Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Capitalist Culture of War Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Civil War in France


Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature


Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

The Cultural Revolution

Left-Wing Communism

The American Revolutions

The French Revolutions

On Workers Control

On Religion

On the Arms Race

Militarization of Labor

Russian Revolution

The Women's Question

Role of Communist Party

On Violence

On the Army

On Women

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

Although capitalism did not invent the culture of war, in its highest form, imperialism it has used and profited so much from the culture of war that it is difficult to imagine one without the other.

From the beginning of history, all states with class divisions, have been based on the culture of war. As Engels showed in ""The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, the state has been associated from its earliest stages with the violence of slavery and class oppression. Illustrating this by ancient Greece, Engels recalled that "the people's army of the Athenian democracy confronted the slaves as an aristocratic public force, and kept them in check."

Capitalism, in its highest form of development, imperialism, uses the culture of war to accumulate wealth through its colonial and neo-colonial exploitation of the Third-World. As Lenin described, this was already true in the 19th Century: "Peace reigned in Europe, but this was because domination over hundreds of millions of people in the colonies by the European nations was sustained only through constant, incessant, interminable wars, which we Europeans do not regard as wars at all, since all too often they resembled, not wars, but brutal massacres, the wholesale slaughter of unarmed peoples."

The highest level of violence is directed by imperialism against revolutionary movements and socialist states. This could be seen in the conspiracy between the French capitalists and the German army who had defeated them in order to destroy the Paris Commune in 1871. It was seen again when the imperialist powers invaded the new-born Soviet Union from all sides, vowing to strangle the revolution at its birth. The West supported Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union behind the scenes and then destroyed the Soviet Union by means of the Cold War and the arms race.

The external culture of war is only the tip of an iceberg; the internal culture of war is even greater. As Lenin stated in 1905: "... the standing army is used not so much against the external enemy as against the internal enemy. Everywhere the standing army has become the weapon of reaction, the servant of capital in its struggle against labour..." This is true in the United States where there have been an average of 18 internal military interventions using on average 12,000 troops per year from 1886 to 1990.

Capitalist society is shaped by the culture of war from top to bottom. All of the eight aspects of a culture of war are evident in capitalism:

Human Rights. Capitalism is a system of exploitation, which, by its very nature, violates economic and social rights. For example, capitalism cannot operate without a certain level of unemployment, and this contradicts Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment." And the situation is even worse for the workers employed by imperialist corporations operating abroad in Third-World countries.

Education. Because of its dependence on war and violence, capitalism glorifies them in its formal educational systems and its mass media. History books chronicle the country's military victories. Education systems are authoritarian in order to prepare students to obey their government and to be good soldiers. Scientific subjects like psychology and biology are slanted toward a view of human nature that supports the culture of war.

Economic growth. Being a system of exploitation, capitalism and imperialism, by its very nature produces economic development that is unequal and unsustainable. It leads inevitably to great wealth at the expense of extreme poverty and to the exploitation and destruction of nature. This is true both within the imperial countries themselves, and to an even greater extent in the poor countries of the South that they exploit.

Authoritarian structures of power. Capitalism, by its very nature, requires that the government represent the interests of the capitalists against the interests of the workers whom they exploit, both at home and abroad. Where possible, capitalism tries to give the appearance of democracy, but it is a sham. As Lenin described, "A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell ... it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic can shake it." Also, as mentioned above by Lenin, capitalists do not hesitate to break their own democratic rules in order to destroy revolutionary movements.

Inequality between men and women. Most capitalist states allow women to become capitalists and to take part in capitalist (i.e. bourgeois) democracy. However, on average women are doubly exploited under capitalism, both in the home and in the workplace, and women's wages are always much lower than men's. At the top of governmental power, there is almost always a strong inter-connection with the military-industrial complex which, like all military institutions, is dominated by men.

Secrecy and manipulation of information. Like all cultures of war, capitalism and imperialism are extremely secretive. The extraordinary secrecy of the US government is a good example. Similarly, the capitalists use their control of the mass media to manipulate public opinion with propaganda and misinformation. In addition to government secrecy, capitalist enterprises are often very secretive; for example, much of their scientific research is carried on under conditions of secrecy. And of course, the propaganda of capitalist enterprises, called "advertising" is privileged in capitalist countries with tax writeoffs, etc.

Enemy images. There can be no war or culture of war without an enemy. Capitalism and imperialism are no exception. They grasp at whatever enemy they can use (the Jews in the case of Hitler, the Muslims in the case of George Bush), but the abiding enemy image used by the capitalists is communism. Capitalist countries justify much of their violence, both external and internal, on the enemy image of communism.

Armaments, weapons and military facilities. Capitalism and imperialism continue to be caught up in the production of armaments driven by the "military-industrial complex" which profits enormously from the armaments industry. In the US, this is so entwined with government that one may even call it the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex."

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Discussion Board Forum on Culture of War:

discussion board


Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authoritarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Internationalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communication systems

Psychology for revolutionaries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

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