Saturday, March 26, 2016

No More War? (1934)

Editorial from the September 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard

Twenty years ago a war commenced of a nature more devastating than any that had occurred before. So great was the feeling of horror aroused by the carnage and the barbarities committed at the time that there was general assurance that “never again” would such a thing happen—and ever since the governments have been preparing for even worse wars. At present, in Europe and the East, nations are watching each other on the verge of flying at each other’s throats, moved by economic motives similar to those which set guns belching death and destruction in those old unhappy years.

Already nations are preparing the ground of justification by measures to stir up feelings of patriotism and the rankling spirit of wrongs that require righting, Armies, navies and air fleets are being overhauled and increased, and scientists are hard at work devising means of defence and means of destruction.

The hollow farce of the League of Nations still plays its expensive and idle part in the game. One of its principal supporters, Viscount Cecil, speaking at Windermere on August 11th, said that "No one could feel security for peace at present. Every day new disturbances arose, rumours of war got about, and countries were preparing for the worst.” (The Observer, August 12th, 1934.)

A week or two ago a huge Italian army was on the borders of Austria fully equipped to launch into war should affairs in Austria take a turn that militated against the economic interests of Italian capitalists. At the moment of writing, Russia and Japan are on the brink of conflict over the Chinese Eastern Railway. Incidentally, the diplomats of the different countries are hard at work arranging pacts for mutual aid in the event of a war breaking out.

One fact appears fairly clear, and that is that the art of the chemist will play a considerable part in another big war. According to Lord Hailsham, it would be impossible to provide adequate defence against gas attacks. The horrors of the last war may therefore appear as pleasant memories compared with the horrors of the next. The very fact that in face of this there are large groups quite ready to engage in war is a fearful illustration of the urge of profit-seeking in modern civilisation. The underlying causes of war are the efforts to further business, buying and selling, with the object of making profit and thereby enriching those who have invested capital in various enterprises, including the making of engines of war.

The way to prevent war is not by engaging in anti-war campaigns. These are quite useless, because they leave the causes of war untouched. The only preventative is to take away the urge to war; take away the profit motive. While private ownership of the means of existence remains, the making of profit is the object of the private owners. Abolish private ownership and substitute for it common ownership in the means of production and the profit motive disappears, taking with it the seeds of war, both internal and external.

Socialism is the only means to defeat the warmongers.



Hong Kong hand-over (1985)

From the March 1985 issue of the Socialist Standard

In September last year the British and Chinese governments signed a Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong, which provided for China to resume control from 1 July 1997. This was the culmination of two years of hard bargaining over the spoils of a sordid nineteenth-century imperialist expansion, which also reveals not a little about twentieth-century capitalism.

Hong Kong Island became a British possession in 1842. In the eighteen-thirties, the Western nations had discovered that there was a vast market for opium in China, and that exporting this would offset the balance of trade, which was very much in China's favour. The massive outflow of silver which resulted prompted the Chinese imperial government to seek to put an end to the opium trade. The British merchants, in particular, resisted and were able to put pressure on their government to send a large fleet out to the South China coast to maintain trading activity. The Chinese armed forces were hopelessly outgunned, and in 1842 the Treaty of Nanjing was signed. The Chinese government paid a huge indemnity, had to open five ports to foreign trade, and ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain in perpetuity. The war itself is known as the Opium War. which gives a fair indication of the high ideals for which it was fought.

Still the rapacity of the British capitalists and their government was not satisfied. More wars and treaties extracted further trading and territorial concessions from China. In 1860, the lower part of the Kowloon Peninsula, and another small island, were ceded permanently to Britain. In 1898, the New Territories, the mainly rural area between Kowloon and the present China-Hong Kong border, were leased to Britain rent-free for ninety-nine years. British capitalism now had an important commercial and shipping base in the Far East.

