On Tuesday night, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality hosted “Imperialism and the World Wars of the Twentieth Century: Historical Lessons and Present Dangers,” a lecture by David North, the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States and the chairman of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site.

The event, which coincidentally fell on the anniversary of the signing of the armistice to end World War I, was one of 11 occurring in universities across the United States. North said his goal in participating in the lecture series is to “contribute to the education of students and the explanation of the basic principles of socialism analysis made by the Socialist Equality Party of the political situation within the United States and international (countries).”

North focused on how he believes capitalism and the imperialist strategies he associated with it lead to the world wars, drawing parallels between the strategies and goals of the capitalist world before World War I and those of today, warning of an approaching world war. He started the talk by questioning the crowd of their knowledge of how World War I began and arguing that it was not an accident or a response to an assassination.

While the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria triggered the war, North said even at the International Hague Conference of 1907 “it was very well understood that there was an indescribable link between war and capitalism.”

“There was a sense, that without the intervention of world groups, political organizing and socialist movements, not only was war possible; it was inevitable,” he said.

North went on to say it was and still is important for the international workers’ movement to actively rally against war, and that if war is to break out, the working class and socialists must work to “bring it to a speedy termination.”

North argued WWI was instead a “preemptive” war that Germany chose to wage to demonstrate its hegemony. Comparing events such as the contemporary arms races, the recent emergence of one between nations in Asia and the militarization that occurred prior to World War I, North argued that the believed link between capitalism and war is still true today.

He pointed to several events that have occurred this month that he said show how close we are to an accidental war and how capitalist countries are leaving Russia and China out of trade organizations to create a new and — in his opinion — dangerous world order.

North ended his lecture by urging students to learn more about socialist theory, saying he feels that the only way to prevent this World War III is through the collaboration of the working class.

The audience mainly consisted of older individuals, with a few students who only voiced their opinions during the question and answer session that followed.

Audience members questioned the validity of North’s strong belief in an approaching World War III and his comments that neither Russia nor China is an imperialist nation.

Art & Design sophomore Wake Coulter, who had previous interest in learning more about the socialist movement on campus and in World War I’s influence on today’s politics, said he was glad to see there are people who are passionate about history and how it can affect today’s world.

“There’s still an active section of even modern society that is very much not forgetting the benefits and also the downsides of the social movements of the early 1900s, and I think that those can have a really profound effect on today’s politics if we took a deeper look at them,” he said.

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