Communists Are Wavering

The inter-imperialist confrontation between the Euro-Atlantic powers (USA, NATO, EU) and Russia in Ukraine inevitably brings to the fore serious ideological-political disagreements and chronic contradictions that plague the international communist movement. The hard reality is that the international communist movement has long lost its international character. Most communist parties are out and out nationalist in character. They are more interested in pursuing the foreign policy orientation of their ruling establishments. As the Ukraine war escalates the legacy of the Second International is back. The Russian invasion and the war in Ukraine emphatically highlight the misconception that exists in part of the communist movement concerning the issue of imperialism and imperialist war.

The “imperialist aggression” is interpreted unilaterally cultivating fallacious theories about a “multi-polar world” where many power centres control each other thus resulting in a “peaceful world”. This perception spreads to the workers’ popular movement the illusion that a “non-aggressive”, so-called “peaceful” capitalism is possible. Peace in the world order as it is today is temporary but war is permanent.

There is a tendency to interpret imperialism by separating the economy from politics. Thus they focus on the political features of countries (military interventions, aggressive foreign policy, inequality in policy-shaping and decision-making, etc), putting in second place the dominant element of imperialism, its economic substance, which is the creation and dominance of the monopoly.

They view schematically the ranking of countries in the imperialist pyramid, as if time has stopped and there are no constant rearrangements within the context of capitalism's uneven development.

They prioritise the creation of “anti-imperialist/anti-fascist fronts” by disconnecting the struggle of the popular movement from the goal of overthrowing the power of capital. Thus the basic contradiction (capital-labour) is replaced by other forms (imperialism vs anti-imperialism, fascism vs anti-fascism, hegemonism vs anti-hegemonism) which in turn lead to alliances that are stripped of their socio-class content.

Not quite unexpectedly the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) chose to side by President Putin, something that is reflected in its recent declarations, as well as in statements by Chairman Gennady Zyuganov, which adopt almost entirely the narrative of the Russian government.

Contrary to the CPRF, the Russian Communist Workers' Party (RCWP) issued a statement acknowledging that Kremlin's actual goal is to strengthen the position of imperialist Russia in the international political scene, noting that the source of the war lies in the “inter-imperialist contradictions”. The RCWP hails the recognition of the “People's Republics” of Donbass by President Putin but, at the same time, points out: “Not the masters but the workers will die on both sides. To die for class brothers is worthy, but to die and kill for the interests of the masters is stupid, criminal and unacceptable”. In truth they are dribbling in the middle without categorically condemning Russian imperial ambition.

A number of Communist Parties, including Indian communist parties have failed to draw proper conclusions from the inter-imperialist crisis in Ukraine. A few of them went so far as to refer to the Russian invasion as a “legal military action, while others participated in openly pro-Russian rallies where the red flag with the sickle and hammer coexisted with Tsarist symbols (e.g. the flag of the “PR of Donetsk).

Is there anyone who seriously believes that today's Russia of big monopolies (especially in the Energy sector), expansive capital exports and financial oligarchy is opposed to NATO in order to support the “international law”? Is there anyone who truly believes that today's capitalist Russia, governed by the political “students” of Yeltsin and other counter revolutionaries, has invaded Ukraine in order to save the people of Donbass from the Ukrainian Nazi battalions? Is there anyone who actually believes that the Russian troops who are currently fighting in Ukraine are carrying out some kind of “anti-imperialist duty” against the Euro-Atlantic forces?

The people have nothing to gain from the victory of one or the other imperialist power. The essential thing in any war is which class conducts it, for what purpose and at what stage of historical development. But the class question is totally absent in most communist discourses.


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Vol 54, No. 46, May 15 - 21, 2022