Russia's Annexations in Ukraine are Another Step Towards Global Imperialist War

Statement of the Internationalist Communist Tendency

Nuclear Russian Roulette in Ukraine …

On 21 September, under pressure from the Ukrainian counter-offensive, Putin gave a speech in which he made two key announcements. The first was the declaration of a "partial mobilization" of 300,000 military reservists destined for the war in Ukraine. This provoked protests that were notable for their size, duration and geographic extension in the atmosphere of repression that reigns in Russia. The war is coming closer to home for workers in Russia, who have a harder time leaving the country than their wealthier petty bourgeois counterparts who have already been doing so. The second announcement was the declaration of referendums for joining Russia in four partially Russian-controlled territories in Ukraine, those being Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaphorizhia. Within a week the pseudo-referendums had been held by the Russian ruling class and, surprise, surprise, resulted in huge majorities in favor of joining! Fast forward another week and all of the formal treaties on those provinces being annexed by Russia have been signed and ratified by Russia and the Russian-appointed heads of those provinces.

Apart from Putin's speech being a recognition by the Russian ruling class of waning performance on the battlefield, the Russian annexations of those territories has brought us a significant step forward towards a generalization of the conflict and potentially a nuclear war. Russian military doctrine officially states that nuclear weapons may be used when the survival of the state is at stake, and that Russian territory may be protected with any and all means deemed necessary. When Putin gave his speech he made this clear, emphasizing that Russian military doctrine will apply to those territories. Other members of the Russian ruling class within Putin's circle were even clearer. Both Medvedev and Lavrov explicitly stated the possibility of using "strategic nuclear weapons" to defend those territories if they came under attack from Ukraine since they now claim them as integral parts of Russia.

At the same time as Russia makes its nuclear threats over Ukraine, NATO states are making their own preparatory moves towards both a generalized and nuclear war. Europe since the start of the invasion has been militarized, with more than 300,000 troops put on high-alert under NATO, up from 40,000 previously. Since then NATO’s tactical nuclear airforce drill over Belgium makes it clear that threats are liable to be turned into dreadful practical options. Military budgets have expanded in all of the major NATO states, including significantly, Germany. Biden and his administration have been working to make sure that the US economy is prepared for war; for that reason they and the unions sabotaged and successfully halted (temporarily) a planned nationwide strike of 100,000 railworkers. Zelensky sent a request to NATO in the midst of the pseudo-referendums asking for urgent Ukrainian adhesion to NATO, which would almost certainly make the conflict generalized immediately. And most ominously, the US and EU prepare their own nuclear weapons for retaliation against Russia. The US hasn't explicitly stated what it would do in the event that Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, but retired general David Petraeus has stated that the US would likely initiate a conventional war with Russia through destroying all of their forces in Ukraine and the Black Sea. Capitalism in the throes of its world crisis has opened the path to nuclear war.

… Threatens the World with a Wider War

As we've stated since the beginning of the conflict, the war in Ukraine is not just a war between two states, Russia and Ukraine. Instead, it is a war being fought on Ukrainian soil between two rival imperialisms, that of Russia and the United States. Yet what makes the conflict differ from past imperialist conflicts (such as Syria during the 2010s) is that we are now at a point in capitalism's global crisis where it is so severe that there is no more room for compromise by rival imperialisms. The Russian ruling class paints this conflict as existential to their survival because they understand it as such. They are not willing to accept defeat which would totally surrender their old 'backyard' to American and European capital. Neither are the Ukrainian ruling class nor their puppet masters in the US and EU willing to accept anything short of total victory, driving the Russians out of all occupied territories including Crimea. To them, even a negotiated peace settlement with Russia that gave them territories in exchange for peace would demonstrate to their rivals (such as China) the possibility of taking on the US-led imperialist order and coming out with something to show for it. The US is particularly concerned that if Russia can come out with even some territory or beneficial settlement in Ukraine, then its main imperialist rival, China, would be emboldened to do the same in Taiwan or elsewhere. This also explains why the US has tried to link Russia and China every step of the way throughout this conflict.

