The war: a disaster for the population, a business opportunity for arms dealers

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
March 14, 2022

War is always a disaster for the common people. Images of the tragedy in Ukraine are pouring in – long lines of terrified people forced to abandon their homes and leave everything behind, low-income apartment buildings completely destroyed, the corpses of those who were unable to flee in time. But war isn’t a tragedy for everyone.

Arms dealers are rubbing their hands at all the profits they’re going to make. During the first week of the Russian offensive, Thales shares went up by 30%1. And the CEO, getting ready to announce record-breaking results for 2021, was able to add that the results to come would be even greater, because "defense budgets are on the rise in all the developed countries in which we operate”. Although there are no armed conflicts in France yet, there are already war profiteers.

The media and the government have been explaining that fuel prices are going to rise because the supply of oil from Russia is going to be blocked. But although there hasn’t been even the smallest blockage so far, oil, gas and fuel prices have already soared! In reality, oil trusts like Total, BP and Esso have colluded with one another to push prices up. And financial speculation on top of that is driving prices to ever higher levels.

Speculation affects all sectors. Since Ukraine is a major wheat producer, the price of wheat has broken its all-time record. Everywhere, food is becoming more and more expensive – which in poor countries will lead to planned famines. Like in the Middle Ages, acute shortages mean exceptional profits for the hoarders.

War is a gigantic business opportunity. Textile manufacturers will supply whatever clothes the armies need. The capitalists in the food industry will take care of feeding them. They will behave just like the oil trusts: they will take advantage of their dominant position on the market to fix their own prices. Banks will also take advantage of the situation and increase national debt, since the diffferent states will have to borrow money in order to increase their military expenditure. And every state will of course make its population pay.

The sanctions put in place by Western countries against Russia will also fuel economic rivalries within the Western camp. The United States, which has just declared an embargo on Russian gas, wants European countries to do the same. American oil corporations dream of taking over the markets of Russian companies in Europe. Perhaps this will suit EDF2, since it could boost the exports of the electricity produced in its nuclear power plants. But this is directly opposed to the interests of German industrialists for whom Russian gas is one of the main energy sources. Military combat doesn’t put an end to economic warfare, it’s an extension of it.

Ukrainian workers are already paying with blood and tears for the rivalry between Russia and the great Western powers. Russian workers are also paying for it through the aggravation of Putin's dictatorship, and the blockade that the West wants to impose which will likely provoke a catastrophic economic collapse similar to the one they experienced thirty years ago when Yeltsin organized the breaking-up of the USSR.

As for us French workers, we are in the same boat. The government claims that from now on, because of the war in Ukraine, everyone – rich and poor – will have to tighten their belts. This is sheer propaganda, to make us go along with the interests of French trusts.

If we don’t want to be subjected to aggravated exploitation today and to become cannon fodder tomorrow, we will have to organize to defend our class interests. Until our social class can overthrow this rotten system, we must at least express our anger. Voting for me in the presidential election is a way of doing so.

Nathalie ARTHAUD


1Thales is the French armament group which supplies the electronics for the Rafale fighter jets produced by Dassault, another big French company.

2EDF: Electricité de France is one of the main suppliers of electricity in France. Once a public company also in charge of supplying gas (for decades it was known as EDF-GDF and exercized a public monopoly on those markets), it was privatized in the 2000s.