Socialist Equality Party (United States)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (United States)

The Explosion of Militarism and the Crisis of American Society

The WSWS demonstrated a level of insight in its analysis of the unfolding crisis of American and world imperialism unequaled by any other publication. What distinguished the analysis presented in the WSWS was its historical character, its ability to situate events in a broader context, and see through and beyond their surface appearance. On this basis, the SEP detected, amidst the displays of American military power, the contradictions that were eroding the foundations of the entire imperialist order. It insisted that the United States’ repeated use of military power was a sign of weakness:

The United States presently enjoys a “competitive advantage” in the arms industry. But neither this advantage nor the products of this industry can guarantee world dominance. Despite the sophistication of its weaponry, the financial-industrial foundation of the United States’ preeminent role in the affairs of world capitalism is far less substantial than it was 50 years ago. Its share of world production has declined dramatically. Its international trade deficit increases by billions of dollars every month. The conception that underlies the cult of precision-guided munitions—that mastery in the sphere of weapons technology can offset these more fundamental economic indices of national strength—is a dangerous delusion...

Indeed, the infatuation with the “wonders” of weapons technology and the “miracles” they promise is most common among ruling elites who have arrived, whether they know it or not, at a historical dead end. Bewildered by a complex array of international and domestic socioeconomic contradictions which they hardly understand and for which there are no conventional solutions, they see in weapons and war a means of blasting their way through problems.[1]

The analysis presented by the SEP related the eruption of imperialist violence to the deepening social contradictions of American society:

The growing chasm between the privileged strata that comprise capitalism’s ruling elite and the broad mass of working people denotes an objectively high level of social and class tensions. It may appear that this assessment is contradicted by the absence of militant labor activism in the United States. But the low level of strike activity and other forms of mass social protest do not indicate social stability. Rather, the fact that the last decade has seen so few open manifestations of class conflict, despite rapidly growing social inequality, suggests that the existing political and social institutions of the US have become unresponsive to the accumulating discontent of the working class. Established social organizations such as the trade unions no longer function even in a limited way as conduits of popular grievances. ...

... What the working class now requires is a new revolutionary international organization, whose strategy, perspective and program correspond to the objective tendencies of world economy and historical development.

There are, we know very well, legions of pessimists who are convinced that there exists no possibility whatsoever of building such an international revolutionary movement. One might note that the most incorrigible of these pessimists are to be found precisely among those who not so long ago placed full confidence in the trade unions and believed deeply in the permanence of the USSR. Yesterday they were convinced that bureaucratically administered reformism would last forever. Today they believe with no less conviction in the eternal triumph of capitalist reaction. But underlying the giddy optimism of yesterday and the demoralized pessimism of today is a certain type of intellectual and political superficiality, whose characteristic features are an unwillingness and inability to examine events within the necessary historical framework, and a disinclination to investigate the contradictions that underlie the highly misleading surface appearance of social stability...

Confidence in the revolutionary role of the working class and the objective possibility of socialism is not a matter of faith, but of theoretical insight into the objective laws of capitalist development and knowledge of history—particularly that of the twentieth century...[2]

Subsequent developments, especially those which followed the strange and unexplained events of September 11, 2001, have substantiated the SEP’s warnings of the global eruption of American imperialism. Neither the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 nor the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 caught the WSWS by surprise. Its analyses have stood the test of time. Within 24 hours of the attack in Iraq, the SEP foresaw the likely consequences of the invasion:

The twentieth century was not lived in vain. Its triumphs and tragedies have bequeathed to the working class invaluable political lessons, among which the most important is the understanding of the significance and implications of imperialist war. It is, above all, the manifestation of national and international contradictions that can find no solution within ‘normal’ channels. Whatever the outcome of the initial stages of the conflict that has begun, American imperialism has a rendezvous with disaster. It cannot conquer the world. It cannot re-impose colonial shackles upon the masses of the Middle East. It will not find through the medium of war a viable solution to its internal maladies. Rather, the unforeseen difficulties and mounting resistance engendered by war will intensify all of the internal contradictions of American society.[3]


D. North, “After the Slaughter: Political Lessons of the Balkan War” http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jun1999/balk-j14.shtml




“The crisis of American capitalism and the war against Iraq,” http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/mar2003/iraq-m21.shtml