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Full text of "War as a socialist sees it"

WAR 



As 

A Socialist 

Sees It 



By NORMAN THOMAS 




PRICE 5 CENTS 



LEAGUE FOR INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY 

1 1 2 EAST 19 TH STREET 
NEW YORK CITY 



FOREWORD 



WAR ^S A SOCIALIST SEES IT 

Copyright 1936 

by 

LEAGUE FOR INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY 




This short pamphlet states briefly a case against war 
and an analysis of its cause and cure which I have 
developed more fully and adequately in War: No 
Profit, No Glory, No Need. I am grateful to the publishers, 
Frederick A. Stokes Company,for permission to quote from it. 
In the light of events of the last few months, since the book 
was written, I have developed somewhat more fully and ex- 
plicitly than in the book the argument against collective mil- 
itary sanctions as a way to peace. Here I have to thank the 
editors of the Jewish Day for permission to make free use of 
an article by me which they translated into Jewish and pub- 
lished in their pages. The position I hold is a Socialist posi- 
tion. It does not imply, however, that I am dictating in ad- 
vance my party's platform. — N, T. 






Library 
UnivR- >ty «f Te*a# 
Austin. Ti 



WAR - AS A SOCIALIST SEES IT 

By NORMAN THOMAS 



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Evebybohy who thinks at all agrees that the World War 
of 1914-1918 wr.s stark calamity, in tanas of human 
well being, no nation emerged victorious : there were 
only degrees in defeat. The war cost directly 100 bil- 
lion dollars; its indirect costs brought the faptcd to approx- 
imately 338 billion dollars. Senator Gerald Nye in his speeches 
has been quoting an estimate which runs as follows: 

"The cost to the world of the four years of World War 
would provide a $2,500 home with $1,000 worth of furniture 
and five acres of land for every family in Russia, most of the 
European nations, Canada, the United States and Australia; 
then would give every city over 20,000 population a $2,000,- 
000 library, $3,000,000 hospital and a $20,000,000 college, 
and in addition would buy every piece of property in Germany 
and Belgium." 

Still worse, the war cost 20,000,000 wounded, about 30 s ~ 
000,000 soldiers and civilian dead. Professor L. Hersch, the 
Swiss authority, brings the total up to 42,000,000 dead prin- 
cipally by adding victims of the epidemic of influenza which 
swept the world during the war. 

There is no possible measurement for human misery of 
soldiers in tranches and in the madness of the charge; of 
prisoners of war; of refugees^ of the women who waited at 
home. Neither is there any estimate of the biological conse- 
quences to mankind from the death of its bravest youth, the 
incredible training in brutality and sexual excess given to the 
survivors — in short the general physiological and psycho- 
logical effect of more than four years of mass murder. 




430271 



And out of this, by common consent, no ideal ends were 
gained. The world was not made safe for democracy but, dur- 
ing the war and after, democracy was all but killed in the 
house of its friends. The war did not end war. Rather the 
treaties which ended it sowed the seeds of new war. 

Yet the world which accepts tlhese facts today regards new 
war as virtually inevitable and is frantically preparing for it. 
The United States of America, safest of all nations, is spend- 
ing much more than a billion dollars a year on its army 
and navy or more than the entire cost of the federal govern- 
ment prior to 1916. 

Everybody who thinks at all knows that a new world war 
will be worse than the last. There are few dissenting voices 
to the opinion that it will probably leave the great cities of 
Europe and Japan smoking ruins. The actual suffering of 
civilian populations, the hysteria of fear probable as a re- 
sult of repeated aerial attacks on cities, their mass search for 
safety, may destroy our complex civilization and bring some- 
thing like new dark ages. Again two oceans make the United 
States relatively, but only relatively, immune from the worst 
of this horror. 

At home, in every land, to carry on such warfare at all will 
require propaganda, dictatorship, ruthless suppression of 
dissent a hundred fold worse than what we suffered in the 
first World War. 

Yet the world which accepts these facts today regards new 
war as virtually inevitable and is frantically preparing for it. 

Why? A babel of voices answers, "War," an English gen- 
eral was quoted to me the other day as saying, "is part of 
the cosmic process of force and struggle by which planets are 
born," More modestly, others assert that war is a biological 
necessity, that "man is war," or that war springs from human 
nature. Most of which is bosh masquerading as metaphysics 
or science. War is not human frailty or greed or love of power 



in general ; it is not struggle in general ; it is not even violence 
in general. It is a highly specialized form of group violence. 
It has nothing to do with the laws of the birth of planets or 
the forces which keep them swinging in their orbits. As for 
human nature, the most one can say is that it makes war 
possible, not inevitable. The evidence goes to show that man, 
fully developed in an evolutionary sense, existed through the 
Old Stone Age without war longer than he has existed since 
with war. Modern war is so far from being natural and in- 
stinctive that it must be prepared for by an elaborately arti- 
ficial training and supported by a propaganda whose first 
victims are liberty and truth. 