Hong Kong's economic boom really began in earnest in the early nineteen-fifties. The Chinese "Communist" Party's take-over led to the flight of many capitalists — from Shanghai, especially — to Hong Kong, bringing with them capital which was used to set up textile, construction and shipping businesses. Less wealthy refugees from China provided an ample pool of cheap labour power. Despite its small size, Hong Kong is now a major force in world trade with British, American and local Hong Kong capitalists owning most of its industrial and financial enterprises.

It was this business community which, from around 1980, began to put pressure on the Hong Kong government to find out from China, through Britain, what was likely to happen after 1997. Although the existing treaties stipulate that only the New Territories are to revert to China on that date, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon could simply not survive on their own (Kowloon, for instance, would then have no access to water or electric power). Unless the situation were somehow resolved before 1997, the Hong Kong economy would gradually decline.

This would certainly not be in the interests of China s rulers. Just after the signing of the Joint Declaration. China's Premier Zhao Ziyang said:
a stable and prosperous Hong Kong is beneficial to China's reunification and our modernisation drive, while a turbulent and economically depressed Hong Kong is not in her longterm interest.
China is in fact a major economic force in Hong Kong, owning thirteen banks, a shipping line and countless other companies. In addition, Hong Kong is pretty much a captive market for Chinese produce, foodstuffs especially. In 1982 China was the largest exporter to Hong Kong and enjoyed a trade surplus with the colony of 30 billion Hong Kong dollars. Hong Kong is now becoming increasingly important as a supplier of technology and managerial know-how to China. In the last century, it may have been a small far-off spot of no particular interest to the rulers in Peking, but this is emphatically not the case today:
  Viewed at the most basic level. Hong Kong is a mechanism whereby China converts its home-grown foodstuffs and low-cost consumer goods into hard currency to finance its deficit in trade with Japan, the United States and other countries.
   Since foreign trade accounts for less than 10 per cent of China's GNP. Hong Kong's function might not seem vital. But in fact China uses imports to close crucial gaps in her industrial technology, domestic grain supplies and rare metals.
(David Bonavia, Hong Kong 1997.)
China, then, has an interest in reassuring the present economic overlords of Hong Kong.

It was this background which led to the China-Britain talks about Hong Kong's future. Both sides indulged in the usual pious nonsense, with China claiming that the Hong Kong people desired "reunification with the motherland", while Britain claimed to be representing the same people of Hong Kong. Never mind that many of Hong Kong's inhabitants are refugees who have fled from China, or that Hong Kong has no representative institutions or democratic elections.

The Hong Kong capitalist class would apparently have preferred Britain to have maintained an official presence after 1997, but this is not envisaged by the Joint Declaration. However, China has agreed to maintain Hong Kong's economic system and "lifestyle" unchanged for a further fifty years after that date. As part of China, Hong Kong will form a Special Administrative Region which means, for instance, that taxes collected in Hong Kong will be disposed of there, rather than handed over to the central government. It will remain an international financial centre and free port, with the Hong Kong dollar still being the legal currency. It seems that these and similar provisions will suffice to convince the property-owners of Hong Kong that they will do very nicely both before and after 1997.

China is thus openly committed to maintaining capitalism in Hong Kong until 2047. Its ideologues have attempted to justify this with the slogan "one country, two systems", which means that capitalism and socialism can exist alongside each other. As they point out, capitalist enterprises owned by overseas companies already exist in China, so Hong Kong will not really introduce anything new to the situation. In fact, there is no socialism in China: China is part of the world capitalist system. There is no way in which socialism (common ownership and production for use) can exist alongside capitalism (class monopoly and production for profit).

