SYSTEMIC DRIVERS OF THE WAR(S) AND AN AUTONOMOUS, ANTICAPITALIST ANTI-WAR POSITION

1. PRELIMINARY NOTES

The Houthis attacks on cargo ships, the USA/UK strikes against Yemen, the USA/EU naval fleet deployed in the Red Sea, the ISIS-K Crocus City Hall attack [1], the Iran/Israel missile attacks [2] constitute new expressions of the emerging global reality: competing groups/blocks of capitalists have chosen the route of war, in order to establish themselves in a better position within the hierarchies of a globalised economy that is in stagnation, and is also dealing with the exhaustion of natural resources. This new multipolar world in formation became obvious after the Russian invasion in Ukraine, but the signs had been there since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation (February 2014), the proxy war in Syria (September 2015 – …) and the new scramble for Africa (wars in Sudan, C.A.R., Mali).
As the world economy is steadily sinking deeper and deeper into crisis, war is becoming capitalism’s final solution to clear the way for growth. So, if we understand the atrocities committed by the IDF in Gaza as a mere continuation of the 75 years of occupation, if we understand Hamas’s attacks as a mere continuation of the Palestinian Resistance, we will fail to realise their connection to the current downward spiral of global capitalism towards war.
In the first weeks of the military campaign in Gaza, people protested massively on the streets demanding a ceasefire, especially when the brutality of IDF attacks became known. Empathy is important, spontaneous opposition to war and militarist horror is crucial. But if people fail to connect this death politics to the conditions of capitalism as a global system (and only speak about “colonialist and murderous Israel”), they cannot understand the necessity to fight against capitalist wars for their own interest. The romanticized representation of Palestinian struggle and the mainstream dehumanisation of Palestinians are two sides of the same coin. And as long as reactions are based on sentimentalism, they can lead to a mass banalisation of death: As people are over-exposed to violence and the ongoing massacre, they get used to it without ever realising causes and function of war. Neither do they see the necessity to fight war, not wars.
Whoever wins or loses here or there, war is necessary for capitalism as a global system. Besides the benefits for the arms industry, it unblocks profits and allows the creation of surplus value through destruction, it disciplines societies in the capitalist centres, and manages surplus populations that cannot be profitably exploited by capital.
War is the final solution for the contradictions of capitalism as a global system. But a new society will not emerge from this bundle of contradictions. Only the anti-capitalist social movement can achieve that. As long as we remain passive or take positions in favour of one or the other belligerent side, we are digging our graves with our own hands.
So, it is more urgent than ever to form some clear positions and work collectively for the creation of a global social movement against the capitalist machine of death and despair.

2. WHY ARE ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENING?

Dividends rise and proletarians fall.
(Rosa Luxemburg, The Junius Pamphlet, 1915)

We don’t have to resort to romanticized and naturalized conceptions of history and cultural difference. The history of capitalism is written in letters of blood and fire. War, crises, destruction, dispossession, looting, colonialism have always been the (not so) hidden face of capitalist progress, and development after the Age of Discovery. Besides the competition for resources and zones of influence as drivers for armed confrontation, war can discipline the proletarians, speed up accumulation through dispossession, manage surplus population, and revitalise the capitalist system as a whole: When profitability is blocked, war and destruction can open up the (post-war) opportunity for new value creation and growth rounds. Competing capitalist blocs are fighting each other for trade dominance, financial dominance, military dominance. In this competition, it is the people, the proletarians if you prefer, who are guaranteed to lose. Some capitalists might gain a lot, others might lose some, and some might even lose everything. But money knows no master — the capitalist system as a whole is guaranteed to win. Especially in the context of a globalized economy, sleeping with the enemy (trade between adversaries during wartime) can become the norm and not the exception, increasing profitability for the ruling elites of all belligerent sides. Even if the economic logic of a certain war is not immediately evident or even does not exist at that moment, wars always contribute to forms of power, such as national states or particular leaders and regimes, that ultimately benefit capitalism as a whole. As for those who think that a multipolar world will be more favourable for social justice, how could a new balance-of-power system that will be created at the expense of societies (as the social movement will have been buried under the weight of geopolitics or reduced to a supporter of authoritarian regimes and/or state politics) benefit anyone?

