Behind the petty politician struggles which agitate the politician classes of most of the countries (at least the "developed" and "democratic" ones) ; behind the scandals and the more or less media-controlled revelations which imply politicians(1) behind the quarrels and bargaining in the international organizations about Iran, about the attitude to adopt vis-a-vis the Hamas in Palestine, about the WTO and the subsidies that the most powerful countries grant to their "strategic" sectors; behind the boastings of the Venezuelan president Chavez; behind, still, the laws voted almost everywhere in the developed countries to fight, supposedly, delinquency, immigration, the "terrorist danger"; behind all that, therefore, what really takes shape, and in a way more and more alarming, are the warlike preparations of the bourgeoisie ; it is the installation increasingly more precise of the conditions under which a forthcoming generalized conflict will proceed (or, rather, would be held if the working class does not hoist its fights at the sufficient level); it is the outlines of the imperialist bipolarisation of the world which are taking shape.
Here is what we wrote on this subject in the recent years:
" Since September 11, the reality of march toward the war of capitalism as a whole has only be confirmed and be made more clear. Not as a "choice" that the bourgeoisie could weigh up vis-a-vis another possible "choice" but, on the contrary, as the only clear and given orientation in which all the States are engulfed, from the largest to the smallest. And it is not only in the accumulation of open conflicts that this reality is checked; it is also in all the aspects of the political and social life that the war becomes a data impossible to circumvent. "(Bulletin 14, November 2002).
Or, again :
"What takes shape in a clearer way day by day, behind this apparent confusion, it is the confirmation of the reign of the more unbridled imperialism for the planetary capitalism and from which none of its components escapes, with a tendency so that this situation is organized through a bipolarisation (for the formation of new imperialist blocks, precondition to a generalized warlike confrontation): on a side the USA which endeavour to maintain their domination by all the means at their disposal and, on the other side, the crystallization of a rival pole around two countries, Germany and France" (Bulletin 22, December 2003)
The bourgeoisie, pushed by the requirements of its economic crisis, prepares the war in a decided way. This preparation, this "setting in marching order" passes at the same time by :
- the acutest economic competition, the appropriation or the control of the sources of energy and of strategic raw materials (which are in fact very numerous due to the technological aspect of the modern war: oil and nuclear power, but also steel, aluminum, metals of all kinds, etc.) ; in the same way, the influence on the international organizations (UN, NATO, WTO, the World Bank, etc.) is determining and opens the way to battles at daggers drawn of which the echoes are, in a large part, choked and are hidden to the "general public" ;
- the struggles between large and middle scale powers, which try to situate in the most favorable way, for the corresponding bourgeoisie, in the settlement of the future imperialist blocs, as well as the game of alliance, of influence et of pressure on the "second order" countries ;
- the military occupation of areas of strategic importance for the conflict in preparation ; South Caucasus, Middle-East, the East Africa Horn for the access to the Red Sea, further to the Persian Gulf; and more largely to the Indian Ocean, etc. ;
- to the two preceding elements corresponds a new acceleration of the "arms race" without precedent since the end of the "cold war".
What strikes at first, in this rapid panorama, it is the distance between, on one side, the objective, methodical advance, on behalf of the different national bourgeois classes, towards an ordering of the poles intended to confront each other in a possible future generalized conflict and, on the other side, the way in which the different national bourgeois classes and their media present them, justify them, rationalize them to the eyes of their own populations.
Before coming more in detail on the conditions and logic of the warlike preparations, it is worth to linger a little on the shift about which we speak above.
Until 1989, the clear division of the world in two opposite camps gave the framework to competition between imperialist powers and to the conflicts which necessarily emerge in the capitalist world 2.
The end of this situation involved the need for all countries for redefining their alliances in the new logic of a tendency to imperialist bipolarisation. This complex and contradictory process is in hand and a lot of limits, of borders are still to be defined, much choice are still to be made on the part of a significant number of countries 3.
If the bipolarisation, the regrouping of the whole countries in two opposite and enemy groups, is inscribed in the intimate logic of imperialism, the process which we note since 1989 has this of specific that, combine in it, at the same time, the dismemberment of old alliances (with mischievousness, one could say the decomposition of old alliances) and, at the same time, the constitution of the new ones. In fact it is only one and same logic in which each country, according to its own imperialist interests and capacities, its means, tends to tie alliances with such or such existing structure.
