Friday, August 29, 2014

Writers and Society—4: Scott Fitzgerald

From the Writers and Society series published in the October-December 1956 issue of Forum

It is a convenient fact that American outlook in recent years, and consequently American Literature, can be divided fairly accurately into decades—the 'twenties, the 'thirties and the 'forties. After the first world war, the first period takes us to the financial crash and the depression, and the next lasts until the beginning of the second world war.

The 'twenties were remarkable years in American history, and the films, plays and books of the period bear convincing testimony of the post-war disillusionment, the denial of former moral values, and the gangsterism and political corruption of the time. It was an age of bitterness and frustration, but a frustration that was expressed, at least among the middle and upper classes, by wildness and irresponsibility. Hip flasks, cocktail parties, speakeasies, petting parties, flappers and jazz-mania were all aspects of this breakdown of pre-war values.

As far as literature is concerned, the most significant spokesman of the age was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who actually gave the period its name — "the Jazz Age." Fitzgerald himself was one of that class fresh from Princeton or Yale, who found themselves pushed into a war whose cause they were unable to appreciate. The war over, they found life unreal and purposeless. The sons of the rich families, or poorer boys infected by the easy money ideology, they had not time for the outmoded doctrines of Carnegie or Rockefeller exhorting them to "win wealth by hard work." The pace of life for them quickened until it became a crazy merry-go-round that crashed to the ground with the stock market in 1929.

Fitzgerald's earlier novels, "The Beautiful and Damned" and "The Far Side of Paradise," are skillful and often moving accounts of the emptiness and pointlessness into which these people's lives were channeled. They do show, on Fitzgerald's part, a struggle to express himself and also to express the frustration of his age. Although not a "social critic" in the direct sense, he became a far more important social critic in the sense that he accurately presented the lives of people in this situation, of whom he was one, and consequently made the greater impression. The first novel is an account of the childhood, schooling, and college days of one of these sons of the rich, and the second is almost a continuation, dealing with the lives of a young man a flapper, and their hardening by the conditions of the futile world they knew.

The focal point in Fitzgerald's career was "The Great Gatsby." Although some might argue that it is not his best novel, it is certainly the hub of his work. The early works look forward to it, and the latter ones seem to refer back to it. It is the story of an ambitious nobody, Jay Gatsby, who achieves his riches by racketeering, and becomes almost a legend in the display and extravagance of his parties and style of living. His tragedy is basically that of all the people around him-they have not what they want, and do not even know what it is they want.

The irony of the novel is that in spite of Gatsby's lavish hospitality and the enormous parties that he gives, he is almost completely friendless, and his funeral produces only two mourners—the one friend who tries to help Gatsby find his desires, and one out of the thousands of people who had taken Gatsby's hospitality.

The novel is much tighter in construction than the earlier works, and has a much more stimulating plot. The narrator is Gatsby's  friend, and, because it is the view of an outsider looking in, the tragedy is made the more intense.

This was a period when current psychological thought had a considerable effect on American, and other literature. Fitzgerald himself, although sufficiently interested in Freudian psychology to make extensive use of it in his novel "Tender Is The Night," never closely examined the background of the life of his characters, and never enquired into the basic motives and causes that gave rise to them. It could be said that this is the secret of Fitzgerald's success as a writer. He does no more than honestly and skillfully depict the lives of people as he knew them, and for this reason his characters and situations have far more conviction and applicability to life that the intentional propaganda works of writers such as Upton Sinclair and Jack London.

"Tender Is The Night," has been regarded by many literary critics as a failure, although Fitzgerald himself thought highly of it. In order to overcome what he considered to be the main flaws in construction, he revised the form of the novel in 1940, and it was subsequently published in this form (it is available in Penguins). The latter version certainly seems to have gained clarity and interest, but the basic faults remain, that is, the veering between an onlooker's view and the writer's omniscience, and a tendency to over-complicate the story by an unnecessary wealth of characters and incident.

This novel takes us from the world of flappers and speakeasies to the world of the older rich expatriates at play on the Riviera, and having their psychological problems sorted out at the clinics of Zurich. Even if it does not come up to Fitzgerald's intention of making it the best American novel of the century it certainly presents a superb and engrossing picture of the lives of these people.

