Author Jacques Camatte

Two Short Texts on the Conflict in Ukraine

March–July 2022

Death and Extinction: On the Invasion of Ukraine

At the moment of the invasion of Ukraine this was revealed to me: does the dynamic of death mask the prospect of extinction [le devenir à l’extinction]? Or does the prospect of extinction precisely condition a rise of killing, of war in its old form (not cyberwarfare), clearly visible and colliding with the struggle for survival? This in fact is posed in all armed conflicts today, and didn’t start yesterday.

Which fundamentally poses the importance of the threat from both sides, but especially the Russian side and what follows: the unleashing of hostility [l’inimitié]. Ukrainians reacted to the Russian attack by vigorously defending themselves. Though this is logical and amply justified, it was accompanied by an outburst of hatred. Not only on their part, but also from those called Westerners and those who support them. Thus the defense of the Ukrainians and the demonization of the Russians has been the principal preoccupation of the media—masking and occulting the question of Covid-19 (curiously enough, it’s suddenly no longer considered dangerous and measures against it will soon be repealed), as well as the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which highlights the great danger of global warming, and thus the risk of extinction).

The Russians have felt threatened for a long time, particularly since the end of the Soviet Union. It’s important to recall that at the time they liquidated the Warsaw Pact and even proposed to join nato, to once again become allies as they had been in the war against [Nazi] Germany. “Pan-European security is a dream,”1 was the us response. The reality is hostility; the United States needed an enemy. Having an enemy allows one to put up one’s guard against a perceived threat, and to give it a certain shape. This has been growing through the present day.2

In fact we should go back further in time to identify the origin of this hostility: the October Revolution of 1917, which engendered a great threat. This appeared to have a real basis for a short period but was maintained, in a mitigated way, even after the end of the revolutionary phase. As was the hostility against the proletariat linked to it, until the end of the last century (the moment of the proletariat’s disappearance, when it was replaced by social strata that are dominated and exploited to varying degrees). Today, in a more or less unconscious way, the Russians are reproached for having made the revolution.

We have repeatedly asserted that the human species is continually trying to conjure a threat. This conjuring takes place at the level of individual nations, whose various conflicts fill the pages of history. Death appears as the means of escaping the threat.3 This is an explanation of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, but not a justification. Furthermore, the more one fights against a threat the more one strengthens it, as the case of Russia shows so far and will continue to show into the future.

This dynamic—which provokes war destructive to men, women, and also nature (which is often obscured)—increases the risk of extinction because it exalts hostility, the essential cause of global warming, linked to its destruction. It encounters no obstacle because it is sustained by the autonomization of the capital-form, which was able to impose itself thanks to the disappearance of the proletariat. The dynamic is expressed through the need for constant innovation, inducing the obsolescence of what was produced as well as of non-innovative or insufficiently innovative producers, generating a threat accompanied by the hostility of socioeconomic reality. All of this complements the superfluity of human beings, helping to create conditions of life of which it could be asked: “Is not death more desirable than life that is a mere preventive measure against death?” (Marx).4 In fact, even death cannot solve it. For it cannot abolish the encroaching extinction. Humanity can only escape it by abandoning hostility as a mode and principle of life.

10 March 2022

Nothing is Resolved

The persistence of hostility, also arising in the neolithic period, appears more and more as a means, as an operator, of life outside nature. A mediation to overcome all discontinuity. Consequently, we maintain the risk of extinction and even increase the chance of its actualization.

More concretely let me give an example of the phenomenon in progress. The war between Russia and the United States through the intermediary of Ukraine is the result of a number of unresolved phenomena. It’s an illustration that the more we oppose something, the more we strengthen that which we oppose.

The encirclement of the European part of Russia has increased due to the entry of Eastern European countries into nato, that is to say into the lap of the United States, prolonging what happened in 1945: Europe becoming an American colony, as indicated by Amadeo Bordiga. In 1949, in his article “Aggression Against Europe,” he specified what had happened since 1917 (which had been [America’s] first aggression against Europe):

This does not take away the right to analyze this [the speculative next war, led by America —jc], and to analyze it as the most resounding enterprise of aggression, oppression, and subjugation in all of history. And it’s not just a question of a possible and hypothetical war because it is already happening. This state of affairs is the direct continuation of [America’s] interventions in the European wars of 1917 and 1942, and in fact represents the pinnacle of an immense and destructive concentration of military force. It is the supreme center of domination for the defense of the present class regime, the capitalist regime, and the realization of optimal conditions for strangling the workers’ revolution in any country.

Such a process could develop even without a war in the full sense of the term between the us and Russia. Especially if the allegiance of the latter could be secured not by military means, which would involve a proper campaign of destruction and occupation, but rather thanks to the pressure of the preponderant economic forces of the largest economic organization of the world. Tomorrow, perhaps, it would be the one Anglo-American state we are talking about, secured via a compromise by which the Russian ruling clique is bought at a high price. Stalin already indicated the amount at two billion dollars.


The living space of the American conquerors is a strip of territory that circles the Earth.5

Having become an American colony, Europe loses its culture, its civilization by the intervention of the hegemony of Hollywood allowing it to achieve ideological mastery and a dynamic of looking after to dominate.6 It was, as many have experienced, “Americanized.”