The power centres of capitalism as a world system have changed many times in the past. These changes have never ever led capitalism (or exploitation) to become less brutal. In order for these wars, that are so beneficial for capitalism, to happen, there are two prerequisites: (a) weapons, that must be produced, and (b) minds, that must be shaped for the same purpose. The arms industry is always more than eager to provide the means for destruction. The arms industry, after all, is an industry like all the rest, an industry that needs to sell more products, increase “purchase frequency”, advertise products by demonstrating them to potential customers in real conditions and in vivo, develop new products, get rid of the stock, create new markets, etc. [3] The same goes for the opposite side. Russian and Chinese military industries have been struggling for years in the world market since their systems have not yet been battle-proven. [4]

3. DIRECT CONSEQUENCES OF WAR(S) BEYOND THE HORROR OF THE BATTLEFIELDS

a. The environment as a war casualty

The recent wars have cancelled actions to face the climate crisis, while the needs of the global war machine for fossil fuel is one more parameter for the multiplying confrontations.

“The goal of the decarbonisation of energy systems, which was mentioned often in policy circles before the war, has faded in favour of energy security and energy affordability. The focus is now on energy independence where the aim is to secure sufficient domestic sources of energy to not rely on imports, regardless of how carbon-intensive those sources may be. This has caused the phase-out of more dirty forms of energy to stall. Some countries have started to burn more coal, to build more liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals and to extend networks of gas pipelines. Across the world, countries are building or reopening coal power stations at home, while investing in oil and gas development abroad”. [5]

During COP28, the US pledged just $17.5 m to the “loss and damage fund” (fund to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change.), a drop in the ocean compared to its staggering military spending of $876.94 billion in 2022. In the same meeting, the participants “stressed their commitment to addressing the climate crisis and renewed investment in renewables”.

Nevertheless, many of the critical mineral reserves —cobalt, lithium [6], manganese, graphite, and nickel— essential to renewable and low-carbon technologies are located in Africa. So, moving away from fossil fuel means entering a new field of confrontation.

On the other hand, fossil fuel is indispensable for the military. “The US military’s energy consumption drives total US government energy consumption”. [7] “If the world’s militaries were a single nation, our estimate would put it fourth – behind China, the USA, and India – but above Russia and Japan”. [8]

Between 2013 and 2021, the richest countries spent $9.45 trillion on the military, 56.3% of total global military spending ($16.8 trillion), compared to an estimated $243.9 billion on additional climate finance. Military spending has increased by 21.3% since 2013. [9]

b. Militarism, masculinity and gender violence

Although both in Ukraine and in Israel mass media and authorities instrumentalize queer struggle in war and nationalist propaganda, war itself is the definition of masculinity, patriarchy, and the romanticized image of the hero “to protect the motherland” and “honour the fatherland”. Wars and militarism reinforce patriarchy and patriarchal societies, reinforce a culture where violence against women and LGBTQIA persons becomes normalised. Besides the patriarchal nature of war, armed confrontations contribute directly to the increase of gender violence, producing financial uncertainty, economic distress and food insecurity. Racial dynamics intersect with gender-based violence, creating a living hell for women and LGBTQIA persons of colour. As such, “nearly 89,000 women and girls were killed intentionally in 2022 across the globe. The figure represents the highest yearly number recorded in the past two decades. A significant number of femicide victims (around 40 per cent) remain unaccounted for in the UN report, as they are not categorised as gender-related killings”. [10]

This argument holds even in the face of “queer-friendly militarization,” such as in the instances of Israel and Ukraine. LGBTQIA inclusivity in war operations is not a sign of progress. On the contrary, it deradicalizes, depoliticizes, and neutralizes these inequalities by incorporating them into the nationalistic, capitalist war machine.

c. The war on migrants

While wars create more and more refugees and migrants, during the last 10 years we have witnessed a militarisation of (anti)migration policies to such a degree that we must use the term “war on migrants”.

