Against Capitalist War! Against Capitalist Peace!
- This article was written and distributed in Toronto by people of varying
political perspectives (anarchist, communist and others) who have come
together on a class basis to express opposition to capitalism and its
wars. You can contact us at:
Anti-Authoritarian Anti-War Toronto
C/O Uprising Books Without Borders,
685 Queen St W, Toronto, Ontario,
M6J 1E6, Canada
Against Capitalist War! Against Capitalist Peace!
CLASS STRUGGLE AGAINST THE WORK / WAR MACHINE!
As the Iraqi death toll from the UN-sanctioned economic embargo (a
particularly devastating �weapon of mass destruction') is calculated in
seven digit figures, the US military is mobilizing over 150,000 personnel
for an invasion of Iraq. With seemingly no sense of irony, the greatest
possessor of weapons of mass destruction in the history of humanity, has
characterized its imperialist drive to dominate the world's oil reserves
as a moral crusade to disarm Saddam Hussein of deadly weapons. With the
nationalistic/racist frenzy whipped up in the aftermath of September 11
still lingering, the US government is confident that it will encounter
nothing more than superficial resistance to its genocidal war.
In Canada, the state claims that it will need the legitimacy of a UN
Security Council mandate before it will participate in the Iraq slaughter.
Of course this is just a formality and the Canadian state is already
prepared to go to war. In any case the ruling capitalist minority has
stepped up its class war assault on the whole of the working class, but
particularly the Muslim/Arab minorities within it, in an effort to reap
profit from fear. With racism as a government policy, and with the
capitalist "post 9/11" austerity lay-offs and cutbacks still in motion,
there is little doubt that a war on Iraq will not be kind to Canadian
workers to say nothing of the fellow workers in Iraq. But then again, when
has capitalism ever been nice?
CAPITALISM IS WAR
War is an expression of capitalist competition. In the drive to accumulate
profits, secure markets, control resources and human labour, capitalists
compete with one another on a global scale. Rather than being an anomaly
in an otherwise peaceful system, warfare is an inherent and very normal
aspect of capitalist competition. In fact, capitalism could not survive
The nation state is the most crucial vehicle which capitalists use to
pursue their interests. In addition to providing a captive supply of
labour, markets and resources, the state also provides capitalists with
the physical and legal mechanisms to compete with one another
internationally. Although competition between states does not always take
overtly militaristic forms (i.e. trade/tariff "wars", diplomacy, economic
warfare/sanctions etc...), capitalists time and again utilize military
power to obtain their ends. Whether motivated by desperation to defend
their profits from foreign competitors, by a more aggressive impulse to
encroach on the economic spheres of others (usually weaker states), or
even by the need to carve out a new capitalist state (i.e. the would-be
al- Qaida state); capitalists inevitably resort to warfare in the
pursuit/protection of profits.
Both a cause and effect of capitalist war is the ever-present cycle of
economic and security "crises." Be they stock market implosions or threat
of terrorist attack, these symptoms of capitalism create a ripe atmosphere
for fear and distrust among the working class. Crisis is always used to
subjugate working people to the needs of the ruling class, particularly in
the drive to war. By exploiting people's fears, capital attempts to
mobilize them through the ideologies of nationalism and patriotism. In
this way the interests of the exploiting minority are presented as the
interests of all. As it is the interest of the capitalists to squeeze more
profits from workers and to use them as cannon fodder in conflicts with
other capitalists, nationalism and patriotism portray sacrifice and death
as working class interests. Hundreds of millions of working class people
have marched off to their deaths in the heat of nationalistic hysteria. We
are told that in order to protect our 'way of life' and the 'prosperity'
of 'our' nation we must submit to massive layoffs, government cutbacks and
increasingly intrusive 'security measures.' Patriotism legitimizes
capitalist profits at the expense of workers.
