This is a text produced at the beginning of May 1985, on the occasion of the ‘celebrations’ of the 40th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe. It was produced by 4 men (A. from Wildcat, M. from Campaign for Real Life, me – Sam – from B.M.Combustion and N. from A Communist Effort) and consists of 7 articles: “Victory in Europe” – defeat for the working class’, ‘War is capitalist accumulation carried on by other means’, ‘We’ll meet again – when the balls of the last Spike Milligan are hung by the guts of the last Vera Lynn’, ‘Jews in the war’, ‘Fascism or democracy – frying pan or fire’, ‘Bourgeois War’ and ‘Our War’. I can’t say I entirely agree with all of it (particularly the ultra-leftist over-simplification of the section ‘Fascism or democracy – frying pan or fire’) but it’s better than most stuff about the war, and it deserves to be on the internet. I’ve recently added various footnotes that qualify some of my differences.
“VICTORY IN EUROPE” – DEFEAT FOR THE WORKING CLASS
Today the state is trying to resurrect the national unity of 40 years ago, while its attacks, and working class resistance, show ever more clearly the class divisions on which this society is based. While the bosses and the state indulge in savage attacks on wages and conditions, they repeat the myth of ‘we’re in the same boat’. While workers, unemployed, housewives, schoolkids and pensioners step up the struggle against poverty, exploitation and the capitalist system, the state and its allies – parties, unions etc. – try once again to impose the lies that lead to the massacre of millions.
In World War II millions of working class people were lead to fight and die for ‘their own’ national bosses’ right to continue to rule particular territories, and them. The rulers always talk of defence of ‘freedom’, “peace”, ‘democracy’ etc. to justify their rule and their wars, to hide their real interests of exploitation and the struggle for resources and markets. WWII was basically about the struggle for markets and resources between the rising German, Russian and Japanese capital, and with the older imperialist powers.
The nostalgia being aroused by the WWII Show has hardly ever left us: it’s been there ever since we read our first war comic or played Brits v Nazis with the kids up the road, or learnt at school how great Sir Winston was, and how psychotic was nasty Hitler. Already in the carefully contrived Falklands/Malvinas Show of 1982, the images and ideologies of community, revived from WWII, had a partial success in repressing the class struggle.
In order to win the support of those who have no real stake in this society, the rulers have to present the capitalist system (in its ‘democratic’, ‘socialist’ or dictatorial form) as the only possible system, and all opposition, whether from competing capitalists or from ‘the enemy within’ as equally malicious and insane. The more class society falls apart, the more frequently is war (especially nuclear war) conjured up to stick the decomposed fragments back together. As the class struggle becomes more violent, committed and intelligent, the false choices of war and peace are increasingly hammered into us. Acceptance of the present ‘peace’ is nothing other than submission to the ‘secure’, ‘realistic’ impoverishment needed by the ‘natural’ crisis, which is meant to be preferable to the past or to the possible future. Obviously, the present in advanced industrial countries is preferable to Auschwitz or Dresden, but acceptance of the present society can only lead to further impoverishment. The obedience and passivity enforced by this ‘peace’ is a preparation for the obedience and passivity needed by the rulers’ plans for future war.
After the First World War the Allies had tried to ensure that German capital would never be able to compete with them economically – by taking away the coal and other resources of Alsace, Lorraine and The Rühr and imposing massive reparation payments – or militarily by enforcing a treaty drastically limiting Germany’s military capability.
However, WWI had not been successful in crushing the working class or in resolving any of the inevitable conflicts between nation States. In addition to the massive upheavals in Russia, there were mass strikes and mutinies by returning troops all over the industrialised world. In Germany there were local insurrections and the formation of workers’ and soldiers’ councils but any power which the working class had taken was quickly repressed or handed over by the workers to the Social Democratic Party (similar to the Labour Party here) which was able to form a Government and restore capitalist order for a while. But it was only really through the Nazi seizure of power that German capital could begin to rise again. This it did by squeezing every last drop of sweat from German workers. But.this was not enough – the German ruling class needed resources and markets; for this they needed military force.
The British ruling class was split over how to deal with the German resurgence. Many admired the ‘resolute’ way German capital dealt with the workers (King Edward often popped over to study ‘labour relations’ with the intention of promoting similar ideas in Britain) as well as being scared of its growing military might. They wanted to work for a ‘peaceful’ re-organisation of the imperialist carve-up of the world and saw a strong Germany as useful in holding back Russia. But the majority of the British ruling class recognised that they had too much to lose and that any peaceful carve-up would only be very temporary. Gradually the pro-Germans fell from favour and the King was forced to abdicate. The stage was set for the build-up to war.