Fitzgerald's last and unfinished work, "The Last Tycoon" (published in 1941 in a form edited by Edmund Wilson), reverts to the earlier successful method of "Gatsby" and the story is told through the eyes of Cecelia Brady, a daughter of a Hollywood producer. Here also, we have a story of tragic failure, this time of a "wonder-boy" producer of the order of Irving Thalberg. Many of the characters are recognizably real-life Hollywood titans, and the book represents the most convincing and authentic account of Hollywood in literature (with the possible exception of Nathanael West's satire, "The Day Of The Locust"). In possessing this authenticity, it becomes a damning indictment of the American film factory, and clearly indicates that the horrors of "The Big Knife" and "The Day Of The Locust" are no exaggerations.

Some of Fitzgerald's short stories, too, well repay attention. Many of them are trite and banal, and were produced not as a labour of love, but merely as a means to provide the wherewithal to pay for an extravagant existence. On the other hand, some of them are brilliantly contrived, and rank with the novels as examples of efficient and persuasive writing. "May Day" or "The Diamond As Big As The Ritz" are stories which favourably bear comparison with any American short story writing of the period. The best of the stories are published in a collection entitled "Borrowed Time."

As with many other novelists, much of Fitzgerald's work is plainly autobiographical. The first two novels are apparently based on his early life at Princeton and after, and even in his later works, the echoes of his own existence are apparent. Dick Diver's failure in "Tender Is The Night" is a reflection of Fitzgerald's own failure in life, and even the reference to Diver's publication of a "popular" work on psychology and the perennially unfinished treatise, seems to indicate a conscience troubled by the glib short stories that Fitzgerald turned out in order to raise easy money, at the expense of his serious work.

"The Last Tycoon" too, reflects Fitzgerald's own experiences in Hollywood. With regard to this part of his life, "The Disenchanted" by Budd Schulberg, is based on Scott Fitzgerald's experiences as a script writer, and is well worth reading as a novel, in addition to the light that it throws on Fitzgerald's life and Hollywood generally.

A competent biography of Fitzgerald—"The Other Side of Paradise" by Arthur Mizener, also makes interesting reading, and helps considerably in an appreciation of Fitzgerald's work, as does a collection of notes and observations entitles "The Crack-Up," which also gives an insight into the tragedy of Fitzgerald's last days. Fitzgerald's life, like those of his heroes, was a failure. Like so many of his contemporaries, he saw his age, tied to a thriving industrial and financial giant, come crashing down in 1929, and after this he never again really got to grips with the world. He suffered nervous breakdowns, mainly caused through heavy drinking, and eventually died in 1940.

So much then, for the work of an absorbing writer, who in the words of Frederick Hoffman in "The Modern Novel in America," was successful beyond all of his contemporaries in keeping his work free of the pretentious intellectual faking that has handicapped so much of American fiction since Norris and Dreiser." In spite of all his flaws, Fitzgerald sums up an age of capitalism in an entertaining and stimulating way, which is more than be said for nine-tenths of the so-called social historians.
Albert Ivimey

Drinking from the Skulls (2014)