The Joint Declaration, then, is an agreement between capitalist powers, designed to ensure the smooth continuation of exploitation in a small part of the earth's surface. The exploited — the working people of Hong Kong — have had no say in these talks about their future. The British government has now dreamed up a new form of nationality. British National (Overseas), to cope with them — they will have British passports, but no special rights to settle in Britain. So the poor are manipulated while the rich cream off the profits.
Paul Bennett

Between the Lines: Forbidden moments (1991)

The Between the Lines column from the May 1991 issue of the Socialist Standard

FORBIDDEN MOMENTS
Under capitalism the best things are forbidden. Access to the best things in life are denied to most of us because of lack of money. Other things are removed from us by the forbidding state. News and information, plays and films, jokes and songs: any of these images of life can be censored if they are considered liable to disturb the passivity of the wage slaves' minds. The Banned season on Channel Four has shown a number of programmes previously censored for TV audiences and has produced some first class discussion on the theme of censorship in its many forms. It has been a revealing few weeks of TV. Pathetic little voyeurs, hoping for a bit of naked flesh in their living rooms, will have been disappointed by the Banned season; the majority of censored TV is denied to viewers on grounds that to show it would be politically insensitive. The ruling class can live happily with the daily Page Three, but when it comes to exposing scrutiny of its precious, oppressive values it is time to pull the plugs.

The Truth About Lies (C4, 9pm, Monday, 8 April) offered a valuable survey of how the British ruling class has used censorship to keep workers in the dark. It documented how the BBC was used to attack the 1926 strikers, to serve as an appendage to military propaganda in the Second World War, to ban numerous programmes about the Army's current operations in Ireland, and to prevent life and death information — such as the coming of US Cruise missiles to British soil — from being communicated to the public. The liars who rule Britain came across as very scared people. They are afraid that the workers might see too much of what they are up to. They forbid speech on certain mailers because they know that they could not win the argument if they discussed them openly. In short, they confirm the socialist claim that when the working class understand what is going on in society it will be an explosively and unstoppably potent force.

John Pilger's excellent Frontline - The Search For Truth In Wartime (C4, 8pm, Saturday, 13 April) presented a survey of how TV coverage has been used to drive the millions into the frenzy of war fever. Pilger, whose own journalistic standards are in marked contrast to most of his cringeing, knee-bending colleagues, showed how war reporters, from Vietnam to the Gulf, have simply served the propaganda needs of the militarists who gave them the briefings.

News is not the only victim of the censors. Numerous films and plays have been censored from TV audiences. For years The War Game, which was commissioned by the BBC, was banned from being shown on the grounds that it depicted loo realistically what the effects of a nuclear bomb would be. In the late 1970s the BBC commissioned a play on the legalised brutality of the borstal system: the play Scum, was banned from being shown to us until it appeared in the Banned season (C4. 10.30pm. Sunday, 14 April). Even comedy has been the victim of the censor. No TV station would show Monty Python's Life of Brian (C4, 10.30pm, Tuesday, 16 April) and in several British cities local government outlawed the showing of the film which superbly sends up the myths of Christianity. Only Joking? (C4, 11pm, Friday, 12 April) was about comedy and the limits of "public taste". To be sure, there are lots of comedians, notably in the current US "comedy of hate" vogue, whose unfunny racist rambling! can appeal to to those with Sun-reader mentalities. The documentary showed a performance by a racist creep called The Dice Man whose New Year's Eve show in the USA attracted an audience of 17 million cable viewers. But who needs the state to tell us what is unacceptably unfunny? If we are unamused by Bernard Manning or Gerry Sadowitz, then we need not watch them. The price of any kind of free speech is that you cannot set up a dogma called Good Taste and then ban those who transgress it. The alternative price to be paid was well illustrated in two documentaries about Christian bigots and their efforts to "clean up" (for which read censor) TV output: Damned in the USA (C4. 10.30pm, Sunday, 14 April) and Dancing With the Devil (C4, 11pm, Friday, 19 April). When the superbly produced Thirtysomething showed a scene with two male lovers in bed together fifteen major advertisers pulled their money out of the network making the programme, resulting in millions of lost dollars as a result of the homophobic bigotry of a handful of rich marketing directors. Under capitalism it is these people who decide what is good for us to see.

Socialists oppose censorship. Ironically, C4's Banned season was itself censored: in the hitherto unshown Mother Ireland the voice of the IRA woman shot by the British troops in Gibraltar had to be dubbed over by an actress lest we be contaminated by her authentic voice; a Yugoslav film-documentary about Wilhelm Reich had to be changed so that the male genitals in it could not be seen by the highly-corruptible late-night audience.

