THE CLASS STRUGGLE 31 30 THE CLASS STRUGGLE brutal State Socialism; and the fusion of bourgeois progressivism with Imperialism in the interests of general reaction.
All these factors have been developing rapidly and powerfully before the war, in this country and Europe; and the consequences of the declaration of a state of war against Germany will tremendously accelerate the process, just as war has done in Europe.
The impulses that organized to force this country into the war are, roughly, three. 1) to protect America immediate profits, menaced by Germany resumption of the ruthless submarine campaign. 2) to protect American prestige. and (3) to use the opportunity of war to prepare the necessary national psychology of reaction and of armed force for the greater clash of Imperialism that is coming.
The inclusion of prestige in these three groups is not incidental, or unimportant. Prestige is a real factor, a strong asset, in the struggles of international Capitalism. Time and again it has been invoked to protect the economic interests of a nation.
And the acts of Germany were a menace to the prestige of America not in the sense of national honor, but as a political factor to be used for economic ends. This is the idealism of Capital!
Germany submarine campaign struck directly at the huge profits of American Capitalism. During 1916 America exports totalled 5, 481, 423, 000, of which 4, 209, 166, 000 went to the Allies seventy seven per cent. The vast purchases of Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy in this country were partly financed by loans to the Allied governments which in turn yielded a profit.
Profit upon profit! And the submarine campaign menaced these profits, and larger profits still to come. From the time of the declaration by Germany that the ruthless submarine campaign would be renewed, until President Wilson acted, the bulk of American exports temporarily ceased. Ships remained in our harbors; traffic congested the railroads, and freight piled up on the wharves. Something had to be done. And the policy of armed neutrality, in itself a compromise, inevitably led to war.
It is out of these profits, menaced by Germany, that America is carving out its imperialistic future. And to protect these profits, to insure its future as the financial centre of the world, American Capitalism draws the sword!
There is no longer talk of America leading the world to the Mecca of peace. The horrors of futile slaughter no longer evoke sanctimonious tears. Touch its money nerve, and the beast in Capitalism leaps forth murderous and unashamed.
But, more important than the other factors in promoting war, is the opportunity war provides America to develop the necessary national psychology and armed force for the greater clash of Imperialism that is coming. It is a mistake to assume that America is to fight simply to protect its immediate economic interests. There are larger issues at stake. war just now fits in admirably with the plans of American Capitalism. In financial circles, war is accepted as beneficial to industrial expansion. The war will mean more profits immediately; and, what is more important in an age of Imperialism, acquiring military and financial reserves for the future, and making this country a power in world politics. That is the basis upon which the government is proceeding. That is the leit motiv of the propaganda for war and a policy of war. That is the purpose of conscription. They have not urged conscription as an immediate war measure; they have imposed conscription, universal military service, as a measure for the future. They wish to accustom the Working Class to the barracks and the court martial; to put over conscription in a time when it is dangerous to resist. In other words, conscription and innumerable other measures of war are not for use in this war particularly, but for use in the days of peace and as a preparation to back up American Imperialism in the wars ahead.
And some of the plans of conquest of this Imperialism are already being formulated. They call for the conquest of Mexico and Central America, and the imposition of some form of economic protectorate over the other Latin American nations. They call for the acquisition of British territory adjacent to the Panama Canal. They call for the creating of a navy as large as that of Great Britain, Germany and Japan combined. The attacks upon