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The New International, November 1941


Notes of the Month

War in the Pacific


From The New International, Vol. VII No. 10, November 1941, p. 259.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


AT THE MOMENT of our going to press the air was filled with the news of the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian and Philippine Islands, possessions of the United States, and the subsequent declarations of war by Japan, America, a series of Central American and South American countries, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. Thus, in one full sweep, the tinder-box that is the world today gave forth a tremendous blaze that now engulfs every continent. There is hardly a nation which does not feel the weight of war. Europe and Africa, Asia and Australia, North America and South America – all of them have mobilized the full measure of their economic wealth and manpower in a common effort at collective destruction.

What is the significance of this new phase of the war? It demonstratively illustrates the impossibility of quarantining war and limiting it to one section of the world. For it is most obvious that the war in the Pacific is the direct and inevitable product of the war in Europe. It is in truth the full blossoming of the war between two main camps of imperialists: those who now control the great trade routes, the markets of the world, the areas of raw materials and those who would seize them. Nothing so expresses the economic, political and moral decay of modern capitalism as that the economic prosperity and security of one nation or group of nations is dependent upon the prevention of another nation or group of nations from equally sharing in the material resources of the earth. Conversely, any nation or set of nations seeking a re-division of the existing world relationships must resort to war.

To say that this is a war between democratic and fascist nations has no fundamental significance other than to hang a veil over the real issues of conflict. It does indicate, however, the character of the territorial and therefore the economic division of the world between the military powers. When we state that the Axis forces are driven to their suicidal program (for the masses) of a reconquest of the world, we make not a single excuse for the war; we only illustrate that the nature of their capitalist economic system, the ever-present hunt for profit and need for capital expansion, drives them willy-nilly into war. The so-called democratic nations rise in defense of what? Their deepest economic interests, their sources of material wealth, their right to exploit the backward peoples and the resources of the great colonial and agrarian areas of the world.

So acute is this struggle between the great powers that the Roosevelt Administration, in the period during which American-Japanese relations were experiencing their most acute diplomatic anguish, made clear that the dispute between America and Japan had nothing at all to do with moral issues or matters of political regime, but were entirely confined to a struggle over “interests,” the conflict between the imperialist interests of this country and the imperialist interests of Japan.

That is the real stake in the Pacific. It is rubber, it is mineral ores, it is tungsten, oil, and the hundreds of raw ma-trials necessary for the maintenance, operation and extension of the privately-owned, profit-producing industrial organizations in both countries.

It is for these things that the American people are propelled into the war. Yes, it is true the Japanese fired the first shots. It is true that Japan wantonly attacked American possessions and have taken American lives. But, every member of the Roosevelt cabinet, every government official, every intelligent observer knows that this is the result not of inherent, natural malice of the Japanese people (who had nothing and now have nothing to say about the war into which they are driven by the decrepit military clique and industrialists-financiers who control that nation). The perilous condition of Japanese capitalism has compelled them to take this step – to seize the advantage in what was regarded by both sides as an inevitable war over who should dominate in the Far East.

It is this kind of a war that the American people are asked to underwrite. It is this kind of a war that will take American soldiers and sailors to far-away areas to give their lives – in vain. In vain for the best interests of the masses who must toil for their very existence.

At home, these masses will now face the necessity of paying for this gigantic conflict with their sweat and blood, will be forced to undergo a drastic reduction in their living standards, will be compelled to work long hours, and have their democratic liberties taken away.

And what of the future? It remains as bleak as the present. A post-war period of industrial chaos, economic insecurity, totalitarian rule.

No other world situation has made it so clear that the only alternative to the vicious circle of recurrent capitalist economic crises, of constant war, mass world unemployment, brutal totalitarian rule, general overall suffering of the great and overwhelming majority of the people of the world, is socialism – a social order which is the antithesis of capitalism and under which the era of war could not possibly exist. It is this kind of society we stand for. It is this society that is the only hope for humanity. The longer the establishment of this kind of society is prolonged the greater will be the suffering of the mass of humanity of the world.

Only socialism can save the world from utter destruction, Its realization is on the order of the day!

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