The Western Socialist
Vol. 30 - No. 232
No. 2, 1963
It was no surprise to learn that Lester Pearson has decided that Canadian military forces should be equipped with nuclear and atomic warheads and arms. It does not surprise the socialist one bit to encounter this switch in a professed opponent of A-arms to one of supporter. History is laced with people who profess one thing before election to office and either change half-way there or when elected.
Does it make any difference whether or not Canada is to become a member of the "nuclear club"? I do not think so. To the mass of people throughout the world the result will be the same — death and destruction — with or without these arms for Canada, unless we prevent war. How, then, can we prevent war? What are we to do about it? These seem to be pertinent questions.
At first glance it appears as though we can do very little about it. General Norstad, President Kennedy and now Lester Pearson have had their say and that seems to be the end of the matter. It is asserted, by some, that the working class will have no say in the matter nor have ever had a say on the question of war. In a sense, however, this statement is quite false. We have had and still can have much to say about it. We have so far elected to support things as they are and the result is apparent to all — a future which threatens death and destruction to all mankind. Can we change this situation? Assuredly we can.
In the first place, instead of repeating like parrots the phrases spewed out of the television and radio boxes, we can investigate this supposedly best of all possible worlds — explore beneath the clouds of subterfuge, deceit and lies. Purposeful investigation must lead to the discovery of the CAUSE of war with all of its varying degrees of horror, death, and destruction.
What is it, then, that gives rise to conflicts between nations? What is it, furthermore, that engenders disagreements and strikes between employer and employed? To find cause for the first question is to discover the answer to the second. Nations are forever in conflict because the owners of the means of life within these nations must compete and struggle with one another in furtherance of their material interests. They must forever strive to outdo one another in the never-ceasing search for markets and sources of raw materials. In the jungle world of capitalism the maxim must be COMPETE (with no holds barred) OR DIE! Herein lies the key to the problem. In the effort to realize the surplus-value extracted from the working class, the rival national capitalists must forever vie with one another in the markets of the world and those nations which can sell the most commodities and make the most profit become, in consequence, the most powerful and the most influential.
In this endeavor of the owning class of each country to gain profit, power and influence, however, there can be no real interest for the workers. The mass of people, forced to work for wages or salaries throughout their lives (when they are not unemployed), can never gain more, on the average, than what is required to produce and reproduce their particular abilities. The average worker enters the world heir to nothing but his parents to work and care for him. He spends his life in ceaseless toil or in the search for it, and leaves the world almost as he came into it — with nothing but his children to carry on this tradition of labour.
We, the vast mass of the world, working all our lives and the vast masses who have preceded us back through the ages, have toiled and laboured and yet, after these aeons of work have still only poverty! And why may we ask? Because the means and instruments for producing wealth do not belong to society, as a whole, but to a small but privileged minority who live but to exploit and appropriate unto themselves the fruits of the labour of society. This is the basis for the struggle which they prefer to present to us as a struggle between ideologies, "Ways of Life," and so forth. The so-called struggle between "communism" and the "free, democratic," type of society is actually but a struggle for control over spheres of influence such as Cuba, Berlin, Laos, Vietnam, Africa and other areas of contention. They are but struggles to gain control over the social wealth of the world.
How can this be altered? What can we do about it? Inasmuch as we are never consulted in time of crisis how can we change this sorry state of things? The answer is simple although it does require some effort on the part of those who would seek it. Knowledge of the world we live in and how it operates can be acquired with a minimum of effort. The socialist case can be examined and its validity measured in the light of unfolding events. Whatever the effort the rewards will amply compensate.
The conflict, then, which continues among the nations has as its cause the same basis as the conflict which is inherent in the struggle between capital and labour. The struggle on the part of the employers to extract a maximum amount of labour from their workers for a minimum amount of wages gives rise to the strikes and lockouts which plague all society. In the final analysis, this is but a struggle over the wealth of society and the question of the division of the wealth created by the working class. Furthermore, it should be apparent that those who own the means of life shall amass unto themselves the greater portion of the wealth of society leaving for those who possess nothing but their ability to labour, sufficient only to enable them to continue the process of production.
Let us now return to the question with which we started. What can we do about it? The answer should now be clear. We can apply our understanding of the causes of struggle to an effort to change the world. Rather than attempting to adapt to conditions in the struggle for survival, the task is one of changing the conditions in order that the conflicts and strife which are an everyday feature of today shall be resolved. The question of nuclear weapons as opposed to "conventional" weapons is irrelevant. The only weapon required to save the world from obliteration is the weapon of knowledge, in the hands and heads of the majority. Search it out and obtain it, for with it we shall begin to live as human beings rather than as pawns in a life and death struggle for domination over the resources of the world. With the proper application and use of understanding, these resources will be restored to humanity as a whole. We, who are not consulted today, shall with our knowledge and our political action decree that the means of life shall be commonly owned by all mankind and that mankind shall finally be released from the horror of war and the horror of capitalism, in general. That's what we can do about it!