— Recently changes were introduced to the (anti)migration policy of many EU countries under the pretext of the massacre in Gaza.

— The US congress had to compensate the approval of increased funds for weapons to the Ukraine, with a promise that new funds will also be given to build the wall in Mexico and block migrants’ movement.

— Militarisation and brutality have climaxed in the Mediterranean (e.g. the mass state murder at Pylos, were 600 migrants lost their lives in an incident where the Hellenic Coast Guard was involved but nobody was held responsible) and at the Mexican/USA borders (i.e. Texas has installed a floating barrier with chainsaws to injure migrants).

d. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer

“While millions of people throughout the world live in dire poverty, without clean drinking water, adequate healthcare, decent housing, or education for their kids, the world’s billionaires have increased their wealth by over US$3 trillion in the last three years alone.” “Low-income countries, by contrast, are still above pre-COVID poverty rates, and are not closing the gap, as they saw poverty increase modestly between 2022 and 2023.” “Billionaires are now US$3.3 trillion (or 34%) richer than they were at the beginning of this decade of crisis, with their wealth growing three times as fast as the rate of inflation,the biggest firms experienced an 89% leap in profits in 2021 and 2022, while the profits of 14 oil and gas companies in 2023 were 278% above the 2018–21 average.” “Since 2020, the richest five men in the world have doubled their fortunes.” [11]

e. The war is feeding new wars – War is normalised as a way of governing all types of crises

— The war waged by the Turkish army against the Kurdish people is becoming harsher, with shelling by drones and warplanes in October 2023, January 2024, and March 2024 (meanwhile, the Turkish state has strong economic ties with the Israeli one, even if the Erdogan regime is supporting Hamas).

— On January 17-18, 2024, Iran and Pakistan launched strikes across each other’s borders targeting civilians in the Balochistan area. On March 17, 2014, Pakistan launched air attacks inside Afghanistan “targeting Pakistani Taliban”.

— The Central African Republic is ready to host a Russian base for up to 10,000 servicemen. (Central African Republic seeks to host Russian base — official. January 16 / TASS). In Burkina Faso, since the military took power in two successive coups in 2022, Russian “anti-imperialism” is gaining ground (e.g. Burkina Faso thanks Russia for ‘priceless gift’ of wheat, BBC News, 27 January 2024).

— On March 16, 2024, the spokesman of Niger’s military government announced that “Niger was suspending military cooperation with Washington” (Niger’s junta says US military presence is no longer justified, Associated Press News, March 17, 2024).

— Besides the recent developments mentioned above, we must note the ongoing wars in Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

— Possible areas of future armed confrontation include China/Taiwan, and the Esequiba area in Guyana (on December 3, 2023, a referendum took place in Venezuela, with the question of “incorporating the territory on the map of Venezuela”).

— In Latin America (Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, etc.) war against the populations is waged through narcos, who are acting in the same way as the paramilitary groups of the ’70s and ’80s.

— We have already mentioned the “war on migrants”, the militarization of responses to COVID-19 is another example of the way war is normalised as a way of governing all types of crises.

Parenthesis: Notes from the fronts of war

Russia/Ukraine

Comrades from the area inform us that: People from central Asia are being sent to the Russian army, for which they are promised russian citizenship; if they come back to their countries they get arrested because it is forbidden to join another country’s army. The Russian economy is both seriously damaged by the war but it is also making profits through the war. The mood in the Ukraine is changing. A lot of workers are hiding. When they get caught, they are just sent to the army. There are more stories of wounded men that profer to be hospitalized in the EU, mainly in Baltic countries, in order to move away and escape the new law on mobilisation in Ukraine. “Estonia, if necessary, is ready to extradite to Ukraine those refugees who are subject to mobilisation”, said the Minister of Internal Affairs Lauri Läänemets (December 22, 2023). There is no sign at the moment of initiatives willing or able to end the war in Ukraine.

