Category Archives: a military programme

Labour Party manifesto: Our alternative perspective

James Marshall critiques the ‘defence and security’ section of the 2019 manifestoApart from a few tweaks here and there, the ‘official’ Labour approach to what is euphemistically called ‘defence and security’ is an unmistakable continuation of the Tories’. True, the 2019 manifesto, It’s time for real change, complains about the reduction in “trained army personnel” (ie, professional soldiers) from 102,000 to just over 74,000, the below-inflation pay rises and how members of the armed forces and their families are obliged to live in substandard accommodation.

Similar comments have, though, come from the mouth of General Lord Richard Dannatt. The former head of the army decries the “smallest navy, army and air force we have ever had”.1)Sunday Express November 24 2019 What about pay and conditions? A few years ago we find him saying that “pay was the most important issue facing the armed forces” and that the “appalling” accommodation has to be improved.2)The Daily Telegraph June 5 2008

Needless to say, there is nothing remotely radical about Richard Dannatt, a GCB, a CBE, a MC, a DL as well as being a Lord. Though nowadays sitting as a cross bencher, revealingly, breaking normal army conventions, he served as David Cameron’s advisor on military affairs when he was leader of the Tory opposition.

As for socialists, while we should criticise low pay and bad accommodation in the armed forces, a shrinking standing army is surely another matter entirely. In principle, we cannot object.

It’s time for real change condemns the fact that Boris Johnson’s government “refuses to publish the report into possible foreign interference by Russia in UK democracy”. Nevertheless, Dominic Grieve, Jo Swinson, Financial Times Europe editor Tony Barber, even Hillary Clinton, have said the exact same thing. So, once again, nothing controversial in bourgeois terms.

Police

Perhaps the most contentious proposal contained in It’s time for real change – well, at least when it comes to ‘defence and security’ – is the suitably vague promise to “consult on creating a representative body for the armed forces, akin to the Police Federation”.

Trailed earlier this year, inevitably the proposition resulted in lathering condemnations: Corbyn is a threat to army discipline, a friend of terrorists, a hard-line Marxist, etc. Needless to say, though, there is nothing remotely Marxist about the proposal. The Police Federation model is a giveaway.

Established by the 1919 Police Act, it replaced the National Union of Police and Prison Officers, which – and this is crucial – in August 1918 and June 1919 organised nationwide police strikes. The government put infantry and tanks onto the streets. Yet a “combination” of economic concessions, repression, political manoeuvring, union blunders, police divisions and the failure of organised labour to support the police “ensured the failure of the 1919 strike”.3)O Jones, ‘The “spirit of Petrograd”? The 1918 and 1919 police strikes’ What Next? No31, November 2007

Liberal Party prime minister David Lloyd George saw the defeat of the 1919 strike as a decisive “turning-point in the labour movement, deflecting it from Bolshevist and direct-actionist courses to legitimate trade unionism once again”.4)Lord Mayor of Liverpool Archibald Salvidge, quoted in O Jones, ‘The “spirit of Petrograd”? The 1918 and 1919 police strikes’ What Next No31, November 2007 His Liberal-Conservative coalition proscribed NUPPO and made sure that strikers were summarily fired and then blacklisted – a cruel act of revenge, which faced only “half-hearted” opposition from the Labour Party in parliament.

Unlike NUPPO, the Police Federation is barred by statute from affiliating to the TUC. No less vital, it represents all ranks, from ordinary constables to chief inspectors, and is legally forbidden to take strike action. With good reason, the Police Federation has been described as “amounting to a sort of company union” (Owen Jones – writing when he was a leftwinger).5)Lord Mayor of Liverpool Archibald Salvidge, quoted in O Jones, ‘The “spirit of Petrograd”? The 1918 and 1919 police strikes’ What Next No31, November 2007

Nato

Showing that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government would act fully within, not against, the US-dominated world order, there is the pledge to “maintain our commitment to Nato and our close relationship with our European partners”.

Nato is an unmistakable product of the cold war. A US-sponsored grand alliance designed to anathematise the Soviet Union, hegemonise the fading British and French imperiums, incorporate West Germany and serve as a bulwark against mass communist parties in Italy, France and Greece. US bases were established throughout western Europe. Simultaneously, counterrevolutionary institutions were embedded and the social democratic settlement promoted.

Under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, US strategy underwent a significant change. Out went social democracy and containment; in came neoliberalism and “rollback”. Hence the feeble complaint that Nato membership locks Britain into “American superpower manoeuvres” and makes it “impossible to pursue a principled international course” (Peter Hain – writing when he was a leftwinger).6)P Hain The democratic alternative: a socialist response to Britain’s crisis Harmondsworth 1983, p96

Following the collapse of bureaucratic socialism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union – and with it the US victory in the cold war – “was the obvious time for Nato to have been disbanded” (Jeremy Corbyn, 2012). 7)J Corbyn Morning Star May 23 2012 Instead, Nato expanded to Russia’s very borders: a violation of the “host of assurances” given to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not go beyond what had been the German Democratic Republic.  So no protective buffer zone. And eyes are set on further eastern expansion. Ukraine and Georgia have been in Nato “membership action plan” (MAP) negotiations. A recipe for war.

The Labour leadership’s Nato pledge is clearly designed to appease. Donald Trump, the largely undiminished Labour right, big business, the City, the capitalist media, the generals, need not worry about the next Labour government … “Jeremy has been on a journey” (Emily Thornberry, 2018).8)Daily Mail September 12 2018

Then there is the commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on “defence”. This was demanded by Barack Obama back in September 2014; he wanted all Nato members to take a greater share of the “burden”. David Cameron’s government eagerly agreed. In his financial statement of July 8 2015, George Osborne promised to meet the 2% target “not just this year but every year of this decade”. So, when it comes to ‘defence and security’, what It’s time for real change says comes straight from the Tory songbook.

To leave not a shadow of doubt about the class nature of the “next Labour government”, we read this truly disgusting passage: “Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent.” Naturally, this goes hand-in-hand with pieties about global peace, the UN, “multilateral efforts”, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and creating a “nuclear-free world”. But the same can be said of every modern UK government. Against left demands to unilaterally abandon nuclear weapons – Michael Foot, Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn – Tory and Labour prime ministers alike claimed that they were multilaterally working towards a ‘nuclear-free world’.

Suffice to say, each of the four Dreadnought submarines being built under the Trident renewal programme (total cost – some £40 billion) will carry 12 Trident II D-5 missiles. Each missile has eight independently targeted warheads, each with an explosive power of some 100-475 kilotons – or, put another way, more than five to 25 times the A-bomb that levelled Hiroshima in August 1945. Without a doubt, Trident is an “indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction” (Jeremy Corbyn, July 2016).9)The Daily Telegraph July 19 2016

There are those who somehow still manage to pass themselves off as leftwing, who give this dismal narrative a radical, anti-capitalist spin. Speaking at one of Momentum’s World Transformed events, Paul Mason outlined his case for a “battle of rational ideas”. Basically, what his rationality boils down to is Labour striving to prove its “economic competence” and promising that there will be an “essential continuity, that there’s going to be an army, nuclear weapons and a police force”. In other words, a Labour government which will seek to manage capitalism better than the Tories and do nothing to take the “toys” (Paul Mason’s word) from the top brass boys. Yes, he calls the weapons that killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and between 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki “toys”. Obnoxious. So, at least when it comes to ‘defence and security’, it is clear that the advice offered by this repentant Trotskyite has been accepted.

It is, of course, completely useless denouncing It’s time for real change from the sidelines – the position of dilettantes, dogmatists and brittle sects. No, Marxists must learn how to lead masses of people, even if at the moment most possess only an elementary level of class-consciousness.

Not to actively take part in the “real workers’ movement”, not to even to try to push the struggle being fought out in the Labour Party to the point where Marxists transform it into a united front of a special kind, and thereby secure a commanding control over CLPs, the NEC, the PLP, etc, is not merely foolish: it is criminally irresponsible. The immediate task of any worthwhile leftwing group or trend is to engage with the Labour Party’s rank and file at the closest possible quarters. Marxists must win the real “battle of rational ideas”. In the context of this article, we seek to convince this hugely expanded mass that we not only need a genuine socialist economic programme. We need a genuine socialist military programme too.

War

Despite Donald Trump’s sanctions and bellicose threats, China’s imperial Belt and Road initiative, the defensive expansionism of Russia and Emmanuel Macron’s call for a common European arms budget and common armed forces, there is no immediate prospect of an all-out World War III. With the certainty of mutually assured destruction (MAD), who would fight whom and why?

Nevertheless, there is the obvious danger of a regional conflict sucking in rival big powers with all manner of unpredictable consequences: Iran, Venezuela, Israel-Palestine, North Korea, Ukraine, Syria, Taiwan and the South China Sea all spring to mind. A direct clash between the US and Russia or China could quite conceivably rapidly escalate. Even a limited nuclear exchange would exact an almost unimaginable human toll.

However, what distinguishes Marxists from others on the left who oppose the danger of war is that we emphatically reject all varieties of pacifism. And, when it comes to the left, there are all manner of daft nostrums on offer. A few representative samples.

