1940s >> 1946 >> no-508-december-1946
War and Increased Production
Over a year has passed since military operations on a large scale were temporarily suspended and the economic struggle between sections of the capitalist class was resumed with renewed vigour, reinforced by the enormous speed up in productive operations by the application of war-time discoveries to peace-time production. The Conservatives and the Labour Party are at one in claiming a heartfelt desire for lasting peace, but the seeds of fresh wars are being sewn with a prodigal hand.
Between the last Government and the Labour Government there is a continuity in foreign and domestic policy; support of the United Nations Organisation, an intensive drive for export trade, and a campaign for increased production per worker. At the Trade Union Congress these were also the principal issues and the Congress gave its support, even if somewhat grudgingly, to the Labour Party’s programme.
The United Nations Organisation bears a misleading title; firstly, because it is not united, and secondly, because it only includes some of the nations, many are still excluded from its charmed circle. It is completely dominated by the deliberations of four governments, England, Russia, the United States, and France, who watch each other suspiciously, spitting and scratching like angry cats most of the time; harmony is the one thing that is conspicuously absent from their conferences. Referring to the draft Peace Treaties that had so far emerged, the Manchester Guardian (10/7/46) commented: “Each one is a compromise between rival powers who openly fear and distrust each other.” Mr. Ernest Thurtle, Labour M.P. for Shoreditch, wrote in the Sunday Express (1/9/46): “Let me confess that I, along with other Labour candidates at the General Election, in stressing the importance of good relations with Russia, avowed confidently that a Labour Government would win the co-operation of the Soviet. We believed that. How wrong we were! ” Finally the News Chronicle (18/10/46) reports the following item from Washington, from the United Nations Organisation itself: “Sir John Boyd Orr, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, said here to-day that there was only a fifty-fifty chance of avoiding a third and disastrously final World War.” Thus the early operations of U.N.O. are anything but encouraging. In fact a fatalistic feeling is seeping into people’s minds that another war is inevitable; even Mr. Churchill is abandoning his flummery and returning to his anti-Russia bias, in spite of the fact that the United States, France, or some not yet obvious power, may be the next “aggressor.”
All over the world shipping lines, air lines, oil lines, spheres of influence and markets are subjects of bitter diplomatic strife between capitalists of leading and smaller countries. In these, circumstances can there be such a thing as a United Nations policy that will outlaw war? While the present organisation of society exists the answer is emphatically no, and the reason is not hard to understand as the impotent League of Nations bore witness.
The Basis of Wars.
Capitalism is a system whose roots are embedded in conflict. We have to face the fact that goods are produced to-day, under a Labour Government just as under a Conservative Government, for the sole purpose of profit; this profit is only realised when the goods are sold, and in order that they may be sold they must be marketed in competition with each other. Competition determines that goods shall be produced as cheaply as possible, and this in turn means that as much production as possible shall be extracted from the workers at as small a cost in wages as the workers are prepared to accept, which also includes obtaining raw materials from the cheapest source of supply. These conditions are the basis of wars. The hectic scramble for markets and sources of supply, as well as trade routes, culminates in war when threats and diplomatic jiggery pokery fail to give sections of the capitalists, in their internal strife, the sought-for supremacy in the limited markets of the world.
Work Hard For The Dole Queue.
The real object of the campaign for more production is to capture markets for the British capitalist, as well as increasing the profit obtained from the workers’ toil. When Mr. Eden spoke at the Metropolitan Music Hall on November 2nd, he put the capitalist outlook clearly: “We shall soon be exposed to international trade competition that may be even more serious than before the war. The sellers market will not last for ever. The only solution to these problems is to increase production per man-hour throughout British industry.” But will this solve any of the workers’ problems? In June, 1919, Sir Walter Runciman wrote in the Daily News (30/6/1919): “Now that peace is signed, the first necessity for the British Empire and for the world is to get trade going everywhere. . . . Only by a full stream of trade can the flow of goods between all peoples wipe out hunger, misery and unemployment, and probably anarchy.” The Labour Party then, as now, blindly swallowed the bait. Subsequently London was placarded with posters (some of you may remember them) displaying the faces of prominent members of the Labour Party with the phrase, in large letters, “PRODUCE MORE.” Two years later the inevitable happened; the markets were over-stocked, production slowed down, the workers had worked themselves out of jobs and “hunger, misery and unemployment” stalked the land. We have no hesitation in prophesying a similar result from the present campaign; it is a foregone conclusion. Not only will the export drive in itself help to saturate the market, but the exporting of plant and machinery will do what it has always done, help the capitalists of other lands to participate in the work of over-stocking the markets all the more rapidly. Capitalists are always exporting their own trade competition in this way, and, although they know it, the lure of profit is too much for them. When the struggle for markets has reached the peak of intensity the shadow of war becomes ominous; capitalists will not lose the privilege of reaping the results of the exploitation of workers without the resort to armed conflict, particularly as these same workers may be pursuaded to risk their lives in their masters’ battles. Terrible though the prospects of the last war were, the capitalist class of the world did not hesitate; in spite of the threat of rockets and atom bombs you may be assured that they will not hesitate next time, as the present concentration on large scale means of destruction makes clearly evident. The profit motive kills all human feelings and excuses the most fiendish brutality.
New Frauds For Old!
In 1919 the League of Nations was constituted with the avowed object of preventing war; now it is the United Nations. One of the provisions of the League was the necessity of unanimity before action could be taken; the same provision binds the action of the United Nations and the resulting futility has already been demonstrated, particularly by the actions of the Russian delegates. The United Nations has only the power of the governments that decide to hang together, and this decision is determined by the economic interests of the governments concerned; the League of Nations was in a similar position and fell to pieces when the unity dissolved into war. When different governments lined up in opposition, which neither League nor United Nations can prevent, the mighty edifice of the League collapsed like the house of cards it was. When the conflicting trade interests of capitalist sections reach a point where each is prepared to gamble on the outcome of war, all fine phrases about world unity are drowned in vituperating the other fellow for pulling the trigger. The Labour Party issued a leaflet (“The Citizen”) in September, 1933, on the back of which they said: “At this period of unrest the Labour Party affirms its unshaken belief in the policy of arbitration and in the machinery of the League of Nations.” Now, in spite of the catastrophe that overtook the world in 1939, they are backing a similar sham solution for war to the joy of the exploiters of labour.
The Only Solution.
There is only one solution to the problem of war, removal of its cause. War arises out of the private property basis of capitalism, which drives capitalist sections into conflict over the disposal of the wealth produced by the worker. This conflict will only disappear when the workers of the world take possession of the means of production and distribute products freely wherever they are needed. Then there will not be markets to fight for because buying and selling will have been abolished. Socialism is the only solution to the problem of war in the modern world.