Amid war and imperialist conflict, where is the world headed?

By Sergio García

The war in Ukraine continues its course with the brutal and despicable invasion of Russian imperialism, the strong resistance of the Ukrainian people and NATO and Western imperialism that are re-arming and maintaining their strategy of advance on Eastern Europe. While this war is unfolding, a perspective of greater tensions and conflicts between the main powers of the world is also taking shape, and we will see new scenarios and phenomena in the class struggle. We address some opinions on these issues.

The war in Ukraine continues its course in a new moment, where it no longer develops centrally around Kyiv, but in other areas of the country where Russia has military and political goals to achieve. The bombings in several regions of the country are intensifying; they are trying to consolidate their control over Mariupol, advancing on the attacked Azovstal steelworks, and also to control the ports towards the Sea of Azov and from there to the Black Sea. Incursions on Donetsk attacked with the cost of civilian deaths and other areas that allow them a liberated corridor under their political and military control from these regions to Crimea. Although all its actions do not prevent a certain military stalemate of Russia which could not quickly achieve a victory, as it had to face a tough Ukrainian resistance.

All of this places in the immediate perspective the continuity of the war and the suffering of the Ukrainian civilian population, for which we again demand the immediate withdrawal of the Russian imperialist troops from Ukraine, the support and solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance from an independent and critical position towards the pro-imperialist government of Zelenski, and the demand for the withdrawal of NATO from Eastern Europe, as political tasks of the first order and great relevance.

From war to more confrontational scenarios

As a consequence of the war and by-product of the current confrontation, enormous questions are being asked about the world situation and the political, economic, social and military perspectives. Since more than two months of invasion and war have reopened and deepened inter-imperialist conflicts and political-economic-military movements that foreshadow new escalations and possible major conflicts. The status quo that existed before the war between the powers no longer exists. We are heading towards new scenarios of conflicts and tensions, where each one recalculates its forces and possibilities.

It is evident that Ukraine is being used by all the powers and their geopolitical interests. Behind the death of civilians and the destruction of entire cities, each imperialist power serves its needs according to its objectives of domination. Russia invades and destroys everything in its path with the aim of regaining control over its entire zone of influence and to strengthen its interests in partnership with the rising China, and for that purpose it wants to eliminate the national and democratic rights of a semi-colonial nation like Ukraine.

In turn, U.S. and European imperialism, through NATO, wants to strengthen its positions throughout Eastern Europe, to go on the offensive and reduce the room for maneuver and the expansionist plans of Russia and its powerful military apparatus, which they see associated with the stealthy China. The brutality of the Russian army against the Ukrainian civilian population leaves an argument served on a platter to the media propaganda of the NATO forces that seek to appear as “democracy”, when it is known that the Western imperialist powers commit major atrocities in every place where they intervene. Hence we oppose the enlargement of NATO and new countries joining, as Sweden and Finland are now discussing. The latter has a 1,300 km border with Russia, so its entry would only further exacerbate tensions and possible clashes. Rather than enlarging, what is needed is to dissolve NATO.

In order to define the world perspective, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the struggle for hegemony has never been resolved at the level of negotiations and peace, but always with strong tensions and regional or world wars. To see today all the powers intervening to a greater or lesser extent around the war in Ukraine is a preview of that same path which is harmful to humanity, and which only represents the objectives of the great capitalist-imperialist powers.

Even more so, taking into account that a world conflict today incorporates the possibility of nuclear war, something that for the first time in decades at least is raised as a hypothetical possibility, in the heat of inter-imperialist decadence and disputes. Thus we see Putin threatening to use nuclear weapons and the US withdrawing its signature from several treaties of nuclear weapons agreements in recent years. At the very least, we have to say that in the perspective is the possibility that the war in Ukraine escalates into an even more regional conflict or one with global implications, given the irrationality of the forces in conflict. It is against that possibility that we are active in fighting the current war.

New wars, new businesses

At the same time we cannot forget that imperialist capitalism as a world system came from a deep crisis in 2008 from which it never fully recovered, and that prior to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 it was again incubating new episodes of deep social and economic crises, product among other things, of the fall in its rate of profit and the difficulties of reversing this process because of the social struggles that are sweeping the planet.

In this plane of deep economic crisis, the wars and the leaps in the threats and confrontational escalations, lead imperialisms to re-arm and advance in militarization plans. For example, prior to invading Ukraine, Putin’s Russia considerably increased to double its military budgets, advancing in the modernization of its machinery and in a leap in the international business of arms sales.

