Imperialist Hypocrisy in the East and West

As the death toll in Gaza grows, many of the victims children, the double standards of imperialist realpolitik are laid bare. For our ruling classes, some lives are worth more than others. It is economic, political and military alliances which decide what atrocities get talked about and where. You only need to compare the different voting blocs in the UN resolutions on some recent conflicts, or how mainstream media across the world has covered them. Even better, let’s look at the two-faced responses of just a few of our esteemed world-leaders:

  • US President Biden has previously called the killing of Ukrainian civilians a “war crime”, but in response to over 7,500 Palestinian deaths being reported he says he has “no confidence” in the numbers. His regime proclaims Israel to have “a right to defend itself”.
  • Russian President Putin has spoken out about the “catastrophic” civilian deaths in Gaza, but publicly accepted no responsibility for a single civilian death in Ukraine (which officially stands at 10,000, but could be much higher).
  • President of Turkey Erdoğan has declared Israel an “occupier” and denounced the “massacre” of Palestinians. Meanwhile, his regime continues to regularly bomb Kurdish areas in Iraq and Syria.
  • After brutally suppressing mass protests in his own country (killing at least 500 in the process), the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is now denouncing Israeli “war crimes” and proclaiming it is the Palestinians who have the “right to self-defence”.

Such statements should come as no surprise. Capitalist morality is little more than a PR exercise. In war, it is used to rally the public against a common enemy, whoever that may be. Each of the contending sides denounces the “war crimes” of the other. For the West the denial of water and power to Ukrainian citizens was a Russian "war crime" but the same policy of total war by Israel in Gaza is justified. The various “rights” (to self-defence, to self-determination, etc.) are invoked when convenient, and denied when necessary. These “rights” are meant to give the violent reality of imperialist relations between nations a veneer of order and rationality. But it is the struggle over markets, raw materials, technology, land, and profits which really dictates international policy. And it is in this political context that the mutual accusations of “ethnic cleansing” or even “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” take place. Just over the past three years at least four conflicts have been described in those terms by various competing sources: Tigray, Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, and now Gaza. Ethnically targeted acts of mass murder and mass expulsions are also a natural offspring of post-colonial regimes based on ethnic and tribal loyalties, but in the twisted logic of the system such episodes become part of imperialist competition. In modern war, even humanitarian concern becomes a political weapon to fuel further conflict, since capitalist actors realise it can herald international sanctions or foreign intervention in aid of whoever is deemed the victim.

For internationalist communists, the blame for the horrors being currently unleashed on the world – whether in Gaza, Bakhmut, Nagorno-Karabakh, or anywhere else – lies squarely at the door of the whole rotten imperialist capitalist edifice. For decades we have warned how the crisis of a profit starved system will result in increased military confrontations. We are now seeing the real-life consequences of this drive to war: cities and villages destroyed by rockets and drones, global supply chain disruptions, conscription and suppression of protest, massacres on the front-lines and mass displacement of civilians. The victims, those being forced to kill and die for “their” nation, are the global working class.

Diplomatic solutions, dictated by one or another capitalist actor, can only postpone the inevitable. The contradictions of a system based on economic and military competition between hostile capitalist states will not be resolved within the framework of that system. Internationalist communists don’t call for “ceasefires”, don’t make appeals to “democracy” or for the “rights” of nations, not out of lack of compassion or detachment but because they see the system for what it really is. There is only one way out: for workers to “desert the war”, to fraternise across all borders, refuse to kill and maim their class siblings, to turn their anger against the ruling classes responsible for gradually turning our planet into a world on fire. Instead of taking sides in these imperialist total wars which level whole cities killing the non-combatants in greater proportion to the actual fighters, our task is to point to where these wars are taking us. Eventually that will be down the road to a more global conflict.

What is happening to the populations of Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, and Nagorno-Karabakh whether they support their “own” regime or not is coming to a place near you. The cynicism among the bourgeoisie is on full-display. A combination of atrocities, hypocrisy, and displays of self-serving, fake emotional concern by the spokespeople of capital. The videos and photos, the testimony of the victims, Gaza in ruins, these are for all to see on social media. Even if right now the vision of many is still obscured by Palestinian flags, this should be a wake-up call for all workers – it is the future that capitalism has in store for humanity.

The conflicts now happening give us a view of what capitalist barbarism looks like. Our alternative, the only one possible no matter how distant it may seem, must remain socialism. No war but the class war to end the system that produces such atrocities.

Communist Workers’ Organisation
28 October 2023


Image: Wafa & APAimages (CC BY-SA 3.0),

Monday, October 30, 2023