A more significant irony was that C4 did not once in its season give any consideration to the ultimate ban which it seems to find quite compatible with its own liberal values: the ban on serious TV exposure to those ideas which are considered "way out" or "utopian". In short, the ban which we socialists have experienced when trying to obtain more than a two-minute chance to explain our ideas on Channel Four. Perhaps now is a good lime for the C4 gang to ask where they draw the line. And why. And who might lose their jobs if the boundaries were redrawn.


THE LONGER VIEW
You can never be depressed in the company of a geologist. Why hasn't socialism been established after all these years? After all what years? Clive James interviewed Stephen Jay Gould, the eminent and very worth reading Harvard palaeontologist (BBC2, 6pm, Sunday, 7 April). "What would happen if a nuclear holocaust destroyed the whale of human life?" asked James. It has happened before, responded Gould — in fact, there have been three wipe-outs of life over the past 260 million years. "We'd just have to wait a few million years and it would all start again" replied Gould. And the struggle for socialism is hardly a century old. Come to think of it, when they banned The Life of Brian less than twenty years ago the censor probably thought that it would never ever be shown - the fools.
Steve Coleman

Sick as Parrots (1982)

The Briefing Column from the March 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

While the collapse of Laker Airways may have hogged the headlines, media attention was also devoted to the near-collapse of a far less well patronised institution, Bristol City Football Club. For the “national game”, taught by Britain to all those foreigners who are now so good at it, is in a state of crisis. Several clubs are on the brink of going under, losing money boot over foot and struggling with large overdrafts and interest payments. Even the larger clubs are having to tighten their belts.

The short-term reason for the crisis is clearly the current economic situation. As registered unemployment tops the three million mark, short-time working increases, and real wages fall, workers have less and less money to spend on leisure activities. Even enthusiastic supporters may decide that there are better things to do with their hard-earned wages than stand in the rain for two hours waiting for a piece of skill that would merit being an edited highlight. Spectator sports are always sensitive to the ups and downs of the economy, and cannot avoid the effects of booms and slumps, whether local or national. Look at the locations of the clubs which have been forced out of the Football League in recent years Workington, Gateshead, Barrow—and replaced by the likes of Peterborough.

There are longer-term factors too, though. In the last thirty years, the number of spectators each season has been halved (it’s now just under twenty million). It is significant that the largest drop has been for games outside the First Division, from twenty-three million in 1951 to eleven million in 1981. Whereas even reserve games once attracted crowds numbered in thousands rather than hundreds, now only the best can expect sizeable audiences, and even certain First Division crowds are down to the ten thousand level.

When faced with rival leisure activities, football has failed to compete. Other spectator sports —basketball, for instance — have gained in popularity while football has declined. Television enables one to watch football at weekends without the hassle and expense of getting to the ground, getting crushed and soaked, and running the risk of involvement in a fight. Even the daring experiment of three points for a win has failed to make the footballing package more alluring. Success in the World Cup may give the game a temporary boost—as happened in 1966—but that success is unlikely, and in any case would hardly alter the long-term picture.

If attendances cannot be increased easily, so that (sponsorship apart) income will at best remain stable, clubs will have to reduce their expenditure to survive. And the main possibility for this is a wholesale change to part-time footballers, as are found outside the Football League and in many Scottish League clubs. This has not yet been actively proposed, but it’s surely on the cards. Players of Third and Fourth Division clubs will resist this, in the realisation that it will mean a drop in living standards, and that they will have trouble finding jobs outside football. Most, of course, are unskilled in anything beyond ball-trapping and dummy-selling. The footballing equivalent of short-time working will be part-time playing, with another full-time job or full-time unemployment. What effect this arrangement would have on the quality of football remains to be seen.