The disordered appearance of this process, for the eyes of the surperficial observers (and of the political groups having lost the Marxist compass) comes owing to the fact that the old reference marks of the cold war do not exist any more and that each fact, each conflict, each event is extracted of its global framework and abundantly presented as a specific fact by the bourgeoisie and its propaganda. So that the overall situation appears incoherent and is summarized with a multitude of facts and events without any other bond between them that violence, cruelty, the absence of perspective.
Behind this largely spread out vision, the bourgeoisie goes resolutely towards its "solution" to its crisis: the generalized war. And it makes it all the more easily as it manages to mask this walk behind an apparent disorder. We could multiply the examples in this sense and we will return there, further in this text. The fact that several countries whose orientations are clearly established in the two different poles can, at one moment and on a given subject, get along and go in the same direction should not astonish us and does not remove anything to the basically and tendentially bipolar logic of the current world. The simple pragmatism of the bourgeois States encourages them to join temporarily to bring a third small competitor to heel, for example, even if it means to take again the fight between them harder than ever, once this third competitor toes the line.
It is what one saw with Ukraine and its so-called "orange revolution" a few months ago ; it is what is woven in connection with Iran today where the United Kingdom, Germany, France, then Russia, and finally the USA, have the common objective of limiting as much as possible the nuclear capacities of the country at the same time as each country mentioned has its own imperialist objectives to put forward. Their common step is not other thing but the preparation of the ground and conditions for their reciprocal confrontations to come. It is the logic of the big Mafia godfathers who get rid of the small gangsters before arriving at doing battle between them.
That can thus give an impression of inconsistency and dispersion. And the bourgeois class has interest so that it is thus. But another significant aspect of the shift learnedly maintained between the warlike preparation and the impression of inconsistency which the media give of the evolution of the situation, lies in the fact that the broad ideological topics of a possible generalized conflict are still under development by the bourgeoisie. To launch the world in the war it is necessary indeed that the most petty and prosaic bourgeois interests are adorned with the colors of the "defense of civilization" and other twaddle. Behind the "campaigns against terrorism", behind what is presented to us as the "major risk of the immigration", and behind pacifism, in counterpoint, the topics on the name of which the bourgeoisie will call tomorrow the proletarians to kill each others are in preparation.
So, it's better for the bourgeoisie that the current expressions of its fights for its interests seem incomprehensible 4.
Let us reconsider, now, the evolution of the tensions and imperialist conflicts.
From the Marxist point of view, the fundamental explanation of the social phenomena must be searched in the economic evolution, in the diktat of the valorisation of capital. From this point of view, the recent events are particularly lighting.
We have witnessed, for a few months, a considerable acceleration of the processes of capital intensive concentration which corresponds to an imperative need for the capital. All sectors, from the bank to the car or pharmaceutical industry, from the medias (newspaper industry, radio, TV, etc.) to the insurance and the service industry, are concerned with this logic aiming at "making profitable" the companies, to reduce the wage bill (via the installation of the sites of production in the countries at low cost of labor), to fight the concurrent and to destroy it if possible. By the way, let's notice it is also one of the signs of the depth of the crisis.
If, on one side, the economic logic of capitalism leads to imperialist oppositions, on the other side these imperialist oppositions are brought to structure themselves, to organize themselves (in the long term in two competitor blocks gathering the majority of the countries: the completed bipolarisation, in fact) and this structure which results from it plays, in its turn, a role in the evolution from the crisis. Several present facts show that the level already reached in the tendency to bipolarisation influences the essential economic guidelines. Or, at the very least, that in the keen fights which proceed around strategic economic sectors (energy, raw materials, nuclear power, space and aeronautical industry, banking industry, etc.) the States intend to exert a maximum of influence. To say the things differently, the logic strictly and immediately economic is beaten more and more in breach by the political and medium-term imperialist logic.
Thus, the "Arcelor – Mittal Steel – Severstal" affair or the "Euronext – NYSE - Deutsche Börse" one are perfect illustrations of battles at daggers drawn that great industrial or financial groups are carrying out and, through them, the great imperialist powers.