In addition to this, xenophobia and racism make nationalism and patriotism
the time-honored tools for dividing workers into artificially antagonistic
camps, both internationally and domestically. Foreign workers are
portrayed as enemies/competitors while minorities within the domestic
working class are singled out as enemies of the state. This has become
evident since September 11, 2001 as Muslims/Arabs have been designated as
the enemy "race" at home and abroad. Nationalism and patriotism obscure
the real division of society into classes, thereby diverting class
antagonisms and strengthening the rule of the capitalist minority,
militarism and war.
Yet as horrific as capitalist war is on the working people of the world,
capitalist peace provides no respite from terror, brutality and death.
Capitalist peace kills tens of thousands every day death by starvation,
lack of shelter or healthcare, by unsafe working conditions, by the
poisoning of the air and water, by hopelessness, alienation and drudgery.
Terror is still terror whether it is fear of lack of money or food, or
fear of bombs and bullets. The military, work, police, the judicial
system, and prisons are all manifestations of capital and states' everyday
reign of terror upon working class and excluded people. Capitalist peace
means terror, death and misery by other means.
CANADIAN IMPERIALISM & THE UNITED NATIONS
Despite the rhetoric about Canadian 'honest- broker' foreign policy or its
'humanitarian' and 'peace-keeping' military policy, Canada is a major
imperialist power that is highly involved in capitalist exploitation and
war around the globe. Canadian capital is active in almost every region of
the world and Canada's foreign policy is directed towards the protection
and expansion of its international investments.
Canadian capital finds itself most comfortable in the poorest regions of
the world where its treatment of workers and the environment is only
comparable to conditions in slave-labour camps and toxic waste dumps. In
places like Colombia and Sudan, where Canada has billions of dollars in
investment, death squads, assassins and helicopter gunships have been the
primary means of labour relations/asset protection.
Unlike some militarily stronger imperialist states, Canada's moderate
military capabilities limit its ability to independently intervene on
behalf of its international capital assets. As a result, Canada has
traditionally fulfilled its imperialist military needs through a
combination of long and short-term military coalitions (e.g. NATO, the
Allied coalition in Afghanistan) and the military arm of the United
Nations. In this way Canada has been able to pursue its imperialist
interests by collaborating with other capitalists when their interests are
Since the Second World War, Canadian militarism has been expressed mainly
through its role in UN "peace-keeping/police" operations. Far from being
humanitarian in nature, UN interventions (often Canadian led) have always
been imperialist in nature. The UN is a body made up of competing
capitalist states the strong, the not so strong, and their lackeys. It is
not above the conflicting interests of its constituents. The UN's activity
has always reflected the interests of the dominant capitalist states. The
common purpose of UN military intervention into states has been to
establish an �order' suitable to foreign capital. This usually involves
(re)establishing a local foreign-capital- friendly ruling class, as well
as training and equipping a military and police force to protect it from
the local population.
In the current situation with Iraq, the cynical and bloody interests of
capitalism are being justified under the guise of a UN banner. UN Security
Council (SC) resolutions (such as the recent "weapons of mass destruction"
resolution) have long been held up by the Canadian ruling class and much
of the left as the true expression of international justice. Nothing could
be further from the truth. SC resolutions are no more than a rubber stamp
of moral legitimacy for war crimes of unimaginable magnitudes. The UN
mandated economic sanctions that have been placed on Iraq since the last
Gulf War have killed over a million people (none of course from the ruling
class). Yet according to Canadian capitalists, this same murderous
mechanism will determine whether or not Canada will join in on the orgy of
death in Iraq!
THE REAL FACE OF WAR
The capitalist state and media would have us believe that since the first
Gulf War, all US/Allied wars were hi-tech, bloodless conflicts of
"pin-point precision". Through a combination of lies and rigid media
control/compliance the governments of the major capitalist powers have
portrayed a wholly fraudulent picture of modern warfare.
In Kosovo, far from defeating Serbian military forces in the field, NATO
succeeded only by destroying the civilian infrastructure of the Serbian
state. That meant bombing the electricity grids, water and sewage
processing plants, government buildings, hospitals, bridges, roads,
factories and workplaces. Less that 5% of Serbian military forces in
Kosovo were actually destroyed by NATO forces!
