WAR ... WHY?

Will there be still another world war?

Some people believe that there will be no war because American capitalism and Russian state despotism both possess nuclear weapons. The Socialist Labor Party does not share that belief.

While it is true that the fearful destructiveness of nuclear weapons acts as a deterrent to the outbreak of global war, there is no certainty that a third world war may not break out in spite of this. For even though the capitalist class (in the interest of preserving its system of exploitation) may wish to avert such a war, no one can be sure that a mad Hitler or a ruthless Stalin, or an American plutocratic puppet usurping political power, may not precipitate action that would start such a war. For capitalism means war.

The urgent need, then, is to get the correct answers to two important questions: (1) What is the basic cause of war? (2) How can the cause of war be removed?

The Marxian Socialist answer is that the cause of war in the modern world is to be found in the inevitable economic rivalries among dominant, competitive capitalist groups in capitalist society. With the world reduced to only two really powerful nations - capitalist America and despotic Russia - the economic rivalry is primarily between two powerful imperialist camps, both having world domination as their objective.


What is it that brings on these economic rivalries? Under the capitalist system -- and under Russian despotism too -- the workers receive in wages only a fraction of the product of their labor, hence can buy back only a fraction. What the workers cannot buy back, and what the capitalists or bureaucrats cannot consume in extravagant living, or use up in expanding industry, or in willful destruction, must be sold or bartered in foreign markets. This is the reason capitalist nations -- or a bureaucratic State despotism, such as Russia's -- will do anything, even to the point of waging war, to preserve and extend their foreign markets and spheres of influence, and to obtain sources of raw materials.

School textbooks, the capitalist press, radio and TV, make no effort to make this basic cause of war known to the people. On the contrary, they treat the cause of war with such intellectual dishonesty or rank stupidity that the end result is total confusion on the part of those who depend on them for knowledge and guidance.

This is not to say that the cause of war is not known to capitalist spokesmen -- ad to spokesmen in Russia, and to at least some of their tools and dupes in America and elsewhere. Both sides do know. But they don't tell their people. It would not be safe for their respective robber systems.

Eight months after World War I had started, and nearly two years before the United States entered the war, the late General Leonard Wood said: "We soldiers and sailors are merely your trained servants. You create wars, we try to terminate them. Nine out of ten wars are based on trade."

Less than a year after the armistice of 1918 was signed, our First World War President, Woodrow Wilson, said: "Why, my fellow Americans, is there any man here, or any woman -- let me say, is there any child here -- who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is commercial and industrial rivalry?"


But Mr. Wilson did not tell the doughboys in 1917 that the seed of the war they were being asked to fight and die in was commercial and industrial rivalry. Capitalist propaganda told them it was a war "to make the world safe for democracy." Wilson's postwar admission proves that the propaganda was the invoking of an "ideological issue" to make the war politically and socially palatable.

The same applies to World War II, which was supposed to be a war to save the world from fascism. If this had been true, there would no longer be any fascism in the world. But it was not true. The war was fought for industrial and commercial reasons. And we have more fascism today than ever before.

The GI's who were asked to fight and die in World War II were told that they were fighting in a great crusade. General Eisenhower told them so in Europe. General MacArthur told them so in the Pacific theater. But less than two years after World War II had been nominally concluded, the U.S. Navy Department, as quoted in the Congressional Record, April 15, 1947, said: "Realistically, all wars have been for economic reasons. To make them politically and socially palatable, ideological issues have always been invoked."


The GI's. like the doughboys, were made the victims of a cruel deception. World War II, like World War I, was fought for industrial and commercial reasons.

Now we are well on the read to World War III, with atomic warfare a virtual certainty. The current "ideological issue" is the cry: "Save the free world from Communism." The truth is that U.S. capitalism is confronted with the alternative of capturing new, and extending present, foreign markets, or facing a serious, possibly fatal, economic crisis at home, with an inevitably disastrous effect on Western capitalism generally. Russia's rulers are likewise confronted with the problem of enlarging their economic control of the world and its resources, or facing serious trouble at home, and in countries under its control. Conflict is inevitable.

The so-called "small wars" (Korea, Vietnam, etc.) will have been only a "dress rehearsal" for the larger war ahead -- if capitalism and the Russian slave system are permitted to continue. The "small wars" and current preparations for war are the result of the economic necessities of capitalism. This was made quite clear by Thurman Arnold, former United States Assistant Attorney General. "We just don't know," Arnold said, "what it would do or what would happen if war should end. Our production system has gotten ahead of our ability to distribute goods. The only way we can keep up with production is to wage war -- a method of distributing goods when there's no other market." (Boston Globe, March 5, 1951.)

So, whether the "enemy" is the Kaiser, or Hitler, or Stalin, or Khrushchev, or Mao, or any other despot, the answer is the same. The cause of modern war is to be found in economic rivalries. In the present case the rivalries arise out of the imperialist struggle between U.S. capitalism and Russian State despotism. This is a desperate struggle in which desperate rulers will resort to desperate means.

What can we do about it?


The Socialist Labor Party's answer is that we, in America, can uproot the cause of war by organizing to uproot the capilalist system. And the workers in Russia must organize to uproot the State despotism that holds them in subjection.

The workers of America have more than the necessary numbers to vote capitalism out and Socialism in, as proposed by the Socialist Labor Party. The workers are the sole operators of the nation's industries. We urge them to organize into an integral Socialist Industrial Union, embracing all workers, with the goal of taking, holding and operating the industries for the benefit of all society, once the decision to do so has been made at the ballot box. We would then have social ownership of the industries, under the democratic management of the workers themselves. There would be no surpluses for which markets would have to be found abroad, to avoid depression at home; no commerce that would have to be protected by armed force; there would be no cause for war because we would receive the full social value of what we produce. We would have Socialism, not the phony socialism of government ownership, not the bureaucratic State despotism of Russia, but a genuine Socialist society, resting on the basis of economic freedom.

This new social system the workers alone can bring into being, thus forever putting an end to wars, and establishing the society of human brotherhood based on freedom, peace and abundance.