Imperialism, Globalisation and War

Taylan Bilgic

Throughout the 1990s capitalism declared itself as the New World Order, the absolute salvation and the invincible system of humanity. Global welfare, democracy and justice, the promises of capitalism, have appeared before humanity inevitably as wars and conflicts, impoverishment and environmental disasters for the reallocation of the world’s resources.

The imperialist capitalist system is attacking the working class and the oppressed peoples with the values of neo-liberalism, for the hegemony of the monopolies and the unrestricted circulation of capital. Regulations, under the name of structural adjustment programmes and more often than not accompanied by such concepts as the progress of democracy, the protection of liberties and global justice are being brought into force, as fitting the needs of capital, in developed capitalist countries as well as dependent underdeveloped countries. The imperialist system is imposing these programmes of aggression on the people of the world in many ways and using different methods; whether these are military-political, economic-social, ideological-cultural.

No methods are abstained from against those countries that refuse to accept this encirclement and imposition or those regions that are regarded as necessary for the establishment of hegemony over the world’s resources including military attacks and occupation, hatching military coups, building puppet governments, creating civil conflicts, etc. The imperialist forces, primarily the US, are seeking to create legitimate grounds for their aggressive conduct by putting forward ‘justifications’ such as human rights, the international community, United Nations (UN) regulations etc. The re-appropriation experienced only recently in the Balkans and Kosovo, the occupation and the establishment of a puppet government in Afghanistan on the grounds of national security and struggle with terrorism; the occupation of Iraq now on the pretext of preventing weapons of mass destruction, concocting coup d’etats in some of the Latin American countries – such as Venezuela – against ‘unwanted’ presidents and the overthrow of the Georgian president are all examples of the assaults of the imperialists spearheaded by the US.

International capital, pursuing uncontrolled exploitation and greed for profit, is implementing similar economic programmes via the IMF, the WB and other financial centres in almost all countries. In the countries that form a link within this chain, dependency is intensified through the loans given and all of the economy and the state procedure from production to the banking system, education to agriculture is restructured.

Shrinking the state, economising on public resources, flexible labour and quality ring, privatisation in the most effective fields beginning with education and health, organising everything in accordance with the rules of the free market, the encouragement of the private sector, the concept of ‘governance’ being put forward by the formation of higher committees, quotas, lifting of the obstacles for foreign capital, breaking down of the customs walls, introduction of such treaties as GATT and arbitration, constitutional and other amendments concerning the law etc. are the principal methods used by this aggressiveness that display common characteristics. The target of this unrestricted aggression is the plundering of the country’s wealth, the destruction of national values, dissolving the organised forces of the working class and labourers and blunting the people’s dynamics of struggle. Economic crises, impoverishment and a process of destruction are experienced as a vicious circle in the countries where these structural adjustments and so-called ‘stabilisation’ and ‘reform’ programmes are implemented.

With gigantic investments, the authors, foundations and institutions it has bought; the international capital and the reactionary forces are propagating the indispensability of the capitalist system and, that it is the best out of all the possible systems. Declaring the concepts and values of the working class as meaningless, obscuring the organizational and solidarity values are among some of the elements of this black propaganda. The development of civil society policies is a part of this conscious process.

The United States’ War Against the Peoples

The first attack on Iraq, known as the First Gulf War, was supposedly aimed to ‘bring democracy and freedom to the Middle East’. 12 years have passed since but the region has witnessed neither freedom nor democracy. On the contrary; the bill of the war has been paid by the poor peoples and countries of the region, injustice has grown and the presence of the imperialist forces on Middle Eastern soil has only served to strengthen the oppression of kings, sheikhs and the rulers of the Middle East. Israel has constantly developed; growing more and more spoilt by each passing day and the chaos in the region has, in general, intensified. The internal problems of each country and the problems they have with one another have continued to foster.

Now, with the same slogans of ‘freedom and democracy’, Iraq is under military invasion. ‘Freedom’ has brought death, hunger, thirst and illness to the people of Iraq. Only plunderers, pillagers and street gangs have benefited from this situation. Parallel to the spreading of the invasion forces; cities, towns, hospitals, schools, state institutions, embassies, historical monuments, museums, temples, all historical accumulation connected to the roots of humanity have been plundered, torn down and burnt. US Defence Minister Rumsfeld termed this plunder as ‘freedom’ and the plunderers as ‘free Iraqis.’(!)

