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

Commemoration of June 6, 1944:
No “Sacred Union!”

Jun 12, 2023

This article is translated from the June 9 issue, #2862 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The commemorations of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944 brought together the chiefs of staff of the United States, Britain and France, their political representatives and French president Macron himself. They held forth on the same theme: our elders fought for freedom in the Second World War, Ukrainians are doing it today, and we must be prepared to do the same.

Against Hitler yesterday and against Putin tomorrow, freedom has a price that must be paid, said this high council implicitly, if not explicitly. But, even repeated over decades, a lie does not become a truth. The French, British and American ruling classes, their governments, and their diplomacy did not fight fascism and Nazism. On the contrary, they favored Hitler’s accession to power in 1933, only too happy to find a killer to subdue the German working class.

The reason for the Second World War was the changing balance of power between the imperialists, and the general economic impasse, not the will or individual madness of this or that dictator. The freedom the Allies boast of having defended was first and foremost the freedom of British and French slaveholders to retain their colonial empires, coveted by Germany and Japan. It was not for the people of Algeria, India, or for so many others who were no more than cannon fodder, and for whom the end of the war brought only the prolongation of their servitude.

Nor was it for the German or Japanese workers and ordinary people, those at the rail junctions in France, condemned to perish under the bombs. It was not for this issue that tens of millions of people died, in and out of uniform, in every latitude.

Freedom, on the other hand, was full, complete and profitable for American capital, which, after all these horrors, was able to dominate the world uncontested. The end of the fighting was obviously a relief, as was the liberation of the prisoners and survivors of the death camps. But it also ushered in a period in which the pursuit of imperial domination would unceasingly produce new wars.

The fight for freedom is just as falsely invoked, by the same people and for the same reasons, when it comes to Ukraine. Here again, the freedom for which armies are fighting in Eastern Europe is that of exploitative imperialism, primarily American, and of the Ukrainian thieving oligarchs against that of their Russian counterparts. For the peoples on both sides of the front, it’s about dictatorship and sacrifice.

Future historians may say that the third world conflict began with the war in Ukraine, and for a reason similar to the first two: the impasse in the system of capitalist domination. Clearly, the governments and staffs of the imperialist countries are preparing for it. Military budgets are exploding, political, militaristic and patriotic preparations are underway, and the D-Day commemorations are part of this process.

Whatever form it takes, whatever sides are involved and whatever pretexts are invoked, this war will be a war against workers. To avert the danger of war, capitalism must be brought down. It’s not an easy fight, but to prepare for it, we need to refuse any “sacred union” behind the bourgeoisie: by denouncing its lies about the past, by refusing to march in step in the present, and by preparing to turn the weapons it has distributed against it in the future.