The principal root of war has always been economic — 
the desire of a tribe for better lands, slaves, gold. In our day 
and generation war is the expression of the maladjustment of 
an interdependent world which tries to carry on under the 
twin loyalties and institutions of the profit system and na- 
tionalism. Nations fight for markets for excess goods and 
capital and sources of supply for raw material. That is, they 
fight for profit primarily for the ruling class in each nation. 

This is not to say that all wars are waged on the basis 
of a wise calculation of profit. Sir Norman Angcll is right in 
arguing that on such a plane war, at any rate great war, 
would not be fought. Munition makers in every land sell to 
any nation with the price and cynically promote hate. Their 
story is a despicable commentary on mankind, more especially 
on the profit system. Concession hunters deliberately promote 
marine corps-sized wars. Yet it is doubtful if even the petro- 
leum corporations deliberately plan large scale wars. What 
they do is to seek profit in a world where men and nations arc 
divided into the House of Have and the House of Have Not; 
a world where patriotism masks greed and men expect an 
American to be safer in Japan than hundreds of Americans 
are in Chicago, in the flogging country around Tampa, Flor- 




Ida, or the regions where blacks and whites »re slaves to King 
Cotton, whose rule is a rule of violence. 

Our capitalist nationalism requires ever expanding mar- 
kets, ever new sources of supply for raw material. The strug- 
gle for them psychologically and practically is part of its 
life, even though it leads to death. Not man, but property — 
private property, that is, the means by which all men live — 
is war. 

As I have written in War, No Profit, No Glory, No Need, 
"Now, it is not nations as a whole which profit, at least 
directly, from this struggle for raw materials, for markets, 
or for opportunities to invest. It is the owning class in these 
nations. The struggle for markets, with the consequent war 
of tariffs and currency systems, would not take on anything 
like its present dangerous form if the workers at home could 
get the equivalent of what they themselves produce. Over- 
production under capitalism is a consequence of undercon- 
sumption by exploited workers* We should not have to worry 
so much about cotton or textiles if those who produce them 
could afford to use them; in plain English, if share-croppers 
and mill-hands could buy underclothes for their children or 
sheets for their wives. The problem of surplus goods is 
peculiarly a problem inherent in the profit system. So, too, is 
the matter of disposing advantageously of profits in the 
hands of investors at the highest possible rate of interest. 

"It is hard to do the wise thing even from the point of view 
of theoretical capitalist economics, because so many people 
have been led to believe that their fortunes or their jobs are 
tied up with victory in the various manifestations of the 
struggle for markets and raw materials. It is one of the most 
ominous signs of the times that now, in an hour of depression 
and capitalist disintegration, some men are turning wistfully 
to a memory of our temporary, false and dangerous wartime 
prosperity. 



"The conclusion of the whole matter is this: War and 
preparation for war are so bound up with the whole capital- 
ist-nationalist system and all the quarrels of rival imperial- 
isms that there is only a limited usefulness in proving that 
there is no profit in war or in taking the profit out of war. We 
have to prove that there is no advantage to mankind in the 
entire capitalist-nationalist system of whose evil fruits war 
is only one and the worst. The dominant class may be con- 
vinced that large-scale war does not pay, but it is by no 
means convinced that the system under which it enjoys power 
and profit does not pay. Hence it stands by that system, either 
blind to the true nature of war, or hoping against hope that 
in an interdependent world we can keep our inadequate and 
divisive loyalties and still escape war. War is psychologically 
and emotionally, as well as historically and economically, tied 
in with the profit system and our organization into nations. 

"It does not follow that if America were to turn Socialist 
automatically the danger of war would be over, even though 
the scramble for private investments abroad and profits from 
our foreign markets, a scramble inevitable under the profit 
system, would be ended. But if the nations were turning to 
Socialism, great would be the gain for the cause of peace. In- 
stead, two great nations have already gone Fascist, and, to a 
greater or less degree, Fascism menaces all the surviving po- 
litical democracies. Everything which makes war likely is in- 
carnate in Fascism to a greater degree than in the older 
forms of capitalism. Fascism has destroyed the independent 
organizations of the workers and hence their opportunity to 
function internationally with their comrades to prevent war. 
It seeks to regulate and defend the profit system by the 
power and authority of the state. It has raised nationalism 
to new heights of religion. It rejects any idea of loyalty above 
loyalty to the national state controlled by a dictator. It 
eulogizes militarism, even war itself, as good, not evil." 



THE CURE FOB, WAR. 

It follows from this analysis of the cause of war that its 
cure lies in new loyalties and a new social organization. Such 
a cure after centuries of struggle did bring internal unity and 
peace to the petty kingdoms which were united in the great 
nations of Europe. Strife within them today is class strife. It 
is potential revolution, rather than war. The cure for war is 
the end of exploitation : it is a federation of cooperative com- 
monwealths in all of which there must be a harnessing of 
machinery for the common good ; a recognition that above 
all nations is humanity; that the whole world must be the 
ultimate unit of our planning for peace and plenty, and that 
to enjoy these blessings requires production for use, not for 
private profit. This production for use requires social own- 
ership of the principal means of production and distribution. 
The principal business of mankind, almost its self preserva- 
tion, requires the organization of men of every race and creed 
and color and nation, workers all of them with hand and 
brain, in the struggle for this new society* 

Nothing but this new society will make freedom, peace and 
plenty secure for us or our children. In our present troubled 
world there is a five point program for America which may 
help us to prevent particular wars while we change the system 
that breeds war* 

Again I summarize my fuller treatment of this subject in 
War. 

