1920s >> 1920 >> no-193-september-1920

Don’t Be Futile

In the latter days of last July, a body of people calling themselves The No-Conscription Fellowship, appointed a committee to organise the “Widest Possible Resistance” by people who objected to rendering war service against Russia.

That committee drafted a manifesto calling upon those who objected to performing military service against Russia, or making and transporting munitions, or who would resist all military preparations and the imposition of conscription, to forward their names with the object of strengthening their resistance by being formed into an organised body.

The committee were, according to themselves, “overwhelmed with replies, a very large proportion of them from ex-service men who are most vigorous in their expression of determination not to fight in the new war should it come.”

We must class both leaders and supporters of such a movement as being illogical, shortsighted, and utterly void of understanding of the conditions which govern them, which, of course, connotes the fact that they do not know the cause of their condition.

We claim to know the cause of this condition.

We know that, as the effect of that cause, wars are inevitable. We know that, as a result of their condition, the workers generally are not in a position to resist conscription.

We know the cause of the general poverty, want, and degradation, the insecurity of life, that is the lot of the workers.

When we speak of workers we do not differentiate between nigger drivers, quill drivers, bus drivers, and cattle drivers. Whether you are a manager, clerk, navvy, or soldier matters not. If you sell your services in order that you may live, you are a worker; your services are sold to an employer in precisely the same way as a pound of cheese is sold over the counter, and that very fact abolishes the consideration of “classes” among the workers. There is another “class,” we grant—the non-workers or capitalists ; the employing class ; the people who own the means of life.

We do not differentiate between capitalists, either. It is immaterial to us whether a capitalist drops his aitches, came over with William the Conk, gets his money from a pickle factory, or has blue blood in his veins. We are only concerned with the fact that the capitalists have appropriated to themselves the means of life over the whole of the earth.

And it is the workers, who are in the vast majority, who have GIVEN THEM THE OPPORTUNITY of appropriating the earth.

It is the workers who, in their abysmal ignorance, continually keep on giving away their chances of recovering that ownership of the earth, who continually place in the hands of the capitalists and their agents fresh accretions of power.

Capitalism is the name of the system under which we are living now.

It is a system in which the only place for the workers (who, after all, are the only USEFUL human beings on earth) is at the bottom. That is their right place in such a system, AND THE WORKERS MUST LIKE IT, or they would never put up with it.

We know differently, though. We know that the things which prevent the workers from regaining the power of enjoying to the full all that the earth and their own capabilities could give them are pitifully profound ignorance and deadly apathy.

The capitalists and their agents who compose our governments know only too well that where numbers are concerned they are nowhere against the workers and so by subtlety, cunning, and absolute unscrupulousness they lead the workers by the nose and get them to give them power, and with that power make the workers do all that the capitalists require of them.

Everything that is done in the world to-day, from managing a mine to sweeping a road, is done by the worker. The capitalist does nothing useful, yet he enjoys the best of everything.

To protect the property of the capitalists and to gain fresh property for them, their agents (whom the workers elect to Parliament) have the power to send fighting forces to any part of the world, and also have the power, incredible as it may seem, to gull the worker into believing that it is being done for his benefit.

If the standing army is insufficient, the agents of the capitalists bring in “conscription.”

Some few of the workers decided to stand out of the last great war our masters had. As a consequence of the SYSTEM that the majority of them had never dreamed of abolishing, they had a hell of a time—and some died.

Now we have the No-Conscription Fellowship advocating that the workers should ask for more trouble. What they are actually doing is leading the workers from the only path that will finally lead to the abolition of wars.

The doings of the armed forces of government are, in the final analysis, ordered by the majority of the members of Parliament, who, we have pointed out are capitalist agents.

While the workers keep voting “So-and-So candidate” into Parliament without having studied the matter at all, M.P.s will continue to be agents of the master class. That being the case, how can the workers expect that government will be in the interest of the workers ?

The government of the workers in the interest of the capitalist class will go on just the same, and when the next great war comes the conscientious objectors will again fill vacancies in H.M. goals or special settlements.

Your condition when the next great war comes will be precisely the same as it was when the last war came, whether you join the No-Conscription Fellowship or not.

The cure for the evils suffered by the workers under the present system is—SOCIALISM.

Don’t be afraid of the word, as your grandmother taught you to be.

Don’t put your thinking out for a man on a platform to do for you—do it yourself.

CAPITALISM, a system of private ownership and control of the things necessary for you to live by, leaves you, the actual producer of all that is useful in the world, at the bottom of things—never sure of to-morrow’s food, without any security of right to live.

SOCIALISM, a system of common ownership and control of the means of life, would put you on your proper plane in life, without a “superior,” still an actual worker, sure of food, clothing, shelter, and the very minimum of hours of labour.

When the means of life are commonly owned, do you think for a moment that you will fight each other for oil wells, or for wheat fields, or for anything else ?

In the words of Bernard Shaw’s puppet, NOT SO BLOODY LIKELY!

Get acquainted with the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the only party in this country expounding Socialism.


(Socialist Standard, September 1920)