October 12, 2017

Marxism-Leninism on War and Army - War and İdeology

Marxism-Leninism on War and Army

When the question of war is being decided, enormous attention must be given not only to the economic conditions and a given alignment of the class and political forces, but also to ideological aspects, for ideology always expresses and defends the vital interests of classes, expresses their principal, essential aspirations. Imperialist ideology—-anticommunism—is the ideology of monopoly capital, whereas communist ideology—Marxism-Leninism—expresses the vital interests of the working class and of all working people.

Ideology fulfils the function of a specific instrument of war. Ideological means of struggle are specific because, on the whole, they influence the course and results of military operations and the war not directly, but through the impact they make on the minds of the people, on their world outlook, views, morale and fighting efficiency. Ideological means are able to strengthen the morale of the troops and of the population of one’s own country, and to erode the morale and political principles of the army and the population of the enemy countries.

It is particularly important to emphasise that ideology has an enormous impact on the war aims (hence, also on the character of the war) and on strategy, providing the basis for the policies of classes and states during the preparations for the war and the war itself. Even though these functions 58are relatively independent, they are organically combined and interact with each other, for ideology influences the war through the activity of people.

Historical Place and Role of Ideology in Wars

The ideological struggle and ideology in general have played different roles in wars fought in different historical periods. In the past their role was limited above all as regards their influence on the enemy. In the 20th century, when the technical possibilities of influencing the masses have grown, when the masses have become more enlightened and are drawn ever deeper into politics, the role of the ideological struggle in war has greatly increased. In just wars the spread of communist ideology plays an enormous role in ensuring the victories of the working masses over their enemies.

In modern conditions the ideological struggle preceding war and attending it is particularly sharp, and defeat in war is not only a military, economic and political defeat, but also an ideological one. Nowadays a war cannot be begun and conducted, let alone won, without a thorough ideological preparation of the people and the army.

The role of ideology in war depends on the form it takes in a definite historical epoch, notably on the interests of what class it expresses, on the historical role of that class, and on the political aims it pursues in the given war. This role is determined also by the laws and motive forces of social development.

In the epoch of feudalism, for example, religious ideology was dominant. All annexationist, predatory wars, and also the revolutionary wars the peasant masses waged against the feudal lords, were conducted under the banner of religious ideas. But while the form—religious ideology—was similar, the political aspirations underlying this ideology differed.

With the advent of capitalism and bourgeois national states, political ideology became decisive in the wars waged by these states and the bourgeoisie often counterposed political ideology to the religious ideology of the feudals and the clergy.

Typical of the period of the progressive development of capitalism were wars aimed at resolving questions of bourgeois-democratic transformations, at overthrowing foreign oppression and defending national freedom. During that 59epoch bourgeois ideology was mainly a national ideology, used as an instrument in the struggle for the setting up of bourgeois national states with a national culture of their own.

This ideology had a progressive role to play. It was the spiritual power that helped the bourgeoisie rally the popular masses round it. The national ideology continues to play this relatively progressive role at definite stages of the national liberation struggle of the peoples in the colonial and dependent countries against imperialist oppression.

The national ideology created in the epoch of national wars made a deep imprint on the petty bourgeoisie and on a definite part of the proletariat. It has been used by the bourgeoisie in the predatory wars of the imperialist period. By using the “national” ideology and speculating on the “defence of motherland" concept, the imperialist bourgeoisie deceived the people in the First World War.

After the Second World War the “national” ideology was no longer able to meet imperialist interests. This is because that ideology does not unite, but disunites the imperialist states according to the national principle and hampers the establishment of unity within their aggressive military blocs. Some bourgeois scientists are compelled to admit that the European peoples’ nationalism has become so strong that it hinders the political, economic and military unity of Western Europe. This compels imperialist theoreticians to change and remodel the old ideological weapon to make it serve the new aims. They now advance to the foreground the ideology of “Europeanism” and “Atlanticism” and attack the nationalistic “narrow-mindedness” of some European nations.

Modern bourgeois reactionary ideology, first, strives in every way to patch up and refurbish the ragged ideals of the “free world”, secondly, gives a grotesquely distorted picture of the nature and of the regularities of historical development. Bourgeois propaganda attempts to gloss over the main social antagonisms and the faults of the modern capitalist world, to blunt the political consciousness and to paralyse the working people’s will to struggle for socialism.

