“Worse than World War I”


Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warns that the Cold War between U.S. and China could get out of control


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 21 November 2019, www.thecommunists.net




In each class society, the ruling class entertains its politicians in order to govern as well as its professional ideologists in order to advocate its social formation. Sometimes, the ruling class generates quiet smart leaders who unify these two roles in a single person. For example, Caesar and Augustus were such figures at the height of the Roman Empire.


There exists also a number of smart representatives of the imperialist bourgeoisie today. It would be foolish to imagine that all bourgeois politicians are like Trump. If that would be the case capitalism would have imploded long time ago! No, there are still some bourgeois figures who served for some time in government and later became writers and strategist. Germany’s former chancellor Helmut Schmidt or former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski are such examples.


Another example is former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who has published a number of books about global developments and the geopolitical strategic options for American imperialism. Recently, Kissinger spoke at the New Economy Forum in Beijing which was organized by the Bloomberg Media Group. Other participants were Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, Bill Gates and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Such events are not orientated to the popular masses – they are rather forums where leading figures of the capitalist class talk among themselves and where they feel free to express their worries.


Kissinger used the opportunity to call for a compromise between Washington and Beijing. He warned against the explosion of the rivalry between the two largest imperialist powers – the U.S. and China. He said that the U.S. and China were in the “foothills of a Cold War”. Reflecting the increasing fears of the ruling classes around the globe, Kissinger emphasized: So a discussion of our mutual purposes and an attempt to limit the impact of conflict seems to me essential. (…) If conflict is permitted to run unconstrained the outcome could be even worse than it was in Europe. World War 1 broke out because a relatively minor crisis could not be mastered. [1]


As we reported, the British Guardian recently expressed a similar fear: “There is something eerily reminiscent of the summer of 1914 about the state of US-China relations. [2] It is evident that leading representatives of the bourgeoisie increasingly panic about the collapse of the world order and the explosion of the tensions between the Great Powers!


For Marxists, these developments do not come as a surprise. In fact, we have predicted them for some time. The RCIT has outlined in various books, pamphlets and essays an analysis of the onset decline of U.S. imperialism, the rise of China as a new imperialist power, and the consequential, accelerating Great Power rivalry. [3]


As we have also pointed out, the current Global Trade War is not the highpoint of such inner-imperialist rivalry but rather the prelude to military conflicts. [4] Increasingly, the more intelligent representatives of the bourgeoisie are also recognizing this. Panic is about to spread.


Such panic is fully justified since it is not only the rivalry between the Great Powers which is accelerating. In recent months a wave of mass protests and popular uprising has spread around the globe. From Chile and Ecuador, Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria, to Catalunya and Hong Kong – to name only the most explosive ones – the workers, youth and oppressed are rising up on nearly all continents. [5] In addition, another Great Recession is shattering the capitalist world economy. [6] Combined with these developments is the domestic political crisis of key leaders of the counter-revolutionary offensive – first and foremost U.S. President Donald Trump. [7]


The task of the activists in the vanguard of the international working class movement is to politically prepare for the gigantic class battles ahead and organize themselves. The RCIT calls militants to join us in building a Revolutionary World Party! The Kissingers, Xi, Merkels, Macrons, and Putins have their well-armed and well-financed organized forces. It is us – the workers and oppressed – who lack program and party! This unfortunate situation must be overcome as soon as possible!


[1] Kissinger Says U.S. and China in ‘Foothills of a Cold War’, Bloomberg News, 21. November 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-21/kissinger-says-u-s-and-china-in-foothills-of-a-cold-war?srnd=premium-europe

[2] The Guardian view on the China-US trade wars: the global economy is at risk, 5 Aug 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/05/the-guardian-view-on-the-china-us-trade-wars-the-global-economy-is-at-risk

[3] See on this e.g. our recently published book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019. The book can be read online or downloaded for free here: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/. On the RCIT’s analysis of China and Russia as emerging imperialist powers and the consequential accelerating Great Power rivalry see the literature mentioned in the special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.

[4] The RCIT has published a series of articles analysing the Global Trade War. They are collected in a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-global-trade-war/

[5] The RCIT has published a number of statements and articles on these struggles. For the general background see the following essay by Michael Pröbsting: Are We Nearing a New “68 Moment”? A massive upsurge of global class struggle in the midst of a dramatic shift in the world situation, 22 October 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/are-we-nearing-a-new-68-moment/.

[6] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Another Great Recession of the Capitalist World Economy Has Begun. The economic crisis is an important factor in the current dramatic shift in the world situation, 19 October 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/another-great-recession-of-the-capitalist-world-economy-has-begun/.

[7] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Gang Leaders of Western Counterrevolution Are Faltering. Some observations on an interesting historic moment in the world situation, 25 September 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-gang-leaders-of-western-counterrevolution-are-faltering/.