It sickens me that liberal institutions are jumping on the war bandwagon in the mistaken belief that one side is more virtuous than the other.
The NATO nations and Russia are all imperial powers. NATO wants to expand into Eastern Europe, and Russia wants to rebuild its empire. None is virtuous. None deserves our support. All the combatants plan to incorporate Ukraine into their economies, at the expense of Ukrainian workers.
War madness has taken hold, turning normally peace-loving folks into rabid war-mongers. This madness has infected the school where I used to teach.
In a recent public statement, the school’s President condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “unnecessary, unprovoked, and brutal.” And while the statement expresses “hope for diplomatic resolutions that would restore peace,” it calls on “the global community to condemn the actions of the Russian Government and exert continued pressure to end this senseless attack.”
It is dishonest to call for a diplomatic end to war while also taking sides in that war, especially the side of your own rulers.
Canadians should follow the example of Russian activists and oppose our own government’s participation in this war. We should do more than that.
We should condemn Canada’s weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, whose brutal war against Yemen has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Since 2015, Canada has sold over $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, making it complicit in the deaths of more than 400,00 people.
The hypocrisy is astounding. Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister warned Russia, “If you make war on the rules-based international order, we’re going to cut you out of the global economy.” She made no such threat against Saudi Arabia for using Canadian-made weapons against Yemeni schools, hospitals, mosques, and markets. And the United States was never sanctioned for bombing, invading, and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some say we should not take sides but simply march for peace.
What does it mean to march for peace? Supporters of US/NATO imperialism insist that peace must be based on a defeat for Russia. Supporters of Russian imperialism insist that peace must be based on a victory for Russia.
There can be no peace in a global capitalist system that feeds on wars of acquisition. Earth has a limited amount of territory, forcing capitalists to war over who will dominate what patch of it. The stakes are high. Domination means profit, and profit becomes the power to dominate more territory and extract more profit.
Pro-war advocates insist that Ukrainians have a right to fight for national independence. Of course they do, in theory. In practice, no nation can exist independent of the global imperialist order. In this context, at best, national independence means substituting foreign exploiters for home-grown ones. Are Ukrainian bosses so much better than Russian ones that it is worth sacrificing thousands of lives to make the switch?
Rich people rarely die in wars. Working people in all nations pay the price. They suffer and die as combatants, as bystanders, as refugees, and as victims of the economic disruption and environmental destruction caused by war. They suffer and die as wealth that could be used to end poverty, prevent disease, restore the environment, and address climate change is lavished on the military instead.
Whoever wins this particular battle, the war for domination will continue, increasing the risk of nuclear war and human annihilation.
There is only one road to genuine peace and self-determination, the one where ALL imperial powers are defeated from below by workers’ revolutions. Because, no matter who wins these wars, workers always lose.
In the spring of 1917, Lenin was asked how the horrible slaughter of World War I could be ended. He replied,
There is no easy way out of this terrible war. The war has been brought about by the ruling classes, and only a revolution of the working class can end it. Whatever sentimental things may be said, however much we may be told, “Let us end the war immediately,” the war which the capitalist governments have started can only be ended by a workers’ revolution.
A workers’ revolution pulled Russia out of that war. A global workers’ revolution can end war altogether.