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