One year after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the transformations created by the carnage throughout Europe and the world are already structural and there is no turning back (within the system).
The arms boom
After one year it is evident that the Ukrainian war is a war between NATO and Russia by proxy. The Ukrainian state provides the soldiers while NATO supplies the weaponry and indicates the targets to the point of carrying instructions directly down to small units on the ground.
By now the US and its European allies have transferred more than 112 billion euros in armaments and ammunition to the Ukrainian army, fourteen and a half times the Spanish military budget, or two and a half times the entire military budget of France. Such is the volume of movement that NATO arsenals are beginning to run dry. More importantly, the rate of consumption is so high that US industry, the great beneficiary of the slaughter in the NATO camp, claims not to have the capacity today to keep up the pace.
Slaughtering more than half a million young people in one year has required a huge industrial effort on both sides, but neither side is thinking of anything but doubling it. NATO is calling on its members to increase their military budgets to keep up the pace when the spring campaign begins. France has already committed, a 30% increase in its defense budgets and Germany will reach €10 billion by 2024.
From increased military spending to militarism
Ursula Von der Leyen presents her plan to turn the Commission into a cartel of the European arms industry at the Munich Security Conference.
Militarism does mean merely increasing state expenditure in the military. Militarism is the subordination of the direction and objectives of accumulation to war or its preparation. But at a certain point it is impossible to keep up the pace without grossly transforming the productive structure. And that is the point we have reached a year later.
But in the EU it is no different. It is not just that the European Commission now aspires to become the coordinator of a giant European cartel of military industries. When Macron calls for massive investment in the arms industry everyone understands that it is at the cost of alternative uses of capital. Of course the German Greens, who have become the spearhead of militarism, make it clear: the military industry should be increased at all costs by putting all (human) flesh on the grill.
But the creation of a circuit of accumulation dedicated to war production and guaranteed by the states at the cost of new taxes and of proposing the end of the universality of public services, is not the only expression of this structural and general transformation of European capitalism by and for war.
The new tendencies of big capital, such as the investment boom in nuclear technologies or that of ultra-intensive agriculture respond to the same thing. And that is not even mentioning cutting-edge technological development. AI, massively tested for the first time in this war, sees its development increasingly subordinated to the direction of the military industry. Quantum technologies, for their part, are evolving towards the creation of a global and ultra-precise system of permanent control and surveillance.
The perspective: the growing socialization of warfare
The cost of militarism to society is overwhelming. That is why the almost immediate trend is its state-imposed socialization.
The most obvious form of this ongoing socialization is the return of military service. The first warnings began early. A few months later Denmark began preparations to introduce compulsory female military service and Germany makes its conditional on the extension of the war beyond 2024, i.e. on the war going according to the US strategic forecast.
But this is not the only way that the war is becoming socialized. From the transformation of highways and roads - the EU is salvaging a 2018 plan to adapt them to German heavy tanks - to food, militarism is already shaping everything around us.
But the socialization of the war effort means above all a progressive increase in the control and exploitation of the workers... which entails dissolving the presently existing legal supports and neutralizing any form of collective response. In this sense, once again, the weakest national capitals mark the tendency. Let them tell this to the Ukrainian workers, who are suffering from a new labor legislation which puts an end to the collective agreements of 70% of the workers and militarizes the workforce. Or to the Russians who can be prosecuted for sabotage in case of delays in deliveries of materials demanded by the military.
Capital, your salary and militarism
Spanish capital gets out of its profitability crisis by sucking income from labor.
At the level of each national capital, militarism channels the reduction of workers' incomes towards the dividends of big capital. That is why in economies on the verge of recession and in which wages have not ceased to lose purchasing power since the war began, publicly traded companies can shoot up their dividends by 53%.
That is also why militarism and the Green Pact feed each other. They essentially use similar mechanisms and feed on the same income: those generated by the devaluation of our labor.
Where did the sacrifices called for by Sanchez, Scholz and Macron come from and where did they go? One year later the answer is easy: they came out of our consumption capacity and went to the most capitalized companies and especially to banking, energy and the military industry.
How to confront militarism?
- At work. Meet with co-workers outside the company to discuss the situation, how it affects you collectively and how to react. Invite trusted colleagues from nearby contractors and companies and expand the circle when a shared vision is sufficiently clear.
- In the neighborhood. Identify needs and help address them collectively. From remedial classes to confronting the class divide in schools, all the way to organizing collective purchases to reduce prices of basic consumables. Identify what solidarity systems could be useful in case of layoffs and closures in small companies or establishments in order to be able to organize them in the future.
- Debate and discuss with us the issues you are concerned about and the practical alternatives and demands that arise. We are in the same situation as you.
- Never forget that in every country the enemy is within the country itself, calling for sacrifices and subordinating universal human needs to the benefit of business and investment.