A whole year of ‘commemorations’ of World War One, with opinion divided among them about whether this was a Good War or a Bad War. The right wing tends to argue that this was a Good War. The Kaiser was Bad, and had to be stopped. And Britain’s empire was, on the whole, a Good Thing, which had to be defended. The left wing can then pose as very radical, and say, this was a Bad, Imperialist War.
From the moment it entered the capitalist epoch, the history of the Philippines has been dominated by imperialism, first Spanish, then American. Its strategic position in the South China Sea has placed the country in the forefront of conflicts between rival imperialisms.
The nascent workers' movement in the 19th century, lacking in political experience and separated by vast distances from the more developed socialist movement in Europe, was never able to separate itself entirely from Filipino nationalism. As a result, and despite the remarkable courage of the Filipino workers in struggle, the trade union movement soon became a battleground for the competing imperialist powers, with the different unions acting as clients for this or that power.
Since the collapse of the Stalinist regimes and the eastern bloc, the organisations of official anarchism have prided themselves on keeping their hands clean in the confrontation of the east and western blocs from 1945 to 1989 and fostered the legend of an unshakeable opposition to the military blocs: "The anarchists vary on the problems of the blocs. The majority decided to oppose both east and west..."
In the build up to the Second World War, following the defeat of the revolutionary wave of the 1920s, the Russian revolution had been strangled by isolation and was then finished off by the world bourgeoisie and Stalinism. The counter-revolution, the crushing of the world proletariat, had triumphed. In this context, anarchism underwent a fateful step in its evolution.
mid September an article by ‘Jack Ray’ was posted on the libcom website... The
author says that nowhere in Europe during the Second World War was the
resistance as simple a question as “good guys in the hills with rusty
rifles, and bad guys wearing swastikas and burning villages”. Yet, to be
honest, that’s the impression you get...
In a number of countries, and particularly in France, the bourgeoisie
is using the theme of “Negationism” against the development of working
class struggle and consciousness (“Negationism” being the term used to
describe the calling into question by certain writers, of the existence
of the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps)...
All sorts of political animals label themselves as
anarchists. They can range from leftists who are hardly distinguishable from
Trotskyists, except perhaps for their antipathy for the idea of a political
party, to real internationalists who are seriously trying to defend the
interests of the working class. An example of the latter is the KRAS group in
Russia. At several political conferences in Russia, when the subject of the ‘Great
Patriotic War’ came up, the comrades of the KRAS had no hesitation about
ranging themselves alongside the marxists of the ICC in denouncing the various
justifications for this war from Stalinists, Trotskyists, and anarchists, all
of whom used the slogan of anti-fascism to justify support for the ‘democratic’
(and Stalinist) camp.
The war that the council communists had judged inevitable
broke out in September 1939. Nevertheless, it took the Dutch Left two months to
publish its theoretical review Raden-communisme, while its agitational
review Proletenstemmen, had ceased publication in July...
Throughout the history of the workers’ movement and the
class struggle imperialist war has always been a fundamental question. This is
no accident; war is the distillation of all the barbarism inherent in this
society. It shows that now we have arrived at the historic decadence of
capitalism this system is unable to offer humanity any possibility of
development and even poses a threat to its very survival. Because it
demonstrates to the full the barbarism of which the capitalist system is
capable war is a powerful factor towards the development of consciousness and
the mobilization of the working class.
This article was written 10 years ago, for the 50th
anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. It is no less
relevant today, even if the number of wars has increased since then, above all
with the gigantic US and British military adventures in Afghanistan
2005 abounds in gruesome
anniversaries. The bourgeoisie has just celebrated one of them - the
liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in January 1945 - with an
ostentation that outdid the 50th anniversary of the same
event. This comes as no surprise. For the last sixty years, parading
the monstrous crimes of the side defeated in World War II has proved
the surest means of absolving the Allies from the crimes that they
too committed against humanity during and after the war. It has
served moreover to present democratic values as the guarantee of
civilisation against barbarity. Similarly, we can expect that the
anniversary of the capitulation of Germany in May 1945 will also be
greeted with a special fanfare.
2005 abounds in gruesome anniversaries. The bourgeoisie
has just celebrated one of them - the liberation of the Nazi concentration
camps in January 1945 - with an ostentation that outdid the 50thanniversary of the same event. This comes as
no surprise. For the last sixty years, parading the monstrous crimes of the
side defeated in World War II has proved the surest means of absolving the
Allies from the crimes that they too committed against humanity during and
after the war.
As the bourgeoisie marks the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the second world war as the "victory of freedom", the second part of this article focuses on Churchill's wartime role and what it reveals about Britain's real motives and interests in a war supposedly fought for democracy against the evils of Nazism.
On June 8th the French paper Le Monde, one of the
most respected and prestigious bourgeois publications, not only in France
but throughout the world, published an article entitled “The debate on
revisionism rebounds on the ultra left”.
The role of the SS, the Nazis, and their camp of industrialised death, was to exterminate in general all the opponents of the fascist régime, and above all the revolutionary militants who have always been in the forefront of the combat against the capitalist bourgeoisie, in whatever form: autocratic, monarchical, or ‘democratic’, whether led by Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Leopold III, George V, Victor-Emmanuel, Churchill, Roosevelt, Daladier or De Gaulle.