Anti-communism is now the main ideologico-political weapon of imperialism. Its main content is slander about the socialist system, the falsified interpretation of the policies and aims of the Communist Parties, and of the MarxistLeninist teaching.

Anti-communism is a clear expression of the crisis of modern bourgeois ideology. This crisis has been brought about by the inability of the imperialist bourgeoisie to advance ideas that could grip the minds of the masses. It is a direct result of the triumphant march of Marxism-Leninism. The masses are increasingly adopting Marxist-Leninist ideas and are guided by them in the anti-imperialist struggle.

Imperialist reaction uses the false slogans of anti–communism to persecute everything progressive, advanced and revolutionary. Anti-communism is used to fight the national liberation movement and to split the ranks of the working people. Anti-communism in the USA, the Programme of the Communist Party of the United States says, “serves essentially the same purposes today as it served in Hitler’s day". [60•1

Even though there are many kinds and forms of bourgeois ideology, many methods and means for deceiving the working people, they all have a single aim—to defend the obsolescent capitalist system. Modern bourgeois political and economic theories, philosophy and sociology, ethics and aesthetics serve to justify monopoly rule and exploitation, to defame public property and collectivism, extol militarism and war, vindicate colonialism and racialism and to sow strife and hatred between peoples.

Historical experience, notably the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945), has confirmed that ideology plays an immense role in war. The Soviet Union, which represented a new social system—socialism; a new military organisation—the Soviet Army; and a new ideology—communism, faced nazi Germany in a life-and-death struggle. The two countries had nothing in common with each other.

The experience of the Second World War, notably that of the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945), revealed one more reason for the increased role of ideology in modern war. In the wars of the imperialist period and right up to the emergence of the socialist system, the opponents generally embraced a similar ideology. First, it was an ideology of the exploiter classes, second, it was anti-scientific and, third, it directly or eventually opposed the interests of mankind’s progressive development.

When similar ideologies clash in a war, their influence on its course is neutralised and is therefore difficult to discern. Although in these cases ideology also plays a major role in the preparation and conduct of the war, it is not the nature of the ideology but the character of the political aims that makes for the ideological supremacy of one of the warring sides.

It was only in the civil wars of the past that different ideologies opposed each other. This was the case in the wars of slaves against slave-owners, of the serfs against the landowners, and in the wars of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. As we said above, the participants in peasant wars formally adopted a religious ideology, but in political content it differed radically from the ideology of the feudal lords.

Modern wars are generally clashes between opposing ideologies. Two ideologies opposed each other in the war of the first socialist state against the foreign interventionists and the internal counter-revolutionaries, in the war against nazi Germany, and in the wars of the peoples of Korea, Vietnam and Cuba against the imperialist aggressors. In the wars of the colonial peoples for their independence, progressive national ideology opposes the reactionary ideology of imperialism.

The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union has shown the importance of ideological supremacy in war. This supremacy will show even more clearly if the imperialist maniacs should unleash a new war against the socialist countries. The growing influence of communist ideology on the minds and psychology of the masses and on their will to fight will be of paramount importance to the course and outcome of the war.

The greater role played by ideology in modern wars is due also to the extension and perfection of the mass media (the press, cinema, radio, TV, etc.). In the capitalist countries these media are in the hands of the bourgeoisie and serve to propagate its ideology. However, there are also progressive forces in the capitalist countries, who use various means to fight the disintegrating influence of imperialist ideas, the ideology of militarism and aggression. The socialist countries too possess all the propaganda media. The power and effectiveness of communist ideology have been proved by the entire course of historical development, by the more than halfcentury-long experience in the building of socialism and communism in the USSR, and by the victories of its armed forces in defending the new social system.

Bourgeois Views on  the Role of Ideology  in Modern War

After the Second World War imperialist theoreticians became particularly voile about the role of ideology. They draw their generalisations and conclusions from the experience of that war in the interests of their class, in the interests of preparing and unleashing aggressive local wars and a third world war. This can be seen in particular from the fact that most military ideologists of imperialism, generals, retired or still in active service, as well as many “civilian” philosophers and sociologists, all raise a hue and cry about the supposed advent of an epoch of ideological wars, and aver that ideological wars are a feature specific of the modern historical period.