WAR IS CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION CARRIED ON BY OTHER MEANS
On the continent of Europe during the 30s the strongest powers were undoubtedly Russia and Germany. Both were faced with specific problems in the context of the decade of generalised capitalist crisis after 1929. Russian capitalism had to compress a long process of industrial development into a few decades. And German capitalism, confined within the borders of 1918, was crippled by lack of markets and resources to a greater extent than the ‘colonial’ powers. The project of finding a ‘breathing space’ in Eastern Europe, as laid out in Mein Kampf, would have allowed Germany to seize mineral resources and to exploit new ‘colonies’. War between Russia and Germany was an obvious long-term necessity for capitalist development.
The British and French rulers knew this. Their agreement with the expansion of Germany to include Austria and Czechoslovakia was part of a tactic of waiting to see what pickings would be on offer after a Russo-German war. What had changed by the time Nazism and Russian state capitalism invaded Poland was that Russia & Germany had signed a non-aggression pact. Germany was now, in the short-term, more secure. Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary were pro-German: they all had lame pro-Nazi fascist parties.
The equilibrium had changed so that France & Britain had to seek war with Germany. Not yet a ‘total’ war, but a limited expense to maintain the tension in Europe. The Nazis, on the other hand, also did not at first want a total war against Britain and France. The first 6 months of the war were known as the “phony war”: when Chamberlain said that Hitler had “missed the bus”, he was already suing for peace. When Germany invaded Scandinavia and the low countries, this was obviously impossible. Now came the split between Britain and France. When the French democratic National Assembly elected a fascist government, this government was in no way a ‘puppet’ of the Nazis. This is only a lie by which de Gaulle’s putschists tried to legitimise themselves, to claim to be more ‘patriotic’ than the French fascists. This lie also serves to strengthen the lie that “fascism is the ultimate evil, therefore all fascists are the same”. On the contrary, French fascism was a necessary policy of French capitalism[ref]1[/ref]and the same goes for Nazism in Germany. For instance, French fascism under Petain refused to join the war against England, which would, in 1940, have given the Nazis too much of a boost in North-West Europe.
Soon Russia invaded the 3 Baltic States (important because of their coastline), thus decisively altering the balance in North-Central Europe. The Nazis saw the the danger, and, after the Russo-Japanese non-aggression pact looked as though it would allow Russia to concentrate on its western flank, Germany invaded Russia. The Nazis may well have been able to conquer Britain in 1941, but their defence may not have been strong enough to defeat a Russian attack, so they had to attack Russia.
By the end of 1941, German troops were attacking Moscow, which gave Japan the chance (seeing that Russian capitalism was involved in defending its capital city) to flex its muscles in the Pacific area by attacking PearlHarbour. On the level of State lies (US intelligence knew of Japan’s attack beforehand), this provided the final ‘excuse’ for the U.S. to enter the war, which had already started in an undeclared form in the Atlantic, but which, if declared immediately by the U.S. would not have received so much support either from the whole of the U.S. ruling class, or from the proletariat.
The programme of Mein Kampf was now seen to be a very accurate strategic assessment of the chances of the German bourgeoisie. With one exception – it was involved in a war on two fronts. The plan of seizing part of Europe to realise the fascist ideal of a non-competitive capitalism with closed borders, advantages for part of the industrial working class, and super-exploitation for the rest, had been superceded. The Allies had forced the war onto a higher level. It now could only be a war of total annihilation.
By the winter of 1942-3, the turning-point of the war came when Russian troops re-took Stalingrad. Germany and Italy suffered other setbacks later in 1943 when Russia re-took several major cities (Kharkov, Kiev, Smolensk…) and when Britain won the N. African arena.
Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill began to discuss what to do with Europe after the war. If they won the war, as looked likely, each wanted to win the peace against the others. In 1943, after the Allies won in Tunisia and had Sicily given to them by the Mafia, the bulk of Italian capitalism changed sides. The Italian fascist party went through the motions of “dissolving” itself, and the Nazis were forced to invade Italy and seize Rome.
In the summer of 1944, the Allies invaded Normandy and re-took Rome. Rome had been the subject of a race between U.S. and British troops – soon such races were to happen over many of the major cities in Europe. De Gaulle managed to set up a government in Paris before the U.S. troops arrived. In most countries of Europe, a major split within the Allies was taking shape – between the Stalinist parties and their more right-wing bedmates. The Anglo-American Gaullist family was divided.