However the assumptions relied on by the invaders have proven not to be correct. They had stated – at least in terms of propaganda – that their armies, as ‘liberators’, will be greeted with flowers by the people of Iraq. But this did not happen. The Iraqi people did not want the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein but neither did – nor do – they want an occupied country. Not one Iraqi town saluted the invaders. On the contrary, even when the guns of the invaders were still ‘hot’, people rallied in mosques and in the streets to resist the occupying forces. Since the fall of Baghdad and the developments thereafter (including also the ‘arrest’ of Saddam Hussein), the armed resistance and mass protests have inclined towards sound foundations based on the demand for freedom.

Today, Iraq is a gunpowder keg ready to explode. On the one hand, it is dragged into plunder and anarchy supported by the invading forces. On the other hand, the people are coming together with patriotic feelings and are putting their real character forward as an organised resistance. The reactionary regimes in the region are worried that this keg will explode but have no chance other than to play with fire.

The Real Sides of War

Considered from afar, the war seems to be between the Iraqi people and the imperialist occupational forces. But in reality, this war has started long before the first gunshot in Iraq; it started in the UN, NATO, EU and all around the world. The real reasons of this war were neither Saddam nor even the oil resources alone. These may be the answers to the question: ‘Why Iraq?’ Yet this answer itself does not explain why the US-UK armies and diplomatic forces declared the present international relations and organisations as ‘old’.

On the contrary, their real aim is to re-determine the norms of the world order after their ‘New World Order’ is plunged into chaos.

In fact, this aim was declared openly after the attacks of September 11. Bush and his minions stated that the ‘war against terrorism’ was going to last 20-30 years. This was a declaration repeated again and again over the following months.

‘Clash of Civilizations’

During this period, the Pentagon and the White House have been paving the way for a third world war step by step. The USA has defined the policy of this period as one of ‘Rumsfeld Doctrine’. This is a doctrine forcing the new principles of New World Order by using the power of the US. Washington declares that it will use its armed forces to remove all obstacles in front of financial capital and international monopolies and openly expressed that these will determine the order of the world. On the other hand Washington itself does not guarantee that it will suffice with these principles and yet expects everybody else to abide! Thus, we come to the infamous ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory of Samuel Huntington.

After September 11, Bush himself had talked about a ‘crusade’. Today, as experienced in the past within the Nazi idea of ‘the higher Aryan race’, US capital puts forward such theses as ‘protecting the high values of Christian civilisation’ and ‘destroying lesser civilisations for the benefit of these values’. In actual fact, these ‘theses’ have no relation whatsoever to Christianity and its values. But as it is not possible for these forces to openly announce that this war is for the world hegemony of US capital, such ideas are pushed to the fore in order to try and draw the support of the entire Western world behind them.

What does Bush and his ‘war gang’ have in this strategy? The plainest answer would be; ‘one similar to the relation Hitler and the Nazi Party had with German capital and the ideology of superior German race’.

US presidents, especially those belonging to the ‘Republican’ tradition, have turned the puritan US ‘morals’ and the excessiveness of ‘radical Christian evangelists’ into a point of view. The US administrations have always had a sense of making policies over the most reactionary interpretations of Judeo-Christian myths. So the US presidents, just like US capital, have reconciled Christianity and Judaism and made a profit over this. Even the founding of Israel was propagated as a confrontation with Islam. In reality, Israel was seen as a base of Western control over resources in the Middle East and has played its role in the installation of imperialist Western powers.

Thus; Huntington writing his ‘Clash of Civilizations’ essay upon CIA’s orders was not an issue in conflict with all this but rather a part of a strategy: US capital, while confronting all its opponents, wants to attack with the support of a wider Christian world, including the masses under the influence of this culture and the intellectuals. With deepening of the troubles of the capitalist system, more participation to this extreme Christian front will occur and the desire to gain advantage from this conflict will increase. Just like Hitler and Mussolini won the biggest capital groups to their politics in time, ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis is a strategy to win over groups of capital. At least, the sections who devised this thesis (the US administration, the CIA, the think-tanks etc.) anticipate such a process.

The Old and ‘New’ Order

USA, as the vanguard and ‘protector’ of world capitalism, aims to reorganise the world along the direction of the interests of the largest and most developed monopolies. Thus, Afghanistan, Iraq and other interventions should be regarded as pieces of this grand strategy. The appeal to Judeo-Christian myths, claiming to be the carrier of democracy and freedom, are important as fundamental parts for the spreading of this strategy.

