The day the Armistice was signed to end World War I

Demonstration against conscription in Victoria Square, Montreal, May 17, 1917. Working people in Quebec could find no convincing reason to sacrifice their lives for the glory of the British Empire. The Canadian government imposed conscription in August 1917.

By Nick Lin

On November 11, 1918, the Armistice which brought World War I to an end was signed, marking the end of the war. A slaughterhouse of unprecedented proportions, World War I was referred to as the “war to end all wars.” Despite this, it is well known that the subsequent peace treaty signed in Versailles, was a factor in laying the grounds for the growth of fascism and World War II.

World War I was an inter-imperialist war, a war in which working men were sent to be slaughtered as empires clashed to re-divide the world. World War I left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

The war also marked a turning point in history. In 1917, the Russian working class and people organized the Great October Socialist Revolution and took Russia out of the war.

When Soviet power was established, Winston Churchill called for the crushing of the baby “in the cradle.” In the aftermath of the war, 14 foreign powers, including Canada, militarily intervened in order to foment civil war, seize Soviet Russia”s assets for themselves and put an end to the revolution and Soviet power. But Soviet power prevailed and they were defeated.  Far from being crushed, the Great October Socialist Revolution led to the advance of society, to its vigorous development and the unprecedented release of human initiative.

Drastic political, cultural, economic, and social change occurred in Europe, Asia and Africa, even in areas outside those directly involved. Four empires collapsed due to the war – the Russian Czarist Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Old countries were abolished, new ones were formed and boundaries were redrawn. International organizations, such as the League of Nations, were established.

Soviet Russia was industrialized at a record rate, a phenomenon unheard of up till that time. It provided the example of a triumphant march. No matter what enemy it faced, it knew no defeat.

The high ideals of a “War to End All Wars,” of duty to King and Country, to empire, were shown to be a cover, a false justification, for the horrendous clash of the imperialist warmongers. Yet these same values are promoted at this time, under the rubric “Lest we forget” – the dead are the glorious ones, because they made the supreme sacrifice for freedom against a heinous enemy.

Bourgeois historiography refers to Canada’s “coming of age” as a result of its role in World War I where it allegedly proved itself worthy of big power status. The sacrifice of Canadian youth as cannon fodder in the trenches of Europe is said to have provided proof that Canada could be entrusted with the conduct of its own foreign policy and break ties with the British Imperial Parliament in this regard. This disinformation seeks to imbue Canadians with a chauvinist outlook that portrays Canada as a major Entente Power fit to sit at the table that divides the spoils of war. In fact, it made Canada a yes-man at the service of the understandings between Britain and France to keep Germany out, while they sympathized with all the new organizations hostile to Soviet Russia.

Today, Canada’s warmongering is presented as a foundational Canadian value. But the sacrifice of Canadians contradicts official accounts. Their sacrifice was made not for freedom but on behalf of empire. Canada’s independence was not secured by sending Canada’s youth to participate in the charnel house of imperialist slaughter that was World War I, a war of division between the empires of the day to secure sources of raw materials, cheap labour, zones for the export of capital and strategic influence. On the contrary, Canada’s ruling elite secured a place for itself as a yes-man of first the British and then the U.S. imperialists, while the movement of the people persists for a genuine nation-building project in which the natural and human resources and decision-making power serve the people, not the rich.

Today, more than 100 years after the end of World War I, Canada has been integrated into the U.S. imperialist war machine while the U.S. and NATO and their allies expand their interference and aggression and threaten war against countries that will not submit to their dictate. At the same time, the Canadian government, in the service of this agenda, is setting the stage to use its police powers to deem opposition to war and aggressive alliances such as NATO as threats to national security.

Now, more than ever, Canadians and Quebeckers must argue out their convictions against imperialist aggression and war and take up the work to Make Canada a Zone for Peace.

TML Daily

1 Comment

Filed under Canada, History

One response to “The day the Armistice was signed to end World War I

  1. Pingback: How did World War I actually end? | Tony Seed's Weblog

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