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Imperialist fractures and the generalization of the war economy

2023-07-07 | Global News
Imperialist fractures and the generalization of the war economy

As we have been saying, the world is at a crossroads. The tip of the iceberg is the situation on the Ukrainian war front. Neither the Russian efforts in the spring, nor the much-vaunted Ukrainian counteroffensive, are managing to end what is clearly a technical draw. A stalemate induced by the "Western" aid to Ukraine, which has clearly ceased to exist as an independent state, and is only maintained as a proxy for a US war in which Russia presents itself as a direct rival, but which aims to wear Europe down and clip the wings of its attempt at strategic independence. By forcing the European states, and above all Germany, to do without gas and other supplies from Russia (even if only as a passing territory), the United States is plunging Europe into the most absolute economic and strategic dependence. The ability to align the various imperialist interests within the EU seems to have run its course.

The war in Ukraine

During the winter and much of the spring of this year, the Russian offensive has been focused on the city of Bakhmut, which has turned into a daily slaughter, taking us back to the bloody urban battles of World War II. Both sides have been defending this offensive as a necessary massacre to weaken the enemy. On the Russian side, this battle has entailed the unique protagonism of a mercenary army, such as that of Wagner and its leader, Prigodzhin, who formed part of Putin's circle of trusted oligarchs.

A mercenary army was once again the protagonist in the war, which, although it has always been closely linked to the Russian State and its international military operations, it has increasingly emerged as a discordant voice within the Russian ruling class. For the truth is that the development of this battle has opened up a new panorama of internal clashes and confrontation such as had not been seen until now. With the passing of the months and the unfolding of a battle described by the war propaganda itself as "meat grinder", Prigozhin has risen as a voice critical of the Russian military leadership. The criticism went so far as to single out Shoigu and Gerasimov, heads of the Russian high command, as traitors who boycotted the offensive and prevented supplies from reaching the troops of Wagner.

It was then speculated that Prigozhin was thus aligning himself with the supposedly more warmongering faction, critical of the development of the war. This, in turn, led various analysts to believe that Wagner's open criticism of the Russian army was encouraged by Putin, in order for the high command to have a critical body in front of which to call for changes in the conduct of the war.

Already before the fall of Bakhmut to Russian hands, Zelensky and the Ukrainian high command announced a military offensive that would completely defeat the Russian army. An offensive supported by substantial Western arms supplies, including heavy tanks such as German Leopards or British Bradleys. The Ukrainian promise with these supply packages was to reconquer Crimea by this summer without attacking Russian territory with Western weaponry. The reality would turn out to be quite different.

Prior to the announcement of the "promising" offensive, Ukraine launched assaults on Russian territory by Nazi gangs equipped with NATO weapons. The self-styled Free Russian Army was entering Russian border villages in the direction of Belgorod. We thus saw the door open to an extension of the war not only to Russia, but also to Belarus, as the Belarusian units of the Ukrainian army proposed. The European Afghanistan desired by the genocidal mind of Hillary Clinton seems increasingly possible.

At the beginning of June the Ukrainian offensive in the direction of Crimea began. For the first time German Leopard tanks made their first combat appearance. The first weeks of the offensive would show that it would not be as swift as the offensive on Kharkov last year on a collapsing Russian front. In this new direction, the Russian army had had months to fortify Zaporiya while the fighting was focused on Bakhmut.

The appearance of German, French and British armor did not bring the turnaround they had hoped for. The Russian forces destroyed the armored columns before even reaching the first Russian defense lines. These first movements would demonstrate that the Russian front would not crack and that a bloody offensive was beginning, perhaps the most destructive of those that we will see in this war.

The hundreds of thousands of dead in this war are a bloodletting spurred on by the participating states. There seems to be no end to the slaughter, as the ruling classes believe it is still possible to continue destroying lives in pursuit of their interests. On both sides, "victory" narrative is a great lie built on hundreds of thousands of corpses. Western propaganda media tells us that Ukraine must be supported until the surrender of the adversary. The bet is now on the alleged instability of the Russian side, since it makes military defeat increasingly unlikely.

However, Russian instability does not signal the prospect of the end of the war, but that of an escalation to much more destructive levels. The episode of the Wagner pronouncement is a case in point.

