The arrival of AUKUS, the recent military alliance between the US, UK and Australia, is another fateful step towards World War 3. Why? Both previous World Wars resulted from the economic rivalry of the great powers to repartition the world in their interests. But capitalism in its imperialist epoch is in terminal decline and each world war brings it closer to total destruction. This time, a WW3 will arise from the outbreak of hostilities between the US bloc and the Russia/China bloc, driven by the laws of capital to take their economic rivalry to the political/military level.
The emergence of Russia and China as new imperialist powers nearly two decades after capitalist restoration, can be tracked back to the Soviet Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent partition of the capitalist world from the soviet world over what we can call the ‘short Soviet Century’ from 1917 to1991. The threat of socialist revolution spreading to Europe explains the rise of fascism between the wars. That in turn, split the imperialist powers, freeing the Soviet Union to join the fight for ‘democracy’ against the fascist Axis, to extend its border into Eastern Europe and to sponsor a wave of decolonisation that culminated in the Chinese national revolution in 1949.
The expansion of the soviet bloc was countered by the Atlantic Alliance between the US and Europe, and the formation of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) in the attempt to contain the ‘red menace’. The ‘cold war’ (from 1948 to 1991) was essentially the Atlantic Alliance raising political and economic blockades against the soviet bloc, driving the Stalinist leaderships towards capitalist restoration. Despite the defeat of the Soviet Union and opening up of China to foreign investment, China and Russia have emerged from these defeats resisting re-colonisation by the West. The relative independence from imperialism, achieved by permanent revolution in the USSR from 1917-91and China from 1949-92, afforded Russia and China the breathing room to avoid subordination as semi-colonies after the capitalist restoration and the tools to emerge as new imperialist powers in the subsequent decades.
Far from the dismemberment of the soviet bloc and a return to imperialist exploitation, Russia and China retained control over most of Eurasia, and embarked on an imperialist course themselves, emerging around the new millennium as rivals to the US and EU powers.
China and Russia become superpowers
The arrival of QUAD and AUKUS signifies the US ramping up its military containment of China because it is losing the economic contest for Eurasia. China and Russia have both made big economic gains against the US bloc in Eurasia, penetrating the EU and challenging NATO members’ loyalty to the US.
The defeat of the US in Afghanistan and the Middle East marks the failure of 20 years of US military intervention to win control of Eurasia. It has handed US, British and French influence over to Russia, China, Turkey and Iran. Russia has survived pressure from NATO to break-up the Russian Federation, annexing Crimea, reaching a stalemate in Donbass, and stabilising the Caspian region. Putin’s 2021 New Security Strategy spells out the need for a multilateral world in which Russia acts to ‘deter the US, ignore the EU, and partner with China and India.’ Turkey while still a member of NATO is also tied to Russia’s security reachinto Syria against ‘terrorism’, in order to contain the Kurds. In the aftermath of the US defeat in Afghanistan, Russia, China, Turkey and Iran are poised to share the rewards of a new client state in the battle for Eurasia, and as a potentialmember of the SCO. The fissures in NATO are widened in spite of the NATO 2030 agenda, an out of touch plan that ignores the inter-imperialist competition among its own members.
On the strength of a more self-reliant and self-confident Russia and an expanding China globally (BRICS and Road and Belt) China’s Xi ‘thought’ and Russia’s Putin ‘thought’ both see a multilateral world as the goal in which China and Russia are strong, independent, strategic partners, alongside the US and EU powers. SCO can be presented as defensive rather than offensive because they are winning the economic war. The weakness of the SCO is that India (also a member of BRICS), Pakistan and Iran (the new regime is expected to get full membership this month), do not share in the super-profits of the economic war. Clearly the Indian ruling class resents China and is hostile to Pakistan, and rejects sharing the defence of its neighbours in a war with the US. India, under Modi, has preferred the alternative of hanging onto the coat-tails of the fading Anglo-American alliance to boost the national ambitions of his clerical fascist regime.
US in decline faces more defeats
The US in decline is forced to meet this strategic defeat in Eurasia, by rallying its remaining allies and recruiting new ones to contain the Russia-China bloc.
QUAD brings India, Japan and Australia into a closer political alliance with the US against China. It exploits India’s internal crisis and drives a wedge between it and Russia which regards it as a ‘special strategic partner, weakening the SCO. Including Japan escalates the provocation as Japan is an historic enemy of China. Australia has long played the role of a ‘deputy sheriff’ of US imperialism in the Pacific, and is engaged in a rowdy trade dispute with China over minerals, and an international debate about China’s agents of ‘soft power’ taking over Australia.
