World War I

1916: Use workers’ power to end the war

 

 

By Käte Duncker, introduction by John Riddell

 

September 21, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/John Riddell: Marxist Essays and Commentaries — 100 years ago today, a leading antiwar socialist in Germany explained the need for revolution to end the First World War. Her audience was delegates to the last unified national conference of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), held in Berlin on September 21-23, 1916.

 

Karl Liebknecht 1916: ‘Down with the war; down with the government!’

 

 

Karl Liebknecht addressing Berlin demonstration.

 

Introductory note by John Riddell

 

July 20, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission — One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1916, 55,000 metalworkers in Berlin went on strike to protest the sentencing of Karl Liebknecht to two and a half years in prison. It was Germany’s first mass protest strike of World War 1. Liebknecht received mass support in Germany and beyond as the first German socialist to have voted against parliamentary allocations to pay for the government war spending. He had been arrested at an illegal May Day demonstration organized by the Spartacist League, just after calling out, “Down with the war! Down with the government!” Two days after his arrest, Liebknecht explained the goals of the May Day demonstration and the Spartacist League in the following statement at his trial.

 

The Kiental Manifesto: Socialists against war, 1916

 

 

Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartacists called at Kiental for a new International.

 

By John Riddell

 

April 27, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission -- One hundred years ago this week, socialist opponents of the First World War gathered in Kiental, Switzerland, issued an appeal calling on working people to “use every means possible to bring a rapid end to the human slaughter.” The appeal, known as the “Kiental Manifesto,” appears below.

 

John Riddell on Zimmerwald, 1915: New socialist resistance against war

Site of Zimmerwald Conference

Site of Zimmerwald conference

Click for more by or about John Riddell.

By John Riddell

August 21, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Zimmerwald conference, a small gathering held in Switzerland 100 years ago, on September 5-8, 1915, marked a turning point in the world socialist movement. Socialists from many countries issued an appeal that united anti-war socialists during World War I and helped prepare the revolutions with which it concluded. To mark the Zimmerwald centenary I am presenting links to three major documents of the conference in new translations, together with my short introduction.

Documents of the Zimmerwald conference

ANZACs: New film reveals what should not be forgotten -- or forgiven

Film by John Rainford and Peter Ewer

April 24, 2015 -- Green Left TV/Green Left Weekly//Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign approaches, this timely short film cuts through the myth making, and shows with damning facts how lives were used as fodder as strategic and tactical blunders led to the slaughter of so many.

It reveals the context behind the Gallipoli campaign - a war fought because the world had been cut up into colonies by the major powers who were now battling for the spoils.

The film shows exactly why the terrible ANZAC Cove campaign should never be forgotten — and the crimes of the warmongers responsible never forgiven.

Saudi Arabia’s lesser known exports after oil: Wahhabism and pro-imperialism

US President Barack Obama fetes the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

By Rupen Savoulian

April 19, 2015 -- Antipodean Atheist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author's permission -- Saudi Arabia’s aerial offensive against Yemen has continued for the fourth week at the time of writing. Yemen is undergoing a humanitarian crisis, with millions of Yemenis lacking basic access to food, clean drinking water and health care. The Saudi bombardment has only worsened the plight of the Yemenis, with schools destroyed, hospitals and health-care facilities targeted, and electricity supplies cut off. Basic infrastructure is being shattered, thus precipitating a catastrophic health situation for Yemeni residents.

1915: When socialist women united against WWI

Clara Zetkin

Clara Zetkin.

100 years ago: The first international socialist conference against World War I

By John Riddell

March 28, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Eight months into World War I, socialist women united across the battle lines in adopting the first international socialist appeal to stop the war.

Their statement, translated below, ended, “Down with capitalism, which sacrifices untold millions to the wealth and power of the propertied! Down with the war! Forward to socialism!”

The 29 conference delegates came from Russia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, France and Britain. They met March 26-28, 1915, in the People’s House of Bern in neutral Switzerland.

Socialists and World War I: Turn the imperialist war into a civil war

Industrial Workers of the World poster against WWI.

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. The centennial of the “war to end all wars” has seen countless commemorations of the millions of heroic soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for king and country.

Yet missing from all of the observances of the war are the deeper questions of its causes – to divide colonies among predatory ruling classes – and the heroism of those who opposed the mass slaughter. And for the left, that is how we should remember this 100th anniversary – but honoring those socialists and communists who fought against all the odds to end the slaughter.

How the top brass undermined WWI soldiers' attempts to 'live and let live'

By Barry Healy

December 24, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Australians have begun the grim journey through the centenary of World War I. Our newspapers have special articles and multi-page wrap arounds commemorating every significant date. This is driven by a multi-million dollar government fund designed to whip up militarisation in contemporary Australia by obscuring the truth about WWI.

Part of the truth is that in Christmas 1914, just months after the war began, millions of soldiers ceased fighting and fraternised across the trenches. In some areas, this lasted for a week.

How socialists of Lenin’s time responded to colonialism

Manabendra Nath Roy

Manabendra Nath Roy.

For more discussion on the Communist International, click HERE. Click for more by John Riddell.

By John Riddell

[This text was first presented at the Ideas Left Out conference on Elbow Lake, Ontario, August 2, 2014.]

December 14, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As the 19th century neared its close, revolutionary socialists were hostile to the world’s imperial powers and to their colonial empires, which then encircled the globe. They foresaw the overthrow of colonialism as a by-product of socialist revolution in the industrialised capitalist countries.

