“Imperialist wars are absolutely inevitable… as long as private property in the means of production exists.” – V.I. Lenin
Last month marked 75 years since the bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These horrific crimes by the United States killed hundreds of thousands of people, and exposed hundreds of thousands more to permanent disabilities through radiation. Both cities were destroyed. The US justified this action by stating that many more would have been killed had they staged a ground invasion of Japan, and that the bomb was a necessary evil to defeat the fascist Japanese Empire. This version of history is accepted by mainstream capitalist narratives, who refuse to ever admit wrongdoings by US imperialists in order to facilitate the spread of imperialist, ruling class propaganda. The truth is the bombs were dropped not to save lives or defeat Japanese fascism, but to protect the interests of US monopoly capitalists. They were dropped to ensure a Japanese surrender to the capitalist US and not the socialist USSR, and as a show of strength by the barbaric capitalist class against the rising might of the Soviet Union and communist cause. Hundreds of thousands of lives were taken to continue the flow of profits for the bourgeoise.
Any discussion of WWII in the Pacific cannot exclude the monstrous crimes committed by Japanese fascists against the peoples of Korea, China, Southeast Asia and everywhere the Japanese bourgeoise plundered. The crimes committed by the US monopoly capitalists against the Japanese people do not excuse the crimes committed by Japanese monopoly capitalists against the peoples of the nations they colonized, oppressed and super-exploited. The crimes of the Japanese Empire are often deliberately left out of mainstream bourgeois narratives because Japan is now an ally of western imperialism whereas its primary victims (China and Korea) are some of its greatest opponents. But the bomb was not dropped because the US government was valiantly trying to defeat the criminal Japanese Empire, the US government has never had a problem with fascist war crimes if it protects the maximisation of profits for the capitalist class.
The Pacific War was not, as is often portrayed, a heroic struggle waged by the US against Japanese imperialism and fascism (most of that was done by Chinese, Indochinese, and Korean communists). If the US really was fighting a just, anti-fascist war against the criminal Japanese Empire, they would not have kept Japanese imperial police stationed and used bioweapons developed through the Japanese imperial human testing against communists in Korea 5 years later. It was an inter-imperialist rivalry. As Lenin analysed, capitalism means the divisions of the world into different “spheres of influence” – regions where the monopolies from one country can freely exploit the raw materials and people, and gain profit through exporting capital. The expansion of one country’s sphere of influence must necessarily be at the expense of another imperialist power, leading to frequent inter-imperialist rivalry. This rivalry is given all sorts of ideological justifications in order to get workers to fight for their country’s monopolies – often using abstract terms such as “freedom” and “democracy” or trying to appeal to a class blind sense of patriotism, whilst in reality waging war for the capitalist class. The early 20th century had seen the rise of Japanese Imperialism, which instantly caused conflict with other imperialist powers. Japan, like Germany, was a new imperialist power (unlike Britain, France, and the USA where capitalism had been developing for over a century and the process of monopolisation and division of colonies into spheres of influence was already completed). Conflict between the USA and Japan ensued particularly over the partition of China. Japan had a series of colonies and semi-colonies which it “subjugated to the exploitation of finance capital”. The Japanese capitalist class, whose interests aligned with the remnants of the feudal aristocracy embodied in the imperial government, opportunistically used the contradictions of capitalism in Europe to spread their sphere of influence into that of Britain, France and the USA. Japanese Fascism, like that of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini, was the dictatorship “of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” In brief, the USA was not waging an anti-fascist war against Japan, but rather trying to defend their sphere of influence from a rival imperialist power. The use of nuclear weapons were not responsible for the defeat of the Japanese Empire, historical documentation has proven that it was the Soviet Union declaring war with Japan on August 8th and subsequently flooding Manchuria with 1.6 million Red Army soldiers that pushed the Japanese to surrender. US generals knew this and knew that drastic action was needed to ensure an unconditional surrender to the capitalist USA and not the socialist USSR. The role played by communist-led national liberation movements in colonized areas of Korea, China, and Indochina in the victory over the Japanese also cannot be underplayed – China suffered the third largest number of casualties in WWII. Then top US general Dwight D. Eisenhower even admitted “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” As Stalin said, “they needed war to achieve super-profits and to plunder other countries.”
