Once again European cities are being bombed.
Once again displaced persons are on the move. This has never ceased to be the fate of people in Africa and Asia but one of the claims of Western capitalism was that it had at least established peace and prosperity in Europe.
Once again full-scale war has returned to Europe.
Once again the illusion that permanent peace and prosperity is possible under capitalism has been shattered.
Once again the socialist assertion that nationalism can never serve the interests of the working class is being attested to daily amidst the horrors of the war in Ukraine.
The simple fact is that worker is butchering worker – for the privilege of rearranging capitalist state borders. Needless to say, in this as in all wars it is the working class who suffer most. They do the fighting and the dying and it is their lives and homes that count for most of the “collateral damage” whether or not they swallow the nationalist filth of their leaders. This war is not the result of ancient hatreds or peculiar Slavic mentality, they are the result of capitalism and can therefore happen anywhere in the world, even here. Even by the barbaric standards of contemporary capitalism, the situation in Ukraine is dire.
We in the Socialist Party place on record our complete abhorrence with regard to the plight of our class brothers and sisters in Ukraine and have no equivocation in denouncing the murderous gangsters who have blood on their hands. The Russian missile strikes on Ukraine are aimed not just at direct military targets but at the industrial infrastructure of power stations, fuel depots, factories, chemical plants, roads, railways and bridges which serve civilian purposes as well as supplying the Ukrainian military machine. All this represents the destruction of useful wealth. As socialists have always said, war means social regression.
Wars are inevitable under capitalism because of the economic competition between states that is built in to it, but is normally only a last resort when a state’s “vital interest” is involved. Governments are little more than the executives of their respective master classes and in the cut-throat world of capitalist competition they must be seen to be promoting their profit-oriented interests, and to hell with the cost of life. In other words, this war is no different from any of the wars that have taken place in modern times. It’s a business war.
Capitalism is driven by the competitive struggle for profits between corporations and states. Conflict, economic, political and, as a last resort, the military is built-in to capitalism over sources of raw materials, investment outlets, markets, trade routes, and strategic points to control and protect these. When a state judges that its “vital interest” is threatened – e.g. needing to secure access to a key raw material, trade route or military outpost-it goes to war. The USA and the UK did this when they invaded Iraq in 2003 and Russia is doing this now by invading Ukraine.
Capitalism breeds war, though most people would prefer to live in peace. Consequently, massive propaganda exercises are employed by the state to stoke their fears and anxieties that stem from material poverty and insecurity. Invariably they also endeavour to present it as being in some way humanitarian. This is because people have a healthy horror of war. They know war means death and destruction. Death not only of the soldiers on both sides, but also of women, children and old people as “collateral damage” – who make up many of the casualties of modern war – and destruction not only of military installations and hardware but also of bridges, roads, power stations, ports, hospitals and other socially-useful installations.
Many people’s gut reaction is simply that war is crazy. Socialists share this anti-war sentiment. It is one of the reasons why we are real socialists, advocates of a united world community without frontiers based on all the Earth’s resources, natural and industrial, becoming the common heritage of all humanity and being used to satisfy people’s needs instead of for profit. We have concluded that capitalism means war and that therefore to get rid of wars and the threat of wars and the constant preparation for war represented by maintaining armed forces-you have got to get rid of capitalism.
That voices are raised against the war, millions of voices shows that there is hope. That workers – whose experience of life stems from using their energies and talents to cooperatively solve problems and achieve goals; who realise the potential for mutual dependence and support; who enjoy some security of life won through the class struggle – are determined to oppose the war shows that opposition to war has its basis in material reality rather than mere moral condemnation.
War is completely unnecessary. We are living in a world that has enough resources to provide plenty for all, eliminate world poverty, ignorance and disease, to provide adequate and comfortable life for everyone on the planet. Yet under capitalism resources are squandered on armaments, of the individual as well as of mass destruction, and, as now, in actual war. Even in times of peace-as the armed truce between wars is called capitalism's pursuit of profit pollutes and plunders the planet and upsets the balance of nature with potentially devastating consequences. The economic law “no profit, no production” applies implacably, resulting in millions dying of hunger and related diseases every year simply because it is not profitable to produce the food to feed them and, in fact, often while the food that could feed them is destroyed so as to maintain prices and profits.
As we have announced several times in the past, if we are to prevent the 21st century from becoming a more violent re-run of the 20th, that witnessed two world wars, the first use of nuclear weapons and many hundreds of smaller conflicts—all in the name of profit—it is essential we, the victims, the cannon fodder, the class that has the biggest price to pay to satisfy the whims of the mighty, begin to organise now, not tomorrow and nor in years to come when the air-raid sirens are screaming. We as a class have suffered too much and have too much to lose to leave decisions regarding the future of our planet in the hands of a group of arrogant, conceited and profit-crazed individuals. Let’s really organise to take their power away, before it is too late.