The Labour Representation Committee touchingly suggests appointing a “UK minister for peace”, and a Labour government which will “progressively withdraw the UK from the international arms trade”. 10)LRC Programme for a real Labour government no date or place of publication Banal gloop, which obviously has nothing in common with socialism.

Will gushing praise for the UK’s “worldleading” defence industry and the promise to “continue to work with manufacturers, unions and export partners” cause a change of heart? Unlikely. The LRC has constituted itself as a fan club for the existing Labour leadership, not a principled critic. Hence, at the time of writing, the LRC’s complete silence over the ‘defence and security’ section in It’s time for real change. Instead, the LRC heaps fatuous praise on Labour’s programme for the NHS, broadband, housing, universal credit, etc.

Nor can any decent leftwinger agree with the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s studiedly vague “Cut arms spending” formulation. The AWL is a social-imperialist outfit and typically adopts a ‘who are we to oppose’ attitude towards US-UK led operations (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc).

Nor can Left Unity’s slightly less craven call for a “drastic reduction” in military expenditure be supported. What exactly is the drastic reduction envisaged by the Kate Hudson, Andrew Burgin, Felicity Dowling groupies of Syriza, Podemos, Die Linke? Needless to say, a comprehensively failed perspective.

The same goes for the nudge-down pleas of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain to “cut military spending to average European levels”. Ditto the Scottish Socialist Party’s formula of reducing “defence spending” to no more than the per capita level of the Republic of Ireland. Short-sighted, timid and, when it comes down to it, a banal cost-cutting exercise.

Our military programme does not champion either a 2% or a 1.5% version of the existing armed forces in the name of securing a capitalist peace. Despite the factional variations, that is what the LRC, AWL, Left Unity, CPB, etc actually advocate.

In contrast, Marxists – real Marxists that is – know that wars are inevitable while society remains divided into classes. We recognise that the struggle for international peace is inextricably linked with the class struggle at home – crucially the struggle to raise the working class, so that it becomes the ruling class.

That explains why Marxists stand by the time-honoured demand of arming the working class and disarming the capitalist class. A demand that educates minds, encourages the first tentative steps, till the goal is brought to full fruition. Hence – and this needs emphasising – the demand for arming the working class and disarming the capitalist class is about the now. It is not a demand only to be raised in a revolutionary situation. If we do that, it is too late – far too late. We would already have been crushed, defeated, killed.

Naturally, opportunists instinctively recoil from the very notion of arming the working class. Like the Weimar social democrats, they are infected with constitutionalism. Certainly the case with the Socialist Party in England and Wales and the CPB.11)See Weekly Worker May 21 2009 But, symptoms that begin with a reformist chill and a shiver, if not treated, end in complete breakdown. Confronted by the miners’ Great Strike of 1984-85 and the formation of hit squads, the Marxism Today Eurocommunists and their ilk condemned ‘macho violence’. They offered, instead, the mystical, women-only pacifism of Greenham Common. Come the ‘war on terrorism’ – ie, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq – not a few of these former peaceniks were to be found in the ranks of the Bush-Blair warmongers: eg, David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Francis Wheen, Norman Geras, Christopher Hitchins and other such types eagerly put their names to the notorious Euston manifesto.

By contrast, we Marxists are convinced that the bourgeois state machine must be broken apart, demolished, smashed up, if we are to put an end to war. So, concretely, in today’s conditions, that not only means scrapping Trident and all nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction – indiscriminate and therefore inherently inhuman. We should also be arguing for the scrapping of all standing armies.

To state the obvious, nor will peace be realised through the UN, a commitment to Nato or even an armed forces “representative body”. Paradoxical though it may seem, peace has to be fought for. Specifically, towards that end, the working class has to develop its own fully armed militia. An idea that is not spun out of thin air. No, workers’ militias grow out of the needs of the day-to-day struggle: protecting picket lines, defending Muslims from fascist thugs, guarding our local offices, meeting places and demonstrations, etc. And, of course, with a genuinely powerful workers’ militia it becomes a realistic possibility to split the state’s armed forces. Fear of officers, sergeant majors and court martials can thereby be replaced by the rank and file’s readiness to disobey orders. Yes, a mutiny, or a strike. Certainly, army units, air force squadrons and naval crews declaring for our side provides us with the military wherewithal necessary to safeguard either an expected or a recently established socialist majority – in the House of Commons, European Parliament, House of Representatives, etc.

Programmatically the workers’ movement should therefore champion these demands:

  • Rank-and-file personnel in the state’s armed bodies must be protected from bullying, sexual harassment, humiliating punishments and being used against the working class.
  • There must be full trade union and democratic rights, including the right to form bodies such as soldiers’ councils.
  • The privileges of the officer caste must be abolished. Officers must be elected. Workers in uniform must become the allies of the masses in struggle.
  • The people must have the right to bear arms and defend themselves.
  • The dissolution of the standing army and the formation of a citizen militia under democratic control.

Background

Strange though it may seem to the historically ill-informed, here Marxists draw direct inspiration from the second amendment to the US constitution. Ratified to popular acclaim in 1791, it states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Those who made the American revolution – above all the urban and rural masses – saw a standing army as an existential threat to democracy. Eg, in her Observations on the new constitution (1788) Mercy Otis Warren – the mother of the American revolution – branded the standing army as “the nursery of vice and the bane of liberty”. At great sacrifice the common people had overthrown the rule of George III – some 70,000 Patriots are believed to have died – and the camp of democracy was determined to do the same again, if faced with another unacceptable government.

Naturally Marx and Engels considered the second amendment part of their heritage. Clause four of the Marx-Engels Demands of the Communist Party in Germany (1848) is unequivocal:

Universal arming of the people. In future armies shall at the same time be workers’ armies, so that the armed forces will not only consume, as in the past, but produce even more than it costs to maintain them.

The Marx-Engels team never wavered. Read Can Europe disarm? (1893). Here, in this pamphlet written by Frederick Engels, 10 years after the death of his friend and collaborator, we find a concrete application of Marxism to the dawning epoch of universal suffrage and universal conscription.

Engels concluded that the key to revolution was mutiny in the armed forces. His pamphlet outlined a model bill for military reform in Germany. Engels was determined to show that the proposal to gradually transform standing armies into a “militia based on the universal principle of arming the people” could exploit the mounting fears of a pending European war and widespread resentment at the ruinously costly military budget. For propaganda purposes, Engels proposed an international agreement to limit military service to a short period and a state system in which no country would fear aggression because no country would be capable of aggression. Surely World War I would have been impossible if the European great powers had nothing more than civilian militias available to them.

Not that Engels was some lily-livered pacifist. He supported universal male (!) conscription and, if necessary, was quite prepared to advocate revolutionary war on the model of Napoleon’s grande armée. Needless to say, his Can Europe disarm? was not intended to prove the undoubted military superiority of a militia over a standing army (it can fully mobilise very large numbers with incredible speed, provides defence in depth and is, therefore, capable of successfully surviving a whole series of initial defeats). No, Engels wanted a citizen army within which discipline would be self-imposed. An army where rank-and-file troops would, if necessary, turn their guns on any officer tempted to issue orders that ran counter to the vital interests of the people.

Subsequent Marxist writers took the militia idea for granted. Though marred with various reformist assumptions, Jean Jaurès (1859-1914) elaborated upon the whys and wherefores of a militia system in his L’armée nouvelle (1910). Work and military training had to be brought close together, full-time army cadre would be confined to instructors, etc. 12)As far as I am aware, L’armée nouvelle remains untranslated into English. An abbreviated translation was published in 1916 and can be found on the excellent Marxist Internet Archive, though I think the 1907 dating given is mistaken. See www.marxists.org/archive/jaures/1907/military-service/index.htm

What went for Marxist writers went for Marxist parties too. Eg, the 1880 programme of the French Workers’ Party, the 1891 Erfurt programme, the 1889 Hainfeld programme of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, the 1903 programme of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, etc.

In the ‘political section’ of the programme of the French Workers’ Party (Parti Ouvrier), authored jointly by Karl Marx and Jules Guesde, we find the demand for the “abolition of standing armies and the general arming of the people” (clause 4). A proposition faithfully translated by the Germans: “Education of all to bear arms. Militia in the place of the standing army” (clause 3). The Austrians too are adamant: “The cause of the constant danger of war is the standing army, whose growing burden alienates the people from its cultural tasks. It is therefore necessary to fight for the replacement of the standing army by arming the people” (clause 6) 13)I am grateful to Ben Lewis for his translation of the Hainfeld programme. Then we have the Russians: “general arming of the people instead of maintaining a standing army” (clause c9).The newly formed Labour Party in Britain too: in its first general election manifesto in 1900, there is this call: “Abolition of the standing army, and the establishment of a citizen force”. 14)I Dale (ed) Labour Party general election manifestos 1900-1997 London 2002, p9

With the word there came the deed.

