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(en) Wildcat on the war: The Bush Administration's Fear of War...and What Forces Them to Wage It, November 2002

From dr.woooo@nomasters.org
Date Mon, 31 Mar 2003 11:08:15 +0200 (CEST)


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> www.wildcat-www.de/en/actual/e020war1.htm
> Original [German] (November 2002)
In Italy, France, but above all in the United
States and England, many hundreds of thousands
of people go in the streets in order to protest
against the United States' forthcoming war
against Iraq. They do this on different grounds
and with varying ideas of why the
Bush-Cheney-Rice clique wants this war no
matter what.

In order to be against war, we don't need to know
anything about their respective backgrounds.
Wars are always massacres in the interests of the
rulers. Whether Bush or Saddam Hussein,
whether Schröder or Bin Laden, whether Sharon
or Arafat--war and terrorist attacks serve them in
the securing of their power and maintenance of
the conditions on which their power rests. War is
the sharpest form and demonstration of the force
on which the capitalist order, the daily prison of
labor and the power of money are based (see
Wildcat: Global War for the World Order).

But in order to be able to proceed effectively
against the war, we must be able to understand
its (back)grounds and political meaning, and
publicly explain them. We cannot underestimate
our enemies, even if they come in the form of a
nincompoop US president from the oil business
(see Midnight Notes: The First Rule of Peace:
Respect Your Enemy)--we should also, however,
not overestimate them.

A general tendency among the contemporary
antiwar protesters appears to be the feeling of
impotence against the plans of a world power
(Opting out on Iraq) that can't be stopped. In
Germany, where, at the worldwide day of action
against the war on October 26, 2002, very few
people went into the streets, this sense of
impotence paired itself with the dangerous
tendency to delegate the opposition to the war to
their own capitalist state.

In the antiwar movement different reasons for
the planned attacks on Iraq are discussed and
compared to one another. But we cannot
understand the present rush to war if we only
observe isolated snippets of the capitalist
totality, and play those different aspects against
one another--instead of understanding how the
moments of this worldwide system hang together.

"The New Empire": The United States today
is the exclusive superpower in the world, with
by far the strongest military and economic
power. In all wars of the United States, it has
to do with securing this imperial position. In
the United States there is a broad discussion
about "the new Rome" (see for example
American Primacy in Perspective or Rome,
AD ... Rome, DC?), and imperialism and
colonialism are being rehabilitated and
recommended as goals of American foreign
policy.

"The Competition of Nation-States": In the
struggle for world mastery, the United States
negotiates with other states: the Euro-bloc in
Western Europe, the ex-superpower Russia,
the possibly arriving China. Many areas of
tension, e.g., the wrangling over a UN
resolution against Iraq, the trade war between
the USA and the EU, or the fear of US
economists of the euro as a second world
currency, fit only so well into the traditional
image of "imperialist competition." A war of
the United States against Iraq is a war
against its imperialist adversaries: China,
Russia, the EU (above all Germany and
France), or Japan.

"Geostrategic Goals": In the struggle for world
mastery "space" counts. With the division of
the world into two power blocs after World
War II, "geopolitics" was pushed into the
background. Today, it is again broadly
discussed. Afghanistan is indeed an
insignificant country, but its bombing opened
a new possibility for the United States to
entrench itself in Central Asia. As
"geostrategic space" this region is very
important, because it lies right in the middle
of the great powers of Western Europe, China,
Russia and India.

"War for Oil": Since oil has become the
central energy-bearer of capitalist production
and the most important raw material of every
war effort, oil discovery, prodcution and
transport play a central role. The attack on
Iraq should assure the United States the
influence that it could lose with the
breakaway of its strategic ally Saudi Arabia.
Military presence in Central Asia creates for
them an influence on the oil from the Caspian
Sea. The new military-strategic interest of
the USA in Africa turns on the strong growth
in oil production there.--On the other hand,
here lie worries for China, France, Russia,
etc.: Through the seizure of the Iraqi oilfields
(and possibly also those of Saudi Arabia) they
could be forced out of business and the USA
would then have made itself into the single
controller of global oil resources.

"Domestic Political Imperatives": An
administration of the United States, which
only came to power through electoral fraud,
which is deeply implicated in the Enron
scandal and other manipulations, which must
submit to inquiries about how much it knew
about the attacks before 9/11, and which is
confronted with a dramatic economic crisis
and gigantic foreign debts... This US
administration has sufficient reason to
compensate for domestic weaknesses with a
demonstration of foreign power.

Many of these arguments are understood in the
sense that states confront one another as
independent subjects. Especially when war is at
issue, this false image imposes itself. But
capitalism and its reproduction are from the
beginning based on an international division of
labor, on chains of production and exploitation,
which are bound together by the world market.
The particular nation-states could only exist on
this basis. Simultaneously, they are the most
effective form of making the global productive
apparatus, i.e., the global connection of humanity
to itself, disappear behind the competition of
nation-states. The emergence of nations means,
above all, binding the proletariat to "their" state,
which competes with other states.

The particular states could only exist within a
state system in which they mutually recognize
one another's statehood--what is called
"sovereignty." What connects them and what they
are based on is the worldwide maintenance of
exploitation, which is based on a supranational
apparatus of production and the world market. In
the historic development of this apparatus lies
the key to understanding international
relations--not the reverse. With the bourgeois
division into "domestic" and "foreign" policy, the
essence of statehood as a powerful assurance of
class relations is masked.

