When Peace Is War
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We are all aware that the United States is gearing up for an attack on Iraq. The formalities are still being worked out, but at this point, US military action seems almost certain. But this war will not be without resistance. There have already been numerous protests against the war, and the attack on the recruiting station in San Jose (see "Chronicles of Revolt" in this issue) certainly seems to be a response to the call for war as well. When the actual fighting begins, more resistance can be expected. But resistance to this war cannot simply rely on methods and concepts from the past. An "anti-war" movement that is not also an attempt to completely overturn the ruling order no longer makes any sense. Therefore it is necessary for anarchists to make a serious analysis of the situation that is arising.

Anarchists have already put out a number of calls for non-compliance and insubordination toward the war effort, and these are certainly worthy endeavors. But to understand what this would mean requires careful examination of the situation. A 'zine of "proletarian grumbling" out of London called The Whinger points out a few things we should consider in developing our resistance:

Even if there was a general strike in the west it would probably be too late to stop an attack. They no longer need the labour of the bulk of us in the "developed" world directly in their war effort. In the west they no longer need mass conscript armies or mass forced militarization of labour in specific industrial war production to directly sustain the war effort. Most of the weapons are now produced beforehand under capitalist "peace­time" in dispersed commercial arms production which is not labour intensive. Much of the "fighting" by US or british or European forces can be done by privileged protected elite professional technicians and officer-bureaucrats, leaving some shooting and mopping up and patrolling on the ground for regular soldiers. This sort of changes the role of regular soldiers from an attacking and war-fighting role to an occupying and heavy policing role.


There are a number of significant points that can be drawn from these observations. While a number of opponents of the war are seeking to play on the 1ossibility of another Vietnam as a way of inspiring wider opposition, this is, in fart, very unlikely. For all practical intents and purposes, the US has been carrying on a war against Iraq since 1991, with no use of ground troops since the end of Operation Desert Storm and only the occasional bombardment, relying instead on the UN-sanctioned embargo to impoverish and kill Iraqis. Unlike the war in Vietnam, this operation has not had any visible effects on the daily lives of the American populace. The current effort to heat up this war is simply intended to get rid of a former ally who has become a liability in order to increase US control in the region. On this level, it has far more in common with the "humanitarian bombing" of Yugoslavia than with the Vietnam war. And we can assume that this war will be fought in a similar fashion: intensive aerial bombing with high tech weapons causing a fair amount of "collateral damage" consisting of Iraqi civilian dead and wounded, but few if any American casualties, followed by an occupation by an armed, military peace-keeping" force. In fact, the Bush administration has been talking of setting up an interim American-run military government ruled by a US military officer, similar to that which was set up in Japan following World War IL The point is that this specific war is likely to be very short. It is the military role of "peace-keeping" that will continue.

In fact this war (like every war) is the product of capital's peace-time policies on every level. Contrary to Orwell's thinking, "war is peace" is not a totalitarian "big lie". It is, in fact, an accurate description of the current functioning of the ruling order, though it may be more precise to say, "Peace is war". This is what we need to keep in mind as we seek to build resistance to this war. My grumbling proletarian friend goes on to say: '...the slogan 'sabotage the war economy' is actually strictly speaking mistaken. The problem is that the majority of us are not directly in a war economy at the moment, most of us are still very much in a 'peace-time' economy and that is what we need to sabotage and socially subvert." For the ruling order, peace-time is simply the time to calmly prepare for the wars to come. With the current military technologies and methods, most of us in the west will rarely experience any significant change in our daily routine due to a war such as the one proposed. We will continue to experience capital's "peace', that fine civilized peace that so bores, yet pacifies, us. Therefore, any effective resistance to this war must also be a subversive attack against the peace of the ruling order. So it is not so much in terms of any immediate effect on the current war effort as on the level of the necessity to destroy current social order in order to make wars of this sort impossible that the practice of non-compliance and insubordination becomes significant.

But "peace is war" not only because the ruling class uses peace-time to prepare for future wars, but more significantly because their 'peace" is itself carried on as a war. Who are the peacekeepers in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan? They are armed military personnel. And even on the streets of the cities here in the west, peace is maintained by armed people in uniform, often with military training. The police also constitute an arm of the state, and those who live in poor neighborhoods often know what it is like to be occupied and under the threat of death or capture if they make the wrong move. Consider as well the obvious militarization of the police involved in crowd control during demonstrations and protests. Peacekeeping is really nothing other than war­making. Thus, it can be said that the entire world lives in a state of permanent war, the unending violence through which our rulers maintain their power.

This is why no call for peace makes sense any more. It would simply be a call to maintain the order that sustains war. There can be no negotiation, no coming to terms with this civilized world. It requires war to suppress the desperation of those it has excluded that is breaking through its doors as everything falls apart. All we can oppose to the bombs over Iraq, if we want our opposition to be more than symbolic, a mere appeasing of our consciences, is class attack. We must liberate the smoldering hatred and hurt it against those who have stolen our lives and the lives of all the exploited of the earth. Identifying the common enemy - the owners, the rulers, the technological and productive network, the totality of a civilization based on domination and exploitation - is the primary form of solidarity toward the bombed and the refugees. Attacking this enemy is the only real tool we have for transforming the wars imposed by the social order - in which we end up killing each other in our real enemy's interests - into a fight for liberation from exploitation and domination, from every form of rule.


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