Atrocious Capitalists

Although the working class have no voice in the decision between peace or war, the constitution of present-day society makes their support, or at least their toleration, necessary in order that the slaughter may be carried on.

The competition of the capitalist class for the lion s share of the raw material for the production of commodities, the struggle for markets, and the endeavour to control the transport facilities needed to supply them, are the causes of war to-day. For that reason the true facts of the case are kept from the workers, whose interest is not affected by such questions, and some high-sounding phrase is adopted, such as “The rights of small nations” (which has done such service in the present war) to lead a large number of people into the belief that the war is being run for purposes other than to serve the interest of the capitalist class.

Having found a plausible excuse for entering the war, the war itself then becomes the means of supplying the capitalist with the material he needs to carry on his propaganda.

With the commencement of hostilities begin also atrocities, and by withholding one set of facts and magnifying others they are able to present an entirely false picture to the working class, the sight of which upsets their mental balance and makes them more useful tools with which their exploiters can accomplish their object.

Columns of the servile Press are occupied in reciting the terrible deeds committed by the “enemy.” The magic wand of Fleet Street is waved and nations become transformed. The French are no longer “Froggies,” but “gallant allies” ; the Germans are converted from civilised men to “Barbarians” ; the “autocrats” of Russia are revealed as the real friends of democracy—albeit they change their tone without a qualm to meet later altered circumstances.

And so we see a most remarkable changing of national characteristics to fit in with the need of British capitalist interests.

These conveniently discovered “facts,” coupled with the usual string of atrocities, are bellowed forth by politician and priest. From the latter source comes a pamphlet entitled “Murder Most Foul,” in which Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis, of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, endeavours to make our hair stand on end with a description of what he claims to have seen in France and Belgium.

When reading of these atrocities the workers should understand that the war is conducted by the capitalist class ; they determine what instruments of destruction are used, as also they decide the general line of action to be followed by the armies under their control. The starving of a nation by using the British Navy to blockade German ports, in common with so many other vile deeds of this war, is carried out at the command of one or another section of the capitalist class. Upon that class, therefore, falls the responsibility for these atrocities, and not upon a particular nation. As evidence one may quote from the pamphlet mentioned above. Following the section headed “A Thousand Individual Atrocities” the writer tells us—

“That all these atrocities were carefully planned in advance for terrorising the people is proved by the fact that on the morning of August 15th the officers, who had received great kindness from Madame Roomans, a notary’s wife, warned her to make her escape immediately, as the looting and killing of all the citizens, men, women, and children, was about to begin.”

Knowing the capitalist class, no Socialist would find the statement difficult to credit. Their callous brutality knows no limits. The one ruling passion that moves them is profits : to the destruction of working-class life they are completely indifferent.

In spite of the terrible tales the pamphlet is not without its humour. By way of showing the contrast between the “war-like Germans” and the “peaceful French” he says :

“One morning the enemy stood at the gate. The farmer with his pruning knife was no match for a German with a machine gun, and down he went under the plum tree he was pruning.”

It is hard to say who would feel most insulted, the farmer who is accused of such a stupid action as pruning a plum tree while the Germans brought up a machine gun to end his troubles, or the people who are expected to believe such nonsense.

Having waded through a flood of tears, exuded for the benefit of those plum trees which are now “dead and dry,” we alight upon the following information :

“Americans invented for Germany her revolver, her mechine gun, her turreted ship, and her torpedo submarine.”

The boast of this champion of peace that his compatriots supplied Germany with her machine gun sounds rather strange after the symapthy expressed for the French farmer with his pruning knife, and as regards the submarine it appears to be a case of the biter bit, as it will be again when the workers realise the way to their emancipation, and having by political action gained control of the armed forces, shall use them to overthrow the class that dominate them, and so put an end to their “murder most foul” for ever.


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