The image of competing nation-states finds its
confirmation in the fact that there is a dramatic
hierarchy in the worldwide state system, where
the weaker states are ruled by the stronger. From
the beginning, however, the capitalist world
market is based on the fact that the state system
is dominated by a hegemonic power. Venice,
Genoa, the Netherlands, the British Kingdom
and the United States succeeded one another in
this role, in which the phases of dominance grew
ever shorter. The respective dominance of each
power was always both: the expression if its
interests and its economic superiority, and
simultaneously a condition of the functioning of
the whole global exploitation and valorization
apparatus. They were succeeded by one another
when they could no longer rise to this task and
when a superior method of production had
developed on another state's territory, thus when
another great power could better fulfill the job of
worldwide maintenance of class relations, and
this superiority over its competitors permeated
the situation (Arrighi has presented the
remarkable parallels between the decline of the
British empire and the decline of the United
States as hegemonic power: The Global Market).

Such changes always occur in phases of general
crisis of world capital and of the accumulation of
capital--and we find ourselves in such a phase
again today. Since the mid-1970s states have
attempted, everywhere in the world, without
success, to hold off the stagnation of profit and
accumulation by means of an attack on the
proletariat. In the 1990s, it succeeded once,
above all in the United States, in simulating a
boom. It was based on Internet and New
Economy hype, on historically and uniquely low
oil prices and on the inflation of a gigantic bubble
on the stock markets. For two and a half years
this "boom" has been collapsing. The whole
extent of the swindle is more and more
recognized, even by the "public," but an end to
the crisis is nowhere in sight, and we are living
through a worldwide wave of layoffs.

In this crisis, the decline of the United States as
a hegemonic power is combined with the social
crisis of the whole capitalist world order. Thus, it
has to do with two things: the attempt of the
United States to maintain its position with war
(to which all the above mentioned aspects
belong: geostrategy, control of the oil economy,
securing the dollar, etc.) is simultaneously a
struggle for the assurance of the capitalist order.

But in war there lies no perspective for the
development or the relegitimization of
capitalism. It's anybody's guess whether the
United States will be able to maintain its
position through war, or whether this will simply
hasten its demise--just like the British empire
finally lost its dominance in World War I. The
strength of the US economy, which the ideologues
of the "new Rome" call upon, has been based for
more than twenty years on the United States'
ability to attract foreign capital. From creditor to
the world the United States has become the
greatest debtor to the world. War and military
superiority is the last means by which they can
assert the dependency of the world on their
economic situation and their currency--and
simultaneously, in the gigantic armaments
program and its application lies the danger of
unleashing a shocking outflow of capital. With
the dollar's weakness in the first half of 2002 and
its renewed slip in November 2002 this
perspective has grown obvious. The uncertainty
of what a "shooting war" would mean for the role
of the United States and global development is
revealed in the military and diplomatic debates.
From the beginning there were strong objections
in the US military against an intervention in Iraq,
momentarily being played out (now also in
public) in terms of the problem of "urban
warfare". With that the limits of military power
show themselves, when it has to do with social
control. And it also shows that the "Vietnam
syndrome" has in no way been overcome. The war
strategists have great worries--and inquiries
confirm that--the overheated patriotism since
9/11 sags when a ground war requires massive
casualties of US troops.

The Bush administration is determined to wage
this war, not by their own free will, but because
there hardly remains anything else: domestically,
economically, geostrategically... The successful
(!) demonstration of power is more important the
more crisis-ridden capital becomes. In the phase
from 1945 till the mid-1970s, capital could
dampen the class struggle with the promise of
rising wages and national development. With the
end of the speculative simulated boom it has no
further perspectives to offer. In this sense, wars
are always reactions to threatening situations in
the class struggle. Capital is today no longer
confronted with a global upwelling of strikes and
revolts like 1968-73, but in spite of all neoliberal
propaganda, the governments of the capitalist
states have not succeeded in shifting the crisis to
the proletariat. In this situation, already,
particular and as-yet-isolated conflicts like the
revolt in Argentina, the struggle of the
dockworkers on the US West Coast, or the
strikes of the London Underground drivers and
the firefighters in England become a threat. They
show the rulers the limits of their crisis politics
against the proletariat, and in them people can
see new ideas arise, like how they can organize
their own social arrangements beyond capitalist
exploitation and state power.

Because it is so uncertain what their war politics
could result in or trigger off, the Bush
government is scared. It must secure itself on all
sides, and can only laboriously win the support of
allies, on which it is dependent.

The movement against the war can only grow
strong when it doesn't accept the war as a given
fact and doesn't understand itself as impotent
protest. It must explain everywhere and also to
itself that the contemporary war-waging is an
expression of a historically transitory system,
whose perspectives are gone. It acts against an
enemy that is weak, split, and uncertain of the
possibilities of maintaining power. The enemy is,
on that account, no less dangerous, but rather,
because of its hopelessness, determined to do
anything. But today it is everywhere bumping up
against the limits of its power.

"Our enemy is here, it is those who command our
lives. And it will therefore also have to do with
the small things of daily life: Here we must act in
resistance and attack everywhere we can."
(Henri Simon, The Third Internationalist Camp)

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