The U.S. aimed to invest and valorise its capital in Europe; Russia aimed to get some of the raw materials in Germany and central Europe; Britain aimed to seize the Rühr and pursue interests in the Balkans, especially Greece. In this “cold” war already taking place, Russia could count on limited support from the so-called ‘Communist’ Parties in Central Europe (which had played a big part in the defence of their respective fatherlands), and the U.S. was torn between military interests (smashing Germany) and financial interests (investing in Germany). The post-1945 imperialist colouring of the map was shaping up. But so were the contradictions within it.
Churchill, owing to his association with de Gaulle’s putschist coalition, knew a bit about Stalinism’s possibilities, and urged the U.S. to get to Berlin before Russia did. U.S. capital was strategically less well-informed about the coming cold war between Stalinism and the Anglo-American-Gaullist family, and so eventually allowed Russia to seize Berlin.
Stalin was pushing forward extremely vigorously. A “human sea”, including unarmed children ordered to pick up arms from the fallen, was invading Southern and Eastern Germany. Towns like Breslau became battlefields. During and after such fierce battles at the end of the war, numerous plans were bandied about. The Morgenthau Plan suggested sending the bulk of Germany back a few centuries to an autarchic and purely agrarian economy. Fuller, a U.S. statesman, suggested making Germany into a “super-concentration camp”. In the end, the U.S. achieved massive capital investment in Europe; Russia achieved Stalinist regimes in central Europe and the annexation of part of Poland (which itself annexed Silesia from Germany); and Britain occupied the Rühr and sustained the Greek monarchy; France was weaker, occupying less strategic parts of Germany, and eventually lost economic control of the Saar region to Germany in 1957.
What really comes across from an analysis of post-1945 Europe is that the Allies did not solve all their problems. As long as imperialist war leaves some territory intact and does not destroy the world, it cannot end war, but only off-set it. Only capitalist war can produce capitalist peace, and vice versa. Only revolutionary class war can overthrow the society of which they are part and to which they are both necessary at different times.
WE’LL MEET AGAIN –
WHEN THE BALLS OF THE LAST SPIKE MILLIGAN
ARE HUNG BY THE GUTS OF THE LAST VERA LYNN
The officially encouraged recollection of the war doesn’t function simply on a political level. It also functions as a way of recalling the apparent “pleasures” of war-time experience. The boredom, the living death and isolation imposed by the brute force of the commodity system in times of peace is replaced in wartime with a sense of adventure, intense risk created by the proximity of real death and an atmosphere of comradeship. The age-old con “We’re all in the same boat”, which in peacetime is generally regarded with scepticism, in war manages to sound convincing. Of course, this ‘community’ is imprisoned within the framework of a strict obedience to and identification with the kind of centralised militarisation of virtually all aspects of social life necessitated by war. But for those who have never known, or have forgotten (because they have given up trying to extend and develop), the experiences of real, autonomous courage and solidarity – in struggle against hierarchy, the life & death dangers of war seem like a radical break with the superficiality & passivity of normal peacetime life:
THE 39 STEPS TO COPPING OUT
In war, life can become like a detective story, people can become spies and heroes – or, if captured, find ways of escape, developing disguises and false papers. In this way, the normal schizoid separation between our public, exploitable, role-bound selves and our, largely private, rebellious fantasies (symptomatic of the self-repression demanded in peacetime) is channelled into an acceptable official form: paranoia and clandestinity towards external authority in general becomes particularised towards the Bad Guys. Thus capitalist war transforms the real desires of people to escape the open prison camp of this society, to resist external authority, into weapons in its own arsenal: resistance to fascist authority was the only resistance permitted. The fantasy community of little heroes was based on everyone spying on and policing each other, gossiping about one another for every little infringement of government regulations. In this way, those innocuous detective thrillers helped to form the cultural base for dividing workers off from each other. That’s one reason why the 1000 miners from Betteshanger who went on strike in 1942 & were sent to court, three of them being chucked into prison (where, unlike the fascist Lady Mosley, they were not allowed to take on fellow prisoners as domestic servants) received no support from any other significant section of the working class. Those who resist their own ruling classes are obviously not going to be given the respectability of heroes.
OUR LADS BOMB DRESDEN
In peacetime, many resigned proletarians mumble to each other “They should do this, that & the other”, implying a separation between ‘them’ and ‘us’ which gives the lie to any pretence of a common interest. But in war ‘We’ is invoked: “We should do this, blab blah”, obviously implying acceptance of a common interest between the dispossessed and their rulers (though, being a vague ineffectual suggestion, it also implies that some are more responsible for making decisions than others). The colonisation of the vast majority of dispossessed individuals by this ‘We’ shows how powerful the British ruling scum was (and still hopes to be) in assuring a submissive working class.
