The Anti-War World Peace Party 2/3

“The nature of military warfare is determined by the class directing it. An army fighting in defence of a bourgeois state, even if it should be anti-fascist, is an army in the service of capitalism…War between a fascist state and an anti-fascist state is not a revolutionary class war. The proletariat’s intervention on one side is an indication that it has already been defeated.” – The anarchist writer, Agustin Guillamon

The World Socialist Movement (WSM) has consistently strived to have its message heard and continues to struggle to gain an attentive audience. What many of our critics can’t stand about the WSM is that we do not advocate violence and therefore cannot offer a programme of action based on it. We are just not excitingly active enough for them and thus we are labelled as sterile or “theoretical” (this being a term of abuse, naturally).

But we are not pacifists and indeed do countenance using force if it was absolutely necessary to defend the democratic will of a socialist majority. We simply argue that it is quite possible and highly desirable for a large majority to establish socialism without bloodshed. The more violence is involved, the more likely the revolution is to fail. Although we are not pacifists we say there is no such thing as a “just” war.

Pacifists are in the position of accepting the present social system which necessarily breeds bitter rivalries and of thinking at the same time that these rivalries can be settled by amicable discussion at the council table. Wars are inevitable if normally only used as a last resort when a state’s “vital interest” cannot be reconciled any other way.

 War produces inhumanity. To assert to the contrary is to pander to the tastes of the bellicose apologists with their glorification of war and their whitewashing of atrocities of their own armies.

Our opposition is distinct from that held by pacifists who possess a belief that when a majority of people reject war then wars will cease. We think this is false. Pacifists are as prone as anyone to fall for war propaganda and die for their masters. The weakness of the anti-war movement is that the majority want nothing more than a return to capitalist “peace” rather than the overthrow of the system that causes war. Socialists do not object to the war on moral or religious grounds but on class ones.

What is never to happen again does in fact happen. Wars break out over and over again. To some, war is the heroic defence of the motherland or fatherland but to socialists it is anathema. There is only one thing that can be said for certain about wars is that they are never fought in the interest of those who die in them. 

The socialist case against war is unique but logical, arising from an analysis of capitalism and our opposition to it. The capitalist class tries to solve this antagonism between powers by diplomatic measures or the turning of the screw by the more powerful on the weaker. But if this fails then war can be the outcome and even in this age of nuclear annihilation the threat of war still dominates the foreign policies of in particular the major powers. So the socialist opposition to war is the inescapable conclusion of our general case. For a more detailed analysis of our attitude to war, there is no better reading than the pamphlet ”The Socialist Party and War”.

No member of the World Socialist Movement joins the armed forces, since we are not prepared to kill and be killed for “Flag and Country”. The armed forces exist to defend the interests of the ruling class of whichever country they serve. To do this, their members must be prepared to kill, wound, maim and torture, under the orders of their commanding officers. And soldiers don’t just kill: they also die in the interests of a class of parasites. Learning to be a good soldier involves unquestioning acceptance of orders and mind-destroying drills intended to inculcate discipline and obedience. The humanity of soldiers and their victims are both dismembered by war and their training that prepares them for war. The experiences of the old in a long-ago war are not that different from those the young are experiencing right now. The technology moves on but the physical and emotional effects on human beings remain terrifyingly similar. Very few people join the army with a view to killing others. There may exist conscription or they join because of disadvantaged reasons.

No matter what the real or alleged atrocities of the “bad” side, however, wars are quarrels over control of territory, trade routes or access to resources. The working class can have no interest in such matters. The result of a “just” war is the same as a “bad” war — we suffer the consequences. The only “worthwhile” war is the class war—the war against war.

Faced with capitalist barbarity and cynicism the World Socialist Movement places on record our abhorrence of all war and call upon workers everywhere to unite to bring the war-prone capitalist system to a speedy end. Sadly, it is the inaction and complacency of the working class that enables such horrendous injustices to go on. The WSM has warned of the dangers of political apathy, of trusting in leaders, of accepting all that governments say without question. Our fellow workers’ inaction is an important element in our continuing exploitation, for the master class see in it our consent for their excesses.

The World Socialist Movement’s position and the workers’ real interest calls for not merely anti-war, but anti-capitalism. The true anti-war movement, rather than an anti-onlythis-war movement, is the movement to replace the war-generating capitalist system with socialism. Until the workers cease to respond to the call of false nationalist sentiment they will remain what they are – wage slaves in peace, cannon fodder in war.

Imagine when the workers, soldiers included, want an end to capitalism and have a good idea of the sort of society that will replace it – the day when the capitalist class will become generals without an army. We do not demand people to love one another but rather we appeal to the workers to recognise their common class interest and to organise consciously and politically to gain the political power necessary to dispossess the owning class – to strip them of their right to own the means of life. What we advocate is a war on war to be waged on the battlefield of ideas.

The only war that needs to concern us is the class war between the parasites who possess and the people who produce, over the ownership and control of the Earth’s resources.