How can we respond to U.S. crisis and threat of world war?

On Aug. 18, a federal judge in Tennessee ordered Starbucks to reinstate seven fired workers following a union organizing drive in Memphis. Young workers are reviving the union movement by organizing at Starbucks, Amazon and other corporate giants. Photo: The Memphis Seven

Based on opening remarks given at the Socialist Unity Party national plenum on Aug. 13.

A discussion on the continuing danger of imperialist war must lead our political discussion.  

Nancy Pelosi’s reckless and provocative actions in Taiwan could have easily touched off a military response that would have had wide consequences. I think it’s accurate to say that the Communist Party of China’s careful and measured response prevented that. This does not change the dangerous threat of war and the key importance of Taiwan. 

The amoral servants of finance capital – who conspire in their think tanks and board rooms, or in the Pentagon war room and the White House – may well have differences about when and how to pull the trigger. But the one thing that remains constant is the necessity of capitalism to expand or die. They are servants to that.

China is now second to the U.S. in gross domestic product and that nagging fact keeps most of them up all night.

Generals over the White House

I wanted to preface further remarks with a quote from Sam Marcy’s “Generals Over the White House.” It’s good to review this pamphlet for both a historical perspective and as a guide to understanding the present.

“The military-industrial complex is an historically inevitable outgrowth of the inherent tendencies in capitalist production in the epoch of imperialism, that is, monopoly capitalism.

“Our view of the military differs fundamentally from the anti-militarism of the liberal and progressive elements in capitalist society. Their anti-militarism takes as its point of departure the split of political, social, diplomatic and military policy from economics. 

“It fails to recognize that the structure of capitalist society, that is, the relationship between the basic classes, between exploiter and exploited, determines the politics of the capitalist state, no matter which policy the governing group may pursue. This policy is inevitably imperialist and today inexorably serves the military-industrial complex, which, willy-nilly, is propelled in the direction of imperialist war.

“Yet, revolutionary Marxists do not view the inevitability of imperialist war fatalistically. There are deterrents, of course.”

Afghanistan withdrawal

We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The U.S. military exit was more than just a political debacle for the Biden administration, as important as this is in calculating the trajectory of this past year, which shifted to a U.S. confrontation with Russia and the destruction of Ukraine.

Military contractors and U.S. banks made a fortune during the 20-year war on Afghanistan. The war was financed to the tune of $2 trillion. The U.S. Treasury will be paying the banks until 2050. With interest added, they will shell out $6.5 trillion in costs. This is surplus value stolen from the working class both now and in the future.

The military-industrial complex profited off of the death of close to 150,000 Afghan people. U.S. withdrawal didn’t end the pillage, destruction or misery. The U.S. immediately seized $9.5 billion from Afghanistan’s central bank held in the New York Federal Reserve. It enacted debilitating sanctions and prompted widespread starvation.  

This scorched-earth misery has played out in U.S. proxy wars and occupation from Yemen to Palestine, from Iraq to Libya, and around the globe.

Donbass, Russia and Ukraine

We should be proud of the work of our comrades – particularly of John Parker, who literally went to the front line in Donbass and Russia. And equally of the analysis and coverage that Struggle-La Lucha published and the actions we organized.  

All of this took place under the most difficult avalanche of bourgeois propaganda and the capitulation of a significant segment of the anti-war movement.

This has to be attributed to comrade Melinda Butterfield, who may be credited as one of the very few communists in the United States who not only wrote about the war on Donbass consistently from the beginning in 2014, but also initiated and organized protests.

The NATO build-up has nothing to do with the so-called defense of Western Europe or Japan.  Its purpose is to force upon them planes, guns, missiles and weapons systems made in the U.S. and sold at extortionate profits.  

The European Union countries should keep in mind the words of Victoria Nuland, who is currently the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the fourth-ranking position in the Department of State. At the time of her famous private conversation in 2014 she was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs when she proclaimed, “F*** the EU.”

That quip sums up the relationship that U.S. imperialism has with its junior imperialist powers.

This same scenario is played out on the continent of Africa. The U.S. exports weapons, whether outdated or not, exacerbates divisions, plots coups and operates AFRICOM – while China is building infrastructure.  

There is not enough time to go over the global debt crisis instigated by U.S. finance capital – as important as it is – that threatens most of the poorer countries around the world. We wrote about Sri Lanka, which is good, but a lot more can be said.  

All of this is inexorably bound to what is taking place inside the U.S.

Political and economic crisis in U.S.

Of course, the chickens come home to roost, as Malcolm X proclaimed. 

We need to shift to some of the current problems that we are facing inside the U.S.

The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the Department of Justice Investigation is continuing to dominate the news cycle. It will be important to go over all of this, especially in relation to the response of the FBI raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion.  

The attempted coup on Jan. 6 is just the tip of the iceberg. The domestic counterpart to war and militarism is the growth of the violent far right.

The attack on abortion and transgender rights that is in full swing is just one of its symptoms. Every effort to defend these rights and arouse the working class is critical.    

In my opinion, it is likely that Donald Trump will run for president in 2024, short of some physical catastrophe for Trump or the possibility of his indictment, which could also spur another Jan. 6 type event prior to the elections.

This development may also subjectively push the Democratic Party establishment, particularly the Biden administration, toward open war with China – that is, if it doesn’t happen sooner. 

A fascist development, however you define it, will ultimately be aimed at the heart of the workers’ movement. This is particularly true if there is a deep capitalist crisis, perhaps even collapse, and a broad response by the working class takes shape. Monopoly capitalism is inclined to turn to fascism as an alternative to working-class revolution. 

This includes what is currently happening – the burgeoning development of young workers who are reviving the labor movement from Starbucks to Amazon and numerous other organizing efforts. 

The gloomy prospect of a deeper capitalist crisis is trumpeted everywhere. Anyone who looks at Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has to come away shaking their head at its hollowness. 

We would be badly remiss not to take into consideration that an acute catastrophe, i.e. a major hurricane, flood, fire or other event, could become a social crisis which would figure into the equation prior to the 2024 elections.

How can we organize the working class and develop an immediate program of action around the climate crisis? It could be helpful for us to look at how the Cubans handle this.

Put struggle for socialism on the agenda

I want to end by saying something about the World Marxist Political Parties Forum that took place on July 28, and the urgent need to put the struggle for socialism on the agenda.

This conference was hosted by the International Department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President Miguel Diaz-Canel, and Chair of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov.

More than 300 representatives from over 100 Marxist political parties, left-wing parties and political organizations in 70-plus countries attended the forum online. Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the forum with a congratulatory letter.

It’s perhaps hopeful and interesting that this gathering is taking place in the context of the potential for world war. Whether this represents a realignment of Marxist forces or not, its message of socialist unity and affirmation of Marxism, especially from Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, is welcome.

I wanted to read two quotes from his address:

First: “We are firmly convinced that socialism is the only way toward development with social justice, as a creative overcoming of capitalism, its unsustainable irrationality and the values that guide it.”

Second: “The reality of today’s world confirms that it is increasingly necessary and urgent for us Marxist parties to unite in order to face the great challenges that lie ahead. Only unity in diversity will assure us victory. Long live the emancipatory ideas of Marxism!”

The fight for revolutionary socialism must be high on our agenda.

Going back to Sam Marcy’s pamphlet: “Revolutionary Marxists do not view the inevitably of imperialist war fatalistically. There are deterrents.”

Class struggle is one of the most potent deterrents. And the fight for socialism, both practically and in theory, is the most important weapon of the working class.

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