Socialists, that’s real socialists of course, not the the pick and mix you will find in the Labour Party or other non-socialist's such as President Hollande of France who has said that the vote by the UK Parliament in regard to Syria would not affect France's will to act; we socialists say that capitalism is the cause of all rivalries and war in the modern world.
One other point I wish to make whilst it is still fresh in my mind and that’s Lindsey German and others, boasting with excessive pride that our Parliament voted against an attack on Syria was the result of over a decade of anti-war campaigning. I cannot subscribe to this view and have been critical of stop the war coalition in the past, whilst we still see the US and others lining up and still preparing to rain down a shower of Tomahawk cruise missiles which means that nothing has changed that much and therefore it seems a bit arrogant if not self-serving for the Champagne Socialists to boast with such self-satisfaction, however having said that, it is true that anti-war activists have applied a degree of pressure that has had an impact on public opinion along with the lies propagated in our daily press and media increasingly rejected by readers, and the experience of national politicians who fabricated facts and then ignored public sentiment like the footsteps of millions on the streets of towns and cities around the world opposing war.
So when we say that capitalism is the cause, it is also necessary to recognise a distinction between what may in general be called ‘economic’ causes of past wars and the particular causes of wars that arise under capitalism. For instance, insufficiency of food in the past ages could induce a tribe to make a war on a neighbouring tribe to gain control of more fertile land. Such a war would accordingly be described as being due to an economic cause, the absolute shortage of food; and it might be impossible with poor tools at hand and methods known at the time to solve the problem in any other way than fighting it out for the chance that the victors might survive.
In our own time the problem is a different one. Now at this present time the means exist for producing enough to supply continuously the needs of all. With modern industrial and scientific knowledge ample food, clothing, houses and the rest of the needs of human beings could be produced if all the resources were used and none were wasted. The trouble is that they are not used to the full. In a multitude of ways production is deliberately restricted; land and materials are utilised for profitable non-productive purposes; millions of men and women through unemployment or military service and armament production, are withdrawn from the task of satisfying human needs; growers are given financial inducements to curtail production, and periodically vast amounts of food and other materials are destroyed in order to keep up prices - quite apart from the destruction that takes place in war itself. If in our own day millions of people are still undernourished or starving, while simultaneously in the US and other countries enormous quantities of foodstuffs are withheld from the market (with deterioration or even destruction as the likely end), it cannot be said that undernourishment or starvation is economically unavoidable. It is capitalism that presents governments with the choice between releasing the food for sale at what it will - which would ruin farmers by depressing prices - and withholding the food to get the high prices with the result that poverty-stricken people cannot buy it.
Capitalism and capitalist interests induce every government to behave in a manner which creates antagonism with other capitalist groups and governments, with war as the threatened outcome. The needs of the world’s population could be satisfied by co-operation but it is in the nature of capitalism to prohibit genuine co-operation.
In the capitalist world we are not dealing with a simple economic problem of insufficiency but with the problem of insufficiency created by the capitalist systems form of ownership of the means of production and distribution. While millions of people are starving around the world because they lack the money to buy food, there are wealthy property owners in those same parts of the world who are not affected at all. In America there are food surpluses that could be used to satisfy the needs of the starving and undernourished people, there are large numbers of Americans who because they are poor cannot buy the food available where they live.
When, therefore, socialists say that capitalism causes modern war it is this capitalist system of private ownership and production for profit that we have in mind. It is no answer to say that there were also wars in times gone by.
In saying that capitalism is the source of modern wars socialists do not mean that capitalist wars are deliberately plotted by individual capitalists or groups for the purpose of making money, even though some individuals may do this. Normally it would be more accurate to say that governments, in trying to handle the problems and antagonisms created by capitalism, turn to war when other means fail.