"1. An immediate, solemn declaration of national policy 
by the President and Congress that the United States will 
not supply, or permit its citizens to supply, arms, munitions, 
or financial support to belligerents or prospective belliger- 
ents. Our most likely road into new European war would be 
the road that took us into the First World War: the road of 
trade with one group of belligerents. The time to make up 
our minds on this point is now t before the temptation to get 

10 



temporary prosperity out of war is too strong. It will re- 
quire a strong campaign of education and organization to 
keep us from following the lure of profit derived from others' 
war into the abyss of our own war. We could forbid the ex- 
port of articles which are obviously intended for war use, 
and then fix a quota of those supplies which might be used 
for purposes of either war or peace on the basis of a quota 
equal to the average trade of the years immediately preceding 
the war. 

"It will not be easy to put an embargo against a prospec- 
tive belligerent— in one sense all nations with armed forces 
are prospective belligerents. But, when the intention to fight 
was as clear as Mussolini made his last spring and summer, it 
was contemptible hypocrisy for nations to sell him all the 
war supplies he could pay for and then suddenly begin to act 
virtuous and talk sanctions when at last he made his attack 
with arms his critics had sold him. 

"The objection that we ought to be free to place an em- 
bargo against the aggressor nation only, would be more valid 
if there were a better test of what constitutes an aggressor 
nation and more assui T ance that such discrimination would 
not sooner or later involve us in war. It seems best to lay 
down the rule of no trade with belligerents and then make 
any exceptions which may appear morally desirable by 
formal act, as we now declare war by formal act. It must bc L 
added that the application of an embargo on arms as well 
as more extreme economic penalties solely against an 'ag- 
gressor' nation requires for its ethical and practical effective- 
ness an overwhelming weight of world-wide support. 

"Congress has indeed adopted a policy of no trade in arms 
or 'implements of war* with belligerents. The resolution for- 
tunately includes a statement that the government will not 
support the 'free right' of Americans to travel on ships of 
belligerent powers. Unfortunately, it makes no mention of 

11 




loans, does not define or lay a basis for defining 'implements 
of war,' and does not try to meet the problem of trade with 
prospective belligerents, 

"2. The second point in a national program for peace 
should be the largest measure of disannament that the public 
can be persuaded to accept. The United States is in a pe- 
culiarly fortunate position to practice disarmament by ex- 
ample. The long and happy history of peace on the com- 
pletely disarmed Canadian border, a peace which has lasted 
since 1815, is an example and symbol of what might be done. 
We are far from the territorial quarrels of Europe or of 
Asia and have no direct concern in them, 

"Certainly a program of disarmament requires us not only 
Ho take the profits out of war,' as the saying goes, but also 
out of preparation for war. We cannot listen to the dis- 
closures of the Nye Munitions Inquiry, cry out shame upon 
the Merchants of Death, and then go about our business. This 
sort of profit must be stopped, even though merely to stop 
it will not of itself end the danger of war. 

"It is horrifying that, with the shocking exposures of 
conscienceless profiteering in the whole armament business, 
Congress, while voting the greatest naval budget in the world, 
should defeat amendments drawn to prevent a repetition of 
some of the worst offenses revealed. It is disquieting that 
there was no well-organized and effective labor opposition 
either to the naval bill — which was accepted as providing em- 
ployment — or to the increased military appropriations. 

"Another logical accompaniment of a drastic approach to 
disarmament is an end to military training in colleges. If we 
mean business in our war against war we must dig out the 
R.O.T.C, root and branch — polo ponies, pretty girl colonels, 
snappy uniforms and all — even if we agree that the R.O.T.C. 
does not really train men for war but for the acceptance of 
war. 



12 



Libra tv 

University ol Tc*m 

AurtiA, Texas 

"3. It is absurd to suppose that we shall have genuine dis- 
armament or reduce our armament to a defensive level if 
we are to continue the imperialist policies which are the logical 
product of this stage of capitalism. We Americans have not 
been so aggressively imperialist in the thirties as we were in 
the twenties. Among other things we discovered that imperial- 
ism of the aggressive sort in Latin America did not pay the 
dividends that our bankers and concession hunters had ex- 
pected. But the secret war for petroleum continues; dollar 
diplomacy is not dead ; it is not even certain that it sleeps. 
We must make a solemn declaration that Americans who seek 
profit abroad cannot expect their fellow-Americans to pour 
out money or blood to guarantee or collect those profits. 

"4. We should end at once the insult we offer friendly 
nations— China as well as Japan — by our Asiatic exclusion 
laws. If necessary, we should regulate migration by mutual 
treaties which would preserve the legitimate pride of Chinese 
and Japanese. 

