We are reproducing Lutte Ouvrière’s editorial written on 8 May 2023 on armistice day, in the context of the current arming to the teeth of Ukraine and scaremongering over China. It restates our tendency’s position: against NATO aggression, against rearmament, an end to war in Ukraine! Commemorations took place on May 8th to mark 78 years since the end of the Second World War. But though war ended in Europe in 1945, it continued to rage - or was started - in other regions and countries, like Indochina, Korea, Egypt... The conflict in Ukraine over the past year shows that war is not a thing of the past for Europe: it is now part of our present.
For a long time, governments wanted us to believe that the barbarity of war was behind us and that bombings and trenches, razed cities and deportations of people were over.
The population in Europe was given the same pitch after the First World War, which had been a nameless massacre: 10 million dead in Europe, millions of wounded, amputees, gassed and “broken faces”. 500,000 soldiers were killed in Verdun alone, so that each side could finally regain the positions it held at the beginning of the offensive!
The extent of the suffering and destruction was a “first” and all the governments of the time presented it as “the last war”. Twenty years later, in 1939, it happened again!
The Second World War rationalised the horror so well that it was the deadliest war in history. In addition to the 20 million soldiers killed, 40 to 60 million civilians were bombed and starved, and 6 million Jews, as well as Gypsies and other minorities, perished in the Nazi extermination camps. Many cities were turned into ruins.
The First and Second World Wars had basically the same causes: the need for expansion of the capitalist trusts and the resulting economic warfare.
Under their harmless exterior, competition and competitiveness are the expression of this economic war. The defenders of capitalism sing its virtues, but by definition, it means a confrontation between private interests. States relay these confrontations with the means conferred by their economic, political and military power.
World war is not a calamity brought on by this or that dictatorial monster. It is the extension of the economic war of the capitalist trusts to control raw materials, production chains and to secure markets on a global scale.
So yes, the First War was inevitably followed by a Second. And the Second World War will be followed by a Third. It will be so as long as the capitalist system dominates.
International relations, alliances and reversals of alliances, peaceful or warlike relations are not guided by the happiness of the people, freedom or democracy. They are the result of calculations
and power relations between states and the capitalist interests they represent.
The war in Ukraine is no exception. The warmongers explain that it is necessary to defend a small country attacked by its powerful neighbour. As if Ukraine was not the scene of the confrontation between the United States and Russia for at least thirty years! As if the imperialist camp behind NATO was selflessly equipping, training and informing the Ukrainian troops!
The war against Putin’s Russia and the blacklisting of Xi Jinping’s China are the political and military translations of the economic rivalries between these great powers. Workers do not have to take sides with either of them. They have to fight to overthrow this capitalist system that condemns us to exploitation and wars.
The United States and the Western imperialist powers, including France, rule the world order by raising the banner of peace and democracy. But it is an order where dictatorships abound! It is an order that fuels endless wars in Africa, the Middle East and Asia! It is an order that plunges entire regions into destitution and drives hundreds of millions of women, men and children from their homes, turning them into outcasts!
The deadly fighting in Ukraine or the clashes between the United States and China make the threat of a generalised war more and more concrete.
All states are preparing for it by rearming on the double. It is up to us to say no to a new war provoked by the imperialist countries. This struggle is inseparable from the social struggle that the workers have to wage against the power of a capitalist class which, for its market share and profits, is ready to plunge the whole world into barbarism.