War is no longer something in the vague future, something to be prophesied and argued about. War has begun. The airplanes and machine guns of Italian Fascism are blasting their corpse-strewn road into Ethiopia. Once again the columns of the newspapers are filled with stories of attacks and counter-attacks, of cities destroyed, of plains laid waste, of the dead and wounded and dying. But far more ominous than the stories of the actual campaign now being fought in Africa are the reports in the neighboring columns: of the concentration of the British Fleet in the Mediterranean; of the new moves of the Japanese in the campaign against China; of the war games of the United States Fleet in the Pacific; of the behind-the-scenes deals in the League of Nations; of twenty-four hour operation in all the munitions plants of the world; of the new German submarines and airplanes and gases; of the new French forts along the German border; of daily changing alliances and counter-alliances.
The war begun by the campaign against Ethiopia – the deliberate, cold-blooded, unprovoked rape of the last of the independent nations of Africa-will not, cannot end is Ethiopia. This is the first great, terrible truth which we must learn and which we must teach. The war in Ethiopia is the introduction, the prelude to the new imperialist world war. It may be that England, France, and Italy will find some “solution” that will prevent the new war from spreading immediately and directly to include the rest of the world. But a solution of this kind can be at the best a short, temporary postponement. Italy has made the first open move in what can only be the new world war, the new armed struggle between the imperialist powers to re-divide the world.
In this struggle the fate of human society will be decided. Remembering the last war with its more than 40,000,000 dead and wounded, and knowing the thousand-fold advances in military technique since the last war, no man can predict adequately the horror of the coming war. Mankind stands now at the crossroads: On the one hand, the continued domination of finance capital will mean that in the approaching series of imperialist struggles civilization will be literally wiped out and human society will be thrown back again into the most frightful form of barbarism. There is only one other path: the utilization of the imperialist crisis for the overthrow of finance-capital, and the construction of a new order of society which, while releasing the productive forces to serve the needs of men, will wipe war and the threat of war from the face of the earth. But the overthrow of finance-capital and the construction of the new society can be achieved only by the action of the international working class under the leadership of the revolutionary party.
Thus the problem of war is above all the problem of the working class and its party. The problem of war is, indeed, the supreme test for the working class and the party of the working class. This test now faces us. It is for us to meet it.
Last updated: 16.2.2005