Thanks to the war in Ukraine, the European colony has grown. In the last part of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first Europe tried, through the realization of a political and then an economic union, to emancipate itself from the tutelage of the United States. The need to unite against Russia, and to solve the problem of Europe’s supplies of raw materials (which can no longer come from this country, because of the embargo), have reestablished a great dependence [on the United States].

Additionally, the European Union must be weakened again because countries with different economic developments have entered into it. This entails the necessity of another mediation, which can only be American.

The desire of the United States to enlarge its colony is in line with the dynamic of reigning and looking after. In fact, to ensure its domination of the colonized population, any conceptions incompatible with American democracy must be taken care of. In other words, it’s still the dynamic of “it’s for your own good” which operates and represses. But this basically implies an economic power which is in fact powerfully eroded due to lack of energy resources that the intervention in Ukraine aimed to overcome and therefore nothing is resolved.

What is Russia playing at? The effective non-establishment of the capitalist mode of production. Remember that Marx and the populists7 had insisted on the necessity not of a development of capitalism in Russia but of a leap over it thanks to a grafting of the technical achievements of the West onto the Obshchina which was not applied by the Bolsheviks who, to facilitate the development of capital, advocated the destruction of these communities causing a great disaster with the inability to produce enough wheat to feed the population. The same economic politics was applied in Ukraine provoking a vast uprising of Makhno supporters wishing to save the communities. They had to fight against the Whites—the tsarists, supporters of the old order—and against the Reds, the Bolsheviks. As much for the Russians as for the Ukrainians, then, the failure of the revolution and above all the non-realization of what Marx and the populists had advocated is the cause of the evils they have suffered, and suffer still.

So the failure of the revolution was not accompanied by the development of capitalism and democracy. Of all the proponents of the theory of state capitalism in characterizing the situation in Russia at the end of the 1950s, Bordiga also opposed—both in Property and Capital and The Economic and Social Structure of Russia Today—the [standard] explanation of the development of gangs, rackets, and mafias (as we say today) dominating the state. These kinds of despotic communities, avatars of the old order, have their existence guaranteed by the central power as has been the case historically with the tsars with regard to the latter.

During the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians could not achieve full capitalism and democracy as demanded by Gorbachev because of the refusal of the Americans. Meanwhile, the threat of the encirclement of Russia only grew. This leads us to the current situation, that is to say the Russia-us conflict through the intermediary of Ukraine. What is most serious, dangerous in this situation is the destruction of nature and the increase in the risk of extinction. Indeed, to work around [pailler] the us sanctions depriving Europe of Russian gas, Europeans resort to oil and gas extracted from shale oil in the United States, which is a disaster for nature without counting the pollution generated by their trans-oceanic transport. In addition, this leads to an increase in extraction in various countries like Venezuela or Israel, accelerating the tendency towards the depletion of energy resources.

In terms of geopolitical rivalries, we see that ultimately the struggle led by each side reinforces the other. Thus, the pressure exercised by the United States on Russia has led the leaders of this country to impose the ruble during monetary transactions, a ruble guaranteed by gold or natural resources, which leads to the de-dollarization of the world economy. This is also reinforced by other causes. We are thereby moving towards the construction of another world order more compatible with the autonomization of the capital-form (particularly desired by China) and nothing will be resolved.8

23 July 2022

  1. In English in the original.↩︎
  2. Numerous documents proving the validity of this affirmation are available on the internet.We should also point out Ukraine’s Nazi past which was a threat to the ussr, to present day Russia, but it has also been a force against Nazi Germany. Recall as well: “In effect the crisis which led to the dissolution of the ussr is not a local phenomenon concerning only these countries but global phenomenon: the end of the opposition between labor and capital and the evanescence of the land phenomenon; the full advent of the elimination of the limits to the becoming of capital and the realization of a non-antagonistic, non-dialectical development. More exactly there is dissolution of the conflict in its generalization within the community-society of capital. This deeply shocks the minds of men accustomed to thinking only in terms of conflicts and polarization between two camps. The stage currently reached by capital imposes on men and women having to live without enemies, which undermines all their representations and causes the current disarray which risks being only transitory because the enemies are transformed into competitors, into real capitalist actors. It takes some time to eliminate the old representations” (written in 1991), Epilogue to the Communist Party Manifesto of 1848.↩︎
  3. Cf. the Francoist slogan: “Long live death!”↩︎
  4. Karl Marx, Debates on Freedom of the Press [1842], translated by Clemens Dutt, Collected Works, Volume 1 (New York, NY: International Publishers, 1975), 163.↩︎
  5. Amadeo Bordiga, Aggressione allEuropa, Prometeo № 13, 1949.↩︎
  6. See the Blum-Byrnes agreements on cinema.↩︎
  7. I.e., the народники.↩︎
  8. This is attested by numerous documents accessible to any reader, as well as all the economic data that we have reported. We only insist on their significance in order to affirm that nothing is resolved.↩︎

These articles were translated by Jake Bellone.