As we mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1, events are unfolding in Europe that portend the start of an inexorable march towards another major war.
In 1914, declining imperialist powers Britain, Russia and France went to war against a vigorous upstart competitor in the hopes that by crushing imperialist Germany, they could maintain their power and global domination. In 2014, the declining forces are the imperialist powers of the US, the EU and Japan, while China and Russia are the most important targets of their attempts to save their rotting and decadent system.
China is being targeted because it still has a socialist base and has a super-competitive economy, and Russia is being targeted mainly because it has huge energy reserves, which imperialism wants to control, and because it is the only country that currently has the capability to give a serious military rebuff to imperialism.
Both Russia and China have the ability to resist the imperialist looting of their own wealth, and to offer some help to smaller oppressed countries that were previously locked into imperialist control.
When its competitors cannot be stifled by intimidation, threats, tricks or bribery, imperialism resorts to war. Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria and others are suffering tremendously for having dared to demand that their resources should be used to benefit their own people. However, the obstacles to imperialist domination presented by these countries is as nothing compared to those presented by Russia and China.
This is why for years the imperialist powers, led by the US, have been encircling China and Russia with military bases and missile shields. At the same time, they have been drawing countries that were formerly part of the USSR and the eastern bloc into the imperialist sphere of influence (and exploitation) by creating and financing ‘colour revolutions’ that hold out false hopes of a life of ease and plenty (‘freedom’), when what actually awaits most people is unending drudgery and humiliation.
Ukrainians were seduced by a ‘colour revolution’ in 2004, but found that instead of a glittering future they got nothing but economic chaos and disaster. That is why Yanukovych, the ‘evil dictator’ who had been ousted in 2004, was re-elected as president in 2010.
Yanukovych had planned to sign a bilateral trade agreement with the EU in 2014 in the hope of ‘solving’ the country’s economic problems, but in return for the promise of a €610m ‘aid package’ from the IMF, the EU imperialists kept demanding ever-more onerous ‘restructuring’ terms (social-spending cuts and privatisations).
The terms were so suicidal for Ukraine that in the end Yanukovych refused to sign. And so imperialism let loose its ‘democracy movement’ – ie, the treacherous elements in Ukrainian society, for the most part an unconscionable fascist, anti-semitic and violent rabble, financed by the US to the tune of $6bn because they were happy to sell out their country’s interests.
These vile elements, who had never succeeded in winning more than a tiny minority of votes in any Ukrainian election, managed, with the full backing of imperialism, to seize power, despite considerable internal opposition.
This opposition especially but not exclusively came from those whose mother tongue was Russian rather than Ukrainian. In fact, the areas where Russian-speakers were in the majority, like Crimea and eastern Ukraine, immediately chose to secede rather than submit to the fascist ‘government’ that had been imposed by imperialism. Whereas Crimea managed to leave peacefully, the fascists have been waging genocidal warfare on eastern Ukraine to try to force its surrender.
The people of the Donbass have been fighting not because they are Russian nationalists but because they know that what the EU has in mind for their region – once the proud heartland of Soviet industry – is nothing but mothballing and mass unemployment of industrial workers.
Meanwhile, the Kiev junta is slashing pensions and fuel subsidies in line with IMF demands – the stick which follows the carrot of the promised EU loan (which itself will become another heavy burden come pay-back time).
Inciting hatred against Russians and jews won’t fill empty bellies. And if Ukraine persists in its refusal to pay its Russian gas bill and gets cut off, it will take more than fanning the flames of bourgeois nationalism to keep homes warm.
Despite being supportive of the people’s just cause, Russia has been careful to keep out of any intervention in eastern Ukraine. Even so, the imperialists are using and manipulating events as a pretext for their domination drive – in much the same way as the Austrians used the murder of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo (Bosnia) as a pretext for war with Serbia in 1914.
When Malaysian airliner MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, with the tragic loss of nearly 300 innocent lives, imperialist politicians and journalists were unanimous in blaming Russia, without a shred of evidence. And they continue to bay for Russian blood, despite mounting evidence that the plane was actually shot down by the Ukrainian fascists.
The tragedy is being shamelessly used as a pretext for imposing sanctions on Russia, with the aim of weakening the country in advance of a possible future armed attack.
Happily, Russia is in a position to retaliate by stopping the considerable quantities of goods it currently imports from imperialist countries. This retort will either bring imperialism to its senses or increase its frenzied determination to stamp on its rivals with war – even though Russia is just as able to hit back militarily as it is economically.
Imperialism is not a rational system, and no amount of logic can change its insane and inhuman behaviour. The economic necessity for expansion forces our rulers to seek domination – and the urge for domination sooner or later overcomes all sense of self-preservation, plunging us all into war.
The first and second world wars prove that even the victorious capitalist countries that ‘win’ such horrific clashes do so at a terrible price – both in the numbers of the dead and injured, and in the destruction of the wealth and infrastructure that have been built up through the toil of many generations.
But history also teaches us that these infernos can lead to revolutionary change too – such as the October revolution in Russia that followed WW1, and the emergence of the mighty socialist camp that followed WW2.
If we want to put an end to the imperialist drive to war, we need to follow the example of the Bolsheviks in 1917 and overthrow imperialism in its heartlands, purging our society of its crazed imperialist ruling class.
In the meantime, we need to give every possible support to all those resisting imperialist aggression and looting abroad, since they are helping to weaken our common enemy and bringing closer the day when the whole barbaric system will be got rid of for good.
Down with imperialism’s fascist puppets in Ukraine. Victory to the resistance!