"5, Since national isolation in our interdependent world 
is neither possible nor desirable, the fifth and last point in our 
peace program is: Isolation from all that makes for war; 
cooperation with all that makes for peace. This is a slogan 
that needs intelligent application, and honest men may differ 
about applying it. We cannot have planned economy within a 
nation and complete luissez faire between nations. Rut those 
who admit this will agree that prohibitive tariffs are opposed 
to both peace and prosperity. They will agree that we do not 
show ourselves good neighbors by torpedoing economic con- 
ferences in which we were originally interested. If in the proc- 
ess of socializing its affairs, the United States should set up 
boards to control exports and imports as a public monopoly, 
that control should be exercised so as to encourage the warm- 
est possible international cooperation, especially with other 
nations making similar attempts, or with other nations in 

13 



430271 



which there is an honest effort to raise the standard of liv- 
ing for workers. Moreover we must steadily keep m mind 
the necessity of working for international agreements on the 
allocation of raw materials" 

It will be observed that in these five points there is no 
panacea suggested. Has not the experience of the years 
taught us that there are no panaceas? We have suffered much 
in the struggle for peace in over-emphasizing measures which 
at best could give us only a little help in keeping out of war. 

That fact is generally recognized. Yet today there is re- 
newed interest in the possibility of using the League of Na- 
tions, despite its long list of failures, as an instrument in the 
collective guarantee of peace— a peace based on the status 
quo which itself menaces peace? Temporarily international 
politics have made queer bedfellows of pro-League liberals, 
the majority of European Socialists, a minority of American 
Socialists, mostly of the "Old Guard" persuasion, and the 
Communists. The last group only a little while ago were de- 
nouncing the League and proclaiming that all wars between 
capitalist nations were wars to be first opposed by the work- 
ers and then, if they came, to be turned into revolution. At 
first men hoped that economic sanctions of the League could 
be used instead of war. They now accept the probable neces- 
sity of military sanctions, that is, war against the aggressor, 
envisaged as one of the Fascist states. 

The reason for this change, this hope against hope in the 
League, this new belief in the probable necessity of support- 
ing a new war for democracy— this time against Fascism — is 
obvious. It is to be found in the well grounded fear and hate 
of Fascist aggression which fills the hearts of decent men. 
Hence men who at least in retrospect condemn the "good" 
war for democracy of 1914, accept it as possible or probable 
in 1936. And it must be admitted that there is some difference. 

In 1914 there was no workers' republic like Soviet Russia 

14 



- 



to be defended, and there was in older imperialism no such 
menace to civilization as Hitler's cruel, anti-Semitic, anti- 
labor Nazism. Moreover, there was in Germany all during the 
war an organized Socialist and labor movement to which one 
might reasonably appeal for support for a negotiated peace. 
Hitler has crushed that movement and driven, what is left of 
it underground. And to this menace of Germany under Hitler 
must be added in the Far East the menace of Japan. Because 
of this situation, by a somewhat different set of rationaliza- 
tions, the Communist Party everywhere, and the majority of 
Socialists in Europe, take virtually the same stand that the 
majority Socialists of England, France and Russia took in 
1914. That is, they will support a new war for democracy — 
bourgeois democracy or capitalist democracy — against Fas- 
cism if and when they consider such a war necessary. These 
differences between 1914 and 1936 are real. Yet those who 
urge them are in danger of forgetting that emotionally the 
case for war against the Kaiser after the invasion of Belgium 
seemed to sincere men in 1914 about as compelling as a pos- 
sible war against Hitler seems today. It is only in the light 
of hindsight that their case seems so weak. 

Nor is the reason for grave skepticism about the doctrine 
of the possible "good" war based wholly on analogy. There 
are reasons for fear concerning the attitude of European 
Socialists — reasons even weightier when the problem is, what 
ought American Socialists to think and do. Here the reasons 
arc as I see them. 

1. Any world war, as we have seen, no matter how high and 
holy the alleged end, involves the most: catastrophic destruc- 
tion the world has seen. Its end may not be the victory of any 
belligerent, but a kind of general chaos of misery, fear and 
hate. It cannot be fought without putting all the belligerent 
nations under the severest military control with denial of all 
real civil liberty. Its consequences, biological and sociological, 

15 




will be dreadfully inimical to all the conditions on which the 
establishment of a new and glorious social order depends. Ter- 
rible as will be the suffering of continued war, there is little 
reason to think that once it is begun it will be won by sharp 
and sudden victory or a collapse of the enemy* This is not the 
assertion of Tolstoian pacifism ; it is a statement of cold fact 
concerning the nature of war, especially modern war, as an 
instrument of any sort of emancipation, 

2, The real enemy, as we have seen, is capitalist-national- 
ism. Fascism is the worst stage of capitalist-nationalism in 
our present day world; it is, however, a stage. All the ele- 
ments of Fascism are present in capitalist-nationaHsm. Fas- 
cism itself grew out of those elements. It was fertilized by the 
blood of the slain in the last war; warmed into maturity by 
the two hates precipitated by miscalled peace treaties. Why 
should we expect a different result from the next war between 
capitalist states? 

3. No capitalist nation, whatever its professions to the 
masses, will go into war for democracy. It will go in for its 
own concent of national advantage. We know now that it was 
the very nature of capitalist-nationalism which made the 
peace of Versailles a peace of vengeance and subverted the 
League of Nations into a league of fairly well satisfied states 
to enforce the peace of a status quo against the dissatisfied 
nations in the House of Have Not. The League has ignored or 
bungled every major issue. It never dreamed of acting against 
British or French imperialism; it gave no protection to the 
Riffs against France nor did it protest against British bomb- 
ing of tribes on the northwest frontier. Japan successfully 
snapped her fingers at the League and took Manchuria. Ger- 
many walked out of the League and temporarily settled the 
question of armaments, with which the League had vainly 
wrestled, by rearming. Never did the League find it possible 
to correct major injustices in the peace treaties or, what 

16 



i 



would have been more important, break down any economic 
barriers or make any sort of allocation of raw materials, 
thereby lessening the case for conquest in the mind of the 
nations shut in the House of Have Not. It did, indeed, act 
against Mussolini and for Ethiopia. There was a genuine 
pro-League, anti-imperialist idealism behind that action, but 
how bungling and hypocritical was the performance and how 
successfully did British Tories subvert that idealism to then- 
own political ends at home and the protection of their im- 
perial power in the Mediterranean! Mussolini was not warn- 
ed when the warning might have worked; League nations sold 
him all he wanted up to the actual invasion of Ethiopia, well 
knowing for what he wanted it. Even then they halfheartedly 
applied ineffective economic sanctions, perhaps because, with 
some reason, they feared that effective sanctions would bring 
war, not avert it. The United States was guilty in the matter 
of oil shipments, but for the League nations to shift guilt for 
their own course on the United States was sheer hypocrisy. 

In the light of all this, there is no guarantee at all that 
Great Britain under its Tory government will really back 
France and Russia against Hitler or that, if it should begin 
a war in such an alliance, it would stay with it. British Tories 
love Soviet Russia as little or less than they love Hitler, and 
they do love a balance of power on the European continent 
which they might think the conquest of Germany would dis- 
turb in a way adverse to Britain. The one sure thing is that 
Britain will act for the British Empire. Labor's fear of Fas- 
cism will be a factor, but not a dominant factor. And France, 
unless it goes overwhelmingly left, farther left than a people's 
front will lead, will be for Russia only so far as French 
nationalist interests are served. 

4, The hope that, despite the dominance of nationalism 
and capitalism, labor can somehow manipulate new war for 
its own ends, is Utopian. Never is capitalist nationalism 



.17 






stronger than in war; never is the state more truly the instru- 
ment of the owning- class. Its armies will not function as red 
armies and no propaganda of minority groups can make them 
serve this function unless and until they have been disillus- 
ioned by defeat ! And no one wants his country to go to war 
against Germany or Japan in order to be defeated ! 

Even an anti-capitalist nation like Soviet Russia with a 
record of real devotion to peace, when forced to play the 
game with capitalist powers, is compromised. The Soviet sale 
of oil to Mussolini is indefensible in terms of Socialist prim 
ciple. It could have been stopped, at least as far as direct 
sales were concerned, at the beginning by a general declara- 
tion of Soviet policy. It is absurd to say that thereby Russia 
risked war I It is more absurd to say that, by continuing 
the sale, Soviet Russia was in a position to compel all the 
League nations to adopt more effective sanctions. The record 
shows that she did nothing of the sort. But she did stop all 
talk of effective workers' sanctions such as the refusal of 
transport workers to carry oil. 

5. Important as is the physical defense of Russia against 
Germany, Japan or both, it is dangerous for any internation- 
al revolutionary movement to make the defense of any one 
land the first and last of its commandments. If it does it 
may find in the end it lias defended the shell and lost the 
substance. Is not Russia today strong enough to take care of 
herself without risking actual military alliance with capital- 
ist powers? By the Communist appeal for military action of 
bourgeois states against Fascism do they not weaken the 
appeal to workers of the world, even the workers in Fascist 
countries, to strive for the deliverance of the world? 

I grant that European nations, and the Socialist parties in 
them, are caught in a terrible trap. They are reaping the 
consequences of their own actions and failures to act* They 
may see nothing but a bitter choice between war and some 

18 



degree of Fascist victory. But America is out of the League. 
The conditions on which the Socialist Party could have sup- 
ported our entrance — assurance that we should not be bound 
to go to war to enforce peace, and that the League should be 
democratized in structure and aim — -were not fulfilled. By all 
means let us stay out. 

