With war on the horizon, we must prepare for the future
Written by: Leo A. on 2 June 2023
(Above: Original image by David Costa Fernandez)
For the first time in nearly a century, a major imminent war between global powers in the Asia-Pacific is plausible.
In November of last year, we warned that the United States may be approaching the conclusion that the only remaining way to put an end to the PRC, and the geopolitical opposition it presents to American hegemony, is through a direct war. In the time since then, things have gotten worse.
These days it seems hardly a month goes by without some new escalation – as recently as May 8, for example, it was reported that the US is planning to move $500 million of weapons to the island of Taiwan. China has made it clear that in the event of war, it will treat Australia as being effectively a part of the United States. In other words, Australia will automatically and unwillingly become a participant if an armed conflict between the PRC and USA begins. Even if China did not take this stance, the United States would force Australia to join the war anyway. Unless Australia adopts an independent foreign policy before the war starts (which would only be possible through revolution), there is no way we would be able to take a neutral stance in this catastrophic conflict.
Therefore we, Australia’s revolutionary Marxists, need to start carefully thinking about – and establishing clear, detailed plans for – the outcome of these escalations and provocations.
First it must be emphasized that an exact prediction of how this hostility will develop in the coming decade or two is still difficult. As for how this could potentially develop, however, the following distinct possibilities are apparent.
First, it is still plausible that the uneasy peace in the region will be maintained, and a direct war between major powers will be avoided, as was the case in the First Cold War. In this case, things will primarily continue on as they currently are, although we can expect pro-war fearmongering to nonetheless intensify, and unless the Australian people are to take action against it, the American militarization of Australia will also continue to worsen, as will Australia’s own military buildup - to the pleasure of the military-industrial complex and imperialist warmongers, and to the detriment of Australia’s future. Inevitably, something has to snap at some point, but that may not be as imminent as it appears.
Second, a Sino-American war may erupt but remain “conventional”. Many assume that war between nuclear-armed powers necessarily means an escalation into nuclear warfare, but this is uncertain. However, even a conventional conflict of this scale would cause immense damage and create the most severe capitalist crisis of the 21st century. Its realistically almost impossible for the Chinese bloc to invade Australia, even if it wins decisively in Taiwan, but it is wrong to believe that the damage from warfare would remain above the equator. US Military bases in Australia would still face missile strikes, which would likely devastate nearby towns and cities such as Alice Springs and Darwin. In other words, Australia’s submission to US imperialism has made it more of a target, which could have deadly consequences. Additionally, Australians would be sent in large numbers to be slaughtered in battle. The Gallipoli campaign killed 7594 Australians. This could kill dozens of times as many.
War has historically been tied to a surge in working class dissatisfaction with capitalism, and this could happen again. However, Australia’s capitalist class could use the war as an excuse to suppress revolutionary sentiment. As we know, bourgeois propaganda does not distinguish between revolutionary socialism and revisionism – we call ourselves communists, the CPC calls themselves communists, that’s all it’ll take for false accusations of collusion to be made and spread. Every Marxist group in Australia could be in danger if caught off-guard. Even in our current peacetime we suffer from a militarised police force, and an army that is being trained for use against Australian citizens. What further layers of weaponised state machinery will supplement these in the future, we do not know, but what we do know is that the resulting struggle will be intense.
Third, there is the possibility that a Sino-American war will escalate into nuclear warfare. Here a popular misconception must be addressed. Some believe that a global nuclear war would kill everyone on Earth, and thus that we should not bother thinking about the aftermath. This is inaccurate. Let me be clear, a global nuclear war would be the deadliest event in human history, and probably cause more damage to the global environment than anything else since the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction 66 million years ago that wiped out three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs. But the story would not end. According to a research study published less than a year ago in August of 2022, even in an absolute-worst-case scenario nuclear winter, Australia would not be at risk of starving under “nuclear famine”. I will not go into the technical details of what would put Australian lives in danger, but to simplify a very complicated situation, there would still be many of us left. Our task as Marxists would not be over, and it would be important for us to ensure that the capitalist class does not retake control over Australia again during the rebuilding process – our nation’s best hope of recovery would be under revolutionary socialist leadership.
Fourth and finally, we cannot rule out the possibility of some unforeseen factor changing the situation in an unexpected way. If the history of geopolitical forecasting has proven anything, it is that no-one is perfect at predicting the future, and it is possible that all three above possibilities will be seen as completely inaccurate just ten or twenty years from now. This is of course hard to prepare for, although if secure plans are in place for the first three scenarios, we will be able to account for any unexpected eventualities too.
Preparations for the future
To prepare for the future, we are laying the foundation for an Australian united front for anti-imperialist national independence and socialism. This is one of many projects one could label “the hard part”, but its necessity is absolute. The socialist revolutions of the past were only possible because immense effort was made to unite all who can be united around the working class, against the capitalist class. Right now in Australia, the working class lacks sufficient unity, and even many of those who oppose the results of capitalism – the upcoming war for example – are still looking in the wrong direction for answers and solutions. We need to spread the word however we can to get people looking in the right direction, and we need to do it faster than we currently are.
Some inspiration can be gained from how this has been accomplished in past revolutions, and in actively ongoing revolutions such as that in the Philippines, although fresh new ideas to suit Australia’s situation may also deserve careful consideration. No capitalist crisis can result in revolution if the working class doesn’t know that it’s a capitalist crisis and doesn’t know that revolution is both possible and necessary. Only when the working class knows these things, and has a powerful vanguard party to lead them, can we all make history together.
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