war(redirected from being in the wars)
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See studies by Q. Wright (2d ed. 1965), G. Blainey (1973), J. Keegan (1976), and V. D. Hanson (1989, 1999).
“With reference to wars,” explained V. I. Lenin,“the main thesis of dialectic is that ’war is simply the continuation of politics by other (that is, violent) means.’ Such is the formula of Clausewitz. … And it was always the standpoint of Marx and Engels, who regarded any war as the continuation of the politics of the concerned powers—and the various classes within these countries in a definite period” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 224). In war armed forces, as well as economic, diplomatic, ideological, and other means of struggle, are used as the chief and decisive means of achieving political goals.
Marxism-Leninism regards war as a sociopolitical phenomenon inherent only in class socioeconomic structures. Under the primitive communal system there was no private property, division of society into classes, or war in the modern sense of the word. Despite the external resemblance of some of them to war in a class society, the numerous armed clashes between families and tribes were distinguished by their social content. The reasons for such clashes were rooted in the means of production, which was based on the use of primitive tools and did not ensure satisfaction of the minimal needs of the people. This drove one tribe to gain its livelihood by an armed attack on another tribe to capture food, pastures, hunting grounds, and fisheries. The disunity and isolation of primitive clans and tribes and the blood feud based on blood kinship played an important role in relations between communes. The origin of war as a product of social antagonism and a specific form for its manifestation was inseparably linked to the appearance of private property and classes. In the period of primitive communal society’s decay and the transition to a class society, there occurred, as En-gels notes,“the degeneration of the old intertribal warfare to systematic raids on land and sea for the purpose of capturing cattle, slaves, and treasure as a regular means of gaining a livelihood” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21, p. 108). With the emergence of the state, specific detachments of armed men were created: an army and later a navy. The class struggle between the oppressed and ruling classes often developed into popular uprisings and civil wars.
The social essence of a war and its class content are deter-mined by the character of the policy in whose name it is carried out. Lenin wrote:“All wars are inseparable from the political systems that engender them. The policy which a given state, a given class within that state, pursued for a long time before the war is inevitably continued by that same class during the war, the form of action alone being changed” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 32, p. 79). Politics has a definite role in developing a state’s military doctrine and establishing a war’s political goals, which decisively influence its substance and conduct. Politics exerts a guiding influence on planning war and determines the sequence and strength of an attack on an enemy and the measures necessary to strengthen alliances within a coalition. Through strategy, politics controls the course of war and influences the development of military operations. (SeeMILITARY SCIENCE and WAR, ART OF.) With the help of the state apparatus, politics determines the measures necessary for mobilization of the country’s human and material resources.
The Marxist-Leninist theory of war considers the character of every war dependent on its political content: the system of contradictions of a given period and the political goals of struggling classes and states; the dependence of the course and outcome of a war on the socioeconomic and political structure existing in the country, the state’s material and military resources, and the level of scientific and technological development; and the ideology and morale of the people.
The history of war is evidence of the steady growth of the role of the economic factor and the masses in war. Until the 19th century, wars had a comparatively narrow economic base and were waged, as a rule, by rather small professional armies. Since the second half of the 19th century, and particularly during the 20th century, wars have put a tremendous strain on the economy of the belligerents and have involved millions of people in lengthy struggles. More than 70 million people participated in World War I (1914-18) and more than 110 million in World War II (1939-45). The masses are drawn into the war as direct participants and as creators of the material means for waging the war. The growth of the role of the masses in contemporary warfare is the result of their enormous role in material production and their political maturity and organization.
Contemporary wars are associated with vast human and material losses and unprecedented destruction and disaster. A study of the course and consequences of past wars shows a tremendous increase in the human casualties and material destruction accompanying war. Casualties in European wars (killed and dead from wounds and diseases) were 3.3 million in the 17th century; in the 18th century, 5.4 million; in the 19th and early 20th centuries (before World War I), 5.7 mil-lion; in World War I, more than 9 million; and in World War II (including those exterminated in fascist death camps), more than 50 million.
