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Jack Weber

March of Events

(14 December 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 50, 14 December 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

War Technology

Modern warfare when it involves the advanced capitalist countries is no longer a matter of winning battles. It is far more the pitting of the national resources and national technologies against each other. The control of coal and iron, of cotton, copper and oil – of the “strategic” materials – becomes of major and decisive importance. The threat made by the rival imperialists to cut off Mussolini’s oil supply is a reminder of this fact. It is also a reminder of the careful planning for future war made years in advance by the military arm of each government.

The United States, for example, has its plans laid in the minutest fashion for the complete mobilization of the necessary industries the moment war breaks out. Contracts for all war materials need only to be signed to start, the production schedules already agreed upon with individual factories. The “Commodity Files” division of the United States Army keeps the most up-to-date information on volumes of production of all commodities, the sources of supply, the stock piles in the warehouses, the percentages used for various purposes, etc. This department is entrusted with the task of seeing to it that sufficient supplies can be made immediately available at the outbreak of war to carry on the war for two years even if the country be completely blockaded (an impossibility in the case of the United States) and no outside sources can be tapped. Even more, this department, in collaboration with the navy, sees to it that the necessary ships are sent to keep open the channels of communication with those countries which supply necessary foodstuffs or raw materials. In this connection all of South America comes under the complete domination of U.S. imperialism through its naval supremacy in continental waters. Plans are even ready for the seizure of those countries or parts of countries that produce strategic materials. Canada with its monopoly of nickel, Bolivia and Chile with their tin, lead and nitrates would fall easy victims.

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Labor and the War Plans

An important aspect of this planning is the economic side of production. The allocation of finances in the government budget is based on careful consideration of prices in connection with increased output. Greater production of any commodity can always be stimulated at a price. But this means that the government becomes interested in controlling prices as much as it can in time of war. The calculations of the imperialists and their military subordinates take into account particularly wages. Every strike tends to become a blow struck at the entire plan for making war profitable. Control of production for purposes of destruction means above all to the big financiers who actually run the government, the keeping of a tight rein on the working class. It means the attempt to destroy any organized resistance to the well-laid plans of capitalist profiteers, to check the workers in any effort to maintain their standards of living or to improve them. More than ever the everyday struggles of the workers against the exploiters becomes a menace to the entire capitalist system, since these efforts of the oppressed to better their conditions disturb the smooth functioning of the system at a most critical time. Thus war forces the capitalists – their fears aroused both at home and abroad – to exert the utmost powers of their dictatorship to keep the workers in subjection. The class struggle takes on sharpened form; strikes tend to become political as well as economic battles; the workers who enter into the struggle see more clearly the oppressive role of the government as the instrument of the ruling class. These lessons are being drawn today by the Italian workers. They have experienced terrific blows at their living standards. Mussolini’s plans for imperialist conquest are at the same time plans to rob the working class even more than In time of peace. That is the inevitable fate of every working class in time of peace.

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War in the Far East

The situation in North China has reached a critical stage. The Japanese are determined to seize the five northern provinces under the usual fakery of “autonomy,” the cherished formula of the Japanese imperialists. But they would like to accomplish their ends with as little fuss as possible, with the “consent,” if possible, of Chiang Kai-shek. This pliant tool of the Japanese army is, however, in a quandary. He is witnessing the removal from his control of the richest provinces of China, Shansi and Shantung, provinces which supplied him with a lordly Income. One hundred million people are being torn away to be exploited by the Japanese war-lords instead of the Chinese. The blow at the “prestige” of this dictator would be great indeed if he submits without a struggle. The utmost pressure is being exerted on him, both from within and from without (America and England) to fight in order to hold off the Japanese bandits as long as possible. There, is a split in the Kuomintang, the Nationalist Party of China dominated by Chiang, over this issue of war against Japan. The Japanese are not anxious to see Chiang make the decision to fight and hence they are exerting every form of threat to make him submit peacefully This is the issue that now hangs in the balance. War now would find the Chinese working class pitted against Japan, but at the same time struggling also against the betrayer, Chiang Kai-Shek, to replace his government by one that would truly fight to the end against Japanese and all other imperialism.

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