In Peace as in War

When the capitalist class plunged the workers Into the vortex of war the toilers took up the capitalist cry of “down with German Militarism.” It was easy for our masters to see what willing tools their wealth producers would be, and they organised and engineered, with the aid of the labour leaders, various schemes to entrap the workers for cannon fodder. For a short period thousands flocked to the recruiting offices, but with an alarming falling oft of willing targets, other means had to be adopted to “induce” them to join. Article after article in newspapers began to tell gruesome tales of the horrible brutality of the German soldiers and what it would mean to the workers here if they only landed on these shores. But finding this failed to appeal to their patriotism, the employers were urged to dispense with the young men in their employ and so force them into the army. Many other snares they tried signally failed, and having in view their deter­mination to introduce the Military Service Acts and so make them law they, without disclosing their real intentions, compelled every man and woman to register and so clear the way of all obstacles for the administration of the aforementioned Acts. Wedged in between the employers’ action and conscription was the “Derby Volunteer” attestation, but in spite of all their hypocritical promises, lying and deceit, thousands of men still refused to be coerced into the army. In order to successfully bind the military chains around the married men the single men were called slackers and shirkers. The insults and inuendoes were swallowed, the single men were roped in, shortly to be followed by their married brethren.

Side by side with the stupendous slaughter of the workers on the battle-fields of Europe the cry of the workers of both sexes at home grows louder and louder. The intensified pace of exploitation hurls its victims in greater numbers on the heaps of human wreckage, some to linger with cruel tenacity to life in spite of their mangled bodies, others becoming an easy prey to the ravages of consumption and other fatal diseases. Here and there workers in different industries have feebly struggled against the encroachments of the masters when they have seen their hard fought-for trade-union rules and regulations gradually being smashed ; but taking them on the whole they have acquiesced in the worsening of their economic conditions. The rise in prices of the necessaries of life have become a common-place feature, the while wages have miserably failed to keep in touch with it. Hence the workers’ position gradually becomes worse in spite of all statements to the contrary.

The working class as yet do not comprehend their real relation to the capitalist class in modern society ; do not understand that by virtue of the fact that the capitalist class own and control the means and instruments of wealth production they take the wealth produced and hand back in the form of wages just sufficient to keep their slaves efficient. On the one hand there is always the struggle between the producers and non-producers concerning the price of workers’ labour-power ; on the other a struggle between the various sections of the international capitalist class for the disposing on the world’s markets of the wealth filched from the workers.

All economic wealth is the result of human energy applied to natural objects, and as it is only the working class who spend their energy by applying it to the natural objects, it follows that they are responsible for all wealth in existence. When the capitalist hires the worker he purchases the one commodity (labour-power) which has the unique quality of returning to the capitalist all the value he pays in wages and a surplus value in addition—hence his profits. The machinery and instruments of production and the raw materials being owned and controlled by the master class, involves the ownership and control of the wealth when produced. It is this private ownership that is responsible for the class struggle, responsible for the clashing of interests among the international capitalist cfess for the available markets of the world for the disposal of their commodities, that is the source of ALL modern wars. With the evergrowing productivity of the means of wealth production the world’s markets are choked with commodities. There is not room for all the struggling capitalists. Someone must be got out of the way. The forces behind each powerful combination are put into play until one or the other are economically and militarily crushed.

A favourite theme of articles in the Press to-day is that the end of this war will bring permanent peace. We are out to disillusion our fellow-workers on this lie ; to point out to them that while the private properly basis of society obtains, wars must inevitably occur. The workers must always haggle over the price of their labour-power ; the capitalists of the world must fight against each other for the world’s markets for the sale of the wealth stolen from the workers. Hence, whether the ghastly slaughter continues or not, the workers will—unless they organise to change the basis of society—be continually faced with the brutal struggle for existence, and gradually see their standard of subsistence get lower and lower.

As yet but few understand the cause of the awful manifestations of modern society. Thousands are groping in the dark for a way out of the morass, and it is to them the Socialist explains the remedy. We claim that if the workers are intelligent enough to manipulate the machinery of wealth production and distribution on behalf of their masters, they are intelligent enough to manipulate that machinery for themselves and to own and control the wealth when produced.

We urge our fellow-workers to study their position, endeavour to realise their relations with the masters, to understand that the capitalist class control the destinies of the workers of the world by their control of political power ; that every time they vote for the masters’ nominees they give the political power to those masters.

While we recognise the need of the workers to always fight the capitalist over the price of their labour-power, we would nevertheless fail in our duty if we did not point out that this struggle is powerless to alter the antagonism between the producers and non-producers. The workers must understand that their organisations—political and economic—must be grounded on class lines, having for their object the abolition of the capitalist system and the establishment of a system of society based upon the social ownership and control of the means of wealth production, in short—Socialism.

Only by recognising and embracing those principles can the workers eradicate from their midst such frightful carnage as is now raging in Europe, and abolish the painful destruction of the world’s toilers in “peace” and in war. Not only does the Socialist vehemently protest against the wholesale slaughter of his fellow-workers in this capitalist war, he with equal vehemence proclaims his hostility to the systematic murder of his fellows in the production of wealth to maintain the human race in the “piping times of peace,” where thousands are done to death yearly in the mines, on the railways and in factories, heaping up huge profits for our masters. It needs no comment of ours now to narrate the horrors of explosions in the coal-mines where gas has been known to be present to make it dangerous to work many months before, nor is it necessary for us to draw your attention to the Board of Trade figures in reference to the maimed and murdered recorded on the railroads each year, the men who have lost their lives in ships overloaded since the raising of the load-line by Lloyd-George.

To-day in the munition factories men and women are done to death, battered bruised, to say nothing of those who have contracted diseases of the most awful character in the production of explosives. The same toll of useful lives is taken in the greed for profits as in pre-war days ; the numbers in the mines, mills and railroads reaching an appalling figure. Whether in this capitalist war or in the class war always with us while the present system obtains, the same cruel murderous manifestations can be seen. Those who produce the sustenance and comforts of life are butchered, or exist in poverty and misery, while those who do not produce live in affluence and luxury. The only war that should interest you is the—CLASS WAR.


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