US and World Politics

Socialists Against Russia’s War on Ukraine

Editorial By Carole Seligman and Bonnie Weinstein

There is no disagreement that, beyond a doubt, the United States is the biggest purveyor of violence in the world. The U.S. capitalist class is the commander of world capitalism with the biggest and most powerful military. They lead the world in the business of death—in the manufacture and sale of weapons of all kinds from air-rifles for children to nuclear bombs capable of destroying the whole planet.

Not only does the U.S. train its children for future military and police service, they even train mass shooters in the public schools.

On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 students with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—a public high school—the same school that taught him how to shoot. In a February 16, 2018, article by Jen Kirbyjen, titled, “Nikolas Cruz was reportedly on an NRA-funded rifle team in high school” the article states:

“The Associated Press reports that in 2016, Cruz had been a member of the school’s Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) air-rifle marksmanship team, a small group who met together after class for target practice using air rifles and traveled to other schools to compete. That program was supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation, the NRA’s charitable arm, as part of a multimillion-dollar national campaign to promote youth shooting clubs. In 2016, when Cruz was a member of the team, the NRA Foundation awarded the school program a $10,827 non-cash grant. … The NRA Foundation says on its website that it has distributed $335 million in grants since 1990. According to the Associated Press, the majority of the grants to schools—$2.2 million in 2016—were non-cash grants, like the one Cruz’s team received.”1

And this training hasn’t ended. In a December 20, 2022, New York Times article by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Mike Baker, titled, “N.R.A. Gets a Boost from J.R.O.T.C. in Public Schools,” reported that:

“At a time when many districts are going to great lengths to keep guns out of schools, J.R.O.T.C. has become one of the few programs on campuses that promote weapons training. The N.R.A. has donated more than $5 million in money and equipment since 2015 to support competitive shooting programs at schools…The organization has supported J.R.O.T.C. programs by hosting shooting competitions, highlighting teams in its trade magazine, and providing special badges to J.R.O.T.C. shooting competitors.”

No other country is as blatant as the United States in its commitment to promote the use, ownership and carrying of weapons of death—even among children.

The United States is always at war somewhere.

On a more fundamental level, as Marxists, we can agree that war, violence, bigotry, economic inequality, and environmental destruction is due to capitalist ownership of the means of production for private profit. This is the fundamental cause of the continued threat of catastrophic destruction of all life that capitalism fuels.

Capitalism is the culprit

But the commanders of U.S. capital are not the only capitalist despots in the world. This is the modus operandi of all the capitalist world—England, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Myanmar, Morocco, China—and, yes, Russia, among many others.

Surely, the peace movement can oppose NATO and all military alliances of the U.S. government and also oppose the war moves of other reactionary regimes.

Yet a large part of the socialist left has kept silent about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—some actually claiming that Russia is defending itself against the U.S/ NATO alliance by its military invasion and massacre of the people of Ukraine.

The casualties of war on all sides are virtually always the innocent—the masses of people caught in the crossfire of war while the generals and commanders are safe at home with their families and their wealth.

Not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an affront to socialism

Instead of demanding that Russia stop their war and invasion of Ukraine, The Peace in Ukraine Coalition/CODEPINK joined with UNAC (United National Antiwar Coalition), ANSWER Coalition, Democratic Socialists of America, Veterans for Peace, World Beyond War, Peace Action and others joined together to call for demonstrations in opposition to the war in Ukraine and came up with the following slogans:

• Not One More Penny for War in Ukraine

• Negotiate Peace

• Stop the War Inflation

• Disband NATO

• Global Nuclear De-Escalation

• Slash the Pentagon Budget

• Abolish the CIA and Military-Industrial Deep State

• Abolish War and Empire

• Restore Civil Liberties

• Free Julian Assange

There is not one word demanding that Russia stop its invasion of Ukraine, withdraw its soldiers, stop killing innocent people, stop bombing apartment buildings, hospitals, factories, and national monuments—not one single word!

We need a new antiwar movement

As revolutionary socialists we need to form an alliance that opposes all capitalist war for what it is—a fight to the finish between capitalist empires—to hell with any who stand in their way. These capitalist empires see the masses as nothing but their cannon fodder to do their fighting for them—to maintain and grow their wealth and power.

Martin Luther King’s admonition that the U.S. is the main purveyor of violence in the world is one we have quoted and written about since Socialist Viewpoint was begun 23 years ago. But never did this idea conflict with the facts that other capitalist regimes—and even non-capitalist, Stalinist regimes—must be opposed for their brutality, oppression, exploitation, and violence against peoples in their own countries and other smaller and weaker countries. “The international working class shall lead the human race”—the line in the Internationale song says it. The working class recognizes no borders to our solidarity. And this solidarity includes all the working class and oppressed peoples of the whole world!

Many in the U.S. Left and peace movements are now ignoring the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and some are even attacking them because they are fighting back against the Russians and attacking them because they are white (and therefore treated more sympathetically by racist European countries than Africans seeking refuge in Europe and dying in the Mediterranean.) But let’s be clear—capitalism is the enemy of all humanity—it cannot be reformed or solve the problems of war, violence, or destruction of the environment.

We, as revolutionary socialists, need to champion a new, anti-capitalist antiwar movement that, while recognizing that the central home of the capitalist system is the United States, we must fight against capitalism everywhere.

We ask you to join with us to demand:

  • Stop the War on Ukraine!
  • Russia Out of Ukraine Now!
  • Bring All U.S. Troops Home Now!
  • Disband all U.S. Military Bases Now!
  • Disband the U.S./NATO Alliance Now!
  • Build a Worldwide Anti-Capitalist Antiwar Movement to Save the Planet!