Although coalition forces were much more successful in massacring over 150
000 Iraqi soldiers in the open desert during Desert Storm, the civilian
infrastructure and Iraqi cities were a primary target. Thousands of Iraqis
were killed in their homes, at work and even in civilian bomb shelters.
The recent US/Canadian/Allied war in Afghanistan was not much different.
Although a civilian infrastructure was almost non-existent in this poorest
of poor countries, coalition forces ruthlessly assaulted the civilian
population claiming that civilians and combatants were
"indistinguishable". The poverty stricken people of Afghanistan did
majority of the dying while the leaders of al-Qaida and the Taliban went
The bloodless wars in the age of �computer precision', have been bloody
massacres, reign of terror attacks on working class populations. In war
has not become more humane and will not change.
TORONTO LEFT THE LEFT-WING OF CAPITAL & WAR
Religion and its leaders have come out for and against a war against Iraq.
But regardless of their stance, they always act as enemies of the working
class. Whether justifying capitalist war (e.g. the western Christian right
and Islamic fundamentalism) or capitalist peace (e.g. the Vatican and most
branches of "moderate" Christianity and Islam), religion seeks to tie
working people to their bosses, the states and capital in one great
�brotherhood.' The truth of course is that workers have nothing in common
with its rulers regardless of their ecclesiastical affiliations.
The anti-war demonstrations in Toronto, for the most part, have been
organized by the Coalition to Stop the War (CSW), out of which the Toronto
Coalition Against Sanctions and War on Iraq (TCASWI, a.k.a. the
International Socialists) is the most visually active. The CSW/TCASWI
coalitions are a cross-class alliance made up of social democrats,
religious leaders, pacifists, union bureaucrats and other class enemies of
workers. Far from opposing the political, social and economic structures
that create war (i.e. capitalism), TCASWI advocates the
reactionary/pacifist position that capitalist society can exist without
war in other words with capitalist peace. They claim that petitioning
(often literally) Canadian rulers to alter their imperialist ways is the
only possible course action to end war (and have even displayed hostile
discomfort with others who have opted for more confrontational forms of
On the TCASWI website they list such "radical" demands as "That Canada
oppose any new war on Iraq" and "That Canada recognize its responsibility
and the harm inflicted on the Iraqi population and promote the creation of
a fund for compensation and reconstruction of Iraq."
Such calls to the rulers of the Canadian state to repent for their
imperialist activities could almost be written off as naivete if they were
not so blatantly intended to subvert anti-war sentiment back into
capitalism. By squeezing anti-war opposition into reformist
class-collaborating alliances, TCASWI effectively does the job of capital.
The working classes anti-militarist and anti-capitalist potential is
silenced in favor of capitalism's legalist, electoralist, "send a message
to our politicians" ideology, that only strengthens the political/state
structures of war. CSW/TCASWI's role has been to pacify and paralyze
autonomous working class opposition by channeling it into activity that
legitimizes the existence of capital, the state and therefore war.
In supposed opposition to the overtly pro-capitalist CSW/TCASWI, is
another ever-present perspective on the Toronto left that of the
�leftists'/ Trotskyists. The common ideological formula among these
tendencies dictates that in any given war the weaker capitalist
state/would-be state is actually engaged in an �anti-imperialist' struggle
of �national defense/liberation'. This strange concept is used to justify
blatantly pro-capitalist positions of support for worker-murdering states
In their "Defend Iraq!" statement (Oct 2002) the International Bolshevik
Tendency (IBT) claimed that people must "take sides in conflicts between
imperialist predators and there victims", and that the IBT "reject[s] the
simplistic equation of Saddam Hussein and George Bush [...] as a �plague
on both your houses'." In effect the IBT advocates �militarily defense'
for the Ba'athist regime while affording "no political support to Saddam
Hussein" - but what the hell does that mean?
The Trotskyist League (TL, a.k.a. Spartacists) makes it a little clearer.
