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
(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
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
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
10. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR OF
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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