The enemy is at home

Jim heartfield jim at
Fri Apr 16 11:03:30 PDT 1999

In message < at>, Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at> writes

>War is not necessarily an "un-progressive" thing. It surely demonizes and
>kills the enemy, but it also requires a mass mobilisation at home, and more
>importanly, demands substantial sacrifices from the working classes who do
>the fighting. That, in turn, means that the ruling elites must make some
>social and economic concessions at home to "buy" working class cooperation
>in the war effort.

I see what you mean, but I wonder if you are not collapsing some distinctive things together. By analogy, capital accumulation is a good thing, because it organises and concentrates working people against it. The difference is that industrialisation is generally accompanied by an increase in productive power, while war (though it can generate new technologies) generally is the destruction of life and property.

Any social advances that came to the British (or American) working class would be small beer compared to the political diminution that they would (and will) suffer if they fail to distinguish their interests from those of the martial caste that is currently ruling them. For as long as I can remember, Britain maintained a military occupation of Ireland. It never had any positive effect on the British working class. On the contrary, their support for Britain against the 'terrorists' disarmed them. Waving the flag meant that they identified with the very people that were destroying their jobs and unions. All in all, supporting the War effort was a demoralising experience for the British working class between 1972 and 1997.

>It is not coincidence that the greatest advances of progressive social
>changes in the US took part during the Vietnam War and Cold War in general.
> It is no coincidence that after the end of the Cold War the ruling elites
>feel sufficiently safe to roll back all those previous victories.

It is not a coincidence, but I don't think that you have traced all the mediations between these two trends.

Fraternally -- Jim heartfield

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