Why did the US state commit such a hideous crime on behalf of US monopolies? Because the state, since its existence as an entity, has always served the ruling class of a given territory. In ancient times, states existed to conquer new areas with new raw materials and new peoples to enslave, thus generate surplus value for the ruling slave owning class through war. In feudal times states would go to war to help maintain the unstable feudal class relations. In the 19th century war took on a new role. Starting with the Napoleonic Wars, bourgeois states would go to war on behalf of the capitalist classes, to open new routes for trade and new territories with raw materials and labour to commodify and exploit for profits. War also became itself part of the capitalist production cycle – with capitalist industries producing military equipment as commodities and profiting from this industry. Since the rise of bourgeois states, wars have been fought by standing armies, representing the interests of the bourgeois class. This means since the 19th century a section of the bourgeoisie have lobbied for wars as it profits directly from manufacturing military equipment, this section is often known as the Military Industrial Complex. In a capitalist mode of production, the state serves the capitalist class and thus goes to war on behalf of the capitalist class at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of working-class people.
The US bourgeoisie used the atom bomb to establish economic, political, and military hegemony over the entire world, threatening the very existence of humanity for the sake of profits. As Enver Hoxha said, the US used the atom bomb with “the overriding aim of encircling and weakening the Soviet Union, which emerged triumphant from the Second World War and which certainly would be quickly restored from the economic aspect and would assist in the consolidation and progress of the new states of people’s democracy, which had been created in Europe and Asia.” The Soviet Union on the other hand stood for “prohibiting the atomic weapon and terminating the production of the atomic weapon.”
During the Cold War, many strains of anti-communist propaganda emerged. Alongside the chauvinistic, McCarthyite propaganda that put the Soviet Union as the embodiment of all evil in the world and an imminent threat to everything we held dear, another more concealed form of bourgeois, anti-communist propaganda spread around. This narrative placed the USSR and USA as equally pernicious threats to world peace, two evil empires who only use “communist” and “capitalist” ideologies as justification for their quests for power. This Machiavellian narrative was premised off the idea that the threat of global annihilation through nuclear war came from both sides, that each state was only trying to advance their interests and would happily cause the apocalypse through using nuclear weapons if it was necessary to achieve their world domination plans. Soviet Proletarian internationalism was merely propaganda as were any claims by Moscow of self-defence from imperialist aggression. This pernicious narrative is a popular interpretation of the Cold War to this day – even among most left-wing circles. It is however riddled with anti-communist and imperialist propaganda. Not only does it follow the popular trope of communism being fine in theory but in practice producing more “authoritarian states” (and thus should never be attempted), it also ignores the extent of US imperialist aggression, that capitalism and the drive for profits are at the root of wars, and that the socialist USSR did genuinely strive for world peace and disarmament. When commenting on the end of the Second World War Joseph Stalin stated that Soviet policy would be one of “peace and security, the policy of the equality and friendship of the peoples.” In 1946 the Soviet Union presented the Gromyko Plan calling for the immediate ban on the manufacture and use of atomic weapons, which the US rejected without giving any reason. The US imperialists, on the other hand proposed only a half-hearted plan to limit the testing of nuclear weapons – which if implemented would only result not in global disarmament but a US monopoly as they had already tested theirs, on real people. The Soviet Union only developed and tested nuclear weapons as a defence against US imperialist aggression. The US bourgeoisie had been trying to dissolve the proletarian government in Moscow since 1917, through invasion, sanctions, and support for fascist Germany. The US and Britain had numerous plans for all-out war with the Soviet Union, such as Operation Unthinkable, and a variety of NATO simulations of an invasion of the USSR from the 1950s to the 1980s. Throughout the 1940s and 50s the US developed plans to go on a nuclear offensive against the Soviet Union – including the 1949 Dropshot Plan which included dropping atomic weapons on 300 targets and wiping out 85% of the Soviet population. Not once did the Soviet Union, or any socialist state, ever conceive a plan for a first strike attack on the US or Western Europe. The US encircled the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons and refused every attempt at disarmament, of which the Soviets made many. This unbridled imperialist aggression continued and thus the Soviet government concluded if the USA would not disarm they needed weapons of their own as a precaution. This is the fundamental difference between the Soviet state and US state – one was the state of imperialist exploiters, whereas the Soviet state was, in Lenin’s words, only in existence to “suppress the resistance of the exploiters”.