In the first case, one sees three steelmakers groups disputing the domination of the market of steel and, behind that, one sees the French State, in particular, trying (apparently without success up to now) to react to the attempt of seizure by the Indian group (controlled in under hand by the Anglo-Saxon capital) on Arcelor; in this attempt of counter-attack, the French State calls… upon a Russian industrialist, controlled, him, in a direct way by the Russian State.
If it seems that, for the moment, the industrial logic carried and that alliance between the two larger companies is on the way to be carried out, it should be noted that the French State will have done everything to ruin this plan, privileging a solution in conformity with the interests in the long term of the "germano-french-Russian" pole.
In the same way, concerning the "alliance" between Euronext (company managing the market of several European countries, of which France, Luxembourg and Portugal, in particular) and the New York Stock Exchange (managing the New York market and carrying, by far, the largest capitalization in the world) the French state tried to support an other "alliance", with the German company Deutsche Börse, in this case.
This other "failure" of the intervention of the State should not mask the essential fact that the economic guidelines are, and will be, determined more and more by the logic of polarization. The question of the supplying of energy of Europe and the role which Russia plays within this framework is a perfect illustration of the political weight of the imperialism.
We have just been speaking about the implication of the Russian steelmaker Severstal and of its role in the Arcelor affair. It is just a new confirmation of the role that this imperialism intends to play in the process of bipolarisation. One of the main weapons that this country uses to make its voice heard, and defend its interests, is based on its high content in hydrocarbons. It was seen, a few months ago, in connection with the gas supply to Ukraine. The crisis which resulted reinforced the hand of the Russian imperialism, aiming at taking part again of the areas of influence which it lost since 1989.
With the countries of its ex-imperialist block, having passed (or in the course of passing), in the European gathering, the loss of its previous influence, not only in distant zones of the world, but also at its own borders (integration in NATO of several previous satellites), Russia could not remain unanswered. And it is proved that this answer passes today by a bringing together with Germany, France and the countries implied in the German-French pole.
The ground of agreement was quickly found for the protagonists since, on one side, Russia ensures itself of stable markets for its exportations (hydrocarbons and various raw materials, as of the products of exports coming from sectors where it is competitive: armament for example), it integrates itself in the imperialist game in a good position and will be in position to rely on its new "allies" to put forward its imperialist requirements in a part, at least, of its previous zone of influence (Central Europe and the southern Caucasus, in particular) what also puts it in a more favorable position concerning the Chinese competitor.
On the other side, the German French "pole" can rely on Russia to thwart the US ambitions in two essential geographical and geostrategic areas: the south of the Caucasus, therefore, and the eastern part of Central Europe (Baltic States, Ukraine, Poland and, to be seen, Romania). In these two areas, indeed, the USA and their allies "(the United Kingdom, in particular) did their best, for several years, to constitute "buffers" aiming at cutting the countries of Western Europe of the Eurasian zone and Russia of the Central Asia. The stake is considerable since, if Russia and the German-French pole manage to thwart the operation, they will constitute a continuous geographical whole of an extent and a solidity ever seen; what would represent a major strategic advantage in the imperialist opposition. It is in this global context that we have to understand the determined (and passably barbarian) policy of Russia of Poutine in Tchetchenia, for example - on which the European well-meaning souls, filled with humans right, modestly close the eyes – and its implication in the settling of the nuclear question in Iran.
If, for Germany, France and considerable other European countries, it is essential that the USA do not hold the Iranian "bolt" –what would confer a position even more solid to them in the area - Russia, for its part, would be directly threatened by such a possibility since the positions that the USA have succeeded in installing in certain countries (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, etc.) at the time of the war in Afghanistan, would become impregnable and Russia would be possibly locked up in its national glaze. Thus, it should absolutely hold Iran apart from the claws of the US imperialism – even if it means to do battle thereafter with its German and French partners – because that conditions its possibilities of calling into question the US military presence in the close countries.
Here are the bases of the policy which is carried out in the area and we can see clearly that the sharpening of the imperialist tensions implies the reinforcement of the tendency to bipolarisation.
