the epigones of the Damen group, “The political translation of the axiom ‘inclines towards capitalism’ was supposed to reappear in an extremely vague and hypocritical form once the drastic terms distinguishing between ‘capitalism no. 1 and no. 2’ had been cast aside”, and that’s what we’ve reported here. The strongly negative judgement, which we obviously reject, is precisely the diversely assessed political translation of the evolution of the USSR, which was moving towards capitalism and was miles off reaching America’s level of capitalistic development. Russia’s leaning towards capitalism did not constitute an axiom – like any thesis yet to undergo scientific verification – and this was demonstrated with wide-ranging historical vision and economic documentation by the study contained in Struttura economica e sociale della Russia d’oggi [Economic and Social Structure of  Today’s Russia], the long series of articles published during the 1950s and reissued in one volume by Il programma comunista editions, in 1976).

2 – “Those years of far-reaching redevelopment were also characterized by violent, end-of-the-line backlashes in Russia. Under the auspices of Jeffrey Sachs, the country was subjected to a strong dose of radically neo-liberal shock treatment. This shock therapy included measures that would account for GDP losses of 17%, 19% and 11% in the years 1991-93 respectively. Following the fall of Gorbaciov (which US intelligence may have helped engineer), Yeltsin swiftly set about re-converting the economy, bowing to the pressures of western “advice” and practically handing it over to the private sector (read: oligarchs). The dollarization of the national economy did the rest in what amounted to a genuine spoliation (following the crisis of the rouble, the dollar accounted for 84% of trade exchanges in Russia in 1998). This is the context of the Brzezinski Plan […], a shrewd series of pressures and incentives to surround Russia completely, help NATO to expand eastwards, and integrate Ukraine, while encouraging Chechen nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism” (A. Visalli, Krisis, available in Sinistrainrete).

3 – A historical reconstruction of how “Banderism” survived and was stoked up by American intelligence services with an eye on destabilisation, can be found in the following article, available in sinistrainrete: Annie Lacroix-Riz, “C’è un contesto storico che spiega perché la Russia è stata messa all’angolo”

4 – https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/la-transizione-nell-economia-russa_%28XXI-Secolo%29/

5 – To give a recent example of such manoeuvrings, see I piani americani che hanno indotto Mosca alla guerra by Davide Gagliano, available in Sinistrainrete 25th July 2022.

6 – An instructive article on plans to plunder the Ukrainian nation can be found on M. Roberts’s blog. See “Ukraine, the Invasion of Capital” https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2022/08/13/ukraine-the-invasion-of-capital/

7 – https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/la-russia-e-i-progetti-di-integrazione-eurasiatici_%28Atlante-Geopolitico%29/

8 – https://www.marxist.com/l-imperialismo-oggi-e-il-carattere-di-russia-e-cina.htm

9 – “Is Russia alone the target of America’s war policy? Within a western context it appears glaringly obvious to us that America is inclined to weaken and, where possible, even get rid of the ‘Rhine-based’ European project which, very generally speaking, we can take to be founded on a low cost energy supply and a deflationary industrial model. This would necessarily imply crushing any lasting possibility of integration between European manufacturing and finance, and energy, raw materials, technology and the huge Russian and Chinese markets, as well as frustrating Italian and German efforts to expand into the markets of Russia, China and ‘the others’ and lay down some kind of manufacturing base.” Raffaele Picarelli, ”Guerra in Ucraina e Nuovo Ordine Mondiale”, https://www.sinistrainrete.info/geopolitica/23364-raffaele-picarelli-guerra-in-ucraina-e-nuovo-ordine-mondiale.html.

10 – The palpable absence of a political class which is anything but national helps feed the fires of sovereigntist sentiment. Any wishful thinking on their part evaporates within the context of worldwide imperialism, where autonomous homelands can find no elbow room, being squeezed out by large power groupings which individual nations of varying importance must bow down to, be it for love or out of necessity. An understanding of this lesson may have played a role in the far from agonized conversion of the Italian anti-euro sovereigntist Luigi Di Maio: the one-time soft drinks salesman turned Big Minister explained away his conversion with newly found awareness, claiming “there are things you can do and others you can’t do”!!!. The things you can’t do – we would add – are those that displease the bosses. Now a fully-fledged man, our Luigi has shown he understands the difference between value and price, opting in no uncertain manner for the latter.

11 – Examples of ongoing ideological wars abound. There is no need to linger on the ideological western war that clumsily pits democracy against a Russian autocracy intent on “subjugating” Europe. From a Russian perspective, we return to an article whose title says it all: “This is Our October Revolution”, by Vitalij Tret’jakov, in Limes, La fine della pace, no. 5/2022. This is the conclusion: “I conclude my article with an affirmation that I shall not prove, but which I invite people with an open mind to consider. In terms of their historical importance and their worldwide repercussions [sic!], the events of February and March 2022 are comparable to what happened in Russia in October 1917 [sic!], or what I still call the Great Socialist October Revolution. It’s not socialism we’re talking about here, but rather the fact that in February 2022 – just like in 1917 – Russia freed herself of the West’s political, economic, ideological and, most importantly, psychological control. In this historical moment, it’s all about the ‘last, decisive battle’ (words taken from the Russian national anthem) for Russia. Her victory is eagerly awaited not only by millions of her citizens but also by dozens of countries (and by many European, though they won’t admit it). America’s global hegemony has received an enormous body blow. The colossus on legs made of dollars knows it, and that is why she’s furious. But she will collapse. She will lose. Mark my words, even if you don’t believe me now. In a few years’ time you will see that what I said was true.” Now, if it is true (and it is true) that socialism has nothing to do with things here, the reference to October is just nationalist rhetoric. As for everything else, while we may share the author’s wishes, we’ll be wary of pinning our hopes on the glorious destinies of Holy Mother Russia!

12-https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/la-russia-e-i-progetti-di-integrazione-eurasiatici_%28Atlante-Geopolitico%29/

 

International Communist Party

(the internationalist – il programma comunista – kommunistisches programm – cahiers internationalistes)

Informativa 

Questo sito o gli strumenti terzi da questo utilizzati si avvalgono di cookie necessari al funzionamento ed utili alle finalità illustrate nella pagina di policy & privacy. Chiudendo questo banner, scorrendo questa pagina, cliccando su un link o proseguendo la navigazione in altra maniera, acconsenti all’uso dei cookie.  Per saperne di piu'