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The new imperialist map of Europe is more contradictory than ever before

2022-04-04 | EU

After the acceleration towards militarism which accompanied the first stages of the war in Ukraine and the first steps towards a war economy, the imperialist map of Europe is revealing itself to be much more contradictory and explosive than intended from Brussels. Never before has it been so urgent for the workers to build their own organizational framework both to confront immediately the consequences of militarism and to confront its horizon: generalized war.

Nordic warmongering

Denmark offered to send troops to the war in Ukraine

Denmark offered to send troops to the war in Ukraine.

Poland and the Baltic countries are not the only ones in favor of an increasingly open and frontal confrontation between NATO and Russia.

Even before the outbreak of the war, Finnish political leaders have been playing a double game: intense inward-looking warmongering and violent criticism of the EU for not having been sufficiently belligerent against Russia. The first reaction of the Prime Minister to the Russian invasion of Ukraine was to declare the country ready to join NATO and to rethink the recent investments in nuclear energy because of its danger in case of war with Russia.

After participating for the first time in NATO maneuvers last week, polls showed that the media barrage and the climate of war hysteria worked: support for NATO membership rose to 61% and that for massive rearmament to 75%, allowing the President to declare that a referendum was no longer even necessary. Said and done, the Prime Minister announced this Friday that integration would be decided this very spring. No one has any doubts about the final decision.

Sweden, which has been mobilizing its army in a showdown with the Russian navy since January, has not lagged behind in its propaganda blitz on its own population. And the results have been no different: according to the polls, NATO membership would meet with the approval of the majority of the population.

The government has not wasted a minute in taking advantage of the warmongering wind that it itself created: not only did it announce an increase in military spending, but also a return to compulsory conscription. As of today, the old Baltic power is the state that has increased its military purchases and expenditures the most in the entire EU.

Denmark and Norway, on the other hand, have seen no less dangerous developments. Enthusiastic pioneers in the massive shipment of weapons to Kiev, in the Danish case the war ardor has reached the point of proposing to send also its army to Ukraine as an "interposition force". And the commitment to the point of making a pause, exclusively for Ukrainians, in its inhuman asylum policy.

So much "solidarity" has not gone unrewarded. Being two of the countries with the least dependence on Russian gas (less than 10% of purchases), they have not only pressured Germany to abandon purchases from Russia, but have obtained contracts and promises of German investments for their own renewable industry.

The difficulties of militarism in the South

The success of the militarist propaganda in Spain cuts across the whole space of the political expressions of the petty bourgeoisie and only runs up against Podemos voters, who reject the sending of arms or troops and the increase of military spending.

Unlike Spain and France, where the electoral expressions of the revolt of the petty bourgeoisie have quickly and almost totally bowed to the war discourse, in Italy the increase in military spending threatens to reanimate the crisis of the political apparatus. The resistance of Lega and M5S has led to the delay of the increase in military spending, planned for 2024, to 2028 and to the calling into question of military aid to Ukraine.

This contrast is very important. The reason why Macron has reduced his electoral campaign in the first round to a single meeting is because emphasizing, at the height of the media bombardment on the Ukrainian war, his role of "international figure" and last line of direct contact with Putin, has drowned out Euroskeptic candidates (Melenchon, Le Pen and Zemmour) on whom the evidence of an intimate relationship with Russia weighed heavily.

But the opinion industry is tiring and the war propaganda is exhausting. The media know that attention is falling and even if they redouble their efforts, the effect may not be decisive even in the first election round. A Macron who has to turn to the second round could be followed by an increase of the forces most averse to the EU and NATO in the legislative elections, that is to say, by an electoral resurgence of the petty-bourgeois revolt, as in its own way the situation in Corsica is already anticipating.

That is to say, at least in the countries of the South, the appeasing effect of the war in Ukraine on the petty bourgeoisie could last less than expected and end up becoming a stick in the wheel of the militarist advance.

Germany does not want to buy in Europe or create a European armaments sector with France

German tanks at a NATO base. Germany will drastically increase its manning and equipment in view of an eventual war with Russia.

German tanks at a NATO base. Germany will drastically increase its manning and equipment in view of an eventual war with Russia.

Militarists are at their best in Germany. Opinion columns have not stopped celebrating "the opportunities of war" for a single day and celebrate such announcements as the possible purchase of a "missile shield" from Israel.

The more German industry suffers, the less the state seems to be betting on a "European solution" along the lines of the one proposed by France and the European Commission. The decision to buy F-35 aircraft instead of adapting Eurofighters to U.S. nuclear missiles has felt like a blow to the stomach in Paris, which has again hinted at Washington's "ill will".

