The War of Nations Ruthless Criticism

World order is not communal work

The War of Nations

[Translated excerpt from an article by Karl Held and Peter Decker in Konkret, August 1985]

Imperialism exists in the competition between nations. It revolves around capitalistic wealth whose increase the state has subordinated the domestic life of its society to and which it tallies up – abstracting from private property, class conflicts and income differences – in the Gross National Product. This quantity of money represents its means of power because it establishes the growth of capital as the subsistence of the nation. Every capitalistic state supplements its limited sources of wealth – the gifts of nature and the people on its territory who can be profitably mobilized – with those of foreign countries where the native commercial sphere has discovered profitable labor, products and purchasing power. The development of the entire world of states for profitable investments is called the world market; after the end of colonialism and decolonization, it is presided over by a supreme formal system of recognition between states which mutually respect each other as government authorities in order to make use of each other. It is openly declared that their desire is to make this internationalism rewarding for their own balance sheets; it is no secret that the world market, for all its whitewashing about “mutual benefit,” obeys the logic of exclusive wealth; it is strictly about the enrichment of one’s own nation at the expense of the others, and an international monetary and credit system meticulously registers the debt of one as the profit of the other. Every day, the stability of the national currency summarizes each nation’s success or failure as recorded by the transnational transfer of goods, money and capital; with success, the means are on hand for the winners of the world market to advance their capital or to supply the investment sphere in their state with “competitive power” capable of further enrichment and likewise further harm to other nations. So the free world market deteriorates into a situation in which states, founded on and dependent on capital, continuously contest their subsistence, whereas stories such as protective tariffs and free trade are still the most harmless skirmishes in this conflict.

As is well known, with their efforts for national defense, modern nations do not wait for the day when a foreign power invades to collect its outstanding bills. The fact that competition on the world market makes it necessary for states to command over as powerful a military as possible is known to their historically-conscious leadership from their founding as states, which consisted in expelling foreign powers and conquering an area and people. Today, after the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc, one can study without a lot of intellectual effort how violently the cherished “right of self-determination of the peoples” breaks ground, since a state on the map and respect in the UN is guaranteed by victory in war. What such a product of violence can then do in the world of states, the conditions under which it becomes a participant in the world market licensed by the established powers, is entirely a question of the force that it marshals under its power. A state’s sources of wealth, and thus those available to a foreign country interested in “partnership” with it, are of rather low value for a sovereign if he is not able by means of force to ensure their mobilization domestically, as well as their use as an international means of business, and to enforce the conditions suitable for it.

Therefore it is normal in the “democratic and free-market” world of states to use a substantial part of the profits yielded by plowshares and less rustic tools to finance swords and other weapons, just to keep the branches of the military up-to-date. It is unavoidable that this custom seems wasteful to people who sometimes look at capitalism in the big and rich nations, just like in the small and poor nations, from the point of view of a healthy people's sustenance. However, they have no inkling of reasons of state, which do not at all pursue the tasks which they attribute to it in their moral good intentions. Where internationally active capital represents the means of the nation, which also must be promoted and developed by the political rule, the protection and extension of the sources of wealth by military power is a condition of survival for every political sovereign. It should also be obvious that prospective foreign customers regard the nation’s own use of its country and people as adverse to the world market and freedom. This sometimes leads to the extinction of sovereignty, in other cases “only” to the replacement of the sitting government – in one big special case, only the self-dissolution of a state and the vertical integration of its system prevented a world war that was planned in detail ...

Imperialism thus also exists in the competition in which nations supply themselves in continual comparison of their means of warfare. For every political rule, this sector is an essential condition for the economic competition, which is about the standard of money to provide access to foreign wealth and the nationalization of the profits of international trade, one which is distinct from economic balances and calculations. It concerns the core of national sovereignty, namely the protection of the force monopoly externally. They orient themselves by a continuous investigation of the relative balance of military power – in nearby regions as well as far away. After the world market has in fact really consigned “our interests” to the entire globe, they enter into small and large alliances as well as export weapons. This is not only important for the gigantic business branch of arms manufacturing that produces a national source of earnings out of state finances and debts; the profits ultimately realized come from the budget of the foreign country and are a nice post in their commercial balance sheets. It is also the means of direct access for managing the sovereignty of friendly nations, which acquire a certain amount of “security” and “stability” at home and in their own setting by purchasing weapons. Sometimes weapons exports also serve to change – desired or not – the balance of power in faraway regions, which again in our “civilized democracies” calls on the gnawing conscience of imperialism – which has nothing at all against it – to get in on the act ...

In military and security policy, in public and in secret, all decisions are to have a controlling influence on the violence budgets of the world of states. As an inevitable reaction to the measures and power of other nations, every Secretary of Defense incessantly updates the domestic stockpile, so that the necessary war can be threatened and led from “our soil.” In “our interest,” he decides to work toward the restriction or improvement of the armaments of other states. This profession – diplomacy and its pertinent business – has only the rights and means of nations as its objects for asserting itself against others, and in case of emergency culminates in a strategic view of the political map. It parcels out the permitted and forbidden degree of armaments and war leadership to the other states, and risks at this point conflict and war with them, also coming into conflict with otherwise friendly nations who differently weigh their advantages and disadvantages from a changed balance of power – in short: the strategic evaluation of the world of states and the accompanying intervention is continuously concerned with the rights to violence which a government grants itself and to others. It thereby defines itself as the supreme court for preservation or change in the hierarchy of states, and creates – in competition with others which judge the same impact – the subdivision of the world: the scope of national power, legitimate and unauthorized spheres of influence, the effective extent of the competing force monopolies, thus also their rights to exist.