By the Way

The points of view expressed in the papers by those who sit in authority over us are indeed illuminating. On the subject of “alien enemies” some queer things are said. While there are some who advocate the internment of all such persons, others are prepared to let them be at large so long as they can be employed and as a result of this “an Englishman would be released to fight.”

In this connection I recently read that a chairman of a Tribunal asked a baker who raised the question of the difficulty of obtaining labour why he did not employ Germans. The applicant replied by asking whether it was advisable, and said that if the public knew it they would raid the shop. Then with profound wisdom the chairman delivered himself of the following :

“I think it is short-sighted on the part of the public. If a German were employed an Englishman would be released to fight.”—”Evening News,” July 12th, 1917.

* * *

The General Federation of Trade Unions announces a conference to consider the question of soldiers’ and sailors’ pay. “One of the demands is that the minimum net allowance of any British Soldier as from July 1 shall be 3s. per day ; and also that the Government provides and pays from July 1 1917, all allotments to wives and other dependents.”—”Daily News,” July 20th, 1917.

Presumably the General Federation regards 3s. per day as being the trade union rate of wages for one body of workers going forth to slaughter other workers with whom they have no quarrel, whom they have never even met, at the behest and in the interest of their lords and masters. What Lloyd George thinks of this “audacity” I wait to see.

* * *

Mr. F. G. Kellaway, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Munitions, addressed a meeting of the allied engineering trades at Luton a short time ago on the subject of dilution of labour. He also referred to the recent strike and the causes which led up to this event. Deploring the fact that there was a deep-rooted suspicion in the minds of many trade unionists that dilution on private work, once introduced, would not be got rid of, but would remain as a regular practice after the termination of hostilities, he went on to say :

“The proceedings in the House of Commons on the Dilution Bill were not fully reported in the Press, so that the Government’s case for the Bill was only imperfectly brought before the men.
In this connection, I would say that the Government has, in many respects, suffered from the limitations which the shortage of paper has placed on the space which the Press is able to devote to these large questions. I have for a long time held the opinion that the paper shortage has been a serious handicap to the Government in keeping the country fully informed of the considerations which guide their policy.”—”Daily Telegraph,” July 9th, 1917.

Now really this is all swank. The Press and the censor make a studious practice of giving as little space as possible to these questions affecting the conditions of labour of large numbers of workers. In this very issue of the “Daily Telegraph,” which is typical of many others, there are 47 1/2 columns devoted to advertising matter, 2 1/2 columns relating to the money market and market reports, and 34 columns of general information ; therefore out of a total of 84 columns no less than 50 are utilised for advertising purposes. Shortage of paper, forsooth ! Next please.

* * *

A month or two since there appeared in our journal an article dealing with two plays (“Ghosts” and “Damaged Goods”) which were then running at London theatres. The why and the wherefore was then fully dealt with. I return to the subject to quote the following :

“It is a sign of the times that there are now running in London two plays which deal with the subject of venereal disease. Even four years ago such a thing would have seemed impossible, and thirty-six years ago, when “Ghosts” was received with a storm of violent abuse, few could have foreseen how public opinion would change towards it. The reason is mainly to be found in the propaganda world which led to the appointment of the Royal Commission on Venereal Diseases.”— “British Medical Journal,” June 6th, 1917.

* * *

From recent happenings in the House one is reminded of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon performances and the heart-to-heart talks for men at the local tin Bethel. In the early part of July Mr. Bonar Law made a statement with regard to his duties as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said : “A statement of his that he did not think it was his business to spend his time in trying to save £100 here and £100 there had been held up as very reprehensible, but at a time when we were spending millions daily the functions of a Chancellor of the Exchequer were much better exercised in trying to get a good system of expenditure and in getting the right men to carry out that system than in trying to cut down £100 here and there. . . .
“He certainly would not have taken up the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer if he had not thought he was capable of performing its duties. He had no object in doing so on any other terms.
In the first place he was not fond of work. (Laughter.) For the last twenty-five years at least he had never done any which he could either persuade or pay somebody else to do for him.”— “Daily Telegraph,” July 7th, 1917.