THE 24 HOUR HORROW SHOW
In war, everyone seems to have a different story to tell and yet there is a common centre – the battles and the development of the war – that links such anecdotes, giving people a sense of unity between their own specific life and the lives of people throughout the world in a way not experienced in the usual fragmented separations of peacetime (that is, not experienced outside of class war). Of course, unlike the stories of those who rebel against normality, who participate in the class struggle, such stories, based on the acceptance of the dictates of war, refer mainly to events that happen to you (how I just missed getting bombed, etc.) rather than events and adventures you have made happen, which you have helped to initiate. The disruption and fears imposed on you by decisions you haven’t made, experienced as agony during the time they are experienced, are transformed, in retrospect, into exciting stories aimed not to inform, not to draw lessons from, not to correct mistakes from, but to entertain and impress your pseudo-community of friends with an image of resilience in the face of adversity. Nostalgia always falsifies the past. That’s why, in all the old war movies, or their verbal real-life versions, fear was officially unknown. Of course, since the war there have been endless movies, and real-life stories, that have presented ‘the truth’ about war: the horrors, the anxieties, the traumas. But virtually all – however ‘critical’ – have done little but reinforced helplessness in the face of such horrors, finally making such horrors appear to be more realistic, more immediate, more exciting, than the banality ‘peace’ imposes on us. Nevertheless, during the war, even this margin of critical truth was not permitted. Indeed, at the start of the Blitz, when hundreds of thousands of workers left the city to camp in the countryside, official propaganda, aimed at getting them to stay, made fear look like timidity & treachery, and expressing it became taboo, incompatible with the proud cheerful image of the cockney working class. This ‘benevolently’ patronising image imposed on the working class by bourgeois culture hid an unabiding contempt which continues to this day. Behind the screen of National Unity, social apartheid continued, albeit modified by class collaboration.
SMILE WHEN YOUR HEART IS BREAKING
This class collaboration needed for the development of the war had to allow for a certain margin of risk-free ‘freedom’: when soldiers and workers made reversed V-signs at Churchill no-one was disciplined. Just so long as they obeyed the old man’s orders, such ‘freedom of expression’ was tolerated (however, in July & August 1945,when dockers took the ideology of freedom at face value & went on strike, the new Labour government sent in the troops to put the strike down; likewise, cops were sent to evict the 100,000 squatters throughout the country who’d seized empty buildings at the end of the war). Such typically British ‘toleration’, based also on the traditional working class’ toleration for its own alienation & humiliation, was vital to mark it off from the rigid authoritarianism of the German character (a form of national character necessitated by the relatively poorer & inexperienced German capitalists). The more subtle manipulations of the British ruling class necessitated (and made profitable) a certain freedom of speech without consequences to give the working class the illusion that there was something worth preserving. For example, it’s not for nothing that the Goons radio programme, with its surreal parodies of Colonels and bourgeois stereotypes and its vaguely naughty rebelliousness was developed during the days of submissive community of World War II. Saying what you like (in the ‘proper’ time and place, of course) but doing what you’re told always reduces language to a contradictory irrational nonsense. This frivolousness, the renowned typically British sense of humour complete with endless puns, was used persistently in much of the government’s war propaganda. The working/dying class were bombarded with jokes aimed at stopping them travelling and consuming ‘unnecessarily”, whilst the rich, though being officially subject to equal rationing, were not so restricted. Professional humour, however ‘rebeIlious’, always supports the class system it takes the piss out of, always (e.g. Harry Secombe entertaining the troops in the Falklands).
JEWS IN THE WAR
War propaganda always talks about the suffering of the Jews under the Nazi regime as though all Jews suffered the same. Many of those who could afford to get out of the country did so, while the rest of those with money stayed because they recognised that the regime was good for business, and thought it would not be able to survive without them.
The Zionist organisations (predominantly bourgeois) looked after their own, ignoring the plight of non-Zionist Jews, and put pressure on the British and U.S. governments not to allow Jews in, so that they would have to go to Palestine instead. Begin and his cronies tried to arrange with the German state that they would ‘solve’ the ‘Jewish problem’ themselves, by shipping them to Palestine, from where they would gratefully fight for Germany.
But instead of being allowed to continue their role in the German economy, or being given their own state to rule, the bourgeois Jews who remained were merely allowed to administer the ghettos and concentration camps. These were concentrated forms of the outside world – conditions were far worse for all, but the normal hierarchy remained. Instead of being able to exploit proletarian Jews directly, the Jewish bourgeoisie could only sell their skills to their oppressors for a bit of extra bread, and a bit of extra time.
