1920s >> 1920 >> no-190-june-1920

By the Way

It is an interesting study to the detached observer to look around and see how the “props” of

England’s greatness and the capitalist politicians work up their various stunts, incidentally, of course, contradicting one another time after time.

During the war we were all urged to join in our masters’ quarrel and wage “the war to end war,” with the promise that when this had been terminated the “world would be safe for democracy.” How safe it has become will be easily perceived even by those who have only one eye.

Speaking a short time ago at Portsmouth, Major-General Seely told his hearers what a glorious thing is capitalist society, how under its aegis the inventive genius of man had developed, and what the future held in store for those who remained in this beautiful world of capitalism. He said—

“. . . if the world was plunged into a world war in the years to come, it was quite certain that the whole of civilisation would be involved in the terrible destruction of life which modern science had rendered possible. It would not be eight million men killed, but far more than that, for great portions of their civilization—men, women, and children—would be wiped out of existence in the first few weeks of the war.”—”Daily News,” March 9th, 1920.

After this all the stories of the “red” peril and atrocity-mongering campaigners leave us cold. The only way to end war and make the world safe for the people is to wage the class war for the abolition of classes and the private ownership of the means of life. On which side do you stand ? Are you a supporter of capitalism and all the horrors which it stands for, or are you with the ever-growing band of toilers who seek the world for the workers ? Think it over!

***

Coming to a more recent date one finds a report that Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, speaking at the annual meeting of the Union Jack Club, said that we had been told we went into the war to end war.

If one might pause here for a moment it will be easy to recall that six years ago the politician, parson, press, and militarist all joined in the theme of Belgium and the Scrap of Paper. Then it was a case of “our” plighted word and righteous indignation at Germany’s violation of Belgian neutrality.

However, to return to the concluding portion of the Field-Marshal’s observations, let me remind all of you who have been enlisted or deemed to have been enlisted that our warrior bold says—

“I hope you men, to whatever branch of the service you belong, will do all you can to keep fit and ready for the time that is coming. Except in August 1914, our country and our Empire have never wanted you more. We are living in ticklish and dangerous times, and our command on sea, on land, and in the air is being challenged in various parts of the world. I hope you will carry this—warning if you like—away with you from a very old soldier who knows what he is talking about.”—”Daily News,” May eighth, 1920.

Perhaps it is fortunate that the remarks made above were in the present tense and not the past, but still they are interesting to those who have been or have been deemed to have been, in which case, from my observations, they will say, “No thanks, old bean.”

***

Ministerial answers to questions in the House of Commons are full of interest to those whose outlook is larger than that of those who regularly peruse the columns of the noonday “Star.” Quite recently a number of questions were asked concerning Poland, and whether the Allies were giving the Poles “moral or material support,” either in “money or munitions.” To which Mr. Bonar Law replied : The answer is in the negative so far as concerns His Majesty’s Government.

Some days later the same gentleman, in answer to a further question on the subject, admitted that in October last the British Government offered to supply a certain quantity of surplus stores, part of which was now being shipped. Apart from that no assistance had been or was being given to the Polish Government.

“Mr. Barnes asked whether the position was not now different, having regard to the declarations of the Prime Minister made more recently than October last.

Mr. Bonar Law : Yes ; but as a matter of fact the bargain was made and the material was actually given to the Polish Government. It is their property, and to have gone back upon it would have been to break our bond.” — “Daily News,” May i8th, 10.20.

Evidently the right honourable gentleman has more regard for “our bond” than his conflicting replies, which savour of equivocation.

***

The following remark, made by one who is supposed to be a disciple of the lowly Nazarene, is, I think, worth recording—

“I feel that the presence of children from a late enemy country would make it more difficult to bring people back to the charitable and Christian frame of mind which one desires should mark the arrival of peace. — Rector of Bexhill.” — “Daily News,” May I2th, 1920.

Evidently this Holy Joe has forgotten his master’s injunction when he said, “Feed my lambs.”

***

Some of the labour leaders, who have been designated by the supporters of capitalism of the “sane” variety inasmuch as they approximate unto them, have had a rather rough time during the May-Day festivities. It is somewhat unfortunate that they were shouted down. But the fact that the rank and file are at last keeping their optics on these gentry is all to the good.

According to that organ of light and learning, the “Weekly Dispatch” (2.5.1920) we gather that “Mr. J. Sexton, M.P., was continually interrupted, epithets such as ‘Liar,’ ‘Traitor,’ being shouted.”

Again we read that ” Mr. J. Clynes had a stormy reception at Manchester, being booed and hissed and told to sit down. . . When he turned to general labour topics the audience broke into ‘ Tell me the old, old story ‘ and it was some minutes before he could proceed.”

THE SCOUT

(Socialist Standard, June 1920)