From the Socialist Party of Great Britain website
Burgess Hill war veteran and former Socialist Party of Great Britain candidate Les Courtney this week warned young people not to be taken in by the “fake patriotism and glorification of war that the Government is trying to stir up” during what he said was “its celebration of the so-called ‘Great War’.”
Speaking after a lively public meeting held in the town on Remembrance Sunday, Mr Courtney pointed out that “Ordinary people do not want war and do not cause wars. Governments and the rich and powerful interests that support them start wars. But ordinary people of all countries could stop a new war if only they said: no we will not fight for you.”
Having served in North Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War and losing his brother, a Spitfire pilot, his experiences led Mr Courtney to become a Socialist. When Britain again went to war in the 1950’s, he refused to be called up to take part in “more senseless and ridiculous killings”, and was accepted as a ‘conscientious objector’.
Held to discuss ‘Lessons of the First World War’, the meeting heard speaker Steve Clayton remind his audience of the words of Harry Patch “the last fighting Tommy of WW1” who said: “War is a licence to go out and murder for the British government” and “isn't worth one life, it is the calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings.”
The meeting was told the scale and duration of the slaughter the war brought should have been no surprise as Frederick Engels warned in 1887 that “the only war left will be a world war, a world war moreover of an extent the violence hitherto unimagined” which would “strip Europe barer than a swarm of locusts. The depredations of the Thirty Years’ War compressed into three to four years and extended over the entire continent; famine, disease, the universal lapse into barbarism.”
Mr Clayton said The Socialist Party had opposed every war in its history and in August 1914 had warned the public that “there were no working class issues at stake in the war: rather, it was fought as a consequence of rivalry among capitalist powers for markets, trade routes, raw materials and politico-military influence.”
Rather it declared in its paper the ‘Socialist Standard’ in September 1914 that: “Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.”
Concluding his talk, Mr Clayton argued that “Socialism will mean the end of war. There will be no more trade routes, markets, property or profit to fight over. If everyone owns everything or, to put it another way, if nobody owns anything, then there is nothing to fight over. With production for use, to meet human needs, the era of real peace will have arrived.”
Earlier this year the Socialist Party of Great Britain stood its first candidates for Sussex in the European elections, when Les Courtney joined Howard Pilott from Lewes on the Party’s list.
For more information: contact www.worldsocialism.org/spgb or phone 0207 622 3811.