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Our Masters’ Bloody Orgy

Nearly two years have passed since the European war of extermination began, and the tale of slaughter continues on an ever-ascending scale. No nation—as a nation—can hope to gain by this war; no class—not even the capitalist class, as a whole—can hope to reap pecuniary or other benefit in the end from this sanguinary conflict.

It is quite true that our patriotic masters are at present in very many cases reaping enormous profits; it is also true that the necessities, and even the sufferings, of the people provide these vampires with their chief opportunities ; yet it is the capitalist class that must pay for this war in the long run. The workers cannot. Their wages represent barely their average cost of subsistence; and though this may, as at present, be disregarded for a time, it brings in its train a degradation of labour-power and a loss of efficiency that means still greater loss to the master class. The capitalists cannot recoup themselves by continuing to substitute chaff for oats in the feeding of their beasts of burden.

The smaller capitalists, it is true, are likely to suffer most, if not all, of the loss. The big fish are feeding upon the smaller ones. The financiers and the larger industrial capitalists (they are all one, nowadays) will continue to reap a golden harvest. Small wonder, then, that the magnates are in favour of the ruthless prosecution of the war to, at least, the last Frenchman, and the last rouble. Small wonder that any peace talk is stigmatised by their literary prostitutes as a "dastardly intrigue" or a "dangerous manoeuvre," while what they call a "premature" (!) peace is condemned as "an incalculable disaster to civilization."

Mr. Henderson follows the lead. The war has meant promotion to him. His unflinching resolve to maintain his position to the very last is unmistakable. At Northampton on June 24th he reflected his own sacrifices for the Allied cause when he solemnly warned his hearers against "peace talk" by "enemies abroad who boast that the Allied Powers are conquered, and a few mistaken people at home who have done little or nothing to prevent the Allies being defeated."

Truly, the millions of men physically wrecked, mutilated, or done to death in this useless war for dirty trade weigh as nothing in the balance for these bloodthirsty servants of capital. For them the incalculable sufferings of many millions of men, widows, orphans, and dependents is a mere "regrettable necessity," an occasion for insulting and utterly inadequate charity, an opportunity for little homilies on "our" duty to "our" country. All that really matters is the security of the property and the profit of the national capitalists! Soldiers, workers, and silently suffering dependents are mere pawns in the game, in which the control of the world-markets is the stake. Even so, the state of the ''game'' is stalemate rather than checkmate; and rumour has it that peace negotiations have been entered upon, but cheated of fruition owing to discord among the Allies. Whatever truth there may be in these repeated rumours it is impossible to say, but it is equally impossible to entirely disbelieve them. The only sure thing is that meanwhile, the conflict grows in intensity, and the human sacrifice to capitalist greed more awful.

This war is, indeed, merely a phase of the great class war. It is a crowning example of the ruthless sacrifice of the propertyless of the world to the interests of those who own the world. The thieves of Europe have fallen out, and their slaves must fight as well as toil. And this fact must never be overlooked, that the wine press of capitalism crushes out the life blood of the workers to till with profit or power the bins of the possessors of the earth in peace as well as in war.

Yet even as we realise how grave and how intense is the suffering inflicted on the working class during the long drawn-out years of "peace," the mind recoils with greater horror before the vividness and intensity of the present all-engulfing murder madness of Europe. How long is this crowning crime of capitalism to remain superadded upon the fundamental and age-long industrial exploitation of the many ? How long will the workers stand it? It is not as though there were no way out. It is not as though conditions barred every avenue of hope to the workers. The capitalists are clearly parasites. Hireling workers, the slaves and victims of this hellish system, actually run the world for these parasites. Yet, chiefly through ignorance, the workers of Europe allow themselves to be pitted against each other in a war of extermination for the supposed interests of their masters. Is not the untold suffering, now and to come, of men, women and children of more importance than the interests of those waxing fat. on the profits of war stock, munition industries, or the people's food ? Are the people to be for ever sacrificed to the Moloch of capital? Surely it is time the workers used their brains in their own interests. The callous brutality, the greed and hypocrisy of the ruling class of all nations could hardly ever be clearer than it is to-day. The workers have only to discard the blinkers of patriotism to see this plainly.

National war is the inevitable corollary of capitalism. It can only be made impossible by Socialism. On every ground, indeed, Socialism is the real and living hope of the toiling millions. It alone can harmonise material interests, and make the good of the whole the immediate interest of each. Bitter experience and soberer thoughts are making increasing numbers of men and women realise that it is commercial rivalry, caused only by the capitalist system, that is the actual and fundamental cause of war. They are beginning to see that it is in reality immaterial to a wage-worker whether his employers or rulers be German or French, British or Russian. The real enemy of wage workers is not any foreign nation, but the employing or capitalist class of every country. And it is this enemy class that, in pursuit of what it thought was its interests, is still, after nearly two years of carnage, urging the working class to even madder efforts in the extermination of each other. This exploiting class has secured the concentration of all the scientific genius and energy of the world in the brutal and savage work of destruction and human slaughter. Not content with the long-continued and ruthless robbery of defenceless proletarians in what it calls peace, it now causes their wholesale annihilation in a vain effort to extend or safeguard its spheres of exploitation, and plunges them into an ever more insane intensity of conflict, until, seemingly losing almost every vestige of control over the bloody carnage its greed has evoked, it threatens to drag the last remnants of civilization ' down below the lowest depths of savagery.

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The Conscription Bill : Bill Thorne