Amongst the first decrees of the 1871 Paris Commune was the abolition of the standing army and its replacement by the national guard – “the bulk of which consisted of working men” (Marx). By actually constituting a new state, based on a repressive force that did not sit outside the general population, the Commune opened a new chapter in global politics. And Russia took what happened in Paris to new heights. Formed in April-March 1917, the Red Guards proved crucial to the success of the October Revolution. Red Guards, and increasing numbers of army units, put themselves at the disposal of the Military Revolutionary Committee – a subdivision of the Bolshevik-led Petrograd soviet. On October 25 (November 7) 1917 the MRC issued its momentous declaration that the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky “no longer existed”. State power has passed into the hands of the soviets of workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ deputies.

The are many other instructive examples.

In 1919 we find Leon Trotsky – effectively the founder of the hybrid Red Army – presenting a set of theses to the 9th Congress of the Russian Communist Party “on going over to the militia system”. Here he proposed the founding of a “Red Workers and Peasants Militia, constructed on the territorial principle”, and bringing the “army close in every possible way to the process of production”. 15)L Trotsky How the revolution armed Vol 2, London 1979, p190 The inspiration provided by the 1848 Demands and the 1910 L’armée nouvelle is all too evident.

Shortly afterwards, beginning in the early 1920s, the two main workers’ parties in Germany built their own non-state militias. The SDP dominated the soft-left Reichsbanner, while the Communist Party formed the much more militant Rotfrontkämpferbund (at its height it boasted 130,000 members). In Austria, despite its 1923 founding statutes emphasising ceremonial paraphernalia, marches and band music, the Schutzbund served as a kind of “proletarian police force”.16)M Kitchen The coming of Austrian fascism London 1980, p116 When it came to strikes, demonstrations and meetings, this workers’ militia maintained discipline and fended off Nazi gangs. Though hampered by a dithering social democratic leadership, the Schutzbund heroically resisted the February 12 1934 fascist coup.

Workers formed defence corps during the 1926 General Strike in Britain. American workers did the same in 1934. There were massive stoppages in San Francisco, Toledo and Minneapolis. In Spain anarchists, ‘official communists’, POUM, etc likewise formed their own militias in response to Franco’s counterrevolutionary uprising.

Then, more recently, in 1966, there was the Black Panther Party. It organised “armed citizen’s patrols” to monitor and counter the brutal US police force. Even the “non-violent” civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King, included within its ranks those committed to “armed self-defence” against the Ku Klux Klan and other such terrorism.17)See CE Cobb This non-violent stuff’ll get you killed New York NY 2014

Corbyn

Imagine that a Corbyn-led Labour Party wins a general election majority on December 12. Supposedly because it is constitutionally inappropriate for serving officers to “intervene directly in matters that are of political dispute”, are we really expected to believe that the armed forces will idly sit by and behave in a thoroughly trustworthy manner? 18)Jeremy Corbyn quoted in The Mirror November 8 2015 That would be parliamentary cretinism of the highest order – a disease that infects reformists of every stripe and variety with the debilitating conviction that the main thing in politics is parliamentary votes.

Even given the limitations of It’s time for real change, it is easy to envisage a crisis of expectations. Masses of Labour members and voters are instinctively far to the left of the manifesto. The actual election of a Labour government could quite conceivably set them into motion as an elemental class force. Through their own efforts Labour’s electoral base would seek to put into practice what they think a Corbyn-led government really stands for. Defy the hated anti-trade union laws. Win substantial pay increases. Free the migrants imprisoned in detention centres. Occupy empty luxury properties and solve the homelessness crisis at a stroke. Arm with rudimentary weapons to ward off police attacks.

Any such scenario would inevitably provoke a corresponding reaction. It is not so much that the ruling class cannot tolerate a Corbyn-led government and its present-day programme of abolishing tuition fees, ending tax benefits for private schools, aiming for net zero emissions by the 2030s, introducing some form of rent controls, repealing the latest (2016) round of Tory anti-trade union legislation, nationalising water, the railways, electricity and other utilities, progressively transferring a minority percentage of shares to workers and establishing a national transition fund. Tinkering, safe and, in fact, amongst Keynesian economists, all perfectly reasonable.

No, it is the enthusiastic reception of Marxist ideas, the rejection of capitalism, the dominant position of the pro-Corbyn left amongst the mass membership and the distinct possibility of a yanking, further shift to the left, and consequent mass self-activity, that causes ruling class fears. And, have no doubt, fearful they are.

Hence Tony Blair’s much touted ‘neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbyn’ call, but a more “suitable candidate” for prime minister, who will head a government of national unity. 19)Financial Times November 25 2019 Failing that, and a Corbyn-led government, expect other, illegal, or semi-legal, methods. Mike Pompeo’s “push-back”, a politically motivated run on the pound, civil service sabotage, bomb outrages organised by the secret state – even a military coup of some kind.

Say, following the advice of Paul Mason, the Corbyn-led government stupidly decides to leave MI5, MI6, the police and the standing army intact. Frankly, that would present an open door for a British version of general Augusto Pinochet. In Chile thousands of leftwingers were tortured, were killed, and who knows how many, including US citizens, were ‘disappeared’. The September 11 1973 military coup overthrew the Socialist Party-Communist Party Popular Unity reformist government under president Salvador Allende. That, despite its studiedly moderate programme and repeated concessions to the right. CIA fingerprints were all over the Pinochet coup. 20)See P Kornbluh The Pinochet file: a declassified dossier on atrocity and accountability New York NY 2004

There have been plenty of warning omens. Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, labelling Corbyn “a present danger to our country”, who would not “clear a security vetting”. He also singled out Andrew Murray and Seumas Milne – former Straight Leftists and now close Corbyn advisors. They have “denigrated their own country and embraced the interests of its enemies and opponents”.21)Mail on Sunday November 24 2019 Then there is rightwing Tory MP Graham Brady, who said: “We must do everything possible to stave off the risk of a Corbyn government.” 22)Daily Telegraph May 25 2019 The Financial Times too ominously states that Corbyn’s leadership damages Britain’s “public life”.23)Financial Times August 14 2015 The Economist likewise lambasts Corbyn as a member of the “loony left” and “dangerous” to Britain.24) Editorial The Economist June 3 2017 Sir Nicholas Houghton, outgoing chief of the defence staff, publicly “worried” on BBC1’s Andrew Marr show about a Corbyn government. 25)The Mirror November 8 2015 Then there was the truly sinister statement made to The Sunday Times by a “senior serving general”:

There would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny … Feelings are running very high within the armed forces. You would see a major break in convention, with senior generals directly and publicly challenging Corbyn over vital, important policy decisions such as Trident, pulling out of Nato and any plans to emasculate and shrink the size of the armed forces. The army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul, to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security.26)The Sunday Times September 20 2015

The army is an agent of counterrevolution, almost by definition. An inability to understand that elementary fact represents an elementary failure to understand the lessons of history.

Legally, culturally, structurally, the British army relies on inculcating an “unthinking obedience” amongst the lower ranks. 27)NF Dixon On the psychology of military incompetence London 1976, p244 And it is dominated, run and directed, as we all know, by an officer caste, which is trained from birth to command the state-school grunts.

Of course, the British army no longer has vexatious conscripts. Instead recruits join voluntarily, seeking “travel and adventure” – followed by “pay and benefit, with job security.”28)M (Lord) Ashcroft The armed forces and society: the military in Britain – through the eyes of service personnel, employers and the public London May 2012 Yet, because they often live on base, frequently move and stick closely together socially, members of the armed forces are unhealthily cut off from the wider civilian population and, hence, from the growth of progressive and socialist ideas in the Labour Party. Far-right views appear to be very common – eg, see Army Rumour Service comments about that “anti-British, not very educated, ageing communist, agitating class-war zealot”, Jeremy Corbyn.29)The Guardian January 25 2016

The best known exponent of deploying the army against internal “subversives” is still brigadier Frank Kitson with his Low intensity operations manual (1971). The left, trade unionists and strikers – they are “the enemy”, even if their actions are intended to back up an elected government. 30)F Kitson Low intensity operations London 1991, p29 Legally, the “perfect vehicle for such an intervention” would be an order in council. 31)P O’Conner The constitutional role of the privy council and the prerogative London 2009, p20 After consulting the unelected privy council, the monarch would call a state of emergency and invite the army to restore law and order.

Remember, army personnel swear an oath that they “will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors”, and that they will “defend Her Majesty … against all enemies”. And, as made crystal-clear by Michael Clarke, director of the United Services Institute, this is no mere feudal relic: “The armed forces don’t belong to the government; they belong to the monarch,” he insists:

And they take this very seriously. When [the Tory] Liam Fox was defence secretary a few years ago, for his first couple of weeks he referred to ‘my forces’ rather than Her Majesty’s forces – as a joke, I think. It really ruffled the military behind the scenes. I heard it from senior people in the army. They told me, ‘We don’t work for him. We work for the Queen.’32)Quoted in The Guardian January 25 2016

In the late 1960s and early 70s there were widespread press reports of senior officers and ex-officers conspiring against the rightwing Labour government of Harold Wilson. Many were unhappy about Rhodesia, many branded him a Soviet mole. However, their pathological hatred was directed squarely against leftwing Labour MPs, such as Tony Benn, Irish republicans, communist trade union leaders, striking workers and protesting students – the background to Chris Mullin’s novel, A very British coup (1982).