Prigozhin's pronouncement


Prigozhin leading a group of Wagner mercenaries in one of his addresses on Telegram.

On the morning of June 24, the forces of the Wagner mercenary company left their barracks on Ukrainian territory in the direction of Rostov. Without a single shot being fired, the mercenary troops seized the center of the city and surrounded the headquarters of the regional military high command that oversees military operations in Ukraine.

Once again, Prigozhin made use of the social networks in which he had been one of the most visible faces of this war on the Russian side. On this occasion he appeared on video entering the high command headquarters and launching a defiant message against the military leadership and indirectly against Putin's government. According to Prigozhin, this was the beginning of a "March for Justice" against the bureaucracy and the corrupt people leading the war and lying to the population about its development.

It was a clear challenge against the State that made visible the fractures within the military command. It also showed that Wagner was not Putin's private army. June 24 brought to the fore the struggle between the various factions of the Russian ruling class. A factional struggle in which Putin has tried to remain a tightrope walker. With the development of the war, Prigozhin had been singled out as the recognized spokesman critical of the Russian army, aligning himself with the most warmongering faction among whom Kadyrov, Surovikin and even Medvedev have also been singled out.

Prigozhin's interests were not only military, but also economic. It should not be forgotten that Prigozhin is a St. Petersburg oligarch, enriched by the favors of Putin, whom he had known since his years as mayor. Prigozhin is a clear example of the lumpen who rose to power by the hand of the old Stalinist bureaucracy that would make up the ruling oligarchy of today's Russia. But unlike others, Prigozhin had built an army of his own: Wagner, an armed wing dependent on the State, but managed autonomously by a bourgeois faction.

With the "March for Justice" heading towards Moscow, the challenge was becoming vital for the Russian State. The American media began to speak of civil war, the hope of the worst Western warmongers. But the reality was becoming clearer with the progressive addition of support among the main politicians and generals of the country. Kadyrov offered his shock troops to raze Wagner's positions in Rostov, while the column of Prigozhin's company continued without major problems in the direction of Moscow. By the afternoon of the same day, negotiation prevailed, halting possible fighting which could have become widespread in a matter of hours.

The terms of the negotiation are unknown. With the military pronouncement condemned to defeat, both Prigozhin and the Wagnerite troops were pardoned. The general-oligarch was offered exile in Belarus, apparently on good terms. But the question remains as to what were the conditions set by Prigozhin. Time will show whether he was finally able to bring about the changes in the high command demanded by the hard faction of the bureaucracy and the state bourgeoisie, or whether Prigodzhin was satisfied with exile and the pardon of the Wagnerites.

What can be pointed out today is that Putin's leadership has been strengthened by the internal support. Not the least of which is the opportunity to suppress the more hesitant voices and those more warmongering elements that toyed with the idea of supporting Prigozhin's pronouncement. Euro-American analysts, propagandists above anything else, point out that these are Putin's weakest hours. Again they confuse their desires with reality. Once the pronouncement was defeated, Putin's leadership presented itself as a key stabilizing element for the Russian bourgeoisie.

Evaluation and perspective of the war

Tanque de Wagner PMC

Wagner's tank at Rostov during the pronouncement

In short: Russia is having a hard time maintaining its all-in in Ukraine, causing a rift with the group that has been its imperialist outpost on every geostrategic board Russia has set its eyes on in recent years, the Wagner Group, the mercenary paramilitary organization which was leading the war effort in Ukraine's most contested enclaves. Its leader had for some time been hurling outbursts against those leading the Russian defense ministry, accusing them of abandoning their troops to their fate. Finally, a few weeks ago, he made an exuberant and unproductive pronouncement, in an attempt to bring down the Russian defense minister. His troops even seized the roads and marched on Moscow.

However, what could have entailed a fracturing of the Russian ruling class, in its relationship with the Ukrainian war, has come to nothing. The bulk of the state and the bourgeoisie ended up closing ranks around Putin, who has answers to the challenge up his sleeve: it would not be surprising that when the waters calm down, the necessary heads will roll in the state hierarchy so that the war effort can continue and so that the two main sectors into which the war divides the Russian bourgeoisie (those calling for an express negotiation to end the war, and the hard faction) can be appeased.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Wagner group continues to supply troops in Belarus, launching confusing messages about their use on African soil, while Ukraine has to re-bunkerize the surroundings of Kiev, foreseeing a possible attack from its northern neighbor.

