Showing posts with label wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wars. Show all posts

Thursday, December 11, 2014

War Against War

Honeyed phrases about ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ is a minor issue from the standpoint of the working class. As is the question ‘Who started the war?’ because politicians on either side of a war will always portray the ‘enemy’ as the ‘aggressor’, and usually successfully to sway public opinion. John Pilger quotes the journalist who exposed the Iran/Contragate:
"If you wonder," wrote Robert Parry, "how the world could stumble into world war three - much as it did into world war one a century ago - all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason."

At the height of World War One’s slaughter, British prime minister David Lloyd George confided in C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: "If people really knew the truth the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don't know and can't know."

It's time they knew and that is part of the task of socialists.

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 wars. Economic causes are, of course, the root of wars. But today, with all this nationalistic preaching it is easier than ever to obscure this fact. Nationalism is the cloak behind which the economic causes work.

The position that socialists take in a war is of the utmost importance. It is an acid test, for us. Many people are anti-war. There is a more fundamental reason why socialists reject a strategy that leaves the causes of war untouched. So long as we simply aim at putting a halt to the latest barbarity in which our rulers are engaged we will always leave them free to prepare another war. The drive to war is inherent in the way capitalism works. As long as the antiwar or peace movements and the working class in general refuse, or are unwilling, to recognize the cardinal point that capitalism with its production for profit and private ownership of the tools of production is the cause of war, they will find themselves fighting endless reforms or effects under capitalism which never lead to a solution but only to frustration and despair.

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. It is notorious to all students of history that “spheres of influence” and “places in the sun” are only elegant phrases that really mean exclusive possession of foreign markets and trade privilege. But these things are known only to the careful investigator into facts and to the unprejudiced historian.Kings and capitalists may fight for these things — people, never! Yet it is peoples that must fight the war and die in war.

Internationalism means no nationalism. Nationalism always claims certain virtues as the peculiar, exclusive possession of certain nations. If individuals make such claims, they are laughed to scorn. Why — with what logic — may nations make such claims? Nationalism claims that the culture belonging to one nation is distinct from that belonging to any other. This was so in the past, but the natural evolution of mankind is making it less so. Increased means of communication has created a world where  there is no essential difference between any one of the countries of the world. Even language is tending to become universal. More people understand each other today than ever before. Governments are coming to resemble each other. Codes of ethics are becoming international. 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 the end nationalism is the best of cloaks for the intrigues and machinations of capitalists.

When people attack 'militarism' yet uphold the capitalist system, they are fighting an effect while defending the cause. The politicians are elected and sent to parliament to protect the economic interests of the capitalist class. That's just one little lesson in political economy that the anti-war movement badly needs. The function of the political State is that of the executive committee of the capitalist class. The only road to permanent peace lies in the abolition of capitalism and its replacement by genuine socialism under which goods will be produced for use and the means of wealth production will be socially owned.

Socialism being a classless and cooperative there will be no exploitative capitalist class as at present to fight over the surplus wealth stolen from the working class and encourage wars to get rid of it. The causes of war that existed under capitalism will no longer exist under socialism. Only under socialism can permanent peace become a reality instead of just a dream as at present. All of the energy, enthusiasm and sacrifice of the present anti-war movements will come to naught unless they quickly learn that capitalism is the cause of war. Capitalism and its nation state system is the root cause of war. The danger of war can only be prevented through a struggle to abolish the profit system and reorganise society on the basis of socialism.

Wars are not accidental. An accident can sometimes spark off war but only if all the other conditions for war are present. But there is no such thing as an “accidental war”. The only way to end the possibility of such madness as war is to destroy the system which inevitably leads to these horrors. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Scientists for Peace


Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) have written to the organisers of Edinburgh International Science Festival urging them to cut their financial ties to major arms company, Selex ES.

The Festival – which is one of the UK’s leading organisers of science education activities for school children – lists as one of its major funding partners, Selex ES.

Selex ES manufactures a wide variety of military equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and targeting systems for combat aircraft and warships. Its annual sales total €3.5 billion. It is a subsidiary of Finmeccanica – one of the world’s largest arms companies. In 2009, one of the Selex family of companies secured a deal with the authoritarian regime of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya for border security equipment worth €300 million. Selex also has a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia, another authoritarian country.

