Ukraine-Russia: like an earthquake

“The war in Ukraine is like a powerful earthquake that will have ripple effects throughout the global economy, especially in poor countries”.  That’s how IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva described the impact of the war on the world economy.  Nobody can be sure of the magnitude of this quake but even on the most optimistic view, it is going to damage significantly the economies and livelihoods of not just the people of Ukraine and Russia, but also the rest of the 7bn people globally.  And it is happening just as the world economy was supposedly recovering from the plunge in output, incomes and living standards suffered from the COVID pandemic slump in 2020 – which was the widest and deepest global contraction (if relatively short) in over 100 years.

But let us start with Ukraine itself.  Already 3m people have fled the country from the bombs and destruction of their homes and another 6m have been displaced within the country.  As with all wars, people’s lives and livelihoods have been lost.  Economically, an IMF staff report, completed on March 7, concluded that the country was paralysed.  “With millions of Ukrainians fleeing their homes and many cities under bombardment, ordinary economic activity must, to a large extent, be suspended.” Then there is the physical damage. A week ago, the Ukrainian president’s economic adviser put the damage at $100bn already.  Half of the country’s exports rely on the port of Mariupol, which is now suffering the most savage siege.

The IMF’s tentative projection is for output to fall 10 per cent in 2022 — if the war does not last long.  And that is beginning to look optimistic, as the IMF comments, “Downside risks are exceedingly high.”  This 10% compares with a decline of output of 6.6 percent in 2014, which was followed by a decline of just under 10 percent in 2015, during the earlier Russia-Ukraine conflict in Eastern Ukraine. However, the IMF warned that “data on wartime real GDP contraction (Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen) suggests that annual output contraction could eventually be much higher, in the range of 25-35%.”

Then there is Russia.  Putin’s invasion has provoked an unprecedented response in the form of economic and other sanctions against Putin’s friends and supporters and against its banks and institutions, even leading to the seizing of the country’s foreign exchange reserves – and increasing attempts to block or boycott Russian exports (including oil and gas).  Preventing the Russian central bank from deploying its international reserves and making it impossible for it to liquidate its assets, is part of an economic war designed to undermine Russia’s economy and war effort. The French finance minister said that “[w]e are waging total economic and financial war against Russia, Putin, and his government”

The Russian economy is not large compared to the G7 economies.  In total, the economic forces against Russia amount to an annual GDP of $50trn compared to the puny $4trn from Russia and Belarus.

And when it comes to military firepower, Russia is heavily outspent by the NATO countries.

So a combination of economic disruption, NATO country sanctions and spiralling inflation is going to drive the Russian economy over a cliff.  Forecasts of the output contraction vary.  The consensus puts it at about an 8% fall this year.

But the International Institute of Finance (IIF), which looks closely at Russian export and import flows, as well as capital flows, is much more pessimistic and expects a 15% fall – something not experienced in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s , taking the Russian economy back to levels of more than 20 years ago.

The use of economic sanctions against a G20 country like Russia is unprecedented.  It shows the role that ‘sanctions’ can play as an alternative to military action against governments which do not follow the wishes and dictates of imperialism in the 21st century. 

Topically, economic historian Nicholas Mulder had just published a book entitled, The Economic Weapon: the rise of sanctions as a tool of modern war.  Mulder points out that economic sanctions started to be used by imperialist powers when the League of Nations was set up after the First World War.  The leading powers in the League “believed they had equipped the organization with a new and powerful kind of coercive instrument for the modern world.” The then US president Woodrow Wilson described economic sanctions as “something more tremendous than war” that could bring “a nation to its senses just as suffocation removes from the individual all inclinations to fight.” There would be no need for force. “It is a terrible remedy. It does not cost a life outside of the nation boycotted, but it brings a pressure upon that nation which, in my judgment, no modern nation could resist.”  In that sense, sanctions remind me of medieval sieges, where cities were starved into submission, without military action.  Economic sanctions were a new 20th century weapon along with chemical weapons and nuclear bombs.

Mulder argues that economic sanctions were used first by European imperialists against peoples who lived outside the ‘civilized world’.  Then the US rise to global power in the 20th century saw both negative sanctions (oil embargoes) and positive sanctions (Lend-Lease).  “America’s sanctionism has been shaped by three factors: its unique military dominance, the ideological inflection of Cold War politics, and the role of US financial markets in the world economy.”

John Maynard Keynes saw ‘positive’ sanctions as beneficial, ie through aid and subsidy to the good guys, while applying bans, blockades and punishments to the bad guys.  And he reckoned the financial system sanction was the most powerful – and that is now being put into practice against Russia. Of course, the larger and more powerful a country, and the weaker and less firmly it is applied by an alliance of countries, the less its impact will be.

But what about the global impact of the conflict?  Although Russia and Ukraine are relatively small in output terms, they are large producers and exporters of key food items, minerals and energy. Ukraine and Russia together account for more than a quarter of the global trade in wheat and a fifth of corn sales. The longer Russian forces remain in Ukraine, the longer tractors and combines to harvest the nation’s crops stay idle, it threatens food security far beyond the region, the IMF has warned.

For example, Egypt imports 80 per cent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. With many countries in Africa and the Middle East being similarly exposed, Europe could soon have another migration crisis on its hands, on top of millions of Ukrainian refugees.  Then there is Ukraine’s role in supplying many of the rare gases needed in industrial processes — such as neon, krypton and xenon — including already beleaguered semiconductor production.

Energy is the main spillover channel for Europe as Russia is a critical source of natural gas imports.

This is going to hit output across Europe.

The IMF reckoned that “the prolongation of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, in addition to the humanitarian and economic losses, will also lead to significant spillover effects throughout the world: deterioration of food security, surging of energy and commodity process, rising inflationary pressures, disruption of supply chains, increasing social spending for refugees, and increasing poverty. The global economic damage of this war will be devastating.”

In its report, the OECD also presented a dismal picture if the war continues for much longer: “global growth could be reduced by over 1 percentage point, and global inflation raised by close to 2½ percentage points in the first full year after the start of the conflict. These estimates are based on the assumption that the commodity and financial market shocks seen in the first two weeks of the conflict persist for at least one year, and include a deep recession in Russia, with output declining by over 10% and inflation rising by close to 15 percentage points.”

And if energy imports from Russia fall by 20%, either through sanctions or counter-sanctions, it would reduce gross output in the European economies by over 1 percentage point, with significant differences across countries.

Management consultants McKinsey also predicted nasty outcomes for Europe’s economies, in particular. In McKinsey’s hoped-for scenario, where the end of hostilities is in sight by the second half of 2022 and sanctions do not extend into the energy sector (so that energy exports from Russia to Europe keep flowing), McKinsey reckons that GDP growth in the eurozone and Germany would stagnate in 2022, but then recover to 2.1 percent in 2023 and 4.8 percent in 2024.  That’s bad enough, but if there is a protracted conflict that intensifies the refugee crisis in Central Europe and where Western countries and Russia further extend sanctions, leading to the shutdown of oil and gas exports from Russia to Europe; then the eurozone would tip into recession in 2022 and 2023, led by Germany.

And just as there was long-term ‘scarring’ of capitalist economies from the Great Recession of 2008-and the COVID pandemic slump of 2020, the Ukraine-Russia conflict is adding more damage.  ‘Globalisation’ (the extension of world trade and capital flows) was an important counter-tendency for imperialist economies to falling profitability of productive capital domestically in the last two decades of the 20th century.  But globalisation, the expansion of untrammelled imperialist capital flows and trade, stuttered in the 21st century, and under the impact of the Great Recession, went into reverse.  World profitability fell to near all-time lows.  This is the underlying cause of intensifying economic crises and geopolitical conflicts in the last two decades.

And now that this apparently ‘regional’ war that has been revved into a world issue, it could fundamentally alter the global economic and geopolitical order as energy trade shifts, supply chains reconfigure, payment networks fragment, and countries rethink reserve currency holdings. After the Trump period US protectionist tariffs against China, Mexico and Europe, now there is this increased geopolitical tension, which further raises risks of economic fragmentation, especially for trade and technology.