The Pathfinders Column from the August 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard
On the centenary of the War that didn’t end all wars it was always inevitable that patriotic pundits would be parading across the small screen to explain why the Great War was necessary and why carping critics who say otherwise are plain wrong.
Historian Ian Morris went one better recently by arguing that war has in fact been good for us. Why? Because ‘war made states, and states made peace’ (New Scientist, 23 April).
Setting aside current ungentlemanly excesses in Ukraine, Gaza, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and other hotspots, Morris describes a historic trend away from war which, by a twist of circular reasoning, he attributes to war itself. So upbeat is he on the theme that he claims ‘war may be so good at delivering peace and wealth in the long run that it finally seems to be putting itself out of business.’
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s based on the Steven Pinker argument about the historic decline in violence (see the Socialist Standard special issue, November 2013), with the difference that it takes the neo-Hobbesian ‘ignoble savage’ thesis that humans must be ruled by strong states and adds a kind of teleological Pangloss to it.  It’s a bit like saying that rape and wife-beating forced societies to make laws protecting women, therefore rape and wife-beating were ultimately good for women.
There is never a shortage of right-wing loonies who, regarding any anti-war statement as pinko propaganda, will argue that war is good because it drives technology, as if we would never have invented the plough, the fridge or the space satellite if it weren’t for an inbuilt urge to murder each other. Morris isn’t that kind of loon, so in his own words, ‘what sort of person goes around saying that thousands of years of mass murder have had positive consequences?’ His answer is, somebody who looks at the evidence. Our answer is, somebody who needs to look a bit harder at the evidence.
For a historian, Morris is surprisingly vague about dates. Consider the statement that ‘the Stone Age, we now know, was a rough place’. The source this statement links to is a study of 350 skulls in Britain, of which a surprising number had been bashed in. He goes on to describe how, ten thousand years ago, with few behavioural restraints, homicides were therefore a regular fact of life. But which Stone Age is he talking about? Ten thousand years ago was the end of the Paleolithic period of hunting and gathering (HG), followed by the development of farming in the Neolithic. The skulls, however, date from between 4,000 and 3,200BC, meaning that whatever skull-bashing was going on, it was certainly going on in the post-HG Neolithic period, a fact made very obvious even in the title of the original article (‘Muggings were rife in New Stone Age’, New Scientist, 11 May 2006).
Why talk about violence in the HG period using evidence from the much later farming period? In order, surely, to support the Pinker argument that HG violence was at epidemic rates. Indeed, he goes on to claim that ‘by many estimates, 10 to 20 percent of all the people who lived in Stone Age societies died at the hands of other humans’.
This ‘appalling toll’ simply doesn’t make sense. Imagine a group of 30 HG individuals of whom half are male, and follow the common assumption that violence was almost exclusively between males. 10 to 20 percent means a death rate of between 3 and 6 males out of 15, year on year. What group could withstand this rate of loss? In 5 years at most the supply of males would be exhausted. Assuming female mortality is included, the situation gets even worse, because of the loss of breeding potential. Had we really behaved like this in the Paleolithic, we would have died out like the Neanderthals and the lately-discovered Denisovans.
But Morris presses on with his conviction that the life of hunters and gatherers was nasty, brutish and short, and states that ‘Ten thousand years ago, there were only about 6 million people on Earth. On average they lived about 30 years and supported themselves by hunting and gathering, on the equivalent of less than $2 per day in today's terms’. Leaving aside the silliness of giving HGs a dollar allowance as if they were in the same squalid situation of poverty as today’s ‘bottom billion’, the life-span estimate involves the ploy of using a mean instead of a modal average, thus taking no account of high rates of child mortality. On other estimates, Paleolithic humans who made it to age 15 had an average modal lifespan of 72 years (Gurven Kaplan paper).
Why is it so important to blacken the name of the Paleolithic in this way? Because if the longest period of human existence on the planet was in truth relatively peaceful and lacking in organised violence or warfare, as Marx and Engels thought and many anthropologists still think, then the Panglossian theme of Morris and Pinker is utterly undone. If there was no war in the Paleolithic, as the evidence in fact suggests, then there has not been a steady decline in violence from the dawn of humanity. Instead what happened is that farming and the invention of property society unleashed a holocaust upon a species which had known a million years of peace. If today this same property society has developed to the point where, as Morris hopes, it might be able to contain the problem of war, then it is only solving a problem it created in the first place.
But can it even do that? What’s stopping the next world war is that, given nuclear arsenals, the costs for any aggressor currently outweigh the gains. But that assumes all leaders are rational, which clearly some are not, and it also assumes the gains won’t increase, which clearly they will as states become ever more desperate in their competition over resources.
Ever since the fall of Soviet ‘communism’ there has been a Western feel-good factor among populations who grew up under the shadow of the bomb. Morris has tapped into this feeling that ‘the worst is over’ and is attempting to find a positive spin on a dark past. But the assumption of a continuing trend towards total peace is the same probability fallacy as the boom-time argument that there will never be another slump. In reality, there are wars all over the place, all of the time, and there’s no saying when a black swan event might crop up to send the world into a new abyss.
Marx, looking at the same history, didn’t simply cross his fingers and hope for the best, nor did he try to put a positive spin on the indefensible and obscene. Instead he said this: ‘When a great social revolution shall have mastered the results of the bourgeois epoch, the market of the world and the modern powers of production … then only will human progress cease to resemble that hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.’
Competition over property caused war in the Neolithic, and still does today. We are now in a historic position to abolish war by abolishing property and sharing the world. Meanwhile to give the state, built on mountains of skulls, the credit for abating the worst excesses of its own evil nature is like giving the psychopathic bully a peace prize for not beating us up more often.
Paddy Shannon

21st century Chavism (2011)

Book Review from the June 2011 issue of the Socialist Standard

Venezuela. Revolution as Spectacle by Rafael Izcategui, translated by Chaz Bufe, Sharp Press.

