May Day 2024: Down with Nationalism and War - Workers Have No Country!

2024 May Day Statement of the Internationalist Communist Tendency

Another May Day in the midst of bombs and massacres. Another May Day, when the threat of a new global carnage becomes ever more real. A carnage that eclipses even the darkest dystopian nightmare and threatens survival on planet Earth. From the Ukraine to the Middle East and the Red Sea, from the Congo to Sudan... Everywhere, armed conflicts are on the rise and with them the suffering of the people. This escalation of violence is by no means simply due to the ill will of individual politicians or states, as pacifists on all sides claim; it is the logical consequence of a crisis-ridden capitalist system that is forcing "our" rulers into militaristic attack mode.

The Crisis is Fuelling Nationalism and War

Global capitalism may be in a deep crisis, but it will not die a natural death. The tendency towards crisis manifests itself in the fact that it is finding it increasingly difficult to utilise capital for productive investment due to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. The first and easiest way out seemed to be to start the printing press and flee into financial speculation. Ultimately, however, this only made the original problems worse. The bursting of the financial bubbles resulted in a further weakening of the productive base. This deepening crisis has been reflected in a progressive escalation of intra-imperialist conflicts.

Against this backdrop, capital is trying to increase exploitation by pushing down the cost of labour power, the direct wage, as far as possible. At the same time, social benefits are being cut and drastic cuts in education, healthcare and pensions are being enforced. The absolute and essential aim is to make wage earners pay for the crises of capital by curbing or reducing deferred and indirect wages.

Furthermore, the working class worldwide faces merciless competition as capital and production are relocated to places where labour costs are significantly lower and where more favourable tax systems and, last but not least, particularly tough anti-strike laws are attractive for capital investment.

If these measures are not enough, and they are not enough, the continuation of the now systemic crisis in all latitudes leads to the devastating and violent recourse to war. Initially, a war is waged by proxy, with the imperialist powers pulling the strings behind the scenes. Financial resources and weapons are made available and lofty promises of future aid are made, which, if they are honoured at all, come at an immense price for those who receive them. The result is a dynamic in which imperialism continuously fuels or ignites wars. A dynamic that is difficult to control and almost impossible to contain, and which brings with it the permanent danger of a direct military confrontation between the great powers. A scenario in which imperialist players such as Iran, China, the United States, Russia and the European Union openly confront each other in a generalised war seems increasingly likely.

War in capitalism leads to terrible cruelty that spares hardly anyone. But for the eventual "winner" there is the prospect of eliminating market competitors and appropriating their territories, which are useful for the production needs of a modern economy in a structural crisis. It means more oil and gas, while an urgently needed ecological transformation is only barely getting underway. It means a battle for lithium and "rare earths". It means an attempt to increase the rate of profit, and finally it means the destruction of capital assets and value, enabling the accumulation cycle to start anew. Whether this takes place with or without nuclear bombs will depend on the current war situations in Ukraine and Gaza, where the terrible slaughter unleashed by Hamas’ 7 October massacre and the crisis in the Red Sea, are already threatening the possible expansion of the war to the rest of the Middle East and beyond. The new scramble for Africa, and the Chinese and US manoeuvres in the Pacific will not be limited to military moves by their proxies forever. The future that imperialism is preparing for us is a future full of destruction, death and cruel barbarism never seen before. Who will pay the price?

The Working Class and the War

The answer is obvious: those who have to go to war under the banner of their own bourgeoisie or their imperialist allies. The civilian population that is literally decimated by the inhuman bombing that destroys everything and spares nothing. Those desperately trying to escape poverty and fleeing the consequences of climate change and the devastation of imperialist proxy wars.

Only one force can oppose the danger of an even more destructive war than all previous ones. This force is that of the exploited, the international proletariat, the huge masses of dispossessed brought about by the crisis of capitalism. It is these wage slaves who produce the social wealth of every country with their labour power, from which they only receive a few crumbs back with difficulty. It is those who, unemployed or "underemployed", try to survive somehow on the fringes of a society that is determined down to the last sphere by the dictates of the capitalist drive for profit.

This force, which is exploited in peacetime and used as cannon fodder in wartime, can be the most powerful antidote to imperialist war, provided it acts as a class that fights against capitalism, its crises and its militarism on its own terrain. But to do so, it must first free itself from the dominance of the ideology of the ruling class. Wars are caused by the crises of capital. They are waged by the bourgeoisie to defend its political and economic interests. But they are fought by proletarians who are subject to the ideologies of the ruling class. Ideologies that range from the defence or export of "democracy", the defence of "national interests" to "universal" religious principles that must be enforced by force. Not to mention all the old and new racist and homophobic ideologies that idealise war as an instrument for "purifying the nation".