If Jeremy Corbyn makes it into Number 10, there is every reason to believe that threats of “direct action” coming from the high command will assume material form. That is why we say: put no trust in the thoroughly authoritarian standing army. No, instead, let us put our trust in a “well regulated militia” and the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”.

References

References
1 Sunday Express November 24 2019
2 The Daily Telegraph June 5 2008
3 O Jones, ‘The “spirit of Petrograd”? The 1918 and 1919 police strikes’ What Next? No31, November 2007
4 Lord Mayor of Liverpool Archibald Salvidge, quoted in O Jones, ‘The “spirit of Petrograd”? The 1918 and 1919 police strikes’ What Next No31, November 2007
5 Lord Mayor of Liverpool Archibald Salvidge, quoted in O Jones, ‘The “spirit of Petrograd”? The 1918 and 1919 police strikes’ What Next No31, November 2007
6 P Hain The democratic alternative: a socialist response to Britain’s crisis Harmondsworth 1983, p96
7 J Corbyn Morning Star May 23 2012
8 Daily Mail September 12 2018
9 The Daily Telegraph July 19 2016
10 LRC Programme for a real Labour government no date or place of publication
11 See Weekly Worker May 21 2009
12 As far as I am aware, L’armée nouvelle remains untranslated into English. An abbreviated translation was published in 1916 and can be found on the excellent Marxist Internet Archive, though I think the 1907 dating given is mistaken. See www.marxists.org/archive/jaures/1907/military-service/index.htm
13 I am grateful to Ben Lewis for his translation of the Hainfeld programme
14 I Dale (ed) Labour Party general election manifestos 1900-1997 London 2002, p9
15 L Trotsky How the revolution armed Vol 2, London 1979, p190
16 M Kitchen The coming of Austrian fascism London 1980, p116
17 See CE Cobb This non-violent stuff’ll get you killed New York NY 2014
18 Jeremy Corbyn quoted in The Mirror November 8 2015
19 Financial Times November 25 2019
20 See P Kornbluh The Pinochet file: a declassified dossier on atrocity and accountability New York NY 2004
21 Mail on Sunday November 24 2019
22 Daily Telegraph May 25 2019
23 Financial Times August 14 2015
24 Editorial The Economist June 3 2017
25 The Mirror November 8 2015
26 The Sunday Times September 20 2015
27 NF Dixon On the psychology of military incompetence London 1976, p244
28 M (Lord) Ashcroft The armed forces and society: the military in Britain – through the eyes of service personnel, employers and the public London May 2012
29 The Guardian January 25 2016
30 F Kitson Low intensity operations London 1991, p29
31 P O’Conner The constitutional role of the privy council and the prerogative London 2009, p20
32 Quoted in The Guardian January 25 2016

A Labour military programme – LPM submission to Labour’s defence review

Emily Thornbury has been asked by Jeremy Corbyn to lead Labour’s defence review. Its remit is to “examine how the safety of the British people can best be secured in the global conditions of the 21st century”. The shadow defence secretary has asked Labour Party members, affiliates and the wider public to contribute to its work. This is the submission of Labour Party Marxists.

Despite a fraying US global hegemony, China’s rise, the decline of Russia and a stalling European Union, there is no immediate prospect of an all-out World War III. With the likelihood of mutually assured destruction (MAD), who would fight and why? Nevertheless, there is the increasing danger of a regional hot spot accidentally boiling over: Korea, Ukraine, Kashmir, Syria, Palestine and the South China Sea immediately spring to mind. Militarily, a direct clash between the US and Russia or China could quite conceivably rapidly escalate. Even a limited nuclear exchange would exact an almost unimaginable human toll.

However, what distinguishes Marxists from others on the left who oppose the war danger is that we see the need to retaliate not with the Labour Representation Committee’s touchingly pacifistic call to appoint a “UK minister for peace” and “progressively withdraw the UK from the international arms trade”.1 Nor Left Unity’s ambiguous demand for a “drastic reduction” in military expenditure.2 Nor with the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s no less vague “Cut arms spending”.3 The same goes for the number-crunching plea of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain to “cut military spending to average European levels”.4 Ditto the Scottish Socialist Party’s recipe of reducing “defence spending” to no more than the per capita level of the Republic of Ireland.5 Banal, timid and self-defeating.

Our military policy should not legitimise a reduced version of the existing armed forces. Despite the verbal, statistical and factional variations, what that theme amounts to is the attempt to win the working class – as individuals and as an organised force – to the hopeless illusion of securing peace, while the capitalist system remains intact.

Inevitably there is a corresponding refusal to take up the elementary demand of arming the working class. That is certainly the case with the Socialist Party in England and Wales and the CPB.6 But, if untreated, what begins as a scratch ends with gangrene. Confronted by the miners’ Great Strike of 1984-85 and the formation of hit squads, the Marxism Today Eurocommunists condemned “macho” violence. They offered instead the mystical, women-only pacifism of Greenham Common. Come the ‘war on terrorism’, not a few of these former peaceniks were to be found amongst the ranks of the Bush-Blair interventionists: eg, the newspaper columnist, David Aaronovitch.

Marxists are convinced that the bour­geois state machine must be broken apart, demolished, smashed up, if we are to realise socialism and put an end to war. So, concretely, in today’s conditions, that not only means scrapping Trident and all nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction – they are indiscriminate and therefore inherently inhuman. We should be arguing for the scrapping of standing armies.

Peace will not be realised through the United Nations, Nato or by appealing to good business sense. Paradoxical though it may seem, peace has to be fought for. That is why the working class has to develop its own militia. Such a body actually grows out of day-to-day struggles: enforcing picket lines, defending Muslims from fasc­ist thugs, guarding our local offices, meeting places and demonstrations, etc. And, of course, with a strong, determined and well trained workers’ militia, it becomes a realistic possibility to split the state’s armed forces. Fear of officers, sergeants and court martials can thereby be replaced by the rank and file’s readiness to disobey orders. Certainly, army regiments, airforce squadrons and naval crews declaring for our side provides us with the military wherewithal needed to safeguard either an expected or a recently established socialist majority in the House of Commons.

Programmatically the labour movement should therefore demand:

● Rank-and-file personnel in the state’s armed bodies must be protected from bullying, humiliating treatment and being used against the working class.
● There must be full trade union and democratic rights, including the right to form bodies such as soldiers’ councils.
● The privileges of the officer caste must be abolished. Officers must be elected. Workers in uniform must become the allies of the masses in struggle.
● The people must have the right to bear arms and defend themselves.
● The dissolution of the standing army and the formation of a popular militia under democratic control.

Background

Strange though it may appear to the historically ill-informed, here contemporary Marxists draw direct inspiration from the second amendment to the US constitution. Ratified to popular acclaim in 1791, it states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”7

Those who made the American revolution – above all the urban and rural masses – saw a standing army as an existential threat to democracy. Eg, in her Observations on the new constitution (1788) Mercy Otis Warren – the mother of the American revolution – branded the standing army as “the nursery of vice and the bane of liberty”.8 At great sacrifice the common people had overthrown the tyranny of George III, and were determined to do the same again, if faced with another unacceptable government.

Naturally Marx and Engels considered the second amendment part of their heritage. Clause four of the Marx-Engels Demands of the Communist Party in Germany (1848) is emphatic:

Universal arming of the people. In future, armies shall at the same time be workers’ armies, so that the armed forces will not only consume, as in the past, but produce even more than it costs to maintain them.9

The Marx-Engels team never wavered. Read Can Europe disarm? (1893). Here, in this pamphlet written by Frederick Engels, 10 years after the death of his friend and collaborator, we find a concrete application of Marxism to the dawning epoch of universal suffrage and universal conscription. Engels concluded that the key to revolution was mutiny in the armed forces. His pamphlet outlined a model bill for military reform in Germany. Engels was determined to show that the proposal to gradually transform standing armies into a “militia based on the universal principle of arming the people” could exploit the mounting fears of a pending European war and widespread resentment at the ruinous military budget.10 For propaganda effect, Engels proposed an international agreement to limit military service to a short period and a state system in which no country would fear aggression because no country would be capable of aggression. Surely World War I would have been impossible if the European great powers had nothing more than lightly armed civilian militias available to them.

Not that Engels was some lily-livered pacifist. He supported universal male (!) conscription and if necessary was, of course, quite prepared to advocate revolutionary war. Needless to say, his Can Europe disarm? was not intended to prove the military superiority of a militia over a standing army. No, Engels wanted a citizen army, within which discipline would be self-imposed. An army where rank-and-file troops would turn their guns against any officer tempted to issue orders that were against the vital interests of the people.

In that spirit the Marxist parties of the late 19th and early 20th century unproblematically championed the demand for disbanding the standing army and establishing a popular militia. Eg, the 1880 programme of the French Workers’ Party, the 1891 Erfurt programme, the 1889 Hainfeld programme of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, the 1903 programme of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, etc.

In the ‘political section’ of the programme of the French Workers’ Party (Parti Ouvrier), authored jointly by Karl Marx and Jules Guesde, we find the demand for the “abolition of standing armies and the general arming of the people” (clause 4).11 A proposition faithfully translated by the Germans: “Education of all to bear arms. Militia in the place of the standing army” (clause 3).12 The Austrians too are adamant: “The cause of the constant danger of war is the standing army, whose growing burden alienates the people from its cultural tasks. It is therefore necessary to fight for the replacement of the standing army by arming the people” (clause 6).13 Then we have the Russians: “general arming of the people instead of maintaining a standing army” (clause c9).14

And after theory there must come practice.