Then there is debt.  The COVID-19 pandemic coincided with a further rapid increase in corporate indebtedness. Corporate debt had already been increasing globally since 2007, but the pandemic crisis has led to a further sharp increase. US corporate indebtedness rose by 12.5% between 2018 and 2020, much more than the increase in the entire decade leading up to COVID-19. Graph below shows debt as % of GDP.

Now falling growth in output, even recession, weaker investment and lower corporate profitability, alongside rising inflation, threaten to deliver widespread bankruptcies among corporate ‘zombies’ and ‘fallen angels’.  This makes the plans of central banks to hike interest rates to control accelerating inflation difficult at least, and impossible at most.  One recent empirical analysis reckons that “when the level of corporate debt is sufficiently high, a contractionary monetary policy even increases inflation”, reminiscent of the stagflation episode in the 1970s after the oil ‘shocks’ then.  The paper concludes that “our work suggests that monetary policy will not be effective in reducing inflation gently towards a soft landing. This means that central banks ultimately have to choose between generating a recession, with significant bankruptcies, or accepting continuing stagflation.”

‘Liberal’ economist Wolf, is deeply worried. “A new world is being born. The hope for peaceful relations is fading…. No one knows what will happen. But we do know this looks to be a disaster…....The combination of war, supply shocks and high inflation is destabilising, as the world learnt in the 1970s. Financial instability now seems very likely, too. A prolonged bout of stagflation seems certain, with large potential effects on financial markets.” In the long term, the emergence of two blocs with deep splits between them is likely, as is an accelerating reversal of globalisation and sacrifice of business interests to geopolitics. Even nuclear war is, alas, conceivable.”  

Wolf claims that this war is a battle between the forces of ‘democracy’ (as represented by NATO) and the forces of ‘autocracy’ (as represented by Russia and China).  This is nonsense – where does NATO ally Saudi Arabia, or the military dictatorship in Egypt, or the autocracy of NATO member Turkey, fit into this categorisation?  Instead, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has exposed the increasing contradictions in the world capitalist economy between the imperialist powers on the one hand and those countries which try to resist the policies and will of imperialism. 

IMF chief Georgieva pronounced that “We live in a more shock-prone world.”  Yes, the shocks have been coming thick and fast in the 21st century.  Georgieva continued:  “And we need the strength of the collective to deal with shocks to come.”  Indeed!  But it is not the collective will of the capitalist powers that can deal with these shocks: they have failed over climate change; over preventing and stopping the COVID pandemic; and over ending poverty and keeping world peace.  Instead, all will depend on the collective will of organised working people.

75 thoughts on “Ukraine-Russia: like an earthquake

    1. wouldn’t it be nice and easy to digest if the 20th century repeated itself? buckle up. you aint seen nothing yet.

  1. Russia has shown in last years (since the first sanctions started with the Crimea issue and the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines false flag by Ukraine) that sanctions have a positive result. Russia is moving towards autarky (not only replacing French imported cheese).
    Russia has little debt and huge reserves (300B locally and 300B illegaly frozen)
    Russia has the lowest cost in energy production (While Germany has the highest)
    Russia has vast energy resources which China is happy to buy.
    If you actually calculate the GDP of Russia based on real productive industrial factors, Russias economic real value is much bigger.
    Look at Russias shipbuilding capacity and production.
    Compare the US investment in military items and Russia’s. Certainly Russia is much smaller, but they have military technology the U.S will need another 10 years to obtain (Supersonic missiles, R500 radar weapons, etc).
    Go to Amazon and get Martyanov’s 3x books if you wish to learn where Russia is today in military technology.
    The most important factor, and this cannot be measured in economic terms, are the Russians as nation.
    Look at the economic recovery of the Putin government and compare where Russia was thanks to the alcoholic Yetsin and the IMF mafia.
    Russia is a nation which refuses to join the Western deconstruction of family, society and nation.
    They value their history, tradition and society.
    Over 20.000.000 Russians gave their life to defeat Nazi Germany and today Nazis in Ukraine are trained by NATO to fight Russia.
    All wars are bad, but in this case (Ukraine) we have a war which was staged in 2014 by the U.S with a coup, to turn Ukraine into a Russian unfriendly nation. (See Victoria Nuland statemet in U.S congress about 5B investment to trigger a coup).
    This war could well trigger a nuclear war and if it does not happen is because Putin does not want it.
    by the way China is behind Russia and this will be a very important economic factor.
    Cheers from France.

  2. I might be old fashioned, but I make a difference in economic terms about an economy based on real industrial production plus low cost of energy against countries which are based on virtual financial Ponzi schemes, being sustained solely by having a currency (with no industrial backing) on a make believe value and exponential accelerating debt.
    Only today I actually understand and can see what I was listening in my young years at the School of Poilitical Economy in East-Berlin.
    There is a huge difference.

  3. I think the West is hugely underestimating the Russian economy and hugely overestimating the potency of the USA:

    1) The economic warfare against Russia is far from successful: the Global South (specially, but not only, China, India, Brazil and the entire ASEAN) has not adhered to the sanctions. Even Saudi Arabia and UAE (or Qatar, don’t remember which one) refused to flood the market with oil at the request of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. himself, and, to top it off, Saudi Arabia is even considering exporting some of its oil in Renminbi. Israel has also refused to adhere to the sanctions against Russia; so, it is not even a completed siege, let alone an effective one. Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has already stated today (via TASS) that the Russian economy will not collapse (even though it will suffer a lot);

    2) Albeit small in monetary terms, Russia’s economy is very complete (autarchic). It is a very sui generis Third World economy, with unparalleled high-end technological industry, mainly in the military sector. It also has covered a lot of the Soviet deficiency in the IT sector, with a robust software and cybernetic industry. That makes it much more effective in open, modern warfare than, e.g. Brazil, even though both have very similar GDPs. In warfare, manufacturing and technology always win: an example of this is the War of Secession, where the Confederation, albeit being monetarily equal to the Union, was swallowed by the latter when it came down to real warfare. Monetary wealth does correlate, but not automatically translates, to military power;

    3) Russia is capitalist, therefore it has more societal tolerance to mass poverty than the USSR. The USSR folded easily to the recessions of the Perestroika because poverty in the socialist system is unacceptable. A mere -15% GDP recession in capitalist Russia will be easily absorbed. Capitalist Russia can also use tools of alienation and fetichization – such as nationalism, Christianity, chauvinism – in moments of open warfare to keep the masses more supportive than they would be if they didn’t exist; such tools weren’t available to the dialectical-materialist society of the USSR, whose people quickly gave up of it as soon as the prospect of true socialism could not be delivered anymore;

    4) Regardless of #3, the fact is Russia is only using a fraction of its power in Ukraine. They’re only using professional soldiers, and they’re almost only using old, Soviet-era weapons and equipment. As we can infer from the disaster of the Vietnam War, morale at home only starts to kick in when conscripts start to die, in significant quantities;

    5) China will for sure absorb whatever oil and gas Russia cannot export to the West due to the sanctions. China has a mammoth geopolitical weakness in the Malacca Strait, from which Middle Eastern oil flows to its territory, and which the USN can easily fully block, thus starving China of oil. It will speed up whatever oil and gas pipeline projects it already has with Russia, and also accelerate similar ones its BRI already envisages, so as to also absorb Iranian (and, in the future, also Saudi?) oil, through the land, thus bypassing the American naval superiority; long story short, Russia’s oil and gas exports will not suffer either way;

    6) The Western ideological supremacy after the 1990s is frailer than we thought. Since 2008, it has been kept in a very fragile and chaotic equilibrium made of a constellation of ideologies spread across the political spectrum, which resulted in some kind of synthesis that rested on the fact that, ultimately, the USA could still defeat, alone, the rest of the world combined if it came to that. Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine, after officially recognizing two republics as independent, while NATO could only watch speechless, and apparently broke that fragile ideological equilibrium that existed in the West. Both the Western Left and Right, as well as the Center, seem to be divided even amongst themselves on what position to take, and on what to do, over this war (precisely because the USA/NATO can do nothing about it);

    7) Finally, there’s the obvious fact that Russia has already won this war. Ukraine as we know it will cease to exist. The IMF will have to absorb a gargantuan loss. Putin’s popularity skyrocketed, and now he has the so-called “political capital” to rein in the oligarchs and start what he called a “regime of substitution of imports”, an old dream of his, which he publicly endorses since at least 2014. We cannot separate the politics of war from its results, and the result is a Russian absolute victory over the Ukraine.

