|Volume 48 Number 24, December 15, 2018||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
This year the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, November 11, 1918, was commemorated. Not only did this war represent a slaughter of previously unimaginable proportions, it was also an earth-shattering turning-point in history. It led to the destruction of the Russian, Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, redrawing the map on a global scale, and its repercussions included the huge political, economic, social and cultural changes that took place across the world in the subsequent period.
The conditions of the present and the danger of war today posed the need to mark this centenary in a manner that would have significance. To this end, meetings on the occasion of the anniversary were organised in London and South Shields by preparatory committees. They were aimed at envisioning a future without war, revealing the truth and the memory of World War I, and upholding the things that make for peace.
An important part of the significance was to oppose the disinformation surrounding World War I and the attempts by the ruling circles to use the occasion as propaganda. The portrayal of the colossal sacrifices made by working people during the "war to end all wars" as one of defence of freedom and democracy has been aimed at disorienting opposition to war and empire-building in the present. It was aimed at obscuring the fact that the War was an unprecedented conflict between the imperial powers for redivision of territories and resources, and the conditions that led to this conflict. In the current conditions that are again leading to dangerous contentions between the big powers, it has been aimed at mobilising people behind the most reactionary aim to Make Britain Great Again.
This same disinformation also concealed the massive opposition that developed in the lead-up to the War and advanced further during its four long years. Both the killing of other human beings and the imperialist aims of the War were opposed by people who took a stand of conscience as a matter of principle, and were ostracised for their stand, condemned as unpatriotic.
The need then was for an all-sided perspective on the War from the vantage-point of the present, a perspective that united anti-war and peace activists and inspires to organise to bring an anti-war government into being. Here we carry reports of the meetings in London and South Shields, as well as in Newcastle, that aimed to mark the anniversary with this significance.