Mauro Casadio – Rete dei Comunisti
The qualitative leap highlighted by the war in Ukraine is the direct product of an accumulation of unresolved contradictions in international power relations that have dragged on since at least the 2008 financial crisis. The process has been complex and in some ways ‘karst’, but today it is bursting into the light of day with unexpected force, just as the rapid timing of the military precipitation was also unexpected.
Of course, for us today the first place is given to the tasks to be carried out in our country and in Europe in the fight against the war, against NATO expansionism and above all against the involvement of the Italian and European people in this war, and against the war economy, which will cost tears and blood to the popular sectors, as we can already see from the slowdown in growth forecast at 4% after the pandemic already dropped to 1%, and the galloping inflation.
We are also against the logic of neither, because NATO is a political-military alliance while Putin is an individual. We are against it because we cannot be conditioned by an ideological approach that for thirty years has seen the “good guys” against the bad guys, who are from time to time Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Bin Laden, Assad, the various North Korean Kims and so on.
This logic is in fact the blackmail imposed on us to keep us tied to the master’s cart. This is why, in order not to be demonised in turn, we should renounce any reasoning that looks at the historical process under way. This is what Draghi explicitly said in Parliament. Forget about the end of history, as the same people have always told us, history has never stopped and now risks a new breaking point.
In fact, the problem is not Putin, but what Russia has become after the collapse of the USSR, how it was and how it is governed by the oligarchs who until yesterday were allies of the West and by the political and economic gangsters in power.
So the point to be made is that if for some a Putin subordinate to the West would also be acceptable, for us it is not, not even in this case. Putin is in fact part of the dominant group that sold off the USSR, and for us this is not at all acceptable.
So we are well beyond the “neither” and what seems incredible is the total removal of recent history, even by sectors that call themselves communists.
But this is another history. Certainly to be taken up again.
A crisis of strategy
However, talking only about what is happening in Ukraine is not enough to understand the dynamics at work that have led to this situation.
For years now, in a world that is now “ex-globalised” – as we have been arguing for some time now – there has been a rebalancing of international financial, economic and military relations that has contained the US hegemony since the financial crisis of 2007/2008, thus determining a substantial stalemate in world power relations in which no one could clearly prevail over the others.
A stalemate in which the growth of China and the construction of the EU played an increasing role.
This equilibrium, due to the increase in hypercompetition as evoked by Von Der Leyen, is now being overcome except, for now, for nuclear armament which remains as a general deterrent. The event that has ‘made official’ the manifestation of this imbalance is the flight of the USA and NATO from Afghanistan last August.
The disarrayed retreat from Afghanistan was not only the certification of a political-military defeat, but was the manifestation of a strategic failure which – according to the theory put forward in the 1980s by Brzezinski – intended to occupy the centre of Asia to determine the world’s balance.
Therefore, the US/NATO breakaway did nothing but reveal the US vague desire to continue to be the only hegemonic power in the world.
On the basis of this strategy, from 1991 onwards, military interventions were carried out in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan, and attempts to destabilise Iran were stepped up. The US wanted to build a political/military axis that would reach from the Mediterranean to the heart of Asia, occupying a strategic position in order to have both Russia and China ‘at gunpoint’. But they failed.
This Western impotence has given rise to a new hegemonically competitive “gravitational” centre, made up primarily of China, which, together with Russia and Iran, is creating a series of agreements to build a vast continental economic area with its own possibility of growth independent of Euro-Atlantic imperialisms.
The repercussions in Europe
The forced accession of Ukraine to NATO originates from and in this context and is by no means an accident of regional dimension.
On the other hand, if we review the conclusions of the G7 meeting in Cornwall in June 1921, the hypothesis of strengthening ties and internal stability within the Euro-Atlantic area was already evident there, where there was talk of a “democratic silk road” as opposed to the Chinese one.
But the downsizing of the US also concerns transatlantic relations, as the international rebalancing underway also affects this area.
The dance at the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis was significant, as the US adopted the same tactics as it did in the 1980s with the Euro-missile crisis in Europe, where on the one hand it threatened the USSR but on the other hand it also wanted to reduce the ambitions of European states. In particular Germany, which was seeking its own autonomy with what was called Ostpolitik promoted by West German Prime Minister Willy Brandt.
