Capitalist Unity and Socialist Solidarity

At the present time, when various capitalist Governments vie with each other in promoting “International Peace” and “Ententes Cordials”, a pronouncement on Internationalism from the Socialist seems to be necessary, more so because the organisations and organs in this country professing to be Socialist, join with the bourgeois parties and Press to extoll the virtues of King Edward the Seventh and his endeavour to promote the peace of the civilised world. It has been frequently pointed out in THE SOCIALIST STANDARD that the leaders of the S.D.P. and I.L.P., whether of middle-class or working-class origin, are steeped to their eye-brows in bourgeois ideas and conceptions by reason of their reform attitude with regard to the solution of the social problem. In addition to the sickening propaganda of “bourgeois peace” in Justice, The Labour Leader, and The Clarion, and from the platforms of the S.D.P., I.L.P., and Clarion Fellowship, we are from time to time treated to nauseous professions of “loyalty to the Crown” by some make-believe Socialists in Parliament, professions which go to show how far the mass of the workers in this country are still from the realisation of their class position in society. During the recent Parliamentary debate on the King’s visit to the Tzar, Mr. O’Grady lauded the English monarch to the skies, and Mr. Keir Hardie stated that one of the reasons why he did not wish King Edward to meet the Tzar officially was his (Keir Hardie’s) concern for the reputation of the ruler of England.

The fact cannot be sufficiently emphasised that as Socialists, and necessarily revolutionists, we have formed a conception and take up an attitude with regard to international relations that stand in contrast as clearly and definitely to the position of all other political parties, whether avowed capitalist or alleged labour, as our Declaration of Principles and political action stand to their palliative programmes and reform politics. While, therefore, the reform organisations put their faith in the capitalist endeavours of “promoting peace and good-will among the nations,” we, ever true to the principles of the class struggle, consider it our duty to point out to the workers that the reason for a desire for political departure from nationalism on the part of the capitalist class can only be sought in economic necessity. There can be little doubt that the tremendous inroad made by the countries of the world on the markets of the old world, together with the need for more united repression of the workers, are making the closer unity of the capitalist Governments increasingly necessary, if not inevitable. The capitalist unity evidently becomes a more pressing necessity to the extent that the growth of class-consciousness among the proletariat of the world is accelerated by the increasing economic encroachment upon their pitiable existence.

What was the reason for the nationalism of the capitalist class in the past ? Between the nationally organised bourgeois communities of the various countries there exists an antagonism of interests, which often gives rise to armed conflicts. The nation is the tie embracing the common interest of the possessing class. Hence the native country is the only part of the globe for which the bourgeoisie cherishes any devotion. But the proletariat of all countries have identical interests. In every country they have only one enemy, viz., the bourgeoisie. The Socialist Commonwealth for which the proletariat strive will recognise geographical differentiation, but not national antagonism; the Socialist system of society will establish economic and social peace and fraternity among the peoples of the world. It must be clear that the antagonism between the national sentiment of the capitalist class and the international principles of the proletariat are based upon the economic conditions, the material interests, of the two classes.

But the economic development in all capitalist countries has made mighty strides. The evolution of capitalism in our time has deprived its hitherto cherished forms of their usefulness. The new economic conditions are gradually outstripping the political power of the isolated States of the old world, and the bourgeois interests are rapidly outgrowing their national limitations, and completely uprooting orthodox ideas and notions. In the Western hemisphere a gigantic capitalist State has sprung into existence, which has the advantage of being a whole continent, forming a colossal economic unit, while the Eastern hemisphere is split up into a number of smaller countries. The superior economic development of America, with its immense natural resources and productive powers, is becoming ever more menacing to the interests of the industrial and commercial capitalists of the European continent. And in Asia vast empires are rapidly developing into full-blown civilisation. Japan has already reached an economic and political development approaching in many respects that of European countries. As a competitor in the world’s markets Japan is quickly becoming one of the most formidable pitted against the interests of European capitalists. And China, with a population almost as large as that of the whole of Europe, also shows signs of a far-reaching capitalist development. So tremendous, in fact, are the immediate prospects for the enterprising capitalists of all nations in China, that the very moment capitalist industry and commerce on a large scale becomes possible, bloodshed on land and sea between the great powers of the world will be almost inevitable, because the nations that conquer with the sword will also reap the advantage of participating in the first fruits of China’s full-blown capitalism.. Compared with these stupendous interests the quarrels of the European countries, which had their origin at a time when Western Europe was practically the whole economic and political world, vanish into air. The expansion of capitalism over the entire globe necessitates a much wider unity of interests than the old nations are able to muster—it demands the unity of continents. And it is the development of these new economic conditions which prompt the far-seeing politicians, diplomatists and economists of the bourgeoisie to foster closer international relations. When faced by such significant material considerations the bourgeois patriots deplore and condemn the national prejudices, short-sightedness, and jealousy that hinder the international unity of capitalists; above all, they denounce the stupidity of tariff and of a hostile foreign policy as some of the causes which prevent the desired international understanding among capitalists. But in spite of the wider economic development the bourgeoisie clings to its nationalism with the greatest tenacity. A contemplation of the rapid strides made by America and Japan may cause the capitalists of the European continent to recognise the necessity for abandoning the old antagonism between the European nations, and of a united effort to resist the encroachments upon them by the nations of other continents ; but on the other hand, they know only too well that all the capitalist nations of the world have one common enemy, viz., the international proletariat, whose supremacy they are aware would spell the entire abolition of capitalist society. It is true that in the struggle between capital and labour capitalist mutuality plays a most important part, but in the fight against Socialism by the capitalists in each country the weapon of national patriotism remains still the most effective means of rallying the unenlightened masses to the defence of the private-property constitution. Bourgeois internationalism of a permanent character, though it even may promise the furtherance of the economic interests of nations, can never be realised in face of that “hideous monster,” Socialism, which threatens to swallow the bourgeois States irrespective of their size or vitality.

The whole question for the capitalist class resolves itself, therefore, into the plain issue, either to fight out between themselves the struggle for the larger portions of surplus-value and to neglect in the heat of that combat the repression of the working class, or to let the tussel in their own camp be a minor consideration and to concentrate all their efforts upon the relentless warfare against the proletariat, whose increasing sufferings, caused by the ever-growing power of capital, are forcing upon them the class-consciousness needed to realise their emancipation from wage-slavery.

And do we not daily observe how all sections of the capitalist class in this country, as in every other, sink their petty differences when it means to keep down the workers and to prevent them uniting on a revolutionary basis ? The capitalists of each country would like to be internation:alists, but that would mean the complete destruction of their nationalism, which, as already pointed out, is at present their safeguard against Socialism. The fact is that the bourgeoisie can only be international when the economic human relations make such a condition possible. Only when the international proletariat will seize political power and will abolish class antagonisms and exploitation will a sound and lasting internationalism become an accomplished fact.

H. J. N.

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