Originally published: https://countercurrents.org/2022/06/environment-and-war-today/
Farooque Chowdhury | 05 June 2022
War environs environment.
War destructs and demolishes life, all forms of environment. It’s war’s powerful approach to contradictions within and with environment surrounding life. Wars including the current Ukraine War bear this signature of destruction of and on environment and ecology. The first victim is life; and, then comes surroundings of life that help sustain life. Activities to secure, nourish and sustain environment are hampered/suspended during war, and in war zones also.
Military activities, preparatory to war including training/drills/exercises, itself is threat to environment and ecology. Military/war expenditure is in direct and hostile contradiction with environment and ecology. The expenditure takes away a lot of resources, which can be allocated for life, steps to nourish and secure environment and ecology. The sphere of destruction of environment and ecology widens as the sphere of war widens. Today’s Ukraine is the witness. Iraq and Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Vietnam are witnesses. Hiroshima and Nagasaki stand as witnesses.
This takes a super-demonic character while anti-people forces wage war against people. It’s the people that pay first, and most in war of all types and forms; and in ultimate analysis, it’s the people that make the payment for war, as capitals involved in war not only takes, appropriates and expropriates all expenses of war from people, but also makes surplus gains. This happens irrespective of winning and losing parts of the capitals engaged in war.
Even, capitals not engaged in war also make gains, as the capitals’ profit making process doesn’t remain compartmentalized while the capitals engage in war. In the present day world, capitals and markets are so closely and intricately connected, and dependent on one or another part(s) of capital and markets that this act of gain from war is distributed among capitals irrespective of involvement or non-direct involvement with war. This makes war’s environment-ecology destructive power wider, covering life, people in areas far away from theaters of war. The current Ukraine War is the most recent example.
Imperialism’s increasing power, not only military, but all other powers including economic, diplomatic and propaganda, make this destructive character more demonic. A small island in the Baltic Sea or in the far away Pacific can’t stay isolated from the flame and heat of war.
On the contrary, war-market, a combination of markets distantly or closely related, dependent and connected to war or to economies waging war adversely impact people. Employment gained in war industry is wiped out by losses people incur as a whole. It’s loss by all the people, not only the working people, ultimately.
The loss is in the areas of consumption, health, shelter, education, taxation/levies/rents and in similar areas. In the area of nature/commons, people’s loss is wide, far-impacting.
Imperialism’s loss in war is nothing. At times, at stages and in areas of war, a loss by a capital is covered by net gain by other capitals, and it’s not only covered, the net gain by all capitals is far higher. At the end, capitals are the winner in war, therefore.
Class war has different equation in areas, but not different from the point of capitals’ gain in other wars including wars between capitals or factions of capital.
The on-going Ukraine War is an area of study of capitals, contradictions between capitals, contradictions within capital in different areas, geographically and economically, approaches to handle the contradictions, capitals’ limits/incapacities. A few of the limitations have increased/taken acute shape with the rise of capitals’ power/capacity/reach, and with increased competition and increasingly decreased areas of maneuver by capitals.
Capitals have already conquered all areas of potential expansion, appropriation and expropriation in the glove. Yet, it needs markets, profits. So, conflict is increasing around the globe.
In areas, it’s in the form of military conflict while in areas it’s in the form of trade/taxation/protectionism/anti-protectionism. It, the capitals, formulate arguments according to its requirements. The same capital goes for unhindered trade in one area while resorts to protectionism in other. The same capital goes for winning turf through negotiation while takes military moves, directly or indirectly, to secure and expand/win market. Competition, on occasions, takes shape of hot conflict – bombs, bullets, guns, howitzers, electronic warfare and intelligence sharing with the aid of satellites.
With this reality of increased competition by capital, the space that suffers is of people – life, environment and ecology, livelihood, markets people depend on and in related areas.
The current Ukraine War is starkly showing this reality of capitals’ confrontation. This burning example in Ukraine also stands as an indication of wars capitals are going to wage in future. It’ll be an error to assume the Ukraine War as a war limited within a single European country, and it’s a war using military means, and it’s a war between Ukraine and Russia. It’s a war (1) already spread over/involving countries, (2) spreading its impact around the globe, and thereby taking the shape of an imperialist global war, (3) using weapons without precedent including sanctions. Parts of capitals are so desperate in use of weapons to hurt its opponent that a few of which are hurting the user, and thus, the weapon-wielding part’s calculus regarding these weapons is turning out as erroneous! Parts of capitals have become so reckless! Turning reckless is a natural trend of capital.