Just and unjust and progressive and reactionary wars. Every war exerts a definite influence on the course of development of human society. The historical significance of a war de-pends on its political content, which defines its progressive or reactionary role in social life. Depending on this, each war is either just or unjust. Lenin always associated the legality and justice of wars with their pr ogres si veness. He stated:“There are just and unjust wars, progressive and reactionary wars, wars waged by advanced classes and wars waged by back-ward classes, wars waged for the purpose of perpetuating class oppression, and wars waged for the purpose of eliminating oppression” (ibid., vol. 38, p. 337). The basis of the Marxist-Leninist division of wars into just and unjust wars is the principle of evaluating them from the viewpoint of the masses’ liberation from social and national oppression and from the viewpoint of their influence on social progress.“The elucidation of a war’s character is a necessary prerequisite for the Marxist, in order that he may settle the question of his relationship to it” (ibid. 9 vol. 26, p. 27).
Wars that are waged by people for liberation from social and national oppression and in defense of national independence and wars waged by socialist countries against imperialist aggression are just and progressive wars. Wars that are waged by the exploiting classes to suppress the liberation struggle of classes and nations, seize foreign territories, and enslave and plunder other peoples are unjust and reactionary. All just wars have played a progressive role in history. However, not all wars that had progressive historical consequences were just. Thus, for example, the annexation to Russia of the Middle Asian peoples in the mid-19th century had progressive significance for them from the viewpoint of their prospects for economic, social, and cultural development. Nevertheless, this annexation was achieved by means of Russian tsarism’s unjust, aggressive wars. In the course of its development, the character of a war may change: a just war may develop into an unjust one. This occurs when, in the course of a war, the interests of other classes or social groups prevail over what were the interests in the first stage of the war. Thus, the just wars of the French Republic at the end of the 18th century in defense of the interests of the broad bourgeois and petit bourgeois strata against feudal reaction developed into unjust, expansionist wars that corresponded to the interests of the big French bourgeoisie. Under con-temporary conditions, the just character of a war is deter-mined by the interests of the struggle for socialism, democracy, and national independence. Therefore, Communist parties decisively oppose predatory, unjust wars; however, they consider legal and support just wars and wars of revolution and liberation against imperialism, which serve the progress of social development.
Historical types of wars. Types of wars are determined by the character of the social contradictions of a given age or its various periods. The classification of war according to types is associated with certain difficulties, since each war has its individual characteristics, and different types of wars often become entangled with each other and rarely appear in pure form. The chief criterion for the classification of wars is their sociopolitical content.
The basic types of wars in slaveholding society included wars by slaveholding states to enslave tribes at the lowest stage of social development—for example, the wars of Rome against the Gauls, the Germans, and other tribes. In addition, there were wars between slaveholding states for the purpose of seizing territory and robbing conquered countries— -for example Rome’s Punic Wars against Carthage in the third through the second century B.C.—and wars between various groups of slaveholders, including the wars of the Diadochi for the division of the empire of Alexander of Macedonia during 321-276 B.C.; Finally, there were slave rebellions, such as the rebellion in Rome under the leadership of Spartacus during 73-71 B.C., and popular uprisings of peasants and artisans (the rebellion of the Red Eyebrows in the first century A.D. in China).
Among the basic types of wars in feudal society were wars between feudal states (the Hundred Years’ War between En-gland and France, 1337-1453) and internecine feudal wars for the expansion of domains (the Wars of the Roses in England, 1455-85). In addition, there were wars for the creation of centralized feudal states (for example, the wars to unify the Russian lands around Moscow in the 14th and 15th centuries) and wars against foreign invasions, such as the wars of the Russian people against the Tatar-Mongols in the 13th and 14th centuries. Feudal exploitation gave rise to peasant wars and rebellions against feudal lords (for example, the peasant rebellion under the leadership of I. I. Bolotnikov during 1606-07 in Russia) and uprisings of the urban population against feudal exploitation (for example, the Paris uprising, 1356-58).
