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ON SUNDAY tens of thousands will march in London against Bush and Blair's war on Afghanistan. Socialist Party members who are part of the international socialist organisation, the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), are enthusiastically building the anti-war movement. At the same time, as KEVIN SIMPSON of the CWI explains, only a mass movement for worldwide socialism can end the capitalist horrors of war and poverty.
Why We Need International Socialism
THE CWI campaigns to stop the killing of hundreds of impoverished and innocent Afghans by so-called US 'smart' missiles and their not so-clever cousins: the cluster bombs.
Tens of thousands, if not millions, will starve this winter - more casualties of this so-called 'war against terrorism'.
But this war will not stop 'terrorism' - much as we condemn the killing of thousands of innocent people in the US on 11 September. In fact, the US bombing has already made the world a much more unstable and dangerous place.
Moreover we condemn the hypocrisy of previous US governments who through military dictatorships in Pakistan, armed and financed the Taliban and bin Laden's Al-Qa'ida group when it suited their interests.
But why is it that the 21st century witnesses war and upheaval, unspeakable poverty and exploitation for the majority alongside huge wealth and technological development for a tiny minority?
THE WEALTH gap between the rich and poor internationally is obscene. The world's richest three people have more wealth combined than the income of the world's poorest 600 million people.
In the West, growing numbers of particularly young people are forced into low paid, dead-end 'McJobs'. Education is being privatised and increasingly made available only for the rich. Over 35 million people are unemployed in the European Union, a large percentage of them young.
Neo-liberal economic policies (ie attacks on wages, working and living conditions, huge cuts in public spending and widespread privatisation of the state sector as well as tax cuts for the rich) have been responsible for the huge polarisation in wealth across the world. And now we face the prospect of a deep, world economic recession which millions of workers and youth will be forced to pay the price for through job losses and further cuts in public spending.
A destructive system
THE LAST 25 years has been the most environmentally destructive time in the last 65 million years, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. Capitalism is based not just on ruthless exploitation of human resources but also natural ones as well. Global warming, air and water pollution, destruction of forests, land erosion and now even the possibility of nuclear catastrophes puts a question mark over the future of the planet.
And yet the media and politicians tell us that the market economy or capitalism 'creates' freedom, opportunities, democracy and wealth. Reality shows that these conditions only exist for the small minority of the rich and super-rich.
Capitalism is a social and economic system which exists to perpetuate the control of the ruling class in its drive for profits. These profits come from the exploitation of those who produce wealth in society and run the service industries - the working class.
Through their political, economic and in the last analysis military domination of the globe, the most powerful imperialist countries practise policies of super-exploitation against the workers and poor of the neo-colonial world in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The globalisation of the world economy has speeded up and deepened this process over the last two decades.
Western economies through their control of the world economy determine what prices these countries buy and sell goods on the world market. They are forced to buy consumer goods at inflated prices and sell raw materials for less than they are actually worth. This means super-profits for Western companies.
On top of this, through institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the workers and poor of the neo-colonial world are suffocated by huge debts.
In 1999, the poorest countries in the world owed $2.5 trillion to the industrialised economies.
It is capitalism and imperialism that has created the conditions of poverty and exploitation which opens the way to conflict, wars and civil wars. This situation is made worse by the policies of divide and rule which particularly US imperialism has used to maintain its control of the neo-colonial world.
Capitalism means violence, conflicts, and huge spending on military weapons. In the last century, 200 million people died in wars that were basically about profits, domination of world markets and the prestige of the big powers. As a result of these conflicts, huge waves of refugees have swept across the globe - in the 1990s, 50 million people were forced to flee their homes in Africa.
The arms race means huge profits for big business as well. Since the end of World War Two, military spending has been approximately $1 trillion a year. The governments of India and Pakistan who between them have 350 million people living on less than $1 a day, have six times more soldiers than doctors.
Capitalism is not just an exploitative system which threatens our future with barbaric wars and destruction - it is also enormously wasteful. There are 800 million unemployed or underemployed people across the globe and yet there is a desperate need for teachers, doctors and decent affordable housing.
While millions starve across the globe, the necessity to keep the profits of the big farmers up in Europe means that millions of tons of food lie wasted in warehouses. If the money spent on weapons of destruction were distributed worldwide then every family would receive $1,000!
IS THERE an alternative? It is not enough to say: "No to war". We have to fight for a different society; one that is based on the needs of the majority of human kind not on the profits, power and prestige of the tiny layer of bosses and the politicians who represent the capitalist class. To do this we must mobilise millions across the planet in a struggle to overthrow capitalism and create a socialist society worldwide.
A socialist society would take account of the needs of the population and the resources at its disposal. The big multinational companies would be brought into public ownership, under democratic working-class control and management. A socialist society would mean the drawing up of a plan of production involving representatives drawn from all sections of society as to what was necessary to produce.
Rather than waiting every four or five years to elect a Labour or Tory government which represents the interests of the ruling class, as is the case today, a socialist society would be based on the setting up of committees at every level in the workplaces and communities. Such committees would exist at local, regional and national level. All representatives would be subject to recall if those who elected them disagreed with their role and decisions. All representatives would only be paid the average wage.
The huge sums of money wasted on military spending could be used for the good of humanity. But a socialist society would not just be about sharing out the wealth of the rich. It would use the resources that exist to raise levels of education and technology amongst the whole population rather than just limiting it to the few.
A socialist plan of production would mean an end to the enormous waste, duplication and chaotic nature of capitalist production. Training and employing the under-employed and unemployed would mean that the length of the working week would be shortened.
On this basis the huge damage caused by poverty, exploitation, and oppression under capitalism could be healed within a generation. The seeming non-ending cycle of wars and civil wars would become a distant memory.
The Committee for a Workers' International, based in 36 countries around the world fights for every reform and improvement in conditions for workers and the oppressed. But do not just limit ourselves to the struggle for reforms - which over the long run the capitalists will take away - we are also committed to the struggle for a democratic socialist world.
This is the only way in which the future of humanity can be guaranteed. Join us today!
In The Socialist 16 November 2001: