June 1935 issue of the Socialist Standard
The statesmen of Europe are in high feather just now, travelling thousands of miles and engaging in pow-wows, dinners, and triumphal tours that delight the hearts of politicians. And it is all being done in a good cause. Over and over again they point out that they are determined to secure peace, perpetual peace.
Capitalist interests may be what they will, but all representatives are agreed on peace—in principle. That is why they are engaging in such a terrific armament race. Building numerous fast and powerful bombing 'planes. Concluding pacts of mutual support in case of attack. Staging aeroplane attacks on towns and teaching the citizens the art of dodging gas attacks. No expense is grudged in convincing all and sundry of their peaceful intentions.
In the bad old days it was customary to show peaceful intentions by going forth armed with an olive branch. In these enlightened days such things simply are not done. A fleet of aeroplanes armed with several tons of explosive are considered more convincing evidence of a fundamental desire for peace in principle.
The capitalists assert they are too poor to pay workers a wage that will ensure a comfortable existence. Now surely this seems strange when wealth to the value of thousands of millions of pounds is used up providing battleships, tanks, 'planes, guns and the men to man and use them, and the people to minister to these armies of men. And more extraordinary still, all this wealth is simply wasted because none of the powers that be have warlike intentions—at least in principle!
If a recent report is true, and not just a game of bluff, the bulk of what has been spent on armaments in pursuit of peace has been simply thrown away; it has produced just colossal white elephants.
The Evening News for May 15th says that a new defensive weapon is reported to have been perfected by a scientist in Bavaria. It consists of a wireless ray of long range and great penetrating power, which can put out of action aeroplanes, tanks and armoured cars. Properly handled, an invisible barrier of rays could be constructed along a frontier which would stop all invading aircraft.
If the report is true the pursuit of peace will change its course and there will be plenty of material for the scrapheap.
In the meantime, however, perhaps workers will awake to the silliness of it all. Peace is only pursued so ferociously because capitalist private property interests have to be served. If there are no capitalists’ interests there will be nothing to go to war over. The only way to secure this is to make the means of production the common possession of all. Then we will have peace in fact as well as in principle, and many more human arms and brains to lighten the labour of producing enough to enable all to live comfortably.