World War I
WWI was a crime against humanity, with two rival imperialist alliances fighting it out to redivide the colonies, markets and resources of the world. The lives of soldiers, Australians included, and civilian populations were sacrificed to the power and profits of their own ruling classes. After a debacle on a Turkish peninsula near Istanbul in 1915, the ANZACs were sent to the Western Front. There, they became raw material for the war machine of the British Empire. They died in their tens of thousands. The war’s death toll on both sides was at least 15.5 million. The carnage was eventually brought to an end by revolution breaking out in Germany.
Though imperialism remains, much has changed in the intervening century. The military forces of imperialist countries are in much less danger than the civilians of the countries they invade. War is waged as much on a country’s civilian infrastructure as on its military. The imperialists wage a coward’s war, raining death from the skies, while safely ensconced on high in F-16s or even piloting a drone from an office in the US. The imperialists’ wars on Third World countries may cost fewer lives of their own citizens, but they are as evil as ever.
The United States, the world’s greatest imperialist power, is openly at war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. President Trump is adding Somalia to the list. The US also intervenes indirectly and/or through drones in Yemen, Ukraine and Libya. Other imperialist powers, including Britain, France, Russia and Australia, are also intervening in one or more of these wars. In none of them are the imperialists telling the truth about their motives and objectives, nor about the civilian casualties they cause. In every case, imperialist intervention has a reactionary effect. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but the invasion of Iraq in 2003 has worsened conditions for people there. Similarly today, imperialist intervention, even against the monstrous Daesh in Iraq and Syria, will have reactionary effects. In West Asia, only the oppressed masses, centrally the working class, can produce a progressive alternative to the sheiks, generals, Islamists and Zionists who rule there today.
War is integral to imperialism. We can’t end war without ending imperialism and we can’t end imperialism without ending capitalism, because imperialism is not merely a policy, but the set of international relationships in capitalism for over 100 years now. We don’t have to send young men and women overseas to kill brown people and we don’t have to allow a US base at Pine Gap to guide both nuclear missiles and drones. To change direction, though, means eliminating the capitalist system that brings us these horrors. The working class needs to unite internationally and make a revolution to abolish it. We need to replace capitalism with the only possible alternative – libertarian communism.
END WAR: END CAPITALISM
Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group