There’s candour for you. It calls to mind the wag who said that “only fools and horses work.” Working men run the boats and Bonar pockets “divi.” When will we awake from our slumber ?

* * *

On the question of freights and food Mr. Bonar Law made a more significant admission. While he told his audience that he “was really ashamed to make the confession,” and he “thought it was disgraceful that in a time of war any class should be able to make the profits he would describe,” I have not observed that he has endeavoured to obtain absolution by giving these ertra profits to the Lord’s poor, or even to the “heroes broken in our war.” However, it’s never too late to spend—or to buy war loan. Mr. Law continued :

“The sum of money he had invested was £8,100 and, at 5 per cent,. interest that would produce £405 a year. For the year 1915, instead of £405, he received £3,624, and in 1916 he received £3,847. That was not the whole story. One of the steamers in which he was interested had been sold or sunk— he was not sure which. (Laughter.) In that ship he had £200, and after the very handsome dividends he had received he received in liquidation a cheque for a little over £1,000. There was another shipping company in which lie had invested £350, and the other day he had received a letter from the owners saying that they were going to make a division of the surplus capital. For the £350 which he had invested he had received a cheque for £1,005.”—”Daily News,” July 4th, 1917.

This quotation is rather lengthy, but to condense it would be to spoil it. Our masters and their hirelings glibly talk, about “equality o! sacrifice,” and the while are enriching themselves enormously whilst increased hardships are the lot of the majority of the workers. Think it over.

* * *

During the debate on an amendment on the new Franchise Bill Mr. Harold Smith objected to conscientious objectors having a vote. Though he admitted that in the majority of instances the objectors were genuine, a significant admission, although somewhat late—still he would not give them the vote. Another M.P. interrupting

“Asked the hon. member why he was not serving as he was of military age.
That is a matter for which I shall answer to my own conscience, replied Mr. Harold Smith.”—”Daily News,” June 27th, 1917.

So you see there is still some unconscious humour left in the world. One conscientious objector (the “Scout,” for instance) is so much beneath the contempt of the patriot (Mr. Harold Smith, for example) that he may not even have a vote to cast for or against another conscientious objector (again it might be Mr. Harold Smith) taking a seat in the House of Commons.

* * *

In the early days of the war the drink question loomed large in many speeches that were then made by the Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George. For every shortcoming of the Government and lack of essential materials wherewith to wage war our old friend “Bung” was blamed. The workers in very truth, according to the Welsh Messiah, were sodden in drink, even as Mr. Philip Snowden had declared some time before. Said the Welsh Rarebit : “Drink is doing more damage in the war than all the German submarines put together.” Then he was prepared to take a pledge of abstinence from the strong drink that was raging, and the newspaper editors, in their usual fawning manner, dished tip a large announcement that the King had also banned alcoholic liquor from the Royal Household. Now a different tale is told. It is inexpedient to deal too drastically with this question.

On this interesting theme, I notice there is another gentleman who is greatly concerned about the workers’ thirst for malt food in liquid form. One, Will Thorne, recently returned from a trip to Russia, has written to the King with regard to the shortage of beer. From a bright, brief, and brotherly reply I notice that Bill has been informed by the King’s Secretary that—

“The question of the shortage of beer, especially during the summer months, is one which demands careful and prompt consideration. I am passing your letter to Lord Rhondda, and adding that the matter is one which the King hopes will be dealt with in a considerate manner.”

Simply marvellous, isn’t it ? Doubtless the question of munitions and ship-building, and kindred problems, have all been satisfactorily solved ere this, and once again we can all join in singing praises to “Beer, beer, glorious beer.”

