After Syria, which is a vortex that can grow over into a full-scale regional or even a world war, now comes the question of North Korea. Some weeks ago, the Chinese foreign minister had clearly said that the North Korean situation may lead to war any moment. Then, Michael Pence, the vice-president of the US, on his visit to South Korea declared that all options were "on the table". Now it is Trump's turn: The North Korean situation, he says, may lead to a "major, major conflict". The Revolutionary Workers' Party (DIP) held an Emergency Conference in February 2016, just as Saudi Arabia was threatening to directly meddle into the Syrian civil war together with its Sunni Islamic allies, first and foremost Turkey and Qatar. That threat, of course, immediately implied a world war, since Russia simply could not have stood idly by during such an incursion. The Emergency Conference of DIP published an Appeal to the international workers' movement and the left, warning of the imminent danger of a world war and calling to turn this impending war into class war. That document dwelled not only on Syria as a possible cause of world war, but to the imperialist encirclement of Russia and China as well, mentioning North Korea explicitly as one of the flash points. We are here publishing that Appeal by DIP.
When the Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse and disintegration in the late 1980s, the spokespeople for the Soviet bureaucracy, as well as their acolytes the world around, adepts of the so-called “New Thinking” of the times, kept liturgically repeating that a new “Age of Peace” was opening with the friendship developing between the Soviet Union and the United States of America… then under the rule of Ronald Reagan, arguably the most reactionary president of the U.S. in the 20th century!
Revolutionary Marxism, a lone voice in the desert then, unswervingly reminded the world, in the face of a remarkable level of sarcasm and invective, that the major source of wars in the modern era has been and continues to be capitalism, all the more so since it entered its imperialist stage. Hence, liberating capitalism from the fetters imposed upon it by the existence of workers’ states, albeit bureaucratically degenerated or even rotten to the core, would only serve to prepare the ground for new wars, including the folly of a new world war.
Exactly a quarter of a century has gone by since the shameful collapse of the Soviet Union, the product of the most progressive event of modern times, the October Revolution of 1917, and the hour of truth has come: the world now stands staring with incredulous eyes into the abyss of a possible world war! All the ideological fanfare and the glitz of the “Millenium” have been thrown into the dustbin of history. On top of the Third Great Depression in the history of capitalism, a whole era that has opened up with the financial tremor of 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the world system, now exclusively capitalist, has brought humanity to the brink of a world war in the Middle East.
Imperialist wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, as well as Zionist onslaughts on Lebanon and Gaza have prepared the ground. Takfiri movements, first and foremost the self-styled Islamic State under the self-appointed Caliph of Islam, have wrought havoc, beheading and raping and ravaging on a massive scale and declaring, in line with their nature, all who do not agree with their precepts are infidels to be destroyed. Sectarian warmongering between the rentier states of the Middle East fighting over their illegitimate monopoly on oil and natural gas, in particular between Iran, on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, on the other, all conveniently and thinly disguised as a historic confrontation between the Sunni and the Shia denominations of Islam, so as to convince the workers and the poor to fight for the wealth of mullahs, kings, sheikhs and emirs, threatens to destroy not only millions, but the whole civilisation of the Islamic world. The ambitions of the new despotic regime gradually being constructed in Turkey to promote its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to the pedestal of leader of the Sunni world under the pretentious label of “Rais”, further fan the flames of sectarian war all over the Middle East and threaten destruction of the oppressed Kurdish people, both within and beyond Turkey’s borders. The regional rivalry between Russia and Turkey, now epitomised in the cocky brinkmanship between the two strongmen Putin and Erdoğan, threatens to turn all of this into a war beyond the Middle East. Although far from certain, it is highly probable that in the case of war between Russia and Turkey, NATO will have to come to Turkey’s help. Aleppo, thus, promises to become the new Sarajevo of the 21st century!
This is capitalism, with its sacrosanct quest for surplus-value on an ever greater scale, with its ruthless exploitation of the working population that pushes the labourers to look for fantastic solutions to their earthly problems, with its cutthroat competition as the fundamental mechanism of regulation of economic life, with its crises that pit all against each other in a struggle to grab the greatest possible part of a shrinking product, with its imperialistic plundering of poor peoples that leads the wretched of the earth to look for a way out in the most retrograde movements, an ISIS here, a Boko Haram there, with its partition of the planet between a handful of powerful monopolies and imperialist superpowers.
And the problem is not confined to the Middle East, which is but the current geography where the contradictions of capitalism in decline threaten to explode. Even if the world manages to weather the storm unleashed by the multitude of conflicts that turn this region into a powder keg, other flash points are bound to erupt in the not too distant future. The economic weaknesses of the advanced capitalist countries have come out into the open during the Third Great Depression. The overreach of fictitious capital was laid bare in the “subprime mortgage” crisis of the US. The European Union is afflicted with a moribund economy, a banking system with dubious fortunes and a public debt that takes its toll on workers and the poor throughout Europe, as evidenced by the extreme but telling case of Greece. The Union itself is torn asunder under the stresses of financial difficulty, the refugee crisis, and the rise of fascism and proto-fascism. Japan has yet again entered a serious recession, with the much-vaunted Abenomics left in shambles. In deep worry for its future, imperialism digs in trenches. The defining factor in world politics is the double containment and isolation policy vis-a-vis China and Russia, pursued by imperialism with the US at its head. So, whether it is provocation in Georgia or Ukraine or some other scenario of the future, whether it is the simmering tensions in the South China Sea or the initiatives of North Korea to arm or another scenario of the future, the imperialist world is ready to unleash its destructive power on these two countries should they prove too hard to swallow. The current Middle Eastern crisis, if overcome, will probably prove to be a dress rehearsal for another conflict of the near future.
