When one war ends another will start and the world as we’ve seen it for a generation will have reset the clock to the last days of the Cold War.
It is clear from the facts on the ground that Russia’s grand plan has failed, though Plan B is well on course.
The current conflict appears to be entering its final, though potentially bloodier military phase. There is unlikely to be a peace agreement at this stage but more likely a bleeding ceasefire and a new conflict line that marks this century’s division of Europe. This likelihood will probably be reached when Russia has secured eastern Ukraine from Kherson Oblast in the south to Luhansk Oblast in the east Allowing a face-saving stand-off that will shape the context of global power relations for years to come. Most commentators seem to agree that for Putin, the priority is to achieve this by the Russian ‘Victory Day’ Parade on May 9th. In the short term the Russian pigeon will strut around knocking down all evidence to the contrary while it claims total success and total vindication. The West will do the same.
In the western Ukrainian rump state, there will follow an ostentatious reconstruction process, whilst in the east, probably a series of staged referenda leading to an unrecognised incorporation into the Russian Federation.
For western capitalism that has staggered from crisis to crisis since the millennium, this new Cold War creates a great opportunity as it continues to fail in productivity with faltering profits. A new permanent arms economy that allows for cash spinning investments with no social product to exploit required at the end of it, like ballast to a sinking ship. The added advantage is that it would offer the burden of a flailing Russia increasingly impoverished by Western blockades to hobble its major rival, China.
For our class whatever the details of the outcome, the age-old question of war or revolution re-poses itself with as much if not more urgency than it ever has done. This new conflict would be unequal and the new arms race to follow would have the same objective as pursued against the old Soviet Union, to push Russia to the edge of bankruptcy. The old collective leadership of the Soviet Union narrowly chose collapse against a pre-emptive strike in the late ‘80’s. Putin’s nuclear armed gas station has fewer checks and balances in place when push comes to shove. Any new conflict will be less masked in political than moral ideology – a facade necessary to try and keep us on side to perpetuate our exploitation and if necessary, sacrifice.
Alongside the impending global climate upheaval and territorial rivalry with China in the east, the threat it poses to our class worldwide is immediate and existential. The resolution of the question war or revolution, anarchist communism or barbarism has never been more urgent.