The great world war to end all wars ended when hostilities ceased on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 forever to be known as Armistice Day. Armistice Day was meant to commemorate those killed in the appalling slaughter that was the First World War. Shocked and saddened by the killing, which a growing mass media brought more intimately than ever before into lives of those on the home front, it was agreed all around that such senseless and tragic waste must never again be repeated. Armistice Day is an anti-war celebration. It commemorates those, especially in Europe a generation, we need not have lost.
In 1954 Armistice Day was changed by Congress to Veterans Day to include World War Two and Korean War veterans. Ever since the intent of Veterans Day was to thank veterans for their service and sacrifices in performing their duty to the nation. This change in name reflects a deeper change in meaning. Instead of day lamenting the carnage and waste of both men and materiel that is war, it has become a day celebrating imperialism and militarism. This trend has become more and more pronounced as the US empire grew larger, and as the US military became increasingly based on so-called volunteer service. US Veteran’s Day is now a jingoistic celebration of imperialist hegemony and the violence required to sustain it. It is, after the fashion of a Roman triumph, a celebration on conquest and dominance, a display of power.
Part of the official ideology is of course of Veteran’s Day is thanking those serving, and those who have served, for protecting the nation. And, yet, despite the overt public displays of gratitude, how does the nation thank those who it proclaims to be heroes. If we judge by the state of many VA hospitals; by the rates of poverty, homelessness, suicide, addiction, and mental illness among veterans then it would appear that we treat those heroes quite shoddily. We treat them shoddily even in recruitment. Elites prey on the poverty capitalism creates to coerce people into serving in the military and meting out the violence that is the life-blood of imperialism.
To capitalism war is just another business. The human lives destroyed both combatants and civilians; the environmental degradation and pollution; the cultural heritage lost; are nothing to the elites who organize war. The competitive structure of the capitalist system, divided internationally into various competing national capitalisms, makes war inevitable. That war is both profitable and necessary is why the US has been engaged in near perpetual war, on almost every continent, throughout the 20th century.
With the cycle of war and destruction set only to increase as the effects of climate change and the requirements of imperialist hegemony converge to produce epochal changes in established patterns of human settlement and international commerce, it is more than ever necessary to break out. This can only happen through the conscious decision of the working classes to take power into their own hands. Organizing the working class into an agency capable of leading this transformation within the US is the mission of the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party stands unequivocally for peace and international solidarity. We encourage all those who desire to live in a world without war to join us in the struggle to abolish the cause of war, capitalism. Only by destroying the system which incentivizes war, and by deposing the elites who it serves, can working people in the US and the world over set themselves free.
Capital District Socialist Party