Democracy versus militarism
Throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles journalists of every shade of capitalist thought have subscribed to the prevailing notion that the European war is being waged, on the one side by nations upholding the principles of democracy, and on the other side by nations whose system of government is autocracy and militarism. All the crimes committed of recent years against the workers by the allied governments,in the sacred name of capitalist order, are purposely forgotten, to the end that the infamy practised by the German ruling class may appear the deeper by contrast with the supposed innocence and integrity of the allied capitalists.
Class rule and democracy cannot exist together : they are opposite as the poles ; the one negates the other. Class rule being a fact, democracy is not a factor-it is ruled out. The particular methods adopted to assure their supremacy by the ruling class in different countries may be fruitful ground for discussion, but the ruling class of no country can rightly claim that their methods result in less suffering for the class they dominate than does that of their rivals.
The same depressing poverty, side by side with untold wealth, characterises every capitalist nation, and provides a theme for sentimentalists and reformers. In every land the competition for markets results in the depression of working-class conditions, because a reduction in the proportion of the product that purchases labour power is the only means to increase the total wealth of the master class.
There is no country in the world where armed force is not used to intimidate the workers, or to bludgeon them into submission to the capitalists. Militarism is universal, and even where it is seldom used it is a standing threat to the working class, and its comparative disuse only proves the existence of other and more efficacious methods. Thus education serves the master class, because it is under their control. The children of the working class are taught what is considered necessary to make them useful to some capitalist ; enough religion to check their curiosity as to physical laws and social relations ; enough patriotism to inflame their minds against the workers of other lands ; and as much incentive to “honest industry” as will fill the remaining gaps in their brains. By parade and innuendo the beauty and stability of civilisation (read capitalism) is impressed upon them almost from the cradle, so that to doubt the continuity of class rule, to expect change, becomes to these “pupils” almost unthinkable.
Forced to submit to this drilling in capitalist notions and ideals, and deliberately cheated of the knowledge that would make them men in the true sense, the workers, unless they are reached by Socialist effort, seldom think of trying to extend their knowledge, to understand physical and social phenomena and the laws that govern them. They have been filled to the brim with the philosophy of the wage-slave and must remain wage-slaves till they are rescued, by contact with the Socialist philosophy.
To prove that democracy does not exist is to prove that the ruling glass control and are responsible for the poverty of the working class, and for every other crime committed against the workers. It is not enough that they should enslave the workers and rob them ; it is not enough that they should cheat the wage-slaves of their inheritance of scientific knowledge and fill their brains with their own shoddy, huckstering notions of the bargain-counter ; it is not enough that those who labour should be reduced to this degrading servility. No. When the capitalist need arises these drilled and mechanical wage-slaves must rise to the “Christian ideal” of self-sacrifice—to kill or to be killed in defence of their masters’ liberty to exploit them.
“Democracy” and “Militarism” in the mouths of capitalist agents are mere catch-words, shibboleths, and excuses to justify their action in declaring war. The international capitalist class, by virtue of the fact that they control the education of the working class, are alone responsible for war. They may plead its popularity, but it is they and their agents that have made it so.
To explain war the system of society in which it occurs must be understood. Groups of capitalists divided according to nationalities do not, without a set purpose, provide for the maintenance of armies and navies. It may suit the purpose of the English capitalist to lay the sole blame for the present war on the Kaiser ; but, they know quite well that the German capitalists have not voted huge sums annually for armies to be controlled by their monarch, for the mere satisfaction of his personal vanity and ambition. Had German expansion in commerce and territory not been their objective, his declaration of war would have been ample proof of his lunacy in their eyes. To acquire territory means for the ruling class of any country the exploitation of a larger number of wage-slaves and increased revenues and men to augment their fighting forces, so increasing their power. While these national divisions exist the rivalry for markets and the struggle for territory must continue.
To discover how the interests of the governing class are served by war is to discover the cause of war. The land and all the instruments of production and distribution are owned by the governing class. All the resources of THEIR country, and all the members of the working, class, are at their disposal. They control because they own, and they declare peace and war alter¬nately in their class interest alone.
Until an international class-conscious Socialist party, of sufficient magnitude to be a menace, has developed, these national groups of capitalists will plunge the world into bloody wars to satisfy their greed for wealth and power. But whether each nation preserves its boundaries or whether national boundaries are completely wiped out, the slavery of the working class remains through it all. In every succeeding war these can win nothing for themselves. Their fight for freedom has yet to be fought—their watchword in every battle has yet to be learned. For even while they have been fighting out the sordid quarrels of the ruling class that class has been consciously using its power to intensify their toil and deepen their degradation.