1940s >> 1944 >> no-480-august-1944

Will there be a third World-War?

War, said Clausewitz, is a continuation of politics by other means. “Without armed forces it will not be possible to have a foreign policy at all,” said Lord Cranbourne, Dominions Secretary and Leader of the House of Lords, speaking to that august body, the Manchester Conservative Association (Daily Express, April 18th, 1944). It would be labouring the point to show the similarity of ideas expressed here. It is, however, a vindication of the Socialist contention that so long as capitalism remains in existence, war or the threat of war must likewise remain to torture our minds and bodies. The above quotation is a frank recognition by one of the leading spokesmen of the capitalist class of the essentially warlike nature of their system of exploitation and profit-making. As if to reassure us of this, Lord Cranbourne went on to say, “I put it forward as a main principle of the Conservative policy, that we must regard expenditure on armaments as the most essential item of national expenditure.” What price “Atlantic Charters,” “brotherly co-operation of nations,” and other vaporous nonsense with which numerous reformers of capitalism would have us believe that war, or at any rate world war, can be avoided!

Lord Cranbourne, moreover, is not the only spokesman of our rulers who realises the necessity of the mailed fist to the modern capitalist state in the light of potential conflicts and the satisfaction of its world market requirements. Mr. Robert Boothby, M.P., writing on the Empire (Evening Standard, April 18th, 1944), says, in a rather anxious manner, “Admittedly we have survived two tremendous tests. But it would be unwise to count upon equal good fortune a third time. If we are to hold our own and talk on equal terms with the other great world federations, we must pursue a definite foreign policy in common and enter into more precise commitments in the field of defence than we have ever done in the past.” Mr. Boothby, a thorough realist, goes on to make a statement that Socialists have persistently stressed for many years past. “The collapse of the League of Nations taught us that paper constitutions are no substitute for the realities of power. It is a lesson we shall forget at our peril.” If it is really that Mr. Boothby wants us to learn the lessons of history, we would ask the following pertinent question. What solution can capitalism provide against the recurrence of a third world war, which is likely to be even more destructive and catastrophic than the present one? The Socialist answer is that there is none. As if in echo to this we quote again. This time from Mr. R. Tees (Cons.) : “I do not believe that this is going to be a war to end wars. Looking round, I think that we are entering on a turbulent period, in which dynamic forces will be everywhere at work.” (Daily Express, July 28th, 1943).

On the other side of the Atlantic, too, there are ominous rumblings, which foreshadow anything but peace—even capitalist “peace.” The Daily Express American correspondent reports a “post-war preparedness programme—which will obviously include compulsory military training for all” (April 26, 1944). He goes on to say : “Projects under discussion also include permanent Government work for scientists to develop new secret weapons, continued war production in miniature so that factories can be quickly converted back to turning out war material, and Government retention of many war plants.”

In view of this, we can readily understand Lieut.-General Patton’s (Blood and Guts!) reassuring a ten year old Texan volunteering as an army mascot : “You can be sure there will be more wars, and I feel convinced, being a boy from Texas, you will give a good account of yourself.” (Daily Express, July 28th, 1943.)

Enough has been said to show that those who are aware of the real forces at work in the modern capitalist world hold out little hope for a future in which war will not rear its ugly and vicious head. To the Socialist this is nothing new. it is because he understands the nature of capitalism and its inevitable development that he refuses to be lulled by all sorts of hole-in-the-corner reformers who pander to ignorance by claiming to have solutions for problems which are incapable of solution within the framework of capitalism. The reader may ask now, Is war inevitable under capitalism, and what solution has the Socialist to offer ?

The answer to these two questions lies in the understanding of the nature of the modern capitalist world. Ttie main outstanding feature of capitalist society—i.e., the present-day world—is the capitalist ownership of the means of production. By this we mean that relatively all the powers of production in existence to-day are owned and controlled by a small minority, known as the capitalist class, leaving the vast mass of the population without any means of obtaining a livelihood than by working for one, or for a group of these capitalists. “You have my very life if you have the means whereby I live,” are the words Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Shylock, and this is true—nay, even truer—than it was then. The workers, with the help of their master’s machinery, raw materials, etc., produce vast quantities of goods which the owner or owners endeavour to sell at a profit on the home and world markets. That is, at such times when they are not engaged in armed conflict with other groups of capitalists !

The most important point to remember about this process of exploitation is that the workers only receive back a relatively small portion of this produce in the form of wages, such an amount as will suffice to keep them in “working efficiency.” Consequently, they are never able to buy back all that they produce, and no matter how much the capitalist may spend in the way of luxurious living, there is always a large surplus left over. This results, as we know only too well, from bitter experience, in slumps, crises and mass unemployment. But it also leads the capitalist to search for new markets or to extend the existing ones. It is here, liowever, that he meets his colleagues from other parts of the capitalist world, who are engaged in precisely the same hunt. Hence ensues power politics, back-scene diplomatic intrigue, secret trade agreements, quarrels over territory and spheres of influence, and other nauseating features of world capitalist politics and diplomacy. This, we should like to stress, is not due to some inherent predatory instincts to which capitalists and their henchmen are particularly susceptible, but is the logical result of their pursuit of profit.

The cause, then, is clear. Not human nature, nor individuals aspiring to power, nor lack of “brotherly co-operation among nations,” but the profit-making system, the capitalist order of society. The remedy follows logically. Deprive the capitalists of their ownership of the means of wealth production, and make these the common property of all the people—in short, end capitalism and inaugurate Socialism. Profits, spheres of iulluence, trade routes, and armed might will then no longer interest anybody because they simply won’t exist or be able to exist. This is because in Socialist society things will be produced solely for use, and the sole motivation of production and distribution will be to minister to the general welfare and happiness of mankind. Instead of war, we shall have peace, real peace, not the periodical armistices which capitalism holds out for us. Instead of adulteration and distortion, perfection and beauty to the utmost limits of the capacity of society to provide them. Finally, but certainly not least, instead of exploitation and poverty, we shall bequeath to ourselves freedom and abundance. This transformation, however, can only be achieved when the majority of those persons most likely to benefit by the change—i.e., the working class—have reached an understanding of the cause of their miseries. Armed with this knowledge, they will organise with determination and enthusiasm On the political field for the sole purpose of getting to power for Socialism.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain stands for this mighty revolution, the only political organisation in this country, without exception, to do so. We therefore appeal to all workers to interest themselves in our great work, and when they are satisfied that our position is clear and unambiguous, and founded upon a correct and true interpretation of the facts of the modern world, to join with us in the furtherance and growth of the Socialist movement both here and abroad. Socialism is the only practical alternative to poverty, war, and all its kindred evils. The time is now
most opportune for Socialist propaganda and activity. Only by following this course of action may we hope to abolish the poverty of the workers and the possibility of yet another future calamitous holocaust.


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