On a programmatic article by an imperialist ideologist on the consequences of the Great Power rivalry
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 27 June 2022, www.thecommunists.net
A few days ago, Bloomberg and Washington Post published a highly interesting article with the programmatic title “Europe Must Declare a War Economy”.  The relevance of this article lies both in its content as well as in the political background of the author and the publications where the article appeared.
Bloomberg and Washington Post are both key publications of Western monopoly capital. The author, Andreas Kluth, is a prominent German journalist and book author. He is currently a columnist for Bloomberg. Before, he was Editor-in-Chief of Handelsblatt Global (this is the German equivalent to the Financial Times) and wrote for The Economist for two decades (another key publication of Western imperialism). In short, it is fair to say that Kluth is not one of these aspiring would-be journalists who flood the internet with their blatant nonentities, but a serious, high-ranking ideological cadre of the ruling class. Hence, his programmatic articles do not reflect just some imaginary brainwave but are representative for a serious current withing the Western monopoly bourgeoise.
Let's go in medias res. Kluth starts from recognizing the fact that Europe is in the midst of an escalating conflict between the Great Powers – in the words of the author a “battle between the West and Russian President Vladimir Putin”. In this conflict, Europe is under attack by an “amoral despot” for whom “every thing is a weapon of struggle. That features nuclear and chemical arms, but additionally wheat, disinformation and, not least, vitality. For many years, Putin has accomplished his finest to make European international locations as dependent as attainable on Siberian hydrocarbons to create vulnerabilities within the West. Now he’s exploiting these weaknesses. (…) As is his wont, Putin shrouds his aggression in subterfuge.”
We could go on with reproducing more such quotes, but readers surely did already got the idea that Kluth is a staunch Western advocate of Cold War against the new imperialist rivals of the East. As such, he is particularly worried that Putin could push the “old continent” into deep crisis. “He’d be particularly thrilled if his vitality blockade forces components of European business to close down. Which will occur. A number of German industrial corporations, in sectors from chemical substances to metal and glass, have already warned that they could must curb manufacturing if vitality will get dearer or scarcer. Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have already activated emergency plans.”
Since Europe is under attack by Russia, it must break with political taboos and take drastic steps. Therefore, Kluth calls for acceptance of the fact that we are in the midst of a Cold War. Hence, there must be radical changes in the energy policy and, more generally, the population must accept that we are entering “hard times”, i.e. that it “is time for sacrifice.”
“Acceptance means getting ready now for the financial struggle towards Putin to come back. It means getting fossil fuels from different international locations, fracking gasoline out of the bottom beneath and importing extra of it in liquid type by ship. It additionally means splitting atoms, placing up wind generators, and all the remainder. However above all, acceptance means slicing again. All Europeans should cease being the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable, who spent the summer time making music and frolicking, however then had nothing in winter. They need to as an alternative change into the fable’s ants — forbearing, abstaining, conserving, saving. Western Europeans have been fortunate up to now to not be in a taking pictures struggle as Ukrainians are. However they’re already combattants within the financial struggle towards Putin. It’s time for sacrifice.”
Hypocrisy of a Western imperialist ideologist
At this place, it is not necessary to start a polemic with Kluth’s outrage about Putin and Russia’s role in world politics. Of course, Putin is “amoral despot”. We Marxists know this already since more than decades and have said so numerous times in public  – at a time when Western leaders were making business with Putin and praised him as a “modernizer and strong leader”.
However, such accusation coming from ideologists of Western imperialism are nothing but cynical hypocrisy. They are boycotting Putin’s gas and oil now … in order to replace it with energy imports from the absolute monarchies of the Gulf. States like Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not even know a parliament or basic democratic rights and wage a barbarous war of aggression against Yemen since more than seven years! These arch-reactionary regimes make Putin’s regime look like an enlightened democracy! Hence, effectively, Western imperialists replace one reactionary supplier of energy with another. For them, moral is nothing but a hypocritical instrument to justify their Great Power policy which they use if it serves them and which they drop if it fits their interest no longer!
It is also true that Russia is an imperialist Great Power which deploys an aggressive foreign policy. Again, this is well known to socialists and the RCIT has analysed this in much detail since a long time.  And yes, of course, Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine is a reactionary war of aggression. This is why socialists must support the Ukrainian people and their national war of defence. 
But why did the Western powers not impose such drastic sanctions when Putin invaded Chechnya in 1999  or Syria in 2015 and slaughtered the people without mercy?!  Of course, the reason for this is that – in contrast to today – capitalism did not face such a catastrophic decay and the rivalry between the Great Powers was less pronounced. Therefore, the interests of the Western Great Powers at that time did not dictate to wage a full Cold War against rivals like Russia.
And, we shall add, who are the Western imperialists to express moral outrage against Putin’s invasion?! It is not so long ago that these powers invaded Afghanistan and occupied it for more than two decades (only to be forced to beat a humiliating retreat because of popular insurgency).  And who does not remember the devastating two wars against Iraq (in 1991 and 2003) and the barbarous blockades and occupation by Western powers?! 
In short, when Western leaders accuse Putin of being an “amoral despot” and when Putin denounces the American and European heads of state as “self-serving hypocrite” – both sides are right! They are all nothing but robbers who quarrel!
Towards a European regime of crisis declaring war at home as well as abroad
However, one should not be surprised about the hypocrisy of imperialist ideologists. This is firmly fixed in their political DNA! What is more interesting is that the Bloomberg article reflects a growing recognition of leading circles in Western Europe that there is no easy way to defeat Russia in the ongoing Cold War and that a major policy shift is necessary.