They had little knowledge, however, of the anti-colonial freedom movements that began to emerge at that time. It was not until the Russian Revolution of 1917 that an alliance was forged between revolutionary socialism and the colonial freedom movement.

James Connolly: National liberation and socialism

Tribute to James Connolly by MyLittleTripod.

By Doug Enaa Greene

[See the video of this talk below.]

December 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "My business is revolution."[1] These words of the Irish socialist James Connolly succinctly sum up the main focus of his life. James Connolly is one of the towering socialist figures of our time. Connolly’s commitment to socialism and internationalism saw him work as labour organiser in Scotland, the United States and Ireland.

Connolly was also a stalwart member of the left wing of the Second International along with Lenin, Eugene Debs, Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky. However, Connolly is most well known for his central role in the struggle of Irish independence, especially in leading the Easter Uprising of 1916. The revolt failed and cost Connolly his life, but it was the spark that led to the end of British rule in the 26 counties of southern Ireland.

When Karl Liebknecht said ‘no’ to World War I

Karl Liebknecht.

By John Riddell

December 2, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- During the first four months of the First World War, no statement from German socialists appeared denouncing the war. Government repression and the bonds of Social Democratic Party discipline prevented anti-war voices, such as those of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, from gaining a hearing.

This changed 100 years ago on December 2, 1914. Liebknecht took a bold stand against the slaughter as the first deputy to vote in the German parliament (Reichstag) against allocating funds for war spending. His protest resounded across Europe and gave new hope and energy to socialist antiwar currents.

Capitalism's world war and the battle against it

Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War
Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War.

July 28, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- John Riddell is the author and editor of numerous books, including, most recently, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922. Here, he explains how the First World War broke out 100 years ago, how the socialist movement reacted, and how a revolutionary anti-war opposition emerged.

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Responding to capitalist global disaster: World War I and today

The following talk was delivered to the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2014 conference in Chicago, June 28, 2014. It has been edited for publication in International Socialist Review. See also John Riddell's article, “Capitalism’s First World War and the Battle Against It“, in Socialist Worker. Read more on World War I.

* * *

By John Riddell

August 5, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- On August 5, 100 years ago, a Bosnian nationalist assassinated the crown prince of Austria-Hungary, setting in motion a chain of events that led a month later to the outbreak of the First World War.

The war shattered the world socialist movement and unleashed an overwhelming social catastrophe in Europe, killing 17 million soldiers and civilians. The resulting revolutionary struggles brought the war to an abrupt end in 1918, while toppling the continent’s three great empires and bringing workers and peasants to power in Russia. The war also contributed to a global rise of anti-colonial struggles.

What does this unique cataclysm mean for us today? It is useful to compare World War I with the dangers posed today by climate change and environmental collapse.

Class conflict in the shadow of Gallipoli: What government propaganda won’t tell you

Read more on World War I.

Review by Chris Slee

In the Shadow of Gallipoli
By Robert Bollard
NewSouth, Sydney 2013

June 3, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 25, 1915, Australian troops landed at Gallipoli on Turkey’s coast. They were part of a British imperial force aiming to capture Constantinople (now called Istanbul) and the land alongside the narrow waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. It was hoped that this would enable British ships to enter the Black Sea and bring supplies to Russia, which was an ally of Britain in World War I.

The plan failed. After hanging onto a narrow strip of land for eight months, the Australians (along with the rest of the invading force) withdrew after suffering heavy casualties.

ANZACs: 'Lions led by donkeys'

See also "Australia & New Zealand: The imperialist reality behind ANZAC myth".
Read more on World War I.

By John Rainford

October 25, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal on April 25, 2014 -- With political advantage from a national celebration of the centenary of World War I in mind, the Julia Gillard government last year allocated an initial $83.5 million towards the “ANZAC Centenary”.

Through a local grants program, up to $125,000 is available for each federal MP to fund suitable projects in their electorates. But unfortunately for Labor, the project is now headed by Tony Abbott, who has appointed himself head of the Centenary. Stand by for a broadside of jingoism and a celebration of empire.

Unlike World War II, a conflict that arose from the march of fascism, the origins of WWI are more difficult to explain. Why did the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie by nineteen-year-old Gavril Princip in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 lead to war?

Australia & New Zealand: The imperialist reality behind ANZAC myth (updated 2015)

Film by John Rainford and Peter Ewer

April 24, 2015 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign approaches, this timely short film (above) cuts through the myth making, and shows with damning facts how lives were used as fodder as strategic and tactical blunders led to the slaughter of so many.

It reveals the context behind the Gallipoli campaign - a war fought because the world had been cut up into colonies by the major powers who were now battling for the spoils.

The film shows exactly why the terrible ANZAC Cove campaign should never be forgotten — and the crimes of the warmongers responsible never forgiven.

* * *

The soldiers' Christmas truce -- A bas la guerre! Nie wieder Kreig! Das walte Gott! Peace on Earth!

Review by Phil Shannon

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce
By Stanley Weintraub
The Free Press, 2001
206 pages

It was the war that was supposed “to be over by Christmas”. It very nearly was. A spontaneous soldiers' truce broke out along the Western Front on Christmas Eve 1914, four months after the start of hostilities.

“Peace on Earth”, “goodwill to all men” — British, French and German soldiers took these usually hypocritical Christmas sentiments for real and refused to fire on the “enemy”, exchanging instead song, food, drink and gifts with each other in the battle-churned wastes of “no-man's land” between the trenches.

Lasting until Boxing Day in some cases, the truce alarmed the military authorities who worked overtime to end the fraternisation and restart the killing.

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