Rafael Izcategui, editor of El Libertario, Venezuela’s longest-running anarchist periodical (and on-line at www.nodo50.org/ellibertario), offers a Venezuelan anarchist’s critique of the Bolivarian government of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez in particular. There are many endnotes for those interested in seeking further information or corroboration but most of them are in Spanish although El Libertario does have an English language section.

Included is a brief review of the oil industry through the various regimes; an industry the development and management of which resulted in mass migration of populations to oil-producing regions, seeking better employment, depopulating the countryside, turning an agricultural exporting country into a major importing country in a short space of time and followed by all the knock-on social and economic effects. The petroleum industry was originally nationalised in 1976, long before Chavez came to power. Then came a reversal of this policy starting in 1992 which involved employing ‘mixed-enterprises’, i.e. foreign companies’ investments. The mixed-enterprise policy was continued and expanded with transnational companies when Chavez came to power in 1998, the country’s economy being highly dependent on oil and gas as the main sources of wealth.

Much of the author’s criticism of Chavez is with regard to the many contradictions between his rhetoric and his actions; a president as leader of a vanguard movement cannot equate to socialism; his anti-imperialist rhetoric against the US whilst attempting to build a bloc in the south to counteract it; his top-down decrees for new organisations rather than encouraging real initiatives from the base. According to Izcategui, Chavez is just one more in a string of populist leaders: it is a well-established concept in Latin American countries – the role of the military strongman, the cult of the macho man, politics as a matter of urgency or emergency – everything starting anew with each new individual in power. The first ‘Bolivarian’ government, that of the Democratic Action Party between 1945-8, following a military coup which ceded power to civilians, saw a ‘new social order’ seeking to be inclusive, democratic and not corrupt. This was ended by another military coup. The author contends that the current regime is just one more phase in a kind of circular politics.

In a chapter discussing various social movements he strongly questions Chavez’s rhetoric, about the people becoming the subject and object of the revolution, for this has to be a question of ownership. Autonomy cannot be imposed from above; people have to want it and work for it. This is a recurring theme, that Chavez is very much about imposing his ideas from the top, ideas which in many areas don’t match what social groups are seeking for themselves, and that there is a gulf between words and results, between ideas and realisation. For instance, the communal councils are directly linked to Chavez’s executive power, not routed through municipal or parochial councils, and have direct government funding for their projects – a way of garnering and maintaining their support?

There have been many demonstrations and riots incurring various levels of restraint in Venezuela’s history often resulting in efforts at redistribution of oil wealth. Some of Izcategui’s examples and people’s personal testimonies are an effort to show the outside world that nothing much has changed with Chavez, that this still is a nationalist state with a neoliberal capitalist economy that leaves many of the population sidelined. He selects two self-labelled anarchists for particular criticism because having an international following they should be especially aware of the need for objectivity; Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert. He views them both as too ready to take Chavez and his government spokespersons at face value without checking the voices at the base of the supposed revolution.

It seems that, in the end, ‘21st century socialism’ comes down to a self-named revolutionary government, manipulating by rhetoric and an illusion of resistance and social mobilisation, but in reality following a well-trodden path culminating in different forms of resistance and social struggle which then become criminalised and persecuted. (Statistics provided in the book.) A movement attempting to distance itself from US hegemony it may be; anti-imperialist but not anti-capitalist. If it is nothing else, this book demonstrates the fundamental requirement that for true socialism to take hold the most important consideration is for the overwhelming majority of the working class to be aware of the need to develop to the full their socialist understanding and consciousness. Socialism is the ongoing task of the majority; it cannot work top down; it cannot be imposed and cannot be legislated for by one or more leaders or vanguard movement, however well-intentioned. If populist, charismatic, paternalistic and concentrated in the most subordinate sectors, using anti-elitist discourse and redistributive methods in a dependent client context with the aim of constructing a base to gain the support of the popular sector – then a socialist revolution it is not. Beware of wearing rose-tinted glasses.
Janet Surman

