How The Home Culture Progresses.
Everyone is by now familiar with the old gags about “making the world safe for democracy,” “crushing Prussian militarism,” etc. What some people are wondering is, why, if it is necessary to destroy “Prussianism,” it should be considered necessary to emulate it in every particular ? If “Prussianism” is the enemy, why has our ruling class such a profound respect for it that they are eager to adopt it ? Where is the consistency ?
It is here. “Prussianism” is necessary to the existence of the capitalist class all over the world. It exists wherever capital operates. It varies only in degree according to the exigencies of capitalist development. In some countries it is veiled under various cloaks, in others it stands “naked and unashamed.” We are asked to believe that this war will end war for ever, that henceforth nations will live in harmony, and the fullest liberty will have a foremost place in the lives of the people.
Let no one believe it. Prussianism is not dead. It is not intended that it should die, for it is one of capitalism’s greatest assets. Not only will there not be “freedom for the masses,” but the chains will be rivetted still firmer. There is now, and will be, a condition of brutalising slavery the like of which the world has never seen. Groups of capitalists are fighting for their existence. Millions of men, women and children, who do not understand what it is all about, are ruthlessly grabbed and sent to their death, or thrust into degrading toil, all to one end—that the master class shall preserve possession of the wealth stolen from their victims, and at the same time secure larger areas of exploitation.
As these areas are strictly limited to the planet Earth, it means that if one particular group “wins,” it is at the expense of another group. Each group wants to be paramount, hence the interminable length of the conflict. It need not be assumed that they hate each other. Their rivalry is purely commercial and is actuated solely by greed. In any case their lives are not endangered. On many points they are in common agreement. Two of the most important are—the existence of a docile working class to be exploited, and a system of force. Both are necessary to their existence as a ruling class. If they can beat each other in the struggle for markets well and good. But as for one group abolishing the system of another whilst retaining the same system themselves— their economic interests would not permit it.
This brings me to the proof that “Prussianism” will not only not be abolished, but will be extended. Preparations are being made in this country now. The latest device is intended to turn children into soldiers, and this principle is to be adopted in the schools. Opportunities will be provided under the new Education Bill of Mr. H. Fisher. Clause 8 (5) provides that the local educational authority may direct any child to attend any class, whether on the school premises or not, for the purpose of practical or special instructton or demonstration. It is also ordained that all young persons (i.e., up to eighteen) shall attend continuation schools under very heavy penalties, and the local education authority may require the young person, beyond his attendance at the school, to attend “for such other specified part of the day not exceeding two hours, as the authority consider necessary, in order that he may be in a fit mental and bodily condition to receive full benefit from attendance at the school.” The use that will be made of these opportunities by the local authorities can be seen from the following extracts from a handbook “Elements of Military Education” issued from the County of Leicester Education Office :
“Bayonet practice. This may be carried out as a physical drill; without bayonet fixed.”,
“Trench practice. (c) In the second trench the sack is lying on the far side, as if a man were crawling out. Leap the trench and make a point. (e) Sack lying on ground (wounded man ready to jab upwards). Quick point, (f) Into final trench. Drop butt to ground and seize bayonet to stick into throat at close quarters.”
Commenting on the danger which the introduction of the new Bill engenders “The Nation,” a bourgeois journal, says :
“Teach military discipline under compulsion in English schools, and in two generations you will have produced in England all that we have most detested and ridiculed in the German life and character. You will have produced the worship of uniform, the swaggering officer, the bullying official, the petty regulation, the perpetual inquisition, the government by police, the multitude prone in passive submission. To those conditions our own militarists and bureaucrats are even now bringing us so near that already we are chilled by the breath of that ‘cold-hearted monster the State.’ “
This is the programme, and the Versailles Conference have set their seal upon it. They are going to “make the world safe”—for capitalism.