  4. Economic warfare is war by other means. The US is at war with Russia. The reason for this is the continued failure of world capitalist economy and political destabilization in the US. Biden has done his own Zelensky, openly renounced the popular elements of his own professed program and united with fascists. The universal condemnation by the bourgeois of Biden over Afghanistan and inflation (a world-wide phenomenon that cannot be attributed to Biden but nevertheless is) is the bourgeoisie’s determination to gamble on war rather than surrender, to turn to fascist methods and to beggar the masses instead of going broke themselves.

    Radical depressions in living standards are likely the point, not failures they seek to avoid. As always it’s not quite clear who “they” are, but as we should all know, we aren’t calling the shots. In the US it is not even possible to vote for programs and policies!

  5. Russia’s economy may not fair so badly, to the extent Russia can increase trade with China.

    However, the West might see this closer economic relationship as sanction breaking and worthy of heavy sanctions against China, particularly if trade in military goods is involved.

    These anti-China sanctions would be even more devastating if the West was serious about them.

    Given that the West has been intent on containing China, it has already begun to retrench trade with China anyway and this would bring economic and political benefits to the West, longer term.

    However, China in turn is intent on the development of its internal economy, so this may not be as great a concern to it.

    It seems to me these matters are not at all clear cut.

  6. Roberts has one of the best blogs around. It is especially a relief that he does not turn werewolf over the Ukraine war, howling for absurd things that would start a nuclear war. Some people I have followed until now have disappointed me in that way.

    I have found some commentators who are quite good about Russia, especially the economic aspects of the war on it. Gilbert Doctorow and Pepe Escobar come to mind.

    I just wrote my own blog piece on it, full of links to other good sources on the war and with more good links.

    Some of them contradict Roberts about the prospects for the Russian economy out of this conflict. Some claim that the Russian economy seems to do better after having some sanctions laid on it. It will just need a brief period of adjustment.

    The reason is this; the people around Putin really have a very libertarian mentality when it comes to economics. They are tied to these oligarchs. However, there are powerful elements in Russia which demand that national interests be defended.

    This is why the Putin government wasted so much time trying to find a compromise with “The West” and why they have finally given up and are responding aggressively to the nonsense. This is how they managed to get stuck with half their monetary reserves in foreign banks.

    The Putin refusal of economic planning and investment in the domestic economy has held back growth in Russia. In recent speeches, Putin seems finally to have come around to the idea of internally generated investment. But the Russian economy is already well structured for self sufficient growth and trade with countries outside the west.

    This is because it has been demanded by these interests opposed to oligarchy. But it has also been driven by the west’s sanctions. This has encouraged import replacing domestic production, especially development of agriculture.

    I do believe that the stage is now set for a sustained economic boom in Russia.

    By the way;

  7. The Liberal world order had plenty of chances to reform itself, leading right up to the 19th of February in Munich where Zelensky essentially entertained the idea that Ukraine would seek nuclear rearmament. This was the last straw in terms of the Russian security doctrine. How and why rabid foaming at the mouth Neocon’s like Victoria Nuland where allowed to craft this insane policy and enact it over the last 10 years is one for the scholars.

    I agree with Michael’s analysis and see the very obvious global recession incoming, and that this is a tragedy. Materialism takes all things into account, so there are benefits to this process that no one seems to be acknowledging:

    1) Europe gets 5-7 million refugees, mostly from a very western, white, and embracing European culture. The Austro-Hungarians originally settled hundreds and thousands of ethnic Germans, Poles, etc. in western Ukraine for nearly a hundred years before WW1. This population makes up the basis of the EuroMaidan, so in a way the chickens are coming home to roost. If we had said 6 months ago that such an exodus of people could occur without the outbreak of such a destructive war, no one would have thought this possible, both politically and practically. Germany will be the primary recipient, and they need this population badly for a plethora of demographic and economic reasons. Because of the context of their “white” and “European” status, this labor will not be ostracized and not be as controversial as Muslim and North African refugees. Horribly racist? Sure.

    2) America gets the ability to force NATO strengthening as it continues to gain power over Europe. Germany, like a young lover who had wandered from the embrace of it’s long time patron, is now firmly slapped across the face and forced to end all pleasantries with it’s temporary fling. The North German port contracts nullified by the ending of the Merkel regime, the one’s that America had brow-beaten Germany into accepting, are back. Overpriced LPG from the USA will continue to try and offset Russian gas. America has erected a new Iron curtain on the Russians, and once again there is no doubt that Germany has been conquered for a third time by the USA in the last 100 years, as Michael Hudson recently pointed out.

    3) The Eurasian model, at least partially, is realized as the Sino-Russian alliance. Now the BRI isn’t just a nice idea that will happen for global development, but something that must happen for Asia and Africa to survive. All paths lead to China, and their influence and power has again become hegemonic. Russia and China have some good economic relations ahead, but the “single customer” market isn’t going to be as lucrative as it has been as it de-dollarizes. The real benefit to Russian and Chinese cooperation is the solving of China’s biggest weakness- it’s lowkey nuclear arsenal that is only capable of defensive second strikes. Now the union, if ultimately consummated militarily, finally throws the global nuclear struggle into a parity with the west.

    I had hoped this would be more of a peaceful and slowly developing phenomenon, where the US gradually ceded power and the de-dollarization occurred when there was a strong Chinese currency that was established to take it’s place, with a more built up BRI structure. But as geopolitics always shows, such transitions never really occur smoothly. As the balance of power shifts, the various players grab at their possessions and hold them close in a desperate attempt to re-connect with material reality. It’s enough that the “multipolar” order was looking to be a high probability, and that the rules based Liberal order was indeed as weak as we all thought it was.

    Contemporary Chinese Marxist scholars have been pushing the idea of avoiding the “Thucydides Trap” for some time, especially in the Xi era. Their assertion that war is not necessary as a unipolar power losses it’s heteronomy as other poles mature was one of reasonable clarity and hope.

    Doesn’t seem realistic to expect American Hegemony to follow this logic.

  8. The US ruling class and the ruling classes of Europe must surely be measuring the damage that their sanctions against Russia to their own economies against the political pressure that they put on Russia, and if the damage is that bad then surely they’ll push Ukraine into cutting a deal with Russia so that this whole business can be put to rest and the (shaky) recovery from the Corona Virus crisis be resumed.

  9. Michael for the first time I sense in this article, that you grasp the enormity of the situation that is upon us. The emerging period will be the most tumultuous and stressful in the history of humanity. In this decade humanity has finally reached the inevitable cross-roads, left to revolution, or right to barbarism. History’s first industrial society – capitalism – was never going to go quietly into the night, but to scorch that night.

    As Marxists we need to remember who we are. We are the pilot light in history’s boiler. As long as we stay alight the gas will ignite when it arrives. Our duty is to keep that pilot light alight. This means developing theory to show there is a way out of this capitalist hell, it means preparing a programme to unite the class in struggle , and it means organizing. Our class is at least 1.8 billion strong facing 3 million capitalist families, so don’t despair, prepare.

    (p.s. I have apologised to Michael for my response to Anti-capital on his website in the comments section of the previous post. I thought this was a private conversation as I was using my phone.)

  10. Michael,
    I share your assessment that the Ukraine war is a war between Russia and the NATO countries, and I share your assessment that this war is causing a turning point that heralds the end of the world as we know it.
    I object to your characterization of the conflicting parties. According to your characterization, it is a conflict between “imperialist powers on the one hand and those countries which try to resist the policies and will of imperialism.”
    At the UN, 141 countries condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine. Do these 141 states all belong to the “imperialist powers”? I do not think so.
    Your characterization of Russia and Belarus is even more nebulous. In any case, China is not (yet) part of the conflict. Russia and Belarus are the countries “who try to resist the policies and will of imperialism”?
    “Try to resist” is neither a Marxist category nor a meaningful category at all because it is only negatively defined. Does this determination only follow Machiavellian logic: the enemy of my enemy is my friend? What are the positive and own goals and interests of Russia and Belarus?
    This question is circumvented or hushed up. However, this question is central to deciding whether we can take sides in this war.
    I think whoever takes sides in this war has given up the social emancipation of humanity from capitalism, war and environmental destruction.