The bourgeoisie of oppressed groups always find themselves caught between the contempt of their fellow bourgeois and the combativity of the proletariat – as the black councilors in South Africa are discovering.
Jews have often been used as scapegoats by various states, by playing on people’s fears of a group that kept itself separate, called itself the ‘chosen race’ and which, for historical reasons was associated with money-lending and the bourgeoisie. All nationalist ideologies attack those who are considered apart from the nation, and the Jews, many considering themselves a nation dispersed over much of the world, were a prime target. The Nazis used the fact that some Jews were capitalists, some were leading members of foreign governments etc. to pretend that there was an international Jewish conspiracy, which they identified with international finance capital to enlist working class support.
Along with the Jews, other groups which might not have given their allegiance to German national capital, or did not fit in with the idea of national purity – gypsies, communists, gays, ‘workshy’ etc. – were led off to the work-camps to labour and die for the fatherland.
The Zionists have also utilized left ideology to enlist Jewish working class support for Israeli national capital, against the supposed international anti-semitic conspiracy.
FASCISM OR DEMOCRACY
FRYING PAN OR FIRE
Since the war, the spectre of fascism to stir up feelings of popular disgust has been an essential part of all capitalist politics – that is the ideas which are used to present squabbles within the ruling class, and the struggles between the rulers and us as vital differences in outlook rather than struggles for power.
It might be Thatcher talking about ‘jackboot pickets’ (interfering with the democratic right to stab your fellow workers in the back) or it might be the Left accusing the Right of ‘fascistic’ policing methods – the implication being that it’s all right for the ruling class’s boot boys to batter working class people into submission to capital’s rule as long as it’s done democratically.
Indeed, what bourgeois political group has not accused its adversaries of using ‘fascist methods’ in an attempt to enlist WWII nationalism in support of its particular ideology?
The idea is always that ‘fascism’ (i.e. some form of brutal dictatorship) and democracy are antagonistic forms of the state. This relies on a total distortion of the historical facts.
After the crushing of the revolutionary movement in Germany in 1918-19 a sort of order was established – the trade unions and the Social Democrats were able to stop working class struggles getting out of hand, but they were not able to discipline the workers sufficiently to deliver profits at the level required. In addition there was a need to concentrate German industry, discipline German bosses in the interests of German capital as a whole, and create an efficient modern state.
Social Democracy occupied an important position in the state, but was incapable of unifying the whole of German society behind it. This was the task of Nazism, which, although originally a movement of the lower middle classes who had been ruined by the crisis, knew how to appeal to all classes, as every gang of capitalist politicians aspires to do.
The Nazis did not ‘overthrow’ German democracy. Democracy welcomed them with open arms. Hitler was appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg, who had been elected in 1932 with the support of the Socialists, who had seen him as a bulwark against Hitler. The Nazis were a minority group in Hitler’s first cabinet.
This scenario was repeated in Italy [sic- obviously what had happened in Italy was before Hitler’s rise to power]. The famous ‘March on Rome’ by Mussolini (who preferred to take the train) in 1922 was more a publicity stunt than a coup d’état – the King asked Mussolini to form a new government and every party except the Socialists and ‘Communist’ Party (who had supported him previously) voted for him in parliament. The power of the dictator was ratified by democracy.
Nor is it true that fascism needed to destroy the ‘workers organisations’ before coming to power. The unions then, as now, had nothing to do with the struggle for working class self-emancipation, and functioned only to preserve their own institutional existence as middle-men in the labour market. They were prepared to accept any political regime which would tolerate them. In 1932, the leaders of the German ‘socialist’ unions tried to reach an understanding with Hitler, who convinced them that National Socialism would permit their continued existence.
The point is that there is no struggle between dictatorship and democracy. Democracy will quite happily transform itself into dictatorship whenever the need arises. Similarly, dictatorship can transform itself into democracy. In 1943, Italy was obliged to change sides in the war. Mussolini was out-voted on the Fascist Grand Council and one of the top fascist officials, Marshal Badoglio, summoned the democratic opposition and formed a coalition government. Mussolini was arrested. This is known in Italy as the ‘revolution of August 25th 1943’.
None of this should surprise us since both dictatorship and democracy seek to strengthen the state, the former as a matter of principle, the latter in order to ‘protect’ us from dictatorship. Everywhere we are presented with the same false choice.
