Massacres and wars in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Azerbaijan… Capitalism sows death! How can we stop it?
“Horror”, “massacres”, “terrorism”, “terror”, “war crimes”, “humanitarian catastrophe”, “genocide”… the words splashed across the front pages of the international press speak volumes about the scale of the barbarity in Gaza.
On 7 October, Hamas killed 1,400 Israelis, hunting down old men, women and children in their homes. Since then, the State of Israel has been taking revenge and killing en masse. The deluge of bombs raining down day and night on Gaza has already caused the death of more than 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,800 children. In the midst of ruined buildings, the survivors are deprived of everything: water, electricity, food and medicines. At this very moment, two and a half million Gazans are threatened with starvation and epidemics, 400,000 of them are prisoners in Gaza City, and every day hundreds fall, torn apart by missiles, crushed by tanks, executed by bullets.
Death is everywhere in Gaza, just as it is in Ukraine. Let’s not forget the destruction of Marioupol by the Russian army, the exodus of people, the trench warfare that buries people alive. To date, almost 500,000 people are thought to have died. Half on each side. A whole generation of Russians and Ukrainians is now being sacrificed on the altar of the national interest, in the name of defending the homeland. And there’s more to come: at the end of September, in Nagorno-Karabakh, 100,000 people were forced to flee in the face of the Azerbaijani army and the threat of genocide. In Yemen, the conflict that nobody talks about has claimed more than 200,000 victims and reduced 2.3 million children to malnutrition. The same horror of war is being waged in Ethiopia, Myanmar, Haiti, Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Congo, Mozambique… And the confrontation is brewing between Serbia and Kosovo.
Who is responsible for all this barbarity? How far can war spread? And, above all, what force can oppose it?
All states are war criminals
At the time of writing, all nations are calling on Israel to “moderate” or “suspend” its offensive. Russia is demanding a ceasefire, having attacked Ukraine with the same ferocity a year and a half ago, and having massacred 300,000 civilians in Chechnya in 1999 in the name of the same “fight against terrorism”. China says it wants peace, but it is exterminating the Uighur population and threatening the inhabitants of Taiwan with an even greater deluge of fire. Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies want an end to the Israeli offensive while they decimate the population of Yemen. Turkey opposes the attack on Gaza while dreaming of exterminating the Kurds. As for the major democracies, after supporting “Israel’s right to defend itself”, they are now calling for “a humanitarian truce” and “respect for international law”, having demonstrated their expertise in mass slaughter with remarkable regularity since 1914.
This is the primary argument of the State of Israel: “the annihilation of Gaza is legitimate”: the same was said about the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the carpet-bombing of Dresden and Hamburg. The United States waged the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the same arguments and the same methods as Israel today! All states are war criminals! Big or small, dominated or powerful, apparently warmongering or moderate, all of them are in reality taking part in imperialist war in the world arena, and all of them regard the working class as cannon fodder.
It is these hypocritical and deceitful voices that would now have us believe in their drive for peace and their solution: the recognition of Israel and Palestine as two independent and autonomous states. The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Fatah are foreshadowing what this state would be like: like all the others, it would exploit the workers; like all the others, it would repress the masses; like all the others, it would go to war. There are already 195 “independent and autonomous“ states on the planet: together, they spend over 2,000 billion dollars a year on “defence“! And by 2024, these budgets are set to explode.
Current wars: a scorched earth policy
So why has the UN just declared: “We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been thirty days. Enough is enough. It has to stop now”? Obviously, Palestine’s allies want an end to the Israeli offensive. As for Israel’s allies, those “great democracies“ that claim to respect “international law”, they cannot let the Israeli army do what it wants without saying anything. The IDF’s massacres are all too visible. Especially since the “democracies” are providing military support to Ukraine against “Russian aggression“ and its “war crimes“. The barbarity of the two “aggressions” must not be allowed to appear too similar.
But there is an even deeper reason: everyone is trying to limit the spread of chaos, because everyone can be affected, everyone has something to lose if this conflict spreads too far. The Hamas attack and Israel’s response have one thing in common: the scorched earth policy. Yesterday’s terrorist massacre and today’s carpet bombing can lead to no real and lasting victory. This war is plunging the Middle East into an era of destabilisation and confrontation.
If Israel continues to raze Gaza to the ground and bury its inhabitants under the rubble, there is a risk that the West Bank will also catch fire, that Hezbollah will drag Lebanon into the war, and that Iran will end up getting too involved. The spread of chaos throughout the region would not only be a blow to American influence, but also to the global ambitions of China, whose precious Silk Road passes through the region.
The threat of a third world war is on everyone’s lips. Journalists are openly debating it on television. In reality, the current situation is far more pernicious. There are no two blocs, neatly arranged and disciplined, confronting each other, as there were in 1914-18 and 1939-45, or throughout the Cold War. While the economic and warlike competition between China and the United States is increasingly brutal and oppressive, the other nations are not bowing to the orders of one or other of these two behemoths; they are playing their own game, in disorder, unpredictability and cacophony. Russia attacked Ukraine against Chinese advice. Israel is crushing Gaza against American advice. These two conflicts epitomise the danger that threatens all humanity with death: the multiplication of wars whose sole aim is to destabilise or destroy the adversary; an endless chain of irrational and nihilistic exactions; every man for himself, synonymous with uncontrollable chaos.
For a third world war, the proletarians of Western Europe, North America and East Asia would have to be prepared to sacrifice their lives in the name of the Fatherland, to take up arms and kill each other for the flag and national interests, which is absolutely not the case today. But what is in the process of developing does not need this support, this enlistment of the masses. Since the early 2000s, ever wider swathes of the planet have been plunged into violence and chaos: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine… This gangrene is spreading little by little, country by country, region by region. This is the only possible future for capitalism, this decadent and rotting system of exploitation.
To put an end to war, capitalism must be overthrown
So what can we do? The workers of every country must have no illusions about a supposedly possible peace, about any solution from the “international community“, the UN, or any other den of thieves. Capitalism is war. Since 1914, it has practically never stopped, affecting one part of the world and then another. The historical period before us will see this deadly dynamic spread and amplify, with increasingly unfathomable barbarity.
The workers of every country must therefore refuse to be carried away, they must refuse to take sides with one bourgeois camp or another, in the East, in the Middle East, and everywhere else. They must refuse to be fooled by the rhetoric that asks them to show “solidarity“ with “the Ukrainian people under attack“, with “Russia under threat”, with “the martyred Palestinian masses“, with “the terrorised Israelis“… In all wars, on both sides of the borders, the state always leads people into believing that there is a struggle between good and evil, between barbarism and civilisation. In reality, all these wars are always a confrontation between competing nations, between rival bourgeoisies. They are always conflicts in which the exploited die for the benefit of their exploiters.
The solidarity of the workers therefore does not go to the “Palestinians” as it does not go to the “Israelis”, the “Ukrainians”, or the “Russians”, because among all these nationalities there are exploiters and exploited. It goes to the workers and unemployed of Israel and Palestine, of Russia and Ukraine, just as it goes to the workers of every other country in the world. It is not by demonstrating “for peace”, it is not by choosing to support one side against the other that we can show real solidarity with the victims of war, the civilian populations and the soldiers of both sides, proletarians in uniform transformed into cannon fodder, into indoctrinated and fanaticized child-soldiers. The only solidarity consists in denouncing ALL the capitalist states; ALL the parties that call on us to rally behind this or that national flag, this or that war cause; ALL those who delude us with the illusion of peace and “good relations” between peoples.
This solidarity means above all developing our fight against the capitalist system that is responsible for all wars, a fight against the national bourgeoisies and their state.
History has shown that the only force that can put an end to capitalist war is the exploited class, the proletariat, the direct enemy of the bourgeois class. This was the case when the workers of Russia overthrew the bourgeois state in October 1917 and the workers and soldiers of Germany revolted in November 1918: these great movements of struggle by the proletariat forced the governments to sign the armistice. This is what put an end to the First World War: the strength of the revolutionary proletariat! The working class will have to win real and definitive peace everywhere by overthrowing capitalism on a world scale.
This long road lies ahead of us. Today, it means developing struggles on a class terrain, against the increasingly harsh economic attacks levelled at us by a system plunged into an insurmountable crisis. Because by refusing the deterioration in our living and working conditions, by refusing the perpetual sacrifices made in the name of balancing the budget, the competitiveness of the national economy or the war effort, we are beginning to stand up against the heart of capitalism: the exploitation of man by man.
In these struggles, we stand together, we develop our solidarity, we debate and become aware of our strength when we are united and organised. In its class struggles, the proletariat carries within it a world which is the exact opposite of capitalism: on the one hand, the division into nations engaged in economic and warlike competition to the point of mutual destruction; on the other, a potential unity of all the exploited of the world. The proletariat has begun to walk this long road, to take a few steps: during the “summer of discontent” in the United Kingdom in 2022, during the social movement against pension reform in France in early 2023, during the historic strikes in the health and automobile sectors in the United States in recent weeks. This international dynamic marks the historic return of workers’ combativeness, the growing refusal to accept the permanent deterioration in living and working conditions, and the tendency to show solidarity between sectors and between generations as workers in struggle. In the future, movements will have to make the link between the economic crisis and war, between the sacrifices demanded and the development of arms budgets and policies, between all the scourges that obsolete global capitalism carries with it, between the economic, war and climate crises that feed on each other.
Against nationalism, against the wars our exploiters want to drag us into, the old watchwords of the workers’ movement that appeared in the Communist Manifesto of 1848 are more relevant today than ever:
“The workers have no homeland!
Workers of all countries, unite!”
For the development of the class struggle of the international proletariat!
International Communist Current
7 November 2023