The black cloud of war darkens the sky across the world. Working peoples feel the growing danger of a new world war. The threat of global war arises inevitably out of the very nature of capitalism — the ownership of the means of production by a small capitalist class and the complete domination of government by this class. The imminent war danger is only another expression of the fundamental crisis of the capitalist system, which continues its existence only at the cost of intensification of exploitation and oppression.
The ever-sharpening conflict between the superpowers, NATO and Russia, the continuing acts of aggression and the very real possibility of a nuclear world war is a fact which cannot be ignored. A key part of both sides preparations includes an ever-increasing effort to sway public opinion. To accomplish this they are waging an ideological and political battle of ideas which takes many forms. Beyond the more obvious back and forth saber-rattling and ranting and ravings that of politicians they all talk of intervention to protect “our” interests. It is not Putin’s imperialism or Biden/Zelensky’s fascism (or vice versa) that means war. Rather it is the continued existence of capitalism that means war. There can be no “good”, no “peace-loving” capitalist states. The interests of the working class within any country is never under any circumstances to patriotically defend “the nation” – that is, the political executive of the class enemy – but always to fight for its overthrow.
A feature of the present war revolves around the question of “sanctions”. The United Nations provides that when a country has been deemed the aggressor against another member state, financial and trade embargo measures shall be – following an elaborate procedure – invoked by the other member states against the aggressor nation. These measures are called “sanctions”. It is a method for turning opposition to war into support of war. All that is necessary is to call the war an “application of sanctions”. Then it becomes the duty of all “friends of peace” to support it. This, indeed, is the real meaning of the doctrine of sanctions. UN sanctions are, of course, nothing else than sanctions undertaken by the leading member states of the UN which is only the instrument of its dominant members of the Security Council.
Support of sanctions, therefore, is exactly the same as support of sanctions applied by individual nations – e.g., by USA, UK or EU. But sanctions are war measures. They include withdrawal of financial credit, a ban on trade, various forms of boycott. To enforce them genuinely would require a blockade of the country against whom the sanctions were invoked. The probable, the almost certain outcome of such a blockade, as history has so often proved, is war – since the blockaded nation cannot accept such a measure peacefully without surrendering political sovereignty. Thus it follows that sanctions must be either ineffectual – a bluff – or they must lead to war. If they are ineffectual, support of them is certainly no aid to peace . If they lead to possible more war, support of them – no matter with what verbal reservations – means nothing else than support of war undertaken by the governments applying the sanctions.
Advocating sanctions in any form necessarily binds the working class to the state and the class enemy, necessarily weakens the class position of the workers and thus the workers’ struggle for power, and necessarily prepares for turning the workers over to the sanction-applying government when the sanctions find their natural outcome in war. If we support sanctions, and the sanctions lead to war, then we have already by supporting the sanctions supported the war. The disastrous consequences of support of sanctions are already apparent with a global cost of living crisis.
The Socialist Party is not afraid of war but our war is against this capitalist system and all the wars and pain that it creates. The Marxist knows that we can never “use” capitalist governments for the interests of the working class, because what these governments are is instruments to be “used” for the interests of the ruling class. On the contrary, we must always fight inexorably against governments and their actions.