    Wal Buchenberg, Hannover

    1. I think the best way to see this is in the context of ascending and descending power. Throughout the history of capitalist imperialism, the dominant imperialist powers have sought to constrict rising competitors. So for example colonization in the 19th Century by Britain and France was designed to cut off the rise of Germany and the US from markets and sources of raw materials. In the 20th Century for example, the US cut off Japan from its oil and iron ore to restrict its rise and potential domination of the Pacific. Latterly, we see the embargoes launched by the US against China to hobble its technical advancement. In all cases the dominant but declining power, in this case the USA, is the reactionary power, acting against free trade, breaking up multi-lateral agreements and provoking war. In the case of China and Russia, they have every reason to engage in free trade and embark on multi-lateral agreements including military agreements based on the mutual recognition of security concerns. This does not make Russia and China better as capitalist countries, merely different. Time is on their side while time is running out for the USA. This is what makes the USA so dangerous. In three years time China will have closed the technological gap using its formidable industrial might and that will be game over for the USA.

  11. I believe that just taking into account comparative military spending is not enough to compare the actual military power of two MILITARY super powers like the US and Russia.
    First of all, the Russian currency is strongly undervalued with respect to PPP, and although it is true that this approach has its well-known limitations, it should be taken into account when we are talking about the production and actual delivery of weapons.
    Second, US imperialism has to support an unrivaled imperialist military deployment with its budget (with bases around the world and 12 aircraft carriers) that is much more costly than the Russian approach as a regional power with an emphasis on defense.
    Taking the above into account, it is easy to understand why the United States, despite spending approximately seven times more than Russia, exported only twice as much weapons as Russia in the five-year period 2017-21 – 38.6 vs. 18.6% of world arms exports according to SIPRI. To a large extent, military spending then subsidizes the existence of the old industrial military complex with delivery of equipment at inflated prices. Here we must also consider that in the current world arms market, free market policies do not govern, but rather extra-economic coercion and sanctionism. In fact, it was as sanctions were imposed that the Russian side fell from 24% in 2012-16 to the current quota. The United States has many captive arms markets like all of Western Europe without going any further. It recently forced German toy capitalism to buy nuclear-capable F-35s: basically tactical free-fall bombs.
    The last issue is the validity of mutually assured destruction, beyond all the imperialist propaganda insists on “demonstrating” the opposite. Moreover, today there is a strategic advantage (although of course transitory) of Russia and China in the form of hypersonic missiles. I think of systems like kinzhal, Zircon, Iskander, Avangard + Sarmat…nice names btw.
    Of course, with this comment I do not intend to support any capitalist power, be it imperialist (the United States) or non-imperialist (Russia). The working class should position itself independently, and the workers of each country should bet on the defeat of “their” own bourgeoisie in any conflict. It is simply a matter of understanding the real capacity of the competing powers.

    1. This is not 1917, the end of a war between imperial states. Lenin was seen as a German agent. He himself expected (hoped for) a revolution in Germany. The war on Russia is a war by Western imperialism on Russia, which is supported by China, which is not a capitalist state. As a matter of fact the war on Russia is a war on China. We should be a bit more subtle in our position in this conflict in respect the global working class. The war on Russia and China is an all out war on us.

      1. One further (no doubt controversial) point: China seemed to be leaning strongly towards its captialist sector before the crisis of 2008, which signified the dead end of capitalism as such (and, therefore, imperialism), and its fallimg into the rent and interest seeking barbarism of the United States’ war machine. The rise of Xi Jinping signifies China’s recognition of this historical fact.

      2. One last point: the rent and interest payers in the core, barbaric oligarcies are the increasingly gig-working, casual, and homeless proletarians, and, in the Global South, the local, indebted, sub-contracting capitalists.

      3. Of course 2022 is not 2017. What part of MAD don’t you understand? Or is it that you are MAD? I think Boris’s party in the 90s, with his Vodka overdose, made us forget this bitter reality. Jokes aside, I’m sorry but we need the workers of the advanced countries if we want to avoid that the end of capitalism also means the end of humanity. We need them to destroy from within the mode of production that sustains the imperialist military deployment. And I say this as a worker on the “capitalist periphery.” As the hated Maddie would say: “There Is No Alternative” .
        As for war, of course not all wars are the same, that is the ABC of Marxism. But from a class point of view, you cannot support the invasion of one country by another unless the invading country is a Workers State (or economy in transition to socialism) and the invaded country is a capitalist country. And you would still need the support of an important part of the working class of the capitalist country for the invasion to be considered “progressive”, that is, to have the objective of eliminating the capitalist mode of production and replacing it with a more advanced one. I see those beautiful red stars on the fuselages of the Sukhoi-35, for example, but I do not see the intervention of a workers’ army against another capitalist in Ukraine today.
        By the way, what do you mean by “We should be a bit more subtle in our position in this conflict in respect to the global working class”? Please tell me more.

      4. luisgac puts up a exceedingly high bar to define “progressive.” and even higher for finding a class interest. The class content luisgac seemingly demands, a workers’ state invading a capitalist state to impose socialism implies the US workers had no class interest in the US war against Germany and Japan in WWII. Perhaps luisgac’s position is not seriously meant and therefore its implications are moot?

        At any rate, the highly esteemed Anne Applebaum (interviewed on Fresh AIr by Terry herself!) has explained it very clearly, in her article “Ukraine Must Win!” ( She is willing to concede that Ukraine isn’t required to join NATO but that it must, must, must be allowed to join in the imperialist terror crusade! Since Zelensky said over a year ago that Ukraine includes Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk, the coy concession Ukraine may adjust its borders isn’t really a concession at all. The suggestion of “peacekeepers” is a suggestion for permanent occupation. NATO always considers itself fighting for peace.

        But she explains the real value of Ukrainian victory thus: “A victory for Ukraine really will be a victory for all who believe in democracy and the rule of law. Citizens of existing democracies and members of the democratic opposition in Russia, Cuba, Belarus, and Hong Kong will all be emboldened. ‘Their struggle is ours,’ a Venezuelan acquaintance told me last week.” luisgac and others here are proud to join hands in the great international struggle for counterrevolution. Hong Kong, the most predatory capitalism in China, hurrah! Gusanos returning US property, hurrah! The state property in Belarus finally sold off in a fire sale like the glorious days of Yeltsin, hurrah!* The democratic government of Venezuela to be over thrown in the name of democracy, hurrah!

        My judgment is that Anne Applebaum is a fascist apologist and always has been. But the fact is that Applebaum is exactly as I said, highly esteemed. I say, when the Applebaums are leading one side, you can’t pretend you’re better by not taking sides in a way that helps the Applebaums.

    2. The ruling elite in Russia are anti-communist, because the Russian masses are not anti-communist at all…

      1. The first half of the above sentence should read “The ruling elite in Russia are fragilely anti-communist..”

  12. US Secretary of State Blinken declared that Russia could not end the war by withdrawing “irreversibly.” This is not explicitly demanding Putin’s head on a pike, unilateral disarmament, massive reparations or territorial division of Russia…but it could mean all of those. At the very least, Zelensky last year boasted of the conquest of Crimea, which would be very close to stripping Russia of naval forces in the Black Sea. There is every reason to think the US intends the war to lead to victory, however this is secretly defined. There is no hint of any desire for peace on the US part. But nations do not simply surrender. Thus there will be no negotiations acceptable to the US, or to its fascist brothers in Ukraine probably. If they wanted peace they could have kept the Minsk agreements, after all.

  13. Another interesting aspect of this process that initiated in 2008 is the fact that, if capitalism indeed is in its descending phase, and if the USA is the ultimate capitalist empire, then it is evident that the American fragile ideological equilibrium – the so-called Postmodern Zoo – will only become more and more fragile over time.

    Indeed, we can already safely state that the only thing that still unites the USA (from the far-left to the far-right) is anticommunism. The American Empire, therefore, morphed from the Liberal Empire (in the ascending phase of capitalism) to the Anticommunist Empire (in the descending phase of capitalism).

  14. One last point: the rent and interest payers in the core, barbaric oligarcies are the increasingly gig-working, casual, and homeless proletarians, and, in the Global South, the local, indebted, sub-contracting capitalists.

