The Ruins of War, Then and Now

Brenner, Robert; et al.

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/07/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20781

The editors provide an overview of the United States' involvement in WWI and how the country's imperialist dynamics have grown since then despite anti-war, labour, and socialist efforts.



If World War I was the classic all-out conflict over colonial empires, "in order to decide whether England or Germany -- this or that finance capital -- should rule the world" as Lenin wrote in the conclusion of State and Revolution, today's wars certainly look different.

Following World War II, the Cold War and post-Cold War eras have seen one horrific "East-West" war in Korea and dozens of brutal wars, large and "small" (although not for the affected populations), of imperial powers against their colonies or nations struggling for independence. Those wars continue to cast long shadows -- from Vietnam to Congo, from the devastated countries of Central America from which hundreds of thousands of people desperately seek escape to the United States, to the Korean peninsula where U.S. troops remain stationed six decades after the truce.

Yet there are no shooting wars today among what are called "advanced capitalist" states. Analyzing modern-day imperial dynamics is a separate problem.

Still, many underlying issues from a century ago remain. Each war, under the patriotic/nationalist guise of "supporting the troops" and "honoring their service," becomes the occasion not for ending war, but rather for promoting the next one. World War I soldiers were celebrated for heroic sacrifice, being conveniently unavailable to tell how they really died -- choking on poison gas, screaming for their mothers, cursing the officers who sent them into hopeless battles. Thousands of troops from all belligerent states, suffering from what we now know to be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, were summarily shot for the crime of
"desertion" from the front lines.
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