From the December 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard
Debate Between Socialist Party and Tories 'Is Britain Worth Dying for?'
Halloween was a suitably grim evening for a debate at Cardiff University between the Socialist Party and the prospective Tory candidate for Cardiff Central, David Melding, on the topic: “Is Britain Worth Dying For?”
As an exposition of how the economic conflicts of capitalism and the boss class are the true cause of war and death on an ever-increasing scale and of the socialist alternative to this sick system, even this was extremely useful. The fact that when the ruling class and governments of rival territories fall out over markets, raw materials, trade routes and the like and can’t or won’t compromise, it is the working class who are marched off to kill each other in their own oppressors’ interests was once again held up for all to see. This debate led to important related issues rising to the surface.
One was the idea put forward by our Conservative opponent that some states are worth dying for (today’s Britain, of course!) and some aren’t (Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia). This “good state-bad state” argument missed the point that all states are more or less oppressive The state will always protect the interest of the ruling class who control it against working-class interests. States are as oppressive as their controllers feel they need to be. This can even be seen in “liberal” Britain, for example during the last great miners’ strike, when state violence was openly used to smash workers’ resistance. There are no “good” states because the state is a creation that is set up and maintained by the rulers, against the ruled. Needless to say, in socialism the state would not and could not exist in any form.
What was also brought out was the sheer human tragedy caused when states and the ruling class unleash their killing machines. That is, people from one part of the world are expected to kill people from another, whom they have never met. These people will be much like themselves, their families, and friends. That this sick idea is seen as normal and acceptable by all the parties of capitalism, “left” and “right”, shows just what a bloody and anti-human system we are slaving under.
No government, however, will admit that such institutionalised mass murder is carried out in the name of profit, but then who would expect anything like the truth from any politician? Wars always falsely dressed up as clashes of ideology or “good against evil”, which brings us back to the Cardiff Tory’s claim that some states are somehow “morally” superior to others and thus represent something it is worth dying (and killing) for.
This view of the world (faithfully upheld by the media) would have us believe that the Gulf War was about defending Kuwait and Saudi Arabia’s fantastic “democracy” and “freedom” from the Forces of Evil (armed previously by Britain and the US, among others) rather than a punch-up over oil resources. It would also have us imagine the Second World Slaughter was a battle for liberty. That World War Two ended with the delivery of millions of East Europeans into the clutches of the red fascists of Soviet Russia shows just how interested the great powers really were in “freedom” and “democracy”.
Wars are always fought over the economic and strategic interests of the various sections of the world’s ruling class. Fighting our brothers and sisters from other “countries” is totally against our interests as members of the working class; our rulers’ quarrels are not worth one drop of blood.
As for the millions who have been pointlessly slaughtered in wars and the millions who are dying now, the best way we can remember them is to get rid of the capitalist system that killed them and will keep on killing and replace it with world socialism, where the nightmares of wars, states, money and oppression will, at long last, have disappeared forever.