By the Way

The continued absorption of the men of mili­tary age has had the effect of bringing in its train a greater demand for children and women to take the place of those workers who are thus removed from agricultural and industrial pur­suits, in order that the latter may be trained in the art of scientific slaughter.

During the past month or so much has been said and written with regard to the employment of children and the question of education. Just recently, in the House of Commons, Mr. Arthur Henderson (Labour [!] M.P.), speaking as President of the Board of Education on the Education Vote, let fall the following remarks :

“The question of child-labour had excited much apprehension. . . . The Board had impressed local authorities to make full inquiries into the cases of children employed in agriculture. The Board would regard it as a very grave misfortune if large numbers of children were employed at an early age.
He expressed his gratitude to the Board of Agriculture for their co-operation with the Board of Education, yet in spite of their efforts the number of children engaged in agriculture had nearly doubled. It showed that by-laws were being relaxed without proper care and enquiry.”—”Daily Chronicle,” July 19, 1916.

If one was able to shut one’s eyes to the fact that the speaker was a Labour Member (and consequently was in the House of Commons supposedly in the interest of the working-class) it would be very easy to view the observations recorded above as an apology by an ordinary capitalist politician for jeopardising the education of this country’s future wage-slaves. But stay a moment ! Is not this hon. gentleman identified with the party who used to advocate “the raising of the age of child labour with a view to its ultimate extinction” ?

Another speaker who joined in the discussion said that he believes the President’s estimate of the number of children of school age employed in agriculture was far below the mark, and further suggested that the grant, or a large part of it, should be withdrawn from local authorities if they yielded to popular clamour and for the benefit of farmers robbed the children of their “birthright.”

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We of the Socialist Party have, in season and out of season, insisted that the question of education is one which primarily concerns our masters. They do not educate the children because they desire them to become more intel­ligent, but because of the increasing develop­ment in the modern means of production and the higher education of the wage-slaves of other lands. This point has been referred to on many occasions by Lord Haldane, and even quite recently he emphasised the need of a far higher system of technical education. Therefore, if our masters desire to retain their supremacy as a commercial nation, they will see to it that the future wage-slaves shall be trained accordingly, and hence the grave concern of a small but intelligent section of the capitalist class at the invasion that is taking place in the ranks of the children of school age. Further confirma­tion of this is to be found also in Mr. Henderson’s speech, wherein he stated that

“The war has also brought home to us that our national prosperity and security demanded greater concentration of intelligence on problems of industry, commerce and public administration. He was glad to say that the Department had not failed to prepare for a re-conquest of the ground they had lost, but had taken steps to go much further than before after the war was over.”

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Whilst I am on this topic there is one item which, perhaps, would not be amiss. It was recently stated in tihe Press that there were “cases of children attending school who were too sleepy to be taught owing to working early and late.” This was mentioned at the Frome (Somerset) School Attendance Sub-Committee meeting. The report continues :

“One boy of 11 milked seven cows night and morning and then went to school. He started work at five o’clock and had reached Standard II. The Chairman said he knew of a case where the teachers complained that children engaged on farm work were too tired to do anything when they got to school.”—”Daily News,” June 27, 1916.

One can understand the position of the teacher who has to impart information and instruction to children whose mental and physi­cal energies have been sapped ere they reach the classroom. This evil is, of course, not confined to war time only ; it is an inevitable consequence of capitalist society, but to-day it is more pronounced. Here is a glorious opportunity for the idlers of modern society those who hereto­fore have never done anything useful in the community to do what they are so fond of prating about, work of “national importance.” Will THEY do it ?

To the teachers, parents, and members of the working class we send out our gospel of salvation. Study the position of your class ; realize that you are many and the drones are few ; help to speed the day when the exploitation of your­selves and your children shall be relegated to the past ; and join with us of the Socialist Party to assist the ushering in of a new society, wherein “poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.”

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For some time past we have heard a lot of talk about what our patriotic bosses are doing for those who hare “done their bit.” We have grown accustomed to hearing that after this war “our heroes” are not to sell matches and bana­nas for a living, but at long last they are going to receive recognition of tasks achieved and duty done. Without here touching on the subject of pensions (which, is engaging a large amount of attention in the Press), I will pass on to an advertisement which caught my eye in the “Daily Chronicle” of July 21st. Here it is :

“There’s generosity for you ; 28s. a week for those who have “done their bit.” The Lord only knows what the remuneration would be for those outside the condition above stipulated.”

