Cross-posted from the SPGB election blog, Vaux Populi
The recent drilling for oil near the Falklands has re-ignited the dispute between British capitalism and Argentine capitalism over which has legitimate sovereignty over the islands, a dispute which led to war in 1982.
At that time Michael Foot was the Leader of the Labour Party. He wholeheartedly support the war. This was how the May 1982 Socialist Standard reported the pro-war speech he delivered in the House of Commons on 30 March:
Of course the real star of the Labour benches was Michael Foot. Belying his reputation as a doddering, ineffectual bungler, the Labour leader lashed the government for their "betrayal of those who looked to it for protection" (he was not talking about workers struggling to live on social security). "We should not," he raged, "see foul, brutal aggression successful in our world." (He was not attacking the record of past Labour governments on Korea, Malaysia, Biafra, Vietnam . ..) Foot's speech was applauded by the MPs as a flag-waving, drum banging demand for war in which, of course, he would not personally be in the front line. It was, we remember, only a few months ago that he won an affectionate ovation at a Labour Party gathering by describing himself as "as inveterate peacemonger".
The League for the Fifth International (along with the other Trotskyist groups) also supported the war, but the other side. They, as they recall in a press statement issued today, supported General Galtieri sending thousands of Argentine conscripts to their death:
In 1982 Workers Power opposed Thatcher’s bloody war, and on the streets of London took a clear and unequivocal position for the defeat of Britain and the victory of Argentina.
They weren't personally going to be in the front line either.
We in the Socialist Party adopted the traditional socialist position:
THE FALKLANDS CRISIS
In face of the imminent threat of war over the potential wealth of the Falkland Islands the Socialist Party of Great Britain affirms:
1 That despite the wave of jingoistic hysteria in the press and its endorsement by Labour and Tory politicians alike, no working class interests in Britain, Argentina or the Falklands themselves can be served by war.
2 That neither the military junta in Buenos Aires nor the elected representatives of British capitalism, least of all the business interests of Coalite-Charringtons, can justify the shedding of a single drop of working class blood.
3 That the new-found outrage at the undemocratic and oppressive nature of the Argentine regime rings false coming from a government which was arming that regime until the eve of hostilities.
4 That the crucial role of Argentine capitalism in profitably making-up the notorious shortfall of agricultural production within the Russian Empire goes far to explain the support given to the junta by the local "Communist Party" and the muted criticism of it by the same circles who so vociferously denounce the similar dictatorship in Chile and its parallel suppression of trade unionism anc free speech.
We therefore reiterate that having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow-workers of all lands the expression of goodwill and socialist fraternity and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism in all its guises and the establishment of socialism throughout the world, the only way to end war.
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 13 April 1982