Even though it’s the summer holidays, a time when some of us can escape the daily grind of exploitation, it’s impossible not to worry about the rising cost of living and what the situation will be like when the summer’s over.
Right now, thousands of miles away, men and women are dying under bombs or on battlefields. We could tell ourselves that we're lucky to escape such horror, but that would be turning a blind eye to the danger that threatens us all. Our future can't be read in a crystal ball but it can be told by examining what is happening in Ukraine. Ever since war started up between Ukraine and Russia, with Putin's attack a year and a half ago, it has been threatening to spread.
All governments are preparing for a generalized war. Military budgets have risen sharply everywhere, and the conditioning of the population has already begun. In France, the General National Service1 for young people is gaining momentum. In working-class families, innocuous letters from the CAF – the agency running family allowances – are urging parents to convince their children to take part in the SNU. The army has started advertising in front of high schools. And in some places, it has installed demonstration cannons to attract the attention of young people.
It’s always the laboring classes that are targeted, and the children of working-class families in particular, as they will be the first to be sent onto tomorrow's battlefields. They will be told to go and fight "in the name of freedom" and "in defence of the homeland". But in reality, it will be to defend the interests of the great Western powers, i.e. the big capitalist corporations – the very same corporations that exploit us here, drive us into misery, and shamelessly enrich themselves. War doesn’t make the class struggle disappear, on the contrary, it exacerbates it and makes it even more appalling.
In Ukraine, the war has reached a new level of horror. U.S. President Biden has announced that the U.S. will send cluster munitions to the Ukrainian army. These weapons will indiscriminately kill civilians and soldiers, and their traces will remain scattered across entire regions for years to come.
Just because Western superpowers are increasing their military pressure does not mean they are out to eliminate Putin. His dictatorship over the Russian people is useful to them. It helps maintain imperialism's domination over the world. Just a few months before the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army intervened in Kazakhstan to repress a people’s rebellion against the high cost of living. At the time, Western powers had nothing to say about it. And recently, the U.S. was careful not to support Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, in his attempted coup. The Biden administration even ordered Zelensky not to use the situation to his advantage.
Putin's dictatorship over his population doesn't bother the major world powers. For many years, big companies like Total, Auchan and Renault invested billions of euros in Russia. What the major world powers could not tolerate was Putin's refusal to let them lay hands on Ukraine.
Today, no one can predict exactly how or by what means war will spread. But it certainly will. All the war preparations of the rich countries bear witness to this. And the recent coup in Niger followed by Macron's threats of military intervention show that the world is a powder keg.
We also know who will make the decisions on which the fate of millions of human beings will depend: the leaders of the great world powers and their far-right generals. And they couldn't care less about what the people think. Just look at how the French government imposed the increase in retirement age in spite of the vast majority of the population’s opposition. When it comes to people's lives, we cannot trust the government in any way. On the contrary, we have to be wary of their propaganda, which is designed to make us adhere to their war.
For us workers, there can be no question of trusting the regime and its war plans. We must affirm that this war is not our war and that it is not being led with the consent of the exploited! No to national unity! No to supplying arms! Yes to the requisition of war profits and of all the accumulated profits that have been sweated out of the population!
1 The General National Service (Service national universel, or SNU, in French) was implemented by Macron in 2021. It is a month-long voluntary military service for citizens aged 16 to 25 that could become mandatory in the future.