Many people have opposed capitalist conflicts and among them are many religious groups. St. Augustine developed the principles of a just war that are supposed to still guide us on when to go to war.
They are as follows:
1. A just war can only be waged as a last resort.
2. A war is only just if it is waged by a legitimate authority.
3. A just war can only be waged to redress a wrong suffered.
4. A war is only just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success.
5. A war is only just if its goal is to re-establish peace. Moreover, the peace established as a result of the war must be an improvement over the circumstances that would have prevailed had the war not been waged.
6. A war is only just if the violence used is proportional to the harm suffered
7. Non-combatants are never permissible targets of war. Their deaths are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.
So far, we have been able to determine neither what terms such as “legitimate authority”, “a wrong suffered”, “a reasonable chance of success”, and “an improvement over circumstances” actually mean, nor how to figure out the proportion of “violence used” to “harm suffered” or what proportion is satisfactory. We now understand why the likes of Blair have become devoutly religious. St. Augustine gave him the green light to wage war against anybody, anywhere in the world, at any time with any pretext. It also explains a lot about his rhetoric to attempt to justify his advocacy of armed conflict to the world community.
The companion parties of the World Socialist Movement have opposed all wars, except the class war, since it first formulated a policy regarding armed conflicts in response to the First World War. It is worthreiterating the position of the Socialist Party of Canada on war in October 1939:
“It is in the nature of capitalism that in their quest for markets, raw materials, sources of exploitation, etc., the respective capitalists of the world are engaged in a constant, competitive struggle, either to preserve or to gain advantages over their rival: and by virtue of their control of the powers of government they are in the position to transfer this struggle from the economic field to the military field, where they endeavor to gain by wholesale slaughter, what they have been unable to gain by other means.
This is the explanation, not only of previous wars, but also of the present war. Thus, the declarations of the ruling class propagandist agencies that this conflict is being waged for democracy, freedom, and the independence of small nations, are merely the bait that must be used if the active participation of the politically uneducated workers is to be gained.
The Socialist Party of Canada, in placing on record its opposition to this new, horrible demonstration of capitalism’s unfitness to survive, herewith reaffirms:
That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living by the capitalist class and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced;
That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess;
That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the capitalist class and the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people;
That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organize consciously and politically in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of plutocratic privilege.
The Socialist Party of Canada further declares that no interest is at stake in this conflict which justifies the shedding of a single drop of working class blood; and it extends its fraternal greetings to the workers of all countries and calls upon them to unite in the Greater Struggle, the struggle for the establishment of Socialism, a system of society in which the ever-increasing poverty, misery, terror, and bloodshed of capitalism shall be forever banished from the earth.”
The pertinence of this statement in today’s world is a sad testament to the continuance of the destructive nature of our economic and social system and to the accuracy of its analysis.