The Economic Causes of the First World War (2014)

From the August 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard

Capitalism with its minority ownership of the means of production and distribution, and the resulting economic struggle for profit means the capitalist class has a motive for using armed forces in wars to protect its vested interests. All members of the capitalist class do not have identical interests in foreign trade and investment; there are divisions over free trade and tariffs. The policy of a government is dictated by which capitalist group is predominant at the time but the capitalist class as a whole has the same interest in defending itself and their privileged position based on their private ownership of the means of production and distribution against the working-class. They are all prepared to use armed force to maintain that position against the working-class.
Capitalism is the cause of the international rivalries that lead to war. When socialists say that capitalism is the source of wars we do not mean that wars are deliberately plotted by individual capitalists or groups for the purpose of making money. The capitalist system of society is rooted in conflict, and war is one of the products of that conflict. War is not an accidental interruption of the peaceful operation of capitalism but is inherent in the structure of the system itself, it is not the outcome of diplomatic stupidity or miscalculation, or of the arrogance and mistakes of statesmen. War is an extension of an underlying contest going on at all times. Governments in trying to handle the problems and antagonisms created by capitalism turn to war when other means fail. As Clausewitz wrote 'War is merely the continuation of policy by other means.'
In 1914 an explanation for the First World War was the defence of neutral Belgium but no mention was made on the Allied side of the atrocities in the Congo Free State which had been privately controlled by the King of Belgium. Here defenceless natives were maimed and slaughtered for profit, up to 8 million of the estimated 16 million native inhabitants died between 1885 and 1908. Native Congo labourers who failed to meet rubber collection quotas were often punished by having their hands cut off. The First World War was also blamed on the personality of the Kaiser or the acts of individuals such as the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip at Sarajevo. Professor Pigou in Political Economy of War, dismissed the Sarajevo incident as being the occasion not the cause of war. It was 'the match to the powder magazine. The real fundamental causes are those that lie behind the assembling of the powder.'
Economic competition between capitalist groups leads to the encroaching on the markets and resources of foreign rivals, and governments retaliate with tariffs, quotas, subsidies and other methods of excluding goods from the market. In the last resort the struggle leads to wars of conquest, the object of which is to acquire control over markets, or over territories rich in mineral and other resources and in an exploitable working-class. Marshal Foch, French military leader in the First World War wrote in 1918 of the commercial nature of the forces leading to war: ‘What do we all seek? New outlets for an ever-increasing commerce and for industries which, producing far more than they can consume or sell, are constantly hampered by an increasing competition. And then? Why! New areas for trade are cleared by cannon shot. Even the Stock Exchange, for reasons of interest, can cause armies to enter into campaign' (United Service Magazine, December 1918). Even Keynes in 1936 identified that 'competitive struggle for markets' is the predominant factor in 'the economic causes of war' (The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936). Capitalists who have money invested in some foreign territory will do their utmost to secure protection for their property through the activities – including in the last resort war – of their government. So it is capitalism itself which produces these conflicts over markets, trade routes, raw material which cause war. As we wrote in 1914, 'the capitalists of Europe have quarrelled over the question of the control of trade routes and the world’s markets.'
German competition
The origins of the First World War lay in the fact that the nineteenth century industrial, military and naval predominance of British and French capitalism was being challenged by the rapid expansion of Germany. As German industry grew, German production and exports were catching up with the British and the French. Germany was only unified in 1871 and its economic development had been rapid: in 1870 coal production was 40 million tons, in 1913 280 million tons (60 percent from the Ruhr but also from Lorraine, Silesia, and the Saar. Germany was developing modern industries such as the chemical and electrical industries, and in textiles by 1914 they exported more and imported less than Britain. The German annexation of the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine in 1871 linked Lorraine ore with Westphalian coal, and Germany’s pig-iron production jumped ahead of Britain's.


In Britain a Commission on the Depression of Trade Report of 1886 regarding German competition in world markets stated 'A reference to the reports from abroad will show that in every quarter of the world the perseverance and enterprise of the Germans are making themselves felt. In actual production of commodities we have now few, if any, advantages over them, and in a knowledge of the markets of the world, a desire to accommodate themselves to local tastes or idiosyncrasies, a determination to obtain a footing wherever they can and a tenacity in maintaining it, they appear to be gaining ground upon us.'