Wars in the era of premonopolistic capitalism may be placed in basic categories, including colonial wars of capitalist countries to enslave the peoples of Asia, Africa, America, and Oceania, as well as aggressive wars of states and coalitions of states for hegemony (for example, the Seven Years’ War, 1756-63) and revolutionary, antifeudal wars of national liberation, such as the wars of revolutionary France at the end of the 18th century. Other categories are wars for national reunification, including the wars for Italian unification, 1859-70; wars of liberation of the peoples of colonies and dependent countries, such as the popular uprisings against English rule in India in the 18th through the 19th century; and civil wars and proletarian uprisings against the bourgeoisie—for example, the revolutionary war of the Paris Commune in 1871.
In the age of imperialism the struggle between monopolistic associations has outgrown national boundaries and become a struggle of the major imperialist powers for the forcible repartition of an already divided world. The intensification of the imperialists’ struggle has expanded their military clashes to the dimensions of world wars. The basic types of wars in the age of imperialism are imperialistic wars for the repartition of the world (for example, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, and World War I, 1914-18) and civil wars of liberation of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie (the Civil War in the USSR, 1918-20). Wars of national liberation of oppressed peoples are also related to the basic types of wars in the age of imperialism (for example, popular uprisings in Cuba in 1906 and in China in 1906-11).
Under modern conditions the sole source of war is imperialism. The basic types of wars in the present age are wars between states with opposing social systems, civil wars, wars of national liberation, and wars between capitalist states. In view of its complex and contradictory character, World War II occupies a special place among the wars of the modern era.
Wars between countries with opposing social systems are engendered by the aggressive aspirations of imperialism for the annihilation of the social achievements of the peoples of socialist countries or countries that are embarking on a path of building socialism. An example of this is the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union (1941-45) against fascist Ger-many and her allies, who had invaded the USSR.
Civil wars accompany the development of socialist or bourgeois-democratic revolutions, or they are the armed defense of popular achievements from bourgeois counterrevolution and fascism. Often, civil wars merge with wars against imperialist intervention—for example, the national-revolutionary war of the Spanish people against the fascist rebels and Italo-German interventionists in 1936-39.
Wars of national liberation are the struggles of the peoples of dependent and colonial countries against the colonialists for the establishment of a state’s independence or its preservation against attempts to restore a colonial regime—for ex-ample, the war of the Algerian people against French colonialists of 1954-62, the struggle of the Egyptians against Anglo-French Israeli aggression in 1956, and the struggle of the South Vietnamese people against American aggressors beginning in 1964. Under contemporary conditions, the national liberation struggle for the achievement of national in-dependence is closely intertwined with the social struggle for the democratic reconstruction of public life. Because of the existence of a world socialist system, conditions have been established for the transition of emancipated peoples to a noncapitalist path of development.
Wars among capitalist states are engendered by the intensification of the contradictions among them in the struggle for world supremacy (World War I and World War II). World War II resulted from the intensification of imperialistic contradictions between the bloc of fascist states, headed by fascist Germany, and the Anglo-French bloc. It began as an unjust, aggressive war, especially on the part of Germany and her allies. However, Hitlerite aggression was the greatest threat to humanity, and the Hitlerite occupation of many countries doomed their peoples to extermination. Therefore, the struggle against fascism became the national mission of all freedom-loving peoples. This led to a change in the political content of the war, which acquired a liberating, antifascist character. Fascist Germany’s attack on the USSR completed the process of the war’s transformation. During World War II the USSR was the main force in the anti-Hitlerite coalition (USSR, USA, Great Britain, and France), which resulted in victory over the fascist bloc. The Soviet armed forces made a basic contribution to saving the world’s people from the threat of enslavement by the fascist aggressors.
In the postwar period a process of economic integration of capitalist countries has occurred. The unification of the forces of reaction against socialism, however, has not eliminated sharp contradictions and conflicts among capitalist states, which in certain conditions might become a source of war among them.
The aggressive imperialistic circles of the USA regard war as the chief means for achieving their political goals in the solution of international questions, and they have a military doctrine corresponding to these goals. Opinions on waging war against the USSR and other socialist countries form the basis of the USA’s military doctrine.
It is thought that contemporary wars may be worldwide or local and general or limited according to the means of destruction employed. Each of these types of war has its particular strategic features. Local wars unleashed by imperialists are closely connected with militant imperialist policy, and wherever they occur, they may grow into a world war in which all methods of fighting are used.