The attack directed at Iraq aimed to ‘shape up’ the UN, NATO and the European countries, which the US characterises as ‘institutions of the old order’. The US has divided Europe into ‘old’ and ‘new’, declared the UN Security Council resolutions as null, divided the NATO countries as pro-US and anti-US and has forced all countries to be either with ‘terrorism’ or against it. In this way, it aims to isolate those countries opposing the US. After the invasion of Iraq, the US declared that it will give a share of the pie according to each country’s participation and has hence created confusion within the front against itself.

Under these conditions, we can summarise the situation in the world as follows:

1. The UN Security Council, although its majority was against this war, watched the events unfold helplessly. It could not play any role other than ‘humanitarian help’ in the aftermath of war. So, in the years ahead, the role and effectiveness of the UN will be disputed even more and this effectiveness will speedily be destroyed completely.

2. NATO is divided between Germany-France-Belgium and the US-UK blocs. Other countries dissipate according to this division. On the one hand, we see that NATO is no longer a US dominated organisation. On the other hand, such an organisation’s use has become controversial.

3. These divisions formed a bloc whose nucleus consists of Europe’s most powerful two countries. Russia and later China have also joined the Franco-German bloc. So, for the first time after the fall of the USSR, a serious focus of power is emerging. In this way, the ‘unipolar capitalist world’ (with the one and ultimate boss at the head of it) that the US is striving for is impossible even as of now.

USA will crack its whip in every step it takes; force its enemies and friends to realign again and again. We can see all countries including Britain, all international organisations as well as national and international power foci of capital as targets of this continuous realignment.

Amidst all this, even opinion polls made by US politicians demonstrate one fact clearly: Not only in Iraq but in the entirety of region, enmity towards the US is on the rise. Recent polls conducted by the American Pew organisation show that, in Turkey alone, more than 70 per cent of the people regard ‘old ally’ USA as ‘a threat’ to the homeland. Other countries in the region display the same hostility. In the following months, as other countries, Turkey will experience the cost of being ‘neighbours’ with the USA. The peoples of the region will find the opportunity to see US, US-British imperialism, their aims and their collaborating ruling traitors more clearly. Thus, not only Iraq but the entirety of our region will inevitably become a ‘Vietnam’ for the United States. This ‘one-toothed monster’ will inevitably be drowned in the rage of peoples and of the entirety of humanity. The USA, by invading Iraq and holding preparations to further invade the region, has fostered its war against the peoples of the world. It will face the consequences sooner or later.

One other region where this aggressor is facing the rage of the peoples is, of course, Latin America.

Losing the ‘Backyard’

In every corner of the new continent, we are witnessing demands for genuine freedom and democracy, independent of the market forces. In Ecuador, Lucio Gutierrez rose to power on the wings of a popular alliance. In Brazil, a trade-union based politician became the president. In Venezuela, the people are resisting the US attempts to overthrow the elected government. The people of Venezuela have carried out a historical mission of repulsing the 11-12 April coup last year. In Argentina, ‘established politics’ is in tatters and as if a joke, the people are met by the new IMF policies of Nestor Kirchner. In Bolivia, the poor peasant and indigenous communities had an historical election under the MAS banner and Evo Morales came second in the presidential elections. In Peru, the US-backed government is failing in the face of mass protests against privatisation. In El Salvador, the FMLN, the party which the US hates most, won the local elections and is heading for victory in the general elections this year. In Colombia, the fascist government of Alvaro Uribe is facing widespread opposition both in the cities and in the countryside. In the midst of all this, the popular government in Cuba is holding on strongly.

In summary, all parts of the continent are rallying against 10 years of neo-liberal fallacy and misery. Leaving aside the characteristics of individual parties and leaders in all these countries, these actions are indicators of the demand of the people for a better, a more humane life. They indicate that the ‘neoliberal experiment’ that devastated the continent during the nineties is over. To cultivate this opposition and give a new meaning to it, is in the hands of our comrades in Latin America.

It can be said that US imperialism, while waging war against the peoples overseas, is losing its traditional ‘backyard’ in Latin America.

Thus we see a new ‘axis’ rising amongst the people: from Latin America to the Middle East, the United States is face to face with the hostility of millions of people; an enmity never encountered before...

