Consciences in pledge

By carefully following up the discussions that take place in the House of Commons one is enabled to see through the game of bluff which is being played for the “benefit” of the people in this and other countries. Column after column of stuff is uttered and printed without the least intention of providing any information whatever. Sometimes an interjection, in the form of a comment or a question, reveals more than all the rhetoric of Lloyd George or Asquith’s hour and a half speeches. Take this instance : During the debate on war aims (19.12.17) Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck expressed his disappointment that the country is still left in the dark, “It was only when we began to add to our war aims and to arouse suspicion in people’s minds that they were being asked to fight, not in order to make the world safe for democracy, but for plutocracy, that there was doubt and loss of moral. (Cheers..) I cannot help thinking that whatever loss of moral is occuring, is due entirely to the suspicion that this country is being asked to go on fighting, not for any high ideals, but in order that our captains of industry and our great commercial men may get a monopoly when the war is over. (Cheers.)”

Change the word “suspicion” into “fact” and you have our contention stated once more. Unfortunately, these instances do not receive the attention they deserve, and it is quite an easy matter for the unscrupulous orator to eclipse it with some other line of talk and so create a diverson. A few carefully selected words carefully juggled generally does the trick. As showing how the word “honour” can be differently interpreted to accommodate different circumstances I will take an example from Lloyd George’s speech of the day after the foregoing. Webster defines honour as being “the stake of the’s reputation for integrity; a nice sense of what is right, just and true, with a course of life correspondent thereto.” Does this fit Mr. Lloyd George ? Let us see.

He is speaking on the Russian “defection” and the peace negotiations. “It is perfectly true that there are conditions which impose upon Germany the obligation not to remove any troops from the eastern front to the west. Well, we have heard of scraps of paper before, and I should say that the country that relied upon the Germans keeping that promise had not profited by experience.” He then goes right on to claim that the pledge given to British workmen in the matter of military service should be withdrawn. “At the time these pledges were given it was absolutely right they should have been given, in the interests of the country.” (For “country” read “capitalists,” for in the same speech he says they were given “in order io avert labour troubles” Of course, he only this now.) “The reason we have now to ask that these pledges should be either altered or cancelled is because the conditions liave changed.”

How nice ! Does Lloyd George mean that the conditions have changed so as to render labour docile, and that therefore he can afford to treat his pledges as “scraps of papar” ? Will he tear them up or will he keep them by him, ready to use again whenever it is necessary “to avert labour troubles” ?

A pledge is a security, a word of honour. Perhaps the reason why Mr. Lloyd George has used these two words so much is because they can be made so accommodative !


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