Falklands War = War Against Workers

The lies of the bosses

Thatcher is lying when she says that troops have been sent to the South Atlantic to defend the rights of British subjects. Galtieri is lying when he says he‘s trying to get rid of British “colonialism”. The lies about the Falkland War are all part of the preparation for World War Three.

The real reason for the War in both Britain and Argentina is to deflect working class anger away from the effects of the economic crisis. Argentina's economy is about to collapse. Inflation is l50% a year and unemployment (officially) at l million (l in 8 of the population) is nearly as bad as Britain’s. On top of that, Argentina’s debts are bigger than Poland's! Only 5 days before Argentina had invaded the Falklands half a million people took to the streets to demonstrate against Galtieri. Since the military took over it has drowned workers' resistance in blood. Nearly 30,000 people have "disappeared" since l976. The invasion of the Falklands is a last desperate gamble by Argentina's rulers to save themselves from working class unrest and, in the long term, to try and bolster the economy by gaining oil, fishing and mineral rights around the islands.

For Thatcher the invasion has been a great opportunity to call for “national unity” and divert attention from double figure inflation, A million unemployed and falling living standards; The economic crisis is out of control and this war will lead to more cuts in education, social services and welfare benefits to pay for greater military might.

“The enemy lies in your own country”

Our quarrel is not with the workers of Argentina who are being drummed up to fight for their rulers. Our quarrel is with the ruling class here who grow rich on the fruits of our labour as we grow poorer. When Thatcher says, “we must, as a country, start paying ourselves less” she means the workers must be paid less whilst the bosses are paid more.(like BL boss, Edwardes’ £47,000 pay rise this year). Now they are demanding sacrifices in blood to keep themselves in power.

But the enemy here isn't just Thatcher and the “patriots”. Among the false “friends” of the workers is Foot's Labour Party. He supported the sending of the British fleet, saying it was going to fight “a fascist junta” - which Britain, France and the U.S.A. just happened to have supplied with its most modern arms! So much for Foot, the CND marcher. As happened in World Wars One and Two, pacifists end up joining the chorus that war is “justified”.

In World War One and Two the trade unions showed whose interests they really defend when they came out in support of the war, agreeing to worse working and living conditions “in the national interest”. Today in both Britain and Argentina the same has happened. In Argentina the CGT (their TUC) has called demonstrations in support of a regime soaked in workers’ blood, whilst in Britain the unions called off the dock strike planned to start on 10 May and have persuaded Hawker Siddeley workers in Bristol to end their overtime ban.

What is to be done?

Neither Thatcher's nor Galtieri's regime deserve working class support. Already in Argentina brave workers have risked their lives to demonstrate against the war. Already in Britain Portsmouth dockyard workers have refused to sail with the fleet to help refit ships as they sailed south.

These actions to defend our interests are important. If the bosses, through their newspaper and television propaganda, manage to whip up nationalism or “patriotism” amongst the working class for this stupid little dispute it will be so much easier for them to send us off as cannon fodder when bigger conflicts occur. Look how easily this war has started? Look how much it has been beyond our control. The NATO bosses have publicly admitted that this is just battle training for the British fleet in World War Three.

The war will end sooner or later in a "negotiated settlement” and all those who were killed will have died in an attempt to save two bankrupt governments. The war over the Falklands is only a foretaste of what bankrupt world capitalism has in store for us, We must resist the growing calls for “patriotism” of this crisis-torn system's mad descent to World War Three. Working class internationalism is the only sane response. We must begin this now by:

  • Stepping up the struggle against falling living standards
  • Rejecting government and union calls for "sacrifices"
  • Striking against any cuts caused by the war .
  • Refusing to load ships, transport arms or carry out war work
  • Striking and publicly demonstrating our solidarity with Argentinian workers.
Communist Workers’ Organisation, May 1982

Revolutionary Perspectives

Journal of the Communist Workers’ Organisation -- Why not subscribe to get the articles whilst they are still current and help the struggle for a society free from exploitation, war and misery? Joint subscriptions to Revolutionary Perspectives (3 issues) and Aurora (our agitational bulletin - 4 issues) are £15 in the UK, €24 in Europe and $30 in the rest of the World.