Of course, it might not happen. The recession might suddenly end, workers might suddenly find lots of spare cash in their pockets, the missing millions might return to the terraces. But that’s not the way things work. The present recession will end in time, but the long-term decline of football as a spectator sport is unlikely to be reversed even then. Of course, unexpected things might happen; while we're on the subject of fairy stories, England or Scotland might even win the World Cup.
Paul Bennett

A Matter of Definition (1948)

From the June 1948 issue of the Socialist Standard

A great obstacle standing in the way of the spread of socialist propaganda is the term Socialism. In 1892 a Parisian political paper, Le Figaro, published over 600 definitions. In 1924 a Labour Councillor, Dan Griffiths, compiled and edited a book called “What is Socialism,” which had 263 definitions; most of them different. The definitions were by prominent Labour leaders. According to them, Socialism is a science, a religion, an attitude, a process, a way of living, a demand, an atmosphere, a name, a faith, “sunlight opposed to darkness," “the navigation of social current by the liberated soul of man," etc. In recent years Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Churchill with his “ We’re all socialists, now," have played their part in adding to the confusion.

There would appear to he some ground for the statement often expressed that everyone has their own idea what socialism means. But the absurdity of the attitude implied in that statement, if it were applied to everyday affairs, is clearly shown in the schoolboy conundrum: “What is the difference between an elephant and a postage stamp?" “ I don’t know!" “I wouldn’t like to send you for a postage stamp."

The obstacle can’t be overcome by using another term. Obviously that would make “confusion worse confounded." Therefore the only solution is some clear thinking regarding the term itself.

We think in words. To think effectively we must have clear definite meanings for the word we use. For this purpose, the knowledge how to form a definition i6 helpful and can be found in any textbook on logic. It should be remembered that definitions are provisional but they are useful guides to understanding. The three most important terms used in forming a definition are—first, the genus, the class to which the object being defined belongs, for example, man is an animal. The second term is the difference, any essential characteristic distinguishing the object being defined from all other objects in the class. In our example, man is a tool-making animal. The third term, property, is any quality arising from the essential characteristic, as in the example, upright posture and co-ordination of hand and brain are qualities suggested by the essential characteristic, tool-making. The formula used by logicians in definition is the genus and the difference and it should be the difference bringing out the most interesting properties.

Applying this formula to the present form of society we find the essential difference between the present form and past forms is. that the capitalist class own the means of living and consequently the working class are propertyless—a free but exploited class. Interesting properties arising from this difference are, the division of society into two classes, the wages system, production of commodities—articles produced for sale—and general use of money. Therefore the definition given in the first of the eight principles of the Socialist Party of Great Britain that capitalism “is based upon the ownership of the means of living (i.e., land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone all wealth is produced ” more than fulfils the requirements of the formula.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain maintains that as the enslavement of the working class follows from the ownership of the means of living by the capitalist class the interests of the working class can only be served by the establishment of socialism. A system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interests of the whole community. Here again we have the genus and the difference bringing out the most interesting properties; classless, as all will have free access to the means of living; wageless, as it won’t be necessary for any section of society to sell their labour power in.order to live; moneyless, as money arises only to facilitate exchange between private owners; commodityless, as articles will be produced for the use of all and not for sale.
J. Trotman

Profitably Modified Food (1999)