Gaza techno-thanatopolitics

A lot has been written about the IDF military campaign as a revenge on the general population of Gaza for the October 7 Hamas attacks and a push towards the national cleansing dreams of the Netanyahu administration [12]. An aspect that has not been stressed enough is the example of the politics of death and the management of surplus population this war is setting, in an extremely sophisticated way, that can be described as techno-thanatopolitics: “the Israeli army has files on the vast majority of potential targets in Gaza — including homes — which stipulate the number of civilians who are likely to be killed in an attack on a particular target. This number is calculated and known in advance to the army’s intelligence units, who also know shortly before carrying out an attack roughly how many civilians are certain to be killed.” [13]

There is no way out for the situation in Gaza/Palestine/Israel, unless there is internationalist and anti-capitalist mobilisation. There is an urgent need for an approach that will be able to somehow address the roots of the conflict, the respective interests involved, and, more significantly, the social forces within Israel and Palestinian societies that are able and willing to support a solution other than total war and annihilation (brutally practiced by the IDF now, envisioned for the future by different versions of Political Islam). This means mapping, supporting and bridging Palestinian and Israeli progressive and oppositional voices against the Netanyahu Government and the Hamas administration.

f. The fear of the war is fuelling the war politics: the fear of the spreading of the war ends up leading people to support the war

What kind of perspective can you create against the war in a situation in which the biggest part of the society is scared of the war? How can we explain that anti-war politics are more useful than the politics of NATO or of Eurasian militarisation?

These very real questions are being raised in the last two years in all the countries neighbouring Ukraine. The warlords of Western capitalism want to expand them all over their dominion: “The EU should prepare for war by the end of the decade, the German Defence Minister warns” (December 18, 2023), “The era of the peace dividend is over. And now, just like our enemies, we must plan and invest for an era of confrontation…” (Britain’s Defense Minister, Monday, 15 January 2024), “NATO’s military is ready, but civilians must also prepare for war” (NATO military commander Admiral Rob Bauer, January 18, 2024). “French troops are ready for “the toughest engagements” (NATO ally could command 60,000 strong force in Ukraine, Newsweek, March 20, 2024). Besides the fact that this is a clear case where the remedy feeds the sickness, there can be no personal answer (except on an ethical base) to the above questions, the answer will either come from a transnational social movement against militarism and war, or from the cruel reality of war itself.

g. Fear shifts the whole political spectrum towards the (far) right

The support for more or less openly fascists (Geert Wilders, Javier Milei, Giorgia Meloni, Marine Le Pen, etc.) is the free world’s answer to the despotic regimes of the competing capitalist bloc(s).

A shift towards the right is also happening at the other end of the political spectrum: As authoritarian and oppressive regimes present themselves as leaders of an emerging “multipolar” world, sections of the Left advocate that tyrannical, authoritarian, and reactionary forces and regimes represent a progressive resistance to “Western imperialism”.

People who, just one year ago, shouted “Woman, Life, Freedom” are now supporting the so-called Axis of Resistance. We have a firm opposition against people being oppressed because of their nationality. Obviously. But we must never forget that all nationalisms —including those of currently-oppressed groups — are also exclusionary and oppressive. The same goes for theocracy and religious obscurantism. Besides that, political Islam is not a rival of capitalism, but a tool in the hands of various capitalist factions, it is an alternative to the brand of Western capitalism, not to capitalism itself. It has been used by global and regional capitalist powers for many decades: in the past by the USA against secular Arab nationalism and the Soviet Union, more recently by the Israeli state against Palestinian secular resistance, by NATO against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, by the Gulf monarchies and the Islamic Republic of Iran to promote their own interests in the broader region, by the Erdogan regime for AKP’s neo-Ottoman narrative, even the hard core Orthodox Christian Russian Federation has played the card of the pro-Putin political Islam in Chechnya to approach the new confrontation in Palestine.