  15. Some of the rather unhinged anti-American rhetoric in here seem to forget that US of A is also the birthplace of May1st, March 8th, IWW…not to mention Noam Chomsky, Yippies, “Occupy Wall St.”, David Graeber…but I presume none of those matters, since none were really “Communists” and had no affinities for dear Uncle Joseph!

    1. Anti-commumism is a kind of US (spread to Europe) viral religion. The events leading up to Russia’s counterattack against US/NATO’S theatrical war preparations and actual violent provocations are self evident– except, of couse, for the cultural icons that Hoshang lists: liberal, anti-communist “progressive” masqueraders all, but he should have included billionaire colorist George Soros’s glossy Jacobin Magazine and DSA, but certainly not Chomsky. See his interview on Youtube:

      I find it sadly ironic that Wal–living in an occupied country which is still, like Russia, the chief threat (as either capitalist or communist) to Anglo-American imperialism and burdoned with the occupier’s targeted array of US nuclear missiles–speaks of Russia as not having found yet found “its center of orienation”! Apparently the liberal marxist in Wal thinks Germany( within the embrace of Blackrock) has.

      1. The above interview was given before the Russian invasion. More recently Chomsky has called the invasion a “war crime”. But read or listen carefully to his comments. Most comments refer to the many, much greater crimes against humanity committed by the US and its contemptuous, hegemonic unwillingness to consider the Minsk accords and any other options for peace that Putin repeatedly suggested over the years since the coup–all of this makes it clear to the reader (as it did to Putin) that there was always only one option: accept the processes of slowly being destroyed as a viable state, or else. Chomsky at 92 is amazingly still clear-headed, even handed, and logical, but he is still an anarchist.

      2. I must apologize to Wal for implying that he is a liberal. Obviously, he is not. But I think Wal is wrong to blame Russia’s invasion for an already, colonized, demoralized Europe. I hope he is wrong about Russian fears of China.

      3. Chomsky, as most leftists do, always skip over a few salient facts.

        Chomsky and co talk as if NATO has no legitimate strategic interests in Europe and as if it is only Russia that has legitimate strategic interests in Europe or at least as if its interests have primacy.

        NATO exists because Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet and because, historically, Russia has been an aggressor nation.

        NATO has been able to expand eastwards because the peoples of the buffer states have all spurned Russia. They are done with Russian oppression and corruption. They want the freedoms, prosperity and security they see in the West. NATO may have sought to influence the governments of these buffer states but nothing would have happened had there not been the support of the peoples of these buffer states.

        Russian propaganda would have it that NATO is a military threat to Russia. This is just plain nonsense. The peace has been kept because there is a strategic stalemate in place. It has been so for 75 years.

        No NATO state has ever invaded/attacked Russia.

        NATO did not invade Russia at its weakest moment after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

        NATO dismantled, degraded and decommissioned its conventional forces after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

        These are facts are not consistent with the notion that NATO is a military threat to Russia.

        Instead, 20th/21st century history demonstrates that Russia is a military threat to Europe, beginning with Poland in 1939, Finland 1940, the Baltic States in 1940, Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Georgia 2008 and now Ukraine.

        The idea that the Ukraine is run by a bunch of Nazis is stupid. Yes, there are ultra nationalist groups in the Ukraine. These people despise socialism/communism and are vehemently anti-Russian. As with any nation, Ukraine has its share of extremist, Nazi like groups but these constitute a tiny section of Ukrainian society, as they do in other nations.

        The irony is palpable. Russia is a fascist state and has its share of Nazi like groups. It itself employs ultra right wing private militias (e.g. Wagner who Russia has commissioned to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the battlefield). It has supported major right wing political groups across Europe and the US.

      4. Rech, NATO is a military alliance against Russia, not a state.

        …..But who told you that Russia has the largest supply of nuclear weapons on the planet? and on what planet? …maybe the secret source who told you that it was Russia who really bombed Hiroshima and Nagaski? Who is that masked man? –None other than the fearless Captain Rech!

      5. What’s the distance between George Soros bashing crowd & QAnon (QNazi, Gazpacho police) folks?
        Not much, effectively they’re one & the same.
        Lenin is also very Anarchist in “State and Revolution.”
        Chomsky was also opposing Vietnam war, before most of folks in here were born.
        Who really hates Anarchists:
        Uncle Joe & his family
        QNazi, Gazpacho police crowd.

      6. m&m,

        I do not see the point of your latest comment. You have reduced yourself to deploying silly barbs. The reason is, that you have no valid arguments to offer contra the incontrovertible, real historical and on the ground facts. There is no Marxist riposte to these realpolitik facts.

        The European strategic picture was once one of capitalist to socialist competition. It is now a theatre of capitalist to fascist competition.

        Yes, the US has nuclear weapons, but so does Russia and in numerical supremacy. This is the strategic stalemate, however, somewhat disturbed by Putin’s maniacal nuclear sabre rattling.

        Where did I did say NATO was a state? And, yes, it is a military alliance designed to counter Russia. So what?

        The supreme irony of ironies is that the leftist Chomsky and co are apologists for a brutal repressive fascist regime.

        The deplorable fact for Marxist revolutionaries is that there is no hot bed of proletarian revolution simmering within the borders of Europe (and Russia for that matter). The peoples of Europe have enjoyed prosperity, freedoms and security not available anywhere else. Capitalism is not perfect. The neoliberal order is not perfect and is open to considerable and scathing criticism, yet this is what broad swathes of peoples around the globe want in preference to the alternatives.

      7. In 1939, 1956 and 1968 the Soviet Union (not Russia) was lead by respectively the Georgian Stalin, the Ukrainian Khruschev (who gifted the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR) and the Ukrainian Brezhnev, so I’m not sure how that corroborates your racist propaganda about the Russian people being bloodthirsty monsters, but since Rech lives in an alternate universe where America and its satellites (Germany(!), France, Japan) have no history of imperialism, warmongering, slavery and genocide it all makes sense.

      8. “The European strategic picture was once one of capitalist to socialist competition. It is now a theatre of capitalist to fascist competition.”

        A: Fascism and capitalism are not mutually exclusive, quite the opposite: fascism is a form of capitalist class rule. B: Russia under Putin is not fascist: not all forms of “authoritarianism” are fascist and the Putin government’s supposed authoritarianism is greatly exaggerated by the US imperial propaganda outlets. C) Contemporary Russia is a neoliberal capitalist oligarchy so the “current strategic picture” cannot be capitalist Europe vs. a supposedly non-capitalist Russia. The conflict in Ukraine is ultimately the result of competition between rival capitalist powers, not some ideological crusade against Putin’s supposed fascism which would be absurd given the open Nazism of much of the Ukrainian ruling class.

        “The peoples of Europe have enjoyed prosperity, freedoms and security not available anywhere else. Capitalism is not perfect. The neoliberal order is not perfect and is open to considerable and scathing criticism, yet this is what broad swathes of peoples around the globe want in preference to the alternatives.”

        Neoliberalism did not bring “freedom and prosperity” to the former Soviet Union but rather starvation and misery. You haven’t given the slightest bit of evidence that neoliberalism is at all popular. People want freedom and prosperity that is precisely why the “neoliberal order” is so despised throughout the world.

      9. m&m,

        “….the Soviet Union (not Russia)… ”

        Effectively the same thing, different name.

        “… the Russian people being bloodthirsty monsters…”

        I didn’t say anything about the Russian people at large – it is their rulers, generally, that have been despicable people.

        “…where America and its satellites (Germany(!), France, Japan) have no history of imperialism…”

        Where have I said this? To the contrary.

        You continually ascribe statements to me that I have not made. This is further evidence you have no substantive arguments to offer.

      10. m&m,

        “Neoliberalism did not bring “freedom and prosperity” to the former Soviet Union but rather starvation and misery.”

        The Bolsheviks and Stalin brought misery and starvation (as well as wholesale murder and torture) to the Soviet Union.

        So they were neoliberals?

      11. m&m,

        “You haven’t given the slightest bit of evidence that neoliberalism is at all popular. People want freedom and prosperity that is precisely why the “neoliberal order” is so despised throughout the world.”

        It doesn’t have to be popular, just more popular than the alternatives (Russian/Chinese fascism, socialism).

        And I define fascism as autocracy married to oligopoly capitalism with brutal suppression of dissent. (These were defining characteristics of the Franco, Hitler and Mussolini lead regimes.)