Contemporary bourgeois theories of war. Numerous contemporary ideologists of imperialism try to present war as a supraclass, national phenomenon in order to disguise its sociopolitical essence and causes, paralyze the mass antiwar movement of the working people, and instill the idea that war is eternal and inevitable. Thus, the West German theoretician W. Picht maintains that war is the chief factor in social progress and that all advanced cultures have arisen from war. The English military theoretician J. Fuller regards war as the “dominant factor in history.” In the USA the theory of“absolute nuclear deterrence” is widely held, the essence of which is that the USA must establish world domination by means of using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, above all against socialist countries. Propagandizing the theory of nuclear deterrence, the American general T. Power regards it as the“only acceptable solution to the problem of national survival.” In the theory of“saving civilization,” the authors of which are the American sociologists R. Strausz-Hupe, S. Possony, and W. Kintner, the necessity of“saving” capitalism is based on the idea that“the struggle against the Communist world” is“a war in which national survival is at stake.” The creators of the theory of“survival” (N. Spykman and others), which is widespread in the USA, declare that survival is the paramount goal of a state’s domestic and foreign policy. A condition for“survival” is building up military strength, which permits a country to im-pose its will on whoever does not have such strength. The theory of geopolitics (Mackinder in England, Haushofer in Germany, and J. Kieffer in the USA) explains the causes of war by means of the different geographical locations of coun-tries, according to which nations in straitened circumstances wage war for“living space.” On this basis, geopoliticians of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) try in every possible way to demonstrate the necessity of revising the borders established after World War II. Authors of the psychological theory (for example, L. L. Bernard in the USA) see the source of war in the human psyche, the aggressiveness of the human intellect, and mass psychoses, which supposedly arise from society’s repression of human instincts. Cosmopolitical theories (N. Angell and S. Strachey in Great Britain and J. Dewey in the USA) consider the antagonism between national and general human interests the chief cause for armed conflicts. The source of military danger, in their opinion, lies in the sovereignty of nations; therefore, it is necessary to eliminate the national independence and sovereignty of peoples and create national, regional, and world-wide political organizations. These projects find approval and support in reactionary circles (primarily in the USA), which are striving for world domination. Clerical theories try to support imperialistic military adventurism with god’s authority. The Bible serves as one of the basic theoretical sources of religious propaganda in support of imperialistic wars, by enabling one to interpret war as“god’s weapon” in the struggle against“evil” and for the punishment of“sinners.” In the FRG clerical propaganda is widely used to support the ideology of aggressive revanchism based on religious concepts of the origin of war.
Marxism-Leninism on the problem of war and peace in the modern age. The tremendous disasters and sufferings caused by war have long induced progressive social thought to seek a means of eliminating war. However, before the appearance of Marxism, none of these seekings were connected with the necessity of destroying the antagonistic social relations that give rise to war, and therefore, they were in vain. Marxism showed the true path to mankind’s deliverance from military catastrophes and to the strengthening of eternal peace on earth.“Our aim,” wrote Lenin,“is to achieve a socialist system of society, which, by eliminating the division of man-kind into classes, by eliminating all exploitation of man by man and nation by nations, will inevitably eliminate the very possibility of wars” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 32, p. 78).
The Great October Socialist Revolution opened an age of transition from capitalism to socialism, and by that very fact the revolution began mankind’s movement to a society without war. However, as long as the USSR was the only socialist country, its influence on the alignment of forces for peace and war inevitably had a limited character. The world socialist system formed after World War II changed the arrangement of economic and political forces in the international arena in favor of socialism. Nonetheless, while imperialism exists, there is still a danger of aggressive wars. The USSR and other socialist countries are the chief obstacles to the implementation of the aggressive plans of international imperialism. The monopolistic bourgeoisie of the USA constantly suggests to the people that a world war against the USSR and the entire socialist camp is inevitable, and on this pretense the imperialists urgently prepare their armed forces for war, speed up the arms race and militarization of the economy, and stir up the activity of military blocs. If the imperialists succeed in unleashing a new world war, it will draw many countries and peoples of the world into its orbit and will be a struggle for the very existence of the opposing world systems—socialism and capitalism. The fate of all mankind will be decided in this war. The main, decisive method of nuclear warfare is the nuclear weapon, which will be directed at the annihilation of the opponent’s means of nuclear destruction and the defeat of his armed forces, as well as at mass destruction of vitally important regions and objects that have economic, scientific, military, and political significance. Under such conditions, practically no distinction will exist between the front and the rear lines. The war will have broad unprecedented scope and will be the most destructive in the history of mankind.“Under present conditions, when nuclear bombs can reach any continent in a matter of minutes and devastate vast territories, a world conflict would mean the death of hundreds of millions of people and the reduction of the treasures of world civilization and culture to ruins and ashes” (Mezhdunarodnoe Soveshchanie Kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii: Dokumenty i materialy, Moscow, 1969, p. 250). Therefore, the efforts of the peoples of the world must be directed at averting nuclear war in time and not allowing it to break out.
