Editorial from 1919 #3 (mcmxix.org), the journal of the North American affiliates of the ICT.

Since we started working on Issue 3, the friction inside the world imperialist system has begun to generate tremendous sparks. We found ourselves playing catch up in part because world events happen so quickly, and because of the difficulties faced by part-time contributors/full-time workers, who must continue to work to reproduce our daily existence. In addition, we have begun to focus on a more rigorous internal analysis of the crisis, and in practice we have launched the No War but the Class War (NWBCW) initiative. With this much of our organizational energy diverted away from the issue, some of the topics might seem slightly out of place given recent events. Without question, imperialism in connection to the deepening economic crisis will begin taking more focus in upcoming issues. For now, we comment on the crisis briefly in this editorial. Still, we believe it is important to cover the topics we have included in this issue. The topics discussed are deeply relevant even in this current moment, and will continue to be so long as class society continues.

Labor militancy rose to great heights by the 1940s. Since then, we have seen the gradual defeat of the working class, with the number of strikes declining year-over-year, until now. Over the past several years, strike activity has begun to increase. Many workers are not old enough to remember first-hand what their class was capable of. It is essential to know and understand, and to learn from the mistakes made by organizing workers of the past.

The United States has had some degree of abortion access in every state for the past 50 years. However, that is about to change rapidly, sharpening the crisis as many women will be forced to travel hundreds of miles for legal access. We discussed deepening restrictions on abortion in the previous issue in “Malignant ulcers of capitalism” but will now delve into the effects of imperialist war and the climate crisis on working-class women. In light of the Texas law, the impending Supreme Court decision, and the war and destruction in Ukraine, this discussion is truly necessary.

We also cover the dual threats to working class power, Stalinism and social democracy. We discuss a top-down and poorly executed liberal movement to oppose the regime in Cuba. We cover reformism in the United States, and how it serves capital at the expense of the working class, despite all of its “good intentions”. And finally, we explore some of the ways the left finds itself supporting the ruling class in times of war, in our first examination of the war in Ukraine. Below we will discuss the war a bit more in-depth, since it was not the focus of this issue. However, we plan to focus solely on the Russian-Ukrainian war for our next issue, covering topics such as imperialism, anti-imperialism, and what the world could look like if the war moved beyond Ukraine to include NATO forces.

To better understand this conflict, it is important to set the stage. We are in a period of international crisis. Since 2021, high inflation has emerged as a new feature of the contemporary economy. Capitalist economists struggle to explain the causes beyond “supply chain issues” and have yet to offer solutions that work. The inflation rate has doubled since Spring of 2021 and is expected to continue steadily at historic rates. Compounding the issue is the continued rinsing of the working class at the expense of the capitalists. Oxfam estimates that a new billionaire is minted every 30 hours. Simultaneously, they estimate that one million people will fall into extreme poverty every 33 hours.(1) Extraction from workers is accelerating, and now the threat of world war looms. These phenomena are connected. Competition between world powers raises the threat of imperialist war, and economic sanctions perpetuate and worsen economic crisis.

The conflict in Ukraine has brought with it great destruction, as cities have been levelled and refugees pour into neighboring countries. The initial invasion shocked only those who have failed to pay attention to the conflict that has existed in Eastern Ukraine since 2014. The conflict continues, and although unimaginable quantities of weapons have been supplied by NATO, it continues technically as a “local conflict”. The bourgeois media of the opposing imperial powers accuse one another of instigating the war. Russia blames NATO expansion and arms buildup adjacent to Russian territory. The United States and NATO feign ignorance as they have worked to expand the alliance to former Soviet Bloc states while isolating Russia. Russian state media acts as a singular messenger to portray Ukrainians as Nazis, while the liberal end of the US media spectrum has primed Americans for war with Russia with nonstop anti-Putin rhetoric going back to at least 2015. Many on the left have embraced Ukraine, seeing in them an underdog hoping for nothing more than to remain sovereign. Some anarchists have even joined in the mobilization effort, farcically echoing Makhno while fighting side-by-side with battle-hardened Ukrainian Nazis. And, of course, many on the left (and far-right) have all but declared allegiance to the Russian Federation, apparently unable to lift themselves from an “anti-imperialist” fever dream that started in 1991. There is no end to the irony of every faction of capital dashing whimsically from one side to the other, assuring themselves that this is the right sight in this conflict. In some ways, the dysfunctional economy and the heavy-hanging threat of a world war conjures images of the 1930s, but even more so the confused jockeying of a million left and right factions is history repeating itself uncannily.

Communist militants arriving at this juncture know that both sides of an inter-imperialist conflict are enemies of the working class. Workers share a common bond in that they are all oppressed by capitalist regimes with different flags that will attempt to convince them to slaughter one another. This message is as true now as it was in 1914, as we live in a teetering and decadent phase of capitalism that is incapable of innovating its way out of its decline. However, it is important not to simply pat oneself on the back for accurate analysis of the current geopolitical climate. Many on the left will grow disillusioned with support for this or that bourgeoisie. And more importantly, many less political workers will see this coordinated assault for what it is and will soon find themselves looking for answers as to why they must sacrifice so that workers in another country can be robbed of life. Therefore, it is vital that communists engage with their class on this subject, and do so in a coordinated manner. We must speak out against our own governments and demand an end to the conflict. We must instead re-direct eyes to the conflict that workers participate in every day. This conflict has raged on for centuries and continues unabated. This war has been one-sided for far too long. So while we call for “no war”, we must condition this, because we realize that the often-defeated working class can and must stand up and fight against its class oppressors. And so, we say, “No war but the class war!”


(1) oxfam.org

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


1919 is the journal of the two North American affiliates of the ICT, Klasbatalo and Internationalist Workers' Group.