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Our right reverend father in God the Arch­bishop of Canterbury, recently wrote to the Prime Minister with regard to the plea of the World’s Evangelical Alliance that the second anniversary of the outbreak of war be made a national day of prayer by Order in Council. The reply of Mr. Asquith was a materialistic one, for he and many others, though giving lip-ser­vice to orthodox religion, place more reliance in shot and shell than in the efficacy of a day devoted to national prayer. Which reminds one that another gentleman in days gone by was once alleged to have said: “You may pray to God, but keep your powder dry.” However, let me quote :

“I have received your letter. … I am not prepared to recommend that Friday, August 4, be proclaimed a day of national penitence and prayer. I must point out that Monday and Tuesday, August 7 and 8, are declared Bank Holidays.
The suggested Proclamation would enforce a stoppage of work throughout the country on the previous Friday, and would not, I think, conduce to the result which is desired.
I think that the community will readily respond to the proposal that services should be held on that day in churches of all denominations throughout the country, and I believe it to be more in accordance with general thought and feeling that the State should not intervene in the manner suggested.”—”Daily Chronicle,” July 1, 1916.

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We have from time to time commented upon the £. s. d. point of view of obtaining recruits for the Army. The following is decidedly frank and honest:

“In granting exemption to a farm hand, aged 30, with nine children, the Ramsbury (Wilts.) Tribunal expressed the opinion that it would be cheaper to keep him at home.”—”Daily Mail,” June 34, 1916.

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During the period immediately following the passing of the Compulsory Military Service Bill for single men, there were many outbursts in the House with regard to the methods of roping in potential recruits. Reference was made to the destruction of medical certificates of rejec­tion and those who held them were forced to undergo further examination. Such were the methods used then and ultimately condemned by Mr. Tennant when he could no longer main­tain a policy of official ignorance on the matter. Despite all promises of reformation, and the period of time which has since elapsed, we tind the following condemnation of the methods adopted by the military authorities :

“Improper treatment of men who have been sent to Warley for medical examination was made the subject of a strong protest to the War Office yesterday by the Ilford Tribunal.
It was stated that the men were asked by the medical authorities to sign a blank card which would be sealed up afterwards and sent to the mili­tary authorities. This the men refused to do, and they informed the Tribunal of the fact.
Mr. Middlemas, the military representative, took exception to the treatment of these men and said it was scandalous, and he himself had written a strong letter of protest.”—”Daily Chronicle,” July 21, 1916.

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Much ink and paper has been used to present in lurid terms the “awful frightfulness” of the German. But lo and behold ! in due course come pen pictures of the “frightfulness” of the ruling class of Britain and her Dominions. We have in time of peace heard a great deal about the “master mind” and the “directive ability” of our bouses, and with microscope in hand we have set out to discover these qualities which it is alleged belong to our masters. I have in mind the “gamble” of the Dardanelles and the Meso­potamia campaign particularly at the moment, though numerous other items might be men­tioned. That the question is a serious one may be gathered from the fact that the Lords, spirit­ual and temporal, appear to have been the first to publicly discuss it. Now for the indictment :

“The Duke of Somerset said he had an opportunity that morning of reading three or four very long letters from officers who had been serving in Meso­potamia. He could assure their lordships that the cruelties our men must have suffered through the utter incompetence of the authorities, both in India and at home, were simply disgraceful. They knew what the Belgians suffered and they knew also what our own men suffered when taken prisoners by the Germans at the beginning of the war. But our men were suffering very much worse than they had ever suffered through the brutality of the way in which things had been managed in Mesopotamia. What they had suffered was perfectly indescribable.
He would give one or two instances, in one case a thousand wounded were sent down in a ship with one medical officer and one orderly to look after the whole of them. They were all mixed up together—­officers, British soldiers, and native soldiers. There were men with dysentry and men with shattered limbs all in the same ship, and there was not a bit of morphia or a drop of chloroform. One officer who was sent down wounded never had his wound dressed from the time he was picked up until he got to Bombay.
‘Who is to blame God knows,’ he added. ‘There must be somebody to blame here, and, as for India, I think the officer in command of the troops there must be terribly to blame.'”—”Daily Telegraph,” July ij, 1916.

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“Dardanelles Treaty. Russia promised both sides of the Straits,” are headlines which recently appeared in the “Daily Chronicle” (19.7.10) over a short announcement with regard to the return of the Russian Parliamentary delegates to Russia. The item of news goes on to state that “the most interesting statement was made by Professor Miliukoff, the former Liberal leader, who, according to the Russkoe Slovo, said :

“The most important question in which we were interested was the problem of the Dardanelles. An agreement has been made between Russia and her allies according to which we are promised both sides of the Straits.”

Who said we are fighting on behalf of Belgium ?


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