If the workers in Europe will have an almost impossible task 
to manipulate the armies of their nations for other than im- 
perialist ends, how much more completely impossible, short 
of crushing defeat, would be that task in America when the 
Socialist and labor movement is still weak. If we fight Japan, 
it will be for reasons agreeable to William Randolph Hearst, 
not to Earl Browder of the Communist Party. If after terrible 
struggle we win, we should be likely to stay in some part of 
China to "civilize it." And if a common foe, Japan or Ger- 
many, makes us temporary allies of Russia, the Russian gov- 
ernment would have to watch its ally, united to it only by a 
common hate, with sharper eyes than a hawk's. 

The minute we get into the war we shall pass under a 
vigorous, ruthless dictatorship, Fascist in character, if not in 
name at home. 

Nor is this all. If we are likely to be compelled to go to 
war it is plain common sense to prepare. It is no good for 
our pro-League and Communist friends in one and the same 
breath to advocate support of League sanctions and readiness 
to use military sanctions, and then to oppose preparedness. 
They may, if they want, turn amateur experts and denounce 
waste, but not sound preparedness. Neither does it make sense 
in a crazy world to say that collective sanctions make for a 
smaller burden on each nation. Look at England and France 
and Russia as frantically arming as if there were no League ! 
If we are going in for possible war, we are going in for prepar- 
edness and have no good argument against it. In the next war 
no more than the last will we merely furnish the supplies. 

19 






And if we arc to go on year by year increasing our army 
and navy, we shall increase militarism. The army will be used 
against the workers. Didn't General Sherrill, representing 
the New York State Chamber of Commerce, arguing with me 
over WOR, say that one reason for a bigger army was to 
keep the workers quiet I 

In -view of these weighty considerations surely we must con- 
clude that only in carrying out the slogan "workers of the 
world, unite," is there hope against war. Difficult as they may 
be to carry out, workers' sanctions against war, against the 
production and shipment of war supplies, strikes against 
mobilization offer far more hope than the machinations of 
capitalist governments. In the building of the underground 
movement in Italy and Germany and the working class move- 
ment in Japan is to be found a sure strength against Fascism 
that no manipulations of the Tory government of imperial 
Britain or the military minded government of capitalist 
America can afford. 

This struggle against war cannot move on any single track. 
It requires personal devotion as well as a political program. 
It requires a steadfast resolve of the individual not again to 
be coerced and cajoled by profiteers and patrioteers into 
new war. Then it requires of him cooperation in unions and 
in a Socialist or workers' party to wage peace. 

Our victory depends not only upon ending the capitalist- 
nationalism which causes war, but also upon the discovery 
and effective use of methods of struggle against it which do 
not of themselves involve war. There are circumstances under 
which a general strike against a would-be dictator may be 
more effective than war. 

Just as war and the loyalties on which it depends have 
been taught children by parents and teachers from the time 
they could first understand words, so must peace and the 
loyalty to a genuine brotherhood of man, organized in the 

20 



federation of cooperative commonwealths on which peace 
depends, be taught. Such teaching is consistent, not inconsist- 
ent, with the highest sort of love of country. 

In this, the struggle for this glory of peace, every foe of 
war must join. Each must find his post, and that not as a 
free lance opponent of war, but in comradeship with his fel- 
lows. The victories of peace will not be won by passivists nor 
by individuals, intent perhaps on saving their own souls, who 
cannot or will not organize to deliver themselves and their 
children from the dark and terrible night of war. 

The struggle itself is hard and stern. "The odds," let me 
repeat, "are against the pioneers of peace. But the nrlds are 
not hopeless. We who have enlisted in the crusade against war 
have to aid us, first of all a sure knowledge that war is for 
our day and generation the way to utter destruction; and, 
second, the sure hope that a world rid of the menace of war 
can discover new means of making ever more glorious the 
fellowship of free men who shall dwell together the whole 
world round in security and in peace," 



21 




Excerpts fbom St. Louis Declaration of Socialist Party, 

1917 

War Proclamation and Program Adopted at National Con^ 
mention, Socialist Party, St. Louis, Mo., April, 1917. 

The Socialist Party of the United States in the present 
grave crisis, solemnly reaffirms its allegiance to the prin- 
ciple of internationalism and working-class solidarity the 
world over, and proclaims its unalterable opposition to the 
war just declared by the Government of the United States. 

Modern wars as a rule have been caused by the commercial 
and financial rivalry and intrigues of the capitalist interests 
in the different countries. Whether they have been frankly 
waged as wars of aggression or have been hypocritically rep- 
reseated as wars of "defense," they have always been made 
by the classes and fought by the masses. Wars bring wealth 
and power to the ruling classes, and suffering, death and 
demoralization to the workers. 

The Socialist Party of the United States is unalterably 
opposed to the system of exploitation and class rule which is 
upheld and strengthened by military power and sham national 
patriotism. We, therefore, call upon the workers of all coun- 
tries to refuse support to their governments in their wars. The 
wars of the contending national groups of capitalists are not 
the concern of the workers. The only struggle which would 
justify the workers in taking up amis is the great struggle 
of the working class of the world to free itself from eco- 
nomic exploitation and political oppression, and we particu- 
larly warn the workers against the snare and delusion of de- 
fensive warfare. As against the false doctrine of national 
patriotism we uphold the ideal of international working-class 

22 



solidarity. In support of capitalism, we will not willingly 
give a single life or a single dollar; in support of the struggle 
of the workers for freedom we pledge our all. 

