Veterans Day calls for peace and solidarity

BY:Communist Party USA| November 11, 2019
Veterans Day calls for peace and solidarity


On November 11, 1918, at 11:00 AM, the First World War came to a close.  The Treaty of Versailles ended a war unprecedented in scale and fought with all the barbaric ingenuity of industrial capitalism: machine guns, poison gas, submarines, tanks, airstrikes, and heavy artillery moved by rail and capable of breaking down fortifications from miles away.

Today, we mourn the cost of that war.  We honor the dead and wounded, as well as those who had the courage to stand against it, like the great socialist Eugene Debs who went to prison due to his opposition.   And we call to mind the bitter lessons of that war, too often buried under platitudes about “sacrifice” and “duty.”

Responsibility for World War I lay with the ruling classes of the imperialist powers. At the turn of the 20th century, they had proclaimed a new age of peace in a world united by commerce; linked by railroads, steamships, and wireless telegraph; and bound by treaties that promised peace—or at least an agreement that would enable capitalists to turn their attention to the growing class, equality, and national liberation struggles at home and in their colonies.

But capitalism knows as little about peace as it does about justice and democracy. Even that self-interested peace proved too fragile in the face of imperialist competition, nationalist demagogy, and profiteering by industrialists.  And so, the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian archduke set off a war that left 18 million military and civilian dead and another 22 million military wounded.

That war also reshaped the working-class left.  The Second (or Socialist) International collapsed when its European member parties chose to side with their national ruling classes rather than uniting against the war. This broke the back of the anti-war movement.  After the war, under the leadership of the new Soviet Union, Communist parties and a new Communist International were founded to unite those left forces that had maintained their commitment to working-class power and their opposition to imperialist war.

Today, Veterans’ Day should remind us of the lessons of the First World War.

The first is that world war is possible and war can give rise to fascism. After World War I black veterans returned home to ongoing discrimination, race riots, and repression.  In Europe economic conditions led to the rise of the Axis powers as working-class and left unity faltered.

Today, the U.S. ruling class struggles to maintain global dominance as Russia and China achieve great power status.  The rise of Trump and the extreme right, which uses militarism, national chauvinism, and white supremacy to cement its coalition, further exacerbates the danger of war.  Global climate change has opened a new front of imperialist conflict in the Arctic and outer space, even as it intensifies competition for natural resources (including water).

The second lesson is that if we are to prevent another world war, that task falls to the working class and allies.  We need a broad front for peace. Our working-class fight against austerity is also a struggle to divert money from the military to social welfare programs.  Our struggle for a Green New Deal and a just transition must grapple with the fossil fuel companies who dominate U.S. foreign policy.  The fight for good jobs must take on imperialism, which is responsible not only for war but also for the wage differential between the global North and the global South.

The third is that the best way to honor our vets is to fight for peace and an end to militarism.  U.S. veterans, most of whom enter the military due to a poverty draft and hope for training benefits and jobs are militarism’s victims.  Cutting the bloated Pentagon budget and using that money to help vets who suffer from PTSD, homelessness, and addiction would go a long way to addressing their long suffering.

Therefore, as we commemorate the end of World War I and honor veterans, many of whom return home to speak out for peace, we reaffirm our commitment to fight for the rights of their families, including their democratic rights, so threatened by Trumpism.  Today vets from around the country signed an appeal calling on both parties to honor country over party and to support the impeachment.

We also recommit ourselves to socialism and a foreign policy based on working-class solidarity, peace, and internationalism. We proudly proclaim that the enemies of the U.S. working class are not the people of China, or Mexico, or Russia, but the capitalists whose relentless drive for profits has pushed us time and again to war.

Long live working-class internationalism!  Workers and oppressed people of all countries, UNITE!

Image: Veterans for Peace on FB.




    The Communist Party USA is a working class organization founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL.

    The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign.

    But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism.

    We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

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