On its side, the North-American power does not intend to let things go without reactions and, if one can note various operations towards the Maghreb countries (bringing closer between NATO and Algeria, sale of armament systems to this country, etc.) ; if the recent " honeymoon" with Libya is the expression of the pressures exerted on this area, it is clear that the US influence is very old and very solid on a certain number of countries of the zone (Israel, Egypt, etc). But especially, the most disputed zone at the present time is, as we mentioned above, the Central Asia and the south Caucasus; it is there that are played, and that will be played for the period to come, the roughest struggles of the moment.
Let us add to that that we are, since a few years, in the presence of new impulse of the "armament race" between the great imperialist powers and, with the complicity of those, behind them, of all the others, of middle or small size. We notice in particular, in this race, the restoration, the development and the accumulation of weapons which have nothing to do with the alleged objective of "fighting terrorism" but rather, explicitly, with that of the preparation for the war against another country; thus missiles of long range, atomic weapons "of precision", submarines and bombers of long operating range, systems of telecommunication and strategic positioning as well as devices aiming at destroying the latter, etc.
All that, even without speaking of the "military exercises" which develop more and more between countries potentially "allied" with the scenario of fighting an invasion, or tests and trying of armaments having for goal to clearly show the capacity of a country to reach another one. Among the most recent examples, one can quote the case of Russia which praises itself to already have a missile able to drill the American "defensive shield", as well as a bomber which can reach the USA without being detected. One can also quote the tests of missiles of Iran (with the assistance of Russia) and of the North Korea (shouldered, it, by China), tests which are an open challenge to the threats of "sanctions" by the USA.
Concerning the Korean tests, the immediate response of the USA was concretized by the sending, in the Japan sea, of a US ship loaded with missiles, and by the declaration of Japan announcing its decision to prepare with a possible "external aggression". What would mean postponing the "strategic doctrines" imposed on this country since the end of the second world war.
The tendency toward bipolarisation, of which we regularly treat in this bulletin, is the most characteristic phenomenon of the current period. We mentioned it above, this tendency, this process could not be linear and without contradictory aspects. It is the life of capitalism itself, the progression of its crisis, the rhythm of this one, the way in which such or such bourgeoisie, at a given time, takes such or such option in the imperialist game, in fact innumerable factors determine the contingent evolutions of the process. But the basic tendency remains the same one, it is dictated by the iron logic of capitalism in its imperialist phase: the keen competition in which the various imperialist powers are engaged can only lead to their confrontation on the army ground, through a new generalized war.
The function of the communist organizations is, first of all, to make this reality palpable and comprehensible within their class. Their role, their essential responsibility vis-a-vis their class is to give clear orientations so that the proletariat is able to oppose effectively to this warlike prospect by the only real means in its possession: the fight on its class terrain, the transformation of the threats of imperialist war into a reality of civil war, of class war.
And, to fulfill this role and this function, the communist organizations must, firstly, have a clear and firmly anchored on Marxism vision of the nature of capitalism; not to let itself notch by the bourgeois propaganda which presents its march toward war as a series of harmless and inescapable facts, without any own logic, without overall coherence.
The Communists must alert their class on the reality of this society, which is not only sordid and inhuman but also, and perhaps especially, which can survive only by the relative passivity of our class.
The fights that our class has begun again for a few years will have to rise on a quite higher level to hope to call postponing the warlike projects of the bourgeoisie. The revolutionaries have a primordial role to play in this effort of the proletariat. Our fraction makes, and will make, so that it participates its best.
1. In France the Clearstream affair, in Germany, the cloudy game of former chancellor Schröder in the contracts with Russia in connection with gas supply, in England the revelations on the sex affairs of certain ministers of Blair, in Italy the repetitive scandals relating to Berlusconi, etc.
2. We wrote several articles on the subject in this bulletin. See, in particular, the n°14, 22, 23,.
3. The history even showed us that certain countries can "hesitate", "oscillate" until the bursting of the generalized conflict and decide and engage only during this one. It was, for example, the case of Italy in the First World War, of the USSR in the second.
4. It is the reason which makes us say that the combat and the main responsibility for the communist forces today are to clarify this warlike preparation through the increasing bipolarisation of the world bourgeoisie. It is the condition so that the revolutionaries are in capacity, tomorrow, of giving an orientation to the fights of their class.
Communist Bulletin Nš 35 / 36 - Internal Fraction of ICC