From the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard
Research to improve food supplies and nutritional quality is worthwhile, but under capitalism its findings are distorted in the interests of profit.
Genetically modified crops of maize and soya were first introduced, in the United States, in 1983 and proved cheaper to grow and gave higher yields. Both are used extensively in the growing market for readymade meals and are attractive to multinational companies; soya is used in about 60 percent of processed foods. Agribusinesses have invested in GM crops on a large-scale: last year about 7.7 million hectares were used for growing them.
Although it seems an advantage to have GM crops that are resistant to pests, cross-pollination could lead to the development of "super weeds" that are difficult to eradicate, endangering future food supplies. There is the danger that producing crops that insects will not eat will lead to their extinction and that birds and other small animals that feed on them will be imperilled. However, the real danger under capitalism comes from the development of a gene that produces sterile seeds.
The profit gene
Normally cereal farmers save a part of the grain produced in one year so it can be sown and harvested in subsequent years. But in March 1998 the United States Department of Agriculture, jointly with Delta and Pine Land Co, patented the "Terminator" technique which introduces a "transgene" into plants. The crops are harvested normally, but the germ of the grain is biologically sterile and seeds have to be purchased each year. In May 1998, Monsanto acquired Delta and Pine Land Co, and is patenting the "Terminator" gene in 87 countries and negotiating exclusive rights with the United States Department of Agriculture (Guardian, 22 February). This modification of crops is not designed to feed the hungry, but to increase profits. Indeed, the sale of grain that cannot be harvested again is likely to decrease food supplies amongst the very poor if they cannot afford further supplies. At the moment 80 percent grown in developing countries are from seeds saved from one season to the next.

Faced with growing resistance to GM food, Monsanto adopted the advertising slogan "Food-Health—Hope", claiming that the attempt by the European Union to stop their use was preventing them ending hunger in underdeveloped countries. But the sale of crops which are sterile will enslave the world's poorest farmers to multinational agribusinesses.
Also, genetically-modified seeds can be patented whether or not they are sterile. Monsanto has advertised in farming journals in the USA, threatening farmers with legal action if they save "Biotech", a GM seed which is not sterile, for planting the following year or if they sell surplus grain to their neighbours. Thus, Monsanto is creating a monopoly of the supply of its patented foodstuffs.
The British government has set aside more than £15 million to encourage biotechnology firms to expand in Britain; Monsanto received part of a £1.5 million incentive to expand investment in Scotland (Independent on Sunday, 14 February).
About 500 sites in Britain are used for the experimental growing of GM crops although none is used for commercially grown food. Tony Blair has said that he would have no hesitation in eating GM food. Blair's assurance is coloured by the government's commitment to fund research, and the fear that British farmers could become uncompetitive if GM crops are produced more cheaply abroad than food grown by traditional methods.
There may be other reasons too. Lord Sainsbury is a major contributor to the Labour Party, reported to have donated £3 million to New Labour (Times, 26 January). He was ennobled by Tony Blair in 1997. Until 1997, Lord Sainsbury was chairman of Sainsbury's supermarket chain. His position as the Minister of Science is seen as a conflict of interest as Sainsbury's supermarkets use GM ingredients or derivatives in 1,500 of its own brand products. In addition, Diatech which has exclusive rights to the "genetic switch" used to boost the effectiveness of GM crops. Lord Sainsbury relinquished control of the firm when he joined the government, but still profits from the invention. He also has links with Dupont UK and Zeneca plc, engaged in researching and producing genetic material. New varieties of GM wheat will be promoted through a British company called Plant Biosciences. One of its directors, Dr Roger Freeman, is a director of the Sainsbury Laboratory and of Diatech. The John Innes Centre has a "research alliance" with Dupont UK and Zeneca plc. It is grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council whose funding is decided by Lord Sainsbury (Daily Mail, 17 February).
There is a growing resistance to GM foods; the Vegetarian Society has withdrawn its logo from foods believed to contain genetically modified material because they may have been tested on animals and a number of councils have withdrawn GM foods from schools because of parental concern. Thirty environmental groups have demanded a five-year moratorium on planting GM crops. This, together with widespread public concern, and Marks and Spencer's announcement that they will not stock any brands of GM food has forced Agricultural Minister, Jeff Rooker to announce the postponement of planting modified crops until Autumn 2000. The government is also trying to allay public fears by soon making it compulsory to label all GM products. As yet, the government's attempts to placate public opinion have failed; there have been too many food scandals and misleading information in recent years for politicians to be credible.
Research to improve food supplies and nutritional quality is worthwhile, but the manipulation of food for profit, such as Monsanto's "terminator gene", is an indictment of capitalism. Such an abuse of scientific knowledge would simply be inconceivable in a socialist society geared to meeting needs. What would be the point of modifying a crop so that its seeds were sterile? Only capitalism could think up such a project, let alone implement it.
Carl Pinel

Imperialism lives (1980)

Editorial from the March 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard

“Imperialism is dead. Long live Imperialism!” So might the world powers of capitalism proclaim, if ever a blush of honesty were to tinge their self-righteous propaganda.

