SPGB Socialist Opposition To War - Iraq: The War for Oil

The US and Britain has led a ten year war against Iraq using weapons of economic sanctions and repeated bombings. As a result estimates put the death of children in the region of 500,000. This war is now reaching a new phase with a planned invasion. We are told that it is about stopping a barbaric regime having the capability of using nuclear armaments, poison gas and long-range missiles. This could not be further than the truth. The war has been and is about oil and strategic interests.

That the war is really about oil and strategic interests is supported by non-socialists and the capitalist media. The US historian, Professor Michael Klare wrote recently, "If the real motives were made clear-that this is a grab for oil and an attempt to break the back of OPEC -it would make our motives look more predatory than exemplary" (CURRENT HISTORY March 2002).

The WASHINGTON POST reported that US, British, French and Russian oil companies have already started the rush for a stake in Iraq's oilfields. The former CIA director James R. James Woolsey told the WASHINGTON POST that if France and Russia backed the US-led war, "we'll do the best we can to insure that the new government and American companies work closely with them" (September 15th 2002).

Another US newspaper, the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE stated: "The world's biggest oil bonanza in recent memory may just be round the corner, giving US oil companies huge profits and American consumers cheap gasoline for decades to come. And it all may come courtesy of a war with Iraq. Once production reaches full capacity the enormous increase in supply could weaken OPEC and shift the balance of power among the world's major producers" (September 29th 2002).

The importance of Iraq as a source for oil is well known. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, some 112 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia; with perhaps double that in undiscovered reserves.

For Socialists capitalism causes war. It is the Socialist contention that the basic cause of war in the modern world is the way in which society is organised around the exploitation of the working class and the competitive pursuit of profit. The cause of war is the constant rivalry between competing nation states.

The working class of the world has no interest in war. Workers have no country. They own no mineral resources like oil. Workers have no strategic interests to protect. And workers have no trade routes to fight over. It is not enough merely to protest against this war. To get rid of war, Socialists argue, we must get rid of capitalism, based as it is on competition and exploitation. This is the system which inevitably causes war.

To end capitalism is in the interests of the vast majority of the world's working class. The only solution is SOCIALISM - a global system of common ownership, with production for use, not for profit, based on the principles: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs"

We repeat what we said at the outbreak of war in 1914, and again in1939:

"Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of socialism"


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Object and Declaration of Principles


The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles


1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.

5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.