1910s >> 1919 >> no-180-august-1919

Peace—Competition—War.

On the day the Press was gushing and frothing over the spectacular peace-signing business (30.6.19) the “Daily News” published an editorial on the matter, and also several articles by those they designate “Great Men.” The articles in question are best summed up as a conglomeration of contradictory vapourings.

 

In its editorial the “Daily News” sends up a hymn of thanksgiving that “the world has won its freedom,” and then goes on to make the following curious remarks:

 

  “We are friends to-day with France, and our sincerest prayer is that that friendship will never be broken. . . . . She is again the most formidable figure on the Continent. She, almost alone, stands erect and triumphant over the ruins of Empires.  We rejoice in her miraculous recovery ; but we should be fools to blind ourselves to the implications.” (Italics mine.)

 

These sound pacific words ! What is the nature of the implications to which we must not blind ourselves? Of course the nature is the old capitalist nature. The crushing of Germany has strengthened the commercial power of France—one of the competitors in the rush for the world’s markets.

 

The article goes on further to enlighten us :

  “And is there anyone who looks to Japan and the Far East without large and vague apprehensions ? Or Westward across the Atlantic without wondering what the future has in store there and realising, however dimly, that if the United States is compelled to forsake its historic pacifism for militarism it is sea power which will be its capital concern.”

 

Undoubtedly the above shows that the present peace is to be a lasting one ! The subscribers to this view have evidently studied the relativity of all things, and the meaning they attach to “lasting” is a day or two—or rather its a lasting peace until the next great war !

 

The idea of setting up America with her gigantic naval programme as a pacifist nation, is truly comical. In the last twenty-five years America has been at war with Spain, the Phillipines, China, and Germany, to say nothing of the murderous slaughter of American working men in the various strikes. At the moment of writing it is announced that America contemplates the construction of two liners larger than anything afloat, and so constructed that they are easily convertible into commerce protectors.

 

The Peace Treaty receives anything but a glowing reference from the “Daily News.” “It does not aim at abolishing militarism ; it aims at abolishing Prussia,” is their tribute to the efforts of Lloyd George & Co.
After mourning over the defects of the Peace Treaty the article hails the “League of Nations” as the new deliverer and the promise of a glorious future. It then proceeds to knock the bottom out of the League with the following remarks:

 

   “There are grave defects in this momentous document. The provision that unanimity is required for action is the most disquieting of these defects.”

 

And we might tack on this the fact that, so far, the League consists mainly of England, France, and America, and excludes the Central Powers; also that the nations composing the League are laying themselves out for more efficient predatory forces than ever, as witness America’s mighty warships, Britain’s gigantic airships and flying machines, and the recent big armament combine, Explosives, Ltd.

 

Things certainly look promising !

 

From the other articles, in the same paper, already alluded to I will extract some of the wisdom of the “Great Men.”

 

 

  “Now that peace is signed, the first necessity for the British Empire and for the whole world is to get trade going everywhere. . . . Only by a full stream of trade can the flow of food and goods between all peoples wipe out hunger, misery, and unemployment, and possibly anarchy.”

 

Capital lying idle is unfruitful, but capital employed in trade brings in rich returns, hence the anxiety of the profit seekers to get on with the business. That a full stream of trade will will wipe out hunger, etc., is the usual delusive humbug of the employing class. Just prior to the war trade was booming everywhere. Statistics showed relatively higher returns than ever before, and yet the lackeys of the master class (Lloyd George among them) admitted that there was greater poverty and misery existing than any previous records showed. For years the number of inmates in the lunatic asylums, and the number of homeless on the streets of London, had been growing. With the improvement in productive processes and machinery, and the increase in the number of women in industry, brought about by the war, we have far worse times ahead when trade booms again.

 

Another writer, Dr. Clifford, says:

 

 “The seed of new wars are sown with a prodigal hand. . . . An economic struggle is to follow the military, and an international trade rivalry is arranged to block the way to international co-operation and reconciliation.”

 

As he correctly states, the seeds of new wars are already sown—the seeds of war exist in the very marrow of capitalism. The economic laws governing capitalism drive different sections into trade conflict, and it becomes a question of the eclipse of a particular section or a trial of arms.

 

The seeds of new wars are not hard to discover. While England has been deeply involved in war, America has been restoring her shipbuilding industries, which were previously decaying, and now ranges herself against England as a powerful competitor in the shipbuilding and carrying trades.

 

At the recent coal enquiry competent witnesses expressed the fear that in the future America and France would be serious competitors in the iron and steel trades.

 

For some years Japan and America have been in a state of doubtful friendship in their competition for the Chinese trade. Latterly China has been developing rapidly, and may soon be able to supply a great part of her own needs, and also compete abroad. We may witness the spectacle of Japan and America at each other’s throats over the Chinese market, and either or both at the throat of China to force her to accept their goods.

 

Japan is becoming yearly a more serious competitor in European markets, and “cheap German muck” may yet give place to “cheap Japanese muck.”

 

In a note relating to a conversation with a “well-known authority in the City,” headed “Japan ready to sell,” in the “Daily News” (9.7.19.) the following appears :

 

   “Japan is manufacturing all the fancy goods, the cheap crockery, the toilet and clothes brushes, and the thousand-and-one little knick-knacks that used to come from Germany and Austria. . . . The Japanese are making just those goods which we formerly imported from enemy countries on account of their cheapness.”

 

A writer in the “Penny Magazine” during the last two months also points out that Japan, India, and America are steadily encroaching upon England’s cotton trade. Modern inventions have deprived Lancashire of the advantage she formerly possessed in her humid atmosphere. As the other countries possess the raw material (and Lancashire does not) and can produce the necessary atmosphere artificially, Lancashire is going downhill and may be crushed out of the trade eventually.

 

That “our staunch ally,” Japan (who is pinching our trade!) has learnt from the experience of the leading nations, and is developing her industries and piling up her wealth strictly in accordance with capitalist tradition, is borne out by the New York special correspondent of the “Daily News” (16.7.19.) in the following quotation relating to Korea :

 

“The regular use of torture, the establishment of compulsory prostitution, the promotion of the opium traffic, the suppression of free speech, the repeated flogging of women, the massacre of scores of unarmed people at a time when no disturbance was proceeding, and many other atrocities indicate that Japan should spare no effort to dismiss officials responsible and completely change her attitude towards this problem.
Already Japan is confronted with the Chinese boycott, which tends to substitute American for Japanese trade. Her Korean policy must inevitably determine her position in the Far East, and beyond all question the cruelties practised in Korea have caused indignation here.”

 

If Japan continues to forge ahead it can easily be seen that she may soon become an “enemy country” so far as the other leading capitalist nations are concerned. The recent disclosure by President Wilson of the secret treaty between Japan, Germany, and Russia, if true, shows that Japan is well up to her rivals in the unscrupulous scramble for markets.

 

In spite of the ringing of the joy bells of peace England is still at war in India and Russia.

 

India, as well as pinching our trade, is developing in other directions. She is the world’s greatest producer of hides, and the only producer of jute, while her export of manganese and tungsten materially affects the manufacture of steel in Europe. Such a prize must be retained at all costs.

 

A side-light on the intervention of England in Russia is given in by Sir A. Steel-Maitland when addressing business men interested in Russian trade. He said:

 

“In the next 20 years the part of the world where trade expansion was likely to be quickest was in Central and South-Eastern Russia, and the enormous belt of country east of the Urals. British traders now had a good chance of establishing themselves there.” —”Daily News,” 12.7.19.

 

In “The World’s Work” during the war Mr. R. C. Martens (of Martens & Co., a large American commercial concern) contributed an article and a series of maps relating to the resources of European and Asiatic Russia. In the course of the article he made the following remarks :

 

“The war has caused American manufactures to double at least. Most other countries have also expanded their manufacturing capacities with the result that the world’s manufacturing capacity is at least three times as great as it was before the war. . . . Will the industrial nations not have to look for markets for their surplus in lands where there is greatest natural wealth ? If so, Russia will assuredly be the greatest commercial field in the world at the end of this war.”

 

And he closes the article with this significant remark:

 

  “The opportunity is waiting.”

 

No wonder England and the “great democracy of the West” are taking such a fatherly and bloodthirsty interest in Russian affairs.

 

The “Daily Chronicle” for August 6th adds its quota to the mass of evidence supporting our contention. Under the heading “Tariff War Breaks Out in Europe” our contemporary reports:

 

  “. . the introduction into Italy of hats, caps, gloves, and umbrellas is wholly forbidden. So, too are threads, textiles, and all semi-manufactured goods, whether in wool, linen, cotton, hemp, or jute.
The same applies to agricultural machinery and to . all parts thereof.  . .

BOHEMIA’S COUNTER TARIFF.

. . Already Bohemia has retaliated on the shutting out of her glass wares by imposing a steep tariff of 300 kronen on Italian wines.”

 

The report then goes on to declare that there is every prospect of Sweden, who had made the promised supply of paper pulp dependent upon the admission into Italy of certain cheap paper goods, retaliating by stopping the paper pulp supply. Truly, we are a happy family in these days of universal peace !

 

As the military war waned the trade war took its place and rages with greater violence every day. The inevitable result will be another recourse to the battlefield.

 

So that the last doubt may be dispelled from the minds of readers as to the everlasting nature of the “peace” I will conclude with another quotation from the “Daily News” (12.7.19.)

 

  “Sir Douglas Haig and Admiral Sir Roger Keyes received the freedom of the city (Aberdeen) to-day, and also honorary degrees of the University. Sir Douglas, in reply, urged that every growing lad should be taught the use of the rifle, so that when the next great trial came, “as one day it surely will,” we should be found a nation in arms, ready and prepared to meet it.”

 

As the Socialist Party has all along pointed out. the wars of civilised countries, since the birth of the capitalist system, have been caused through the struggles between sections of the world’s capitalist class for the trade routes, raw materials, markets, and the like. As long as there is commodity production, buying and selling, with the consequent competition among buyers and sellers and the enslavement of the producing class, wars are of the very essence of things. Lasting peace can only arrive when the private ownership of the means of living has been abolished and common ownership has emerged from the ruins—in other words, wars and all the other evils that are a consequence of capitalism can only disappear when capitalism gives place to Socialism.

 

Gilmac.

 

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