In their "Defend Iraq Against Imperialist Attack!" statement (2002) the TL
states that a US led war against Iraq "will be a predatory war of
conquest, while on the Iraqi side it will be a just war of national
defense. Opponents of imperialist barbarism must take a sidefor the
military defense of neocolonial Iraq against imperialist attack, while
giving no political support whatsoever to the vicious Saddam Hussein
How is such a thing possible? What is the difference between "military
defense" and "political support"? Well of course there is none. In the
International Communist League's (the international of the TL) statement
"Defend Iraq Against US and [...]" they quote the Clausewitzian maxim "war
is the continuation of politics by other means". A very true statement
indeed, but if war is politics by other means, then "military defense" is
nothing more than "political support" by other means. The �leftist'
defensist theory is nothing more than a thinly veiled call to support a
worker-murdering capitalist war machine. How very proletarian of them!
What makes the �leftist' positions all the more paradoxical is they also
claim that the oppressed Iraqi working class must overthrow Saddam Hussein
and the Ba'athist regime. When placed into the context of their
�anti-imperialist' strategy, the contradictions slap you in the face. The
�leftists' proclaim that the Iraqi proletariat is to overthrow Saddam and
his state while the Canadian working class is supposed to be supporting
Saddam with "military defense"!? What form of working class solidarity and
internationalism is this? Clearly, these reactionary and anti-proletarian
positions have nothing to do with class struggle and everything to do
supporting capitalist war.
In the end the only thing separating the �leftist' Trotskyists from the
reformist/pacifist CST/TCASWI is militant rhetoric - as both tendencies
are intent on diverting the working class into supporting capitalism and
its war machine.
WORKING CLASS OPPOSITION & BEYOND
In all wars we are caught between our enemies and our enemies' enemies.
Although war is the expression of competing capitalist states/would-be
states, it is regular working people that do all of the dying. The
impending war against Iraq will likely result in the deaths of tens, if
not hundreds of thousands of working class and excluded Iraqis. This is
business as usual in a world where tens of thousands die from the
"peaceful" conditions of capitalism on a daily basis. At what point do we
collectively reject this homicidal madness?
War is not an independent phenomenon that can be eliminated in isolation.
War is but one aspect of capitalist relations. Capital itself, cannot be
morally divided into militaristic and �peaceful' sectors. It is an organic
whole and all of its various aspects culminate together to create its
motives and impulses such as the drive to war. To oppose this barbarism
means linking up all fronts against the state and bosses' global
exploitation of humanity. Only the end of capitalism itself can usher in
the conditions of permanent and true peace. Only the collective power of
the working class has the possibility of uprooting, once and for all, this
blood- drenched system of misery, terror and death.
Therefore the struggle against war is same struggle that we experience
everyday the struggle to survive as wage slaves under "peaceful"
capitalist domination the class struggle. This struggle has been expressed
in various forms of resistance to war likework stopages, the "hot cargo"
of war materials, strikes, general strikes, mass mutinies, uprisings and
revolutions. Recent actions have shown how even relatively isolated
working class activity can directly impede capitalist war efforts. The
firefighters' strike in Britain forced that government to divert
significant military resources away from its war mobilizations. In
Nagasaki Japan, 200 dock workers refused to load military supplies onto
naval vessels headed to assist the US-led war on Afghanistan,
single-handedly impeding the entire war effort of the Japanese state. Such
isolated actions have done more to hamper capitalist war efforts than all
of the anti-war demonstrations. Image what an internationally united
working class could do.
For a classless, stateless human society, devoid of work, racism, poverty,
alienation and the law of value.
Anti-Authoritarian Anti-War Toronto
C/O Uprising Books Without Borders,
685 Queen St W, Toronto, Ontario,
M6J 1E6, Canada
NO WAR BETWEEN NATIONS! NO PEACE BETWEEN CLASSES!
"We who preach love, and who struggle to achieve a state of society in which agreement and love are possible among men, suffer more than anybody by the necessity with which we are confronted of having to defend ourselves with violence against the violence of the ruling classes. However, to renounce a liberating violence, when it is the only way to end the daily sufferings and the savage carnage which afflict mankind, would be to connive at the class antagonisms we deplore and at the evils which arise from them." - Ericco Malatesta "Anarchism & Violence"
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail Plus - Powerful. Affordable. Sign up now.