        (If you can make up statements you say I have made then I can define things as I like.)

      12. “Effectively the same thing, different name.”

        Here you prove your ignorance of both Russia and the USSR yet you still feel compelled to rant and rave about it as if you were an authority on the subject.

        “I didn’t say anything about the Russian people at large – it is their rulers, generally, that have been despicable people.”

        Rulers of all countries have generally been despicable people, none more than the rulers of the United States and western Europe.

        “Where have I said this? To the contrary.”

        The fact that you justify anti-Russian aggression by way of appeal to Russia’s alleged unique “aggressiveness” whereas in reality it is the NATO bloc that has, both currently and historically, spilled far more innocent blood than has Russia.

        “You continually ascribe statements to me that I have not made. This is further evidence you have no substantive arguments to offer.”

        You haven’t offered any arguments at all beyond mere parroting of vaguely understood US/NATO imperial media narratives.

      13. m&m,

        “The fact that you justify anti-Russian aggression by way of appeal to Russia’s alleged unique “aggressiveness” whereas in reality it is the NATO bloc that has, both currently and historically, spilled far more innocent blood than has Russia.”

        Another example of your twisted logic designed to conclude anything you want.

        Please show me a clear example supporting your statement.

      14. Yes, this level of discussion must cease or I shall ban some of the regular commentators who seem to want to engage in sarcasm and even abuse. Enough!

  16. To obtain a better picture of the war and current crisis perhaps a Ukrainian voice might a better choice, than some of these hysterical anti-American propagandas.
    Note: “Democracy Now” is a grass roots American alternative media project, produced in NYC, with a daily viewership of almost half a million.
    Zelensky May Have to Make “Painful Compromises” to End the War, Says Ukrainian Scholar Volodymyr Ishchenko

  17. Understanding Russia – some auf my observations about Russia:
    The Russians support Putin, and Putin does as his subjects please.
    Opinions in Russia are far less controversial than in Western Europe. (March 18, 2018)

    The military intervention in Syria shows that Russia is completely on its own. It shows that Russia no longer has any friends and therefore does not have to consider Western sensitivities and agreements. Although China offers itself as an economic and political partner, it is feared in Russia as an overpowering competitor.
    Russia remains a country that has not yet found its center and its orientation. This is worrying for its own citizens as it is for us and all its neighbors. (October 27, 2016)

    If Putin has now brought Crimea “home to the Reich” without great effort, then that proves that the pendulum of power is now swinging back to the West after the West was overstretched. National borders are being shifted from east to west again. It will probably not stop with this one border shift due to the annexation of Crimea.
    Anyone here in the West who now thinks he has to applaud Putin is making himself a useful idiot of state interventionism – just like those who sing along in the Western chorus of “freedom and democracy”. (March 23, 2014)

    Wal Buchenberg, Hannover

  18. The US strategy is now becoming more apparent by its sanctioning of Chinese officials and rising threats against that country. China’s playing for time as it re-arms is being sorely tested.

  19. The impact of all these sanctions on Globalization should not be overlooked, from problems of supply chain, demise of just-in-inventory,..
    Back in 2000 globalization had a different open access face to it.
    Is this a new period in Globalization?
    Kiss free trade goodbye?
    Stagflation plus Globalization?

  20. So let’s sum up; or at least make some attempt at summing up during these opening stages of a hot world war:

    1. Apparently, none of the commenters here sees any role for an independent international working class program that is separate, apart, and opposed to all the capitalist formations, US/EU/NATO, Ukraine, Russian, engaged in this conflict.

    2. So much for Lenin’s Revolutionary Defeatism or the Bolsheviks peace with no annexations or indemnifications.

    3. It’s said that Ukraine is “no democracy,” has ultra right gangs incorporated and sanctioned by the government and engages in genocide– as if Russia doesn’t have ultra-right gangs at work in Donetsk and Luhansk, as if all the parties do not mobilize nationalist patriotic ethno-chauvinist gangs.

    4. Apparently none of the commenters can, or have demonstrated here, any desire to trace the conflict to capitalism as capitalism; as the dominant mode of production, of which Russia is a fraction. And none of the commenters have demonstrated any desire to look into the so-called “economics” behind this conflict in the declining profit in the petroleum industry, triggering and triggered by persistent overproduction, particularly in the energy sectors. So much for historical materialism. So much for Marxist “economics.”

    1. There are independent working class formations in Russia. Some are not in jail, despite the very real capitalist war on would be capitalist Russia. For example, the ones associated with Kagarlitsky. I indirectly alluded to them above in commenting on Luisgac…Also, I tried to define the US’s rent and interest seeking war machine as a transiton from capitalism to barbarism. You might find some economic thinking there. Also see Ucanbe’s comments.Your “summing up” seems to be inspired by Hushang’s drivel, even though he’s not anti-capital at all, just anti-communist.

      1. And yet, you see no independent role for the working class. I think I understand your position to be support of Russia, even if it’s a somewhat qualified report. Ucanbepolitical supports separation of Ukraine and Russia’s recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.”

        My summing up is inspired just as much by your drivel as that of anyone else.

    2. AC,

      I think your summary is pretty close to spot on.

      The developing world scene is now a competition between the neoliberal West and the fascist kleptocratic Russia/China alliance.

      The proletarian revolution is biding its time and the outworking of historical dialectics – not that I personally place great store in these things.

      What I think is silly is this notion that the declining profitability of the oil sector is the cause of overproduction. I would say that the profitability of the oil sector is as strong as ever. I would also say that there is no overproduction because free market dynamics do not apply.

      1. The problem with your Western Leftist position (you claimed you’re a “social liberal” in one of your previous comments, which would place you well into the First World Anglo-Saxon center-left side of the political spectrum) is that, well, good luck convincing the right side of your own country’s political spectrum Russia + China are “fascist kleptocratic”.

        Most of the bombastic rhetoric of the First World middle classes against the enemies of the Western Civilization post-2008 (i.e. China and Russia) are actually a projection of their own domestic contradictions, not a testament to the realities of Russia and China themselves. The First World Left calls Russia and China “fascist” because they need to do so in order to legitimize themselves as a viable political force at home, not because they really believe so.

        For exactly the same reason, the First World Right-Wing calls China communist (it is actually socialist, as is publicly and officially determined by the Chinese State itself).

        A Martian observing the First World political speech right now would come to the conclusion China is, at the same time, Fascist and Communist. In fact, during the Cold War, we had a term to describe precisely that – “Totalitarianism” – coined by the post-war Center-Left/NCL (Non-Communist Left).

        This dissonance has a very material, objective cause: in the capitalist system, it is a very tiny class who produces political speech and sculpts public opinion – the middle class. The middle class is tasked, among other things, to produce ideology in the capitalist system; they are the professional ideologues, their reason to be. This specialization comes from the fact that the capitalist class, contrary to its predecessor (the nobility), derives its power from the ownership of the means of production, not of direct control of military power. Therefore, the capitalist class can only project brute force through a professional middle class, capable of producing ideology and of managing the armed forces.

        The contradiction of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation in the West arises from the fact that the First World Middle Class was forged during the Cold War, therefore was well-equipped on waging an anti-communist propaganda war or an anti-nazifascist propaganda war. They were not prepared, however, to a scenario where both a communist threat (the rise of China after 2012) and an inter-capitalist threat (Russia’s red line over NATO’s expansion to the Ukraine) appeared at the same time.

        Yes, you could argue for reviving the corpse of the Totalitarian Thesis as some kind of new synthesis capable of reuniting the Western Civilization against the common enemy (Eurasia), i.e. as a new narrative capable of creating a new class pact so as to prepare the West against an all-destructive war against Russia+China, but the problem here is that Totalitarianism was, from the very beginning, a strictly intellectual, strictly center-left (NCL) academic theory which only gained fame because the world was fascinated with the Post-War Miracle. After the military defeat in Vietnam (1968) and the Oil Crisis (1975), the material base which legitimized the First World Center-Left was destroyed. Long story short, the last great narrative that could glue the West together is gone.

      2. Thanks for supporting my view that anti-capital’s cynicism regarding all existing “socialist” (those resisting the depredaions of imperialism) states is a product of his anti-communism. You are so clever!