But it was not an isolated choice: Berlin also opted for a SpaceX shuttle to launch its new satellite instead of betting on strengthening the European aerospace industry (basically Franco-German with Italian and Spanish participation). French arms manufacturers already fear the worst - that the big orders will go to the USA - and the Paris press laments the fact that, for the new German government, "more than ever, only German interests count".

However, it would be wrong to think that Germany is "breaking away" from the militaristic project of the EU to become a mere handmaiden of the US. Scholz, like Macron, did not second Biden's calls for regime change in Russia and is reluctant - for obvious reasons - to cut off gas purchases as the US intends. Moreover, he is more cautious than ever in his relations with China, which has become, with the war, an essential partner for German capital to maintain its export capacity.

Nor can it be said that it is disengaging from the intra-European imperialist game. On the contrary, it is stepping on the gas pedal of the expansion of the EU towards the East, trying to cut off the expansion of Russian influence and create a zone of low-cost industrial development. The first stage: to start as soon as possible the accession of Albania and North Macedonia. These are two countries that have been particularly supportive of U.S. policy against Russia, which gives us an idea of the kind of geometries with which Berlin is reconfiguring its perspective on the Union.

Hungary, Serbia and the specter of a new war in Bosnia

Vucic celebrates victory

Vucic celebrates victory

Last night Serbia and Hungary held elections. In both cases the results were the opposite of those desired by Brussels, Paris and Berlin... which certainly cannot be accused in either case of having stood still or of not having supported, united and promoted the "Europeanist" opposition. But in both cases the pro-government candidates mobilized an almost record voter turnout and obtained more than comfortable victories.

No wonder Orban celebrated by flipping off Brussels, the international media, Soros and Zelenski. Vuĉic, more serene and subtle, did the same in diplomatic language, recalling that "we will maintain the policy that is important for Europeans, Russians and Americans, and that is... military neutrality". Rather than "neutrality" one could speak of armed non-belligerence because Vuĉic is today Moscow's main ally in Europe and in fact, the only European president who dares to dismiss as war propaganda the allegations of the Russian army's atrocities in Ukraine.

For its part Hungary is, more than Germany, the main bastion against the imposition of energy sanctions on Russia within the EU. It has not hesitated to confront its usual Polish ally on the matter. The interruption of the Bulgarian gas pipeline at the end of last year made Hungary a supplier of (Russian) gas to Serbia and through it to the Serbian republic of Bosnia.

Bosnia is, as we warned already in November and as NATO and the EU itself recognized as soon as the war in Ukraine started, the most dangerous flashpoint of imperialist tensions between Russia and the EU besides Ukraine.

Read also: The spectre of war surrounds the EU again: Bosnia, 4/11/2021

The Serbian state is openly encouraging and mobilizing its own public opinion to support the breakup of Bosnia and the eventual annexation of the Serb republic of Bosnia. Russia not only supports Serbian ambitions, it threatens to intervene "Ukrainian-style" if Bosnia joins NATO. The European Commission has not lagged behind in threats. Brussels shows its willingness to redouble its economic and military presence with one hand while prolonging its sanctions with the other to sustain its envoy as the real viceroy of a state that is little more than a legal fiction.

Workers and the new European imperialist map

Inflación en la eurozona

Inflación en la eurozona

The European imperialist map is far from being stable. Once again, the "exit towards more Europe" ultimately multiplies the imperialist tensions between states and the contradictions between classes within each of them. The result is twofold:

  1. There are increasingly more national capitals with fewer resources to pull their heads out of the water; 10 years ago the Commission could still pretend that the crisis affected only the fractious Greece or the "unpredictable" countries of the South, but today not even Germany can feel confident about its horizon of accumulation.
  2. The war is getting closer and closer to the great concentrations of workers. In the same period we have passed from the war in the Sahel to the war in Syria and Libya, and from there to the Ukraine, and even before the slaughter is over war flags are already being waved over Bosnia.

We are already seeing the direct consequences for the workers: a pressure on wages through inflation not seen in decades (7.5% in the Eurozone in March), industrial stoppages and forced reductions in working hours, the basis for a transfer of income that both the Green Deal and militarism, more and more united in a single thing, will sustain and increase over time.

And as if this were not enough, as militarism develops, the pressure towards its socialization will inevitably increase: compulsory military service will return to some countries, and in all of them supplies and productive policies - starting with agriculture, food and transport - will be subordinated to the prospect of war.

Never before has it been so urgent for the workers to build their own organizational framework both to confront immediately the consequences of militarism and to confront its horizon: generalized war.