Imperialism may be dead, in the sense that there are now no longer great empires flung across the globe, ruled over from some European capital. The very word is now something of a jibe, redolent as it is of the Victorian conquerors who first crushed, then patronised, the unhappy peoples of Africa, India, the Far East . . . Whatever excesses of invasion, repression, pillage or murder are committed now—many of them outdoing the most savage acts of Victorian capitalism—they are no longer characterised as imperialist.

For example, this applies to the American occupation of Vietnam and to what they did to the people there—and to the people of Thailand and Cambodia. That, we were told, was not imperialism; the American troops were there as saviours of the Vietnamese people, even if they had to kill them in the process.

The Russians used the same justification for their crushing of the Dubcek government in Czechoslovakia in 1968; their tanks rolled into Prague, they said, to rescue the Czech people from the ravages of a “counter revolution”. And they make the same claim for their intervention in Afghanistan where, they assert, they have merely responded to a cry for help.

In fact the name given to such outrages matters not one jot. Neither is it significant, in terms of working class interests, that such conquests may no longer result in the establishment of a colony directly under foreign rule but rather in a puppet government, trying to run the country on instructions from Moscow or Washington. These things do not matter to the workers who die in the conquests, who are maimed or made homeless, whose lives are shattered.

What is important is to understand that such conflicts are an inseparable part of capitalism. For this is a society where wealth is produced for sale and profit, with a ruling class whose interests are in the capture and the protection of markets, fields of mineral wealth, sources of raw materials, access to cheap primary products. Capitalism is a society of competition, both within its states and internationally.

This is the root cause of expansionism, imperialism—whatever name it goes under-and of modern war. It is the reason for the build up of massive armed forces and of the unimaginably destructive power at their command. It is the driving force behind the expansionist ambitions of powers like Nazi Germany, Japan, Russia and states already in possession, as once was British capitalism. 

It was the driving force behind the imperialism of Victorian Britain, of Germany at the turn of the century, of the Belgians under Leopold II. And it energises the imperialism of the 1980s—the Americans in the Far East, Russia towards the Persian Gulf, China against India . . . Imperialism, if dead, will live for as long as capitalism survives.

And as long as imperialism lives so too will the opposition to it—the nationalist “liberation” movements, which often develop into armed guerrilla struggles against the colonial occupying power. This has been the recent history of many states in Africa and the Far East, of Cyprus, Aden and so on.
Such struggles attract a lot of support, much of it infused with a blind hysteria, among workers who arc convinced that their interests arc served in replacing one set of rulers and exploiters by another. That this is a delusion is apparent from the experience of those countries which have had their “independence” for a long time-Australia, India, Canada. But it is a powerful delusion, which still deceives the people in places like Africa, where “independence” has often brought repression, mass imprisonment and murder under a native ruling class.

Socialists do not stand aside from the struggles of nationalism. These struggles are a potent force for the delusion of workers, for the promotion of divisive, anti-working class theories, for the diversion from the essential object of the establishment of socialism. So we cannot stand aside from them; we must expose their basic fallacy, we must be undyingly hostile to them and we must strive to replace their theories with the idea of the united, co-operative world of socialism.

We stand for a society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution. In this society wealth will be produced for use instead of for profit; it will be freely available to everyone instead of for sale to those who can afford it. It will be a society in which all human beings will be together in the single aim of making life as abundant, free and pleasurable as possible. There will be one people, working together for one object.

In socialism the national divisions of capitalism-and the wars, the repressions, the cynicism—will fade into a black history. They will be components in human experience, the agony which the world’s people have endured to learn that a better society was possible and necessary. From the experience and the learning will come the free world—peaceful, fertile, abundant and united.