Editorial: Patriots Without Countries
Among the more disturbing and threatening features of the Falklands crisis has been the way in which it has been bolstered by a mass of patriotic nonsense. So intense has this been, that to stand out against it has been something of an act of courage – and this in a country whose government claimed to be fighting for human liberty. So receptive have British workers been to the nonsense that at one stage it might have been feared that they would swallow any deception provided it came from “their” side. It was reminiscent of the lurid deceptions about atrocities committed by German troops at the beginning of World War One – of babies tossed onto Prussian bayonets, of buckets-full of eyes torn from Belgian heads.
Patriotism is not supportable with fact and reason but by deception and prejudice. That is why it is so quickly inflates into mob frenzy, bullying and repression. In the case of the Falklands, workers were told that the British forces were sent out to protect the 1,800 Islanders. In the light of history of the ruthless, instant repression and murder of millions of people by the governments of capitalism, when it suited their interests to do so, this sudden concern for the fate of the Falklanders is a sick joke. It needs very little thought to dismiss it as a cruel deception which will cost many working class lives and much suffering.
The Falklands struggle is actually a dispute over the possession and exploitation of mineral resources, trading routes, the political pressures in states under severe economic stress and the wider, long term strategic aims of the Argentine ruling class, which present a threat to an established power. Whatever the outcome of this struggle the lives of the mass of people in Argentina and Britain will not change. In other words their interests are not involved; their suffering and their deaths are contributions to the fortunes of their respective ruling class. This goes too for the people of the Falklands. The war is not worth a moment’s effort on the part of the working class, not the spilling of a single drop of their blood.
Workers have no interest in the Falklands because, in spite of the mouthings of politicians and media hacks, they have no country to fight for or to protect. Their “way of life” is the daily grind of exploitation, of producing surplus value to enrich their masters. Whatever Galtieri may say, Argentina is owned by its ruling class and not by the ordinary people who do all the work and some of whom have been sent to fight for the Falklands. However emotional Thatcher may wax, the fact is that Great Britain is owned by its capitalist class and not by the workers who, just as they run British capitalism, have manned the Task Force sent to recapture the Falklands.
All over the world, in every capitalist state, there are masses of people who depend for their living on the sale of their labour power. Internationally, these people have a common interest which is opposed to that of their ruling classes. The workers of Argentina have interests opposed to those of the class represented by Galtieri and the same goes in the case of the workers in Britain and the class represented by Thatcher and Foot.
This has been true for as long as there has been a society of two classes – for as long as capitalism has existed. In both world wars, for example, the workers who were fighting and killing each other were doing so in ignorance of their international common interests. Instead of firing at each other, they should have been extending the hand of fraternal greeting and unity.
For this to happen, it will first be necessary for the working class to come to an understanding of their social position under capitalism. They will need to understand that the roots of capitalism’s problems lie in the nature of that society and that those problems can be ended only by the abolition of capitalism. That understanding will arm workers throughout the world with the consciousness to move society, through democratic political revolution, into a fundamentally different phase.
This phase is called socialism. The end of capitalism must lead to its replacement by a social system based on the communal ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution. This society will be without classes and therefore will have a unity of human interests. People everywhere will co-operate in the production of goods and services and everyone will have free access to that wealth.
The unity of socialism will unleash, for the first time in history, the full powers of the human race. In one way or another, private property society has been a brake on these powers and at no time has this been more apparent than under capitalism, which has dramatically developed productive powers and then either held back or tragically misused them. One ready example of this misuse has been the fiendishly clever weaponry in use in the South Atlantic.
Socialism will be established by an international people who have seen through the divisive cynicism of patriotism. They will opt for common ownership and free access because they will be conscious that private property society produced poverty, war, famine, disease and a host of other equally desperate social ills. They will want to free human resources and abilities to produce the abundance of wealth of which we are capable. Socialism will achieve all of this; in stark contrast to patriotism, it will be the highest stage of human social organisation.