By the Way

During the past month there has been some activity shown by our rulers in their endeavour to “raise the wind” for the purpose of carrying the war-to a “successful conclusion.” Pulpit, Press, and printers have all been mobilised to this end.

Lord Rhondda, speaking at Newport in support of the War Loan, said :

“It was necessary in order to win the war to conscript men. The Government would be equally justified if they chose to conscript wealth and property.
He spoke feelingly when he said he hoped that would not be considered necessary.”—Daily Chronicle,” Jan. 27th, 1917.

Of course, it would be quite logical for our national “business government” to conscript wealth in a similar manner to the conscription of men, but instead of so doing they offer a return of 5 per cent. for money advanced by the “patriots” and call it


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Next I read that the churches are joining in the appeal for everyone to subscribe something to the Great War Loan. The pilots to Kingdom Come temporarily forget their differences on religious dogmas and hasten forth to do duty on behalf of the capitalist State. Let me quote :

“At a conference yesterday in London at which leaders of the Church of England and Nonconformist and Roman Catholic Churches were present preliminary arrangements were made for an appeal from every pulpit in Great Britain. It is hoped that the subject may be mentioned in every church and chapel both next Sunday and the Sunday after. Some of our most famous preachers have consented to preach special sermons setting forth the nation’s duty to subscribe to this great loan of victory.”—”Daily Mail,” Jan. 31st, 1917.

One can imagine our brothers in Christ expatiating on the parable of the nobleman and the ten pieces of money as scriptural authority for investing in War Loan.

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In an advertisement appealing for “silver bullets” to be invested in the “Victory War Loan” our attention is drawn to a paragraph, which states: “Suppose John Jones earns £6 a week and he and his family live on £4, he can save £1.00 in the year.” There you are, quite easy arithmetic this. But suppose John Jones does not earn £6 a week, nor even £2—and vast numbers there are in this position—what then ?

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A study in Economy : Notwithstanding the advertisements appearing in the Press (combined with special articles and specially convened public meetings) to draw the attention of the public to the fact that our masters require more money in order to carry on, it would appear that there is a slight possibility that Londoners may not have seen or heard of this endeavour to extract their surplus wealth. Therefore, to guard against this contingency, Trafalgar Square is to be converted into a huge advertising station. I read.

“For this great scheme the following quantities of materials have been set aside:
35,000 feet of battening.
3,000 yards of linen union.
500 pounds of paint.
Many miles of wire and thousands of fixed hooks will be required.”—”Daily Chronicle,” Feb. 7th, 1917.

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From the same source (Feb. 2nd, 1917) I gather that “Lady Maxwell . . . has offered the State the use of a third of her capital free of interest for the duration of the war….. Altogether she proposes to lend the Government £35,000 as her contribution towards the cost of the war.” The good lady is prepared to live on £70,000 conditional on the £35,000 being returned. There’s equality of sacrifice.

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Substitution in practice. The following is from an evening paper :

“When—— was charged at Enfield to-day with working a horse in an unfit state it was stated that he had been requisitioned under the substitution scheme.
In reply to Col.——, prisoner admitted that he knew nothing about horses as he had been a cabinet maker all his life.
Col.—— : This is exactly the type of man we are getting as substitutes on the land. It is perfectly ridiculous.
The Bench dismissed the charge.
—”Star,” Jan. 29th, 1917.

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From a paragraph under the heading “Asterisks” in the paper referred to above I take the following:

“Lord Northcliffe states that ‘the last bloodshed in warfare in our fields and villages was in Stuart days.’ Perhaps he thinks that the battle of Preston, in 1715, was fought in the streets of the town.”

One might add that bloodshed in [class] warfare has occurred in far more recent times. Has our contemporaiy heard of the shooting of unarmed workers at Liverpool, Llanelly, Featherstone, just to mention a few cases?

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A news item states that “Since January 1st 31 men and boys have been killed by roof falls in South Wales mines.” (“Daily Chronicle,” Jan. 23rd, 1917.) Some occupation this for substitution. Glorious opportunity for colliery owners and mining royalty mongers to take a hand in getting coal under the National Service scheme. Who will be the first ?

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The circular issued recently by the Food Controller (Lord Devonport) contains one important admission with regard to working-class existence. In dealing with the question of bread and the variation in its consumption he says :

“That is attributable to the fact that the lower the scale of income and of consequent living, the higher the bread consumption, for with many in such circumstances meat is only intermittently comprised in the scale of dietary, whereas bread constitutes the main staple.”—”Reynolds’s,” Feb. 4th, 1917.

Why the Food Controller should issue broadcast his suggested limit of rations one is at a loss to understand. On his own showing large numbers fail to get anywhere near his meat allowance, and with regard to sugar, blimey! if we could only obtain the stipulated quantity we should indeed be well off by comparison with our present circumstances. Talking of sugar reminds one that a little while ago special exhortations were made to economise in foodstuffs, yet in order to obtain a pound of sugar various sums have to be expended on other commodities. And we have a “Business Government.”

