George Walford: Class War

In the Socialist Standard for March 1987 there appears a full-page article entitled “Are Socialists for War?” It is written as a dialogue between an (anarcho-)socialist. ‘A’ and a mild patriot ‘Q,’ and it puts what the Party likes to call its case against war. In A’s words:

Wars are not about freedom and democracy. That’s just a slogan. Wars are the more violent episodes in the ongoing competition for profit and power in the world.

Nothing in the article suggests there could ever be conditions under which ‘socialists’ would use military force. When Q suggests that although everybody hates war yet it is sometimes necessary, A replies:

No, I don’t accept that at all. Every war has been justified with that sort of argument.

There can be no doubt of the writer’s sincerity. He clearly means what he says, and feels it deeply. But he is writing as a member of the (A-)SPGB, and all members of that party have signed their acceptance of its principles. Principle No. 6 declares the Party’s intention of converting “the armed forces of the nation” into “the agent of emancipation.”

It seems that an addition is needed to complete the dialogue:

A. Socialists would never use military force.
Q. Never?
A. No, never.
Q. What, never?
A. Well, hardly ever; only when it was an agent of emancipation.

from Ideological Commentary 27, May 1987.