Lessons today from Sam Marcy’s ‘Bolsheviks and War’

Based on a talk given at the Feb. 5 webinar “Global Class War: Lessons from Sam Marcy for workers struggles today.” Go to youtu.be/5Arb33Q8SN0 to view the webinar.

Last night a U.S. fighter jet shot down with an air-to-air missile a little Chinese weather balloon bobbing on the jet stream, supposedly invading the United States.

More ominously, four-star U.S. Air Force General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command (AMC), predicted that the U.S. would be at war with China over Taiwan by 2025.  Minihan demanded stepped up training and drills, with specific orders: “Defeat China”; “Prepare to fight and win”; “Be prepared for deployment at a moment’s notice.”

Air Force, Army and Marines agree

On Jan. 5, there was the largest-ever launch, from a U.S. base, of huge transport aircraft as training for a naval blockade of China and a massive missile and air assault on mainland China — the Pentagon’s Air-Sea Battle strategy.

China condemned the exercise as reckless, provocative and meant to put pressure on Beijing.

A Pentagon spokesperson claimed it is what is needed to “preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.”  This Pentagon strategy includes Japanese imperialism, with Washington’s blessing, doubling its military budget, and the U.S. gaining access to nine bases in the Philippines – hardly moves toward peace.

While escalating the U.S.-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine, Washington is preparing at breakneck speed for war with China. In a desperate effort to maintain the U.S.’s deteriorating global dominance, Washington is willing to risk a nuclear catastrophe, because the U.S. ruling class fears far more the economic and social crisis confronting global capitalism and the re-emergence of the class struggle.

We opened this session with the question: Why are class consciousness and international solidarity the most powerful weapons for the working-class movement?

The video clip showed Sam Marcy defending China 30 years ago and warning how the U.S. and China are in constant struggle, that China’s social order as a workers’ state is more advanced, which makes China’s very existence a threat to U.S. imperialism.

Sam Marcy’s deepest concern was that workers here in the U.S. should always show solidarity with the working class in the oppressed and developing nations under attack by U.S. imperialism. Sam Marcy was determined that we see the world in terms of class, that we are partisans of the working class. That is why we are named Workers World Party.

Imperialist war is capitalism’s chief weapon capable of breaking class consciousness. It takes constant vigilance for the working class in the imperialist center to not to be pulled in by social chauvinism, racism and war propaganda.

In every war there are left and social-democratic collaborators, political forces who change sides, who side with and go along with the ruling class and their excuse for war.

In a powerful book, “The Bolsheviks and War: lessons for today’s anti-war movement,” and in many of his addresses to the party, Sam described how at the start of World War I the working class in Europe – in France, Germany, Britain and Italy –  held hundreds of seats in parliaments, had daily newspapers, and controlled unions in major industries.

All these parties pledged they would oppose the coming imperialist war and would use it for the liberation of the working class. But when the war exploded, every European party of the Second International except the Russian Bolsheviks bent under the pressure, voted to fund the war, and recruited for the slaughter. Everyone except Lenin’s Bolsheviks and a small group of honest revolutionaries in other countries.

Bolsheviks led revolution

The Bolsheviks were able to lead a socialist revolution – when the workers turned against the war, as they inevitably will.

Sam Marcy wrote and spoke, again and again, on the importance of our party confronting imperialist war, even if our numbers at the beginning are small.

He pushed us to build coalitions, especially to pull in organizations of the oppressed, workers groups, and community groups, to get resolutions from union locals, to look to the grass roots.

Sam Marcy especially pushed us to oppose every form of imperialist war. Workers World Party initiated most of the campaigns to oppose sanctions, which today means imperialist starvation of developing countries. Many “peace advocates” have found it quite acceptable to promote a slogan of “Sanctions, not war.”

Revolutionary defeatism 

Marcy was determined to train a combat organization, steeped in Lenin’s view of revolutionary defeatism. Like the Bolsheviks, we are for the defeat of our own ruling class, the defeat of this monstrous war machine. There are no neutrals here.

Every gain for the ruling class anywhere in the world is a defeat for the working class. When imperialism wins, it is a disaster for all workers — everywhere.

The defeat of the Soviet Union in the decades-long Cold War was mistakenly heralded by ruling-class propagandists and by social democrats worldwide as marking a new era of peace. They celebrated, exclaiming that the Cold War was over and now the trillions spent on weapons would be spent on infrastructure.  Peace organizations in the U.S. and Europe closed their offices and staff, and literally disbanded.

Workers World Party said no! We saw this as a new era of unrelenting war and colonial reconquest.  This horrendous victory for the ruling class over the Soviet Union immediately meant open season on every developing country that had been protected under the Soviet umbrella, opening a new era of wars on Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yugoslavia.

Every country where workers had gained some control of their own resources, and raised their living standards was under attack. The countries of Eastern Europe were looted and rolled into the capitalist market, forced into the NATO war machine, and every social program was cut to the bone.

We are now on the eve of a capitalist catastrophe!

A year ago, the U.S., through NATO, launched a war in Ukraine. It had been planned for years. The U.S. predicted an easy victory, that within weeks economic sanctions would collapse Russia. But the refusal of the countries of the Global South to go along with the sanctions was a stunning turnaround. Trade with China has become a viable alternative.

It is a new day, but a more dangerous moment. The U.S. rulers plan a war with China and also with Iran and North Korea, while they continue the war with Russia in Ukraine.

Workers World exists as a combat organization inside the working class in the U.S. to challenge this relentless war drive.

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