[Marxism] WWI

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 25 17:24:56 MDT 2004


>This month marks the 90th anniversary of the start of the First World War, 
>an event that has seen little commemoration in North America. It also 
>marks the 90th anniversary of a peace movement here in BC, a peace 
>movement that echoes strongly in the prevailing, international, anti-war 
>sentiment of today.
>
>The memory of the Great War for Canadians, at least those born since 1945, 
>has been irrevocably shaded by popular conceptions of the Second World 
>War. World War II has become, through films like The Great Escape and 
>Saving Private Ryan , and through annual Remembrance Day events, a war of 
>justice, which saved the world from a scourge that threatened the very 
>foundations of democratic society. Perhaps because it featured largely the 
>same collection of European combatants, or perhaps because it shares the 
>majority of its name with the Second World War, the First World War is 
>often addressed in popular circles today as a sort of prequel to WWII. 
>When Canada's involvement in the war began, however, with reports of a 
>German invasion of Belgium, the popular perception of the war was far more 
>complex. Probably the majority of Canadians supported what they took to be 
>a righteous war of defense on behalf of the British Empire against German 
>aggressors.
>
>Some, though, recognized it for what it was, a war between a would-be 
>colonial power in Germany and an established Empire in the Commonwealth. 
>These opponents of the war, many of whom resided in Vancouver throughout 
>its duration, immediately joined their voices to an international tide of 
>protest in demanding an end to the conflict. The anti-war movement in 
>Vancouver in 1914 was small, but diverse. It featured prominently the 
>Socialist Party of Canada (SPC) and its voice, the Western Clarion. Also 
>involved at the time was the Vancouver Trades and Labour Council, along 
>with its parent organization, the fledgling BC Federation of Labour. All 
>three of these organizations, to some extent, argued against the war on 
>the basis of international class solidarity. As one critic, who bore 
>membership cards for all of them, put it, "the thieves of Europe, arriving 
>at that point in the history of their development where it became almost 
>impossible for them to carry on trade without trouble, had thrown off the 
>mask, and had launched into bloody conflict thousands of working men, --in 
>order that their respective property holdings, especially in the East, 
>should not be further imperilled (sic)."1
>
>Full: http://www.sevenoaksmag.com/features/27_war.html





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