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Proletarian issue 29 (April 2009)
Book: Imperialism and War
Author: Harpal Brar
Veteran communist revolutionary Jack Shapiro acclaims CPGB-ML Chairman Harpal Brar’s new book as an encyclopaedia of Marxism Leninism.

This enormous volume is a collection of Harpal Brar’s articles in Lalkar over a period of 10 years. Quite rightly, it is dedicated to Comrade Lenin, whose work Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism provides the theoretical framework for the book.

At the present time, with deep recession affecting the whole world – having commenced in the USA and spread like a cancer – it is still Lenin who best describes the situation in which we find ourselves.

Lenin was writing in 1916 on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution and the ending of the first world war. He demonstrated that imperialism inevitably led to wars to carve up the world and to allow the major imperialists to try to snatch control of countries from their friends and associates. He showed that monopoly capitalism “seeks domination, not freedom” .

Harpal Brar updates this theme for the 21st century, analysing five imperialist wars: Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan. Each of these wars was fought – or is currently being fought – in support of imperialist domination.

Each war is carefully analysed, and the articles in Brar’s book carry you forward stage by stage, explaining the way in which the propaganda war is an integral part of the military war. The loss of life among the US and allied soldiers is generally recounted in the bourgeois media, but no count is made by the US of the masses of innocent people murdered by its forces. Despite the enormous weaponry used by imperialist invaders, Brar demonstrates clearly the strength of the fight back, and evidence is given for the belief that, in the end, the peoples of the countries invaded, by their courageous resistance, will win.

Taken as a whole, the book works as an encyclopaedia of Marxism Leninism in terms of understanding why (a) Anglo-American imperialism in particular is driven to such wars as a result of its own internal contradictions, and (b) the drive by monopolistic finance capital to conquer the world and use the natural resources of many countries to prop up its economies.

Day by day, we can see that imperialism is truly a paper tiger. The fight back of the people it oppresses is irresistible and, in most cases, they win their freedom despite the enormous weight of the arms ranged against them.

Today, the US faces its own contradictions with the so-called ‘credit crunch’ crisis (actually a capitalist crisis of overproduction), in which the world’s leading imperialist power can do nothing to prevent the bankruptcy of its fourth-biggest bank and is helpless at the spectacle of one bank after another either failing or being absorbed. The ruling class response to this collapse is to sharpen the war against its own people in an attempt to pass the burden of its huge losses onto them.

The misery of unemployment is being inflicted on millions, many of whom are also losing their homes to ‘repossessions’. And to prop up the decrepit and corrupt banking system, a staggering $1.5tr in funds from taxes have so far been used to support America’s failing banks (and to pay the bonuses of the banks’ executives). The end of the crisis is not yet in view. Indeed, it is set to intensify as imperialist wars absorb greater and greater numbers of soldiers and resources.

What is true of the US is also true of the US’s ‘best friend’, Britain. The banking crisis is causing haemorrhages in the financial system here. The Bank of England is printing paper money by the billion. This is supposed to be propping up the failing businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. Those geniuses who proclaimed the strength of the capitalist system are now forced to reflect on the fact that capitalism is dying and dragging down with it in its death throes the livelihoods of millions of people, spreading misery and impoverishment on a massive scale.

Sooner or later, working people, given good leadership, will have to face the great struggles to come. To ensure that victory comes to our struggle, we need to arm ourselves with the weapons of Marxist-Leninist understanding and knowledge.

Imperialism and War is a great weapon and deserves study and more study, together with Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism . Our greater understanding makes us stronger, and that strength enables us to give the leadership the present struggle requires.
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