Clausewitz, the German military theoretician, insisted that “war is a mere continuation of policy by other means”. This goes to the heart of the matter. War is merely an extension of the struggle between nations and classes by other means, and the struggle between nations is merely an extension of the competition between the major multinational corporations.
Capitalism is riddled with war. In a constant struggle over the profits they have extracted from the labour of the working class, the various imperialist powers engage in various forms of armed conflict. The complete domination of US imperialism means open conflict between the imperial powers is excluded. Yet, that does not in any way exclude other wars, which have a great human cost.
As long as capitalism remains, so will armed conflict. The Second International, in its famous Stuttgart Resolution, advocated the use of the crisis brought on by war to further the socialist revolution. That remains the attitude of Marxists to this day. We fight against imperialist wars, but we understand that the only way to finally rid humanity of the misery of war is to rid it of the capitalist system itself.
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In the end all serious questions are settled by war. The biggest question of all, the future of humanity, will be settled by the war between the classes.
In the midst of the first world slaughter, Lenin had predicted this second slaughter. Still more, he predicted that so long as imperialism survived, world conflicts would unfailingly follow.
“Defeatist policy, that is, the policy of irreconcilable class struggle in war-time cannot consequently be “the same” in all countries, just as the policy of the proletariat cannot be the same in peacetime.”
“Whoever promises the nations a 'democratic' peace without at the same time preaching the socialist revolution, or while repudiating the struggle for it, is deceiving the proletariat.”
“An oppressed class which does not strive to learn to use arms, to acquire arms, only deserves to be treated like slaves."
“There were never so many pacifists in the world as now, when in all countries men are killing one another."
“The Fabians are more sincere and honest than Kautsky and Co., because they have not promised to stand for revolution; politically, however, they are of the same kidney.”
Over a century ago Europe was in the middle of a bloody world war. Given whose fingers are on red buttons all over the world, should we be worried that we might be heading for a similar situation today?
In this document Ted Grant and Alan Woods make an in-depth analysis of the history of the imperialist domination of the Third World. Written in June 1998.
“Reforms do not, of course, exclude revolution. But that is not the point at issue. The point is that revolutionaries must not exclude themselves, not give way to reformism, i.e. that socialists should not substitute reformist work for their revolutionary work.”
“From the point of view of Marxism, the main issue in any discussion by socialists on how to assess the war and what attitude to adopt towards it is this: what is the war being waged for, and what classes staged and directed it. We Marxists do not belong to that category of people who are unqualified opponents of all war.”
A reply of the leadership of the Workers' International League during the war to the sectarian position of the then RSL that refused to apply Trotsky's military policy. Later published in The Unbroken Thread.
What is the relationship between capitalism, imperialism and war? What demands should Marxists pose in relation to wars? And what is the perspective for a Third World War today?
What is the economic basis for imperialist policies? Where do rising powers such as China fit in in terms of modern imperialist world relations? And what does the future hold in terms of the increasingly turbulent geopolitical situation?
With military tensions rising in the Middle East, the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula, and with a maverick in the Oval Office, could this bellicose rhetoric spill over into a Third World War?
Fred Weston discusses the question of imperialism from a Marxist perspective and outlines Lenin's analysis of imperialism. He uses this analysis to explain the changes and developments taking place in terms of world relations today: from the rise of China to the crisis in the Middle East.
Alan Woods speaks on the clash between the imperialist powers that led to the outbreak of the First World War. He traces the conflict through its development, looking at the role of all the major actors, and their imperialist aims, and shows how, in the midst of the despair of the trenches and the home front, a new consciousness was formed.
In this talk, Fiona Lali discusses the importance of remembering the crimes of the ruling class. While almost all African nations have official independence, they have no independence at all from imperialist exploitation.