When the Western governments declared a diplomatic and economic war against Russia after Putin’s invasion on 24 February, they calculated that this would soon push the Eurasian empire to the brink and force it to give in. However, as we did elaborate somewhere else, this policy resulted in total failure as Russia – an imperialist power – has been able to withstand these unprecedented sanctions.  (Let us note in passing, that the Putin regime also completely miscalculated at the beginning of the war and underestimated the resilience of the Ukrainian people to fight for their freedom!)
At the same time, the Western powers themselves increasingly suffer from the economic war against their eastern rival. The second slump, which started already before the beginning of the war, has dramatically aggravated in the past four months because of the consequences of the economic and financial sanctions. Rising inflation, exploding prices of energy, lack of gas and oil reserves, food crisis – to name only the most important developments.
As a result, the tensions between the Great Powers are escalating dramatically and it has become more and more difficult for both sides to beat a retreat without a major loss of face and resulting domestic political crisis. A growing section of Europe’s ruling class therefore tries to find some kind of compromise with Putin by pushing for a ceasefire. However, the Ukrainians are not willing to accept such a humiliation and there exists also still a sizeable section among the Western ruling class which still hopes for some kind of defeat of Russia.
Kluth’s Bloomberg article reflects the recognition that there is no short-term way out of the crisis and the escalating dynamic of the Great Power conflict. In response, he calls for the deepening of the rupture with Russia and the mobilization of all possible energy resources (including coal and nuclear energy).
In addition, this ideological cadre of Western imperialism calls the population to accept that “it is time for sacrifice.” Such a phrase has a well-known meaning when it comes from authors of Bloomberg, Washington Post, Handelsblatt and The Economist. For these people, “sacrifice” does not mean that the rich should pay higher taxes, that they shall raise the wages of their workers to cover rising inflation or to help financing new and green energy resources.
No, for the monopoly bourgeoisie and its ideologists, “sacrifice” means that the workers should accept cuts in wages and social benefits, paying dramatically higher bills for energy (or accept to live without heat and hot water) and to pay more indirect taxes. Die Welt, one of Germany’s main daily papers, calculates a boost in the heating bill for a typical German household by EUR 2,640 (US $2,772) a year compared with 2020. 
In short, Bloomberg’s call for “sacrifice” is a synonym for a Thatcherite austerity program against the working class and poor. However, in contrast to the neoliberal policy of the past, such an austerity policy will be combined with massive state-capitalist regulation in the interests of the monopoly bourgeoisie. As we elaborated in other works, there has been a clear shift in the past years in bourgeois government policy from “free market” neoliberalism towards bonapartist state capitalism.  The current crisis will inevitably deepen and consolidate this shift as a “war economy” can not exist without massive state-capitalist intervention.
The working class and the oppressed in Europe need to prepare for gigantic attacks by the bourgeois governments and the capitalists. The task of socialists is to advocate a program of defence struggle of the workers in combination with support for the Ukrainian war of resistance as well as with opposition against imperialist militarism – both of Russia as well as NATO.
 Andreas Kluth: Europe Must Declare a War Economy, June 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/energy/europe-must-declare-a-war-economy/2022/06/24/5438ba6a-f37b-11ec-ac16-8fbf7194cd78_story.html, www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-06-24/europe-must-declare-a-war-economy-now-and-start-making-sacrifices (all quotes are from this article)
 See e.g. an essay by Michael Pröbsting: Political and Economic Problems of Capitalist Restoration in Russia, written in 2001 and republished here: http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: A Revealing Document of Great Russian Totalitarianism. Commentary on an article published by the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, 7 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/ria-novosti-great-russian-totalitarianism/; by the same author: The Program of Great Russian Totalitarism. On a revealing interview with Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, 11 May 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-patrushev-interview/
 The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. See on this e.g. several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-peculiar-features-of-russian-imperialism/; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022, https://newpol.org/issue_post/russian-imperialism-and-its-monopolies/ (the same essay has been republished by International Viewpoint, 21. April 2022, https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7618); Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/once-again-on-russian-imperialism-reply-to-critics/. See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/
 We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 80 RCIT documents on the current NATO-Russia conflict and the Ukraine War are compiled: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/.
 See on this e.g.: Where does the RCIT Stand on Russia's Occupation of Chechnya? https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/russia-and-chechnya/; Solidarity with the Liberation Struggle of the Chechen People!, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/solidarity-with-the-liberation-struggle-of-the-chechen-people/; Russian Troops Out! Self-determination for Chechnya! (1996), https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/archive-documents-from-the-lrci-and-lfi/#anker_17
 The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements and articles on the Syrian Revolution which can be read on a special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/.
 See on this e.g. the compilation of RCIT documents on the U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/collection-of-articles-on-us-defeat-in-afghanistan/
 See on this e.g. chapter 12 and 13 of the book by Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, RCIT Books, Vienna 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/great-robbery-of-the-south/
 See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: World Situation: In the Midst of a Global Political Tornado. Notes on global developments characterized by the Ukraine War, inter-imperialist rivalry, global energy and food crisis as well as spontaneous mass protests, 13 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-situation-april-2022/; see also by the same author: G-20: Inter-Imperialist Rivalry on the Diplomatic Terrain. What do recent developments in the G-20 tell us about Russia’s imperialist character? 23 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/g-20-inter-imperialist-rivalry-on-the-diplomatic-terrain/
 David P. Goldman: Russia chokes gas flow, Germans fear ‘Lehman Moment’, June 24, 2022 https://asiatimes.com/2022/06/russia-chokes-gas-flow-germans-fear-lehman-moment/
 See e.g. chapter II in our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/. See also the pamphlet by the same author: COVID-19: The Current and Historical Roots of Bourgeois Lockdown “Socialism”. Police State and Universal Basic Income are key elements of the new version of reformist “War Socialism” of 1914, 19 December 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/covid-19-the-current-and-historical-roots-of-bourgeois-lockdown-socialism/