1920s >> 1920 >> no-196-december-1920
Editorial: The Latest Humbug
There is, perhaps, no other epoch in history so mean and brutal as the present. Even the days we are wont to call the “Dark Ages” have no records of men slaughtered wholesale by gas and flame. Herod has been out-Heroded by dozens of petty military chiefs. Nero earned the execration of posterity by burning a city: a modern general will gain a title and the popular applause by burning a score.
Where in the pages of history can one read of such detestable hypocrisy as the burial of the “Unknown Soldier” that took place a short time ago in the very street where the erstwhile comrades of that lifeless clay had been batoned because they dared to rebel against the prospect of starvation? Does any thinking man suggest that the capitalist class had any other idea, in organising and carrying out, with such pomp and expense, the burial of a common soldier, than hoodwinking the working class ?
Standing at the Cenotaph in “silent humility” at 11 o’clock on the Anniversary of Armistice Day were to be seen politicians whose whole political career is a record of pompous and contemptuous disregard for the lives of the working class; who had sent soldiers to shoot down strikers in their native streets, and who at that very moment were formulating plans for the calling together of scientists to assure that this country should be well supplied with poison gas at the outbreak of the next war!
Representations are being made to the Government to protect the infant dye industry against foreign competition—not because they want English frocks dyed with English dyes! That is (vide “Daily Mail,” 19th Nov.) only, apparently, a secondary point. The main reason is that of the maintenance of plant for the manufacture of toxic gases! And this almost contemporary with the announcement that the League of Nations is endeavouring to prohibit the use of gas in war !
We were told at the commencement of the war that no more would be seen the spectacle of men broken in fighting “their country’s battles” forced to seek charity in the streets or shelter in the workhouses. We were promised “a land fit for heroes.” Our eyes were dazzled with the prospect of an England made beautiful and happy so soon as the Prussian were crushed and rendered innocuous. Yet what do we find ? Men wearing war ribbons hawking vegetables, or even begging coppers, may be met with all over the place. Certain newspapers are full of the plaints of ex-soldiers who have been swindled out of their pensions. One journalist has been going about the country as a tramp, and reports the casual wards in all parts to be full of ex-service men tramping about the land looking for work! The economic position of nearly everyone who possesses nothing but labour power is more desperate than ever it was before ! And yet Prussianism is crushed. Its arch-exponent is reduced to the expedient of sawing wood as an outlet to his feelings !
Was it, then, Prussianism that was the enemy of the working class ? Or was not the Socialist right when he told you that the capitalist system was the enemy to be fought and crushed ? Do you still place reliance on your political representatives ? Show us a capitalist politician and we will show you a fraud, a trickster, and a pot-hunter. Show us a labour leader and we will point you either a stupid ignoramus or a wilful misleader. Show us an ideal you cherish and we will show you how the capitalist class through their Press twist it to their own advantage. Even your tears and heartaches for your lost young men are used by this hypocritical class to blind you to the rottenness of the system upon which they batten and live their luxurious lives.
How, then, to escape from this murderous, slavish existence ? Do we need tell you the way again ? Or need we only urge you.to think for yourselves ? If you need encouragement go to Bethnal Green, or to the slums of Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, or whatever great town you may be near, and if you have any pity in you it will not be long before you discover the way to end the system that murders and degrades the large mass of its community in the interests of a small section, and assuages its grief-stricken millions with a circus.