The ideological armoury of the bourgeoisie, with which it seeks to make the proletariat identify with its interests, is richly stocked, especially when it comes to war. For these reasons, it is essential that the class produces an international political organisation with its own tactics and strategy. The nature of imperialism and its deadly actions are international. That is why we need an international party, a new International, which unites all our forces for a single goal: the struggle against capitalism in all its economic and social manifestations.

This is no easy task and, like any perspective of historical significance, faces many obstacles. The path is paved with pitfalls and not all of them are a direct product of bourgeois reaction.

There is No "Right Side" in Imperialist War!

First of all, it is obvious that quite a few "left" forces, especially those that claim to be "revolutionary" and "internationalist", are themselves caught up in the bourgeois ideology that is reproduced by capitalism on a daily basis. In view of the ongoing wars in Ukraine, Palestine, the Red Sea, etc., they are really floundering as they try to choose "the right side" or even support a supposedly "lesser evil". For example, reference is often made to Russia's excessive military power in order to support the interests of Ukraine's "defence of the fatherland". Others refer to the military power of NATO in order to call for the "defence of Russia". Similarly, the military superiority of Saudi Arabia over the Houthis or Israel over Hamas is used as an argument to more or less "critically" support the latter. Where does one get the idea, for example, of wanting to defend a product of jihadist, fascist nationalism like Hamas? All these positions are based on a logic that is as simple as it is reactionary: in imperialist conflicts, "the lesser", the "semi-colonial country" or "the nation state under attack" must be defended, depending on terminological taste, in order to be "in the right" according to the ideas of bourgeois morality. Such positions trample the suffering of the victims of war underfoot and are the purest poison for the proletarian struggle for freedom!

Imperialist policy "is not the creation of any one or of any group of states. It is the product of a particular stage of ripeness in the world development of capital, an innately international condition, an indivisible whole, that is recognisable only in all its relations, and from which no nation can hold aloof at will." (Rosa Luxemburg) Furthermore, in imperialist conflicts, states that are completely on the same level in terms of their economic and military development rarely face each other, which in some respects is also a cause of war. The decisive criterion is to determine which class is waging the war. The tragic common feature of every imperialist war is the bloody clash of the exploited on both sides. On both sides, people die for "their own bourgeoisie", for interests that are not their own!

Against Any Nationalist Ideology!

Against this backdrop, any talk of the "right of peoples to self-determination", "wars of national liberation" or the "independence of nations" is a reactionary abstraction into which the currently "woke" ideas of Hamas as an alleged "anti-colonial movement" or the Houthis as an "anti-imperialist force" fit. The interests of the proletariat cannot be defended by leaving the fate of wage earners in the hands of the bourgeoisie, whether they are jihadists or secular forces. It is impossible to contribute to the resurgence of revolutionary internationalism by taking sides in imperialist wars. One cannot fight against war by taking part in it, whatever the pretext or justification. On the contrary, the first task of internationalist political organisations is to liberate the working class from the thousand tentacles of the national bourgeoisies and international imperialism. This requires the rejection of all forms of nationalism and all wars and the defence of a revolutionary alternative to capitalism. Anything else amounts to counter-revolutionary politics and the preservation of the "status quo".

No War but the Class War!

For this reason, we as the ICT have launched the initiative No War but the Class War (NWBCW) to defend the fundamental internationalist principles within our class. Principles that have been forgotten or, worse, distorted by the political heirs of the degenerated Third International and large sections of anarchism. The gravity of the situation – the danger of a generalised war – forces internationalists to this form of cooperation. We must act in a class that has been driven onto the defensive by a century of Stalinist counter-revolution, decades of upheaval and political-social attacks by the international bourgeoisie. Despite the systematic deterioration of its working and living conditions, our class has so far not reacted, or reacted only inadequately, to the attacks of the bourgeoisie. Only the awakening of this "sleeping giant" can ensure that the political message of the internationalists does not remain a lonely cry in the desert. Only the resumption of generalised class struggle will enable the political maturation and strengthening of the internationalist forces, leading to the formation of the indispensable political instrument for the revolutionary overcoming of the capitalist system: the international party of the proletarian revolution.

Internationalist Communist Tendency
May Day 2024
Tuesday, April 30, 2024