Amongst the first decrees of the 1871 Paris Commune was the abolition of the standing army and its replacement by the national guard – “the bulk of which consisted of working men” (Marx). By actually constituting a new state, based on a repressive force that did not sit outside the general population, the Commune opened a new chapter in global politics. And Russia, of course, took what happened in Paris to new heights. Formed in April-March 1917, the Red Guards proved crucial. Red Guards, and increasing numbers of army units, put themselves at the disposal of the Military Revolutionary Committee – a subdivision of the Bolshevik-led Petrograd soviet, formally established at Leon Trotsky’s initiative. On October 25 (November 7) 1917 the MRC issued its momentous declaration: the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky “no longer exists”. State power has passed into the hands of the soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers.

There are many other splendid examples.

Beginning in the early 1920s the two main workers’ parties in Germany built their own militias. The SDP dominated the soft-left Reichsbanner, while the Communist Party formed the much more militant Rotfrontkämpferbund (at its height it boasted 130,000 members). Despite its 1923 founding statutes emphasising ceremonial paraphernalia, marches and band music, the Schutzbund in Austria served as a kind of “proletarian police force”.15 When it came to strikes, demonstrations and meetings, this workers’ militia maintained discipline and fended off Nazi gangs. Though hampered by a dithering social democratic leadership, the Schutzbund heroically resisted the February 12 1934 fascist coup. Workers formed defence corps during the 1926 General Strike in Britain. American workers did the same in 1934. There were massive stoppages in San Francisco, Toledo and Minneapolis. In Spain anarchists, official ‘communists’, Poum, etc likewise formed their own militias in response to Franco’s counterrevolutionary uprising.

Then, more recently, in 1966, there was the Black Panther Party. It organised “armed citizen’s patrols” to monitor and counter the brutal US police force.16 Even the “non-violent” civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King, included within its ranks those committed to “armed self-defence” against Ku Klux Klan and other such terrorism.17

Corbyn

Speaking to a Hiroshima remembrance event in August 2012, Jeremy Corbyn spoke of his wish to emulate “the people of Costa Rica”, who “abolished the army”. Leave aside the concrete situation in Costa Rica and the synthetic outrage generated by The Sun18 and the Daily Mail.19 Demanding the disbanding of the standing army has assumed a burning importance since Corbyn was elected Labour leader.

Imagine for one moment that Corbyn wins a general election majority in 2020. Supposedly because it is constitutionally inappropriate for serving officers to “intervene directly in matters that are of political dispute”, are we really expected to believe that the armed forces will idly sit by and behave in a thoroughly trustworthy manner?20 That would be parliamentary cretinism – a disease that infects reformists of every stripe and variety with the debilitating conviction that the main thing in politics is parliamentary votes.

A Corbyn government would – hopefully – be committed to sweeping away the anti-trade union laws, reversing austerity, renationalising the rails, ending British involvement in Syria, decommissioning Trident and maybe announcing a withdrawal from Nato. However, say in the name of keeping the Labour right, the Mirror and the liberal intelligentsia onside, the Corbyn government decides to maintain MI5, the police and the standing army. Frankly, that would be an open invitation for a British version of general Augusto Pinochet to launch a bloody counterrevolution. In Chile thousands of leftwingers were butchered after the September 11 1973 army coup, which overthrew the Socialist Party-Communist Party Popular Unity reformist government under president Salvador Allende.

Already, Sir Nicholas Houghton, the outgoing chief of the defence staff, has publicly “worried” on BBC1’s Andrew Marr show about a Corbyn government.21 There are accompanying press rumours swirling around of unnamed members of the army high command “not standing for” a Corbyn government and being prepared to take “direct action”.22 Prior to that, the normally sober Financial Times ominously warned that Corbyn’s leadership damages Britain’s “public life”.23

In fact the army is an instrument of counterevolution. Institutionally it is run by an officer caste, which is trained to command from public school to Sandhurst as if it is their birthright. When it comes to the grunts it relies on inculcating “unthinking obedience”.24 And, of course, the British army no longer has unruly conscripts to worry about. Instead recruits voluntarily join, seeking “travel and adventure” – followed by “pay and benefit, with job security”.25 Because they often live on base, frequently move and stick closely together socially, members of the armed forces are largely cut off from the wider civilian population and from any growth of democratic, progressive and socialistic ideas. Indeed far-right views appear to be the norm – see Army Rumour Service comments about that “anti-British, not very educated, ageing communist agitating class war zealot”, Jeremy Corbyn.26

Still the best known exponent of deploying the army against internal “subversives” is brigadier Frank Kitson in his Low intensity operations (1971). The left, trade unionists and strikers – they are “the enemy”, even if their actions are intended to back up an elected government.27 Legally, the “perfect vehicle for such an intervention” would be an order in council.28 After consulting the unelected and undemocratic privy council, the monarch would call a state of emergency and instruct the army to swiftly and decisively restore order. Remember, army personnel swear an oath that they “will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors”, and that they will “defend Her Majesty … against all enemies”.

As made crystal-clear by Michael Clarke, director of the United Services Institute, this is no mere feudal relic. “The armed forces don’t belong to the government: they belong to the monarch,” insists Clarke. “And they take this very seriously. When [the Tory] Liam Fox was defence secretary a few years ago, for his first couple of weeks he referred to ‘my forces’ rather than Her Majesty’s forces – as a joke, I think. It really ruffled the military behind the scenes. I heard it from senior people in the army. They told me, ‘We don’t work for him. We work for the Queen.’”29

In the late 1960s and early 70s there were widespread media reports of senior officers and ex-officers conspiring against the rightwing Labour government of Harold Wilson. Many were unhappy about Rhodesia, many branded him a Soviet mole. However, their pathological hatred was directed squarely against leftwing Labour MPs such as Tony Benn, Irish republicans, communist trade union leaders, striking workers and protesting students – the background to Chris Mullin’s novel, A very British coup (1982).

If Corbyn even looks like making it into office, there is every reason to believe that threats of “direct action” coming from the high command will take actual form. That is why we say: have no trust in the thoroughly authoritarian standing army. No, instead, let us put our trust in a “well regulated militia” and the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”.
Notes
1. LRC Programme for a real Labour government, no date, no place of publication.
2. http://leftunity.org/manifesto-2015-international.
3. ‘AWL election campaign: why we are standing and our policies’: www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/ge10/man/parties/Workers_Liberty.pdf.
4. www.communist-party.org.uk/about-us.html.
5. www.scottishsocialistparty.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/SSP_Manifesto_2007.pdf.
6. See Weekly Worker May 21 2009.
7. www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am2.
8. http://constitution.org/cmt/mowarren/observations_new_constitution_1788.html.
9. K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 7, Moscow 1977, p3.
10. K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 27, London 1990, p371.
11. www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/05/parti-ouvrier.htm.
12. www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/1891/erfurt-program.htm.
13. I am grateful to Ben Lewis for his translation of the Hainfeld programme.
14. www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1902/draft/02feb07.htm.
15. M Kitchen The coming of Austrian fascism London 1980, p116.
16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_Party.
17. See CE Cobb This non-violent stuff’ll get you killed New York 2014.
18. www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6637495/Corbyn-Britain-should-abolish-its-Army.html.
19. www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3233244/How-wonderful-d-scrapped-Army-ranted-Jeremy-Corbyn-s-call-dismissed-madness-Tory-MP.html.
20. Jeremy Corbyn quoted in The Mirror November 8 2015.
21. The Mirror November 8 2015.
22. The Sunday Times September 20 2015.
23. Financial Times August 14 2015.
24. NF Dixon On the psychology of military incompetence London 1976, p244.
25. Lord Ashcroft The armed forces and society May 2012.
26. The Guardian January 25 2016.
27. F Kitson Low intensity operations London 1991, p29.
28. P O’Conner The constitutional role of the privy council and the prerogative London 2009, p20.
29. Quoted in The Guardian January 25 2016.

A working class military programme

James Marshall of Labour Party Marxists argues that a Jeremy Corbyn government would be best defended by abolishing the standing army and the formation of a popular militia.

Two years ago, official Britain solemnly marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. The “war to end war” – that is how HG Wells, the Fabian social-imperialist, justified the carnage at the time.1 Yet, as we all know, 20 years after the Armistice of Compiègne, what passed for peace once again gave way to generalised armed conflict. World War II outstripped World War I in terms of death, destruction and sheer depravity.

And, of course, at its close, the big three – the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union – promised a “world of peace”, secured through the United Nations.2 Despite that, since 1945 there have been “some 250 major wars in which over 50 million people have been killed, tens of millions made homeless, and countless millions injured and bereaved.”3

The nature of warfare has changed. From World War I’s mud, blood and trenches and the fast-moving mechanised battlefields of World War II, we now have cyber attacks, drones and satellite-guided action.

