Wage Slave News - Contents

Wage Slave News


War and Propaganda

24 April 2012

The Socialist Party of Canada and its companion parties in other lands have always insisted, correctly, that wars are caused by the needs of competing sections of the capitalist class for access to raw materials and markets and the need to protect trade routes and strategic military or naval bases. i.e. economic reasons.

The US went to Iraq to prevent the sale of oil to their competitors, China and India. They went into Afghanistan in an attempt to establish pipe- lines for natural gas from mid-Asian countries. Once a war is in progress, other factors come into play, all in the name of profits. Companies with government contracts make a fortune, even when their side is losing the war. In WWII, Krupp's Armaments, Thysen Steel, and Farben chemicals all made enormous profits, especially in the last two years of the war when production was ramped up in an attempt to win a war that the Germans were losing.

It can also be said that the tools of production themselves can be a reason for war. If capitalists are fighting for land, then they are fighting for everything that is on it. When the Soviets went into Czechoslovakia in WWII, they dismantled some of its heavy industrial machinery and shipped it back to the USSR.

Since wars are fought for capitalism's needs, then it obviously follows that the world's working class has no stake in any of them. As the Socialist Party of Great Britain said in 1914, " This war does not justify the shedding of one drop of working class blood." One may well ask, then, why do members of the working class fight for their bosses' interests? The answer is propaganda. No capitalist would be foolish enough to ask the workers to go and fight for their interests. They tell them they are fighting to protect the freedoms they presently enjoy, their way of life. They include the freedom to live in poverty, be unemployed, breathe polluted air, and so on.

In 1914, the people were told that this was 'the war to end all wars'. In 1939, it was 'to make the world safe for democracy', yet at the end of it more people lived under dictatorships than at the beginning. During WWI, the British Government wanted Irishmen to enlist. They achieved some success by circulating phony photos of German soldiers bayoneting nuns. Sometimes religion is used to con the labouring classes to fight. During the Crusades it was 'fight to free the Holy Land from the infidel.' It certainly wasn't 'fight so we can establish trade routes to the Far East and trade for silks and spices and make fabulous profits'. When the sea route was found, profits of 400 per cent were common.

What no capitalist, politician, or soothsayer likes to focus on are the attitudes of those workers who have fought and survived. It is well known that suicide, alcoholism, and nervous breakdowns are common among veterans with wide ranging social consequences. Nor does the media, the mouthpiece of the capitalist class, focus on the attitudes of the vets. Some returned to the US having fought in Vietnam and formed groups opposed to the war. In the UK, the government promised they would do a lot for the servicemen. They gave them a demobilization suit and ten pounds and best wishes for a good life on 'civvy street'. No wonder some vets returned their medals to the War Office. It took many of them years to adapt to normal life.

Therefore it's refreshing to see a character like Bob on the new TV drama, "Bomb Girls". It follows the misadventures of several young women and their supervisor, Laura, who work at a Toronto munitions plant in WWII. Bob was crippled for life at the Somme in WWI, two battles for which Earl Haig was showered with honours for sending 600 000 lads to a senseless death over a meaningless strip of land.

Bob is bitter, morose, caustic and takes no pride in Laura's contributions to the war effort. When their son is awarded a medal for bravery, he sneers that 'medals are just pieces of metal used to maintain morale'. This upsets Laura, especially when he continues, "they promise you the earth then spit you out when it's over".

Bob hasn't worked it out politically, but he knows he was used in the war in which he had no stake. It would be easy to wish for more vets like Bob, but so much better to work for a world where war and vets do not exist at all.

Table of Contents - Wage Slave Newsline