1980s >> 1986 >> no-984-august-1986

50 Years Ago: Socialists and War

The workers then should throw their weight against war. What does this mean in practice? As the working class have not yet placed themselves in control of the machinery of government, but continue at each election to place the capitalists in control, the latter are in a position to decide when, where and why the armed forces shall be set in motion, and also the amount and nature of the armed forces. The question the capitalists have to consider when deciding whether or not to wage war over any particular international conflict is the probable consequences to themselves. These include the military probabilities, personal danger (from air-raids, etc ), and also the effect war will have on the workers. If the working class, or any large body of them, are hostile to the war the capitalists have to consider how to overcome that hostility and what will be the result if they should fail to do so. To the extent that the workers in any country are alive to their interests and opposed to war the capitalists will be inclined to make some concession to the enemy government, rather than face war. A majority of workers will, however, never be in favour of peace against capitalist wishes while they (the workers) are prepared to support capitalist government, because they will always be ready to accept capitalist reasons for waging a particular war.

[From Socialists and War, Socialist Standard, August 1936. ]