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19 June 2002

The Marxist Summer University declares War… on Chauvinism ! (article published in Solidaire, 19/6/02)

The Marxist University is going international. For the second time we have invited Marxists from abroad to give a course. This time, we are very honoured to have José Maria Sison, founding president of the Communist Party of the Philippines and a frequent contributor to the International Communist Seminar, and Ella Rule, General Secretary of the Society for Friendship with Korea of Britain, who has just published with Harpal Brar an important new book, Imperialism in the Middle East. They will jointly lecture on the Marxist vision of War and Peace. We interviewed José Maria Sison.Maria McGavigan

In the 1999 International Communist Seminar, you said that the peoples of the world were currently in a situation comparable to that which existed prior to the First World War. Is that why you intend to begin your course by studying what Lenin had to say about war?

JMS: Yes. The U.S and other imperialist powers have become more aggressive and reckless due to two factors: the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the absence of a socialist country or camp that offers a powerful challenge to the capitalist system. It is utterly clear that imperialism means war and that war, as in 1914, is related to the crisis of overproduction and the struggle for a redivision of the world.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States, the main imperialist power, has become increasingly aggressive, openly threatening a number of mostly Asian countries. American troops have even landed in the Philippines. How do you explain that?

JMS: The U.S. is using September 11 as the pretext for stepping up war production (wrongly regarded as the way out of the U.S. and global economic crisis) and for deploying U.S. military forces for the purpose of blackmail, bullying, intervention and aggression in Asia. The U.S. is reinforcing its hegemony and tightening its stranglehold over Asia as an abundant source of cheap labor and cheap raw materials and as a huge market and field of investments. The increasing aggressiveness of the US is aimed at expanding and further entrenching imperialist interests.

Is the United States the only warmonger? Surely countries like India and Pakistan are also playing with fire? Aren't they also guilty of endangering world peace ?

JMS: The U.S. is not the only warmonger in the world. But it is the No. 1 warmonger, aggressor and terrorist in the world. The other warmongers include the imperialist allies and reactionary puppets of the U.S. The current ruling cliques of both India and Pakistan are puppets of the U.S. They are playing with fire because they use the threat of war or some degree of actual war to keep themselves in power and maintain their political following with slogans of chauvinism and war. They are endangering world peace. Their conflict over Kashmir has been stirred up by increased U.S. military presence and political maneuvers in South Asia. The ruling clique of each country is competing with that in the other country for bigger U>S. support.

Hasn't war become so terrible that we should be prepared to accept anything rather than that?

JMS: The high technological capacity of the U.S. and other imperialist powers for mass destruction is precisely the reason why the broad masses of the people and the revolutionary forces must work and struggle even harder to oppose and defeat imperialism and reaction in various countries and therrteby realize or strengthen national independence, democracy and socialism. Thus, we can have a new and better world of greater freedom, social justice, peace and prosperity. We can engage in mass movements and revolutionary actions in order to oppose and prevent imperialist war. If at any rate and on any scale imperialist war breaks out, the revolutionary forces and the people must act to overthrow the reactionaruy state and convert the imperialist into a revolutionary civil war.

In your course you are going to take into account Socialist and Green Party points of view, as well as those of various Trotskyite groups. Usually you are pretty hostile to them. Why do you think it is important to study what they have to say?

JMS: It is important to study what the social democratic and green parties and Trotskyite groups say because we need to understand how the imperialists or the big bourgeoisie use political formations that spout certain petty bourgeois ideas in order to mislead the proletariat and people and block the advance of the revolutionary party of the proletariat. Our understanding will enable us to fight more effectively for the revolutionary cause against the imperialists, all reaction and the petty bourgeois anticommunists. The social democrats or classical revisionists have traditionally cloaked their petty bourgeois liberalism with Marxist phraseology in order to push reformism, social chauvinism, social imperialism and social pacifism. Nowadays, after subverting the working class movement for a long time, they use neoliberal language unabashedly. The greens have taken the petty bourgeois stance of being above classes and have appropriated environmentalism as the all-encompassing issue to divert attention from the class struggle of the proletariat.

In collaboration with social democrats in ruling coalitions in Europe, they have actively supported imperialist wars launched by the U.S. and have enabled Germany to partipate in wars of aggression. The Trotskyites misrepresent their petty bourgeois notions of ultraleftism, ultrademocracy and anti-Stalinism as proletarian. In a sense, they are anarchists pretending to be Marxists. They have a predilection for ultra-Left positions which are so utterly futile that these are in the direction of defeatism. In the name of world revolution, Trotsky was against socialism in one country and against the worker-peasant alliance. He was neither for peace nor war at a time that the point was to make the Brest Litovsk peace treaty in order to gain respite for the Soviet revolution. In the name of the Left Opposition, he was against the transition policies of Lenin and Stalin. Trotsky and the Trotskyites tried all they could to undermine the Soviet Union's position and preparations against the fascist war of aggression, which finally broke out in 1941.

War and Peace : a Marxist Approach

A course in English

José Maria Sison and Ella Rule will lecture in English. Their lectures will be followed by workshops in different languages (French, Dutch, English, Spanish…) according to demand. Most of the discussion will thus take place in your own language. If you understand spoken and written English reasonably well, you should be able to follow.

To enrol, or for more information : INEM, 68 rue de la Caserne, 1000 Brussels, Belgium (Tel : 32/(0) 25 04 01 44 ; fax 32/(0)25 13 98 31 ;

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