But, in this “game” of the wars by capitals, people, environment and ecology is getting harmed/demolished/defaced. Even, after the war, capitals waging this war will continue reaping profit while people, environment and ecology will continue paying for capitals’ profit.
This is a contradiction that capitals can’t resolve. This contradiction has to be resolved by people, by anti-capital/anti-capitalist system struggles, by dismantling of the system that goes to war for profit at the expense of people, environment and ecology, that goes for profit at the cost of deaths and destruction.
Why the people of Ukraine are paying with their lives, livelihood, environment and ecology? They, the huge millions, are paying for a handful of war traders; and the war traders are profiteering from the war in Ukraine by selling arms, by allocating huge sums of money behind war machine, behind war propaganda, behind procurement of arms, and they are profiteering at respective homes that cost people in those countries. People in countries in Europe have already started paying for the war the war traders are organizing in Ukraine.
Now, these merchants of war are expanding their business – moves are being taken to expand the trans-Atlantic military alliance to the Pacific and the Indian oceans. Countries in the Indo-Pacific empyrean are allured, co-opted and pressed to join the inter-ocean –Atlantic-IndoPacific – war maneuver. The peoples in the region will have to pay if the war traders succeed in this bloody game. With war effort, with increased militarization, environment and ecology will have to pay, which means life has to suffer.
For reinvigorating environment and ecology, for sustaining life, for having a peaceful life for people having the opportunity to pursue happiness and democracy, war, all efforts to ignite flames of war, all efforts to militarize society are to be exposed, resisted and foiled.
For a livable environment and ecology, democratic environment is essential. War, war efforts, militarization and spread of racist/Nazi ideology stand opposed to democratic environment, as war and militarization require authoritarianism. That’s curtailment of rights, opportunities and accesses to spaces of people, and expansion of space for war business. Today’s Ukraine, yesterday’s Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia are evidences. During war, no scope remains for taking care of environment and ecology. Today’s Ukraine, militarized, authoritarian Ukraine, imperialist gun powder-loaded Ukraine was organized over years by imperialism, and hatred-filled ideology, Nazism, was spread in the society over years; and then, a situation was created. That was a situation that can be characterized as inviting/provoking war. Millions of Ukraine people are suffering now.
Compromise will follow there in Ukraine. The war bosses in Brussels, London and on the other side of the Atlantic have already begun discussions among themselves: How to conclude this Ukraine War chapter. They have kept their Ukraine lieutenants at the side – no discussion with the proxy war leader on the issue of conclusion. Parts of capitals that prepared Ukraine proxy for the war over the last eight years are now finding: This sanction arms is hurting it, which the brilliant minds designing these sanctions have not told them. One of the leading propaganda machines is questioning: What’s the use of this sanctions arms as Russia is benefitting. It may happen, this sanction arms will be questioned in the WTO, the organization the bosses have organized for their trade. It may happen that, despite a faction’s efforts to lengthen the war, the war will be questioned more boldly by parts of capitals in both sides of the Atlantic: Why this war as we’re getting hurt – loss of business opportunity, chunks of markets getting out of hands. Already that question has raised its head in some countries. The war, imperialist war propaganda machine claimed, may turn into Russia’s Afghanistan. But, there’s possibility that the war may turn imperialist war mongers’ Afghanistan as this war is not going as the bosses planned.
At the end, guns will go silent; but millions of people will pay a very high price with tears and pain – loss of near ones, destruction of shelter, and loss of food-health care-education; and war profiteers, financers of war across the Atlantic will profit.
Therefore, this year’s Environment Day calls for the urgent task: Oppose Imperialist War, oppose all machinations for organizing imperialist war, oppose imperialist war alliances; for the sake of people’s livable environment and ecology, oppose the economy that survives on war, survives by destructing people’s lives, environment and ecology.
Farooque Chowdhury writes form Dhaka, Bangladesh. His recent publications include With the Passing Time (2021, www.nggbooks.wordpress.com)