War, huh, yeah What is it good for? … Absolutely nothing, Say it again
OK, we’re in favour of workers waging class war “by whatever means necessary” until the power of capital disappears. But putting that to one side (not that we would!) Edwin Starr got it right that, for workers, wars between states are friend only for the undertaker … and helping us all see that we need to get rid of all the horrors and filth of the imperialist world order.
While gangs of robber capitalists wave national flags and pump out streams of propaganda, we are left with shattered minds and bodies, our homes destroyed, starvation and disease. Forced migrations, death in various unthinkable ways and appalling acts of degradation are the “order of the day”. From the massacres of civilians to the shooting of prisoners to rape and mutilation the horrors of war has no bounds.
Our class siblings in Yemen and Syria have suffered years of the new “wars without end” as different capitalist interests supervise the slaughters to further the interests of their own factions.
“Masters of war” and their cheerleaders
Starr’s lyrics have stood the test of time. Since he sang it during the height of USA’s involvement in Vietnam there have been dozens of wars where workers suffer in the interests of capitalists and their states. In that half century of suffering the warring murder machines have never been short of friends to back their violence.
Across the political spectrum, clever commentators sit well away from the mayhem proclaiming which gang of cutthroats should be supported. Every trick around the concept of “just war” has been churned out to support one or other side whenever the horrors of war start. They pontificate, we suffer!
And so to Russia/Ukraine
The media owned by US, European etc. capital has been full of talk of imminent warfare as have the politicians.
Ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union tensions have existed between the cliques that have emerged to own and control capital in place of the previous party/state machine. With Putin at its head, Russia has struggled to reassert itself as a “Great Power”, and land grabs have resulted in Crimea and areas in the Donbas region switching from Ukrainian to Russian control. The preference of the Ukrainian ruling class to seek more economic links with the European Union runs counter to Russia’s strategy.
Recent weeks have seen armaments being sent from the UK and the EU to Ukraine, while Russian troops amass on the border and carry out “exercises” in Belarus. Before the next round of blood letting has begun, the first “shots” in modern warfare were fired with the hacking and disruption of a big portion of Ukrainian state communications.
Workers’ power in action
It’s definitely not easy, but we can disrupt the bosses’ wars. Draft resistance, strikes, boycotting of armament shipments, and resistance to wartime work speedups have all been weapons in our working class armoury. In Britain, working class direct action forced the night time opening of the London Underground to give working class families some protection from the bombing in 1940. “Lest we forget” the first great imperialist slaughter was brought to an end by strikes, mutinies and revolutions. But working class resistance against the war machine is not only something of the past, as for example the dock workers collective in Genoa demonstrated recently when they refused to process ships that carry arms for the global killing fields.
It might just be smaller groups of workers with the power to have such an influence, but they are quickly isolated without more popular, and international support. This is why it’s more important than ever that workers build and maintain our internationalist connections. Struggles that remain isolated nationally can always be repressed by external military help (see Russia’s response to the uprising recently in Kazakhstan). Currently capitalism is pushing workers around the world to the appalling realities of surviving in, or escaping from, war zones. The whole question of realising practical international solidarity is vital and pressing.