The disregard for human life shown by US imperialism in Hiroshima and Nagasaki continued into the latter half of the 20th century. Not only did they continue to support reactionary fascist governments and wage murderous wars such as those in Vietnam, the Congo, Chile, South Korea, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua etc, but they continued to commit horrendous crimes against peoples of the world using atomic weapons. One corner of the earth where US imperialism released its unrestrained horrors was the Marshall Islands. Here they exploited the disunited consciousness of many in the Pacific Islands leading to an attitude they were powerless to resist the actions of a larger state, rooted in European colonisation. The US started by forcibly relocating hundreds of people form their ancestral homelands dating back thousands of years into frankly appalling conditions, testing 67 nuclear weapons in the region between 1946 and 1958. These tests vaporized islands, carved craters and contaminated the soil, ruining the homes of hundreds of people and much of the local wildlife. Perhaps one of the most barbaric operations of the US was deliberately exposing some of the locals to toxic radiation in order to gather data on its effects – resulting in 1/3rd of the islanders developing tumours, including children born long after the testing had completed. US imperialism has never recompensated for its crimes, breaking international law by refusing to pay the billions of dollars the islands are owed. Parts of the islands are still uninhabitable, and they remain the “most contaminated place on Earth.” The US continues to operate military bases on stolen Marshall Island land, focussing its imperial aggression against China. The horrifying conditions the locals are subjected to thanks to these bases have led to some of them being referred to as “the apartheid of the pacific.”
Britain and France also engaged in nuclear testing in the Pacific at the expense of local peoples and wildlife. Western imperialism’s arrogance and cruelty in the region was not limited to the United States – the French state even committed an act of terrorism against anti-nuclear activists in New Zealand in 1985. The US needed loyal soft powers to protect its hegemony through military force – utilizing the bourgeois, settler colonial states of New Zealand and Australia for this purpose. But if ever the peoples of these states resisted being puppets of imperialist projects, then they too would be subject to aggression. This was shown when the US acted aggressively towards New Zealand for declaring itself nuclear free in 1985 after a decades long struggle lead by unions and other working class organisations, or in Australia where the CIA ousted Prime Minister Gough Whitlam for his relatively anti-imperialist foreign policy. The veneer of capitalist democracy and sovereignty is removed when profits are under threat.
Western imperialism continues to threaten world peace. The US has nearly 800 military bases in over 70 countries – by far the most in the world. It spends trillions on “defence” whilst claiming to have no money for healthcare, infrastructure, or green technology. It sells weapons to genocidal states such as Saudi Arabia as they commit mass murder in Yemen in an attempt to stop the country’s rich oil fields escape western (including Saudi) monopolies. The CIA continues to meddle in the affairs of foreign countries, often with consequences that lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of working people, in order to secure imperialist spheres of influence. The US military and police even terrorize their own people if it protects ruling class interests. US imperialism enjoys bi-partisan support because both parties, despite the idealist rhetoric that focuses on individual criticisms, have the same class interests. Democrats such as Biden and Pelosi have criticized Trump’s foreign policy for not being imperialist enough! Despite the portrayals of countries such as the DPRK as nuclear threats, US imperialism keeps humanity at the edge of atomic destruction. It holds a nuclear arsenal of 6,185 and history shows us that they are not afraid to use it. Peace and arms controls deals such as the INF are regularly broken by the US government. US presidents use their military might to remind the anti-imperialist world of their strength. In 1984 Ronald Reagan “jokingly” said “we begin bombing the Soviet Union in 5 minutes”. In 2016 the apparently “progressive” US president Barack Obama refused to apologize for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 2017 Donald Trump threatened the socialist and anti-imperialist nation of the DPRK with “fire and fury” if they do not submit to US rule. The capitalist class who control the USA directly profit from the manufacture of nuclear weapons, with arms manufacturers such as Convair, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Textron, and CACI lobbying for their continued production so there will continue to be a market for their commodities and thus they will continue to turn a profit at the expense of world peace and stability.
The class struggle and the anti-war struggle walk hand in hand with one another. Communism and peace are necessarily interweaved. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the actions of the US empire since have shown brazenly that monopoly capitalists will stop at nothing to assert their hegemony, that a system governed by profits would happily murder thousands of innocent people, end thousands of lives and ruin many thousands more in the blink of an eye if it is profitable to do so. The sheer inhumanity and cruelness of capitalism is seen every day, as millions of children go without food, as workers struggle to afford housing getting paid only a fraction of the value they create, as a tiny clique of corporations lead the planet to environmental destruction, as imperialist wars with the same bloodshed, the same disregard for human life as in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still waged. The workers of the world have the power, and the workers of the world want peace. In 1917 the working class of Russia got sick and tired of being pawns in a war fought for the rich, for the capitalists, and exercised the shear might of their class, threw off the chains and rose up to build a society of their own, a peaceful society. We can learn from the example of those who created the first socialist state. The workers of the world can and must arise like the ebbing spring, break the dark winter of class oppression, end the barbarism of capitalism, and halt our path to extinction. When we realise how powerful we are as a class and exercise that power, we can bring about real justice, real equality, and real peace.
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