Source: Militant, no. 24 (March 1967)
Transcription: Francesco 2009
Proofread: Fred 2009
Markup: Manuel 2009
The struggle to make the Labour government oppose the Vietnam colonial war of American imperialism will be one of the main themes of the annual Easter march of the CND [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament]. However, the war itself is a demonstration of the fact that when imperialism considers its interests threatened it will take the most ruthless measures. Napalm, chemicals, poison gas and the equivalent of dum dum bullets in a new rifle, which tears holes in the bodies of people which the bullet penetrates, have been used. On the Vietnam War alone the American government is spending more than £10,000,000,000—more than five times the entire arms budget of Britain. American imperialism is “defending democracy” thousands of miles from her shores against the “aggression” of “communism.” In fact the brunt of the fighting has to be borne by American units because of the opposition of the bulk of the people of South Vietnam and their support of the guerrilla fighters.
Arms expenditure of all the great powers continues to mount, while the greater part of their scientific research is devoted to finding new and improved methods of destruction and extermination. All this is for “defence.”
From the point of view of “logic” and “reason” the waste of the resources of the peoples is utter insanity. But it is the logic of capitalism and the class structure of society. It is the defence of the interests, privileges and income of the capitalist class. In Russia and China, though capitalism has been abolished, the ruling cliques defend the vested interests of the millions of officials who dominate in these states.
In the colonial countries, poverty stricken as they are, there is the same stratification of society. Thus in all the countries of the world there are social and political contradictions. It is because of this that since the end of the bloodiest war in history, the Second World War, there has not been a single year without a terrible war taking place, against the colonial peoples; the Korean war in which China and America were involved, and the short wars between China and India, and the recent struggle between India and Pakistan.
Despite the agitation of the CND, nuclear weapons have spread to France and China. Other powers are threatening to produce these terrible weapons. But only the super-powers of dictatorial Russia and capitalist America have the power of “overkill” of H Bomb weapons and means for their delivery which have sufficient capacity to destroy humanity many times over.
Even a “conventional” world war, with modern means of destruction could mean the annihilation of civilisation; American imperialism practically flattened Korea and is now destroying villages and towns in Vietnam with its bombing raids. The cities of the world would be destroyed in a conflict which would mean the wiping out of the main technological centres of the world. But world war would inevitably turn into nuclear war. All means of destruction would inevitably come into play in this event.
What then can prevent the outbreak of Armageddon and the destruction of humanity? What must the comrades in CND do to help change the course of human history to make such a catastrophe impossible? The fight for the banning and destruction of nuclear weapons is a worthy cause. The demonstrations, leaflets and other means of publicity can help to gain interest and support for the idea. That of course is what CND has been doing.
But that is not sufficient to solve or explain the problem to the working class and the people generally. Wars are not caused by accident or aggressive impulses. War is the continuation of diplomacy and politics by other means. “Peace” is the continuation of war by other means!
At the present time there is a world balance of forces between the Eastern deformed workers’ states and the Western capitalist states, particularly Russia and America. The United Nations is a forum and a means for the settlement of secondary disputes between the great powers and even the secondary powers. But, the United Nations has not, any more than the League of Nations before it, prevented a single war. That “politics” dominates the policies of the powers is shown by the exclusion of “communist” China, which includes one quarter of the human race, at the present time.
The United Nations cannot settle disputes between the capitalist, or non-capitalist powers, or between the states of the two world blocs. At the present time it seems likely that there will be some sort of diplomatic agreement between East and West, particularly between Russia and America. But in the shifting sands of power politics, tomorrow there could be an agreement between Stalinist China and imperialist America.
From the heads of states, the rulers of the nations, there can come no real moves towards peace. Of course the Russian and the Chinese and other non-capitalist states do not need war, which in the past was waged by the capitalist powers for markets, sources of raw materials, and capital investments. One of the reasons which causes the capitalists to refrain is that they would have more to lose than to gain. It is a question of naked cash calculation. The main reason is the relationship of class forces. The mightiest military and economic power the world has ever seen is being defeated in Vietnam, not only because of the heroic resistance of the Vietnamese people but of the growing opposition of the workers, students and middle class of America. The American troops seeing themselves as an occupying alien power, the reality in South Vietnam, are becoming more and more demoralised. That is the explanation of the American government’s attempt to “negotiate,” though in 10 years of the war they have increased the number of their troops from 500 “advisers” to nearly half a million.
Despite the fundamental difference between the social systems in the Eastern bloc and that of the Western bloc, and world war could only be waged between these blocs, they are now joining together for fear of a greater force than even that of the H bomb: the power and solidarity nationally and internationally of the working class.
Only the working class through the labour movement, nationally and internationally by changing the social system and introducing a democratic socialist federation of Europe, of Asia, of America and the world; by abolishing the causes of war, can bring peace and undreamed of abundance for all.
It may be argued that the Labour government is still carrying on the power politics of its Tory predecessor. This is true. But the task is that of transforming the labour and trade union movement, and turning it into the instrument for which it was built, that of overthrowing capitalism and introducing a democratic socialism.