* * *

In our Declaration of Principles we state that “In society . . . there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce, and those who produce but do not possess.” Addressing an assembly at the Aldwych Club recently, Lord Leverhulme, of soap fame, put forward a plea for shorter working hours, advocating a six-hour day and a system of co-partnership. Whether he had been reading the SOCIALIST STANDARD I cannot say, but at least the truth of the extract quoted above is accepted by him. He informed his hearers that :

“There was no possibility of reconciling the opposing claims of capital and labour. They must be fused. Co-partnership was the solution.”

And again—

“Machinery should be worked twelve hours a day, by two six-hour shifts of workers. Output of material would be increased, and, at the same time, the wear and tear of the human body would be lessened.”—”Daily News,” July 11th, 1917.

One is tempted to ask whether, in those firms where these “opposing claims” are “fused,” the workers carry home as much of the swag as the owners of the factory and the plant necessary for the production of the commodity, and if not why not. And further, if there is any guaranteed continuity of employment. The reply, of course, is obviously in the negative. A study of the co-partnership snare reveals the fact that the wage-slave, no matter what the conditions are which surround his employment, is robbed of his product, and that co-partnery contains all the evils inherent in the capitalist system. The solution of the “opposing claims” is by a triumphant working class obtaining political power and converting these privately owned but socially manipulated means of wealth production into the common property of society for the good of all.

* * *

The trip of a princess to Southend a short while ago has brought to light a good illustration of official ignorance. It will be remembered that on the occasion of this joy ride rumour asserted that a fleet of aeroplanes accompanied the train. At a meeting of munition workers at Plumstead the statement was made in a question addressed to Dr. Addison, asking him if such was the case. He then replied that—

“The question has been considered by the Cabinet and there is not a word of truth in the statement.”

The question was then transferred to the House of Commons. Mr. Macpherson replying stated that “there was not an escort by any aeroplanes of the R.F.C.” Then came a letter from the private Secretary of the Queen to the Mayor of Southend with the significant admission that “Her Royal Highness . . . was greatly interested in the fleet of aeroplanes which escorted the special train during the latter part of the journey.” Finally Mr. Macpherson made another statement in the House on the subject, when he said:

“In a reply he gave on Wednesday he said that no R.F.C. aeroplanes escorted Princess Mary on her visit to Southend, but this answer, he regretted to say, was incorrect. It was given after the usual reference to the R.F.C. and Home Defence Corps. Neither of their authorities was able to find any foundation for the story at the moment.” “Daily News,” July 20th, 1917.

Such are the specimens of official replies of the win-the-war government.

* * *

The case of an objector to military service “who was confined in a pit 12 feet below the level of the ground for eleven days and nights in Cleethorpe’s Camp and for four days of that time was obliged to stand ankle deep in mud and water,” was recently brought to the notice of the Under Secretary for War. At first the right hon. gentleman was not aware of such a trivial happening as this and would have to make enquiries. Eventually this was done and we read :

“Mr. Macpherson replied that he regretted to say the allegations made were substantially correct. The case arose in the first place because the man was not given the option of a trial by court-martial, but was dealt with summarily by the commanding officer ; and, secondly, because having been awarded detention, he was not committed to a detention Barracks in accordance with the regular practice. . . . The Army Council took a grave view of the action of the authorities responsible and were considering what further action in the matter should be taken.”—”Daily News,” July 2Oth, 1917.

Now in the light of the foregoing who would not agree that “Kind, kind, and gentle are we” in our treatment of those with whom we disagree ? Even Stanton would have them put out of existence more speedily by having them shot !

* * *

The “Daily News,” in a leaderette of the same date asks : “What evidence does the War Office possess that this ‘irregularity’ is isolated, and that other conscientious objectors in other camps are not being similarly tortured ? In the second place, it would be interesting to hear what punishment has been inflicted on the officers who ordered, sanctioned, or tolerated this abominable cruelty. Military punishments are notoriously severe. What have they amounted to in this case ? The answer will show how far the War Office are sincere in their professed efforts to put down brutalities of this description.”

