Grist for the Mill

Speaking in Wales on the 29th Sept. last at a national Welsh conference for the purpose of assisting in the formation of a Welsh army corps, Mr. Lloyd George, known to fame as the “Welsh Christ,” set forth, in his usual cold-blooded, calculating manner, the ideal method to pursue in order to obtain as many poor simple-minded targets for bullets as possible. This capitalist hack might have been expected to play upon the emotions of young men in the most efficacious manner. He said :

“After all conviction is essential to confidence and confidence is nine parts of courage. And if we want valiant troops we must have men rallying to the flag imbued with the idea that they are going forth in a holy war to do battle for justice and right. They have to face wounds, dismay, death. More, they have got to face something which wears down the nerves and endurance of troops in war—they have the wet, cold nights in the trenches, day after day, night after night, and their courage must be sustained by a sense that they are fighting in a righteous cause. You must not have them asking at any stage, ‘What on earth am I en¬during all this for ?’ (God forbid !) or, ‘Why on earth should I stand it any longer ?’ When we enlist our men we must enlist them as a result of a campaign that puts conviction, first of all, into the heart of every soldier. This is most important. We have, first of all, got to rouse in them a sense of wrath against the injustice which has been inflicted by our foes in this war, and afterwards you will have to convert anger into action in every young man’s breast.” (“Manchester Guardian,” 30.9.14.)

There you have, cut and dried, the plan of action to be taken by the masters. That this plan has been carried out since the commencement of the war by the papers, the posters, and public bodies generally, is known to everyone who has eyes to see. Is it any wonder that Lloyd George has risen (or descended) from an unknown Welsh lawyer to a Cabinet Minister ? Such an unscrupulous and wily individual is a priceless treasure to the cut-throats who rule us. He further says:

“For this purpose (an effective army) you want to secure the best young men of the nation, the cream of the nation, the steady, sober-minded, intelligent young men. It takes less time to convert an intelligent youth into a soldier than a man of less acute intellect.”—”Manchester Guardian,” 30.9.14.

Then, no doubt, when the cream of the nation have gone, the future generation are to be bred from the narrow-chested, knock-kneed cripples that remain. Of course, there is one good side to it : a number of the workers are got out of the way to make room for the cheaper woman and child labour. Under the fervour of patriotism that has been inspired the introduction of women can be more easily effected.

To wind up we may quote the following :

“The vast majority return from a war to tell the tale (battalions wiped out by the bursting of a single shell !) and they will have accumulated experiences which will illumine their lives for ever after. Most people’s lives are dull, grey, and monotonous, and these men will come back (?) with a fund of recollection to draw upon which should cheer and brighten their lives at the dreariest moment . . . I am glad that the War Office are recognising the value of this national sentiment as a military asset.”—”Manchester Guardian,” 30.9.14.

* * *

What hypocritical humbug ! After reading the above (which was culled from an old newspaper) a vision was called up in the mind of the present writer of an incident that occurred to him while travelling by train recently. At one of the stations a soldier, just back from the trenches, and his mother entered the carriage. The soldier, who was in a rather excited condition, recounted some of his experiences at the Front ; the awful carnage, and the hunger and thirst they had suffered. He said they had lain in the trenches in filth for weeks without washing, starving, and drinking mud water, and when the latter failed, even their own urine to slake the awful thirst. He saw no hope of going through the war alive, and expected to be sent back to receive a bullet. His sleeping and waking dreams were of fighting and bloodshed; of seeing his mates’ heads and bodies shattered, and trenches falling in smothering numbers of them. This man was, in fact, an instance of the soldier returned from war, a mental wreck as the result of the awful experiences he had gone through. And these are the experiences that the slimy Welshman depicts as “experiences that will illumine their lives for ever after” ! ! !

Words fail to convey the feeling of repugnance and nausea roused when one contemplates the mental attitude of this brutal and cold-blooded advocate of the master class, who defends the capitalists’ rapacity with fine words, and attaches the glamour of religion to all their profit-seeking actions.

* * *

A “comrade,” writing in “Justice” for Feb. 11th, 1915, says :

“Really, we Socialists have our time coming ; our elementary principles have proved safe anchorage for the State lately, and with a fast accumulating hatred of War and militarism (!) that is surely taking place, the moment when our blow will be struck is nearer than many have appreciated.”

Comment is surely needless ! Still, it might be aided that the “comrade” who holds the above views no doubt assists in the recruiting campaign as much as possible, so that when the time comes to strike—there will not be any working-men left to do the striking !