France had experienced a loss of prestige after defeat in 1870 by Germany, its pride was hurt by the loss of Alsace and Lorraine with its iron ore and coal mines. Thus France had an outstanding interest in reclaiming Alsace and Lorraine. Also the Saar with its wealth of coal deposits coupled with its location on the border between France and Germany meant the Saar was important. Historically, the Saar was a Prussian/German territory but in 1871 during the Franco-Prussian War the French attempted to seize it but failed.
Places in the sun
A major factor in capitalist rivalries was imperialism, particularly the 'scramble for Africa' and Germany's search for a 'place in the sun.' Germany had entered into the colonial scramble but they developed late and found all the best territories and strategic ocean highways already dominated by Britain, France and others. Britain had acquired most of its empire before 1870; Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and other parts of the globe were acquired to protect trade routes. The prime motivator for empire was trade, the East India Company drove the expansion of the British Empire in Asia. First came the missionary and the trader then the soldier and Governor with the flag.
Germany annexed Namibia, Togoland, Cameroon, and Tanganyika and made efforts to connect the south west colonies with the eastern colonies which threatened British expansion north from the Cape. German support for the Boers against Britain in mineral-rich South Africa antagonised the British. Dr Heinrich Schnee, formerly Governor of German East Africa wrote in 1936: 'The colonies offer an assured market for our own industrial produce; they afford a field of investment for the savings and capital of the Mother country.'
Colonies were necessary for investment, resources, raw materials, markets for manufacturers and raw materials not available or in short supply in metropolitan countries e.g. rubber in the Congo. The colonial markets became more important after Free Trade was abandoned in Europe in the 1870s. Joseph Chamberlain, British Secretary of State for the Colonies said in a speech to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce in 1890 that 'All the great Offices of State are occupied with commercial affairs. The Foreign Office and the Colonial Office are chiefly engaged in finding new markets and in defending old ones. The War Office and the Admiralty are mostly occupied in preparations for the defence of these markets and for the protection of our commerce' (Leonard Woolf, Empire and Commerce in Africa: A Study in Economic Imperialism, 1920).
Prior to 1914 German capitalism was rapidly encroaching on British and French markets, the international situation was intensely difficult with two basic problems: Alsace and Lorraine in the west and in the east the Balkans. The Serbian Pork War inflamed Serbian nationalism in Serbia and amongst Bosnian Serbs, and a Bosnian Serb would assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The Berlin-Baghdad Railway, which would link Germany to the oilfields in the Persian Gulf, putting it in striking distance of British oilfields in Persia, Russian oilfields in the Caucasus, and British India, was deemed a serious threat.
The German invasion of Belgium meant British capitalist interests were endangered directly by Germany becoming master of ports on the English Channel. Prime Minister, Asquith wrote on 2 August, 1914: 'It is against British interests that France should be wiped out as a Great Power. We cannot allow Germany to use the Channel as a hostile base. We have to prevent Belgium being utilised and absorbed by Germany.'
British War Aims Achieved
The British war aim in the First World War was to restrict German access to the Persian Gulf and the 1919 Versailles Peace Treaty accomplished everything that Britain and France wanted; Germany lost its colonies in Africa which became mandates of the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire was broken up and Britain received as mandates Mesopotamia and Palestine, and the French got back Alsace and Lorraine, and received the mandates of the Levant (Lebanon and Syria). The Saar Land became a mandate of Britain and France from 1920 to 1935, and after the Second World War the French got their hands on it again but only until 1956. Germany achieved one of its war aims albeit briefly: the March 1918 Brest Litovsk Treaty forced on the new Bolshevik government in Russia meant that Ukraine, 'the bread basket of Europe' with its fertile steppes of rich black soil and vast fields of wheat, gained 'independence' from Russia but was essentially an economic satellite of Germany.
The First World War did not start overnight through an assassin’s bullets at Sarajevo, it was the outcome of years of conflicting capitalist interests. After the war we wrote 'While competition between capitalist groups for routes, markets, and control of raw material exists, the cause of war remains.' We had even written as early as November, 1914: 'the facts point irresistibly to further great wars. They indicate that no sooner will the present struggle have ceased than diplomats will be at work forming new alliances.' And it was these alliances and the rivalries that were engendered by them that eventually led to the next world war in 1939.
Steve Clayton