Wars—especially world wars—are not accidental. An accident can cause war if all the other conditions for war are present. But there is no such thing as an “accidental war”. Socialists have always claimed that at the bottom of all war there is an economic cause. This claim is substantiated by a careful study of the causes and results of all the great wars. It is notorious to all students of history that “spheres of influence” is only an elegant phrase that really mean exclusive possession of foreign markets and trade privilege. Economic causes are, of course, the root of wars. But today, with nationalistic it is easier than ever to obscure this fact. Nationalism is the cloak behind which the economic causes work. Nationalism always claims certain virtues as the peculiar, exclusive possession of certain nations. If individuals make such claims, they would be laughed at with scorn. Nationalism claims that the culture belonging to one nation is distinct from that belonging to any other. This may have been so in the past, but the progress of mankind is making it less so. Increased means of communication — the internet, satellite/cable TV, relative cheap mass travel and, of course, international trade have caused nations to exchange their products until today there is no essential difference between any one of the countries of the world. Even language is tending to become universal with English becoming lingua franca for science and technology. More people understand each other today than ever before. It is only by the most artificial kind of propaganda that nationalism is kept alive. Nationalism is an unmitigated curse. It leads inevitably to chauvinism and to national aggression. It leads to a patriotism for the soil, for the particular bit of the earth’s surface on which a particular person has been born. It leads to narrowness and bigotry, to national jealousy and petty pride.
In all this the real roots of the war can be seen in the class system of society. The narrow interests of each “national” capitalist class conflict one with the other. My enemy is in my own country, and this enemy is the same for all the workers of the world. The enemy is capitalism, this enemy is the rapacious, corrupt class government. This enemy is the lack of rights suffered by the working class. Let us each go to war in our own country against our oppressors, let us cleanse our homelands from the real oppressors, let us cleanse our homelands from the real enemies of the people. Workers of all countries, unite! Rally round the red banner, not the Union Jack. All that is necessary is that each soldier at the front, each worker in the workshop, should realise: my enemy is not the one who, like myself in my own county, has no rights, who is oppressed by capital, whose life is a struggle for his daily bread. We are all the victims of deception.
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