“We know that the path to collective liberation is not through choosing between false dichotomies such as “global imperialism/Islamic Republic government” or “Israeli colonial rule/Hamas reactionary force.” (…) Instead, it is about dismantling these binaries and oversimplifications altogether. For years, we have been made to believe that our only option is to choose between the “bad and worse.” Today, we say a loud and clear “no” to the false binaries presented to us, and stand against oppression and repression in all its forms. (Jin Jiyan Azadî as in Free Palestine, text signed by 250+ Iranian feminists, November 2023) [14]

Even solidarity movements tend to interpret these dichotomies as explanatory frames for these conflicts. These dichotomies seem to provide easy access to moralised political evaluations that may guide political subjects to support one side or the other or simplify the situation. But as such dichotomies are based on capitalist, statist narratives about world peace through war or about a multipolar world, what they actually do is reproduce the effect they intend to mitigate. In a conflicted, capitalist, hyper-complex proxy world war, there is an endless proliferation of such dichotomies.

There is also the visual representation of the 1960’s and 1970’s anti-imperialism, that returns as an avatar. Although there is no state power posing as anti-capitalist, fans of anti-imperialism fantasize rival capitalist blocs as being the antidote to Western capitalism. It is enough to spot a Soviet flag on a Russian tank or the PDFLP flag next to the Hamas one, to get the feeling of the revival of an ideology that was already proved mistaken in the past, back when anti-colonialist struggles were forced either to align with one or the other version of state capitalism (USSR or China) or to “find their own way” through industrialization, primitive accumulation, and building nation-states. Even if local revolutionaries were well-meaning and had the best dreams and intentions, when they forged alliances with existing power structures and emerging ruling classes within the recently de-colonised countries, they were stranded, and caught between state politics, the foreign policies of the superpowers at the time, and international diplomacy. When they were not directly crashed by the military machine of the West, all the above dead-ends and alienating means of struggle were enough to completely disempower the people and remove from their minds every perspective and hope for emancipation. In the 1990s, corporate neo-colonialism, “structural adjustment” programs, “humanitarian wars”, and then the “war on terror”, enforced a new kind of colonial rule, whose alternative is now entering the stage: political Islam and the “multipolar” BRICS “perspective”.

4. LINKING ONGOING SOCIAL STRUGGLES WITH RESISTANCE TO MILITARISM AND WAR

Instead of fantasizing a return to something that has been proved mistaken from the start, we should try to connect resistances to the capitalist machinery of death with ongoing social struggles. There already are mobilizations on various issues taking place everywhere, with demands that defy the logic of war though their simple existence: feminist struggles, like the huge demonstrations that took place on November 25, 2023 in Italy against patriarchal violence [15], or the protests in France against the new and very racist immigration law, or the march of migrants to the US borders [16], struggles against privatisations, like the students’ struggle against the privatisation of Greek universities, struggles against extractivism and capitalist mega-projects taking place in many parts of Latin America but also in France, Serbia and elsewhere in Europe.

Although war is often being used by the powers that be as a way to deal with increased general discontent, the strengthening of social/class war in a way that enables the (universal) proletariat to embody its own new form of power by becoming the class of consciousness, always pushes away the prospect of war. This requires internationalist organizational initiatives, like the Week of Action and the Anti-War Congress in Prague. Unfortunately, there haven’t been as many similar initiatives in the more than two years that have passed since the Russian invasion in the Ukraine. We can only name the following:

— The Zapatista call “for protests and mobilizations against ALL CAPITALIST WARS” on March 13, 2022.

— The call by the Permanent Assembly Against the War to “strike the war” on May 1st. 2022.

— The internationalist/anti-war/anticapitalist protest that took place on July 8, 2023, in Ljubljana, in the context of the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair.