In each of these countries, the workers were oppressed and 
exploited. They produced enormous wealth but the bulk of it 
was withheld from them by the owners of the industries. The 
workers were thus deprived of the means to repurchase the 
wealth which they themselves had created. 

The capitalist class of each country was forced to look 
for foreign markets to dispose of the accumulated "surplus" 
wealth. The huge profits made by the capitalists could no 
longer be profitably reinvested in their own countries, hence, 
they were driven to look for foreign fields of investment* 
The geographical boundaries of each modern capitalist coun- 
try thus became too narrow for the industrial and com- 
mercial operations of its capitalist class. 

• * * 

The working class of the United States has no quarrel with 
the working class of Germany or of any other country. The 
people of the United States have no quarrel with the people 
of Germany or any other country. 

The American people did not want and do not want this 
war. They have not been consulted about the war and have 
had no part in declaring war. They have been plunged into 
this war by the trickery and treachery of the ruling class 
of the country through its representatives in the national ad- 
ministration and national Congress, its demagogic agitators, 
its subsidized press, and other servile instruments of public 
expression. 

We brand the declaration of war by our government as a 
crime against the people of the United States and against 
the nations of the world. 

In all modern history there has been no war more unjusti- 

23 






fiable than the war in which we are about to engage. 

No greater dishonor has ever been forced upon a people 
than that which the capitalistic class is forcing upon this 
nation against its will. 

In harmony with these principles* the Socialist Party em- 
phatically rejects the proposal that in time of war the work- 
ers should suspend their struggle for better conditions. On 
the contrary, the acute situation created by war calls for 
an even more vigorous prosecution of the class struggle. 



II 



Excerpts from platform of the Socialist Party of the United 
States in the national campaign of 1932 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 

While the Socialist party is opposed to all war, it be- 
lieves that there can be no permanent peace until Socialism 
is established internationally, In the meanwhile, wc will sup- 
port all measures that promise to promote good will and 
friendship among the nations of the world including: 

1. The reduction of armaments, leading to the goal of total 
disarmament by international agreement, if possible, but, if 
that is not possible, by setting an example ourselves. Soldiers, 
sailors, and workers unemployed by reason of disarmanent to 
be absorbed, where desired, in a program of public works, to 
be financed in part by the savings due to disarmament. The 
abolition of conscription, of military training camps and the 
R.O.T.C, 

2. The recognition of the Soviet Union and the encourage- 
ment of trade and industrial relations with that country. 

3. The cancellation of war debts due from the allied gov- 
ernments as part of a program for wiping out war debts and 

24 



reparations, provided that such cancellation does not release 
money for armaments, but promotes disarmament. 

4. The entrance of the United States into the World Court. 

5. The entrance of the United States into the League of 
Nations under conditions which will make it an effective in- 
strument for world peace, and renewed cooperation with the 
working class parties abroad to the end that the League may 
be transformed from a league of imperiatist powers to a demo- 
cratic assemblage representative of the aspirations of the 
common people of the world. 

6. The creation of international economic organizations 
on which labor is adequately represented, to deal with prob- 
lems of raw material, investments, money, credit, tariffs and 
living standards from the viewpoint of the welfare of the 
masses throughout the world. 

7. The abandonment of every degree of military interven- 
tion by the United States in the affairs of other countries. 
The immediate withdrawal of military forces from Haiti and 
Nicaragua. 

8. The withdrawal of United States military and naval 
forces from China and the relinquishment of American extra- 
territorial privileges. 

9. The complete independence of the Philippines and the 
negotiation of treaties with other nations safeguarding the 
sovereignty of these islands. 

10. Prohibition of the sales of munitions to foreign powers. 

* * i 

Committed to this constructive program, the Socialist 
Party calls upon the nation's workers and upon all fair- 
minded and progressive citizens to unite with it in a mighty 
movement against the present drift into social disaster and 
in behalf of sanity, justice, peace and freedom. 

26 






in 



E&cerpt from 1934 Detroit Declaration of the Socialist Party 
referring to opposition to war 

The Socialist Party is opposed to militarism, imperialism, 
and war. It proposes to eradicate the perpetual economic 
warfare of capitalism the fruit of which is international con- 
flict War cannot be tolerated by Socialists, or preparedness 
for war. They will unitedly seek to develop trustworthy work- 
ing class instruments for the peaceable settlement of inter- 
national disputes and conflicts. They will seek to eliminate 
military training from schools, colleges and camps. They 
will oppose military reviews, displays and expenditures, 
whether for direct war preparedness or for militaristic prop- 
aganda, both in wartime and in peacetime. They will loyally 
support, in the tragic event of war, any of their comrades 
who for anti-war activities not in contravention of Social- 
istic principles, or for refusal to perform war service, come 
into conflict with public opinion or the law. 

Moreover, recognizing the suicidal nature of modern com- 
bat and the incalculable train of wars' consequences which 
rest most heavily upon the working class, they will refuse 
collectively to sanction or support any international war; 
they will, on the contrary, by agitation and opposition do 
their best not to be broken up by the war, but to break up 
the war. They will meet war and the detailed plans for war 
already mapped out by the war-making arms of the Govern- 
ment, by massed war resistance, organized so far as prac- 
ticable in a general strike of labor unions and professional 
groups in a united effort to make the waging of war a prac- 
tical impossibility and to convert the capitalist war crisis 
into a victory for Socialism. 



26 



IV 



Excerpt from speech delivered by Eugene V. Debs, Socialist 
Leader, at Canton, Ohio, for which he was sent to Federal 
Penitentiary on a charge of "Attempting to cause * . . 
mutiny , . . within tlie military forces of the United States, 
and the utterance of words intended to procure and incite 
resistance to the United States, and promote the cause of the 
Imperial German Government" 

"Are we opposed to Prussian militarism? Why, we have 
been fighting it since the day the Socialist movement was 
born ; and we are going to continue to fight it, day and night, 
until it is wiped from the face of the earth. Between us there 
is no truce — no compromise. 

"Multiplied thousands of Socialists have languished in the 
jails of Germany because of their heroic warfare upon the 
despotic ruling class of that country. . . 

"I hate, I loathe, I despite junkers and junkerdom. I have 
no earthly use for the junkers of Germany, and not one par- 
ticle more use for the junkers in the United States . . . 

"Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest 
and plunder. In the middle ages when the feudal lords who 
inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the 
Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their 
power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon 
one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more 
than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go 
to war. The feudal barons of the middle ages, the economic 
predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. 
And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, 
ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters ; to 
believe that when their masters declared war upon one an- 

27 






other, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another 
and to cut one another's throats for the profit and glory of 
the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is 
war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the 
wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The 
master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while 
the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose — 
especially their lives . . . 

"And here let me emphasize the fact — and it cannot be 
repeated too often — that the working class who fight all the 
battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, 
the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the 
corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or 
making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does 
both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. 
Yours not to reason why ; 
Yours but to do and die. 

"That is their motto and we object on the part of the 
awakening workers of this nation . . . 

"Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, 
but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. 
Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good 
cause on earth." 



36 



Excerpts from Debs address to the court, after having 
been found guilty 

"From what you heard in the address of the counsel for the 
prosecution you might naturally infer that I am an advocate 
of force and violence. It is not true. I have never advocated 
violence in any form. I have always believed in education, in 
intelligence, in enlightenment, and I have always made my 
appeal to the reason and the conscience of the people. 

I admit being opposed to the present social system. I am 
doing what little I can, and have been for many years, to 
bring about a change that shall do away with the rule of 
the great body of the people by a relatively small class and 
establish in this country an industrial and social democracy. 
From the beginning of the war to this day I have never by 
word or act been guilty of the charges embraced in this in- 
dictment. If I have criticized, if I have condemned, it is be- 
cause I believed it to be my duty, and that it was my right to 
do so under the laws of the land. I have had ample precedents 
for my attitude. This country has been engaged in a number 
of wars and every one of them has been condemned by some 
of the people, among them some of the most eminent men of 
their time . . . 

The revolutionary fathers who had been oppressed under 
king rule understood that free speech, a free press and the 
right of free assemblage by the people were fundamental prin- 
ciples in democratic government. The vcr}' first amendment 
to the constitution reads : 

^Congress shall make no law respecting an establish- 
ment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ; 
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the 
right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition 
the government for a redress of grievances.' 



That is perfectly plain English. It can be understood by 
a child. I believe the revolutionary fathers meant just what 
is here stated— that Congress shall make no law abridging the 
freedom of speech or of the press, or of the right of the peo- 
ple to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for 
a redress of their grievances. 

That is the right I exercised at Canton on the 16th day of 
last June; and for the exercise of that right, I now have to 
answer to this indictment. I believe in the right of free speech, 
in war as well as in peace. I would not, under any circum- 
stances, gag the lips of my bitterest enemy. I would under 
no circumstances suppress free speech. It is far more danger- 
ous to attempt to gag the people than to allow them to speak 
freely what is in their hearts. 

I have told you that I am no lawyer, but it seems to me 
that I know enough to know that if Congress enacts any law 
that conflicts with this provision in the constitution, that law 
is void. If the Espionage law finally stands, then the consti- 
tution of the United States is dead , . . 

I cannot take back a word I have said. I cannot repudiate 
a sentence I have uttered. I stand before you guilty of having 
made this speech. I do not know, I cannot tell, what your 
verdict may be; nor does it matter much, so far as I am con- 
cerned. 

I am the smallest part of this trial. I have lived long 
enough to realize my own personal insignificance in relation 
to a great issue that involves the welfare of the whole people. 
What you may choose to do to me will be of small consequence 
after all. I am not on trial here. There is an infinitely greater 
issue that is being tried today in this court, though you may 
not be conscious of it. American institutions are on trial here 
before a court of American citizens. The future will render 
the final verdict." 



30 



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