The forcing on Ukraine on the one hand aimed at a crisis in Russia with the aim of weakening the Euro-Asian bloc in the process of being formed, and on the other hand intended to put the EU back in the ‘trenches’ by trying to reassert US hegemony in the West.
Unfortunately for Biden, his calculations turned out to be flawed. Putin in fact decided to go on the military attack with the cover of atomic weaponry and the backs of China, which in turn has declared that the relationship with Russia is “as strong as a rock” avoiding attempts to divide them, also because it has to deal with US provocations on Taiwan.
The EU, which can no longer retreat from its own imperialist perspective, has relaunched and after the first unsuccessful attempts at mediation has made a virtue of “necessity”, revealing itself to be more militaristic than the United States itself, promoting direct confrontation with Russia and raising the threshold of the danger of generalised war.
It was only at that point that Biden, knowing full well that an atomic war would not only take place on the European stage, denounced the risks of a nuclear conflict, limiting retaliation to sanctions and financial and arms support for Ukraine.
The last mile for the European Union
What is relevant to our political condition is the new leap forward the EU took with the Versailles extraordinary summit to sustain its international role.
For more than 20 years there have been those who claim that the EU is just a ‘geographical expression’, continuing to deny a reality that is becoming more and more evident, without considering that we are in a process that does not have the ‘classical’ characteristics, if any, of the constitution of a new supranational state entity.
The EU as an imperialist power is being built precisely through crises!
The 2008 crisis initiated an advanced phase of economic and financial integration, of which Draghi’s presidency at the ECB with “quantitative easing” was the most functional management for continental construction.
The pandemic crisis has led not only to the strengthening of common financial instruments, with the Recovery Fund, but also to the launch of a phase of integration of the European industrial structure that brings back to the continent production relocated worldwide, which proposes a technological leap forward at the cost of closing down economic sectors that are now obsolete, a thesis made explicit by Draghi when he stated that not all companies can be saved.
All this is topped off with an “environmentalist” ideology, which is now crumbling under the blows of war, once again favouring private profit over environmental protection.
Finally, the war in Ukraine has provided an opportunity, which the EU intends to seize, to go the “last mile”, that is to say to concretely start the process of militarisation of production, Warfare, which will allow the economic revival and the construction of the European Army so often evoked but now within reach.
The meeting of heads of state in Versailles on 11 and 12 March will clear up any ambiguity in this regard. In the meantime, a truth that has been clear for some time has emerged, namely that NATO has two main players, the US and the EU, who are striving for strategic parity, which the US will finally have to take note of.
In addition, the European rearmament process has been laid down in black and white, with an investment and planning plan that leaves no room for doubt. On the other hand, at other times, someone said that if the United States of Europe were to be born, it could only be reactionary, but so be it!
And what about the prospects?
Of course it is not easy to make predictions because today one can quickly plunge into military escalation or face a more or less long phase of negotiations and conflict not necessarily limited to Ukraine.
But the error inherent in venturing on ‘forecasts’ and taking certain outcomes for granted is that of starting from a merely geopolitical logic without considering the structural data that has matured in the passage to the 21st Century.
In reality, the situation we are experiencing is that of the exhaustion of the margins of world growth, understood as a whole, of the “Capitalist Mode of Production”, or rather the historical reduction of the rate of profit with respect to the enormous financial mass in circulation in the world and produced by capitalist development in recent decades.
This is what produces the hyper-competitiveness between capitalisms that are the product of specific histories and interests.
This condition can only accentuate the international conflict beyond the reasons of the states or the reasonableness of the ruling classes. Therefore the outcome that we can rationally foresee now is not at all positive, even if the timeframe of a precipitation will not necessarily be short, but neither can it be projected over a long period of time.
This poses the need for communists, class, social and democratic forces to understand how to deal with the coming years, in which the need for unity among all those ‘excluded’ from this development, starting with the working class sectors, is as clear as day to all of us.
However, this is possible if we are aware that building unity without producing in the confrontation the quality of analysis, content and perspective of overcoming capitalist social relations is, as has often happened, condemned to last only a season.