Historical experience shows that wars—especially those that acquire great scope—intensify the contradictions of capitalism, increase the distress of the masses, awaken political consciousness in the people, and create conditions under which the working people rise to the struggle against the bourgeois system. In this sense, war has a definite connection with revolution, which was most characteristically manifested in World War I and World War II. Speaking of World War I, Lenin explained that“in this fire the workers and peasants learned a great deal” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 39, p. 406). He also said that this war“was a great director” that hastened the emergence of a revolutionary situation in a number of countries (Russia and Germany). The victory of the Soviet armed forces and their defeat of German fascism and Japanese imperialism created favorable conditions for the victory of socialist revolutions in various countries of eastern and southeastern Europe and Asia. Without a doubt, if a new world war is unleashed by the imperialists, it will exert an even greater revolutionizing influence on the masses than former wars.“The people will no longer endure a system that plunges them into devastating wars” (Progmmma KPSS, 1969, p. 59). However, war between two social systems is not required for the development of the world revolutionary process and the victory of socialism. Therefore, Communists have never considered it necessary to promote the unleashing of war between states for the purpose of speeding up the revolutionary process. Lenin always opposed attempts to instigate revolution with the aid of war.
A deep theoretical analysis of the problem of war and peace is contained in decisions of the congresses of the CPSU, in the Program of the CPSU (1961), and in documents of the International Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow in 1957, 1960, and 1969. The basis for united actions by antiimperialist forces remains the struggle for the prevention of a world war and for peace throughout the world.“United efforts by socialist countries, the international working class, the national liberation movement, and all peace-loving states, social organizations, and mass movements can avert a world war” (Mezhdunarodnye Soveshchanie Kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii: Dokumenty i materialy, Moscow, 1969, p. 316). In order to preserve peace it is necessary to struggle for disarmament, nuclear arms limitation, and the destruction of all nuclear reserves. It is also necessary to struggle to make nuclear weapons illegal and to put an end to their manufacture and all testing. The chief role in the struggle of all peace-loving forces against imperialist aggression belongs to the socialist countries, among which the USSR possesses the greatest military and economic potential. For the first time in the history of mankind, colossal military and economic might is concentrated in the hands of socialist states, which will use it to preserve peace.
In addition to the peoples of socialist countries, other groups struggle for peace, including the international working class headed by its vanguard, the communist parties, the peoples of many countries who have achieved national independence and are preserving it, a number of neutral coun-tries, and hundreds of millions of people who have participated in the movement for peace.“The victory of socialism throughout the world will finally eliminate the social and national causes for the origin of every war. To destroy wars and to confirm eternal peace on earth is the historical mission of Communism” (Programma KPSS, 1969, p. 58). Taking into account the military peril originating in the imperialist camp, the communist parties and governments of socialist countries consider it necessary to strengthen the defense of states of the socialist alliance in every possible way and to maintain their armed forces at a level capable of ensuring the utter destruction of any aggressive coalition.
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Voennaia strategiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Iadernyi vek i voina. Moscow, 1964.
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See also references under WAR, ART OF and ARMED FORCES.
M. I. GALKIN and P. I. TRIFONENKOV
What does it mean when you dream about war?
A common dream experience if one is a military veteran, a dream about war can also represent conditions that call for aggression (war) or for a resolution (peace treaty).