As the working class, labourers and the oppressed peoples of the world experience the evil and insoluble problems of the capitalist system directed towards humanity such as the crises and insolvencies, wars and military coups, income imbalance and environmental disasters; their reaction and search have increased and anti-imperialist actions and demonstrations are organised more and more frequently. Meetings of the developed countries, the World Trade Organisation summits, the world economic forums, the EU summits are all being responded to by demonstrations of workers, labourers and young people protesting against the imperialist attacks and IMF programmes. Finally the strongest anti-imperialist demonstrations were held in many centres and with the participation of millions around the world in order to prevent the US attack towards Iraq. It is interesting to note that especially in the US and the UK, as the centres of the strongest and largest demonstrations, these actions have been actualised under the leadership of the organised forces of the working class.

The activity of ATTAC and other Trotskyite organizations within the World Social Forum, the European Social Forum and the demonstrations protesting against the EU summits and anti-war manifestations that have been held during the recent years have raised question marks in many people’s minds.

Both in terms of their components and their political perspectives, ATTAC and other social forum kinds of organisations are political platforms that basically correspond to the petit bourgeois strata and their inclinations. It is necessary to evaluate the effort of the petit bourgeois and bourgeois reformist currents, along with their liberals and their ‘radicals’, to present their own political platform as the ‘alternative platform of all the opposition, as a policy and effort directed at an effort to reserve the worker and labourer masses that actually form the backbone of the social movement and the real opposition.

Reactive movements such as social forums have appeared under today’s original conditions wherein attacks are intensifying on one hand and the workers’ movement is in a state of ideological and political weakness on the other. Moreover in many aspects these movements are as yet disabled with many ‘uncertainties’ and seem to prefer to preserve this state of indefiniteness for as long as possible. Hence in these terms the future of these movements will, in a way, depend on the direction they will develop and of course on how this development will take place.

For these platforms to gain a function in advancing the struggle against the attacks of the monopolies and the governments is dependent on their ability to become localised and attain a platform that will serve to organise the struggle of wide social strata around common demands. And, in a sense, their future will also be shaped according to this!

It is important to not derive the result that such platforms being formed in different continents and countries should be treated with indifference. It must also be obvious that this ‘interest’ cannot be limited to observation and criticism.

Despite all the weaknesses and insufficiencies that social forums carry in terms of ideological, political and organisational perspectives – herewith stated – they are still the expression of a political reaction and opposition to the aggressive policies intensified by monopolies and imperialist forces, even if these reactions are as yet restricted and incomplete in many respects. This is the very reason why they are able to mobilise a certain mass consisting principally of the youth. Furthermore, it is also necessary to point this out: When it is taken into consideration that the assaults of the monopolies and governments will gradually become more and more violent, it would not be a mistake to state that the effect of the lobby forces and politics defending ‘holding dialogues with the governments’ on this movement will weaken step by step as it is possible to observe this even as of now.

The revolutionary workers’ movement and its political party sets out from two points while determining its attitude regarding this issue: Firstly and most importantly is the protection and development of the independence of the working class movement in all aspects, whether ideological, political, organisational etc. What this means in terms of the concrete problem at hand is this: struggling against movements outside of the class such as social forums effecting the working class and its movement both as a perspective and as a political platform and struggling against the effects it may presently have. Secondly: Supporting, on the basis of its own independent policies and actions, the positive aspects of these movements, however weak, with the perspective of strengthening the struggle against the attacks and in fact trying to advance these movements as much as possible. And this, beyond being an approach, has been the practical attitude of the revolutionary workers’ party.

Those wishing to obtain peace must be within a struggle against all the imperialist forces, beginning with the US and the collaborating administrations within their countries. The independence movements and the struggle of the working class is the advancing direction against the collapsing New World Order and its idea of globalisation. The regathering of the labouring masses around the idea of socialism that is the counterpart of their search for social justice and equality and their unity around the working class as the vanguard of this struggle is a situation which is more possible today in the face of such deformity and inequality, income imbalance and injustice.

In the midst of all these developments, there is, and will be, much more to live and see. One thing is certain though: The future belongs to our peoples. The future belongs to socialism.

Thank you, comrades.

This paper was delivered on behalf of the Labour Party (EMEP) of Turkey at the International Conference on Imperialism, War and Globalisation which was organised by CPI ML and CPI Red Flag on 14-15th January, 2004 in Mumbai. The papers submitted to this Conference are collected in ‘Red Star’, Volume 5, Issue 2, February, 2004 and ‘Class Struggle’, Volume 1, Issue 4, February, 2004.

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