War and the Working Class

When The Rich Wage War, It's The Poor That Die
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Rich man’s war – poor man’s blood

We have more in common with those being bombed by ‘our’ governments than we do with those who make the wars. Like us, they are for the most part just regular families, workers and students trying to get on with their daily lives – going to work or studies, getting the kids to school, keeping a roof over their families’ heads and food in their bellies. They didn’t ask to be cut down as the rich fight like dogs over the world’s remaining natural resources.

Our kids are not cannon-fodder – their kids are not collateral damage

The governments scrape up our poorest most disadvantaged kids (those most failed by the system in terms of education and life chances) on a promise of a better life, foreign holidays and a free education, and fly them halfway across the world to get blown to bits – or to do the same to some other poor mother’s children. To those who make the wars, all our kids are disposable – to be divided into nothing more than either ‘cannon fodder’ or ‘collateral damage’.

Profiteering from death

The arms companies profiteer from the misery of war to turn torture, oppression and slaughter into profit – arming each side or both in a race to the bottom. And retaining a competitive edge by continually devising newer more inventive ways to surveil, torture and kill.

“In times of war everything else is set at naught; all life stagnates, all effort is curtailed; the very sweat and blood of the masses are used to feed this insatiable monster – militarism.” – Emma Goldman

Austerity — No cuts for the arms trade

The government say they’ve got no money for schools, hospitals, libraries, or benefits for the disabled and unemployed. But they’ve got plenty when it comes to subsidising arms fairs for their multimillionaire corporate fuckbuddies. It says the arms trade keeps people in work and helps the UK economy – but arms exports are heavily subsidised by the tax payer to the tune of £700mil per year (SIPRI Institute). In the words of the Financial Times international economy editor: “You can have as many arms export jobs as you are prepared to waste public money subsidising” (FT 10/08/2010). So whilst the state with one hand enforces crippling cuts on the disabled, low-waged and unemployed in the form of bedroom tax, council tax benefit and brutal sanctions – with the other it throws cash at the arms dealers. The only ones to profit are the arms companies and their investors – as well as the MPs, who on retirement from Westminster can look forward to a cushy directorship. The ‘revolving door’ of ex-ministers to arms companies is prolific and well documented – over the last decade there have been 81 high profile government officials that have made the move from Westminster into the arms industry (CAAT).

The state knows that so long as we all remain distracted and divided by government and media scapegoating of immigrants, disabled people, single mums or the unemployed then those most affected by the brutal cuts we’ve been facing can never mount a sufficient resistance. Likewise, so long as we see our lives and cares as divorced from those being tortured and bombed across the globe with the weapons that were made, bought and sold here, we will never shut them down.

The sale of arms for corporate profit is a vile billion pound industry. In many ways it’s the logical conclusion of the capitalist system. But there’s a growing solidarity movement of people like us all over the world who seek to sabotage, disrupt and ultimately shut down the war machine.

“[There is] an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed nations of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony of interests between the workingman of America and his brothers abroad than between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot; a solidarity which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing all the workers to the point when they will say to their masters, ‘Go and do your own killing. We have done it long enough for you’. “ – Emma Goldman

“The anti-military spirit which is developing among the masses of Europe will tell the governments of the Earth that the workers have no trouble that needs to be settled by cruel war; and if the rulers have trouble, they can settle them by fighting it out among themselves. The working class wants to enjoy the fruits of their toil, the short time they journey this Earth. But we are told that this kind of talk in unpatriotic, that every man ought to be willing to fight for his country. What country belongs to the wage class?” – Voltairine de Cleyre

Why direct action?

We can’t look to the law to prevent oppression. The vilest episodes in history were enshrined or protected by their relevant domestic legal systems at the time – slavery, apartheid, holocaust and mass slaughter of indigenous peoples across the globe. In each case the perpetrators and profiteers used the full force of the law to defend their atrocities with police, armies and weapons. Even in cases where states or the arms companies are in clear breach of international laws on arms controls or human rights, it’s money and power that talks. From the UK’s illegal wars for oil, to the way arms companies are allowed to operate here with impunity, there is no accountability.

The British police act as free private security for the arms trade – they abuse protesters and turn a blind eye to the continual breaches of laws banning the promotion of torture weapons, or those that indiscriminately maim and kill civilians. Various ‘illegal’ arms such as electro-shock weapons, weighted fetters and gang chains, cluster-munitions and anti-personnel landmines have been documented by Amnesty as having been promoted for sale at every DSEi arms fair since 2005 – yet the state has not once intervened. And some of the most destructive weapons for sale at the event – such as the drones frequently used to incinerate whole families by remote control at the touch of a button in places like Pakistan or Palestine – are not illegal to sell at all. In such circumstances we see no way forward but direct action.

The police aren’t there to protect us but rather they exist to protect the interests of the privileged and powerful. Those people who seek to take genuinely effective action against the state or the corporations quickly learn this lesson the hard way, if they didn’t know it already. As an important matter of principle our group will never liaise or negotiate with the police.

What does UK militarism look like?

The brutal hardships experienced by people at the rough end of the arms trade, such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Palestine can seem a world away from our existence here in the UK. The state and the arms companies would like you to think that – but in reality we are situated right in the belly of the beast. The bombs might land far away but we are not so far removed. And unlike those living in regimes more overtly brutal towards their domestic populations, we face less risks. Our geographical and political position presents us with not only a unique responsibility, but also a unique opportunity, to make a difference and be effective.

  • Across the country, military recruitment goes on for their dirty wars.
  • Frequently the UK hosts International summits for the world’s political and military elite. Most recently we ‘ve seen NATO and G8 Summits.
  • Many arms companies’ corporate headquarters hide in our cities. And there are arms factories all over the UK that make equipment used in countless war zones, military occupations and repressive regimes.
  • To grease the wheels and maintain the shiny corporate facade to the business of killing, luxury Arms dealers’ dinners and corporate hospitality events operate across the year.
  • The UK government jointly hosts and heavily subsidises arms fairs such as DPRTE in Cardiff and Farnborough in the midlands. DSEi (‘Defence Security Equipment International’) is the world’s largest international arms fair. Held in Newham, East London, DSEi hosts buyers from some of the world’s most brutal and repressive regimes.

There will be a mass mobilisation against the next DSEi arms fair as well as a week of antimilitarist action in SEPTEMBER 2015 – more details of which will be available here shortly.