50 Years Ago: Shall Germany Re-arm?

An argument used by Labour Party and other opponents of German re-armament is that the Germans have caused two world wars, are a militarist nation and cannot be trusted. In other words that the Germans are an “inferior race” by comparison with all or some of the others.

In the controversy each national group can state what, in its own estimation, is an unanswerable case. As each group maintains that is own armaments are purely defensive, and as each can provide ample evidence of fiendish barbarities used by other Powers in war, this is easy. All war is bestial and no nation has a record much less horrifying than any other. The whole argumentation is bedevilled by a blank inability to recognise why capitalism needs arms and why wars occur. The capitalist-minded patriots of all countries denounce the methods used by the others but fail to recognise that they are pursuing the same objectives in the same way. They all seek to control sources of raw materials, seek to invade new markets, and seek strategic bases to protect their territories and trade routes. But each and every one regards its own activities as necessary, lawful and legitimate, and for those who accept capitalism and seek to perpetuate it so they all are. Given a capitalist world Russian attempts to dominate the Dardanelles or seize North Persian oil (as in 1946) have just as much necessity and legitimacy as the British hold on Suez or Abadan or the American control of Panama or oil resources in the Middle East. It is the law of the jungle.

Not recognising this, those who argue superficially about war being caused by American, Russian, British or German aims of world domination allow themselves to be deluded into the belief that aggression is an inherent characteristic of one particular nation or is the outcome of some ideology. It is only necessary to glance at the present trouble spots of the world to see how remote this is from the truth. Is it “ideology” that sets Egyptian capitalism against British at Suez, Russian against Turkish in the Dardanelles, French against Indonesian, Argentine against British over control of territories in the Antarctic, America against Russia in Europe, the Pacific and elsewhere, Israel against the Arab States, India against Pakistan over Kashmir, British against African in Kenya? The list could be enormously extended and the explanation in all cases is that capitalism is by its nature a competitive, expansionist system breeding rivalry, hatred and war. There is no way out of this terrifying threat of continuing wars except by abolishing capitalism and establishing world socialism in its place.

(From editorial, Socialist Standard, April 1954)

Leave a Reply