August 2014        

The First World War and a century of slaughter

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland


The 31st of July is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, which resulted in the slaughter of more than nine million people, with millions more wounded and left physically and emotionally traumatised. It was the first “industrial” war, fought on a scale unprecedented in history.
     This was not a “war to end war,” nor a fight between incestuous and dysfunctional royal families, the remnants of feudalism in Europe: this war was for carving up the world by the big imperial powers of Europe, a war that was secretly planned for a decade before its eruption.
     There is nothing to celebrate in this slaughter. It is a time for reflecting on what those same imperial powers have done over the last century, waging wars against the people on every continent, in almost every country in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, not forgetting our own country, where the British government used political divisions as a pawn in its greater global imperial strategy.
     Those same imperial powers are responsible for the deaths of millions of people who were struggling for their freedom from colonial domination. Millions more perished to prevent them taking any path of development other than that of capitalism and subservience to imperial domination.
     What we are witnessing today throughout the Middle East—in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Palestine—and the continuing conflicts in Africa, follows from the carve-up of those regions and the decisions taken after the First World War and imposed by those same imperial powers. The century since that war has been a century of barbarism and slaughter.
     Irish governments, past and present, have pulled this state into closer integration with the imperial powers and their military alliances and military adventures. Any semblance of neutrality is gone; this is reflected in the positions adopted by the present government in relation to events in Ukraine and Gaza. They slavishly follow the dictate of the European Union, dominated as it is by the same imperial powers of a century ago.
     No amount of joint unveilings of crosses or plaques can change the reasons why this war took place and the slaughter of working people that resulted.

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