— The ‘Worldwide days of action against any war and militarism’ that were proposed at the International Anarchist Meeting at Saint-Imier (July 2023) to take place at the end of November 2023. An antimilitarist demonstration, organised by the Assemblea Antimilitarista, took place in Turin, on November 18, “against the city of weapons and the NATO innovation accelerator in Turin on the occasion of the war aerospace industry market exhibition (Aerospace and Defense Meeting)”. On November 29, a protest took place against the Berlin Security Conference (an international meeting of arms industries, NATO officials and European politicians) under the slogan “No War Conference in our City!”, while comrades in Ljubljana hang anti-war banners in front of the premises of 3 arms industries. In the same days, an anti-war poster reading “Everywhere in the world, from the Balkans to Palestine and Israel, Russia and Ukraine, the enemy is capital and state – over the walls of nationalism and war, building solidarity and resistance!” was produced — this poster was decided in the general assembly of the 15th Balkan Anarchist Bookfair (Ljubljana, June 2023) [17].

Another international initiative (but not necessarily internationalist) took place on November 10, 2023, when demonstrations and strikes against sending weapons to the Israeli army took place in different continents. In Kent, England, a blockade stopped an arms factory, while dockworkers in Oakland, Seattle, Barcelona and Sydney organized actions at the same time. In the port of Genoa, Italy, workers organized a blockade of port gates accompanied by a demonstration against the war and military logistics. The Genoa actions were organised by CALP (Autonomous Collective of Port Workers). Dock workers in Genoa had held a similar protest on March 31, 2022, with a banner which read “Not a penny, a rifle or a soldier for war”.

There was a proposal to connect the March 8, 2024, feminist protests with opposition to war and capitalism, but this seems to have actually happened mostly in Italy. On the contrary, separate pro-Israel and pro-Palestine feminist protests took place in Germany.

The need to support deserters and people refusing war in the areas involved has often been raised.

— In Israel, Sofia Or and Tal Mitnick (Mesarvot network) have been sent to trial and imprisoned for refusing to join the army.

— In Ukraine, even Christian conscientious objectors (like Vitaly Alekseenko) are imprisoned, while pacifists, like Yurii Sheliazhenko of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, are being constantly harassed.

— There are mutual support networks of Ukrainian nationals who fled to EU countries to avoid being recruited for the war, but (with very few exceptions) they don’t feel safe to go public.

— Many people who fled Russia are now in Serbia, as they need visas to go to EU countries, something that was not required when they travelled to Serbia. At the same time, in Serbia itself, they are constantly being monitored by FSB agents.

— There are many prisoners in Russia serving sentences for direct actions against the war. Here are the contact addresses of anti-war, anarchist and anti-fascist prisoners in Russia (information, by Anarchist Black Cross Moscow, February 20, 2024 update):

https://wiki.avtonom.org/en/index.php/Category:Currently_imprisoned_in_Russia

We should keep in mind:

a. A movement that targets the systemic drivers of wars can be created before a war breaks out. When the war starts, it’s too late.

b. In the West, the ‘war’ is still being fought over people’s minds and hearts

After the end of the Cold War, the reality of war and its perception in the public sphere has passed through various stages:

— Morbid curiosity and exotic/spectacular (Iraq 1990) / live broadcast of a war / “The skies of Baghdad are being illuminated”.

— Victimization/charity, while the war was still “far away” (Syria) and indifference (in the past, we didn’t even hear of some of the deadliest massacres: the Maya genocide in Guatemala, the Second Congo War, also known as Africa’s World War. Right now, there are ongoing wars —Sudan, Ethiopia— that nobody is interested in).

— As the war came closer (the war in Ukraine was described as the “first war on European soil after the 2nd World War”, a description that conveniently forgets the Yugoslav wars) the general spectrum of feelings extended from fear to the banalization of death.

— The over-exposure to violence and death during the ongoing massacre at Gaza has elevated thanatopolitics to a new level.

We need our own Politics of Life.

We need to understand that anti-war politics needs to include building realities fighting the roots of the war.

In several places across the planet, movements and people try to create alternatives to capitalism, the state, and their war machine: the Zapatista autonomy in Chiapas, the Kurdish democratic confederalism in Rojava, the self-organising of the Mapuche (Chile/Argentina), the Nasa and the Misak (Colombia) indigenous people, as well as of dozens of Amazonian peoples, the Abahlali baseMjondolo shack dwellers’ movement in South Africa, the MST in Brasil and the international Via Campesina movement. Let us also look at movements within the core capitalist countries (squats, social centres, solidarity networks, self-organised projects and initiatives in health, education, food distribution and counter-information, workers’ self-management initiatives, agriculture collectives, etc).