This is not to deny that some forms of capitalist domination are less pleasant to live under than others – most people would probably rather have been exploited like a British worker than a German worker during the war, but the point is that we are not given the choice. The only choice we have is either to struggle for ourselves against all who seek to exploit us, or else to let ourselves be used by one section of our exploiters and allow capitalism (inwhichever form is most suitable for it) to continue to rule over us.
In 1936 insurgent Spanish workers gave their support to the Republic against the fascist coup, only to have their revolution crushed by the state, with the support of the ‘Communist’ Party and the anarchist leaders in the government
In 1939 British workers gave up their struggles to accept rationing, poverty and death in their bosses’ interests.
In 1943, thousands of Italian workers, striking against fascism, were persuaded by the Stalinists to lay down their arms and return to work, to allow the ‘new’ democratic regime to exploit them.
In the early 70s, Chilean workers were disarmed by the left popular-front government to pave the way for the military take-over of 1973.
The international proletariat is still paying the price for these defeats, and will continue to do so until we have totally destroyed capitalism and the bourgeois state.
HANG THE LAST DICTATOR WITH THE
GUTS OF THE LAST DEMOCRAT.
AND ITS WORST PRODUCT – PACIFISM
War is big news. In Britain, for example, it was the First World War which launched the newspaper industry. Arguably, the Second World War did the same for radio. Since the mid-30’s the danger of war has also become big news. After 1918, few spoke of the danger of a Second Great War, even after France and Belgium invaded The Ruhr in 1923, but speculation as to a Third World War began virtually as soon as the Second one had ended, even as the four Allies were uniting to try to ideologically justify the war by means of the show-trials of various Nazi killers at Nuremburg. That one of the charges against top Nazis was of having committed a ‘crime against the peace’ was always nothing more than a sick joke.
As long as the concentration-camp of wage labour and the commodity economy exists, i.e. as long as it is not destroyed by the class which has no interest in it, there will be tendencies towards war. The images about the danger of war therefore reflect the fact that if there is no revolution, there will be a third world war, sooner or later.
Wars are always fought in the name of peace. They are the result of the need of a national ruling class (or part of one) to infringe on the ‘sovereignty’ (i.e. frontiers) of another. Because capitalism is a society founded on a cycle of exploitation and sale (the commodity economy), it’s in permanent contradiction with itself because it has to buy labour-power with wages and sell commodities at a profit. Therefore States conflict. States are merely the governmental-military machines of national ruling classes. When competition is not too hectic, and can be handled by means of mere reliance on marketability (with or without protectionism and State intervention) and austerity (cracking down on the poor), States generally recognise each other’s sovereignty. This is called peace.
Virtually all fractions and propagandists of the class enemy, from generals to terrorists, from Bruce Kent to Thatcher and Gorbachev, from Walesa to the Pope, sing the praises of peace. This includes both inter-State peace and class peace, which has always, to varying degrees, been the prerequisite for any large-scale inter-State war.
PEACE – PREPARATION FOR WAR
Peace, peace, peace! Peace in our time, a 1000-year peace in a racial Reich, peace without annexations, brutally imposed peace (1945),or apologetic peace reflecting shared capitalist interests against the proletariat (e.g. March 1918 between Russia and Germany, October 1918 between France, Britain and Germany, or December 1981 between Russia and Poland). Peace after bloodbaths (Poland 1945, Hungary 1956), peace after spectacles of diplomacy (South Italy 1943, Cuba 1962, Iran hostage crisis 1981).
….Support a national government which imprisons strikers and institutes conscription and forced labour – it’s necessary in the fight against fascism, Citizen Prole!
….Support the German Greens’ ideal of a national reunification (which would help to consolidate the blocs needed for another World War, and which has obvious historical parallels) – it’s all in the interests of peace! (To think this is as stupid as believing that buying Band-Aid records can abolish starvation). Peace – it’s all we hear….Isn’t peace defensible… Shouldn’t we all be willing to knuckle down so that our national rulers can exist more competitively on the world market without the need for a war (yet)?
….Support the Greenham gang against ‘Yankee’ pressure on the British Motherland! Or Zimbabwean state capitalism against the ‘evil’ RTZ!
NATIONS – AREAS OF ENEMY POWER
In so far as war and peace are ‘justified’ in terms of the ‘just’ positioning of national borders:
‘Keep them where they are’ or else dream of a union of all existing countries into ‘one big nation’.
Military strategists of established nations say:
Defend the existing borders and prepare to help the rulers seize more territory if & when necessary.
Military strategists of non-established nations say:
We have to concentrate on establishing national borders in the first place (this is what most national liberation struggles are about). Anti-imperialists aim for a different management of capitalist exploitation within existing borders.
