Peace amongst the Nations. War between the Classes

The months of July and August were full of interesting events.

The Daily News of July 31st referred to one of these in its leading article, headed “The Palace of Peace.” Its language was sublime. “The foundation stone of Mr. Carnegie’s Palace of Peace was laid yesterday at the Hague to an accompaniment of oratory which does credit to the optimism of the great” and the poster it issued on the same day bore remarkable evidences of the peaceful intentions of British capitalists, who were represented at the Hague. As the events which that Contents Bill had reference to will one day play as important a part in working-class politics as, one day, the Featherstone massacres will, let us reproduce it:


Since then, the power of the master class has been demonstrated in the usual manner. Controlling “the machinery of Government, including the armed forces of the nation” those armed forces have been used, as they must always be, “to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers,” and at time of writing, the hospitals are filled with wounded wage-slaves while preparations are being made for the interment of the killed. Two days previously, this same organ of Britist Nonconformity admitted, in its leader on the Idaho trial, that—

“The trial . . . more and more became a class struggle between capital and labour,”

and that—

“From the beginning the question has been complicated by the fierce prejudices of a kind of smoulder-class war. . . . The whole movement , . . has illustrated the insecurity of authority in America, and the profound scepticism concerning the identity of law and justice”.

The American Commercial Appeal said in the course of an editorial reviewing the Idaho trial:—

“Now, however much we may dislike disorder, we are bound as fair-minded citizens to abide by the evidence adduced in a case. Much disorder was started on both sides. The mine owners were guilty of more infamous crimes than were ever charged against the miners. They had judges and other officers driven from their posts. They had merchants who leaned toward the miners’ side deported from their homes. They bought up the legislature to overturn the will of the people. Peabody stole the governship of Colorado, and then, his nerve weakening, he turned the office over to the lieutenant-governor. The supreme court of Colorado, in league with the mine owners, took charge of the state election and helped to steal the state for the Republican party.
Colorado and some other Western states have been in recent years about as bad as Russia. The source of the trouble has, of course, been the defiance of all law and order by the mine owners. Very few people realise just what these people have done and just what provocation to violence they have given the miners. They corrupted the legislature to kill the eight-hour law that the people had voted for by a large majority. They established the bull-pen, in which hundreds of innocent people were herded like cattle. They had the writ of habeas corpus abolished. They had men driven from their homes and business not only because they were union miners but because they were merchants who sympathised with miners. They threatened to hang judges and other officers if they did not resign. They violated all the prerogatives of American citizens.”

A week later the Daily Telegraph’s Amsterdam correspondent wrote :

“Another war between capital and labour . . . is on the tapis . . . Organised labour is being met by organised capital, and the lesson which Sir George Livesey taught many years ago, when the gasworkers of South London went out on strike, has evidently not been lost upon the Shipping Federation, who seem to be adopting a similar course . . . by drawing free labour from England to replace the strikers if necessary. . . . The Labourers’ Union claims to be a powerful body, but the Shipping Federation is still more powerful, having the support of capital as well as the law of the land !”

International Peace is in the air, but War, the Class War, the inevitable war between capitalist and labourer is on the Earth. And the capitalists are prepared to use any means, like Carnegie, to crush their wage-slaves, and the capitalist governments who are most ready to send troops to shoot down workers in revolt like America, and France, and Russia, and last but not least, Great Britain, play the foremost parts in the farce of international peace “doing credit to the optimism of the great.” Even before the peace conference closed its doors, and as a commentary on the Liberal Premier’s famous peace oration, Great Britain has decided to lay down “almost immediately” three more battleships of the Dreadnought type with improvements.

Without entering into the details of the Belfast dispute, one or two matters may be noted. It is “loyal Ulster” that is the scene of this seething discontent, the portion of the Emerald Isle which has always been held up as a shining example to the remainder. Agrarian outrages are not prevalent and although a feud exists between the Protestants and the Catholics the present struggle is not between these. Christian no longer hurls bricks at Christian as such ; Loyalist no longer pursues Nationalist, or vice versa. No, all these minor differences are forgotten in the greater struggle, that between Capital and Labour. “The line of division,” says the Daily News Parliamentary representative, “is not Catholic and Protestant or Nationalist and Orangeman, but, simply, Labour and Capital.” And here, before the echoes of the oratory at the foundation stone laying of the Palace of Peace have died away, (dimmed somewhat by the noise of the French bombardment of the Moorish towns), the new short rifle of the British Army has been tested in real earnest—in the interests of Capital as against Labour, just as the first Lee-Metford bullets found their human billets at Featherstone in 1893. And a Liberal Government is in office now, as then. Here at home, then, with a “wise and good” monarch, with a Liberal Government, with Free Trade, with a Labour Party in Parliament, with working-men magistrates and working men knights, the class war exists and until the cause of it has been removed no peace is possible. In “protectionist and prosperous America,” then, and in “loyal” Ulster, the “smouldering class war” breaks out into open conflict, as in all other parts of the world.

The ordinary wars for the extension of markets, or for taking away the attention of the people at home from social evils, (the present “military operations” of the French against the Moors have probably been undertaken with both objects in view, considering the recent trouble in the Midi), pale into insignificance beside the War of the Classes which has yet to be prosecuted in grim earnest by the workers all over the world. The mouthers at the Hague Conference may discuss their arrangements for the struggles for the “swag” in which they from time to time engage, with members of the working class as the active participators and sufferers, but the time is rapidly approaching when they will sink their petty differences and unite as the forces of International Capital opposed to International Labour. There can be only one end to the War of the Classes—the abolition of the classes. As the Manifesto of the S.P.G.B. points out: “In the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, therefore the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.”

Speed the day.


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