Imperialism & War

Imperialism & WarClausewitz, the German military theoretician, insisted that “war is a mere continuation of policy by other means”. This goes to the heart of the matter. War is merely an extension of the struggle between nations and classes by other means, and the struggle between nations is merely an extension of the competition between the major multinational corporations. 

Capitalism is riddled with war. In a constant struggle over the profits they have extracted from the labour of the working class, the various imperialist powers engage in various forms of armed conflict. The complete domination of US imperialism, which was euphemistically referred to as pax americana, means open conflict between the imperial powers is excluded. Yet, that doesn’t in any way exclude small wars. In fact, the past few years have seen millions of people displaced and dead in conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. 

As long as capitalism remains, as long as competition between multinational corporations remains, so will armed conflict. The Second International in its famous Stuttgart Resolution advocated the use of the crisis brought on by war to further the socialist revolution. That remains the attitude of Marxists to this day. We fight against imperialist wars, but we understand that the only way to finally rid humanity of the misery of war is to rid it of the capitalist system itself. 

In 1972 Ted Grant highlighted the fact that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable by US imperialism. The US army was demoralised and could not fight a people struggling for national and social liberation. While Marxists supported the Vietnamese people, the regime that would come to power would be modelled on Stalinist Russia and China and therefore would require political revolution for the masses to move towards genuine socialism.

War between Pakistan and India was eventually to be sparked off by the Pakistani air attack of December 3, 1971, after escalating tension and India's interference in the West Pakistani suppression of East Bengal (now Bangladesh). On the verge of war, Ted Grant analysed the class interests of the different parties involved in this article in the Militant.

In 1965 tensions rose between Pakistan and India around the issue of Kashmir. A provocation by Pakistani dictator Ayub Khan led to open conflict and a victory for the Indian bourgeoisie. In this article, published in October 1965, Ted Grant showed how the war was reactionary on both sides.

A key historical document that analyses the important question of "proletarian bonapartism", i.e. Stalinism, in the former colonial countries. It explains the roots of the Chinese revolution and why the Maoist regime came into conflict with the Soviet Union, and also the nature of several similar regimes that came into being in that period. It was also the basis for the expulsion of Ted Grant and his followers from Mandel's so-called Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International.

In 1962 the inability of French imperialism to repress the movement of the Algerian people and the rising militancy of French workers forced de Gaulle to propose a cease-fire to the FLN and attempt to present himself as the guarantor of “peace”. Ted Grant pointed out that the crisis of the Gaullist regime foreshadowed revolutionary developments, something which was confirmed six years later!

After de Gaulle's coup in 1958 frustration in the high command of the French army in Algeria led in 1961 to a second reactionary coup attempt on the part of General Challe. Ted Grant analysed how the coup was smashed by a decisive movement of the French working class and the rebellion of the army ranks against the coup plotters. The scope and strength of the movement revealed the potential for revolutionary struggle in France.

The advancing colonial revolution in central Africa at the end of the 1950s threatened British, French and Belgian rule. In this short article Ted Grant exposed the manoeuvres of the colonial ruling elites and imperialism and their hypocritical talk about “Co-partnership” of the races which is “the partnership of the horse and its rider”.

Political and social unrest against Lebanese President Chamoun's pro-Western policy and his support for imperialist intervention in the 1956 Suez war against Egypt triggered civil war in Lebanon and forced US direct intervention in the country in July 1958 to save Chamoun. Ted Grant based his analysis on the class interests at stake in this war while even greater convulsions were being prepared in the Middle East.

In 1956 there was a concerted attack by France, Britain and Israel against Egypt with the aim of seizing control of the Suez Canal nationalised by Nasser. Ted Grant explained that the outcome of the Suez war marked the downsizing of Britain and France as second-rate imperialist powers and exacerbated the revolt of the Arab masses against imperialist domination, preparing greater revolutionary crises in the future.

In 1949 the new Occupation Statute gave control of the Ruhr region, the powerhouse of Europe, to the British, French and US imperialists. The excuse was to prevent the possibility of German rearmament. Ted Grant exposed the imperialists' interests behind this measure and denounced the chauvinistic policies of both the Stalinist and Labour leaders.

As soon as Germany and Japan had been knocked out of the war, the scramble for the markets of the world intensified among the Allied victors. Despite the official lies about the reasons for Lend-Lease, it was only granted in the first place by the Americans after they had stripped British imperialism of the major part of her investments, markets and interests abroad. The sugary phrases about “co-operation” in the “great battle of democracy” are shown to have been but a cover for the real interests of imperialism.

In 1945 Churchill justified the brutal repression of the Greek workers at the hands of British troops. The then leaders of the Labour Party and the Communist Party in Britain hid the real meaning of the Greek events from the British workers. Ted Grant exposed this terrible betrayal in this article that appeared in the Mid-February 1945 edition of the Socialist Appeal.

In 1943 a revolt of the Lebanese erupted against French imperialism. While oppressing their own colonies, the British cynically supported the Lebanese as a means of weakening De Gaulle and French imperialism. De Gaulle drowned the rebellion in blood refusing to accept the position of puppet of Anglo-American imperialism. Thus the British and French imperialists competed for spheres of influence while Arab blood spilled onto the streets.

In return for Stalin’s help in ensuring the continuation of capitalism in Europe, the Allies were prepared temporarily to make concessions to him. The real purpose of the Three Powers Talks in Moscow was to come to some arrangements for the post-war world.