“The Only War We Want”

The editor of the Glasgow Forward (June 14th, 1952), in a front-page article with the above title stated that forty human beings are born every minute, condemned, if they reach adult life, to face, with two-thirds of their fellow men, “an existence oppressed by poverty, racked by disease and blinded by ignorance.”

“Yet,” continued Mr. Morgan Thomson. “in a privileged corner of the earth’s surface like Britain, we find socialists worried over the question, ’Where do we go from here?’ We have removed in our own small community the most glaring inequalities between man and man, and we feel sometimes that we have removed the very conditions which gave Socialism its drive. What next?
“Surely the answer is to make the British people aware that the next round in the battle against poverty has to be fought internationally, that there are privileged and under-privileged nations, and that the socialist principles which have made a more just society in Britain should now be applied to wipe out the inequalities between the white and the coloured races of the world.”

Other members of the Labour Party don’t agree with Mr. Thomson about conditions in Britain. Mr. S. Silverman, M.P. for Nelson and Colne, said, at the Labour Party Conference of 1950, “There are hundreds of thousands of workers whose wages make a bitter mockery of our claim that we are providing fair shares.” (Daily Herald, 4/10/50.) And Mr. J. Griffiths, Colonial Secretary in the last Labour Government, also said at the same conference, “the ownership of wealth has by no means been adequately shared out. Far too much of the nation’s wealth is owned by too few people.” (Daily Herald, 4/10/50.)

Dr. Campion, in his book “Public and Private Property,” showed that in 1946-7 one per cent of the population owned fifty per cent, of the wealth. (The Economist, 24/2/51.)

In another of the “privileged nations,” the United States, a Senate sub-committee set up to investigate the problems of lower income families found that about 10 million families had incomes insufficient to provide an adequate diet (Glasgow Forward, 6/10/51.)

Some members of the Labour Party even claim that the extreme poverty in individually backward countries may be the cause of war. In fact, the Labour Party entitled the chapter dealing with their plans for the development of these areas in “Facts and Figures for Socialists, 1951,” “Peace through Plenty.” It seems to be forgotten that the major wars of the past were fought between the industrially advanced countries7

The Labour Party, in their policy for the development of backward areas, the “World Plan for Mutual Aid,” express the interests of the British capitalist class. British capitalists depend on the Commonwealth and the colonies for markets for their goods and as sources for raw materials, therefore, must strive for friendly relations with these and other rising capitalist countries where the vital sea and air links which connect Britain with her markets are situated.

But the good will of some sections of the British capitalist class doesn’t stretch to investing their money in these countries. They fear that elements in the native community, imbued with nationalist ideas, may gain power, and confiscate their investments, without giving them adequate compensation.

And the Labour Party, by comparing working-class conditions in the advanced capitalist countries With conditions in the more backward, draws attention away from the position of the workers in the “privileged nations,” what they receive in relation to what they produce, the way they live and the way they could live if their present productive capacity was used to the full.

These plans, consisting of loans and technical aid to backward areas, which the Labour Party want coordinated into a world plan for mutual aid, just mean developing Capitalism in those countries, reproducing the conditions which exist in the more advanced capitalist countries. No doubt the development of Capitalism in these under-developed areas will get rid of quite a lot of the disease, and much of the ignorance. Modern Capitalism requires a working class reasonably healthy and with some education.

Owing to the traditional standard of living in the backward countries working class requirements are very low. Again the British Labour movement gives support to working-class organisations in these countries that are struggling to improve conditions not because it is in the interest of the working class to do so, but claim that in these countries the capitalist class can compete successfully with the British capitalist class because of the low wages of these native workers.

Investing money in the form of loans to these less developed countries, means using it to employ workers at a wage sufficient to buy what it takes to keep them, and at most this would mean a wage and social services just enough to provide the necessary education and state of health called for by modern capitalist production. What the workers produce over and above what they receive enables the investors to live in the greatest comfort and also to carry on the productive process which keeps them in their privileged position based upon the exploitation of the working class.

There are no privileged nations and unprivileged nations as far as the working class are concerned just a privileged class, the capitalist class, who own the means of living, and an exploited class, the working class, which can only gain access to the means of living by selling their capacity to work. The Labour Party’s “World Plan for Mutual Aid” would not alter this basic condition but would perpetuate it.

The task facing the socialist is, nationally, to build up an organisation with the object of abolishing capitalism, and establishing socialism, and, internationally, to spread socialist knowledge to the workers in the more backward countries which would induce them not to waste their energies supporting rising nationalist movements, miscalled “Socialist” or “Communist,” but would compel them to expend these energies setting up a Socialist Party which could collaborate with its companion parties throughout the world in bringing to an end the system which gives rise to their problems.

J. T.

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