As a matter of routine, the servile media portrays the wars conducted by the US, Britain and their allies as well-ordered, almost surgical operations. Yet during the 20th century the proportion of civilian casualties steadily climbed. In World War II, some 66% of those killed were civilians; by the beginning of the 1990s, civilian deaths approached 90%. This is not only the result of technological innovations. Present-day conflicts are often proxy wars fought out within, not between, states. The distinction separating combatant and non-combatant thereby easily evaporates.

Brushing aside mass street protests, one imperialist adventure has inexorably followed another: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Iraq, Mali, Libya and Syria. Equally, despite the 1980s peace movement, the United States pressed ahead with the deployment of first-strike Pershing IIs, cruise missiles and B2 stealth bombers. Ronald Reagan wanted to force a Soviet leadership that had already lost faith in itself to capitulate. Now a US determination to stay ahead in the arms race threatens to see the introduction of weapons once considered pure science fiction: electromagnetic rail guns, hypersonic anti-missile missiles, quantum stealth aircraft, unmanned warships, drone swarms and satellite killers.4 Such programmes both terrify and spur on the authorities in Moscow and Beijing.

Only a hopeless sectarian would stand aloof from the peace movement. Organisations such as the Stop the War Coalition and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament have mobilised huge numbers over Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and now the renewal of Trident. That must be welcomed. But – and it is a big but – despite the leadership of socialists such as John Rees, Lindsey German, Andrew Murray, Chris Nineham, Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin, what the peace movement champions is pacifism. Listen to their platform speeches. Their appearances on radio and TV. The horrors of war are indignantly condemned. But, in the name of keeping the peace movement broad, calls for class politics and socialist revolution are dismissed as sectarian and divisive. Hence, objectively, the STWC and CND serve to spread illusions in a peaceful capitalism.

It would therefore be outright treachery to follow the example of the Socialist Workers Party, Left Unity, Counterfire and the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain and become uncritical cheerleaders for the STWC and CND. This is not a matter of abstract dogma or a test of political virility, as some of our critics maintain. No, it is either socialism or we shall see the further descent into barbarism.

What is war?

Let me ask a fundamental question: what is war, and where does the drive for war come from?

The classic definition is provided by Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian soldier-philosopher and director of the Berlin military academy from 1818 to 1830. His principal work Vom Kriege (1832) theoretically distilled the military practice of Napoleon Bonaparte. Hence, along with Principia mathematica, The science of logic, Origin of the species and Das Kapital, it is rightly considered a seminal achievement.

Clausewitz tells us that war “is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will”. War, he says, is “a duel on an extensive scale”. Centrally, for Clausewitz, war is a “continuation of policy by other means”.5 A definition fully accepted by the founders of scientific socialism, who deepened Clausewitz’s ideas by linking wars to the existence and struggles of classes. Thus we find Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) not only declaring, “War is a continuation of policy by other means”, but adding:

All wars are inseparable from the political systems that engender them. The policy which a given state, a given class within a state, pursued for a long time before the war is inevitably continued by that same class during the war, the form of action alone being changed.6

Because Marxists understand the relationship between war and politics, because Marxists link war to the existence and struggle of classes, we are not amongst those who absolutely oppose all wars.

Original, or primitive, communist society did not experience anything remotely like war – at least as we would define it. Amazingly, this 200,000-year period of human natural history is breezily skipped over in Steven Pinker’s Whiggish account of declining human violence.7 Fights between individual male protagonists must have occurred, maybe even the group killing of a social transgressor, but no organised, prolonged, extensive conflicts. Under conditions of material abundance, female equality and counter-hierarchy, it almost certainly never happened. Yet with the gradual breakdown of communist social relations, beginning with the mesolithic, warfare did appear. That is what the archaeological record shows. Collective burial sites dating from the mesolithic, which provide unmistakable forensic evidence of deaths being due to stone implements – arrows, spears, etc – have been excavated.8 However, such examples are very rare. When class society, the patriarchal family and private property finally solidified with the neolithic counterrevolution, only then did war became commonplace.9

The ruling class not only suppressed their own populations using armed bodies of men (the state). By employing murderous violence, it sought to enslave and extend its domination over other peoples too. Great empires appeared in the Bronze Age, along with an almost perpetual state of warfare. For the ancient Assyrians, Hittites, Persians, Athenians, Spartans, Carthaginians and Romans; for the medieval Anglo-Saxons, Carolingians and Normans, the “profession of arms was esteemed the sole employment that deserved the name of ‘manly’ or ‘honourable’”.10 Killing, looting and raping were socially sanctioned male aspirations.

However, with the rise of capitalism, wars assumed an even bigger scale. Battles were fought on many seas and on many continents. World markets equalled world wars – eg, the 1652-74 and 1781-1810 Anglo-Dutch wars, the 1755-64, 1778-83 and 1793-1815 Anglo-French wars. In that sense, what we call World War I and World War II are only the latest in a string of world wars.

While Marxists aim for the abolition of war and a modern higher, version of communism, we recognise that this can only come about by first abolishing classes and class exploita­tion. Self-evidently, this requires the expropriation of a capitalist class which on past experience is quite prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to hold onto its riches, privileges and god-given right to rule. Indeed there are good reasons to believe that the great European powers turned to war in August 1914 in an attempt to roll back growing popular support for socialism.11 Hence, while it is vital to oppose capitalist warmongering, the working class must be won to the idea of making revolution – “peacefully if we can, violently if we must”. It is clear then that Marxists recognise the existence of just and unjust wars – a concept derived not from Hegel, nor from Fourier or Babeuf, but the saintly Augustine of Hippo.12

So, almost needless to say, our attitude to war is not determined by gross national product, territorial size or military capacity, whether it is a David-versus-Goliath affair, or even if a country is fighting an offensive or defensive war. In general, we feel obliged to support wars of national liberation – after all, “any people that oppresses another people forges its own chains”.13 Nevertheless, sometimes it is right to back the ‘aggression’ of a big country against a small one. Eg, if Soviet Russia had been in a position to save the 1918 Finnish revolution from the Mannerheim counterrevolution, that would undoubtedly have been a just war. What determines our attitude is which class rules and what policies that class pursues. This is the unfailing method we employ to determine whether a war is just or unjust.

Hence, looking back over the centuries, we find just wars. Obviously, when Spartacus fought for the freedom of Rome’s slave population in 73-71 BCE, that was a just war. When John Ball and Wat Tyler led the peasant’s revolt in 1381, that was a just war. When the French masses rose up against Louis XVI in 1789, that was a just war. The same goes for France in 1792-94. The massed columns of the conscript Armée Révolutionnaire Française soundly defeated the joint Austrian-Prussian attempt to impose a Bourbon restoration.

Marxists have also actively supported wars judged to somehow bring forward the struggle for socialism. The Marx-Engels team sided with the Union against the Confederacy in the American civil war of 1861-65 (the second American revolution). Both sides were capitalist. However, while the south was based on slavery and subordination to Britain’s commercial dictatorship, the north was based on free labour and sought independent economic development. Victory for the north, Marx and Engels calculated, would strike a powerful blow against the British empire, do away with slavery and unleash the class struggle in America. Their co-thinker and loyal friend, Joseph Weydemeyer, took the lead amongst the German-speaking population of New York (after Berlin and Vienna, the third largest German city in the world at the time). The Marx party worked tirelessly to secure the nomination and election of Abraham Lincoln. And, note, the most militant, most effective, most politically conscious units in the Union army were German. Many, including 10 generals, were refugees from the 1848-49 German revolution – the ‘48ers’ or ‘Red 48ers’.14

As a central component of their global strategy, Marx and Engels were also determined to bury what they called the “tsarist menace”. Since the 1815 Congress of Vienna, Europe languished under an “Anglo-Russian slavery”.15 Marx and Engels urged Europe’s peoples to bring the conservative order, so meticulously constructed by Alexander I, Metternich, Castlereagh, Talleyrand and Hardenberg – and so admired by Richard Nixon’s prince of darkness – crashing down.16 By definition that necessitated launching a war of liberation against Russian absolutism.

However, in the late 19th century things began to change. The most fearsome guarantor of counterrevolution showed all the signs of exhaustion … and being ripe for a popular revolution. Because of this, especially after Marx’s death in 1883, Engels shifted his position … and not only on Russia. Having eagerly looked forward to a European war, he began to issue urgent warnings. A general conflagration would “inflame chauvinism” in every country and thus temporarily derail the working class movement.17

In February 1917 the “tsarist menace” ignominiously collapsed and with October 1917 political power passed into the hands of the working class, as organised in the Bolshevik party. Workers throughout the world had a moral duty and every interest in siding with Soviet Russia. That included supporting its revolutionary wars. Such wars can be defensive: eg, against the white armies of Wrangel and Denikin and the 14 interventionist powers.

But what starts as a defensive war can easily be transformed into an offensive war. In 1920 the Red Army pursued the invading Polish forces across the Soviet border and deep into Poland itself. Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders envisaged reaching Warsaw. That would not only mean defeating the peasant-aristocratic army, headed by the notorious social-nationalist, Józef Piłsudski. The expectation was that the city’s proletariat would mount an uprising and thus provide the Red Army with a vital staging post on its way to help reignite the German revolution. Of course, it never happened. Logistically the Red Army overextended itself and the Warsaw proletariat proved rather more nationalist than socialist.

