“War is the health of the state”

Not content with all the misery they have caused by interfering in the region for decades, if not centuries, today our rulers decided to embark on another war in Iraq. As usual the Labour Party stood behind the Tories in supporting armed conflict and only 43 MPs voted against the motion. Cameron talked about a “generational conflict” that could go on for years or even decades: war without end, which is just what governments relish the most.

In 1918 the American anarchist Randolph Bourne wrote: “The state represents all the autocratic, arbitrary, coercive, belligerent forces within a social group, it is a sort of complexus of everything most distasteful to the modern free creative spirit, the feeling for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. War is the health of the state.”

We should also remember the devastating effect that wars have on animals and the natural world. These are the forgotten victims of war. In the early 2000s, London Animal Action participated in many of the large protests against the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, marching behind a banner that said “Wars kill animals too”.

It was criticised by some in the movement for doing so because this was not “an animal rights issue”. One letter the group received even said: “I thought LAA was about helping animals, not a group opposed to everything”.

LAA responded to these complaints by arguing that “If Iraq is bombed and/or invaded then literally millions of animals will die, directly through the effects of weapons used and also through the destruction of their habitats. Even if you’re the sort of person who only cares about the suffering of animals, you should be doing all you can to stop the war happening…We believe in building bridges with other causes and campaigns with whom we share common ground in creating a world where the weak are not crushed as the strong grow stronger.”

The ruling class use wars to help make them popular, stoking up patriotic and jingoistic fervour as a smokescreen to deflect attention away from internal strife. They want “the nation” to unite against a foreign enemy who is condemned as subhuman and beyond reason. Peter Hain, part of the Labour government that organised the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and paved the way for Isis, describes it as “Medieval both in its barbarism and its fanatical religious zeal”.

While jihadists and fundamentalists are no ally of anarchists, “barbarism” and “fanatical” are certainly two words that could be used to describe the attacks made by this government on the lives of ordinary working class people. Our main enemy is the state and capitalism at home, and imperialism abroad – not religious fanatics in Iraq.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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