Editorial: Ourselves and the War Office

The old saying regarding the effects of a guilty conscience had as much truth in it as most old sayings. Those men, however, who are not troubled by anything in the shape of a eonscience for their guilt to register itself upon, who have, to find another way of putting it, no scruples in the matter of their actions, are asually the most arrant cowards of all. And thereby hangs a tale.

When those in authority over us determined that no newspapers or books should be sent out of the country without the permission of the War Office, we made application for permission to mail this journal to the Colonies and neutral countries. We have now been favoured with a reply the tenor of which is that the War Office has been compelled to stop our organ on some occasions in the past for the reason that a portion of its contents might be used by the enemy powers for “their propaganda.” And we are further informed that in consequence of thie instructions have been issued to stop in future all copies of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD urn addressed to places outside the United Kingdom.

It will be rememberd that the reason given for the regulation at the time it was made was to guard against information having military value being conveyed to the “enemy” by tampering with the printed matter. But does the War Office prohibit us on this ground ? Do the military even pretend that any information may yeach the “enemy” by the printed matter in our paper being tampered with ? No ! They state dearly that it is the printed matter itself for which we are barred. In other words, it is our opinions which they cmnot stand, and which inspires them to this new violation of the “freedom of the Press.”

But as a matter of fact, even the alleged ground for denying us expression is without foundation in truth. Nothing that we publish can be used by our masters’ enemies without being stripped from its context, for the simple reason that our criticism applies with just as much force to German and Austrian capitalists as to British. Our internationalism is so real a thing that we refuse to set national bounds even to our enemies. Not British capitalists or German capitalists are the foe, but Capitalism and the capitalist class of the world. Hence it is not British capitalists or German capitalists we attack, even when we individualize, but Capitalism—the system—and the world-class who must be vanquished before the system can fall.

But there is a further point. No longer, it appears, are our issues to be judged on their merits—they are condemned beforehand. It has been found necessary, we are informed, to stop some issues of our journal, therefore the Censor need not trouble about us any further. How well the courage of the authorities in the present case illumes their cowardice in face of the powerful but vile Harmsworth group of yellow-Press rags in the earlier months of the war !

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