Monday, October 22, 2007

On the brink

In an earlier posting titled 'Che's nuclear winter or a Socialist Summer?' reference was made to the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. This was just one of many such crises that year. You do not need to be a Socialist to realise that war or the threat of war is endemic to the capitalist system. This is true today as it was, for example, forty five (or ninety) years ago. Similarly, what we said then about war remains valid:

"...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 only really begins where the last one ends. We could not agree more." (Socialist Standard, December 1962)

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