The SGR open letter reads “It is factors such as these which lead us to conclude that Selex ES plays a key role in supporting militaristic activities of both Western governments and governments with major human rights problems. We believe it is entirely inappropriate for a company with such a background to sponsor a science festival aimed at children.”

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of SGR, said “Arms companies should not have a role in science education events for children. We should be encouraging children to see science and technology as a means to help tackle pressing social and environmental problems, not finding new ways to wage war.”

Latest figures reveal that global military spending currently exceeds $1.7 trillion a year. This is an enormous amount of money, especially considering that urgent global problems such as poverty and environmental damage do not receive anything like the resources they need to tackle them. The UN Secretary-General recently remarked that “the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded”

SGR is an independent membership organisation of nearly 1,000 natural and social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. It was formed in 1992. SGR’s work is focused on several issues, including security and disarmament, climate change, sustainable energy, and who controls science and technology. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fight War Not Wars

The monster of war has raised its ugly head again, or at least the escalation of a civil war by the threatened intervention of the UK/US. The American, British and French governments, on the hollow pretext of stopping the use of chemical weapons will  launched a massive air attack on Syria. The victims of similar past campaigns in Serbia, in Iraq and in Libya are forgotten. It again exposes the futility of the United Nations to avert war.

Many people's gut reaction is simply that war is crazy. Socialists share this anti-war sentiment. but like a voice crying in the wilderness, we also maintain that capitalism and war are inseparable.The weakness of the anti-war movement is that the majority want nothing more than a return to capitalist "peace" rather than the overthrow of the system that causes war. Speaker after speaker sees the immediate situation of open conflict as the problem, the simple solution of which is to simply pull back the troops. It doesn't go beyond that to examine the fact that if states have weapons and armies, they are there to be used. It fails to look at how conflict is actually continuous in the present world. It simply adopts a simple moralist position, "War is bad”. Capitalist states are not moral entities, and their ruling classes do not react to attempts at moral persuasion.

Anti-war protesters lose sight of the fact that we live in an economic system which drives its actors to battle against one another, in order to secure trade routes, natural resources and capital investments. This conflict is continual, the only variation being in the intensity of the conflict and the badges on the uniforms. Whether a war in society is within a nation or between nations, the causes of these wars are of a similar nature. While the circumstances surrounding each war may remain peculiar to the time and place (the extent of dictatorship/democracy or ideas on religions etc), the pattern seems to be repeated all over the world.  The owning class of one nation possesses something which that of another nation, or groups within a nation would like to possess. These could be land,  markets, or a natural resources like oil and gas.  And where a conflict occurs within a country, outside influences are often brought to bear. If resources are up for grabs, the capitalist grabbing class join the fray to see what share of the spoils they can win.

 Some on the Left focus on the role of American imperialism as if the American government had some choice in pursuing an imperialist policy, that its actions result from some mysteriously gung-ho national characteristic, rather than from the dictates of capitalist economy. If the US declines as an imperialist power, others will readily and gladly take its place.

The Socialist Party  loudly proclaim our adherence to "no war, but the class war" as a means for bringing this ongoing horror to an end. The consent of the ruled (us!) is essential to the continued functioning of capitalism (in both its state-capitalist and private-capitalist forms). Our consent, or our resistance, is part of our rulers’ profit-and-loss estimates. We can make this particular militaristic adventure too difficult or too expensive for our rulers.

 But as long as we, all of us, consent to the capitalist system as a whole, in other words, so long as we resist only this particular imperialist intervention, then there will be more and more bloodshed. We must deal with causes, not just symptoms. The socialist does not take sides in ruling class quarrels.

Let the workers unite to control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces. In that way alone will they be able to usher in a system of society wherein universal solidarity of interests will abolish all war, be it between classes or nations. Only socialists can claim to be the true anti-war campaigners. Our fellow workers around the world participate in anti-war campaigns, which call for the end of military wars, but few make that connection, as socialists do, to the wider society and particularly, to its mode of production and guiding ideology which promote competition among all sections of society. In campaigning solely for an end to military wars, which are but a bloody climax to the wider commercial war, there can be no hope of addressing the problems of human society today as a whole. Our message as always is that workers have the choice of roads, a choice which all humanity must make. One road is the road of blood and tears, of capitalism and war. The other is the road to socialism  and by ending the exploitation of man by man can we strike at the roots of war.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

No more war - No more armies

Parades, medal ceremonies and fly-pasts over three Scottish cities are being held to mark Armed Forces Day. The main celebrations centre on Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Aberdeen on Saturday, with other events around the country. The UK's fifth Armed Forces Day is being held to show support and appreciation for the armed services.