“We stand on the threshold of ideological wars,” writes Werner Picht. [62•1 “We are entering an age when ideological contradictions become primary forces for transforming the world," [62•2 he is echoed by Hasso von Manteufel. Many other imperialist theoreticians speak and write in the same vein.

The assertion that modern wars are ideological ones is particularly absurd because ideological contradictions have never been and never can be primary: they have always been and always will be secondary, derivative of economic contradictions.

This applies also to the epoch of religious wars, to which the bourgeois ideologists like to refer as examples of ideological wars. In reality religious wars were an upshot of economic causes and pursued very definite political, class aims. Religious views were not the cause of these wars, they were but ideological weapons.

All talk of the modern bourgeois ideologists about the epoch of ideological wars is directed against the basic Marxist-Leninist principle that war is the continuation of the policies of a class by violent means, and that politics itself is “a concentrated expression of the economy”. The aim of this talk is to make it appear as though the presence of opposing ideologies in the two world systems is the source of a possible third world war, as though communist ideology contains the seeds of war.

The former British Minister Michael Stuart believes that the Soviet Union’s refusal to discontinue the ideological struggle prevents the establishment of good-neighbourly relations between countries and peoples. [63•1

Speaking of ideological war, some military ideologists are compelled to admit that ideological defeat is the heaviest of all. That is why they work hard to hammer out an ideology corresponding to the essential tasks of the imperialist bourgeoisie at present and in the future war, to enable it, as they say, “to stand the onslaught of communist ideas”. “In the age of ideological wars and in a struggle against a military power impregnated ideologically through and through success can be achieved only by an army that is itself deeply convinced of the values, ideas and moral principles it is to defend.” [63•2

This, in fact, is the reason for all the talk about our special age of ideological wars. The champions of the nazi ideology dream of “impregnating” the armies of the imperialist states with an ideology that could hold out against the communist ideology in the future war. Aware of the bankruptcy of fascist ideology and the complete triumph of communist ideology in the Second World War, imperialist ideologists are unable to draw correct conclusions, because they are steeped in class prejudice.

They picture the doom of capitalism in some European countries as the doom of civilisation in general, and dream of restoring capitalism in the socialist countries. Depending on conditions, they don the ideology of cosmopolitanism, nationalism, racialism, Malthusianism, “people’s capitalism”, “national communism”, or whatever else they think will serve their purpose at the moment.

They expect the corrupt ideology of imperialism to act as a cohesive force that will enable them to wage predatory wars. But their hopes are vain—the neo-ideology they are creating will inevitably collapse.

At the same time one must not underestimate the pernicious influence of reactionary imperialist ideology: the role of ideology in war, as well as in the life of society as a whole, depends not only on its nature but also on many other conditions. First, even false ideas are a serious force if the masses can be made to embrace them. Secondly, the reactionary bourgeoisie uses all sorts of ideas for its purposes, it speculates on the attractive force of “the defence of the motherland" slogan, of the ideals of freedom and democracy, and even of socialist ideas. Bourgeois ideology resorts to deceit and demagogy, advocates material interest in war, uses the “red danger" bogey, etc.

However, most important is the fact that the misanthropic ideology of the modern bourgeoisie is embodied in the policies of militant reactionaries. This policy is responsible for the formation of imperialist military blocs and for their military doctrines and strategy. Therefore, bourgeois ideology has to be fought tooth and nail.
Attitude to War of Communist and Bourgeois Ideology

In the modern world a violent struggle is going on between the two ideologies—communist and bourgeois. This struggle is the reflection in the people’s mind of the historical transition from capitalism to socialism. An important problem in this struggle is the issue of war and peace and the different attitudes adopted to it in the socialist and in the imperialist camps.

Communism brings eternal peace to mankind. The most important content of communist ideology is internationalism, humanism, love of peace, the mutual assistance of peoples in all spheres of social life. The fighters for communism are inspired by the noble idea of emancipating mankind from exploitation and their actions are directed at imbuing the minds of people with the idea that wars are inadmissible. But, as long as there is a danger of war, there must also be a consistent and irreconcilable struggle against the military ideology of imperialism.

Being undeniably superior to imperialist ideology in theoretical respects the Marxist-Leninist ideology is able to deliver destructive blows to imperialist ideology, no matter what forms it assumes. Marxist-Leninist ideology reflects objective reality and the needs of current social development deeper and more accurately than the former.

