Today Britain’s Establishment and ruling class, in a yearly ritual, have again sought to use Remembrance Sunday to stir up militarism and jingoism to a new generation.
Throughout this pandemic, we have seen the same Tory government and ruling class that have allowed well over 150,000 people in our country needlessly die from COVID-19 try to evoke the ‘keep calm and carry on’ war time ethos and the famous Spirt of the Blitz in an attempt to justify their own incompetence.
Boris Johnson, a direct descendant of the politician’s who initiated the slaughter in 1914, claims to be remembering and celebrating Britain’s fallen service men and women”. Britain’s Communists condemn this cynical abuse of the memory of British workers sacrificed at the altar of capitalist redivision. The reality is that they are aiming only to perpetuate support for future imperialist wars. They tarnish and desecrate the entire legacy and ideal of remembrance, for the war that was supposed to end all wars.
The First World War is remembered with great poignancy across Britain. It goes without saying that the youth of Britain are still saddened by this crime, even now over a hundred years on. But what do the British Government tell the country that those men and women died for? For democracy in Europe? The vast majority of British people could not vote until 1918 – change only came after men from across class lines saw each other die pointlessly in the mud, and came home from war changed, trained – and potentially organised.
Lenin, leader of the October Revolution in Russia, who lived through that period identified the real nature of the war in Europe:
The war of 1914-18 was imperialist (that is, an annexationist, predatory, war of plunder) on the part of both sides; it was a war for the division of the world, for the partition and repartition of colonies and spheres of influence of finance capital.
The motivations of the British ruling class to enter the war were exactly same as that of the French, German, Austrian or Russian ruling classes.
The YCL calls on the British youth to engage with Remembrance Day in a different way. We must take it as a poignant reminder of the futility of imperialist war. We can never forget that millions of working people all over Europe were betrayed into slaughtering each other in the interests of their respective ruling classes, their exploiters. The ‘land of heroes’ to which many soldiers returned was one of chronic unemployment, hardship and poverty.
It is equally important to remember the victims of British imperialism all over the world from past to present day. From civilians murdered in Ireland, to India and across the world, we cannot forget the imperial actions of the British state and its armies. The British state attempts to whitewash its history but we cannot allow this to happen. For imperialism’s crimes to be swept under the carpet, is a crime in itself, and a discredit to those who fought against the actions of imperialism.
Our aim of a socialist society offers the only true solution for forever ending the scourge of war on this planet, which in the age of nuclear weapons threatens mankind’s very existence. Lenin explained:
We say: our aim is to achieve a socialist system of society, which, by eliminating the division of mankind into classes, by eliminating all exploitation of man by man and nation by nation, will inevitably eliminate the very possibility of war.
Ruling class politicians also seek to evoke the memory of World War II also. Our contribution to the victory over Nazi fascism is one of the proudest chapters in the history of Britain’s working class. Again, the attempt to utilise this antifascist struggle, to legitimise support for every war since 1945 is as crude as it is insulting.
We again take this opportunity also to condemn the European Union and the British MEPs who voted in favour of the anti-communist resolution on the ‘importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe’ in September 2019.
This resolution, by equating Soviet Socialism with Nazi Fascism seeks to distort history to the extent of labelling the Soviet Union and Red Army, who sacrificed over 26 million lives in the struggle to crush Nazism, “as an ally and collaborator of Nazi Germany”. This desecrates the memory of those Soviet men and women who died side by side with British workers to defeat fascism in Europe and the Far East.
Remembrance should not become a vehicle to justify and legitimise past or future wars. It must be a potent reminder to the youth of today and future generations of the horrors of war. The best tribute that can be paid to Britain’s war dead is to join the struggle for socialism in our lifetimes.
Young Communist League
14 November 2021