 One must be quite starry-eyed, in fact, delusional, to see war as the humanitarian instrument of peace.

The United Kingdom  decides whether or not to wage war according to the chances of succeeding and to their own assessment of their strategic, political and economic interests. And once a war is begun, they want to win at all costs. It makes no sense to ask them to carry out only good interventions, against genuine villains, using gentle methods that spare civilians and innocent bystanders.  It makes no sense to ask them to protect but not to bomb, because armies function by shooting and bombing. Those who say “support our troops” serve to neutralise any peace or anti-war movement. Opposition is attacked as “support for dictators”, another “Munich appeasement”, or “the crime of indifference”.

The problem is that every war is justified by a massive propaganda effort which is based on demonising the enemy. To-days Armed Forces Day actually canonises the combatants.

 When the media announce that a massacre is imminent, we hear at times that action is “urgent” to save the alleged future victims, and time cannot be lost making sure of the facts. This may be true when a house is on fire, but such urgency regarding other countries ignores the manipulation of information and just plain error and confusion that dominate foreign news coverage. The slightest mistake by the anti-war movement will be endlessly used against us, whereas all the lies of the pro-war propaganda are soon forgotten. The “we must do something” brushes aside any serious reflection as to what might be done instead of military intervention.

We've always had wars. Humans are a warring species. Without an army to defend us, someone will always try to conquer us." How often is this heard to make it acceptable to encourage people to engage in killing?

 Some people declare that human nature makes peace impossible, that war is built into our genes. They point to research by evolutionary biologists that indicates our closest genetic relatives, the chimpanzees, make war. Therefore war must be part of our heredity. It's true that in certain situations chimpanzees do raid neighboring colonies and kill other chimps. Those studies on killer apes got enormous publicity because they implied that war is hardwired into human nature. Most scientists didn't draw those conclusions from the evidence, but the mass media kept reinforcing that message. Further research, however, led to a key discovery: The chimps who invaded their neighbors were suffering from shrinking territory and food sources. They were struggling for survival. Groups with adequate resources didn't raid other colonies. The aggression wasn't a behavioral constant but was caused by the stress they were under. Their genes gave them the capacity for violence, but the stress factor had to be there to trigger it into combat. This new research showed that war is not inevitable but rather a function of the stress a society is under. Our biological nature doesn't force us to war, it just gives us the potential for it. Without stress to provoke it, violence can remain one of the many unexpressed capacities our human evolution has given us.

Our society has a deeply entrenched assumption that stress is essential to life. Many of our social and economic structures are based on conflict. Capitalism's need for continually expanding profits generates stress in all of us. We've been indoctrinated to think this is normal and natural, but it's really pathological. It damages life in ways we can barely perceive because they're so built into us. We don't have to live this way. We can reduce the stress humanity suffers under. We can create a society that meets human needs and distributes the world's resources according to those needs. We can live at peace with one another. But that's going to take basic changes.

These changes threaten the power holders of our society. Since capitalism is a predatory social and economic system, predatory personalities rise to power. They view the world through a lens of aggression. But it's not merely a view. They really are surrounded by enemies. So they believe this false axiom they are propagating that wars are inevitable. In the past their predecessors defended their power by propagating other nonsense: kings had a divine right to rule over us, blacks were inferior to whites, women should obey men. We've outgrown those humbugs, and we can outgrow this one.

Let us cease celebrating war.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Can Capitalism Ever Afford Peace?

Another bloody war, and the hope of socialism is being buried again. The workers of Syria and other Arab lands are murdering each other at the bidding of capitalism.

The Western media except for the occasional report forgets that both sides in Syria are using hideous weaponry and committing horrible atrocities, and that the UK/US with its Arab monarchist/religious states are actively aiding one side, while Russia and Iran helps the other.

 The American and British administration have declined to make public the evidence and scientific proof of the use of Sarin and they are being allowed to say "trust us" on the issue of chemical weapons use and its consequences. The newspapers and TV news appear to readily accept such claims which is surprising considering their track record of previous misinformation and intelligence errors. Isn’t it true that that liars are untrustworthy?

Jean Pascal Zanders, a leading expert on chemical weapons who until recently was a senior research fellow at the European Union’s Institute for Security Studies. “It’s not just that we can’t prove a sarin attack, it’s that we’re not seeing what we would expect to see from a sarin attack.”

Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Arms Control Association, noted that the White House had a lack of a “continuous chain of custody for the physiological samples from those exposed to sarin.” The statement released by the White House Thursday, "does not eliminate all doubt in my mind,”

Philip Coyle, a senior scientist at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, said that without hard, public evidence, it’s difficult for experts to assess the validity of the administration’s statement. He added that from what is known, what happened doesn’t look like a series of sarin attacks to him. “Without blood samples, it’s hard to know,” he said.

 Anthony Cordesman, a security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote Friday that “the ‘discovery’ that Syria used chemical weapons might be a political ploy.”

Meantime, other informed commentators such as UN representatives suggest that “...there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Many supposed “peace-makers” now call for a “No-Fly Zone”. There is no such thing as a “limited” no-fly zone. It  means essentially a declaration of all-out war.  Once the US and its allies start a no fly zone they will expand it and intensify it as they take countless other military actions to protect its zones until the Syrian government falls.

During the no-fly zone in Libya, a country with substantially less effective air defences than Syria, the US backed it up with all manner of refueling, electronic jamming, special-ops on the ground. Over the 192 days of patrolling the Libyan no-fly zones, NATO countries flew 24,682 sorties including 9,204 bomb strike sorties. NATO claimed it never missed its target but that was also not true. Hundreds of civilians were killed in Libya  by no-fly zone attack aircraft  that either missed their targets and emptied their bomb bays before returning to base  while conducting approximately 48 bombing strikes per day using a variety of bombs and missiles, including more than 350 cruise Tomahawks.

At a Congressional hearing in 2011, then US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained “a no-fly zone begins with an attack to destroy all the air defenses … and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that’s the way it starts.”

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is part of the World Socialist Movement, companion political parties in the struggle for a socialist society. The call by Marx and Engels in the concluding words of The Communist Manifesto : “Workers of the World Unite!”  caught at hearts of people everywhere.

The slogan advocates solidarity in a capitalist world divided into states with opposing and conflicting interests, a world split up, criss-crossed with frontiers and borders. potential explosive powder kegs the world over threatening to blow up civilisation. Nowhere is there security. There is talk of peace while there is preparation for war. The need for disarmament is announced while the countries arm to the teeth. The world  hardly recovers from one war and it prepares and then  launches another one,  that draws in all nations whether they like it or not, which means the wholesale destruction of men, women and children.  The stand of the Socialist Party is to hold the capitalist class accountable for every drop of blood shed by people in war. Capitalism has no peaceful, non-violent, socially beneficial way of resolving national conflicts  because it has an automatic, built-in limitation: it may not overstep the profit interests of the dominant capitalists.  It remains the great and tragic paradox of our age – poverty in the midst of plenty and it is underlined by  a social system which cannot satisfy the most elementary needs of the people, squanders its vast resources for war: That is one of the greatest indictment of world capitalism. In a socialist world, that most damnable instance of capitalist greed and inefficiency – war – would be a thing of the past. Socialism could take the vast resources which are available and rather than devote them to destruction, use them for constructive purposes .

There is only one way to avoid this slaughter – a world revolution which will replace the struggle between nations by social co-operation. The task is to put an end to war forever by putting an end to its cause, the capitalist system. Humanity must choose between the continuation of the capitalist system which leads to destruction and the alternative option -  a revolution organised on the basis of solidarity and reciprocity through the socialisation  of the forces of production. Socialism will make of the world one country, single and indivisible. In each region and district, taking into consideration their cultural and linguistic identities, the “independence” of each “peoples” will be assured and each will by free co-operation work together for the common progress and happiness of all people.

 The Party’s task is not to concoct some fashionable means of helping the workers. It is to  assist  workers in grasping the class relations that underlie exploitation and all oppression and grasping the general and long-term interests of the working class in overthrowing capitalism and ending class society. It has been argued that thee exists the concept of a “good war”. That socialists should defend  the democratic liberties which had been won by the working class by allying themselves with their “own” rulers against a more brutal dictatorship. Should a “less reactionary” ruling class be supported against a “more reactionary” one? It is the same question that was asked at the start of the First World War and again at the beginning of the Second World War. It is impossible to protect the democratic liberties of the working class by subordinating the class struggle to agreements and collaboration with the ruling class.  Support for war means support to the narrowing down of democratic rights to the point where there is no longer any difference between the democratic and that of a totalitarian  country. The way to preserve democratic rights is for the workers to defend these rights against their own ruling class, their own main enemy.

