1920s >> 1921 >> no-202-june-1921

Seventeen Years

Under the heading “Two Years,” Mr. W. N. Ewer in the “Daily Herald‘s” May Day Annual claims recognition for the correctness of views held in the Spring of 1919 by some few nameless Socialists whom the world then regarded as cynics and scoffers. Then “amiable and credulous folk were still looking hopefully to President Wilson and the Paris Conference to secure a lasting peace for the world.”

“To-day Kaiser-hanging is a joke. So is the League. . . . Mr. Wilson’s principles are as dead as Mr. Wilson’s power.”

Unfortunately the “amiable and credulous folk” who invariably mislead the workers are by no means dead. The MacDonalds and Lansburys who recruited for King Capital in 1914 and supported Lansdowne or Wilson or any other politician who temporarily differed or pretended to differ from his colleagues on the desirability of continuing the war, are still carrying on. It is so easy for the workers to forget. In April 1921 some twenty or more prominent members of the Labour Party are to be found supporting an appeal to the Allies to revise the Peace settlement on the basis of the 14 Points. Having urged the workers to take part in the war and having seen the result of it, the Labour Party “believes in reparations,” but finding the division of the loot among the victors unsatisfactory, it considers a redistribution to be necessary and will no doubt want the same workers to be prepared fight again for this.

Mr. Ewer condemns the Liberals in no measured terms, but is there one word of that condemnation which could not as aptly be applied to the Labour Party ?

“The world it is clear is not going to be saved from war by self-determination or by open diplomacy any more than by Kaiser-hanging. These copy book maxims are pretty; but they will not work. They are like all the rest of the liberalism that there is in Liberalism. . . War, we told the people, is the inevitable result of the economic organisation of the world. If you want to abolish war you have got to alter that organisation.”

” ‘Nonsense!’ said the Liberals, who didn’t wars and also didn’t want a social revolution. ‘Nonsense ! you are impossiblists.’ Now we have had two years’ experience. But even now these Liberals will not see. They are convinced . . . that the failure to secure a bourgeois peace is the result of the wickedness or weakness of individuals. . . . And those very people who to day are deploring Mr. Wilson’s failure are repeating his crime. They are still trying to persuade the people that salvation from war can be secured by leagues and arbitrations, and the result of the benevolent illusions of Liberalism.”

“They no longer believe that the last war ended war. But they are getting ready to condone the next one as really the last. And they are also busy with proposals that we should all agree to fight it in a more gentlemanly way than before.” (In this latter connection it is amusing to note the Labour Party’s request to the Government that they should make it possible for the sons of the mere workers easily to reach officer rank in “our army.”) ” Whether it be America or Japan or France: with whomsoever it may be, and over whatever pretended issue, this is as certain as the sunrise ; that the next war will come, and then the next, and then again the next. Unless ? Until and unless the system that breeds wars as dirt breeds vermin is swept away. No Fourteen Points, no open diplomacies, no armament limitation or arbitration tribunals or league conventions, or Wilsons or Leagues of Nations can stop it. Liberalism and its bogus internationalism are bankrupt. It is war … or revolution.”

Thank you, Mr. Ewer. One has only to substitute Labour for Liberalism in the above to get our point of view. That word “Impossiblist” has a familiar ring. For seventeen years we have preached this and we too have been called the impossiblists by the practical men, and we too have found we were justified by the events, but ”even now they will not see.”

Edgar Hardcastle