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Heading Straight for
Another World War

Horrible Spectre of a New Imperialist
Holocaust Menaces the Whole World

(February 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 9, 24 February 1934, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The recent march of events conjures up again and again, and in ever more menacing proportions, the horrible spectre of a new imperialist holocaust. At the present moment the war clouds appear most densely packed in Europe. Will the outburst begin there? That no one can predict. It is certain, however, that the sanguinary massacre of the Austrian workers brings the war question much nearer to monstrous reality. But elsewhere along the artificially created national boundaries the sparks are flying in an atmosphere already excessively charged with rapacious imperialist contacts. In the language of capitalise diplomats it is no longer a question of “whether” the war will come, but “when” and “where” it will begin.

The United Press reports a formidable concentration of Italian troops along the Austrian borders. Henri Berenguer, head of French Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, publicly proclaims the necessity of dispatching armed forces to Austria – to “safeguard her independence”. This may be merely symptomatic of general situation. Much more ominous, however, is the spreading of fascist reaction at a breath-taking speed and the efforts to annihilate the working class movement and crush its spirit of resistance.

War is a continuation of politics by other means. Politics between imperialist powers knows no other language than that of the marauders’ capture of spoils. Armies, fortified by the latest developments in mechanized warfare, deadly poison gases, and composed of millions of humanity, are marching up in array to engage in a new death battle for redivision of the earth amongst the ravenous exploiters.

The mask of disarmament has fallen. In place of it there is now an open race for armaments. The League of Nations, created, in the language of capitalist diplomatic hypocrisy, as an instrument to preserve peace between the nations, has sunk into disrepute even amongst its own creators. As a decoy it is not needed right now. The disarmament conference, in the words of its last remaining “faithful friend”, the sleek Arthur Henderson, is in pretty bad shape. All the capitalist powers, large and small, have armed to the teeth. But most powerfully loom the gigantic war preparations of the American imperialist colossus. Wherever the war clouds may begin to unleash their torrents, wherever the powder magazine of capitalist conflicts may be ignited, one thing is certain – the United States will play a major role in it.

It is in anticipation of these furious armed conflicts that the United States prepares. Coldly and deliberately it pursues its course towards imperialist war. Its enormous capital resources must find new fields of exploitation, not only as a means of issuing out of the crisis, but also as a means of reducing the share of the competing powers in world economy. A favorable decision in this contest it will seek through the force of arms Hence the feverish strengthening at this moment of what are called the forces of national defense. The United States today leads all the other powers in the open race for armaments.

The greatest navy in the country’s history has been voted by the house of representatives in passing the Vinson Naval Replacement Bill providing a program to cost $475,000,000 to $570,000,000. Coincident with this program approval was secured for building of 1,184 new naval aircraft. Announcements for the expansion of the Army Air Corps is awaited. “The sky’s the limit”, said Representative Hastings of Oklahoma in the House debate on the naval program. “This program may cost a billion dollars.”

But that is only half the picture according to figures marshalled by Representative Bierman of Iowa. According to him, Congress and the P.W.A. are already appropriating $1,039,000,000 this year for the navy. Meanwhile the prices on securities having direct relation to war industries soar on the stock exchanges in anticipation of huge pro-its to be cleaned up out of the coming slaughter.

“If the war would be fought to a finish without inner movements (i.e., revolutions – A.S.), a state of exhaustion would result such as Europe has not experienced for two hundred years. American industry would then win all along the line and would set us all before the alternative: either a relapse to pure agriculture for our own needs (American grain forbids any other kind), or – social revolution.”

Thus wrote Engels in a letter to Sorge, Jan. 7, 1888, foreseeing the world war. The “inner movements” did occur. Revolutions broke out before the world war reached the point of complete exhaustion. But only one remained victorious, that of the Soviet Union. The others were defeated. The world proletariat has suffered new and terrific blows. Meanwhile American industry is already able to assert its superiority, both in peace and war. Therefore the prediction of Engels still holds good. For the future there still remain the two alternatives. Only this much should be added. The possibility of social revolution is, of course, not confined to one continent.

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