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We need to change the conversation on war and peace – could a Corbyn-led party do it?

CHELLEY RYAN asks whether a single-issue peace party is needed to confront Britain's addiction to military aggression

THROUGHOUT history the poorest have been the pawns of war for the richest to gain power which they then wield to gain even more power. The poor and working class are sent to kill their working-class brother or sister from another nation or territory at the behest of manipulative, narcissistic people who deliberately arouse and exploit patriotic or nationalist sentiments and fear to “other” the people they are sending them to kill. 

They weave stories of righteousness, heroism and noble sacrifice out of the truth which is about gaining resources and assets.

This truth is glaringly obvious to so many of us, yet try as we might with our anti-war marches and movements where we share speeches, often with the already converted, we struggle to reach the hearts and minds of many who still believe war is a necessary evil. 

So clever have the powerful manipulators been to cloak the ugliness of war in language and symbolism that gives it an air of heroic sacrifice, people fear that to be anti-war is to rob all those who have fought, died or been maimed by war of their hero status which in turn renders their sacrifice pointless. 

So the con is complete. If you’re anti war you hate your country and even worse, the “brave men and women who have died for it” or might choose to die for it in the future. This is what you call a stitch-up. 

So how do we get around it? Is it even possible? In all honesty I’m not sure. 

I do know we need to see arguments about just or unjust wars as red herrings because no war is just. No killing of innocent civilians is just.

If we are always trying to analyse individual wars to determine whether they were just or not, we are missing the underlying argument against all war as abhorrent. The powerful warmongers like to talk about self-defence as if killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people to protect a country or a country’s interests, is the same as a person being tragically compelled to end a life to save their own. 

However in truth no war is ever started from the bottom up with one working-class person in one country striking a working-class person in another country and snowballing from there. It’s always top down. 

Which means the richest and most powerful are moving us around their chess boards and the interests they are manipulating us to protect are usually their own. 

If you argue that war is sometimes justified because the working class in one country were doing something heinous that needed to be stopped, you’re missing the integral truth which is that it was a rich, powerful narcissist who manipulated, threatened or brainwashed them to do it. It’s a circular argument that keeps coming back to this fundamental truth and the only way to end all war is to open the eyes of working-class people to the true motives of those calling them to bear arms. 

Only then will they refuse to bear arms and certainly not before they have asked some deep and searching questions about why they are really being asked to risk their lives or take the life of another.

It sounds idealistic and it is. In the same way the people who fought to end slavery were idealistic or those who fought for the vote for working-class people were idealistic. 

You start climbing a mountain not by looking up and feeling so overwhelmed and terrified you give up, but by focusing on one sure footed step at a time.

That’s why I was interested in recent rumours about Jeremy Corbyn contemplating starting an anti-war party. What better person to throw back the curtain to reveal the ugly truth about war, than the man who did just that to austerity, breaking a cosy consensus between politicians and the media to manipulate the working class to support a policy that was killing or destroying lives by the thousand purely to benefit the rich and powerful?

Jeremy Corbyn is never going to retire to a life of courgette growing and jam making. 

He is one of life’s warriors who fights for peace and justice until their dying breath. He will always draw the ire of the establishment because he will always be a thorn in their side. 

A single-issue party can be laser-focused in its messaging and that can increase its impact. Rather than have 10 core policies that increase the odds of alienating people, you stand for one core issue that has the power to influence other issues by default. 

For instance, if you start opening people’s eyes to the manipulation of the rich and powerful to engender support for their wars, you're only a hair’s breadth away from people grasping the fact they use the same manipulation to make them turn against immigrants or social security claimants. 

Ukip focused on a single issue and eventually changed the political landscape forever. I’m not saying this because I see any similarities between Ukip and a Corbyn-led anti-war party. I’m saying this to highlight the potential power of such a strategy. 

Personally, I’d ask Jeremy Corbyn: would the wealthy, pro-war establishment want him to start an anti-war party? And if the answer is no, I would call on him to do exactly that.


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