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Guns Before Needs

NORMALLY UNDER capitalism it’s profits before needs but sometimes, since capitalism can’t exist without the state, something else is granted priority. Not meeting any of people’s needs of course but a state’s need to have armed force at its disposal. This, not just to protect sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and investment outlets for its capitalist firms but also because, in the diplomatic jockeying between states for power and influence on the world stage, “might is right”.

The US government is concerned that austerity in Britain has gone too far as the war (or,  in Orwellian, the “defence”) budget has also been cut.

The US government knows that Britain, thanks to its imperial(ist) past, has in its armed forces a highly efficient killing machine that it can rely on to back up its own killing machine. The militarist lobby in Britain has wheeled out retired generals and admirals to support more money for the killing machine they once commanded.

And the attitude of the Labour Party? “Labour has pledged to outspend the Conservatives on defence in the next parliament, heaping pressure on David Cameron as he faces a growing rebellion over armed forces expenditure.

Ed Balls promised yesterday that Labour would go “nowhere near the huge scale of defence cuts you are going to see under the Conservatives”.

After a speech in London, the shadow chancellor said that he would prioritise defence in the spending review after the election, adding: “I think that it’s really important that we live up to our international responsibilities.”

Mr Balls added: “A Labour Treasury will want to back the defence of our country at a critical time, and that’s why I am refusing point-blank to sign up to the extreme plans that George Osborne has set out before us as his election manifesto.” (Times, 10 March).

Not that we should be – or are – surprised. The Labour Party has always supported the war preparations of the British state and the wars in which has been engaged. And yet there are some who still see it as the lesser of two evils.

But how do you tell the difference?