Imperialism and the World Wars of the Twentieth Century: Historical Lessons and Present Dangers

Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 20:00

Lecture by David North
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) Room 2211
252 Bloor Street West, University of Toronto

IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, geopolitical tensions and inter-imperialist conflicts erupted in two major wars, which between them killed close to 100 million people.

One hundred years after the beginning of World War One, humanity faces the danger of a new and even greater catastrophe. Over the past month alone, the Obama administration has announced a new war in the Middle East, in both Iraq and Syria. At the same time, the US and its allies in Europe have seized on the crisis in Ukraine to issue direct sanctions and threats against Russia, the second largest nuclear power.

The entire world is a geopolitical powder keg, with innumerable conflicts that could set off a global conflagration. In the fight against imperialist war today, it is necessary to study the lessons of history and learn from the experiences of past struggles.

DAVID NORTH is a leading expert in socialist politics and the Russian Revolution. He is the chairman of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site and the author of numerous works on philosophy and history, including The Russian Revolution and the Unfinished 20th Century, published this year by Mehring Books. He is also the author of In Defense of Leon Trotsky and Marxism, History and Socialist Consciousness.

OOntario Institute for Studies in Education
252 Bloor Street West Room 2211
Toronto , ON
43° 40' 4.4004" N, 79° 23' 54.1392" W
Ontario CA

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.