Capitalism – a System of Constant War

We live in a world ravaged by endless war. The estimated death toll from wars in the 20th century was around 187 million, not to mention the millions of people whose lives were ruined in the aftermath of these wars. The wars of the past century and of today cannot simply be explained away as the wrong decisions by bad governments. We live under an economic system – capitalism – that relies on war in order to exist. Under capitalism, war, devastation, and domination are necessary for the functioning of the system. The world’s banks and corporations rely on war as a means to acquire access to new territories, to murder resisting populations, and overall, to impose their rule over the people of the world.

Carving Up The World Between Empires

The few centuries before World War I in 1914, were centuries of conquest, European empires occupied foreign lands and set up colonies to dominate the indigenous populations, plunder their resources, enslave their people, and murder those who resisted. By the late 19th century, most of the world was carved up into different colonies. Latin America, Africa, most of Asia and the Middle East, were ruled by occupying armies or domestic rulers paid to carry out the interests of European Empires.

But this system of colonial robbery was not enough. By the 1870s, colonial domination reached a new stage known as imperialism. The capitalist countries’ leading banks and corporations began investing overseas to create super-profitable industries, turning foreign populations into a workforce at slave wages. This sped up the competition for territory by the capitalist countries and inevitably led to war.

World Wars to Re-Divide the World

World War I and II were battles to carve up the world between the leading capitalist countries – France, Britain, and the U.S. on one side, and Germany, Japan, and Italy on the other. The losers lost their colonies and the victors gained new ones. But there was another factor that changed the balance of power in the world. In 1917, the Russian Revolution* created the Soviet Union. This government began as a workers’ revolution against capitalism and imperialism, but it came to be dominated by a self-serving bureaucracy. The Soviet Union, for all its faults, played the role of a power against imperialism on the world scale. Smaller countries often made deals pitting the Soviet Union against the U.S.

After World War II, the capitalist powers in Europe were weakened, and the Soviet Union and the U.S. were left as the two major powers in the world. The 40 years after World War II were marked by the struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union known as the Cold War. After World War II, movements erupted in the former colonial countries of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, aiming to achieve national independence from the old colonial regimes. The Soviet Union supported them, hoping to weaken the U.S. and other capitalist countries by depriving them of access to markets and raw materials. The U.S. supported the old colonial regimes or intervened directly in countries like Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan to keep these countries from achieving any degree of independence. During this period the U.S. military and the newly formed C.I.A worked to insure the U.S. financial interests in the world, organizing to overthrow democratically elected governments, torturing and murdering activists, and propping up dictatorships that would do the bidding of U.S. banks and corporations. However, this domination by violence was limited throughout the period of the Cold War by the presence of the Soviet Union. The U.S. and European powers were forced to back down for fear of risking an all-out war with the Soviet Union, a war which could have resulted in the nuclear destruction of the world.

The U.S. Emerges as the Only Super-Power

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, ending the decades-long Cold War. This did not result in peace, but in more war. The U.S. became a single world super-power and used the opportunity to extend its domination unopposed. By the end of the 1990s the U.S. Pentagon clearly laid out the strategy of the U.S. in this new period in what it called “full spectrum dominance” – to dominate every region of the earth. Since then the U.S. has carried out wars and military strikes which it never would have risked during the Cold War, beginning with the invasion of Iraq in 1991 and the bombing of Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia in 1999.

The U.S. – Dealing Death Around the World

Today the U.S. spends 47 percent of the entire federal budget on the military, about $1.3 trillion dollars per year. This is more than the military spending of all other countries in the world combined. The U.S. government maintains 900 military bases in 150 countries around the world.

The impact of these wars for domination have been horrific. The U.S. war and occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003 has ripped the country apart, killing more than two million Iraqis. The population is now divided along religious and ethnic lines and ruled over by parties who use these identities as a means of control. Today the U.S. along with other Western countries have taken control over Iraqi oil production.

The impact of over twelve years of war in Afghanistan has been devastating, killing thousands of civilians and turning the entire country into a warzone. The U.S. military continues a reign of terror using drone-strikes and targeted assassinations, killing mostly innocent civilians with every strike.

In the last decade, under the banner of the so-called “war on terror,” in addition to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. government has carried out military strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and other countries.

This violence is not an accident. It is not done to help or defend people, or for any of the other excuses which the politicians make. This violence is the normal functioning of a system of imperial domination which ensures that the banks and corporations maintain their profit. This system is responsible for terrorizing and killing millions of people all over the world – and the U.S. military stands at the head of this violent system.

*To read more about the Russian Revolution, see: