Ch 17 World War :World Crisis

CH.17-WORLD WAR-WORLD CRISIS

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CHAPTER XVII: WORLD WAR - WORLD CRISIS

SECTION 3: EPILOGUE


HISTORIANS OF THE FUTURE WILL SEE THAT THE WORLD WAR, FAR FROM BEING THE WAR TO END ALL WARS, WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF EUROPEAN IMPERIALISM.

THERE FOLLOWED A PERIOD OF PERMANENT CRISIS IN WHICH BOOMS FOLLOWED BUSTS: STAGNATION AND UNEMPLOYMENT, EVEN IN RELATIVELY PROSPEROUS YEARS, AND SOME OF THE WORST SLUMPS KNOWN.

THE ‘GREAT’ WAR DECIDED NOTHING, BUT CHANGED EVERYTHING.

A WORKERS’ STATE IN THE SOVIET UNION, AND THE USA, WHO ENTERED THE WAR LATE, SECURED MAXIMUM PROFIT WITH MINIMUM DAMAGE.

AT VERSAILLES, GEMANY WAS STRIPPED OF ALL HER COLONIES, MUCH OF HER IRON INDUSTRY AND HER COAL. HER NAVY WENT, AS DID MOST OF HER MERCHANT FLEET.

BRITAIN HAD MUCH OF HER CAPITAL INVESTED IN AMERICA IN 1914, BUT BY 1918 AMERICA HAD TO GRANT LOANS TOTALLING THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF POUNDS.

IF VERSAILLES WAS A BRITISH VICTORY THEN AMERICAN MONEY POWER FUNDED HER NAVY. THE US LATER IMPOSED HARSH CONDITIONS FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF BRITISH DEBTS, CERTAINLY COMPARED WITH THOSE GRANTED TO OTHER COUNTRIES.

THERE WAS ALSO THE RECOGNITION BY BRITISH WORKERS OF THE DECLINE OF CAPITALISM AND THE RISE OF SOCIALISM, LEADING TO SUPPORT FOR SOVIET RUSSIA, AND THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT MADE CONCESSIONS ON PAY AND CONDITIONS.

BY 1920, FALLING PRICES AND RISING UNEMPLOYMENT RETURNED, AND THIS CRISIS LED TO TWO MILLION UNEMPLOYED.

THE STRUGGLE FOR REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE WAS LED BY THE BRITISH COMMUNIST PARTY, BUT A UNION BETRAYAL OF THE MINERS ON ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ IN 1921 LEFT THE WORKING CLASS BADLY DIVIDED, AND A COUNTER OFFENSIVE BY BRITISH CAPITALISM BEGAN.

WHILE THE CAPITALISTS AT HOME WERE GAINING STRENGTH, IN INDIA, IRELAND AND EGYPT ESPECIALLY, THE PEOPLE WERE IN REVOLT.

IN THE EAST, THERE WERE NEW RIVALS TO BRITISH INDUSTRY: JAPAN, CHINA AND INDIA.

THEN, IN 1924, THE CRISIS CEASED, AND ALL EUROPE SETTLED INTO RELATIVE TRANQUILITY DUE TO A FALSE PROSPERITY BASED ON THE UNSTABLE FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN MONEY AND CREDITS.

THE DAWES PLAN SENT SURPLUS US CAPITAL TO EUROPE.

INDUSTRY WAS MODERNISED, AND POLITICANS TALKED OF A RETURN TO NORMALITY.

IN FACT, LOANS WERE REPAID BY FURTHER BORROWING, AND THE SCHEME WORKED ONLY AS LONG AS THE CREDIT CONTINUED UNBROKEN.

IN 1925, BRITAIN RETURNED TO THE GOLD STANDARD, AND THE BRITISH CAPITALISTS TURNED ON THE MINERS, THE STRONGEST AND MOST AGGRESSIVE OF PART OF THE WORKING CLASS.

BALDWIN REPLACED LLOYD GEORGE AND RAMSAY MACDONALD AND DECLARED “ALL WORKERS OF THIS COUNTRY HAVE GOT TO TAKE A REDUCTION IN WAGES.”

THE GENERAL STRIKE RESULTED IN 1926. IT WAS CALLED OFF BY THE TUC JUST AS IT WAS SUCCEEDING, AND THE MINERS WERE LEFT TO GO DOWN TO DEFEAT.

EMPLOYERS LOWERED WAGES YET FURTHER AND RATIONALISED INDUSTRY BY GETTING MORE OUT OF THE WORKING CLASS FOR LESS.

PRODUCTIVITY DID INCREASE, BUT UNEMPLOYMENT REMAINED. WAGES WERE CUT FURTHER IN REAL TERMS, AND STOCKS ROSE AS BUYING POWER DECREASED.