* * *

The revolting story of the Mesopotamian campaign, brought to light as the result of the work of the commission appointed to enquire into this ghastly military tragedy, emphasised once again the callousness engendered by militarism. To apportion blame to a few indivsduals is to tinker with the subject. Everyone who shouts for the war stands condemned, jointly and individually, and must shoulder his or her part of the responsibility. No wonder Lloyd George wanted the matter hushed up and says “Get on with the war.”

* * *

The capitulation of Lord Derby before the Select Committee on the Re-examination of rejected men is an admission of the truth of the allegations laid at the door of the War Office with regard to the methods of the military and the medical boards in taking up the halt, the lame and the blind. The transfer of power to a civilian body looks all right on the face of it, but is it merely a case of the doctor discarding a khaki uniform for a civilian garb ?

* * *

A leading article appearing in the “Weekly Dispatch,” June 10th, 1917, dealt at great length with the questions of peace and reconstruction. After pointing out that during the war there had been equality of sacrifice in regard to the risk of loss of life and limb, the writer went on to say that when the demobilisation takes place it would not be on such a large scale as many people now believed. He continued :

“For instance, 5,000,000 soldiers and sailors will not be at once thrown upon the labour market, nor will 3,500,000 munition workers at once lose their employment. The terms of peace may be such as to make it essential for us to maintain large armies and munition factories for many years to come.

What, then, becomes of the oft-repeated phrase about this being the “war to end war” ? And further, what is to be said of those who are still advocating the “knock-out” blow.

The article goes on to speak of the war which we Socialists are engaged in—the class war. It says :
“We have two separate and distinct wars in progress—one which the-whole nation is waging, and one which has been going on for some years and not one whit less bitter—the war that has been and is still going on is between the employer and employed. If we are to be ready for the world peace one day to come, to be ready once more to take up the challenge of the rest of the world, and once more to enter into the great battle for trade, then the peace between the employer and employed must be signed before the peace between the nations now at war.
Let us be under no delusion; there WILL be a temporary lack of employment while we are putting our house in order; there will be a shortage of food for months after the war, as the various governments will require as many ships as are now b«ing used to take back the men to their different destinations; and as lor prices, a man must be indeed an optimist if he believes that the cost of essentials will for many years, if ever, return to the 1914 level.”

Here, then, is a frank confession from an inspired source of the benefits held out to the mass of the people for giving their support to capitalist society—hard work for some, unemployment for many others, and semi-starvation for all. Join then with us for its abolition, and institute in its place social co-operation.

* * *

How the satellites of the win-the-war government carry on their recruiting methods is indeed a sorry spectacle. The harrying of the unfit, the halt, the maimed, and the blind is now quite a commonplace feature of militarism (English variety). In spite of all their protestations that such things have been magnified, and that, like the small boys caught sneaking the apples, “we won’t do it again, sir,” many accounts are yet to hand of these outrages on a long-suffering public. A recent one describes the case of a cripple called up for service. It states :

“A farce and an abuse of the process of the court” were the terms in which Mr. Bingley, the magistrate at Marylebone, described the action of the authorities in summoning Horace Ingram as an absentee under the Military Service Act.
It was stated that Ingram had been an invalid from birth, suffered from curvature of the spine, had lain for three years on a steel frame, and was wearing a steel plate in his mouth to enable him to speak properly.
It was a monstrous thing and a great shame, said the magistrate in dismissing the charge, to put such a case in the hands of the police, and the military authorities had not the courtesy to attend in support of the charge.”— “Lloyds Weekly News,” Aug. 5th, 1917.

The fourth year of war finds our masters still in a state of chaos and hard put to it to find sufficient cannon fodder to prosecute the “war of liberty.” When will the Government comb out their friends in the House and the others who have recently discovered that they are engaged in work of national importance ? Hush ! Is it only the working class they want slaughtered ?


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