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Gertrude Shaw

FDR and His “Warless” World

(20 December 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 51, 20 December 1943, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

While Mr. Roosevelt was in Iran, he addressed United States troops at Camp Amirabad, situated on the slopes of Teheran, where the conference between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin took place.

The President told these men of the Persian Gulf Service Command that the conference made great progress in planning “a world for us and for our children when war will cease to be necessary.”

No doubt the soldiers in that distant land belonging to the Iranians liked to hear the President utter those words. They are nice-sounding words.

But, on examination, what do these words actually mean?

Is War “Necessary” Now?

In the first place, they imply that TODAY war is necessary. However, in the most basic sense, this is not true.

To illustrate the meaning of this statement, here are a few examples:

Let us say there was a time when it was necessary that a large percentage of the children of the world have rickets and grow up with all kinds of bone deformities. But rickets has been proved to be a disease of malnutrition, preventable by proper food – of which there is plenty in the world and of which, under a socialist system, there could be even more. The reason for that is that under socialism food would be produced for use, for the good of all humanity. Under capitalism, food is produced primarily for profit; needs are completely secondary.

That today children in this modern world are still bow-legged is a testimonial of social injustice – not of social necessity.

Again, there was a time when mine accidents, trapping and killing helpless miners, were claimed to be unavoidable and necessary. Now, however, scientists and engineers have the know-how for preventing mine disasters. Their occurrence today is, by and large, a social crime of mine-owners unwilling to part with a small fraction of their profits to make the mines safe to work in.

In this sense war is not necessary today, was not in 1914, and, in reality, HAS NEVER BEEN NECESSARY!

For today there could be plenty for all the world now being laid waste by war instead. Man has learned the secrets of the air, the sea, the surface and the bowels of the earth. Man knows his way around with atoms and electrons. He has fashioned machines which are miracles of production for factory and farm, for mine and plantation.

The world is teeming with millions of able hands willing to build and operate those machines for peacetime production of abundance. Wonderful means of transportation by air, sea and land are here for peoples – peacefully and for their mutual benefit – to exchange their products according to their needs.

That the peoples of the world are today exchanging bombs and destruction instead of the good things of and for life, is not a necessity. It is the outcome of capitalist imperialism standing in the way of the peoples of the earth.

What Did FDR Mean?

Then what did Mr. Roosevelt mean by the phrase, “a world for us and for our children when war will cease to be necessary”? Did he mean that the Teheran conference made great progress in planning to end capitalist imperialism?

Of course, this is merely begging the question. Everybody knows that Mr. Roosevelt is pledged to preserve the American profit system, which means American imperialism – that Mr. Churchill is pledged to preserve the Imperial British Empire – that Mr. Stalin is ambitious for a new Russian Empire.

Or did Mr. Roosevelt mean that with the “aggressor nations” vanquished, “war will cease to be necessary”? But this is a fantastic assumption. For how long will German and Japanese capitalism remain crushed? Again, what will prevent a new crop of “aggressors” from springing up?

For instance, according to one of the main spokesmen of the British Empire, General Smuts, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, Britain has become an “unequal” partner, compared to the United States and Russia, which have such tremendous national resources. What will stop England from “aggressing”? In fact, General Smuts already suggests aggressive intentions toward Western Europe!

Clear Thinking Needed

In this world crisis, clear thinking is of the utmost importance. One must ask: How is FDR’s “world when war will cease to be necessary” different from Woodrow Wilson’s “war to end all wars”?

World War I was the first of the World War series. World War II is the second. The Cairo and Teheran conferences did not scotch World War III because ruling class statesmen confer on the basis of the power politics of imperialism – and that means war sooner or later.

Only the working peoples of the world can end the World War series.

The correct starting point is that wars are not necessary right now – no waiting for a promised millennium created for propaganda purposes!

For the peoples of the world to arrive at the longed-for destiny of humanity to produce and exchange the things of life In peace and plenty, they must rid themselves of the motives of capitalist profits and imperialist power in international relations. That is saying that international capitalism is their enemy.

Humanity needs a socialist world!

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