      3. vk,

        You want to characterize my views in a certain way. OK, I would say I sit centre left on economic matters but on security matters I am moving centre right and maybe beyond.

        It seems to me you are an old (apologies if I am off the mark) cold war warrior steeped in its language. I have never seen myself in such terms but given the gathering geopolitical storm we are going to have to pick sides.

        Totalitarianism is and was not a theory – it is and was a reality.

        The language of the cold war warriors is designed to conceal the horrors of totalitarianism.

        Are not Russia and China totalitarian states, albeit China more so then Russia?

        Do they not both depend on oligopolistic capitalistic (and kleptocratic) elements in their economies in a significant way?

        Do they not both stifle dissent against their regimes in a brutal and repressive manner?

        These are precisely the same characteristics that described the fascist regimes of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini.

        These are facts – what do “contradictions” have anything to do with this?

        Marxists delight in bandying around the term “contradictions”. Precisely which contradictions are you referring to?

        I agree China is not communist (is there any state that is truly communist?). But is it truly socialist? In what way can it be characterized as socialist when the basis for its economic prosperity of the last forty years has been capitalism? It might be socialist in aspiration – but that counts for nothing. The governing elites of the CPC are kleptocrats to boot. They have amassed enormous wealth for themselves.

      4. “Do they not both depend on oligopolistic capitalistic (and kleptocratic) elements in their economies in a significant way?”

        Does the West not? Do you actually believe that the west is free of collusion between governments and oligopolistic corporations? Do you not understand that both political parties in the US are just bought and paid for agents of capital?

        “Do they not both stifle dissent against their regimes in a brutal and repressive manner?”

        Does the United States not bomb into submission countries that oppose its empire’s global kleptocracy, does it not overturn democratically elected governments and engineer civil wars and coups for the same reason, does it not use economic sanctions to torture citizens of enemy countries as a way of sowing discord, do its intelligence agencies not propagandize and wage psychological warfare against its own citizens (Operation Mockingbird, Project MKUltra and so on), does it not have the largest prison population in the world where literal slave labor is legal, does it not have a torture gulag called Guantanamo Bay?

      5. m&m,

        Please do not use my name or riffs on it to head your comments.

        I mostly accept what you have written except that the West has a measure of genuine, but to some extent corrupted, representative democracy and dissent is, by and large accepted, in western societies, certainly compared to Russia and China.

  21. Let’s go by parts, thinking about the reality of the 87% of the world’s population, which did not participate in the Boycott.
    First: The poorest countries will initially suffer more than the richest ones, but there is a simple solution, to return to a survival economy without the interference of imperialist countries.
    Second: Going back within itself, food production chains will be resumed within the millenary tradition of each people producing for their own region. And your farmers in a few years will be much better off than they were in the last century.
    Third: The main problem will be countries that do not produce anything basic for their livelihood like most rich European countries, simply because they have painted paper called currency, but nobody eats paper.
    Fourth: As Russia started, we will have a barter economy between nations, that is, Brazil will exchange soy (which will not need to go through a commodity exchange in the UK) or meat for movies and video games that the USA produces.
    Fifth: When European countries bombed Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or took political coups to take the riches of the third world, no one thought about the hunger and misery they caused in these countries. If the world economic order is dismantled, hunger and misery will be felt most strongly precisely in those countries that never thought about what they were doing.
    Sixth: The countries that adopted full sanctions against Russia were those of NATO. Peripheral economies with the capacity to produce real goods, such as China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, practically all of Latin America and Africa, only diplomatically condemned the Russian invasion. The USA and the European Community exerted maximum pressure on the entire third world to join the embargo. No one bends over simply because the idea of ​​a dollar and a bankrupt euro will make the currency of exchange the primary products.
    In summary: Almost instinctively the colonies gave a signal to the colonial empires that they will not follow them, and that eating a steak is probably much healthier than a pile of dollars and euros.

    1. 1) Can’t occur as long as capitalism and value production for exchange exist.
      2) That’s a sure sign of progress– going back to near subsistence conditions. Well, that will solve the vaccine controversy as there won’t be any vaccines.
      3) All countries produce actual goods for markets, not pieces of paper called currency. Europe accounts for about 38% of the world trade in merchandise, when including intra-EU exports and imports. If only counting exports and imports to/from outside the EU, then it’s about 14%, close behind China’s 16% mark (app).
      4) Barter economy? Why not feudalism, or slavery?
      5) Just not true. Millions of people in North America and Europe opposed those military invasions and bombings and specifically pointed out the cost in human misery. (See for example the various expression of relief over the death of Madeleine Albright, who stated that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children was an agreeable cost for keeping sanctions in place. See also the various expressions of joy over the belated death of Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Chirac, etc. etc. Me? I’m saving up to blow it all on the death of Kissinger and Rupert Murdoch)
      6) Finally, a smidgeon of agreement. Sanctions are baloney. But the rest– from Mexico to India aren’t about to give up on capitalism, at least not for an alternative like Bartertown. This might be Thunderdome, but only one mode of production enters and the same mode leaves without the overthrow of the entire miserable system.

      1. Dear Anticapital.

        I will explain more.

        I have simplified the language extremely, as the article and the comments irritated me to the extreme, as they are all centered on the economy of the imperialist countries, but when you have the patience to read, I will make a better explanation so that you understand what I wish I had said and the anger did not allow. But let’s go point by point.

        1) I totally agree when you write: It cannot occur as long as capitalism and the production of exchange value exist. But what I mean is that a really real drop in the economy, the colony countries will allow in part to sustain protein “factories” through monoculture like the European one, for example, Brazil produces tons of soy that we only use here for a vegetable oil. bad quality and we ship the rest for export. According to several articles, from 15% to 90% (variable between states with a concentration of monocultures and those further away from supply routes), what the Brazilian people eat is produced by AGRICULTURA FAMILIAR (small surpluses from small farmers). The devaluation of our currency caused rice to be exported and it rose 109%, taking away one of their main foods from the people.

        2) As for the return of family farming, to think that it is a setback is for anyone who reads economics manuals from at least 50 years ago, the degree of technological sophistication for implementing a permaculture is much greater than the industrialized agriculture of today, perhaps you never heard of him from Yacouba Sawadogo, as stated by Dr. Chris Reij, from Vrije University of Amsterdam,

        “Yacouba alone has had more impact on combating desertification than all national and international resources combined” and I would add “of all the great international consultants”.

        There is nothing civilized about turning the European countryside into a place to roam and import food from thousands of miles away, or worse, turning much of Africa’s arable land into great parks for photographic tourism. If you want to understand how these wildlife parks were “created”, study what rinderpest was like in Africa in the early 20th century.

        3) Whether “Europe is responsible for about 38% of world trade in goods, including intra-community exports and imports”. Maybe you haven’t bought many things in the last few years, because if you look under the packaging where 38% of the world market was produced, you’ll see that both Europe and the US are consumer markets, not producer markets.

        4) You didn’t understand when I used the term “barter economy between nations” which in this case means the exchange between “physical” products between nations that should be paid for in currencies backed by real production.

        5) I cry with emotion when I see international solidarity as these “humanitarian liberals” who continue to vote for conservative and murderous governments. I cry even with a lot of emotion.

        6) As for the irony in saying that “India is not willing to give up capitalism”, you may not know that 250 million Indian workers have staged the biggest strike in human history against the neoliberal policies and Hindu fundamentalist agenda of the Prime Minister’s government. Minister Narendra Modi. This took place in November 2021.

        But it probably wasn’t much publicized by the world first’s “left” press.

        But it’s just a workers’ strike, not acts of repudiation by a dozen “humanitarian liberals”, those are the ones that should be taken into account.

  22. It is possible that the blog commentators will make them reflect on the Ukraine-Russia war, what the most illustrious thinkers and activists of the world left (Lenin, Trotsky, H. Gorter, etc.) have already reflected on at the Zimmervald Conference (Switzerland) about the 1st World War.
    I suspect that in a short time the current international left will have to organize a similar Conference (and in the process reactivate some of the dead Socialist or Communist Internationals), a conference that proposes political and action proposals that give a role to the international working class . An independent role, separate and opposed to that of its bourgeoisie, that is, of a revolutionary nature, as requested by Anti-Capital.

  23. Dear Anticapital.

    I will explain further.
    I simplified the language extremely, because the article and comments irritated me to the extreme, as they are all centered on the economy of the imperialist countries, but when I have the patience to read, I will make a better explanation so that you understand what I would like to have said and anger did not allow. But let’s go point by point.

    1) I totally agree when you write: Can’t occur as long as capitalism and value production for exchange exist. But what I mean is that a really real drop in the economy, the colony countries will in part allow to sustain protein “factories” through monoculture like the European one, for example, Brazil produces tons of soy that we only use here for a vegetable oil. bad quality and we send the rest for export. According to several articles, from 15% to 90% (variable between states with concentration of monocultures and those furthest from supply routes), what the Brazilian people eat is produced by AGRICULTURA FAMILIAR (small surpluses from small farmers). The devaluation of our currency caused rice to be exported and it rose 109%, taking away from the people one of their main food.

    2) As for the return of family farming, to think that it is a setback is for those who read economics manuals from at least 50 years ago, the degree of technological sophistication for implementing a permaculture is much higher than today’s industrialized agriculture, perhaps you have never heard of it from Yacouba Sawadogo, because as Dr. Chris Reij of Vrije University of Amsterdam, “Yacouba alone has had more impact on combating desertification than all national and international resources combined” and I would add “of all the great international consultants”. There is nothing civilized about turning European countryside into a place for sightseeing and importing food from thousands of miles away, or worse, turning much of Africa’s arable land into large parks for photographic tourism. If you want to understand how these wildlife parks were “created”, study what the Rinderpest was like in Africa at the beginning of the 20th century.

    3) If “Europe accounts for about 38% of the world trade in merchandise, when including intra-EU exports and imports.” Maybe you haven’t bought many things in recent years, because if you look under the packaging where that 38% of the world market was produced, you’ll see that both Europe and the USA are consumer markets and not producers.

    4) You did not understand when I used the term “barter economy between nations” which in this case means the exchange between “physical” products between nations that should be paid for in currencies backed by real production.

    5) I cry with emotion when I see international solidarity while these “humanist liberals” continue to vote for conservative and murderous governments.

    6) As for the irony in saying that India is not willing to give up on capitalism, you may not know 250 million Indian workers staged the biggest strike in human history against neoliberal policies and the Hindu fundamentalist agenda of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi . This took place in November 2021, but was probably not much publicized by the first world “left” press. But it’s just a workers’ strike, not acts of repudiation by a dozen “humanist liberals”, those are the ones that must be taken into account.

    1. 1. Maybe you don’t know what you are talking about. In 2021, the EU machine tool production (in value terms) accounted for 1/3 of the global total.
      2. you do not understand what a barter economy is
      3. Your crying doesn’t bother me; your distortion does. You said, “No one thought about the hunger and misery”– NOT “No one made a revolution.” Come to think of it, no one made a revolution in Mexico, Pakistan, Argentina, India etc. either.
      4. That strike in India was in 2020 not 2021.
      5. ” No one bends over simply because the idea of ​​a dollar and a bankrupt euro will make the currency of exchange the primary products.” Yeah, they do. Maybe not all the time. But the bourgeoisie and their agents in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Pakistan bend over and even lay down when there’s enough money at stake.

      1. At least he had the honesty to add the term value, but he did not complement what the value he is speaking.

        Really the strike was not in 2021, but not seventy years ago in the distant past when we left in the first world that could be accused of Stalinist but existed. Today the left of the first world is three years in a “intellectual masturbation” to conclude that the movement of the “Gilets Jaunes” was a mass movement.

        I confess that I have used the term Barter Economy, yes, and from there. When you become twenty or thirty years looking for hairs in eggs, if you won the ability to use terms in the right and error, but it is not passed from this (you know the number number eleven theses about Feuerbach de Marx? Boaventura de Sousa Santos wrote an excellent article on this, but unfortunately it is in Portuguese which is not appreciated by the Atlantist schoishes – schoites in the sense employed by Schopenhauer).

        “Revolution in Mexico, Pakistan, Argentina, India, Brazil. Only if you speak if you pay with life. Do you know how many peasant leaders were murdered in Brazil in 2021? An extremely limited partial data raised by the Catholic Church from January to August 31 were 103 people, being 101 indigenous Yanomami ( No-field-increases-1-044-in-2021 /), the military police in 2020 officially killed 6,416 people ( Mortages-of-intervention-police-police-in-brazil-in-2020.pdf), this is government data. It seems that they do not want to understand, there is a civil war in the countries that quoted and hang out with red bands (as I do) by someone like me, old, white and non-tattered risk is small, but if it is black and poor the chance to be killed It is 85% higher ( If it were not inelegant I would send you put your observation elsewhere, but if you have imagination you can think where. This “small bourgeois” reality of “integigence” that translates your reality to other countries makes me furious.

      2. Just to put a fine point on these matters…….

        The EU’s merchandise EXPORTS in 2020 measured approximately $5 5 trillion, approximately 8 times greater than the combined merchandise exports of Brazil, Russia and India, twice as large as China’s merchandise exports, and 4x larger than US merchandise exports (which themselves are 2X larger than those of the B-R-I fantasy amalgam).

        These figures are not adjusted for related party exports ( exports by subsidiaries of a company with hq outside the exporting country)

        The EUs main exports are 1) machines and equipment 2) pharmaceuticals 3) motor vehicles 4) chemicals 5) computers, peripheral computer products, optical products, digital equipment.

        Top US exports, including fuels:

        Mineral fuels including oil:
        Machinery including computers:
        Electrical machinery, equipment:
        Optical, technical, medical apparatus:

        It might help our third world-ists to actually look at the data– and to look at actual history. I realize that accuracy, clarity, are so Eurocentric, but accuracy and clarity used to be fundamental for those proclaiming their “radicalism.”

  24. can I urge your readers to watch this video and pay attention to the speaker from India with his profound and contextual analysis of the war in and around the Ukraine. We in the west can learn from intellectuals outside Europe and North America.

    1. Listening to Vijay Prashad and Kate Hudson you would think there was no Putin/Russia or Xi/China – it’s only the US/NATO which threatens the global geostrategic balance.

      Prashad’s analysis is hardly profound and is totally one sided.

      1. You make my point Henry. I believe it takes an outsider, and by this I mean someone outside the West, to tell it as it is. Look, the US is implementing the same playbook it did in WW1 and WW2. Except this time the US is no longer in the ascendancy and is no longer likely to win. I maintain US imperialism is the greatest threat to humanity and its future, not because it is worser, but because of the nature of its crisis, which means therefore that I dont support Putin or Xi. It just means that the US’s fight for its hegemony will be one of the catalysts for revolution this decade.

        In conclusion the inevitable Ukrainian conflict was a NATO war fought by Ukranian soldiers hence the depletion of Western armouries.

    1. UCBP,

      The article is not brilliant analysis – it is totally partisan and not disinterested. Prashad is not an outsider as you claim.The article does have some interesting things to say and think about.

      And as with anything from the Left it allows that the US and Europe have no legitimate strategic interests and it is only Russia and China that have legitimate strategic interests or at least have primacy.

      As I have pointed out several times, no NATO state has ever invaded/attacked Russia. NATO did not invade Russia at its weakest moment with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. NATO dismantled its conventional forces in Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. These facts are not consistent with an organization that is a military threat to Russia.

      Russia on the other hand has shown its hand. From the time of the invasion of eastern Poland in 1939 onwards, Russia has demonstrated its intentions regarding Europe. If there was no NATO, Europe would now be at the effect of Russian suzerainty. Ask the Europeans how they would feel about that.

      Yes, it has always been about Europe. A no brainer there.

      In the east, China is making its military and strategic presence felt. It has unilaterally and illegally, militarily occupied territory in the South China Sea. It has established bases in Antarctica unilaterally without reference to any international convention. It is establishing a military presence in the Indo-Pacific region (by buying its way into Sri Lanka, PNG, Solomon Islands).

      It is clearly a strategic threat to the US and regional powers and a cause of instability in the region.

      And the crazy thing is, Prashad supports Russia and China because they are strategic competitors to the US and ignores the fact that they are fascist states. I can only presume he believes ( as I think you do) they will succumb to the inevitable dialectical forces of history, as will the US.

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