The capitalist press and leaders of states glibly talk about nuclear war and preparing for some potential conflict in the near future. This is because even those ruling classes that, momentarily and because of the particular way events have unfolded (Russia being the immediate aggressor) get to don pacific garb with appeals to humanity, international peace and the so-called "rules-based order" (the ruling classes of the NATO countries) are compeled to defend their interests through war in the same sense in which the Russian ruling class resorted to war to defend theirs. In short, the capitalist classes of all sides of the imperialist world disorder are trapped by their own logic which compels them to war as the ultimate way to pursue their interests. These imperialist wars are leading us to the total extinction of all life. And capitalism's wars are putting us on extinction's doorstep; they have the power to inflict armageddon with their nuclear bombs and missiles, and inflict armageddon they will to protect their profits harvested from our labor, no matter the cost in human lives and undescribable pain, tragedy and misery.

There is an Alternative and it Lies in the Hands of the World Working Class

As we get to grips with the destruction that capitalism is capable of inflicting on the world and humanity, and which it looks increasingly likely to turn towards, as militant internationalists we must not fall into the pessimism of saying that all is lost and waits for the final collapse. We must not go down the road that some have taken, which says that the working class has lost its ability to fight, ignoring the growing evidence to the contrary. The consequence of this path is either a retreat from political activity or, worse, seeking refuge in bourgeois political movements – like social democracy, Stalinism or Trotskyism and some pacifist libertarians – which all use the absence of a mass class movement as the excuse for their compromise with and upholding of bourgeois class rule and the exploitation of wage labor. These trends also, critically, all make excuses for supporting this or that imperialist power, or don't see the working class as the force which must end the war, instead calling for diplomacy between imperialist states to resolve conflicts like that in Ukraine.

However, things will not be determined by workers in Russia and Ukraine alone but by workers everywhere. The global economic crisis of the capitalist system is not only bringing war to them but after decades of falling real wages is bringing still more misery to hundreds of millions of workers around the world. Already, we are seeing the early signs that the working class is beginning to fight back against a system which offers us nothing but misery and falling living standards globally. In the US, nearly 100, 000 railworkers have been on the verge of striking since July, only held back by the state and its lackeys in the form of the unions, which have gone to all possible lengths to avert a strike. In the UK, France and Spain workers are either pushing the unions into action or sometimes even launching wildcat strikes. In Iran for the last few years workers have taken extraordinary steps towards their own self-organization undertaking wildcat strikes and calling for the formation of workers’ councils, all while combatting vicious state repression. In Ecuador workers paralyzed the country in a nationwide strike and forced the government to lower energy prices; only the unions prevented the workers from going further. In Haïti, sweatshop of American imperialism, workers continue to go on strike and battle against another US-backed dictatorship. Other strikes too numerous to record in this brief document are erupting across the world. Even in Ukraine, despite the nationalist campaign against them, delivery workers dealing with the steep fall in living standards defy the wartime ban on strikes and protests by engaging in wildcat strikes and coordinating their own struggle.

We are living through what may be the beginning of the revival of a mass class movement. As communists we do everything we can to participate in this movement, encourage the class to respond to the system’s attacks, to connect the attacks on our living standards to the war economy in all countries, and to bring an internationalist perspective to the wider working class. The ICT has launched the "No War but the Class War" initiative to accomplish this, calling for the formation of NWBCW committees in localities and countries to fight for the self-organization of the class (through the creation of strike committees, mass assemblies and workers’ councils) and bring together genuine internationalists. It is early days yet but NWBCW committees have already been launched across the globe, and more are in the pipeline.

We are facing the dreadful consequences of the longest, deepest global crisis the world has ever seen. In a real sense capitalism is a threat to humanity: it is time for the world working class to chuck it into the dust bin of history and replace it with a world community of freely associated producers where profits for the few derived from the unpaid labor of the working class are only a matter of history. It is the responsibility of the small, but growing number, of revolutionaries who have reflected on the longer-term, bigger picture, to come together and raise the revolutionary program within the struggles which lie ahead. Any class movement which does arise will never be able to carry out its task of abolishing the entire system which demands our blood, if the class has not created its own class wide political organization. Such an organization will have to be international and fight for no compromise with capitalism, and no compromise in the struggle to achieve a classless, communist society. It must never become an institution over and above the class, but instead a tool in our hands to guide our struggle. The ICT is just one of the organizations dedicated to fighting towards this goal.

This system is headed over a cliff. The question is whether the working class, and the rest of humanity, go with it. It is time get organized everywhere and at every level.

Internationalist Communist Tendency
21 October 2022
Saturday, October 22, 2022