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From a morning newspaper I learn that one incidental consequence of the state of war has been a considerable decrease in the number of civilian hospital patients. The article goes on to say:

“This decrease is a real decrease, and indicates improved health among the people for whom hospitals exist, and the improvement of health is accounted for by the abundance of food which the military separation allowances have assured to many women and children for the first time.”—“Daily Chronicle,” Feb. 12th, 1917.

Such is our glorious civilization, according to the above journal, that a great war is the medium through which “many women and children for the first time “have an abundance of food.”

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A National Service advertisement recently appeared in some of the papers with the heading “It’s your innings now !” The wording of the appeal is such as should go home to that type of individual who, in the early days of the war, was so anxious to do something for his country were he a little younger or more fit, and who used all sorts of special pleading in order to excuse his inaction. However, as the old song says, “There’ll come a time some day.” Now for the announcement:

“Do you remember how you urged the young fellows to enlist— how you pointed out to them the path of honour and duty? . . . They were young-many of them had not tasted of life’s joys as you have. Many of them have been cut down before they knew what happiness was. You have had your life. What are you doing now to help the men you sent to the Front ? You took a grave responsibility in asking them to fight for you how are you fulfilling it?—”Daily Sketch,” Feb. 21st,

A grave indictment this. For the response we must, as Asquith say?, “Wait and see.”

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“Socialism is the end of all things,” said a politician. And the Anti-Socialist union parrot-like repeated the phrase that Socialism meant the break-up of the home life. Capitalism’s wars have rendered many a home husbandless and made thousands of children fatherless. The final touch is to be found in yet another advertisement which says:

“30,000 women willing if necessary to leave their homes for a time are urgently needed now.”— “Reynolds’s,” Feb. 4th, 1917.

The complete break-up of home life is now necessary in order to enable the international
master class to attempt to settle their differences.

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In perusing the daily Press I came across the following lines, under the heading “Resurgam.”

O wondrous host, that o’er Death’s hills have hied,
Immortal youths ! is this thy pain-won dower,
The first fruits of thy mighty, living power.
Then surely, not in vain is it ye died.
Lo, from thy resting-place may be descried
The pregnant movements of the rhythmic sower
Who makes the desert place to laugh and flower,
And fills with grain the barren countryside.
E’en the sad precincts of the cities sere
Thy shining sacrifice doth fructify ;
There green oases suddenly appear
And smiling fruit and flowers salute the eye.
From out thy blood, O ye, our deathless slain,
England shall feed her people once again.
–”Daily Chronicle,” Feb. l0th, 1917.

The utilitarian poet sees the “cannon fodder” functioning finally as manure, but his candour seems a bit callous.

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The question of National Service brings forth quite a crop of interesting comments in the various papers. A fine instance of special pleading for exemption appeared only a short time ago. Commenting on this in a leading article the “Daily Telegraph” (Feb. 6th, 1917) said:

“When they read that all between the ages of 18 and 60 are to be asked to volunteer for national civilian service, they naturally are a little troubled in mind, especially when they find that the call is really for those who can do a good hard day’s work in a shipyard, a coal mine, a foundry, or on the land. What is the duty of professional men, for example, especially those who are over the military age ? With the best will in the world to do their country service, they know that it would be ridiculous for any but a very small percentage of their number to volunteer for occupations to which their daily habits for the last twenty years or more have wholly unsuited them. A middle-aged professional man who has never done a hard day’s manual work in his life, is simply making useless labour for the Director-General’s clerical staff, unless he clearly sees that he can fill some definite place for which the Director-General invites recruits.“

Which, reduced to a few words, means that National Service is all right for the hewers of wood and drawers of water, those who have lived arduous lives of toil ; but to the professional and idle parasitic classes, the idea of “a good hard day’s work” is unthinkable. It would indeed be a sight for the gods to see, say, the Bishop of so-and-so and Lady Fitnoodle filling shells or performing some other such function. What ho !

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“Choose ye this day day whom ye will serve.” Our Pleasant Sunday Afternoon labour leader, Arthur Henderson, addressed a meeting in the Leeds Town Hall, when he delivered himself of the following :

“He wanted also to make it unmistakably clear that if the result of voluntary National Service was not satisfactory, and if numbers were not forthcoming, they would have recourse to the only other alternative.”—”Daily News,” Feb. 24th, 1917.

Here we have Arthur as a whole-hogger for conscription—military and industrial. And also be it noted that this honourable gentleman, who waxes wrath when Germany breaks her pledge, stated in the House during the week that if the needs of the nation made it desirable for him to break a pledge at any time he would take means to do so. The sanctity of pledges, and so forth, on both sides would appear to be observed when it suits either party concerned. When otherwise they become “scraps of paper.”


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