To separate peace from war, as every military strategist knows, is ridiculous. Only peace can produce war, only war can produce peace, and they have to posit each other as long as this society of exploitation exists. It is stupid to see ‘Peace in our time’, achieved through the massacre of 50million proletarians as something to be defended and be grateful for. Both pacifism and anti-fascism are explicitly founded on keeping things as they are.
A WAR STORY FOR TODAY
The Gulf War [note: the first Gulf war, between Iran and Iraq – 1980-88] has been going on for 5 years, and resistance to the misery has been growing. On both sides there have been mass desertions from the front, self-mutilation to avoid call-up, and strikes. In Iran mass strikes against the step-up of work have been continuing in steel and other industries despite massive repression and the killing of activists by the ‘revolutionary guard’. A recent anti-war demo in the poor section of Tehran turned into a riot when the ‘revolutionary’ guard opened fire. Sections of the working class remember the power they held in their hands during the revolution against the Shah, but Khomeini retains control of the country by using the bogeymen of Israel, the US and the Shah, and through the myth of the nation’s ‘Holy Destiny’. A revolutionary defeat of the Gulf War would start tremors throughout the Arab world that the imperialist countries would be forced to intervene against.
A WAR OF TOTAL ANNIHILATION AGAINST WAGE-LABOUR
War, the manifestation of a certain point in the contradictions of capitalism can obviously only be abolished when capitalism is abolished. This implies a war against capitalism, and therefore a war against the social peace and the dominant order. It may not yet be a military war, but nevertheless it is going on NOW, wherever proletarians resist what oppresses them.
1985 started off well around Lincoln with rioting for several days around New Year’s Day in support of the striking miners. Despite the defeat in one battle of the miners’ war, sabotage of NCB property and attacks on scabs have continued, as have attacks on cops in Chesterfield, Pontefract, Shirebrook and elsewhere. Some of the leading bureaucrats whose role as loyal ‘opposition’ to the Government was shown up during the strike (e.g. McGahey, Kinnock, Willis but not yet Scargill, unfortunately) have since been attacked by miners and by other angry proletarians.
Meanwhile, the struggle has been taken up by schoolkids, some of whom had already joined in the miners’ battles. Now they are fighting their own battles on the streets, rioting in rejection of what this world has to offer: YTS, school, work, war, demonstrations….
In Spain, dockers (many of whom organise a revolutionary coordination which is explicitly against the unions) called for all ships entering Britain to be stopped in support of the miners. This appeal, which was openly the opposite of the NUM’s practice of asking only for coal and oil ships to be blacked, unfortunately came too late).
Riots have broken out in New South Wales, Philadelphia, and in South Africa, where many black and coloured collaborators with the white State have been dispatched without a second thought, showing that the struggle for a ‘black nation’ is not what the poor are interested in. Spanish shipyard workers have appropriated technology to use in fights against the cops (as did rioters in Fitzwilliam last year: in their case, it was NCB cranes), which is a glimpse, still negative, of the future seizure of everything and its USE and TRANSFORMATION for OUR needs and not for the enemy’s profits.
What is never admitted, or admitted in an ideological and hence counter-revolutionary way, is that the struggles against aspects of poverty can have as their only viable project a move to a unified struggle against poverty itself and its world, i.e. a move to a level of social war where the communist project exists as the conscious practice of a mass movement of the insurrectionary poor.
In short, the struggle to abolish poverty can’t be carried out by allying with any of its enforcers. Struggle is always a matter of power, and the absolute power to continuously and passionately transform all which exists in accordance with our needs and desires can only be won through total victory in total war. Everything’s in play. Everything’s at stake. Our chains are there to lose. A world where the pleasure of one is inseparable from the pleasure of all is what there is to win.
Revolution implies what Rosa Luxemburg called ‘the mightiest civil war humanity has ever seen, where the proletariat seizes supreme power, to use it, as the god Thor used his hammer, to smash the heads of the ruling classes’. This revolutionary war is the opposite of capitalist war. Capitalist war aims at killing proletarians for the benefit of one or other national capitalist class. Our war aims at our self-liberation. We have never had a country – and never will, because countries are exclusively areas of enemy power.
Victory in civil war is not the be-all and end-all of revolution; the physical victory over the enemy is a military question, but the reasons for our class’s wanting this can only be the desire for a new world. This cannot be reduced to a form of management (e.g. it isn’t democratic or self-management), but depends on the collective passion to dispose permanently of all that exists. This project is the project of the abolition of wage-labour, money and the commodity economy, States, nations and property (whether private, State or self-managed). It is the project of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the abolition of classes, the project of the insurrectionary realisation of communism. Its victory depends on the capacity of present proletarian struggles to organise themselves outside and explicitly against all leaders, to find their own explicitly subversive language of struggle, i.e. a communication of their needs, their history and their possibilities, and an understanding of the enemy in all its forms, to unify themselves on a world scale, and to seize power by force of arms.
