Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Lenin on the Arms Race Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

Mao:
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


Lenin's comments on the disastrous economic consequences of military spending, the arms race and war were based firmly on Marx and Engels.

Engels wrote in Anti-Duhring (1877), that: "Militarism dominates and is swallowing Europe. But this militarism also bears within itself the seed of its own destruction. Competition among the individual states forces them, on the one hand, to spend more money each year on the army and navy, artillery, etc., thus more and more hastening their financial collapse..." Engels agreed with Marx, who stated in his notebooks that "war ... in economic terms ... is the direct equivalent of a nation throwing a part of its capital into the water."

Writing in "Who Stands to Gain?"on the eve of World War I, Lenin saw the arms race as a source of super-profit for capitalist investors: In Europe, "the states that call themselves 'civilised', is now engaged in a mad armaments hurdle-race. In thousands of ways, in thousands of newspapers, from thousands of pulpits, they shout and clamour about patriotism, culture, native land, peace, and progress - and all in order to justify new expenditures of tens and hundreds of millions of rubles for all manner of weapons of destruction - for guns, dreadnoughts, etc. ... the renowned British firm Armstrong, Whitworth & Co ... engaged mainly in the manufacture of 'armaments' declared a dividend of 12. percent. Dividends of 12.5 per cent mean that capital is doubled in 8 years. and this is in addition to all kinds of fees to directors, etc."

In a second article, "Armaments and Capitalism", Lenin elaborates on this theme: "we find that admirals and prominent statesmen of both parties, Conservative and Liberal, are shareholders and directors of shipyards, and of gunpowder, dynamite, ordnance and other factories. A shower of gold is pouring straight into the pockets of bourgeois politicians, who have got together in an exclusive international gang engaged in instigating an armaments race among the peoples and fleecing these trustful, stupid, dull and submissive peoples like sheep."

Once World War I broke out, the destructiveness of the arms race became even more evident. The 7th All-Russia Conference of the Bolshevik Party, under Lenin's leadership, stated that the war "has already led to the mass destruction material values, to exhaustion of productive forces, and to such a growth in the war industry that it is impossible to produce even the absolutely necessary minimum of consumer goods and means of production."

Military spending and production imposes a burden on a socialist economy even more than it does on a capitalist economy. The war communism that the Soviet Union was forced to undertake from 1918 through 1920 produced disastrous consequences for the new Soviet Economy, which was only overcome by turning to the New Economic Policy or NEP in 1921. Later, face with the Nazi invasion of World War II, the Soviets had no choice but to further militarize their economy, for which they would pay a great price after the war.

The price of militarism came to a head during the Cold War when the Soviet Union matched the military spending of the West, but based on an economy only half as big. As a result, the Soviet Union ended up in economic collapse. By the end, if one wanted a decent pair of leather boots or reliable television set or computer, one had to import it from abroad, because all the good leather and electronic equipment went to the military. The Capitalist West boasted with good reason that they had "spent the Soviet Union into the grave" by means of the arms race.

Although militarism always carries the seeds of its own downfall, a capitalist culture of war can apparently survive longer than a socialist culture of war, because capitalism profits greatly from imperialist economic relations with other countries, while socialism does not.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Vladimir Lenin on the Discussion Board:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism