The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Military Budgets, a Hellish Machine

Jun 20, 2022

This article is translated from the June 10 issue #2810 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

In May the government of Spain announced the doubling of its military budget. The Belgian Defense Minister promised the same in the coming years. The same day, the German parliament authorized the government to borrow 50 to 100 billion euros to increase the military budget.

Overall, higher military expenses worldwide are expected to total more than 2 trillion dollars. The United States, leader of imperialism and policeman of the world, is in the lead with 801 billion, followed if not very closely by China with 293 billion and Russia, smaller yet, with 66 billion.

As contractors endlessly produce warships and submarines, diplomatic services promise new alliances while writing alarmist reports. The French government predicts the renewal of “high intensity” wars, meaning wars involving two countries or alliances with equal forces, which can trigger a global explosion. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs described how nations bordering the Mediterranean are rearming and listed the very many points of friction likely to lead to new conflicts.

The same thing happens in the Pacific, but on a much larger scale—specifically in the China Sea. Japan has doubled its military budget. China is building an aircraft carrier and is laying claim to various islands and fortifying them. The American fleet, with its overwhelming power, constantly cruises around, occasionally accompanied by French or British ships. President Biden drove the point home on May 22, declaring that the United States would intervene in the event of a Chinese operation in Taiwan. China responded on May 30 by flying fighter jets over the island.

This explosion of military budgets and tensions is manna for arms dealers. The French Ministry of Defense prides itself on promising 39 billion euros in orders for big business in 2022. The military also announces it would hire 400 people for its export assistance service. In each imperialist country, the army is simultaneously the main customer of the military industry, its main lender, and its best sales representative.

But war does not just mean rising stock prices for Thales, Dassault, or their American and British competitors. War is the daily lived experience of humanity, from Afghanistan to Yemen, from Iraq to Sudan. And now in Ukraine. At the cost of the systematic destruction of entire regions, that conflict is really a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. It amplifies the chaos of the world economy and the uncertainty of capitalists’ plans. It pushes the governments to increase their military expenditures even more. War guarantees fast, immediate profits and is a life insurance policy for the capitalist class, in the event that heightened competition leads to war—or, worse for capitalists, in the event of popular unrest. Cannons are still the last argument of kings, even those without crowns.