So let us gather all our forces together to stop this descent into hell, one that will certainly bring unimaginable barbarism in its wake, one beside which the barbarism of ISIL will pale into insignificance.
Class struggle and revolution, not pacifism!
No amount of pacifist preaching and cajoling will suffice to prevent the imperialist corporations or the greedy oil magnates of the Middle East from pursuing naked self-interest, leading the world, under the current concrete circumstances, to the threshold of war. Only class struggle and socialist revolution will save humanity from the promised catastrophe. If the source of war is capitalism, and it is, then to put an end to wars forever requires a war on capitalism itself.
Notwithstanding the whole scourge that has descended on the international left about how Marxism has been disproven or, alternatively, transcended by new realities, Marxism has been once again proven correct by the developments in the real world. All of its prognoses, from the crisis-bound nature of capital accumulation to the war-prone nature of imperialism, from the ever-present urgency of class struggle to the inevitability, under the appropriate circumstances, of revolution, have been confirmed by the major events and tendencies of this early 21st century. Marxism alone has been able to lay bare the motion of capitalist society in full.
And Marxism has drawn the correct lessons from earlier periods of full-scale war. We have been here before and to turn a blind eye to earlier experiences only implies a kind of reverse dogmatism, which is supposedly a vice of the Marxists themselves.
Nothing is clearer: had it not been for class struggle and revolution, humanity would in all probability have perished under the tragic burden of the two world wars of the 20th century. We owe the ending of World War I incontrovertibly to two revolutions, the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and the November Revolution in Germany in 1918. And fascism was not able to raze all civilisation to the ground during World War II for two reasons that are much more important than the Allied intervention: on the one hand, even the last relics of the October Revolution in the Soviet state and the Red Army, propelled by the heroic defence of the new country established in 1917 by the peoples of the Soviet Union, despite blatant misleadership on the part of the bureaucracy, dealt a severe blow to the German colossus; and, on the other hand, the glorious struggle waged, in Europe, by the Résistance in France, the partigiani in Italy, the Kapetanios in Greece, the communists in a Yugoslavia torn apart by internecine nationalist infighting under the Nazis, and, in Asia, the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean poor peasants who did not bow before the cruelty of the invading armies of Imperial and imperialist Japan brought down the mighty war machine of Japanese imperialism on its knees. It is not assuaging words but the thunder of the class struggle that will beat the barbaric tendencies of capitalism in the 21st century as well.
So comrades, come rally...
The imminence of a Third World War does not necessarily imply that the labouring majority of the world, first and foremost the working class, is helpless. Far from it! It is really capitalism that has entered yet another phase of terminal crisis. All the tendencies of the present period show that the working class, the oppressed and the youth are ready to fight the scourge of capitalism. In fact for three years between 2011 and 2013, the world underwent the convulsions and birth pangs of a new wave of world revolution, across a wide range of intensity, from Tunisia and Egypt to Wall Street, from Yemen to Greece and Spain, and from Turkey to Brazil. If that first wave of the new international ascendancy of mass struggle and rebellion has receded without any serious gains, that is because the international socialist movement has not been found up to the task of leading the masses to victory in any country. We are now going through a stage in which the masses are sounding another route, one that could be called electoral. We are firmly of the opinion that the leaderships the masses are giving their support to in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Britain and the US, to name just the most prominent examples, will only lead them astray when the decisive moment comes. But the willingness to fight the 1 per cent is there, even in the Anglo-Saxon countries, which, since Reagan and Thatcher in the early 1980s, have been at the forefront of the capitalist assault. So to offer the mass movement an alternative, revolutionary and internationalist leadership is an urgent task. The conditions are ripe, if only the best elements of the movement could take the decisive step.
To all proletarians of the world we call out: What was regarded as “socialism” in the 20th century collapsed not because the Marxist programme of a classless society was erroneous, but because the internationalist programme of Marxism was slaughtered on the altar of the reactionary programme of the bureaucracy called “socialism in one country”, which today lies in ruins. So let us gather all the mighty, even invincible forces of the international proletariat to once again take the front stage in history, by creating revolutionary Marxist parties of the working class in each and every country and an international organisation of these parties that will act as the world party of socialist revolution.
To the wretched of the earth living in quasi-colonial conditions under the rule of imperialism and the immense poor peasantry of the destitute nations of the world, we reach out to try to convince them to join hands once again with socialist revolution as in the time of Lenin and Trotsky for the only reliable route to national and social emancipation.
To the oppressed of the world, nations and minority religions, women and youth and all the others, we commit ourselves to conduct a proletarian policy that carefully places on the agenda of the social revolution the liberation of all those oppressed by forces other than class exploitation.
And, more immediately, to our brothers and sisters of the Middle East and North Africa, we appeal to form a united front of the revolutionary proletariat, of the poor peasantry, of the oppressed peoples, to begin with the Palestinians and the Kurds, of the oppressed religions, Copt and Druze and Alevi and Yazidi and still others, of the women hunted by fundamentalist Islam, of the youth who are denied any future but mutual carnage, a united front against imperialism, Zionism, takfiri barbarism, Sunni-Shia sectarianism, for a Socialist Federation of the Middle East, where Arab and Farsi and Turk and Kurd and Jew can toil together peaceably and live together fraternally and peacefully.
Let us go back to the salutary principles of classical revolutionary internationalist Marxism, apply them with creativity and an open eye for all that is new, and on that basis let us lead a struggle to the end on capitalism and its wars.
Proletarians of all countries, unite! We have a whole world to win! And we all have a future to lose!