Doug Henwood/Mark Jones exchange (from LBO-Talk)

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Wed May 3 10:19:31 MDT 2000

There are several issues here that are being mixed somewhat out of
context.  When I first observed that no revolution was ever born without
being delivered by foreign wars, I was observing a historical fact
generally.  The way capitalism is going, it will not tolerate a generally
economic collapse without a war, and with globalization the next war will
be again a world war.  That is not to say that local wars are out of
fashion.  The world has been in continuous local war since the end of
WWII.  But conflicts between major powers will be global by definition.
In one way, true revolutionaries are never afraid of war.  In fact, they
see foreign wars as self-destructive developments of the ruling regime.
Revolutionaries have no power to start foreign wars; they have enough
trouble starting civil wars.

Military conflicts between nuclear powers do not automatically go
nuclear.  In fact, the possession of nuclear capability only insures the
possessor against total defeat by another nuclear power.  A truce will be
called and a political settlement reflecting the non nuclear military
situation will be reached before any nuclear exchange.  The days of
unconditional surrender for a nuclear power is gone forever.  This is why
all government want nuclear capabilities.  It is a logical extension of
the Westphalian nation state world order.

The danger of nuclear attack from totally disfranchised terrorists (even
legitimate revolutionary terrorists) is much greater than from any
legitimate government on another government. The entire nonproliferation
movement is at its base a movement to deny all terrorists groups of truly
effective political leverage.  Pre-emptive attacks against soon-to-be
nuclear governments have been routine policies for decades, as witnessed
by Israel's attack on Iraq and US-Soviet unsuccessful attempts on China
in the 70s.

At any rate, the phobia against nuclear war has been manufactured by US
propaganda for domestic purposes in its scheme to build up its nuclear
arsenal through arms control.  The technology of warfare has created
chemical and biological options that are many folds more destructive and
residually deadly than nuclear exchanges.  And these options required
much less technical infrastructure to develop. This fact is the basic
reason why the US allows the continuous existence of so-called "rouge
states".  It is not merely respect for international law or self

With continuous peace, the defeatist attitudes of the likes of Henwood
are rationally justifiable.  No informed person can rationally conclude
that capitalism will end in peace; and if war is not a viable
alternative, then capitalism will rule forever.  But war is always
between the strong and the strong.  Conflict between the strong and the
weak is not war, it is slaughter.  Political components of capitalism
will reach  stages where armed conflict will be unavoidable.  This
happened to European imperialism all over the world in early 20th century
that led to WWI.

Either capitalism cuts a better deal for all, which means moving towards
socialism, or it will self-destruct, the final stage of which will be a
global war.  Either way, socialism will replace capitalism.  War and
revolution will serve to accelerate that historical process.

As for Argentina, the nuclear threat argument is only a rationalization
by the Argentinean government in defeat to justify its surrender. The
Argentinean government did not have the political will to continue and
nuclear threat became a convenient cover. The British would have never
dared to nuclear weapon in the Americas.  Washington would not have
permitted it for many reasons. As I understand it, there are plenty of
pro British Argentineans in and out of government.

The Falkan War affected Sino-British relations.  Fresh from her Falkan
War, Thatcher went to Beijing demanding a permanent acceptance of Hong
Kong as a British colony.  Deng Xiao-ping told her to go "****" herself
and demanded a return of HK within 15 years, by 1997 with "One Country,
Two Systems" or an immediate Chinese takeover.  Thatcher was so shaken
from the meeting that on her way out, she symbolized her political
misstep by falling down the front steps of the Peoples Congress Hall in
front of the world press.  The rest is history.  The Falkan Island is
more distant from London than Hong Kong is.  If Thatcher had kept quiet,
Hong Kong might still be a British colony by inertia. In the Falkan War,
Great Britain retained one island in the Anartics and lost the pearl in
the British crown.

All this is to say that many Western Marxists have lost much of their
historical revolutionary courage.  Many now rationalize their meekness as
intellectual or humanitarian sophistication.  Many seek comfort in
claiming to be more authentic and authoritative in their interpretation
of Marxism as if revolutionary truth will set them free.  Revolution is
action.  Those who for whatever reason find it inconvenient to take
action, should at least step aside, and not try to convince others that
action is futile.  Each revolutionary uprising, no matter how futile, how
advanturist, if taken, builds the next uprising, even if its should end
in total failure.  It took hundreds of hopeless uprising starting in 1850
before the PRC finally established itself. And the revolution in China
has hardly begun.

As Mao said, chaos under heaven is good for revolutions.

Henry C.K. Liu

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky wrote:

> En relación a Re: Doug Henwood/Mark Jones exchange (from LBO-Ta,
> el 2 May 00, a las 15:22, Charles Brown dijo:
> >
> >
> > >>> "Ulhas Joglekar" <ulhasj at> 04/29/00 11:59PM >>>
> >
> >
> > Further, a world war today would be a nuclear war and would involve
> > destruction of humanity. Socialism today has nothing to gain from a
> > world war.
> >
> > __________
> >
> > CB: Henry said "foreign war" not world war.
> >
> >
> Yes, but let us accept that a China - USA conflict may well derail
> and become world and nuclear. The question, however, is whether we
> are decided to accept the blackmail "Capitalism or atom blasting of
> the Earth".  Two very different people, such as Vladimir Bilenkin and
> Mark Jones, have proposed, on different moments, that we socialists
> should not balk at the possibility of revolutionary war, even of
> "revolutionary thermonuclear war" (these were, if I am not recalling
> wrongly, the words by Mark Jones).
> I am not speaking in vain. We Argentinians have had to think on these
> things quite recently. During the Malvinas battles, Meg Thatcher is
> said to have played with the idea of H-bombing Córdoba, the second
> largest city of Argentina (with 1,5 million people). In my case,
> things are twice as vivid because I have family in Córdoba.
> If we socialists had been in power then, should we have stopped our
> war effort? Fidel has an answer: "They may annihilate us, but they
> will not defeat us".
> One should not try to get annihilated, but if presented with the
> option, one should stand boldly on one's own feet.
> Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
> gorojovsky at

More information about the Marxism mailing list