THIS WAS PRODUCED BY SOME ANTI-PATRIOTIC PROLETARIANS
 Samotnaf note :
Without going into all the ins and outs of it, to use the term “necessary” implies a determinism that can only have the appearance of sense by looking at history retrospectively. In fact, when history is seen from what is done in the present, there are always several choices available to the ruling class at any one time, though obviously choices restricted to the need to survive, maintain social control and maximise capital accumulation, though even by these criteria they sometimes make the wrong choices.
 Samotnaf note :
Whilst these facts are true, they do not simplistically imply that democracy welcomed the Nazis with open arms, as both the so-called Communist Party and the so-called Socialist Party, both participants in some kind of bourgeois democratic process, did not at all welcome their future executioners. And, moreover, a couple of years or less into Hitler’s 1000 year reign, probably a majority of the ruling class were having serious doubts about the monster they’d helped to power. Nevetheless many, if not most, of the institutions of bourgeois democracy required very little transformation for them to become integrated into the Nazi regime.
 Samotnaf note :
In actual fact, the relative freedom of the British working class as compared with the German working class in this point in time was partly a result of the previous choices made by the respective working classes, their previous history of struggle. The British working class, admittedly helped by the greater margin of freedom and standard of survival that the Empire and its vast profits allowed the rulers to grant to the British working class, also gained its greater margin of freedom by massive persistent, even if reformist, struggle over a very long period of time. The German working class never achieved anything like as much autonomy as the British working class, and had always tended towards a far greater submission to authority than its British counterparts.
 Samotnaf note :
A bit of rhetoric – there are worse products of bourgeois war than pacifism; and one suspects that some of the refusals to fight in the Iraq war and other activities against it were inspired by pacifist ideology.
Pacifism is a repressively obnoxious ideology mainly when applied to violent explosions of class struggle, but not, generally, as a reaction to bourgeois war. As part of a pacifist attack on class struggle however, often the bourgeois hero Gandhi is invoked: the movie “Gandhi” was expressly made by the SDP-supporting director Richard Attenborough as a counter-force to the riots throughout England in the spring and summer of 1981. Gandhi’s pacifism succeeded in India mainly because in the wake of WWII there were lots of other forces opposing the British Empire and the UK ruling class saw that granting formal independence was the best way of maintaining its investments. And Gandhi did not succeed in stopping war between the Muslim hierarchy and the Hindu hierarchy. Before this, Gandhi hadn’t seriously been opposed by the British ruling class partly because he used his reputation and leadership role to often disarm social movements in India when they threatened to get out of hand; he opposed strikes in the super-exploitative textile industries, even going so far as to threaten suicide if workers went on strike; and he even refused to support a mutiny of a section of the Hindu Royal Garwhali regiment – who were brutally punished for the mutiny – when it refused an order to machine gun unarmed rioting muslims, saying he wouldn’t want soldiers in an independent India to refuse his orders to shoot if that became necessary!!!!! (Le Monde, 20th Feb. 1932)
 Samotnaf :
Though this is almost certainly true, it’s a bit like the classic truth about a stopped clock; in this epoch it’s as likely to come as a result of the rulers’ fear of revolution (a method of diverting people away from the ruling enemy within) as it is from the need to destroy the surplus population, Malthusian-style, to severely weaken the competition and to “resolve” its ever increasing tendencies to crisis. Not that it’ll be as easy to create support for such a war as the ideological atmospheres at the times of WWI and WWII…
In actual fact, anti-fascism is a bit more complex than this. In Spain in 1936 it was one of the main catalysts for the anarchist-inspired revolution. At the same time, it was used in a thoroughly brutal counter-revolutionary way by the Stalinists and even the Anarchist leaders who collaborated with them.
 Samotnaf :
“A military question” conjures up images of The Red Army. Whilst social war implies the necessity of organising and coordinating anti-hierarchical violence, including armed struggle at a certain point in the development of different social wars in different parts of the world, the term “military” is only something that Leninists or other revolutionary ideologists would normally use to describe organised anti-bourgeois violence. A modern-day version of the Makhnovite army or of the armed struggle of the anarchists in Spain do not need the term ‘military’ to be ascribed to them.
See also: “On German Guilt”