Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Internal 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 the culture of war is usually associated with international war, it may be even more important for internal power than for external. As Lenin stated: "... 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..."

Engels cited the Greeks to explain how war was developed for internal power of the slave-owners over the slaves: "The people's army of the Athenian democracy confronted the slaves as an aristocratic public force, and kept them in check; but to keep the citizens in check as well, a police-force was needed, as described above. This public force exists in every state; it consists not merely of armed men, but also of material appendages, prisons and coercive institutions of all kinds..."

The use of the culture of war for the maintenance of class power is as evident today as at any time in history. The authoritarian measures of the the US government, justified in the name of "fighting terrorism" is but the latest in a long history of internal culture of war. The United States have seen an average of 18 internal military interventions using on average 12,000 troops per year from 1886 to 1990. And the US is not alone. Consider, for example, the role of the CRS as an internal army in France.

Revolutionary movements must defend themselves against the repressive actions of the internal culture of war. As Lenin remarked to the Second Communist International (point 12): "Notwithstanding their false and hypocritical declarations, the governments of even the most enlightened and freest of countries, where the bourgeois-democratic system is most "stable", are already systematically and secretly drawing up blacklists of Communists and constantly violating their own constitutions so as to give secret or semi-secret encouragement to the whiteguards and to the murder of Communists in all countries, making secret preparations for the arrest of Communists, planting agents provocateurs among the Communists, etc., etc. Only a most reactionary philistine, no matter what cloak of fine "democratic" and pacifist phrases he may don, will deny this fact..." Lenin concludes that faced with the internal culture of war, revolutionary movements must go underground and secret, but this has costs of its own, as discussed elsewhere, and Lenin insists that legal work must always be maintained in some way (see point 12 as above).

The internal culture of war is more than just internal armies and police. It engages all eight aspects of the culture of war used for the maintenance of authoritarian political power.

1. Human rights: Whenever the internal culture of war becomes more heated, one of the first signs is government attacks on civil and political rights. A recent example is the so-called "Patriot Act" that was installed by the Bush administration in the United States after the terrorist acts of September 11. Other similar examples from American history are the Palmer Raids after World War I and the McCarthy period after World War II.

2. Education under an internal culture of war is distorted to emphasize enemy images and a climate of fear and suspicion that supports authoritarianism and the politics of violence.

3. The internal culture of war masks and covers increasing economic inequality and exploitation.

4. Authoritarian structures of power" are the central purpose of the internal culture of war, as rulers consolidate their power in the face of democratic challenges.

5. Inequality between men and women. Like all cultures of war, internal cultures of war are maintained by men. Women are subservient.

6. Secrecy and manipulation of information. The control of information is always used as a instrument of power by those who dominate in a internal culture of war and against those who are subordinate.

7. External enemy images are used by the ruling class in the internal culture of war in order to justify their exploitation of those they rule over. Most often, the enemy is identified as communism and anti-communism is then used to justify every aspect of the internal culture of war (for example, the Palmer Raids after World War I and McCarthyism after World War II in the United States). Any resistance is punished by claiming that it is "aiding the enemy."

8. Armaments, weapons and military facilities have been part of the internal culture of war since the beginning of history, as pointed above by Engels. However, over the past century or two, there has been an increasing gap between the nature of weapons used in external war from those used in internal war.

It has been difficult enough to discuss the culture of war at the United Nations, where the European Union insisted on deleting any mention of it in the 1999 resolution adopted on a culture of peace. But it is even more taboo to mention the topic of the internal culture of war, because no state wants to admit that they use it.

The irrelevance of academics is shown by the fact that the internal culture of war is so rarely discussed, let alone studied by university professors, doctoral students, etc. The study mentioned above on internal military intervention in the United States is an exception, and its bibliography contains very little reference to other studies on the subject, nor has that study been referenced in the years since it was published.

Even the socialist countries have not wanted to discuss the internal culture of war, presumably because they, too, have made use of it. This poses a serious problem for revolutionaries: without serious discussion of the consequences, we risk to establish, as a result of a successful revolutionary movement, socialist societies based on a culture of war, and this, it would seem from the collapse of the Soviet Union, cannot succeed in the long term. To avoid this, the challenge is to struggle for a revolutionary culture of peace.

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

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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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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Ecology in Cuba

On Religion

Human Rights in South Africa

on Nonviolence

on Nonviolence

on Communism

Cuba's revolutionary medicine

People-power revolution in the Philippines