New Departure. And a Warning.
Much excitement has been caused by the more frequent air attacks and the means adopted to frustrate them. As might be expected, very little truth is allowed to be known, and the good old game of bluff is made to do full service. Following the raids it is now the practice to have somebody of note make a speech of the grin and bitters order, in which care is taken to provide a sufficient amount of sympathy (with the tongue in the cheek), a deal of praise for the fortitude of the sufferers (workers, of course, every time), but, above all, to point out the necessity for steeling ourselves to yet greater efforts in order to vanquish, once for all, this dastardly method of warfare, adopted by an unscrupulous enemy, etc., etc.
Much use is made of the gag that the raids are deliberately organised for the purpose of striking terror and wreaking destruction in the ranks of Britain’s working class, and colour is lent to this assertion by the fact that it is they who chiefly suffer.
Contrast this with the statements of others who now and again come very near to letting the cat out of the bag as to the real object of our aerial visitors. Then, again, we have the silly remark made by a certain august personage that he “couldn’t make out what the Germans were trying to do.” All of which goes to show what a confused state of mind must exist in the workers regarding many things that are happening.
And now comes news that surely cannot fail to be understood—news of a new departure in the use of these devilish machines, and one that will be certain to commend itself to the capitalists of this country. The news comes from Rome, and was revealed in the Italian Parliament on its re-opening in October.
Reference was made to the serious riots which took place in Turin during the second fortnight of August, and the general food crisis throughout Italy which led to the resignation of the Food Controller.
“The Turin riots, partly due to delay in providing the town with sufficient bread, partly to political discontent, lasted a few days, and the authorities were obliged to use machine-guns to restore order, while some barricades were destroyed by bombs thrown from aeroplanes, this being the first occasion on which aircraft have been used for such a purpose. No official figures were published of the number of dead and wounded, calculations varying from 50 or 60 to 500, the latter number having been in he report of a non-Italian authority in Turin.”
—”Manchester Guardian,” 24.10.17.
This, mind you, is an act committed by one of our devoted allies, and therefore will be considered quite in order. In fact, British capitalists will be grateful, not only for the suggestion, but’ for its initiation. It shows to what uses aircraft can be put after the war. Its efficacy is proved, and there are people in this country who will not fail to support the adoption of the same methods should a similar occasion arise.
At this point we may ask ourselves a question. If, as our rulers say, it is cold-blooded, dastardly and detestable for a country at war to attack towns in such a way that must involve the loss of civilians’ lives, irrespective of age or sex, how much more cold-blooded and dastardly must it be when such means are used deliberately by the Allies against unarmed men, women, and children of their own nation for simply demonstrating their dissatisfaction at a state of affairs which deprives them of the very necessities of life ? Is it not sheer hypocrisy on the part of our rulers to condemn acts committed against them and their interests whilst at the same time acts far worse are committed for them and in their interests?
The Socialist is not surprised, of course, for it is no new thing for the workers of any country to lose their lives whilst defending their interests against those of their masters. We have had numerous instances in this country, such as Featherstone, Hull, Grimsby, Tonypandy, Llanelly, Dublin, and Belfast—all during the last twenty-five years.
It is to be hoped that this latest method of dealing with working-class opposition will not be forgotten by those whom it most concerns— the workers themselves. In fact it is hardly likely to be, because it is a new method of attack which the workers here must expect when the world war is over and the respective sections of the capitalist class can turn their attention more to the class war. To us the class war is the only war that should claim our interest. It is not a war wherein capitalist nations fight each other, but a war in which international capital—British, German, and so on—combines to wage war on its common enemy, the working class.
Why are we the enemy of capital, national and international ? Because the capitalists own the means whereby we live. All that we own is the power to labour. In order to live we are compelled to sell this to those who own the necessaries of life. It is they who decide whether we shall live or not. It is here where the interests of capitalists and workers are opposed. It is from this the class war springs, with its strikes and lock-outs, its police and bayonet charges, its hellish punishment of the workers. Poverty, unemployment, almost all the evils we are subjected to, arise from this fact of ownership by a class of the means of life. It comes to this, that in order |that we may exist at all, it is necessary first of all to obtain their permission.
Such was the position of all workers, whether English, German, or of any other nationality, before the war “for liberty” commenced, such is their position while it is being waged, and such it will be when it is over. This must be, because the capitalists, after the workers have shed their blood in defence of the system, will still be in possession of the means of life, and will still control them through the political machinery also in their possession.
If the workers desire to be free and to abolish the class war with all its evils, they must organise themselves as a propertyless class against the property-owning class on the political and industrial fields, and seize from the capitalists their political power, thereby clearing the way for the freedom of the whole human race.
This is the work the Socialist Party has set out to accomplish, but it can only be done when the workers decide to do it. Therefore we appeal to ALL readers of the SOCIALIST STANDARD to endeavour to understand our Declaration of Principles with a view to accepting it and joining us, so that the day will be appreciably nearer when we shall smash up this rotten and inhuman system, and institute a healthier, happier, peaceful, and truly prosperous state of Society.