The commemoration of the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp is providing the bourgeoisie with a new opportunity to obscure the responsibility of the ‘democratic camp’ in the atrocities of World War II, by bludgeoning us with horrifying images and testimonies, bearing witness to the appalling and all too real horrors of fascism. Hitherto unpublished documents have been dug out to illustrate once again the abomination suffered by the deportees, and the unimaginable barbarity of their Nazi torturers and executioners
The commemoration of the anniversary of the liberation of the
Auschwitz concentration camp is providing the bourgeoisie with a new
opportunity to obscure the responsibility of the "democratic
camp" in the atrocities of World War II, by bludgeoning us with
horrifying images and testimonies, bearing witness to the appalling
and all too real horrors of fascism.
There has been a lot of hype in the mass media about the so-called 'Greatest Generation' -- the generation that fought in World War II. First there was "Saving Private Ryan," the Hollywood blockbuster starring Tom Hanks, which glorified the sacrifices of those who fought in the war. More recently, there has been a media campaign to erect a monument to the soldiers and sailors who "made the world safe for the American way of life." Tom Brokaw, one of the most prominent television news reporters/broadcasters in the United States, has published two books on this generation, both those who fought in the war. The television news has been inundated with "heart-warming" stories about "long overdue" medals and citations being awarded to aging veterans. Various tributes have been made to the factory workers who worked long and hard to produce the weapons and materials needed to prosecute the war. A strong dose of gratitude is handed to those men and women who were not sent into combat but who worked under often dangerous and difficult conditions to keep production for war going at a fierce pace. There has been homage to all the women who worked as nurses or factory workers or truck drivers to keep war production going.
Sixty years ago, in January 1933, an event of historic importance struck capitalist civilisation: the arrival of Hitler to power and the installation of the Nazi regime in Germany. To listen to the bourgeoisie, fascism was brutally imposed on capitalist society, forced onto its reluctant body. Not for a moment does this lie stand up to the test of historic facts. In reality, Nazism in Germany, as fascism in Italy, is the organic product of capital. The victory of Nazism came about democratically. As to the repugnant racism, the nationalist hysteria or the barbarity which, again, according to the democratic bourgeoisie, characterises the fascist regimes, they are not at all specific to these regimes. They are, on the contrary, the product of capitalism, in particular in its phase of decadence, and the attributes of all factions of the bourgeoisie be they democratic, stalinist or fascist.
The strong electoral showing of Le Pen in France and the party of Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands has led to talk in the media of the danger of fascism returning to Europe. “Not since the 1930s has the threat of racism and fascism been so great” wrote a commentator in the Guardian (9/5/02). The Socialist Workers Party has been saying we’re living through the “1930s in slow motion” for some time. With the increased prominence of political parties that explicitly base themselves on intolerance, xenophobia, and opposition to immigration, while posing as ‘new’ alternatives to the tired old parties of the centre, we’re being asked to believe that fascism is on the agenda again in Europe.
From the very first moments, American bourgeois propaganda has likened the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. This comparison is laden with considerable psychological, historical and political impact, since it was Pearl Harbor that marked American imperialism’s direct entry into the Second World War. Like all bourgeois ideological myths, whatever the elements of truth that offer superficial credibility, this propaganda barrage is laced with half-truths, lies, and self-serving distortion. But this is no surprise. The politics of the bourgeoisie as a class are based on lies, deception, manipulation, and maneuver. This is particularly true when it comes to the difficult task of mobilizing society for all out war in modern times. There is considerable evidence that the bourgeoisie was not taken by surprise by the attacks in either case, that the bourgeoisie cynically welcomed the massive death toll in both cases for the purposes of political expediency in regard to implementation of its imperialist war aims, and other long range political objectives.
September marked the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War. The ruling class has used the occasion World War. The ruling class has used the occasion to hold up the war as a defining moment of the 20th century, when democracy stood up to and defeated fascism in order to allow the development of human rights and democracy. This message has been given added weight by the Kosovo war, where we were also told that NATO was struggling against the 'new' Hitler and his fascist hordes. Communists would agree that the Second World War was a defining moment of this century but not for the same reasons. What the slaughter of 60 million people in the war showed was the depths of barbarity that decadent capitalism can plumb.
Sixty years ago on
August 1940, Trotsky died, assassinated by Stalin’s underlings;
the second imperialist war had just begun. In this article, we
want not only to remember a great figure of the proletariat,
sacrificing a little to the fashion for anniversaries, but also to
use the event to examine some of his mistakes, and the political
positions that he adopted at the beginning of the war. After a
life of ardent militant activity, entirely devoted to the cause of
the working class, Trotsky died as a revolutionary and a fighter.
History is full of examples of revolutionaries who have deserted,
and even betrayed the working class; few are those who remained
faithful all their lives and died fighting, as did Rosa Luxemburg
and Karl Liebknecht. Trotsky was one of them.
The capitalist class spares no expense when it comes to putting on a show to make the oppressed and exploited accept their fate. In ancient Rome, the Emperors knew that bread and circuses (“panem et circenses”) were necessary to reconcile the plebs to their situation. And when bread ran short, they added to the circus. In the Christian epoch, the ceremonial of the mass played essentially the same role. And, as with the Roman circus, the purpose was not only to divert the oppressed to make them forget the misery of their daily lives, but also to praise the strength and generosity of the ruling power of the day.
It will soon be five years that imperialist war has raged in Europe, with all its misery, massacres and devastation.
On the Russian, French and Italian fronts tens of millions of workers and peasants are slaughtering each other for the exclusive interests of a sordid and bloody capitalism, which obeys only these laws: profit, accumulation.