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Commentary :: War and Militarism
Why Capitalists support the war
22 Jan 2007
To put it simply, they want to maximize their profits at the expense of the vast majority. This requires access to raw materials, markets, and cheap labor, not to mention juicy government contracts with built-in profits. But don't take our word for it. Here's what the representatives and defenders of U.S. capitalism have had to say about it over the years:
"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses...
"It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."
- USMC General Smedley Butler, 1933
"...We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population... Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.

We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction... We should cease to talk about vague and... unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."

- George Kennan, State Department, 1948

On a Frontline program aired in November, 2003, James Baker, former Secretary of State, declared to the interviewer: "As I told you, I worked for four administrations under three presidents. And in every one of those, our policy was that we would go to war to protect the energy reserves in the Persian Gulf. That is a major and very significant national interest that we have."

Why Workers Oppose the War

Workers and young people are naturally opposed to predatory wars abroad, waged in the interests of a tiny minority of the population. We have no interest in killing and exploiting workers and youth in other countries. After all, we have the same hopes and aspirations as they do: decent jobs and wages, safety for their families and loved ones, universal access to quality health care, education and housing, etc. Due to our conditions of life, we have far more in common with them than we do with the billionaires of our "own" country.

Foreign policy is really just an extension of domestic policy. Here at home, a war is being waged as well - a war against our wages, working and living conditions, and even our dignity. This is the class war - a constant war over who controls the surplus wealth produced by the labor of the working class. Should that wealth go to line the pockets of a handful of billionaires who do no productive work, or should those who actually produce the wealth of society democratically decide how best to use it in the interests of the majority? That is the heart of the matter.

There are many who, after the November elections, have sincere hopes that the Democratic Party will be able to stop the war. But let's be realistic. Like the Republicans, the Democrats are also controlled by the corporations. They supported the invasion of Iraq in the first place and have consistently voted to fund it. They've proven time and again that on all fundamental issues, their interests are completely opposed to ours. So why should we give them another chance? The hundreds of thousands of deaths and the colossal waste - billions of dollars in no-bid contracts while public schools are in a shambles, factories are closed, millions go without health care, and union contracts are torn up - is just the beginning if we don't organize around our class interests and fight back.

What we need is a party of our own, a party that fights in the interests of the majority, a party that is directly accountable to its membership. What we need is a mass party of labor, by and for the working class. The labor movement needs to be at the forefront of building of such a party, and at the forefront of the struggle against the war - a war against workers at home and abroad.

• Only the working class can stop the war!
• Bring all the troops home now!
• Money for jobs health care, and education, not war!
See also:
http://www.socialistappeal.org

This work is in the public domain
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