AUKUS brings the historic Eurocentric, white supremacist Anglophile nations, the UK, US and Australia together in a military alliance targeting China in the Asia-Pacific, plugging Australia into the South China Seas with US supplied nuclear submarines, and a British Pacific fleet, to complete the steel ring from India to Japan to contain China. It ‘shares’ the pathetic Trumpite illusion of making the US great again, and reliving the memories of the glorious British Empire of Johnson and Morrison, with the Abe-ist project of reviving the Japanese ‘warrior greatness’ of the ‘Forever War’ (1895 to 1945) as a grotesque empire revivalist comic opera.
‘Make America great again’ was a Bonapartist venture by Trump to rally the populace behind the flag while pulling back from engagement in Eurasia to face China in the Pacific. Biden’s pivot to the Asia Pacific is a feeble attempt to follow where Obama went, reconstituting the failing Atlantic alliance as an Asia-Pacific Alliance. But this time most of the EU don’t want to know, France is positively hostile at having its contract to build submarines for Australia cancelled, and Germany is far too dependent on Russian gas to play Oriental war games. Australia, the Wild South mining state owned by the US, is sucking up to Biden to police the South China Sea with the big boys’ toys – nuclear powered and conventionally armed submarines with stealth-like capabilities. These rag-tag states pulled along in the orbit of the US death star will all go down in history as a Quixotic gesture attempting to bully China into submission.
As the AUKUS military provocation was being announced, China formally applied to join the CPTPP, the trans Pacific trade pact between Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and New Zealand. China responded pointedly to the US Asia Pivot by seeking to advance its economic interests with countries that are increasingly dependent on trade with it. A few days later, Xi Jinping pointedly announced a halt to the financing of coal mining outside China. Australian mining could be the biggest casualty of this policy. No doubt this move is part of China’s strategic course plotted by the ‘President for life’.
Xi’s ‘thought’ begins with China’s historic grandeur and its humiliation by imperialism. The members of the QUAD and AUKUS comprise China’s main historic enemies. Britain from the Opium Wars in the 1840s, Japan from 1895 to 1945, the US from 1949 to the present, and India under Modi. But his solution is to make China great again by out-capitalising and out-imperialising his rivals at their Great Game. Xi’s thought, seconded by Putin’s ‘thought’, is more than a match for the Trumpite remake of US, UK, Indian, Japanese and Australian ruling classes’ deluded dreams.
The US, clearly failing to maintain its economic lead, allied to decaying crisis-ridden imperialist Britain, and its bankrupt former colonies India and Australia, are forced to adopt military provocations to disrupt such plans. The prospect of military flashpoints such as in the South China Sea and Taiwan escalating into wider regional wars, dragging many other states into a conflagration, is becoming more likely.
The imperialist epoch is that of wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions. As capitalism comes to the end of its life, facing a terminal crisis of falling profits, climate collapse and pandemics, destroying nature by exploiting it to death, it has no way out but counter-revolution. The declining imperialist states led by the US, is leading that counter-revolution inexorably to war against the Russia/China bloc. Revolutionaries need to make it clear that we reject imperialist wars between the two blocs in a fight to divide what is left of nature’s resources, and that the only alternative to total counter-revolution is socialist revolution. For that to happen, workers must be better organised than the global capitalist ruling classes, formed into armed workers’ councils and led by a revolutionary communist international party of class conscious workers to the seizure of power.
In the imperialist countries revolutionary workers are for the defeat of both sides in the event of war, as the lesser evil. We are prepared for the defeat of our ‘own’ country because as workers we have no country that exists by super-exploiting and oppressing other countries. We turn our guns on our own ruling classes, to overthrow the state and to bring the working class to power. In the process we become part of a united international working class war against imperialist war, making the permanent revolution to prepare the conditions for world socialism.
In the semi-colonies, dragged into war by their national bourgeoisies, we workers fight for national independence against imperialism, and against the national bourgeoisies that serve one or other imperialist bloc. We oppose our nations’ involvement in all imperialist wars, but at the same time defend ourselves from imperialist attacks, leading the permanent revolution to liberate our nation as a socialist republic that joins forces with others in a global union of socialist republics.
Our program against war is that the class enemy is at home. We demand the closing of all foreign military bases. We call on soldiers, sailors and air force personnel to organize a COME HOME NOW movement on every overseas base. We oppose forced conscription and the “economic draft” into the capitalist state. We refuse to fight workers in other countries, and call for mutinies in the ranks, that raise the question of power – which class shall rule, the class that destroys nature and can only survive by wars, or the class that can unite workers internationally to overthrow that ruling class and create a socialist world.
For a new World Party of Socialist Revolution grounded in the method and program of the Fourth International.
International Leninist Trotskyist Tendency
Dave Brownz is TDBs guest Marxist blogger