1960s >> 1962 >> no-700-december-1962

The Conflict that is Capitalism

So the crisis is over—for the time being! The Soviets have climbed down over Cuba and have withdrawn their missiles from that unhappy island. Everyone is sighing with relief and no doubt President Kennedy is congratulating himself on the success of his tough line. The press generally acclaimed him as the saviour of the peace, although it has been suggested in one journal at least, that there was no real Russian intention to fight over Cuba because the U.S.S.R. was just not ready for a shooting war yet. Russia, it seems, has run away to fight again another day.

Just what day, when and where, none can say—least of all the various opposing governments themselves. It is one of the terrifying aspects of the whole ghastly business that at the most we can only guess where the next trouble spot will be, and whether that will then trigger an explosion which will blow the world sky-high. Look back over the years since 1945. Berlin, Korea, Suez, Hungary, Lebanon, Formosa—the monster of war can rear its ugly head any place at any time and this is not to mention the smaller in-between conflicts such as Indo-China and Algeria.

Cuba has simmered down for a while and maybe will move out of the headlines altogether, as the major capitalist powers find their attention diverted elsewhere. Who amongst us anyway would have risked a wager even six months ago that Castro’s Land would be the focal point in a crisis which edged the capitalist world perilously close to another horror?

And now there is India’s fight with China. This again is in a part of the world which has only recently become big news, as Capitalist China pushes her borders outwards in pursuit of her expansionist aims. She has been squabbling for some time over certain slices of Indian border territory and negotiations have dragged wearily on, but force is the final arbiter in the clash of opposing interests, as we have pointed out on many occasions.

The Indian affair highlights perhaps the most tragic irony of all, that of poverty stricken workers literally running to join the Indian Army in defence of their masters’ interests and in ignorance of their own. No need for conscription, said Mr. Nehru; his government could take its pick from millions of volunteers. But ignorance is not something peculiar to Indian or Chinese workers, or people in “backward” countries alone. It is a failing common to workers the world over, even though many of them may not join the army quite so enthusiastically as their Indian brothers.

Yet sooner or later ignorance will have to yield to the growth of Socialist knowledge and the realisation that war is not just a nasty accident but has its roots in the private property basis of modern society. It is an ever present menace so long as capitalism survives. The sordid squabbles over markets, trade routes and other considerations, give way eventually to armed conflict, but no working class interest is involved, and no social problem is solved by fighting. When each war is over, all that can be said is that countless workers have died to preserve the conditions for another holocaust later on. Someone once said that the next war really begins where the last one ends. We could not agree more.

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