Communist ideology relies on the economic and political system of socialism, which does not carry the seeds of war. It is an ideology of friendship and peace between peoples.

Imperialist ideology is one of militarism and war, of hatred for the people. It reflects the historical doom of capitalism and is false from beginning to end. Capitalist society, based on the exploitation of man by man, is torn by irreconcilable contradictions. To wage wars the imperialists have to alleviate, to blunt these contradictions and to attain the “unity of the people”. This function has been assigned to bourgeois ideology. The bourgeoisie is attempting to secure the “unity of the people" by means of ideological deceit of the working people.

The inevitable historical doom of the bourgeoisie is of necessity reflected in its ideology and this makes it extremely reactionary and aggressive. The ideology of the imperialist states is aimed at concealing the predatory aims of the war, at deceiving the mass of the people and concealing the real causes responsible for war.

In all its forms bourgeois ideology invariably faces the contradiction between the true aims of the imperialist war and its ideological justification. Contradictions are typical of the stand taken by imperialist states and of the views expressed by the ideologists and statesmen of the military blocs the USA and other imperialist countries have knocked together since the Second World War.

Most fatal for the imperialists is the contradiction that stems from the clash between the interests of the people and those of the bourgeoisie. It is expressed in the fact that even though modern bourgeois ideology recognises that people play the decisive role in war, it cannot advance ideals in its predatory wars that express the interests of the working people and are able to inspire the soldiers. This even the imperialists and their ideological handmaidens have to admit.

For example, the ideologists of imperialism understand that a guiding idea should underlie military service, one that would justify the self-sacrifice of soldiers and give it a definite sense. The NATO journal General Military Review writes: “Today we live in an ideological age. If they are to 66survive, the Western nations need an ideology superior to communism. The armed forces, too, must have an ideology....” [66•1

Conversely, the socialist camp is distinguished by the community of aims, views and principles springing from the new social relations and the concord and solidarity of the working people, who have taken the power into their own hands in order to build a new life. Communist ideology rallies and inspires the people of the socialist countries in the struggle for the victory of communism and its defence against imperialist aggression.

The superiority of communist ideology, both in peacetime and during wars in defence of the socialist homeland, is entrenched in the lofty ideals Communists spread among the masses. In peacetime Communists translate these ideas into reality, in wartime they fight in their defence.

The heroism of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, Alexander Matrosov And hundreds of thousands of other Soviet patriots who sacrificed their lives for their country would be inexplicable without a deep understanding of the role and significance of the sacred ideals of communism. They gave their lives for the sake of communist ideals. They were inspired by the idea of defending their socialist country, by the grandeur of the aims of this people’s war, by their military duty. This means that communist ideology plays the decisive role in strengthening the morale of troops.

Communist ideology is superior not only to the avowedly reactionary bourgeois theories, but also to various pacifist views. Rejecting all wars and insisting on general conciliation, irrespective of the class positions of the sides, pacifism disarms the working people—it is not an idea that can exercise a deep and enduring influence. The pacifists’ appeal to religion, to the Church, does not make pacifism any more convincing.

The superiority of communist ideology lies in its popular character.

The ideology of the exploiter classes clashes with the interests of the popular masses; the predatory, unjust wars sooner or later reveal the conflict between this ideology and the people’s interests.

Communist ideology expresses the vital interests of the entire working people. It relies on the most advanced social system, is inseparably linked with the life of the people, with their activity, with social development. Therein lies its invincible force.

Communist ideology is permeated with optimism, based on scientific prevision. It rejects the pessimistic bourgeois ideology in all its forms, and expresses the inevitable triumph of the forces of progress over the dark forces of reaction.

Communist ideology has given a practical demonstration of its historical correctness, its viability and its ability to exert a growing influence on the broad mass of the working people, on the course of historical development. It inspires the people for the struggle for the great ideals of communism, for eternal peace.


[60•1] New Programme of the Communist Parly of the USA (A Draft), Political Affairs Publishers, New York, 1966, p. 30.

[62•1] Bilanz des Zweiten Weltkrieges, Oldenburg/Hamburg, 1953, S. 36.

[62•2] Ibid., S. 456.

[63•1] Foreign Affairs, July 1970, p. 648.

[63•2] Bilanz des Zweiten Weltkrieges, S. 458.

[66•1] General Military Review, April 1960, Paris, p. 451.