Saturday, December 22, 2012

Socialism and War

The socialists insist that war is but one of the many mischiefs of capitalism. In the coming paradise of socialism, they hold, there will no longer be any wars. Of course, between us and this peaceful utopia there are still some bloody civil wars to be fought. But with the inevitable triumph of communism all conflicts will disappear.
It is obvious enough that with the conquest of the whole surface of the earth by a single ruler all struggles between states and nations would disappear. If a socialist dictator should succeed in conquer­ing every country there would no longer be external wars, pro­vided that the O.G.P.U. were strong enough to hinder the disinte­gration of this World State. But the same holds true for any other conqueror. If the Mongol Great Khans had accomplished their ends, they too would have made the world safe for eternal peace. It is too bad that Christian Europe was so obstinate as not to surrender voluntarily to their claims of world supremacy.[ix]
However, we are not considering projects for world pacification through universal conquest and enslavement, but how to achieve a world where there are no longer any causes of conflict. Such a pos­sibility was implied in liberalism's project for the smooth coöperation of democratic nations under capitalism. It failed because the world abandoned both liberalism and capitalism.
There are two possibilities for world-embracing socialism: the coexistence of independent socialist states on the one hand, or the establishment of a unitary world-embracing socialist government on the other.
The first system would stabilize existing inequalities. There would be richer nations and poorer ones, countries both under­populated and overpopulated. If mankind had introduced this system a hundred years ago, it would have been impossible to ex­ploit the oil fields of Mexico or Venezuela, to establish the rubber plantations in Malaya, or to develop the banana production of Central America. The nations concerned lacked both the capital and trained men to utilize their own natural resources. A socialist scheme is not compatible with foreign investment, international loans, payments of dividends and interest, and all such capitalist institutions.
Let us consider what some of the conditions would be in such a world of coördinate socialist nations. There are some overcrowded countries peopled by white workers. They labor to improve their standard of living, but their endeavors are handicapped by inade­quate natural resources. They badly need raw materials and food­stuffs that could be produced in other, better endowed countries. But these countries which nature has favored are thinly populated and lack the capital required to develop their resources. Their in­habitants are neither industrious nor skillful enough to profit from the riches which nature has lavished upon them. They are without initiative; they cling to old-fashioned methods of production; they are not interested in improvement. They are not eager to produce more rubber, tin, copra, and jute and to exchange these products for goods manufactured abroad. By this attitude they affect the standard of living of those peoples whose chief asset is their skill and diligence. Will these peoples of countries neglected by nature be prepared to endure such a state of things? Will they be willing to work harder and to produce less because the favored children of nature stubbornly abstain from exploiting their treasures in a more efficient way?
Inevitably war and conquest result. The workers of the compara­tively overpopulated areas invade the comparatively underpopu­lated areas, conquer these countries, and annex them. And then follow wars between the conquerors for the distribution of the booty. Every nation is prepared to believe that it has not obtained its fair share, that other nations have got too much and should be forced to abandon a part of their plunder. Socialism in independ­ent nations would result in endless wars.
These considerations prepare for a disclosure of the nonsensical Marxian theories of imperialism. All these theories, however much they conflict with each other, have one feature in common: they all maintain that the capitalists are eager for foreign investment be­cause production at home tends, with the progress of capitalism, to a reduction in the rate of profit, and because the home market un­der capitalism is too narrow to absorb the whole volume of produc­tion. This desire of capitalists for exports and for foreign in­vestment, it is held, is detrimental to the class interests of the proletarians. Besides, it leads to international conflict and war.
Yet the capitalists did not invest abroad in order to withhold goods from home consumption. On the contrary, they did so in order to supply the home market with raw materials and foodstuffs which could otherwise not be obtained at all, or only in insufficient quantities or at higher costs. Without export trade and foreign in­vestment European and American consumers would never have enjoyed the high standard of living that capitalism gave them. It was the wants of the domestic consumers that pushed the capitalists and entrepreneurs toward foreign markets and foreign investment. If the consumers had been more eager for the acquisition of a greater quantity of goods that could be produced at home without the aid of foreign raw materials than for imported food and raw materials, it would have been more profitable to expand home pro­duction further than to invest abroad.
The Marxian doctrinaires shut their eyes purposely to the in­equality of natural resources in different parts of the world. And yet these inequalities are the essential problem of international relations.[x]*But for them the Teutonic tribes and later the Mongols would not have invaded Europe. They would have turned toward the vast empty areas of the Tundra or of northern Scandinavia. If we do not take into account these inequalities of natural resources and climates we can discover no motive for war but some devilish spell, for example—as the Marxians say—the sinister machinations of capitalists, or—as the Nazis say—the intrigues of world Jewry.
These inequalities are natural and can never disappear. They would present an insoluble problem for a unitary world socialism also. A socialist world-embracing management could, of course, consider a policy under which all human beings are treated alike; it could try to ship workers and capital from one area to another, without considering the vested interests of the labor groups of dif­ferent countries or of different linguistic groups. But nothing can justify the illusion that these labor groups, whose per capita income and standard of living would be reduced by such a policy, would be prepared to tolerate it. No socialist of the Western nations con­siders socialism to be a scheme which (even if we were to grant the fallacious expectations that socialist production would increase the productivity of labor) must result in lowering living standards in those nations. The workers of the West are not striving for equaliza­tion of their earnings with those of the more than l,000 million ex­tremely poor peasants and workers of Asia and Africa. For the same reason that they oppose immigration under capitalism, these work­ers would oppose such a policy of labor transfer on the part of a socialist world management. They would rather fight than agree to abolition of the existing discriminations between the lucky in­habitants of comparatively underpopulated areas and the unfortu­nate inhabitants of the overpopulated areas. Whether we call such struggles civil wars or foreign wars is immaterial.
The workers of the West favor socialism because they hope to improve their condition by the abolition of what they describe as unearned incomes. We are not concerned with the fallacies of these expectations. We have only to emphasize that these Western social­ists do not want to share their incomes with the underprivileged masses of the East. They are not prepared to renounce the most valuable privilege which they enjoy under etatism and economic nationalism—the exclusion of foreign labor. The American work­ers are for the maintenance of what they call "the American way of life," not for a world socialist way of life, which would lie somewhere between the present American and the coolie level, probably much nearer to the latter than to the former. This is stark reality that no socialist rhetoric can conjure away.
The same selfish group interests which through migration bar­riers have frustrated the liberal plans for world-wide peaceful coöperation of nations, states, and individuals would destroy the in­ternal peace within a socialist world state. The peace argument is just as baseless and erroneous as all the other arguments brought forward to demonstrate the practicability and expediency of socialism.
Omnipotent Government

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