MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE

PRINCIPLES OF MARXISM-LENINISM

A STUDY COURSE

By W.B. Bland.

CLASS SEVEN : WAR

1. WHAT IS WAR?

Fighting between considerable bodies of armed men (not necessarily between states: it may be, for example, between tribes).

2. WHAT IS CIVIL WAR?

Civil war is war within the same state.

3. WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ATTITUDE TOWARDS WAR OF PACIFISTS AND THAT OF MARXIST-LENINISTS?

Firstly, pacifists condemn all wars. Marxist-Leninists are fully conscious of the human suffering caused by war, strive to prevent the outbreak of a Third World War, and work to establish a social system which will make war impossible. Nevertheless, they distinguish between 'just' wars (which they support) and 'unjust' wars (which they oppose).

"There have been many wars in history which, despite all the horrors, cruelties, miseries, and tortures inevitably connected with every war, had a progressive character, i.e., they served the development of mankind, aided in the destruction of extremely pernicious and reactionary institutions".
(V. I. Lenin: 'Socialism and War'; London; 1940; p. 9).

"Socialists cannot, without ceasing to be Socialists, be opposed to all wars".
(V. I. Lenin: 'Pacifism and the Workers', in: 'War and the Workers'; London; 1940; p. 29).

Secondly, while pacifists adopt a policy of conscientious objection to participating in war, Marxist-Leninists participate even in the most unjust war in order to win the workers in uniform to a policy of mass opposition to the war:

"Boycott the war is an absurd phrase -- Communists must go to any reactionary war". (V. I. Lenin: 'Notes on the Question of the Tasks of Our Delegation at The Hague', in: 'The Attitude of the Proletariat towards War'; London; 1932; p. 12).

"An oppressed class which does not strive to learn to use arms, to acquire arms, deserves to be treated like slaves. . . . What will proletarian women do . . .? Only curse all war and everything military, only demand disarmament? The women of an oppressed class that is really revolutionary will never consent to play such a shameful role. They will say to their sons:
'You will soon be a man. You will be given a gun. Take it and learn to use it. The proletarians need this knowledge, not to shoot your brothers, the workers of other countries . . ., but to fight poverty and war, not by means of good intentions, but by vanquishing the bourgeoisie and disarming it".
(V. I. Lenin: 'Pacifism and the Workers', in: 'War and the Workers'; London; 1940; p. 34-35).

4. 'IT IS THE INHERENT AGGRESSIVENESS OF MAN WHICH IS THE CAUSE OF WAR' -- TEXTBOOK OF PSYCHOLOGY. COMMENT.

Were this true, it would not be necessary for any government to impose conscription.
In fact, war is the pursuit of political aims by violent means, and these political aims have an economic basis.

5. ON WHAT BASIS DO MARXIST-LENINISTS DISTINGUISH BETWEEN JUST AND UNJUST WARS?

By analysing the effect which the victory of each belligerent in a war would have on the development of society. If its victory would exert a progressive influence upon the development of society, that belligerent is fighting a just war. If its victory would exert a reactionary influence upon the development of society, that belligerent is fighting an unjust war.

Since the dominant feature of the contemporary world is imperialism, monopoly capitalism, a non-imperialist state of any kind which is involved in war with an imperialist state is fighting a just war, since its war effort weakens world imperialism, while the imperialist belligerent state is fighting an unjust war, since its war effort strengthens world imperialism.

A war may be just on one side and unjust on the other, or it may be unjust on both sides.

6. WHAT IS AN IMPERIALIST WAR?

A war between rival imperialist powers (or blocs includng imperialist powers) for the redivision of the world.

7. WHAT IS THE CHARACTER OF AN IMPERIALIST WAR?

Since the victory of either side would merely strengthen one imperialist group at the expense of another, and would not weaken world imperialism as a whole, it is unjust on both sides.

8. WHAT IS A WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION?

The war of an oppressed nation to secure its freedom from the domination of an oppressing nation (today almost always an imperialist power).

9. WHAT IS THE CHARACTER OF A WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION?

Since imperialism is the principal oppressing force in the contemporary world, the victory of the oppressed nation would weaken world imperialism, while the victory of the oppressing nation would strengthen world imperialism. A war of national liberation is, therefore, just on the part of the oppressed nation, unjust on the part of the oppressing nation.

10. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR OF 1914-18?
It was an imperialist war, unjust on both sides.

11. WERE THERE, NEVERTHELESS, JUST, PROGRESSIVE ELEMENTS WITHIN THE FIRST WORLD WAR?

Yes. If it were possible to consider it in isolation from the imperialist war as a whole, the war of Serbia against Austria- Hungary could be regarded as a just war of liberation. But this just element was completely overshadowed because it lay within the framework of the unjust imperialist war.

12. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE WAR OF INTERVENTION AGAINST SOVIET RUSSIA OF 1918-22?

It was an attempt by a number of imperialist powers to overthrow the rule of the working class in Soviet Russia, and so was a just war on the part of Soviet Russia and an unjust war on the part of the intervening imperialist states.

13. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR OF 1931-39?

Since China was a semi-feudal, non-imperialist state, while Japan was an imperialist state, it was a just war on the part of China and an unjust war on the part of Japan.

14. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR UP TO JUNE 1941?

It was, like the First World War, an imperialist war between two groups of imperialist powers for the redivision of the world. The fact that the German imperalists ruled through a fascist dictatorship, while the British imperialists ruled through 'parliamentary democracy', was quite irrelevant to the basic character of the war as an imperialist war, unjust on both sides.