Imperialism and war

Needless to say, most wars are neither just nor revolutionary. This is most certainly the case with capitalism in decline: what Lenin called monopoly, finance or imperialist capitalism. Without doubt, there were monopolies, financiers and overseas expansionism at an early stage. Tudor England had its Sir Thomas Grisham, a bourse, privileged manufacturers and a colonial empire. Following Ireland, the first outposts in India and the Americas were established during the reign of Elizabeth I. But what we take from Lenin’s Imperialism (1916) is its fundamental insight: since the late 19th century capitalism has been a negative anticipation of socialism and simultaneously in decay.

State pensions, health services based on need, unemployment benefit, compulsory education, universal suffrage – all go hand in hand with the promotion of national chauvinism, perverting human ingenuity and the warfare state. Clearly essential laws are in retreat: market competition, the reserve army of labour, value, etc, continue, but are increasingly influenced, altered and overridden by state organisation. Massive arms spending allows the leading capitalist powers to ameliorate, offload or even bring to an end one of the system’s periodic crises. Imperialist exploitation also provides the additional surplus needed to incorporate social democracy and the trade union bureaucracy into the state apparatus. The working class is thereby divided into rival national detachments.

Albeit at the cost of substantial concessions, the principle of nationalism trumped the principle of class. Demands for import controls, barriers to immigration, appeals to the national interest, etc, became the common currency of a labour movement that has thoroughly internalised its subordination. Not surprisingly then, the working class has failed to realise its historic mission. As a consequence – with capitalism’s economic anarchy, wars, failed states, pandemics and ecological crises going unresolved – there is the ever-present danger that humanity will “crash down together in a common doom” (Rosa Luxemburg).18

An exhausted Britain was able to ride the precipitous 1929 crash and the economic dislocation of the early 1930s without plunging into social turmoil. It still possessed an enormous empire and a web of semi-colonies and dependants. By contrast, German imperialism, having been reduced almost to the level of an oppressed country by the terms of Versailles, spiralled off into chaos. In desperation, the capitalist class embraced the Nazi gangsters as their saviours.

World War II was considerably more complex than World War I. Its opening phase saw the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, Japanese expansionism in China, the German retaking of Saarland, Anschluss with Austria, Franco’s uprising, etc. Wars of colonial oppression, revanchism and counterrevolution interwove with wars of resistance. However, the looming clash between the German-Italian axis and the Anglo-French alliance had every appearance of being a classic inter-imperialist conflict. The correct slogan under these circumstances would therefore be ‘defeat for both sides’. Britain and France were going to fight not for democracy, not for national freedom, not for the anti-fascist cause. No, they wanted to preserve their position at the top of the imperialist feeding chain.

However, instead of the hostilities grinding to a bloody stalemate, as in World War I, the Wehrmacht cut straight through Holland and Belgium and deep into France. Half of the country, including Paris, was occupied. Vichy, though formally independent, became little more than a satrap. Hence, the war for the working class in France turned into a struggle for national liberation. The same possibility existed for Britain. Hence, especially after June 1940 and the fall of France, the necessity of the working class formulating its own demands for national defence: eg, arming the population, election of officers, specialist military training under trade union control, removal of appeaser ministers, abolition of the Hitler sympathising monarchy and elections to a constituent assembly. Standing up against the threat of Nazi invasion had to be combined with the class war for socialism. Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, reinforced the complex nature of World War II. The Soviet people fought against being enslaved as agricultural helots in a German India. Stalin, on the other hand, had his own great-power ambitions.

In 1945 Germany, Japan and their allies were forced into an unconditional surrender. Needless to say, the aftermath of World War II was very different from World War I. Des­pite being on the winning side, Britain and France failed to save their empires. This was in part due to the greatly enhanced power of the Soviet Union and colonial peoples winning national independence. However, as long as it did not see ‘official communists’ or pro-Moscow left nationalists coming to power, the US too wanted decolonisation. Something it pursued, of course, in its own economic, military and strategic interests. The US had no concern whatsoever for the colonial peoples themselves, except as objects of exploitation.

The US became a sort of super-imperialist power, its capital penetrating every corner of the capitalist world, all imperialist rivals bending to its will. The American century closed the 20-years crises of 1919-39. The rate of profit soared and the global economy expanded at an unprecedented rate for an unprecedented period. Inevitably, however, not least due to rising trade union power, the boom came to an end. From the mid-1970s onwards the US and Britain opted for finance capital, offshoring industrial production and reversing the social democratic settlement. And, with the additional plank of draconian legislation, trade union power was to all intents and purposes neutered.

Despite the growing economic weight of China, a faltering European Union and US parasitism and relative decline, there is no immediate prospect of an all-out World War III. With the likelihood of mutually assured destruction (MAD), who would fight and why? Nevertheless, there is the increasing danger of a regional hot spot accidentally boiling over: Syria, Palestine, Korea, Ukraine, Kashmir and the South China Sea immediately spring to mind. With good reason, Liz Sly, writing in the Washington Post, describes Syria as a “mini world war”.19 Militarily, a direct clash between the US and Russia or China could quite conceivably rapidly escalate. Even a limited nuclear exchange would exact an almost unimaginable human toll.

What distinguishes Marxists from others on the left who oppose the war danger is that we see the need to retaliate not with Left Unity’s ambiguous demand for a “drastic reduction” in military expenditure.20 Nor with the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s no less vague “Cut arms spending”.21 The same goes for the number-crunching plea of Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain to “cut military spending to average European levels”.22 Ditto the Scottish Socialist Party’s recipe of reducing “defence spending” to no more than the per capita level of the Republic of Ireland.23 Banal, timid and self-defeating.

Our military policy does not legitimise a reduced version of the existing armed forces. Despite the verbal, statistical and factional variations, what that theme amounts to is the attempt to win the working class – as individuals and as an organised force – to the hopeless attempt of securing peace, while the capitalist system remains intact.

Inevitably there is a corresponding refusal to take up the elementary demand of arming the working class. That is certainly the case with the Socialist Party in England and Wales and the CPB.24 But, if untreated, what begins as a scratch ends with gangrene. Confronted by the miners’ Great Strike of 1984-85 and the formation of hit squads, the Marxism Today Eurocommunists condemned “macho” violence. They offered instead the mystical, women-only pacifism of Greenham Common. But come the ‘war on terrorism’, not a few of these former peaceniks were to be found in the ranks of the Bush-Blair interventionists: eg, the newspaper columnist, David Aaronovitch.

Marxists are convinced that the bour­geois state machine must be broken apart, demolished, smashed up, if we are to realise socialism and put an end to war. So, concretely, in today’s conditions, that not only means demanding the scrapping of all nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction – they are inherently inhuman. We should be arguing for scrapping the standing army.

None of this will be realised by patiently winning over members of the ruling class. It has to be fought for. The working class must develop its own militia. Such a body grows out of the class struggle itself: in the fight to protect picket lines, in defence of Muslims from fasc­ist attacks, in guarding our print shops, meeting places and demonstrations. With a workers’ militia it becomes realistic to split the state’s armed forces. Fear of officers, sergeants and court martials must be replaced by rank and file mutiny. Certainly, army regiments, airforce squadrons and naval crews declaring for our side provides us with the military wherewithal needed to safeguard either an expected or a recently established Marxist majority in parliament.

Programmatically we therefore demand:

  • Rank-and-file personnel in the state’s armed bodies must be protected from bullying, humiliating treatment and being used against the working class.
  • There must be full trade union and democratic rights, including the right to form bodies such as soldiers’ councils.
  • The privileges of the officer caste must be abolished. Officers must be elected. Workers in uniform must become the allies of the masses in struggle.
  • The people must have the right to bear arms and defend themselves.
  • The dissolution of the standing army and the formation of a popular militia under democratic control.

Background

Strange though it may appear to the historically ill-informed, here contemporary Marxists draw direct inspiration from the second amendment to the US constitution. Ratified to popular acclaim in 1791, it states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”25 Those who made the American revolution – above all the urban and rural masses – saw a standing army as an existential threat to democracy. Eg, in her Observations on the new constitution (1788) Mercy Otis Warren – the mother of the American revolution – branded the standing army as “the nursery of vice and the bane of liberty”.26 At great sacrifice the common people had overthrown the tyranny of George III and were determined to do the same again, if faced with another unacceptable government.

Naturally Marx and Engels considered the second amendment part of their heritage. Clause four of the Marx-Engels Demands of the Communist Party in Germany (1848) is emphatic:

Universal arming of the people. In future armies shall at the same time be workers’ armies, so that the armed forces will not only consume, as in the past, but produce even more than it costs to maintain them.27

The Marx-Engels team never wavered on this. Read Can Europe disarm? Here, in this pamphlet written by Engels in 1893, 10 years after the death of his friend and collaborator, we find a concrete application of Marxism to the dawning epoch of universal suffrage and universal conscription. Engels concluded that the key to revolution was mutiny in the armed forces. His pamphlet outlined a model bill for military reform in Germany. Engels was determined to show that the proposal to gradually transform standing armies into a “militia based on the universal principle of arming the people” could exploit the mounting fears of a pending European war and widespread resentment at the ruinous military budget.28

For propaganda effect, Engels proposed an international agreement to limit military service to a short period and a state system in which no country would fear aggression because no country would be capable of aggression. Surely World War I would have been impossible if the European great powers had nothing more than lightly armed civilian militias available to them.