We need to understand that anti-war politics needs to include building different realities, realities resisting the roots of the war. In other words, we cannot oppose Thanatopolitics if we do not practise our own Politics of Life: The joy of resistance and revolution against the cult of death and martyrdom; care and solidarity instead of the growing militarism and intolerance (that stems from misery and despair); self-governance and social accountability instead of the generalized irresponsibility promoted by capitalism; collective freedom instead of individualist lack of content.

Together with class struggle organisations and social movements against racism, patriarchy, environmental destruction, militarism and in defense of the commons, together with war resisters and deserters from the various war fronts, together with feminists, migrants, precarious workers and environmental activists, we will create an autonomous anti-war movement against the capitalist machine of death and despair.

As always, war, when not civil, only freezes the process of social revolution. In North Vietnam it has brought about the peasantry’s support, never before given, for the bureaucracy that exploits it. In Israel it has killed off for a long time any opposition to Zionism; and in the Arab countries it is reinforcing the most reactionary strata. In no way can revolutionary currents find anything there with which to identify. Their task is at the other pole of the present movement since it must be its absolute negation.

(Mustapha Khayati, Two Local Wars, Internationale Situationniste #11,
October 1967; trans. by Ken Knabb)


Antipolitika, May 2024.


[1We should not approach Islamist movements by examining the ideas that they articulate, but rather by their social content. The Islamic State was born after the catastrophic war in Iraq, and grew after the defeat of the Arab Spring, in the environment of the growing weight of Gulf capital on both a Middle Eastern and a global scale. It became globally known through the internet pornography of its violence. During the Syrian proxy war, western governments have supported groups connected to ISIS with arms and funds. We cannot know about its current organizational form. Groups in many places claim to be part of it, and it is unclear which specific factors dictate each action claimed by the Islamic State (the ISIS-K Crocus City Hall attack could be connected to the disproportionately forced military recruitment of Muslims into the Russian army in Ukraine, or the brutal wars in Ichkeria, Ingushetia etc.). In today’s complex global environment, many factors could be simultaneously involved, even with contradictory long-term interests. But instead of getting into conspiracy theories, we should examine the Islamic State within the global social relations and conditions: defeat and humiliation have become commonplace experiences, and no plausible alternatives of political and economic organization are in sight; capital continually moves across national boundaries in the search for profit while thanatopolitics dominate everyday life providing an ideological framework that delegates entire groups of people to subhuman status; the Islamic State could be understood as a transnational network that mirrors the system it opposes.

[2“The Jewish apartheid and the Shiite Apartheid need war: The alignment of the Islamic regime with the objectives of expanding the war by Netanyahu and Israeli right-wingers is precisely due to alignment with the results and effects of this destructive war in suppressing the civil and revolutionary movement of the people of Iran. In this goal, both apartheid regimes are united and aligned. (…) We call on all freedom-loving and equality-seeking forces, all conscientious and concerned individuals, to wholeheartedly rejuvenate the peace movement; to use all their resources to expose the efforts of warmongers from all sides. O.R.W.I. – ‏Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran (Rahe Kargar).” Voices of Dissent: Iranian Leftist Parties Condemn Militarism and Imperialism – https://firenexttime.net/voices-of-dissent-iranian-leftist-parties-condemn-militarism-and-imperialism/

[3See, for example: Sophia Goodfriend, “Gaza war offers the ultimate marketing tool for Israeli arms companies”, +972 Magazine, January 17, 2024.

[4See, for example, Matthew Loh “Russia’s Kinzhals are frustrating Chinese analysts who want to find out how Beijing’s hypersonic missiles might stack up against US battlefield defenses,”Businesss Insider, January 16, 2024.