15. WERE THERE, NEVERTHELESS, JUST, PROGRESSIVE ELEMENTS WITHIN THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE PERIOD PRIOR TO JUNE 1941?

Yes. Poland was a capitalist state, but not an imperialist state. So, if Poland's war against Germany could be considered in isolation from the war as a whole, it could be considered as a just war.

Furthermore, the resistance movements of the peoples of the countries occupied by German and Italian imperialism (if they could be considered in isolation from the war as a whole) could also be regarded as just wars.

But, as in the First World War, these just, progressive elements were overshadowed because they lay within the framework of the unjust imperialist war.

16. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR AFTER JUNE 1941?

Following the German attack on the Soviet Union -- then a socialist state -- in June 1941, the Soviet war against Germany (if it could be considered in isolation) would be considered a just war on the part of the Soviet Union and an unjust war on the part of German imperialism.

This just, progressive element combined with the other just, progressive elements listed in the answer to Question 15 to overshadow the unjust, imperialist elements which still remained. Thus, from June 1941, the fundamental character of the Second World War changed and it became, overall, a just war on the part of the United Nations and an unjust war on the part the Axis Powers.

17. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE MIDDLE EAST WAR OF 1967?

Israel is a state set up the imperialist powers in the Middle East, armed and dominated by United States imperialism. It is an arm of US imperialism in the Middle East. The Arab states are not imperialist states and most of them were not, in 1967, arms of imperialism. Consequently, the war was a just war on the part of the Arab states and an unjust war on the part of Israel.

18. DOES THE CONTINUED EXISTENCE OF IMPERIALISM MAKE WAR INEVITABLE?

Capitalist (including imperialist) economies develop at uneven rates. Consequently, a division of the world which reflects the economic needs of imperialist powers for markets, sources of raw materials, etc., at one period ceases to reflect these economic needs at a later period, Thus, the economic needs of some ('have-not') imperialist powers force them to try to seize markets, sources of war materials, etc., from the 'have' imperialist powers. Imperialist wars to redivide the world are periodically inevitable. Only by the destruction of imperialism can wars cease to be inevitable.

19. WHAT IS THE STRATEGY OF MARXIST-LENINISTS WHOSE COUNTRY IS INVOLVED IN AN UNJUST WAR?

To strive to transform the unjust war into a civil war for the overthrow of 'their' imperialists.

20. DOES NOT SUCH A STRATEGY AID THE ENEMY?

Yes. But military defeats for 'one's own' imperialists weaken them and so assist in their revolutionary overthrow. And Marxist-Leninists 'on the other side' are simultaneously striving for military defeats for 'their' imperialists, In Lenin's words:

"Only a bourgeois who believes that the war started by governments will necessarily end as a war between governments, and who wishes it to be so, finds 'ridiculous' or 'absurd' the idea that Socialists of all the belligerent countries should express the wish that all their governments be defeated".
(V. I. Lenin: 'Socialism and War'; London; 1940: p. 24).

21. WHAT IS CHAUVINISM?

'Jingoistic' support of one' own government in an unjust war. (The name is derived from a 'jingoistic' French officer of the Napoleonic Wars, Nicholas Chauvin.

22. WHAT IS SOCIAL-CHAUVINISM?

Lenin coined a number of political terms based on the name adopted by many 'socialist' parties at the beginning of the 20th century -- 'Social-democratic'. Thus Lenin nicknamed a self- styled 'socialist' who was in reality a chauvinist, a 'social- chauvinist'.

23. WHAT IS GUERILLA WARFARE?

A type of warfare appropriate for weaker, more poorly armed forces when facing a more powerful enemy. It consists of harassing and weakening the enemy forces by surprise 'hit and run' attacks by small units, which, as far as possible, avoid direct confrontation with those forces.

Guerilla warfare is the typical type of warfare carried on by an army of national liberation in the first phase of a war of national liberation. The strategy is to build up one's forces by such guerilla warfare until they are strong enough to go over to regular warfare and achieve victory.

24. DESPITE INITIAL SUPERIOITY IN ARMS, AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY INVOLVED IN A WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION FACES GRAVE DISADVANTAGES. WHAT ARE THESE?

1) They are not fighting in defence of their homeland;
2) they are fighting in an unfamiliar terrain;
3) they are hated and opposed by the mass of the people in the occupied country:
4) they are weaker in manpower resources on the spot;
5) their lines of supply are more extended;
6) the puppet troops on which they depend are unreliable;
7) they are opposed at home, and in their own armed forces, by politically conscious workers.
 

 

     CLASS ONE : THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY

General Definitions.

     CLASS TWO : HOW CAPITALISM WORKS (Part One)

The Commodity; Money; Labour Power...

     CLASS THREE : HOW CAPITALISM WORKS (Part Two)

The accumulation of Capital; Capial and Labour; Imperialism...

     CLASS FOUR : THE STATE AND THE ROAD TO SOCIALISM

The State; Parties; Socialism; fascism...

     CLASS FIVE : THE PARTY OF THE WORKING CLASS

Reformism; Class interests; Revisionism...

     CLASS SIX : THE NATIONAL QUESTION

Nations; Proletarian Internationalism...

     CLASS SEVEN : WAR

Civil wars; just and unjust wars; wars of national liberation...

     CLASS EIGHT : HOW  SOCIALISM  WORKS

What is Socialism; its class character...