Not that Engels was a lily-livered pacifist. He supported universal male (!) conscription and if necessary was, of course, quite prepared to advocate revolutionary war. However, his Can Europe disarm? was not intended to prove the military superiority of a militia over a standing army. No, he wanted a citizen army within which discipline would be self-imposed. An army where rank-and-file troops would confidently turn their guns against officers who dared issue orders that were against the vital interests of the people. Through mutiny such an army could be made ours.

As might be expected, the Marxist parties of the late 19th and early 20th century unproblematically included the demand for disbanding the standing army and establishing a popular militia in their programmes. Eg, the 1880 programme of the French Workers’ Party, the 1891 Erfurt programme, the 1889 Hainfeld programme of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, the 1903 programme of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, etc.

In the ‘political section’ of the programme of the French Workers’ Party (Parti Ouvrier), authored jointly by Karl Marx and Jules Guesde, we therefore find the demand for the “abolition of standing armies and the general arming of the people” (clause four).29 A proposition faithfully translated by the Germans: “Education of all to bear arms. Militia in the place of the standing army” (clause 3).30 The Austrians are adamant: “The cause of the constant danger of war is the standing army, whose growing burden alienates the people from its cultural tasks. It is therefore necessary to fight for the replacement of the standing army by arming the people” (clause 6).31 Then we have the Russians: “general arming of the people instead of maintaining a standing army” (clause c9).32

Theory and practice must be united

Amongst the first decrees of the 1871 Paris Commune was the abolition of the standing army and the constitution of the national guard as the sole armed force in France. Memorably, Auguste Blanqui proclaimed: “He who has iron has bread!” By actually constituting a new state, based not on a repressive force that sat outside the general population, the Commune opened a new chapter in working class politics. And Russia took what happened in Paris to as yet unsurpassed heights. Formed in April-March 1917, the Red Guards proved crucial. Red Guards, and increasing numbers of army units, put themselves under the discipline of the Military Revolutionary Committee – a subdivision of the Bolshevik-led Petrograd soviet, formally established on Leon Trotsky’s initiative. On October 25 (November 7) 1917 the MRC issued its momentous declaration that the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky “no longer existed”. State power has passed into the hands of the soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers.

Workers formed defence corps during the 1926 General Strike in Britain. American workers did the same in 1934. There were massive stoppages in San Francisco, Toledo and Minneapolis. In the 1920s the two main workers’ parties in Germany established their own militias. The SDP dominated the soft-left Reichsbanner, while the Communist Party formed the much more militant Rotfrontkämpferbund (at its height it boasted 130,000 members). Despite its 1923 founding statutes emphasising ceremonial paraphernalia, marches and band music, the Schutzbund in Austria served as a kind of “proletarian police force”.33 When it came to strikes, demonstrations and meetings, this workers’ militia maintained discipline and fended off Nazi gangs. Though hampered by a dithering social democratic leadership, the Schutzbund heroically resisted the February 12 1934 fascist coup. In Spain anarchists, official ‘communists’, Poum, etc, likewise formed their own militias against the Franco uprising.

Then, more recently, in 1966, there was the Black Panther Party. It organised “armed citizen’s patrols” to monitor and counter the brutal US police force.34 Even the “non-violent” civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King, included within its ranks those committed to “armed self-defence” against Ku Klux Klan and other such terrorism.35 Countless other such examples could be cited.

Corbyn

Speaking to a Hiroshima remembrance event in August 2012, Jeremy Corbyn spoke of his desire to emulate “the people of Costa Rica”, who “abolished the army”. Leaving aside the actual situation in Costa Rica and the synthetic outrage generated by The Sun36 and the Daily Mail37, demanding the disbanding of the standing army has assumed a particular importance since Corbyn was elected Labour leader.

Put aside passing opinion polls and imagine that Corbyn wins a majority in 2020. Are the courts, MI5, the armed forces and the police going to be steadfastly loyal to the new government, or powerless to act behind ministerial backs, because of the results of a general election? Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, etc, rightly dismissed such naive politics as “parliamentary cretinism”.

The Corbyn government would doubtless be committed to swiftly reversing austerity, renationalising the rails, ending British involvement in the Syrian quagmire, decommissioning Trident and maybe negotiating a withdrawal from Nato. However, say in the name of keeping the Labour right, the Daily Mirror and the liberal intelligentsia onside, the Corbyn government decides to leave in place MI5, the police and the standing army. Frankly, that would be an open invitation for a British version of general Augusto Pinochet to launch a bloody counterrevolution. In Chile thousands of leftwingers were butchered after the September 11 1973 army coup, which overthrew the Socialist Party-Communist Party Popular Unity reformist government under president Salvador Allende.

There are already rumours swirling around of unnamed members of the army high command “not standing for” a Corbyn government and being prepared to take “direct action”.38 Meanwhile, the Financial Times darkly warns that Corbyn’s leadership damages “British public life”.39

Why trust the thoroughly authoritarian British army? An institution which relies on inculcating “unthinking obedience” amongst the ranks.40 An institution run by an officer caste, which is trained to command from public school to Sandhurst as if it is their birthright. And, of course, the British army swears to loyally serve the crown – believe it, more than a harmless feudalistic throwback. The monarch and the monarchy function as a potent symbol, and an ever-present excuse for a legal coup.

Why trust the British army, which has fought countless imperial and colonial wars, up to and including the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan? A British army that has been used when necessary to intimidate, threaten and crush the ‘enemy within’?

No; instead, let us put our trust in a “well regulated militia” and the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”.

Notes

1 . HG Wells The war that will end war London 1914. See www.en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:The_War_That_Will_End_War_-_Wells.djvu&page=8.

2 . T Hoops and D Brinkley FDR and the creation of the UN New Haven 1997, p219.

3 . www.ppu.org.uk/learn/infodocs/st_war_peace.html.

4 . http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/five-futuristic-weapons-could-change-warfare-9866.

5 . A Rapoport (ed) Clausewitz on war Harmondsworth 1976, pp101, 119.

6 . VI Lenin CW Vol 24, Moscow 1977, p400.

7 . See S Pinker The better angels of our nature London 2011.

8 . J Guilaine and J Zammit The origins of war Oxford 2015, p75.

9 . Noted but inadequately discussed by Steven Pinker in his opening chapter of The better angels of our nature (2011).

10 . AFT Woodhouselee Elements of general history ancient and modern London 1818, p287.

11 . A view accepted by many mainstream historians. See P Kennedy The rise of the Anglo-German antagonism 1860-1914 London 1980; J Joll and G Martel The origins of the first world war Abingdon 2007; C Clark The sleepwalkers: how Europe went to war in 1914 London 2012.

12 . See ‘Augustine to Boniface’ in EM Atkins and RJ Doradaro (eds) Augustine: political writings Cambridge 2001, p217; JM Mattox Saint Augustine and the theory of just war New York 2006; GM Reichberg, H Syse and E Begby (eds) Ethics of war Malden 2006, pp-70-90.

13 . K Marx, ‘Confidential communication’ CW Vol 21, Moscow 1985, p120.

14 . AH Nimtz Marx, Tocqueville and race in America New York 2003, p170.

15 . K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 9, Moscow 1977, p197.

16 . See H Kissinger A world restored Boston MA 1954.

17 . H Draper and E Haberkern Karl Marx’s theory of revolution Vol 4, New York 2005, p166.

18 . P Hurdis and KB Anderson (eds) The Rosa Luxemburg reader New York 2004, p364.

19 . Washington Post February 14 2016.

20 . http://leftunity.org/manifesto-2015-international.

21  . ‘AWL election campaign: why we are standing and our policies’: www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/ge10/man/parties/Workers_Liberty.pdf.

22 . www.communist-party.org.uk/about-us.html.

23 . www.scottishsocialistparty.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/SSP_Manifesto_2007.pdf.

24 . See Weekly Worker May 21 2009.

25 . www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am2.

26 . http://constitution.org/cmt/mowarren/observations_new_constitution_1788.html.

27 . K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 7, Moscow 1977, p3.

28 . K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 27, London 1990, p371.

29 . www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/05/parti-ouvrier.htm.

30 . www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/1891/erfurt-program.htm.

31 . I am grateful to Ben Lewis for his translation of the Hainfield programme.

32 . www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1902/draft/02feb07.htm.

33 . M Kitchen The coming of Austrian fascism London 1980, p116.

34 . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_Party.

35 . See CE Cobb This nonviolent stuff’ll get you killed New York 2014.

36 . www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6637495/Corbyn-Britain-should-abolish-its-Army.html.

37  . www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3233244/How-wonderful-d-scrapped-Army-ranted-Jeremy-Corbyn-s-call-dismissed-madness-Tory-MP.html.

38 . Daily Mail September 20 2015.

39 . Financial Times August 14 2015.

40 . NF Dixon On the psychology of military incompetence London 1976, p244.