Tuesday, February 25, 2014


“Workers of all lands unite in peace and cut one another’s throats in war!”

Back in American Civil War, it was summed up in these words: "A poor man's fight and a rich man's war."

There is a lot of truth in that. You never see war profiteers in the infantry. The workers do the fighting and dying; the bosses grow rich. More than any other group, the working class suffers from war; and only the working class, in all its strength, can win the fight for peace. During the First World War, the Socialist Party of Great Britain understood the necessity of peace to permit the growth of socialist ideas. Our opposition to war continued, consistently and permanently, for in this opposition alone is there any hope of the abolition of war. Ours was a social cause. We were engaged in a real war - the class war. It was not simply a matter of our conscience but the principles that there was a greater struggle going on between the oppressed and the oppressor. In this struggle the international solidarity of our class was of vital importance. All peoples were equally the victims of this war, for all peoples had the war forced upon them by the ruling class. These peoples must strike internationally against war and against those who make war. It is only in revolutionary struggle against the capitalists of every country, and only in union with the working women and men of the whole world, that we will achieve a new and brighter future - the socialist brotherhood of the workers. The Socialist Party opposed all who have forgotten the great working-class precept of unity, of solidarity among the workers of every country. 

It was incumbent upon the Party to do what it could to stop the war and the slaughter. 

In February 1915 we declared once again “that there was nothing in the conditions of any country which justified Socialists voluntarily supporting either side in the war, and record our condemnation of such action as a betrayal of Socialist principles arising from lack of political knowledge and unsound political organisation.”

A month later the March issue of the Socialist Standard carried a declaration by the Bolshevik  Litvinoff on behalf of the the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party condemning the pro-war “socialists,” explaining that The German and Austrian Social-Democrats are committing a great crime against Socialism when, after the example of the bourgeoisie they hypocritically assert that the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs are carrying on the war of liberation ‘against Tsarism.’ But those are committing a crime no less stupendous who assert that Tsarism is becoming democratised and civilized, who are passing over in silence the fact that Tsarism is strangling and ruining unhappy Galicia just as the German Kaiser is strangling and ruining Belgium”

Latr in the midst of the war the September 1915 Socialist Standard approvingly published a reprint of Rosa Luxemburg’s article on ‘Rebuliding the International’ where she states so clearly that “The moment Socialists cease to oppose war they become, by the stern logic of events, its supporters.”

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