At this point, and with the board at a stalemate, the powers in contention, the US and Russia, are beginning to openly talk about nuclear war, which would necessarily entail a qualitative change in the conflict and the materialization of the fears that during the Cold War kept the world on edge, while allowing the war between the Russian and US imperialisms to never become "hot".

Russia has been boasting about its nuclear arsenal throughout the conflict, and has already activated some clauses that would allow it to use it without demanding a strangulation of its internal regulation. The pretexts are in place, all that remains is for Russia to "press the button." The mobilization of nuclear weapons, and of military devices capable of storing them and putting them into operation has been in full swing in recent months, weeks and days.

Europe, the vanguard of capitalist decadence

Banco de alimentos en Gran BretaƱa

A volunteer replenishes a shelf of canned food at a food bank in Britain.

Meanwhile, the U.S. strategy, using the military clamp, on the one hand, the patent war, and injecting power into its leading industries on the other, both in terms of technology and capitalization, is turning Europe into a deindustrialized wasteland. The latest example: Great Britain, which is irretrievably losing its preponderance in the steel industry.

The European powers are letting the US set the pace in a conflict that can only strangle their accumulation, while simultaneously witnessing their computer industry being brought to its knees out of the chip shortage driven by their "best ally". Chips that are diverted by the US to its own hardware companies, while the attempts of Europe to establish strategic independence in an industry fundamental to the future of accumulation and militarism, fall, once again, on deaf ears.

Nor can we forget that the Green Deal is a catalyst for a massive transfer of income from labor to capital and which, as everything seems to indicate, as it was designed, will not serve to address climate change. We can see news, one after another, in which the EU changes objectives related to its Green Pact, to adapt them to the needs of the industry that requires their assistance, or even how it boasts that climate targets should be subordinated to the actual objective of the climate plan.

or these purposes, it is much more important the narrative and the discourse, than the meeting of the emissions targets. As we will never stop reminding ourselves, climate change exists, it has been generated by capitalism, and it will hardly be solved if capitalism continues to be the current economic system. That is why the Green Deal entails a sustained suction of labor incomes, not a reduction of emissions which, once again, has reached a historic maximum. The European economies, and in particular those of the EU are becoming a machine adapted and subservient to an era of militarism, i.e. war economies synchronized with each other by the pace of the present and upcoming slaughter.

In this framework, the European states and capitals, thrown at the forefront of the global imperialist conflict, exude decadence from every pore. The destruction of the main productive force, the working class, is not limited to the Ukrainian carnage. That is why we see the spiraling acceleration of working class poverty and the increasing dependence of ever more workers on public charity to be able to eat, the decline of the birth rate, or the universalization of the feeling that work destroys life instead of creating it.

The growing antagonism between humanity and capitalism leads to genocide, not to a collapse where anything can be built

Bajmut en ruinas

The center of Bakhmut in ruins

The increasingly grotesque behavior of the ruling class, building for themselves shelters and bunkers to protect themselves from the sinister future towards which they are steering society, or proclaiming dystopian fantasies about their own immortality -with a corresponding and inevitable rise of pseudoscience and superstition-, may seem ridiculous, but they are significant in that they reveal the extent to which the system is in a deep, dangerous and irremediable decadence.

All the great global phenomena of these years, from war to the emergence of AI to climate change, the contradictions of the old forms of property and the new pandemics, point to the same place: the crisis of capitalist civilization is leading to a pressing antagonism between capitalism and humanity - or, in other words, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat - which today is reaching a frightening level. Many, including a part of the bourgeoisie itself, fantasize about a collapse.for which we should prepare for and from which a new world would emerge. But what is clearly on the horizon is not a painful but salvific collapse, but an endless series of warlike genocides and famines of continental dimensions. The system will not fall. It must be consciously overthrown and overcome. And that is unimaginable without the organization, struggle and emancipation of the workers. That is the only hope of Humanity.

And we cannot sit and wait for it to arrive. We must work for it, in a tangible and material way, not only discursively, and with the conditions we have at our disposal, starting with the most modest and small-scale actions. We count on you.