The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

To “Do Our Duty” in Defense of What?

Jun 9, 2024

"In their hour of trial, Allied forces did their duty. Now, the question for us is, in our hour of trial, will we do ours.” So said U.S. President Joe Biden, at the 80th anniversary celebration of D-Day.

The commemoration of the British, American, and Canadian invasion of German-occupied France dripped with patriotism. Flags fluttered in the breeze. World-War-II style, propeller-driven planes flew by the speakers’ podium. Parachutists swooped down in graceful arcs. A few survivors of the 1944 invasion were given a “place of honor.” The only thing missing was the reality of the war they celebrated.

But World War II had a grim reality: at least 80 million people were killed, about 3% of the world’s total population. The Soviet Union, which then included Russia and Ukraine on the same side, lost 14% of its prewar population. Almost 70% of Europe’s Jewish population were slaughtered.

It was a war that ground up civilians. Over three-fourths of the war’s total casualties were civilian. China lost 20 million.

Civilians were massacred, incinerated, bombed with fragmentation devices, rounded up and put to death in gas ovens, worked to death in slave labor camps, driven into mass graves to be buried alive, massively poisoned and suffocated, purposefully starved to death. People were trapped inside cities set on fire.

Yes, war is hell, as a war correspondent once wrote. And World War II provided the world with a very close look into hell.

But, pretended Biden, echoing politicians before him, World War II was a war fought for “freedom and democracy.”

Not true. That was simply propaganda used to drum up support for a vile war.

No matter which country, no matter which side, people were called on to give their lives for a “greater cause.” For the so-called “allies,” led by England, France and the U.S., it was the “fight for democracy against fascism.” For the so-called “axis,” led by Germany and Italy and Japan, it was to “gain a living space,” and to eliminate France’s hold on Africa, and the U.S.-British hold on Asia.

World War II was a massive conflagration. It didn’t start on the day Germany invaded France or Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. It was prepared for by all the policies of all the combatant nations, both sides, from long before. It was foreshadowed by all the reparations, trade wars, embargoes, smaller wars, brush-fire wars.

The world that erupted finally into World War II was a capitalist world, a world of competition between various companies, competition ultimately between the rulers of various countries over who would control the world’s wealth.

Capitalism eventually leads to massive economic crises—the one marked by the 1929 crash, or the one today, unending since 1971. Capitalism itself, and the capitalist class which controls the economy, have no answer for these crises, other than to struggle each one to secure a bigger hold over the world’s wealth.

In the past, that led ultimately to a second world war. Today, it is leading to another one.

And, today, we are subjected to the same propaganda as spewed during World War II. The war in Ukraine is supposedly a war fought between democracy and dictatorship. The war in Gaza is supposedly a war against terrorism.

In fact, both wars are produced by capitalism’s stranglehold on the world. Both prepare the world for another wider war.

The world will not escape war, global war, world wars. It is not escaping today. Large parts of the world are already engulfed by wars. Parts of Africa are in flames. The Middle East is on fire.

Until the working class uses the power it can have to throw out the capitalist class, until it takes control over the economy and runs it, we will have war. Working class revolution—this is what we owe our duty to, and not capitalism, which Biden defends.