What will it take to end this ghastly cycle of violence and bring lasting peace, not just end this current war but create a peaceful society in which humanity lives cooperatively and harmoniously? The socialist answer is we must overthrow capitalism, a system that inevitably generates conflict and inequality. And overthrowing it will require a revolution.
What will it take to make a revolution? The socialist answer is the majority of people must realize that capitalism can’t provide them a decent life. Then a militant party based in the international working class must lead them in transferring the means of production—the natural resources, factories, banks, and major corporations—from private into public ownership.
In the past decade progress has been accelerating for both of these conditions. Global capitalism is lurching from one crisis to another, and the ruling class is resorting to desperate measures to keep it alive, including war abroad and repression at home. More and more people are seeing how their and their children’s lives are being degraded to keep corporate profits rolling in. Skepticism about the official reasons for the current war is growing, as are distrust and dislike of governments and corporations. On the Left, the debate about proper theory and practice has sharpened, and the differences among parties have become clearer.
But we’re a long way from revolution. Most people in the wealthy countries still believe that reforms within the system can reverse capitalism’s decline. Most in the poor countries are still caught within authoritarian social and religious structures that hinder them from mobilizing. The Left is still unable to unite around a revolutionary program.
The Western ruling class is gambling that war and repression can delay their demise. They could be right. It is possible that by massively increasing their barbarism, they can continue their domination of Mideast oil and crush dissent at home. Capitalists have resorted to fascism before when they were in deep trouble, and they’re willing to do it again.
If they succeed in tightening their grip on us and the world, they may be able to squeeze out another hundred years of profits. This would indeed be a dismal century for humanity and our environment, far worse than now. Their next wars will be against their rivals in Russia and China. The capitalist imperative—for individuals, corporations, and nations—is dominate or go under. In this phase of global consolidation the battle becomes all consuming. Lasting peace is impossible under capitalism.
But if they lose the current war, they’ll lose their favorable oil leases and they won’t be able to build the Afghan pipeline, both of which they need to maintain their economic advantage and high profits. They’ll also lose access to consumer and labor markets in many Muslim countries.
These losses will precipitate a crisis more severe than any we’ve seen yet. Then the only way for Western capitalists to keep extracting profits will be to crack down even harder on their workers. When that happens and the workers start fighting back, we’ll have the objective conditions for revolution. And if the working class has militant, non-reformist leadership, we’ll eventually win. Then the international Left can build socialism and put an end to dominator systems such as capitalism and fundamentalism.
All this depends, though, on the defeat of NATO in the Mideast. That is a prerequisite for revolution in the foreseeable future.
How can NATO be defeated? Of the many Muslim groups that oppose Western domination, only the fundamentalists are willing to die in sufficient numbers to drive out imperialism. Repulsive and reactionary as they are, the fanatics of ISIS, al Qaeda, and Taliban have the strength of arms and faith to defeat NATO’s military, economic, and cultural invasion of their areas. None of the other groups comes close to being able to do this.
The prospect of their winning sends a shiver of dread through us because they are indeed brutal and intolerant. But in the West tolerance is disappearing as governments curtail civil liberties and criminalize dissent, primarily as proactive preparation for the coming revolutions in their own countries. And the West is far more brutal. The fundamentalists are killing hundreds, but NATO and its proxies are killing hundreds of thousands, and in much more horrible ways. Beheading is mercifully quick compared to the slow agony of burns and shrapnel. These deaths don’t make the news because that would shatter the propaganda myth necessary to drum up war fever. The varieties of violence that NATO is inflicting on these countries are much more destructive than those of the fundamentalists. WE are the top terrorist. But the mainstream media’s demonization campaign prevents us from perceiving that.
The West started this war in order to continue its control of Mideast resources. The so-called terrorists are people driven to drastic means to defend their homeland from multi-pronged foreign aggression. Their brutality comes from decades of being brutalized. Despite media lies to the contrary, Muslim countries have on balance been far more peaceful than Christian countries. They’re not trying to conquer us, we’re trying to conquer them, to control them through puppet governments. They’re fighting to throw us out, not by winning big battles but by wearing us down militarily and financially through prolonged guerrilla warfare as the Vietnamese did.
What can we as socialists do?
We can accept the lesser evil of a fundamentalist victory without rejoicing in it, and we can help progressive groups in the Mideast—socialists, women, trade unionists—to build underground organizations that can withstand fundamentalist oppression and eventually defeat it. Most of all we can prepare the working class for the coming revolution.
William T. Hathaway’s new book, “Lila, the Revolutionary,” is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old Indian girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice. Chapters are posted on www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.