And now, with the excuse of the war in Ukraine and stirring up fears of the Russian advance on Europe, NATO countries are voting for a leap in their spending and investments in armaments. With Germany in the lead, which has just voted to increase military spending to 2% of its GDP, allocating 100 billion euros for more efficiency of its military apparatus. Without forgetting that, after Trump’s departure, the US is now trying with Biden to regain ground on the world stage, and allocated a military budget of more than 800 billion dollars with which it sustains its incursions and bases throughout the world. Even in its crisis and weakness, the US manages to recover some leadership and influence over its European allies around Ukraine.

All this, plus the military budget increases of other European countries and China, become not only a militarization plan but a huge source of capitalist business for the armaments industry, which profits and generates billions of profits at the cost of the lives of thousands of people and the destruction of entire countries.

As a writer and sociologist from the University of California says in his text: “The shares of military and security companies soared in the wake of the invasion. In the first two weeks of the conflict: Raytheon shares rose by 8%; General Dynamics by 12%; Lockheed Martin by 18%; Northrop Grumman by 22%. Meanwhile, stocks of military companies in Europe, India, and elsewhere experienced similar increases in anticipation of an exponential increase in global military spending. Cycles of destruction and reconstruction provide constant outlets for over-accumulated capital, i.e., these cycles open up new lucrative opportunities for transnational capitalists seeking new possibilities to reinvest the enormous amounts of money they have accumulated” (1).

Wars, which are the continuity of politics by other means, have therefore enormous intrinsic relations with the economy and the profits of the capitalist world. It so happens that under this decadent system life is worth nothing, but weapons are worth billions. And for the richest 1% of the world, this is what counts.   

From social polarization to new rebellions?

Likewise, the crisis of world capitalism is so deep that it is difficult to get out of it only through new arms deals and military incursions. Since the current war and those that may come, what they provoke is a greater disaster in the world economy, evidenced in the rapid increases in food and fuel prices, deteriorating the lives of millions in all continents.

This is happening in the midst of strong discontent of the populations, workers’ and popular struggles in peripheral countries and even processes within the USA, and scenarios of social and political polarization with the growth of right and left poles, as a by-product of the crisis of traditional political forces and current governments. The economic downturn caused by the war is already giving rise to new scenarios of greater social struggles, fights against hunger in different countries, against price increases, for work or decent wages.

This is a very probable dynamic; hence we are preparing for new struggles of magnitude, for new popular rebellions or revolutions against regimes and governments, in the framework of much social polarization. Wars are a misfortune for the world working class and for the populations that suffer their consequences. But behind them, dialectically, new social and political phenomena and new revolutions often arise. We must also be prepared for this perspective.   

Policies and tasks of the revolutionary left

World tensions are growing to the sound of war drums and in the midst of a system in crisis and millions of dissatisfied people. What is coming is likely to be greater confrontations than the present war. It is the task of the anti-capitalist and socialist left to confront the war with a correct policy, and at the same time to show that there is another way out opposed to the one offered by the capitalist powers.

In addition to promoting united actions against the war, we must support every social struggle underway, deploy the greatest social mobilization and our program of rupture with all the imperialist international organizations, propose the exit of the extractive and polluting corporations from our countries, the control of banking and foreign trade to direct the entry and exit of foreign currency and produced wealth, and all the measures that are necessary, such as strong sanctions against businessmen and seizure of hoarded products, against price increases and the high cost of living.

Besides, we have to fight to build big left alternatives and revolutionary parties that in each country play to challenge the political power to all the forces of the system, promoting the revolutionary mobilization of the working class and the popular sectors. When in Argentina we propose that the FIT Unity be more than an electoral front and have common strategies in the class struggle and move forward to a great common political movement, it is to prepare ourselves for the perspectives of world tensions and abrupt changes. When in Brazil we criticize the course of the majority of the PSOL it is to defend a socialist strategy and to organize and defend a part of that party to prepare it for a greater struggle in a great polarized country. When in Chile we criticize the beginning of Boris’ government and call to unite the anti-capitalist left under the experience of the previous rebellion, it is also in the face of being up to the demands of the moment. Comrades of the ISL in other countries are acting in the same way. When we build the International Socialist League with a socialist and internationalist policy, and with a method of privileging strong agreements of program and project, knowing how to respect diverse political traditions and experiences, it is also because doing so is decisive to move forward in building a great revolutionary international, which is up to the challenges that the international situation and its perspectives demand of us. Which is nothing other than to build organizations that promote and prepare for the socialist revolution, in the face of a new and dramatic turn of the international situation and crisis.

(1) William I. Robinson, The global economy and the capitalist crisis.