Why is it that the casualties of war are rarely the rich and powerful, but rather the working, often starving masses? Why indeed is it, that wars are almost always instigated, supported and prolonged by those in power - the governments of the world, the corporations? The reason is this: amongst other things, without the threat and reality of war, fear could not be instilled in the minds of the people and they would be impossible to control - then would come the inevitable overthrow of the state, and an end to the minority monopoly of power.
Perhaps we should say briefly what the State is. The State is the combination and indeed culmination of the different elements of repression (including the government, the police and the army) that exist in every country under various auspices, in order to control the wealth and means of production and quell unrest and resistance in the majority of the population. The existence of the State necessitates the strict division of people into bosses and workers, rulers and ruled. It ensures that the wealth of the world remains in the hands of a few.
Through fear-mongering, the State subdues the people as they are taught to be terrified of alien power, terrorists et al, even though it is their own governments as well as foreign that they must hate and fight to eradicate. Similarly, institutionalised racism prepares the people for apathy when war breaks out. Immigration laws, as are seen here in Fortress Europe, actually succeed in dehumanising 'foreigners' so that when their respective countries or neighbours are blown to pieces, they are believed to deserve it.
Munitions funding is therefore justified - another delightful attribute of the war machine. The lucrative nature of the business that is the buying and selling of weapons of mass destruction enriches greatly the economies of almost every nation of the world, especially those who purport to having national and international security as a main priority - for example, 25% of US GDP is created by the arms industry.
There are different kinds of wars, of course, each assuming different modi operandi, but the eventual aim and outcome of every war is the same. Civil wars are first and foremost divisive of the working classes. One need only look to Northern Ireland to see how well one imperial master succeeded in damaging the unity of the working people. Territorial wars involve the wielding of power over weaker non-compliant neighbours or indeed indigenous peoples, for example the ethnic cleansing by the Turkish government of Kurds or the Israelis of Palestinians. Closely related to this kind of war, in terms of global support, are the Star Wars-esque international wars, i.e. superpowers wreaking havoc on disobedient states, for example the ongoing and now escalating war on Iraq by the US.
The real reasons for most wars are covert, and rather more pious and fictitious reasons, reminiscent of the crusades, are perpetuated by mass media, itself owned and controlled by the state and the capitalists. In a recent article, Larry Everest* outlined succinctly the usual motives of war, in particular the impending devastation in Iraq - "This agenda encompasses many strategic goals: monopolizing world energy resources, maintaining military superiority over potential adversaries, having open access to key global markets and vast sources of raw materials, and creating the conditions for the unchallenged exploitation of hundreds of millions of labouring people worldwide."
Indeed, truly broken and divided people are easy to manipulate and exploit; they can be placated with minute pay increases and seeming concessions in workplace conditions. Their cheap labour will go on to fund and extend further wars, thus the process continues ad infinitum until the working people of the world unite and realise: there must be no war but the Class War, and our only enemies are the State and the monsters it protects.
*quoted in Z Magazine, August/September 2002
This edition is No74 published in Feb 2003