Labor Aristocracy

NIBS nibs at
Sun Feb 2 22:05:08 MST 2003

Shane wrote:
My question is, looking at the growing peace movement in WW1, was Lenin's
idea that the period of 'wars and revolutions' ushered in by imperialism to
be one of inter-imperialist wars like 1914-18 in which such peace movements
would eventually develop revolutionary leanings with presumably millions of
workers under arms turning their guns on the bosses instead of each other.
I guess that WW2 must have seemed a potential vindication of this idea but
instead of continuing war and depression we got the long-boom.

Part of the answer is surely to do with Stalinism.
I've been doing a little reading in this area, and have been quite
astonished at how much opposition there was to war in 1939 and 1940 -- much
more than at a comparable stage of WW1. For instance,  in 1939 (I think),
there was an anti-war demo of 60 000 people in Melbourne which is, when you
think about it, pretty amazing, with many of the unions taking a very
strong anti-war stance. After all, World War One was then a more recent
memory than Vietnam is now.
Of course, a lot of that died away once the so-called phoney war came to an
end. Still, what really destroyed the anti-war movement so thoroughly that
all memory of it has been expunged from popular consciousness is the CPA's
reversal from opposition to an imperialist war to support for an
'anti-fascist struggle'. Suddenly, you had all the best industrial
militants of a generation urging their workmates on to make greater
sacrifices for the war effort. I think that made the development of an
anti-war movement like WW1 very, very difficult.
After the war, there's the whole question of Stalinism in power in Eastern
Europe, which -- no matter what your take on it -- massively shifted the
dynamic of world politics. In fact, what's kinda interesting is the way
that -- with Stalinism gone -- the political situation has reverted to
something much closer to that which existed prior to 1914. It's almost like
we've gone back to 'normal' capitalism, after the long and freakish
experience of Stalinism. I mean, you read the documents produced by some of
the maniacs around George W. and an inter-imperialist war (directed at
China) doesn't seem such an outlandish possibility.
My two cents, anway.

Jeff Sparrow
New International Book Co-operative
Trades Hall
Box 18
54 Victoria St
Carlton Sth 3053
Mon-Fri 9am-6.30 pm Sat 11am-5pm
tel 03 9662 3744 fax 03 9662 4755

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who say George Bush him don't have no aim
a search fi Bin Laden and searching in vain
now them waan turn it pon saddam hussein
so me find out say this is an oil game
find out say Babylon a use dem brain
righteousness the ghetto youths sustain


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