Thursday, July 11, 2019

Letter: The Socialist Attitude Towards War in General (1940)

Letter to the Editors from the January 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

A correspondent (J. M. W., Dennistoun, Glasgow) asks the following question:—
  “What is the attitude of the S.P.G.B., to all war, not to the last war or this war, but all war?”
We can say of a particular war that nothing can come out of it for Socialism or democracy, or for the workers, justifying the suffering and other consequences of war, but our correspondent here wants us to go further than that. To do so involves taking into account the nature of modern war and its widespread consequences, and trying to envisage situations that are likely to arise. Our general answer would be that, as we do not hold that the political backwardness of a large part of the population can be removed, or the consequences of that backwardness avoided, by war (including civil war), we cannot envisage circumstances arising which would justify Socialist support for war. To avoid misunderstanding we would add that this does not affect the question of suppressing a possible minority rebellion when Socialists have democratically gained control of the machinery of Government, including the armed forces. As such control will not take place until the great mass of the workers are no longer supporters of capitalism, it follows that any such rebellion could only be that of a small minority.
Ed. Comm.

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