Socialist Worker

Capitalist competition breeds bloody wars

Issue No. 2413

A US F16 fighter over Iraq

A US F16 fighter over Iraq (Pic: US Air Force)


The news seems to drip with horror wherever you look.

Charred bodies and broken toys litter the wreckage of a shot down airliner in Ukraine. Meanwhile Israel has unleashed even more horrific carnage in Gaza.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands injured, homes and hospitals wiped off the map at the flick of a button.

These two flashpoints are part of a broader context in which hundreds of thousands of people are killed in wars every year. 

One is the consequence of a rivalry between two imperialist powers. The other is a one-sided massacre. Both are products of imperialism.

The violence of states and armies is intrinsically linked to capitalism.

Our rulers are currently congratulating themselves on the anniversary of the First World War—“the war to end all wars”.

As it raged across Europe the Russian revolutionary Lenin looked at why war broke out.

He showed how competition between firms had spilled over into competition between states.

The bosses’ quest for profits requires access to materials and markets. 

To compete more successfully they need the international influence that armies, navies and weapons of mass destruction can bring.

Scramble

In the last century this translated into a colonial scramble for Africa, as European countries raced to grab territory.

Today it is a race to see whose interests will prevail in the face of relative US decline and the rise of China.

The Middle East, with its oil reserves and shipping routes between Europe and Asia, remains one of the most strategically vital places on Earth.  And arming Israel is a powerful method for Western imperialists to keep the region divided.

The same cynical calculations lie behind the clashes over where Russia’s influence ends and the West’s begins, or the brewing tensions in the South China Sea.

These battles could lead to another world war and rerun the darkest chapters of the 20th century with the weapons of the 21st century. 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The staggering resources squandered on weapons that are enough to destroy the world aren’t just a danger, but a criminal waste. 

They could be used to end poverty, stop climate change and create new ways for human creativity to flourish.

Ordinary people can create this different kind of world—a socialist world that puts people before profit and where war is a distant memory.

We must stand up to the warmongers whenever they attack.

But to end war for good we must also unite against the system that breeds it. 


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