Monday, 4 August 2014
100 years on from WW 1, have we learnt anything?
It was today 100 years ago in 1914 which signaled the start of World War 1 which was to change the face of the world as all wars do. ‘War is organised murder and nothing else....politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder’ Harry Patch, last surviving British soldier from the First World War (who passed away in 2009, aged 111) One hundred years ago World War One (WW1) began, unleashing slaughter on an unprecedented scale. It was dubbed the 'Great War', the 'war to end wars'. For the ten million killed and more than ten million seriously injured it was certainly not great. The battles fought saw some of the bloodiest human slaughter in history. We remember all who lost their lives all those years ago. But sadly war is something which humans are constantly involved in it seems. Never learning the lessons and continuing national antagonisms and feud’s that in allot of cases’ go back years if not decades. So this war which was meant to be the "war to end all wars" was nothing of the sort. As subsequent conflicts have erupted, it is self-evident that it did not mean an end to war. In the current carnage in Syria, 6.5 million people have been internally displaced and a further three million driven into external exile. Human suffering and killing have been repeated again and again since this 'war to end war'. World War One ended one historical era, opened another, and reshaped international and class relations. In its wake, empires collapsed some rapidly, while others took a slower, more inglorious decline. It opened the way for the USA to replace Britain as the world's leading imperialist power. Above all, it acted as the midwife to the greatest event in human history: the Russian revolution in 1917. There, the working class was able to take over the running of society for a time. At the same time, a revolutionary wave engulfed most of Europe. The trigger for the carnage was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Yet could this really be the cause of such a global conflict? Although centered in Europe, the war drew in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and, of course, the USA. While the shooting of the archduke may have been the excuse to unleash the dogs of war, the real underlying causes lay elsewhere. The war erupted as a massive struggle in defence of economic interests, markets and political power and prestige. The trigger for the carnage was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Yet could this really be the cause of such a global conflict? Although centred in Europe, the war drew in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and, of course, the USA. While the shooting of the archduke may have been the excuse to unleash the dogs of war, the real underlying causes lay elsewhere. The war erupted as a massive struggle in defence of economic interests, markets and political power and prestige. Eventually, this competitive struggle brought the main imperial powers into horrific conflict, as each tried to secure bigger markets or to defend those threatened by emerging powers. If new markets cannot be found, capitalism is driven to a destruction of value in order to begin the productive process anew. The price was to be paid by the working classes of all countries in this power struggle. So today the situation is still largely the same nations competing over markets and market share in the global race. Today the lessons are still not being learnt the leap towards nationalism is still around today. We must always warn against this having solidarity with our fellow workers across the globe is key. Not bowing to support for your nation over others remembering the great phrase that Karl Marx once said in his communist manifesto. The working class have no nation they are linked by a common struggle to over throwing the existing order and to build a more just and fair society based on the needs of the many over the few.