Revolution or War n°18

May 2021

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Historical Course and Communist Responsabilities

"What is it about, more precisely? It’s a question of clarifying the opposition between war and revolution, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; but not in the abstract, with a catch-all formula, but in a new course of situations, proper to the extreme phase of capitalist decadence, where the historical climate remains permanently charged with electricity and where the bourgeoisie can no longer live without maintaining a state of war, while the proletariat cannot be without posing the problem of revolution." (Octobre #2, Tendances et contradictions de l’évolution capitaliste, March 1938, journal of the "Italian" Left)

Biden the Democrat and, with him, the whole American bourgeoisie have engaged in a generalized counter-offensive. Biden’s America is back? To defend at all costs the US imperialist leadership against China’s aspiration, itself imperialist, to become the dominant power. Suddenly, with both the covid-19 pandemic and a new team coming to power after Trump, the course of events has accelerated sharply. The scale of the economic crisis today demands that the defence of the interests of every national capital be taken to the terrain of direct imperialist confrontation. This is imperative and urgent. No one can escape it. And, just as in wartime, deficits, debts, monetary orthodoxy, especially for US capital with the dollar, the world’s reserve currency, do not matter. Reviving the war economy to win the arms race, before winning the war itself. Chinese and Russian nuclear missiles can also strike the US, making the possibility of general war all the more credible. Let there be no doubt: the US bourgeoisie will not hesitate to defend its imperialist domination even at the cost of a generalised nuclear war. But let no one doubt that China, gradually strangled by the containment policy of US capital, will be tempted to anticipate the asphyxiation by launching into a Pearl Harbour of some kind.

Biden the Democrat and the American bourgeoisie are thus imposing their score and giving the tempo to the whole world. The enemies are designated. The result is that the whole capitalist world is forced to position itself for or against the Chinese and Russian illiberal autocrats, for or against the Western democracies. The ideological themes essential for a generalised imperialist war are being put in place. By pointing to the enemy, America is blocking any European hint for autonomous sovereignty – autonomous from the United States – and force its main powers, including the traditionally reluctant France, to fall into line within... NATO.

If it were to be confirmed, this polarisation between China and America would have consequences, for the moment difficult to define precisely, on the capacity of the international proletariat to oppose the war and to engage in the revolutionary path. The historical experiences of its European, North American and Chinese fractions are different. To be convinced of this, it is enough to note the absence – to our knowledge – of communist groups in China, only the latter are capable of materialising and expressing the indispensable proletarian internationalism which can make the ruling class hesitate and mobilise the proletariat effectively.

The state of dispersion and numerical weakness of the international communist forces also says a lot about the reality of the current balance of power between the international proletariat and world capital. But more seriously, the political hesitations and confusions of these forces, of the proletarian camp or the party in the making, are themselves worrying: hesitations to work decisively and without sectarianism for the real regroupment, that is to say in political clarity, of the international communist forces tending to emerge; confusions in the face of the historical situation and in the face of the ideological and political campaigns and manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie – above all, those carried by leftism.

The end of the social measures that accompanied the lock-downs in some of the richest countries has already begun. Inevitably, the existing proletarian anger and combativity will be expressed. However disoriented and passive the proletariat may be at the moment, the ability of the communist groups to orient themselves, and thus to put forward political orientations and slogans is, and will be, a material element and factor in the massive class confrontations that crisis and war are precipitating. Remaining faithful to communist principles, which is indispensable, will not be enough. It is still necessary to make them be living. To update not the communist principles which are invariant, but their declension in the face of today’s questions, to establish the unity of principles and tactics in the situations which will come, is a crucial moment of the struggle for the constitution of the political party of the proletariat.

The hurricane is coming. The race between the march to war and the revival of proletarian struggles is on. The party’s slogan for staying on course? To know how to manoeuvre in the violent winds that are swelling, the tactics, while keeping our eyes fixed on the compass of communist principles.

Revolution or War, May 4th 2021