The chief aim of the Socialist Party in event of war must be to warn the workers against allowing themselves to be misled by the lies of the media and the mutual recriminations of capitalist groups, and to remember that the worker in enemy countries is just as much a victim of capitalist oppression as they are —that even though they are compelled by circumstance to fight against each other, that it will not be long before they are again compelled to help each other against the common foe – capitalism – whose machinations have caused war. The capitalists make huge profits out of war and war preparations. War and its mass butchery can only bring hunger, misery and want. We must fight against the real cause of war, and against the people that benefit from it. Our enemy is capitalism everywhere. The fight for socialism is the fight for peace. The enemy is not the men and women of other lands; it is the capitalist class at home. There is only one way to prevent war is by the overthrow of capitalism, the real root from which war springs.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Muted Mockery Of Poppy Day

The ribbons arrayed the honours displayed
The medals jingling on parade
Echo of battles long ago
But they’re picking sides for another go.

The martial air, the vacant stare
The oft-repeated pointless prayer
“Peace oh’ Lord on earth below”
Yet they’re picking sides for another go.

The clasped hands, the pious stance
The hackneyed phrase “Somewhere in France”
The eyes downcast as bugles blow
Still they’re picking sides for another go.

Symbol of death the cross-shaped wreath
The sword is restless in the sheath
As children pluck where poppies grow
They’re picking sides for another go.

Have not the slain but died in vain?
The hoardings point, “Prepare again”
The former friend a future foe?
They’re picking sides for another go.

I hear Mars laugh at the cenotaph
Says he, as statesmen blow the gaff
“Let the Unknown Warriors flame still glow”
For they’re picking sides for another go.

A socialist plan the world would span
Then man would live in peace with man
Then wealth to all would freely flow
And want and war we would never know.

J. Boyle, 1971

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The War Business - Blood Money

The Guardian carries an interesting article from Mark Curtis that should be brought home to everybody .

That when it comes to the ethical foreign policy once espoused by the Labour Party and the British Government , it was the drive for profits from the armaments industry that the real priority has been at . £45 billion worth of arms were sold by Britain in the past 10 years, making us the world's second-largest arms exporter.

In the past three years, arms have been exported to 19 of the 20 countries identified in the Foreign Office's annual human rights report as "countries of concern".

The Colombian military and its paramilitary allies have killed thousands of people in the country's civil war. Yet last year Britain exported armoured all-wheel-drive vehicles, military communications equipment and heavy machine guns, alongside a military aid programme. Indonesia has received more than £400million worth of military equipment since 1997, while using British military equipment for internal repression on a dozen known occasions.

Britain has exported more than £110million worth of military equipment to Israel during its occupation of Palestinian territories and war with Lebanon. Exports doubled in 2001, as Israeli offensive military operations were stepped up on the West Bank.

Despite an EU arms embargo, Britain has managed to export £500million worth of military and dual-use equipment - nominally "non-lethal" items to China . These include components for tanks, components for combat aircraft, and military communications equipment.

And what about all the rest of the weapons produced and sold ?

Over the past four years, 199 export licences have been approved to the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands - territories without armies. The equipment includes small arms and ammunition, anti-riot shields, CS hand grenades, crowd-control ammunition and even nuclear, biological, chemical filters and respirators (for the Cayman Islands). It is anybody's guess where this equipment is destined. And this could be just the tip of the iceberg. Government statistics show the destination of only a quarter of all arms exports - the public are not told where the rest goes.

Academic research shows that governement subsidies for arms sales is between £0.5 - £1.0 billions annually .

Hand in hand with one another , at least 19 senior MoD officials have taken jobs with arms companies since 1997, while 38 out of 79 personnel secondees to the MoD between 1997 and 2003 came from arms companies .

Yup - war is big business and whether Blair or Brown , Tory or Labour , tools for death and destruction will come before the needs and requirements of the people .

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Short Anti-miltarism Video

Follow this link and click on an imaginative 2 minute video , speculating on who are behind the current American war -fever . We would question if there is a distinct military-industry complex that operates independently and solely in its own interests .
We would counterpose that wars for raw materials and for control of trade routes is the natural state for the enormous economies of the USA ( and of the EU and all the other other capitalist countries ) .
But arms traders certainly fan the flames of conflict .