[5Brown O., Froggatt A., Gozak N., et al. The impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on climate security and climate action. OSCE; 2023.

[6There are also big lithium reserves in the US, in Central and Western Europe, and small ones in Serbia. Guess where in Europe the companies want to dig first? In Serbia, because the extraction is terribly polluting! It is not always just that certain reserves are not available, but it is easier to delegate violence against a population of an African country or in Serbia, rather than in a Western European one.

[7“The DOD (United States Department of Defense) is the single largest consumer of energy in the US, and in fact, the world’s single largest institutional consumer of petroleum. … if the US military was a nation, it would be one of the top 50 largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, putting it above Sweden or Denmark”. Neta C. Crawford, Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War, Boston University, November 2019.

[8“Our estimate does have quite a wide uncertainty – we calculated from 3.3% to 7.0% [of global emissions] – but it is also important to note that these figures do not take account of the broader impacts of war. Such impacts include: fires at fossil fuel storage facilities and buildings; fires and other damage to forests, crops and other biological carbon stores; movement of refugees; healthcare for survivors; and post-conflict reconstruction. Our estimate also does not include climate heating due to the effects of military aviation emissions in the stratosphere”. Dr Stuart Parkinson, “How big are global military carbon emissions?” Responsible Science journal no.5; July 2023.

[9Transnational Institute. Climate Collateral. How military spending accelerates climate breakdown. November 2022.

[10UNODC – UN Women, Gender-related killings of women and girls (femicide/feminicide), November 2023.

[11Oxfam “Inequality Inc” report, January 2024.

[12There is a discussion about how to call what is happening in Gaza: massacre, ethnic cleansing, genocide…? In fact, there is no “right” word, no proper terminology, no words to describe the horror. From an anticapitalist point of view, it would perhaps be useful to remind that this kind of “punishment”, with 1:30-to-1:100-ratio-of-killings (30-100 “subhumans” slaughtered for each European killed), has been the standard procedure of European/Western colonialism for a long time and until recently: the French Republic will always be stigmatized by the 1945 Sétif and Guelma Massacre (Algeria), the 1947 Mỹ Trạch massacre (Vietnam) and the mass execution, torture, war rape, torching of entire villages, collective punishment and other atrocities committed during the Malagasy Uprising (Madagascar, 1947-1949), massive atrocities matched by the ones committed by the British Army: the headhunting of rebels during the suppression of the revolt in Malaya (1948-1960), the “questionable methods” used to suppress the Iraqi revolt in 1920, the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre (India), or the so called “punitive Benin expedition” (1897). Then, there is the 1911 Shar al-Shatt massacre (Libya) by Italian troops, the chemical weapons used by General Franco to put down the Berber rebellion against colonial rule in the region of Rif (1921), not to mention the 1904-1908 Herrero and Nama genocide by the German Empire, the millions of Congolese who died in the rubber plantations of the privately owned by King Leopold II of Belgium “Congo Free State” (1885-1908), or the General Sheridan’s aphorism “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” (“Indian Wars”, 1866-1869).

[13Yuval Abraham, “A mass assassination factory: Inside Israel’s calculated bombing of Gaza”, +972 Magazine, November 30, 2023.

[15Hundreds of thousands of people took part in protests across Italy on Saturday November 25 2023 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), amid widespread public anger and dismay over the murder of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin by her ex-boyfriend Filippo Turetta. There was a debate because some Jewish feminists and members of the Jewish community said that Non una di meno did not care about the women raped by Hamas on October 7th. This kind of criticism has been used by the right wing to disqualify the feminist struggle against patriarchal violence. This is an example of how the war is a tool to close and undermine the spaces of struggle.

[16About 7,500 people from 24 different countries participated in a caravan-protest moving north from the Mexican state of Chiapas towards the USA borders. Most of the migrants were from Central America, Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti, but some were from as far as Turkey, Iran, Syria and Cameroon.

[17Although it circulated through the internet, it probably was glued only to walls of several cities in the Greek state: Chania, Patras, Larissa, Ioannina, Thessaloniki and Athens.

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