No more wars!

MONDAY’S London Evening Standard carried a front page picture of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge standing solemnly at the Whitehall ceremony to commemorate the start of the First World War next to a splash headline: “We salute those who died for us”. How appropriate — millions of young men and some women going off to war in Europe in a fight to preserve the wealth and privilege of the British royal family and ruling class from the ambitions of the rival German royal family and ruling class.

The recognised start of the war was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo but we all know that was just the trigger to let off tensions that had been rising between rival capitalist empires seeking to stake out control of vast swathes of the world for sources of raw materials and cheap labour and markets to sell their manufactured commodities to.

Britain and France already had vast empires in Africa and Asia. Germany had some parts of Africa but not enough to satisfy its new burgeoning industrial sector. So it was impatient to go to war with its neighbours and carve out a bit more of the world for itself. It was held back for a while by a shortage of nitrates — the basis of most explosives at the time. The biggest world source of nitrates was rich deposits of guano (bird droppings) in Chile and importing the stuff from Chile was difficult while Britain’s Royal Navy “ruled the waves”.

But a clever German scientist called Haber found a way to combine hydrogen and nitrogen under pressure to make ammonia — which is the basis of nitrate manufacture — in industrial quantities. The German ruling class was ready to go for it.

There are disturbing parallels to the situation in the world today. Again we have mighty imperialist blocs in a long-running crisis of over production (making more stuff than people on low wages can afford to buy) and facing an impending shortage of essential resources — water, oil, various minerals especially rare metals used in new technology and land. Juggling with the money system by encouraging consumer debt and the selling the debts as though they were money, printing more money and generally dealing in wind, water and fairy dust have only made matters worse in the long run.

We have the giant US economic empire in deep crisis internally and externally and increasingly desperate as its real power starts to fade. The US has been conducting minor wars around the globe since the end of the Second World War in a strategy to gain control of the world’s vital resources. It was to some extent inhibited in this until 1990 by the presence of the Soviet Union as a socialist super-power.

Once that disappeared, the US ruling class expected to achieve complete global hegemony and its continuous little wars turned into bigger wars — in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. But they were disappointed. Even without the existence of the Soviet Union the people in these countries still fought back. And new economic powers — the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — emerged and are undermining the authority of the “mighty dollar”. The US is losing control in the fight for the world’s resources.

There are elements in the US ruling class who see the only way out for them is through another global war. Even though it is now capitalist they still tend to see Russia as their main enemy but they are also busy trying to encircle China with massive weapons bases.

As in 1914 economic, political and military tensions are rising and there are some itching to find a trigger. They are going out of their way to manufacture situations where it could happen, using proxy puppets like the Zionist regime in Israel and the openly Nazi-backed regime in Ukraine.

All sane politicians around the world — including a lot of the capitalists — are seeing the dangers and trying desperately not to set off any of these triggers. These include Russia’s President Putin and Germany’s Angela Merkel.

On the other hand Britain’s David Cameron and former Prime Minister Tony Blair are among the gung-ho idiots who are helping the Washington hawks to make the world a much more dangerous place.

So for us communists the way forward is to campaign as strongly as possible for peace on all fronts and to oppose any new initiatives for war — just as it was in 1914.