World War or World Socialist Revolution?

by John Reimann, North Star editorial board member on April 4, 2017

Result of Trump-ordered bombing of al Jinah, Syria. This is peace?

The world situation is much worse than the liberals and some socialists think.

We saw this through a recent meeting of the socialist “Peace and Freedom Party” featuring a speaker who is a supporter of Putin – Rick Sterling – and a long time Marxist – GS – who is caught in a time warp. They were talking about the attacks on Trump by the CIA, the Democrats, and others.

“Trump Wants Peace”
For Sterling and co., the issue is that “Trump wants peace” and the military industrial complex doesn’t so they’re trying to undermine him. Thirty seconds of reflection will completely disprove that view. Trump wants a $54 billion increase in military spending. He’s stepped up bombing in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and who knows where else. He’s given the US military even greater license to murder civilians. This is peace?

Trump’s Financial Ties
Listening to the likes of Sterling is like listening to the global warming deniers. They have lots of assorted facts that they string together, without any coherent story. We wouldn’t have to listen to them at all, except that they represent some powerful forces (Trump, Putin, etc.)

The reality is that Trump’s deep and widespread financial ties with Russian capitalists are at the heart of the matter. He’s seeking to use his administration as an outgrowth of Trump Company. That’s what he’s brought his daughter and son-in-law into the White House for – to manage that connection. He’s willing to sacrifice the global interests of US capitalism to the financial interests of the privately held Trump Company. This is strictly a no-no for US capitalism. (Here is an article that documents this, and here is another one.)

Capitalist World Order Breaking Down
This is happening at a time of heightened inter-imperialist rivalry, a time when the old capitalist world order is breaking down. This was the world order that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world order in which US imperialism was unchallenged around the world. Now, new capitalist powers are rising to challenge that domination. One is Chinese capitalism, and the other is Russian capitalism.

The devastation of WW I.
A new world war would be many times worse.

World War I
The world has seen a situation similar to this before, for instance at the start of the last century. Then, newly rising German imperialism was demanding its “place in the Sun”. This meant they wanted their share at the dinner table where the world imperialist powers were carving up and devouring Africa in particular, and Asia. Another old, doddering imperialist power was in its death throes — the Ottoman Empire. A new world order was demanded by the imperialist powers.

Such a new world order can only be achieved by war.

It was achieved by war — WW I, which was the most devastating war up until its time. Over 17 million were killed and 20 million wounded. Countless millions of others had their lives turned upside down.

Today, with the modern killing machines, such a world war would be many, many times more devastating, even if nuclear weapons were not used, which is certainly not guaranteed. If they were, the survival of the human species would be threatened.

The rosy future that capitalism has in store for us.

New “Cold War”?
That is why it’s so important for the already-tiny forces of Marxism to seriously consider the present situation. Unfortunately, some like GS, who spoke at the forum, are caught in a time warp. A comrade of his claimed that we’re facing a “new Cold War.” That was the threat that world capitalism felt by the Soviet Union, which was a rival economic system, the economy based on (bureaucratic) state ownership and planning. GS likened the capitalist attacks on Trump to a “new McCarthyism”. Those were the attacks of the US capitalist class on Communists and other socialists within the US. He even denied that Russia today is imperialist as if nothing had changed since the Soviet Union collapsed.

In other words, both GS and Sterling are saying that the danger we face is just a matter of policy, and that policy can be changed. No, it’s a danger that springs from the very inner workings of world capitalism – of imperialism – and it cannot be changed, no more than the fact that animals need oxygen to survive can be changed.

All the calls for “peace between nations”, all the calls for “upholding international law”, all the claims that “we are all in the same boat”, all of which were made at the meeting — these are nice-sounding appeals to “reason” and “good will”. They are meaningless pacifism; they are attempts to make a serial murderer behave rationally.

Equally mistaken is hiding behind the (correct) call to focus on the enemy at home – our own capitalists – when that call is made in order to ignore the death and devastation other capitalists are wreaking on workers around the world, such as in Syria. Of course we have to fight the fight at home, but if the working class movement is not internationalist, it is nothing.

Today, as May Day – international workers’ day – nears, our starting point has to be that of Karl Marx: Workers of the world, unite! The threat we face has never been greater. Nor has the potential for the world socialist revolution and a socialist world.

Protester in Ferguson, August, 2014

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred Murphy April 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm

While I’m all for taking a hard-headed or cold-blooded look at the world situation and not putting any faith in capitalist pacifism, I am dubious that US imperialism is facing any serious challenge to its global domination by either Chinese or Russian capitalism. See


Kurt Hill April 4, 2017 at 4:07 pm

I agree with Fred (above). Cde. John appears a bit alarmist to me…


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