By the Way

The question of raising an ever larger army and the consequent greater need of more recruits to replace those who are rendered useless in the struggle, is the all-important theme of our masters. The so-called “voluntary” system has been played for all it was worth, and is already forced into the background. Only a week or two since the apostle from Wales, Lld. George, addressing a meeting of his constituents, said “Lord Derby’s scheme was not the ‘voluntary system,'” and in his speech endeavoured to make out a case for, and justify his position in support of general compulsion.

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The methods adopted by our masters are of a progressive nature and incidentally oblique. First of all, promises of jobs that would be kept for “volunteers” on their return to civil life. (Provided always they returned intact, for patriotic employers are inclined to a preference for a man with two good legs and ditto arms without medals than an imperfect man with the aforesaid medals !) Also the granting of a portion of their wages was used as an inducement to spur them on ; next we came to the stage when their future employment depended upon their attestation : thousands were told to join or starve ; and then arrived the period when it was discovered that single men were cheaper. At last it was discovered that in the gathering in by compulsion of the single men the salvation of the country would bo assured. Oh ! list to me whilst I tell you that during the Committee stage of the Military Service (No. 2) Bill, Mr. Long, in referring to the Secretary of State for War, said :

“He authorises me to say this Bill will give him, by bringing in the unmarried men, all the men that he requires. It will enable him to provide the troops that the nation requires. It will enable him to do all that he can and all that is necessary to be done, to use his own words, to secure victory.”—Official Report, 18th January, 1916, Col. 300.

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The conscriptionists having obtained a portion of their demand there was for a short period something in the nature of a lull. Then we arrived at the stage when another “pledge” was apparently thought necessary, and the organ of Liberalism and Voluntaryism announced “No future extension of Compulsion Bill.” It read as follows :—

“Mr. Asquith pledged himself, spontaneously and unequivocally, both against any application of compulsion to married men during the war and against any continuance of compulsion after the war. He pointed out, we are told, that he naturally could not foresee what the future might seem to require, or a subsequent Parliament might demand. But if any extension of compulsory military service was thus called for, he would be no party to it. Those who then wanted it, he declared, must take his place !”—”Daily Chronicle,” 24.1.16.

Within a very short space of time the agitation again became very keen and another demand was made, this time for general compulsion. Evidently the anticipated number of single “slackers” had failed to materialise. Then we read almost hourly of cabinet crises and the threatened break-up of the coalition. We next observed that a Daniel in the person of Mr. Arthur Henderson, the “Labour”‘ minister, was extending the olive branch and endeavouring to further hand over the workers to the Government by a new suggestion with regard to the “voluntary” recruiting business. An article by the Parliamentary correspondent of the “Daily Chronicle,” 20.4.16 stated :

“I understand that the Cabinet had before it yesterday a proposal emanating from Mr. Arthur Henderson for the re-opening for a specified period of the system of voluntary recruiting, so as to allow married men who have not attested an opportunity of joining the army as volunteers, not as contcripts. The idea is that . . . the experiment of voluntary recruiting for married men should be given a six weeks’ run. In the event of the result being disappointing then presumably the Cabinet would decide unanimously that compulsion was absolutely necessary. Given these conditions and this unanimity, Mr. Henderson would endeavour to reconcile organised labour to this further dose of compulsion.”

Here we see what a faithful servant of his capitalist paymasters this “Labour” man is. He “would endeavour to reconcile organised labour,” etc. This, forsooth, is a specimen of the “Labour” crooks who in times past have dangled specious promises before the workers and asked them to send such gentry to the House of Commons to look after their interests.

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We arrive now at a new phase of the compulsion for married men. The general principle having been agreed upon by the powers that be a new agitation has to be commenced. After having pitted the unmarried against the married, the next move is to try and discriminate amongst the married. So we find correspondents to newspapers who blossom forth with new suggestions, and which are taken up by at least one paper in a leading article, doubtless because it appears to be a cheaper method of getting the fighting material required. In perusing the said article I am informed that “two suggestions reached us yesterday for the reform of recruiting which are well worthy of the consideration of responsible authorities.” It then goes on to state :

“A very large majority of the married men have no children or have only one child. Therefore why should not a new grouping system of married be earned out ? Not according to their age, but according to their domestic responsibilities. Let the married men having no children be called up in the first group, the second to be composed of men with one child, the third of men with two children, and so on.”—”Daily Chronicle,” 5.5.16.

So the development of militarism grows, and side by side with it is to be seen the parsimony of the capitalist class. Men without children represent so many “quids” to our patriotic bosses, therefore let them be the first to be sacrificed. I really think, in all seriousness, the time has arrived when a corps should be formed of parsons who have long since turned their pulpits into recruiting platforms, also “labour leaders” and blood-thirsty greybeards who are so very keen on others shedding their blood.

