Global military spending reaches record high
Global military spending reaches record high
)

World military spending has passed US$2 trillion for the first time, according to new data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Last year was the seventh consecutive year that world military spending increased; total expenditure has almost doubled this century.

Economic competition between capitalists—for profits, control over markets, access to resources and geopolitical advantages—underpins the growing military competition between states, which is the cause of the spending increases.

The biggest military spenders cited in the SIPRI report are the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia.

The US, with just over 4 percent of the world’s population, accounts for nearly 40 percent of all global military spending. In an attempt to preserve a technological advantage over its competitors, that US funding for military research and development has increased significantly, the SIPRI report notes.

China’s economic rise from a predominantly rural society in the 1970s to a motor of the world economy today has been accompanied by a rapid expansion of its military capabilities. Last year, the Chinese government allocated an estimated US$293 billion to its military. After increasing its spending for 27 consecutive years, it now accounts for 14 percent of global spending.

Russia has attempted to strengthen its position within the imperialist order. The SIPRI report highlights that Russia increased its military expenditure by 2.9 percent in 2021 to US$65.9 billion—the third consecutive year of growth—as it built up its forces along the Ukrainian border prior to its invasion of the country in February.

Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine has illustrated that growing imperialist rivalries are also an opportunity for the US to reassert its global dominance. This has included strengthening US-built alliances such as NATO, eight member states of which met the organisation’s target of spending 2 percent or more of GDP on their armed forces in 2021 (one fewer than in 2020 but up from two in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea). In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany has now pledged to meet NATO’s 2 percent target (up from 1.3 percent of GDP in 2021).

The shoring up of the Australian state’s imperialist interests in the Indo-Pacific region—such as the AUKUS military alliance with the US and the United Kingdom, and increasing tensions with China around the Solomon Islands—must also be understood as part of growing inter-imperialist rivalry.

This has included an increase in military spending by 4.1 percent to reach A$44.6 billion in 2021; the 2022-23 budget pledges a 7.4 percent increase to $48.6 billion. “The only way to preserve peace is to prepare for war”, Defence Minister Peter Dutton commented in an Anzac Day interview. This reflects the general consensus within Australian ruling circles, including the ALP, that more needs to be spent on preparing for a possible war with China.

This rising tide of military spending must be opposed. It is an immense waste of human resources that could otherwise be used for hospitals, schools, housing and dealing with the threat posed to all human life by rapidly worsening climate change.

Ultimately, it means fighting for a world that eliminates competition and war and is run on the basis of international cooperation.

Read more
Bans versus strikes at Sydney Uni
Alma Torlakovic

There has been a vigorous argument over the direction of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) industrial campaign at Sydney University this year. Most recently, those who have been reluctant to argue and organise seriously for frequent enough and long enough strikes are now leading the charge for a “smarter” strategy of administration bans. 

Plasterboard workers strike
Adam Bottomley

In late August, around 50 union members at Knauf plasterboard held a meeting in their Melbourne factory to discuss recent EBA negotiations, which had begun a few months earlier. A new HR manager insisted on attending the meeting and wasted people’s time explaining the wonderful job that company management had done taking care of the workers, in particular their recent and significant safety concerns. As he spoke, one after another the workers turned their backs on him. Soon, they began challenging the manager about a worker who had just been sacked.

The stolen revolution: Iran in 1979
The stolen revolution: Iran in 1979
Priya De

Minoo Jalali was among those who resisted Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in Iran. In the early months of 1979, she joined a mass women’s protest against the compulsory wearing of the hijab in public. “That revolution was inevitable”, Jalali recounted 40 years later in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “Nobody could have really stopped the force of it. We hoped that we could steer it [but] we were wrong. And the clergy hijacked it ... and deceived many people.”

Reformasi! The Indonesian student movement that toppled Suharto
When Indonesian students rebelled
Erin Russell

While student radicalism is most often associated with 1960s Paris or Vietnam-era US campuses, there is a similarly rich history of university student rebellion outside of the advanced capitalist countries. One of these rebellions took place in Indonesia in 1998, when students led a movement that ended the 30-year rule of General Suharto. The movement involved hundreds of thousands of ordinary Indonesians in a fight for democracy, encapsulated by the slogan reformasi total (complete reform).

Riots shake Iran
Bella Beiraghi

Protests and riots have spread across Iran after a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, was murdered by the morality police. Amini was visiting the capital, Tehran, on 13 September when she was arrested for allegedly breaking mandatory veiling laws. Police beat her into a coma and she died three days later. Amini was buried in her hometown of Saqqez.

Reform or revolution?
Tom Bramble

The international working-class movement has long been divided between two strategies to win socialism: the reformist and the revolutionary.