THUS, A CRISIS OVER PRODUCTION CREATED BY THE CAPITALISTS LED TO AMERICA TURNING OFF THE TAP OF CREDIT.

THE SLUMP OF 1929 WAS INEVITABLE. THE COMING CATASTROPHE WAS FORESEEN BY THE RULING CLASS. IT MANOUEVRED IN A LABOUR GOVERNMENT, WHICH MADE A PITIFUL SHOWING. UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE TO THREE MILLION.

EXPORTS COLLAPSED, AND SHORT-TERM LOANS WERE CALLED IN, THEREBY CREATING A FINANCIAL COLLAPSE IN GERMANY ESPECIALLY.

IN BRITAIN, THE LABOUR GOVERNMENT RESIGNED, AND A NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WAS FORMED. IT INITIATED A POLICY OF CUTS IN WAGES AND BENEFITS, WHICH LED TO RISING UNEMPLOYMENT.

ALL WAS CARRIED THROUGH AFTER A DETERMINED EFFORT OF STRUGGLE BY UNEMPLOYED WORKERS, DEMONSTRATIONS AND A MUTINY OF THE NORTH SEA FLEET AT INVERGORDON.

BRITAIN WAS FORCED OFF THE GOLD STANDARD. SHE DISCARDED FREE TRADE AND SET UP IMPORT TARIFFS.

RECOVERY WAS VERY SLOW.

EUROPE SUFFERED TOO.

REPARATION PAYMENTS BY GERMANY WERE SUSPENDED, AND FASCISM REARED ITS UGLY HEAD.

IN 1933, THE NAZIS CAME TO POWER, AND A NEW WORLD GROUPING BEGAN.

GERMANY ITALY AND JAPAN WERE ALL IN SERIOUS DIFFICULTIES AND SAW WAR AS THE ONLY ESCAPE.

FRANCE AND OTHER RELATIVELY PROSPEROUS STATES FEARED WAR IN WHICH THEY HAD EVERYTHING TO LOSE AND NOTHING TO GAIN.

THE SOVIET UNION, ANXIOUS FOR PEACE FOR QUITE A DIFFERENT REASON, BECAME A FOCAL POINT FOR PEACE DESIRING STATES AND PEOPLES.

A NEW ARMS RACE BEGAN ON A SCALE FAR EXCEEDING THAT OF 1914.

THE BRITISH NATIONAL GOVERNMENT PLAYED AN AMBIGUOUS ROLE. WHILE FEARING WAR, IT HOPED TO BUY OFF THE FASCIST STATES AT SOMEONE ELSE’S EXPENSE.

RETREAT BEFORE FASCIST AGGRESSION WAS BRITISH POLICY OF THE DAY.

HITLER WAS ALLOWED TO REARM AND THEN LATER TO INVADE ITS NEIGHBOURS. JAPAN TOOK MANCHURIA, AND ITALY TOOK ABYSSINIA. IN 1936, FRANCO, GERMANY AND ITALY LINED UP AGAINST THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC VOTE IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR.

THIS BOOK ENDS, WITH WORLD WAR II IMMINENT AND AT A CRITICAL MOMENT IN HISTORY.

THE FATE OF THE WORLD LIES IN THE CAPACITY OF ITS PEOPLE FOR RIGHT JUDGEMENT BY RIGHT ACTION.

THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK, HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF TIME AND TIME AGAIN, AND THE NEED FOR ALTERNATIVE POLICIES IS STRIKINGLY OBVIOUS.

THE STRUGGLE BY PEOPLES FOR THEIR RIGHTS CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD OVER 70 YEARS LATER.

OUR ONLY HOPE IS THAT THE STRUGGLE SUCCEEDS BEFORE THE WARMONGERS BLOW IT TO PIECES OR DAMAGE IT BEYOND REPAIR THROUGH GREED AND CORRUPTION. THE CHOICE IS POWER HUNGRY CAPITALISTS OR INDIVIDUALS AND COLLECTIVES.

THIS POCKET VERSION OF A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF ENGLAND IS BASED ON THE BOOK BY AL MORTON. IT HAS BEEN PRODUCED TO SIMPLIFY AND OFFER THE READER (BE IT HE OR SHE, STUDENT OR SENIOR) FOOD FOR THOUGHT. ITS INTENTION IS TO INSPIRE ACTION IN THE STRUGGLE FOR PEACE AND IN THE DEMANDS FOR A GREATER RECOGNITION OF ORDINARY PEOPLE’S RIGHTS.

“WE ARE THE PEOPLE.”

 - FOR THE CONITUATION OF SOCIAL REFORM AND EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY.

- FOR SCIENCE NOT SUPERSTITION.

- FOR PEOPLE FIRST, NOT PROFIT.

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