September 9, 2018 | 3 minutes read

Inter-imperialist rivalries: the Skripal incident

Inter-imperialist rivalries: the Skripal incident

Earlier this week, British imperialism’s police force announced that they had identified two Russian suspects in the Skripal incident. Following this, in Parliament, Theresa May stated that the individuals identified were linked Russia’s GRU secret service. Aside from a series of blurry photographs and these statements, no further evidence has been produced. Russia continues to deny any involvement in the Skripal incident and has reiterated its request for a joint investigation into the matter.

To say that the case of the British state is flimsy doesn’t quite go far enough. After months of investigating, the British state has made innumerable, absurd claims. The present working theory is a work of farce. For example, it is claimed that the nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was produced in the public toilets of the nearby Queen Elizabeth gardens. This is impossible and runs contrary to the very basis for Britain’s claim that Russia is orchestrating the Skripal incident – that is, that Novichok is such a poisonous substance that it must be produced in a lab and only Russia possesses this capacity.

In Parliament, May committed to increasing antagonism toward Russia. Whitehall have informed The Times that an element of this strategy will be cyberwar. This must be understood clearly: cyberwar is war; British imperialism is discretely declaring war upon Russia. The imperialist British Labour Party offers no alternative to this warmongering. Following May’s speech in Parliament, the so-called “anti-war socialist” Jeremy Corbyn stated that further action must be taken against Russia for the failure to co-operate with the British investigation. This is nonsense: aside from its repeated requests for a joint investigation, Russia has sent over 70 letters inquiring about the Skripal incident to the Home Office, the overwhelming majority of which have been ignored.

From start to finish, the British bourgeoisie have used the Skripal incident to warmonger against Russia in lieu of evidence. Their objectives are to further a predatory campaign against Russian capitalism in the interests of Britain’s usury capital. NATO troops already surround Russia’s western borders and imperialist encroachment in Syria and Iraq threaten to isolate the caucuses. This predatory campaign, led today by British imperialism, threatens to spiral into a world consuming conflict.

The crisis of British imperialism is forcing it ever deeper into desperation and violence. Today’s revelations on Operation Yellowhammer – Britain’s contingency plan for a no-deal Brexit – make clear the priorities of the British state: its financial sector. For this, every service still offered to the British working class may be offered in sacrifice – dryly implicated by the suggestion that government departments should secure funds for no deal planning by ‘internal reprioritisation’. In other words, more and deeper cuts. That the British ruling class have no concern for the working class was already evident: the contingency for food and medicine is simply to leave it to the anarchy of private production. As prices inflate and state welfare fades evermore into the abyss, widespread starvation may well become a reality.

At the core of this plunge to ruin is British imperialism’s inability to cope with the hardening of relations between the United States and the European Union. In relation to these powers, Britain’s role in the post war (1945−1974) and “globalisation” (1974−2016) periods was as an financial and diplomatic link. As US imperialism is increasingly unable to maintain itself as the world’s dominant economy and the dollar unable to maintain itself as the world’s currency anchor in consequence, this relationship is becoming increasing strained, antagonistic and threatening. Any chance of maintaining British imperialism in the position it has been is made politically impossible by the reality of the Brexit vote and the belligerence of US President Donald Trump in attacking Europe. Economically, Britain is unable to maintain itself as an independent imperialist power and whether it can rely on the US is unclear.

As such, the British bourgeoisie are desperate. Their desperation is forcing them to make a gambit. As the campaign against Russian capitalism clearly was a point of unity among the imperialists constituting the transatlantic alliance, a point emphasized by NATO’s line, Britain is now determined to lead, hoping the strength of its diplomatic alliances will pull through with the plunge. At time of writing, German and Canadian imperialism have answered the call. Whether the US will is less certain, captive to a power struggle between Trump – who wishes to pursue conflict with Europe and Canada – and a broad section of the imperialist bourgeoisie determined to oust him and join the campaign on Russia.

Red Fight Back is clear. As the ghoul of imperialist world war hangs heavy upon us, there is only one alternative: that of socialism. The specific task of British revolutionaries is marked by the relative weakness of British imperialism. Imperialist nations in crisis inevitably lead to war and bloodshed, and Britain will be no different. Nevertheless, we must understand that such brutality in economics and war will necessarily stir working class resistance. Though the tasks of this moment are great, they can be overcome. As Rosa Luxemburg put it, imperialist barbarism is the collapse of civilisation. Either a new one will form in its place, or only blood will mark the path of humanity.
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