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But stay ! The Daily Crocodile’s proposal to take married men in the order of their lack of kiddies overlooks the fact that the well-to-do have the fewest children. It would mean conscripting the working class married men last ! Now, is it likely ? Our masters want to save quids it is true, but they want, above all, to save their own skins.

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One reason for general conscription, in fact, is that by bringing larger numbers within the Act it will enable them to exempt their friends. It will be noticed, indeed, that practically all the machinery of compulsion is concentrated upon the working class. The lists of workmen, with their states and ages, that must be pasted up in every factory ; the penalties for employing eligible men ; the “combing out” of munition workers ; the Munitions Acts, etc., all fall exclusively upon the working class. The idle class escape this chief weapon of the conscriptionists. Special exemption, indeed, is to be considered for small capitalists.

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Much has been made of the financial relief to be granted to soldiers in special cases, but of what does it consist ? Is it to provide more or better food and clothing and comfort for the wife, children or dependents of the conscript ? Oh dear, no! Have a look at it:

“Assistance may be granted in suitable cases in rejpect of the following obligations :–
Rent, interest and instalments payable in respect of loans (including mortgages),
Instalments for the purchase of house, business premises, furniture, &c.,
Taxes, rates, insurance premiums, and school fees.”

In other words it is merely a “relief” to the capitalists in order to save them from the losses they would otherwise suffer because the soldier could not keep up his payments. Trust the ruling class to look after number one !

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At a meeting recently held in St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields the Bishop of Kensington let fall some interesting remarks. Judging from the report of the meeting one would gather that the reverend gentleman had had the scales removed from his eyes and was at last able to see clearly things as they are. He has discovered “that the poorer classes were alienated from them (church-people), and that they were hostile to institutional Christianity because they had failed to see in the church of the nation and in the great body of those who professed to be followers of Christ, the representatives of those who loved them for the Master’s sake.” Of course, it is a question of precept and not practice. I recollect reading that the Christ once said, according to the gospels, that “the foxes have holes, and the birds have their nests, but the son of man hath no where to lay his head.” But his 20th century followers see to it that they are better equipped in this respect. Looked at carefully, these followers of Christ are prepared to risk their crown in heaven for a few crowns of the realm down here, and would rather possess a mansion in Belgravia than a mansion in the sky. He goes on to say :

“Have we cared to know the conditions in which masses of our workers have been living ? Taken as a whole, the clergy stood forth in their eyes, mistakenly, no doubt, as the obsequious minions of capitalists and employers ; and the great body of the faithful worshipping Sunday by Sunday in pew-rented places of worship in the west-end and elsewhere are identified with that system of smug middle-classdom which bolsters up, in their eyes, those capitalists and employers.—“Daily Chronicle,” 8.4.16.

The reference to the clergy standing forth, in the eyes of the workers as the minions of capitalists and employers, etc., is a choice morsel and in order to obtain the full flavour I have turned this mouthful over two or three times. Let me refresh the reverend gentleman’s memory. At the time of the Westhoughton Colliery disaster the Bishop of Manchester said that God was responsible for the disaster, and implied that the mine owners were the most innocent of men. He talked in a letter to the bereaved people in the following strain: “It has pleased God to suffer an overwhelming affliction to fall upon you…..He will comfort the widows,” etc.

The question of safety being sacrificed to the greed of the capitalists for profits never for one moment concerned the man of God. Plenty of cases might be cited, but there is evidence on every hand to show that the parsons do the work of the master class well.

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How is this for patriotism? In a case (the Anti-German League) recently before the Courts it was stated that a matinee took place at the London Pavilion on October 22nd, when Mr. Horatio Bottomley gave an address for which he received a fee of £52 10s. Patriotism, eh? What ho!

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As another sidelight on the patriotic campaign, the following from the evidence in the same case should not be missed. It refers to the destination of the patriotic literature of the Anti-German League :

“Further cross-examined, Miss Coleman said she understood that the literature of the league was not for educated people, but to reach the ‘lower classes.’
‘But you have told us that you were going to distribute the literature among your friends ?’
‘Certainly not. I should have been ashamed to send them such stuff.”—”Daily Chronicle,” 15.5.16.

There you are, you. “lower classes,” put that in your pipes and smoke it !

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While we are on the patriotic lay another little fact may be mentioned. It is only one of many. I could fill an issue of the “Standard” with very similar facts. The following will suffice :

“The report of the White Star Line, issued yesterday, shows that the profit for last year, after providing a very large sum for excess profit tax and other contingencies, amounted to the enormous figure of £1,968,385.
Dividends amounting to 65 per cent. have alreadv been paid.
A sum of £250,000 is placed to the reserve, a similar amount to the general purposes fund, and the Olympic and Britannic are credited with a special depreciation of £100,000 each, while £156,768 is carried forward.”—”Daily Chronicle,” 17.5.10.

There you are again, you “lower classes”; isn’t that worth fighting for ?


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