Friday, October 21, 2022

Understanding War


While the politicians preach peace we find war between classes and war between nations everywhere. If we take but a short period of ten years we shall find that every country has been engaged either in war or in oppressing rebellion. Thus the tale of war is told.

We who are socialists are all in favour of peace, yet at the same time, we recognise that so long as people live in societies based upon class opposition, in societies in which the modes of producing the material sustenance of man are monopolised by a class, so long will war be rife as a means of satisfying national disputes.

The fact that one class monopolises all that is best in life because of its own means of production, while another class possesses nothing but its power of labour, and has to sell that power in order to gain a mere livelihood, is the primary cause of the war of classes. Each class seeks to better its condition. And this is only possible at the expense of the other class. A rise in wages for the worker is a fall in the profits of the employer. A reduction of hours for the worker beyond certain limits is at the expense of the employer’s surplus-value. This opposition between employer and employed manifests itself not only in the striving for better wages and reduced hours but throughout the whole of the ramifications of modern industrial, society.

The production of commodities is today production for the market. During periods of prosperity, production is carried on by all manufacturers with great intensity. This production is furthered by means of the “credit” system, which allows of capital being borrowed and material being bought on credit. When, as a result of all the rival manufacturers turning out their goods as quickly as possible, the market becomes glutted, it becomes necessary to somehow convert these goods into money in order to discharge their liabilities. With the usual markets being glutted, it is ever more necessary to extend the limits of the market, to secure fresh outlets, and the ordinary method of arriving at this end is to annex new territory and develop its resources.

Thus arising from the very course of commerce itself comes the necessity of carrying on wars of aggression. War today is fundamentally economic, and in the interests, not of the whole people, but of the ruling class.

War, the outcome of the existing capitalist system, carries in its train results both dire and disastrous for the working people. Whether national or industrial warfare is the more distressing and far-reaching in its results may be difficult to determine, but after a minute examination of both, we have no hesitation in saying that industrial warfare has far the greater number of victims.

Enormous as have been the victims of battles, great as is men killed in battles, greater still has been the sacrifice to capitalism. Let us calculate the number of children dying in their first year from remediable causes, the number of industrial accidents, the early deaths of those living in unsanitary slum dwellings with insufficient nourishment for their daily fare, and working in polluted factories and workshops and we shall see that the industrial warfare is as severe as the armed conflict. We see that it is as necessary to consider means for the removal of the warfare of peace as of that of war-time.

By all means, let us have peace, but let us work for it by trying to remove the cause of war—our present capitalist system. When society is no longer crystallised selfishness, when the condition of man’s living is no longer at the expense of his neighbour, when anarchy is no longer the phase of production of commodities, when, instead of all these, men live, owning the material means of subsistence in common, and men and women can obtain the satisfaction of their needs without having to sell their labour force for bare subsistence, then it will no longer be necessary to speak of peace, for peace will then be a living reality.

Those who really desire that peace should reign over all the earth, who see peace between men as a condition of healthy industrial and social development should join with us of The Socialist Party in organising that party which shall preach those principles of industrial harmony based upon the abrogation of class privilege and the holding of all means of production and of distribution in common, which shall be the basis upon which shall be built up a peace which shall endure and which shall extend throughout the world-wide cooperative commonwealth.

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