LookLeft Editorial – Issue 18

“Full Steam Ahead, John Redmond said
That everything was well chum;
Home Rule will come when we are dead
And buried out in Belgium”
James Connolly

The First World War was neither great nor glorious. It was a clash of Empires who all shared the aim of subjugating working people at home and other peoples abroad. It was a human catastrophe caused by capitalism.

Those who would attempt to rewrite history in order to glorify the ‘sacrifice’ of young men who through economic necessity or a misplaced sense of duty died in that conflict must be confronted with the reality.

The same politicians and media who seek to revel in that senseless slaughter of 100 years ago now seek support for their own militarism and adventures.

They seek to weave humanitarian reasons in support of NATO expansion rather than expose its base economic and chauvinistic agenda.

They often rely on the same deceits presented by their forbearers to the young men who charged into machine gun fire at the Somme – a focus on the atrocities of only one side in a conflict or the ironic claim to be defending the ‘freedom of small nations.’

Closer inspection reveals the reality of the NATO and United States agenda of destabilisation followed by expansion.

What forces are utilised to further this objective – fascist militaries, far-right nationalists, drug gangs, or jihadists – matters little.

As it was 100 years ago, social democratic parties fail to confront the forces that drive conflict. Indeed, since the onset of “humanitarian interventionism”, they are some of its loudest cheerleaders and most active participants.

What was right 100 years ago remains correct now – all militarism must be opposed. Progressives must not allow the centenary of the First World War, or those of the revolutionary period in Ireland, to be hijacked by a new generation of jingoists seeking to glorify war.