02 September 2014

Short General Introduction

Anti-Imperialism, War and Peace, Part 0

“Do you remember the days of slavery?” – Burning Spear

Short General Introduction

To Anti-Imperialism, War and Peace

We are about to begin a new course on the SADTU Political Education Forum: Anti-Imperialism, War and Peace.

The series begins with Chapter 1 of Clausewitz’s “On War”, described by one critic (Bernard Brodie) as “Not simply the greatest, but the only great book on war”. Clausewitz shows the dialectical (or in Clausewitz’s own term “reciprocal”) nature of any study of war. He also shows that war can only be an interval between negotiations. It is the pursuit of politics by other means – means which cannot be conclusive, but which have to yield in due course to politics again.

We are for peace but we have to be prepared for war. Although we have no interest in bloodshed, we are not pacifists. We seek the ascendancy of the working proletariat. We know that the bourgeois power is everywhere defended with brutal force.

The ANC democratic breakthrough owes its existence, in part, to successful armed struggle. Its breakthrough is in turn a part of a historic worldwide struggle against Imperialism, which has often been, and continues to be, an armed struggle. Yet our South African armed struggle is barely acknowledged. Instead, bourgeois virtues are daily paraded in front of us by bourgeois “role models”. The South African police shoot demonstrators, while bourgeois pacifism is pushed as a compulsory ideology for the rest of us.

Internationally in the 21st Century, Imperialism has embarked upon a series of wars, including wars in Africa, which have the character of “underdeveloping” once again and subordinating, or recolonising, African countries.

Therefore it is necessary to have a frank look at the question of the military. The political democracy must know enough about war to be able to oversee and to command the military. The military must always be subordinate to the political.

This is the most important thing to know. Let us repeat it: The military must always be subordinate to the political.