* * *

The shortness of working men’s memories is proverbial. In spite of the bitter and strenuous enmity the masters always exhibit on the industrial field, the workers are ever ready to abandon the ground of the class struggle in order to help certain groups of capitalists to gain larger shares of the spoil (squeezed out of workers) than other groups. The workers on the Clyde struck the other day for an increase in wages to meet the rise in the cost of living. Along came the slimy minions of the master class and pointed out the harm that would be caused to the nation at this particular moment if they remained on strike. So back to work went the engineers like a lot of sheep.

When will the lessons of history be taken to heart ? Forgotten are the struggles against tha rapacity of the masters, the lives of poverty, the sight of wives and children dying of want, and all the other evils that are the necessary accompaniments of working-class “life” under capitalism ; forgotten is all this when the masters wave a blood-stained banner and cry “For Life, for Law, for Liberty.” Thousands of workers were mown down by the governing class after the French Revolution. Thousands of workers were wiped out after the Franco-Prussian War by the ruling class. Thousands of British workers died of starvation after the Boer War, both in England and South Africa. Every day, all the world over, hundreds of thousands of workers die through the greed and brutality of the master class and its minions, and yet, in spite of all this, we read in the daily papers (5.3.15) the following: “Early yesterday morning the coalheavers at a meeting of 2,000 strikers decided to return to work, postponing further efforts to regain their “subbing” privileges until a more opportune time.”

A more opportune time ! When will that be ? When the masters will be free to employ the whole unfettered force of the army to drive the workers back to work as they did in the recent Dock Strike, and at Manchester, Belfast, Dublin, Featherstone, Hull, etc.? “England’s extremity is Ireland’s opportunity,” was the slogan of the early Home Rulers. And surely the only sensible maxim for workers, until they gain control of political power, is obviously: “The masters’ extremity is the workers’ opportunity.”

* * *

“It seems very clear,” says the “Labour Leader” for February 11th, 1915, “that after the War the issue between Socialism and capitalism will be far more distinct than ever before.” We are gratified to confess that, for once, we are somewhat in agreement with our learned contemporary, because, if the enlisting of the muddle-headed people of the I.L.P. and B.S.P. type continues at the present rate, owing to their anxiety to juggle with bullets and mud at the Front, the political air will certainly be cleared of a considerable amount of confusion.

* * *

The War offers splendid chances to the masters for purposes of increasing the efficiency of machinery and diminishing expenses all round for future as well as present benefit, without arousing unpleasant opposition from the workers. Everywhere the signs portend the advantage that is being taken of present circumstances. Speaking in Parliament the other day, Mr.Tennant, Under Secretary for War, exuded the following :

“If I may address myself to the Labour Party, I would appeal to them to help us to organize the forces of Labour. I would ask them to help us so that where a man purposes to join the colours his place may be taken by another man neither of military age, nor military physique, or by a woman.”
“Would it not be possible for the hon. gentlemen who represent labour to get such a Union as the Shop Assistants’ Union to help us, in a trade where particularly women’s work seems to be more desirable than men’s, to say that all male labour, certainly all male workers of the age and physique required for the army should be dispensed with [nicer phrase than sacked ! and, by the way, remember Englishmen in this “free” country join the army of their own free will !] and should be replaced by women’s labour ? I don’t say that this is a possible thing to do ; I only throw out the suggestion tentatively.”—”Reynolds,” 14.2.15.

What delightful simplicity there is in the last sentence. Hodge, that good, old ton of soil, was so annoyed at the imputations on the support given by Trade Unionists, that he indignantly flamed out: “There is not a body of men in the country who have been more patriotic than Trade Unionists.”

My word ! O thou good and faithful servant (of the master class).

* * *

How valuable are the Labour leaders to the masters ! We Have often been accused of adopting an uncharitable attitude to those who were struggling to educate the workers little by little and bit by bit, but he who brings this accusation against us again, after the showing up the labour men have had during this war, will indeed have his tongue in his cheek. The great incorruptible (!) Ben Tillett, known to fame by his celebrated and spectacular curse en the head of a certain member of the capitalist class (to whom he afterwards betrayed the dock labourers, in spite of their truly grand struggle against starvation) is reported by the Press to have sent a letter from a bed of sickness urging dockers to assist recruiting, in the interests of the master class (Lord Devonport and his gang). Mr. Gosling has lately earned the eulogies of Mr. Asquith (of Featherstone fame) for his activities. Says Mr. Asquith :

“The position in London is very much improved. The men have been making good time. The efforts made by Mr. Gosling are of very great service, and the London problem is not nearly so serious.”—”Manchester Guardian,” 12.2.15.

And now, fellow workers, throwing all jokes aside, when are you going to stop the rot ? When are you going to wake up and think ? Remember, the day the labouring mass shakes itself into activity the capitalist world will totter to ruin.


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