Editorial: The Call of the Graveyard.
The “war to end wars” is still going strong. Eight years ago this peculiar brand of wars was going to finish in a few weeks. Four years later we were told that the fearful enemy that had been menacing the peace of Europe had been whacked. There was great jubilation in the tents of the mighty. A short time after, however, the whackers discovered that it was they who had been whacked. Much talk there was about the wheels of industry that would not move; much mystery and puzzlement over the movements of foreign exchanges; and finally weird and wonderful theories of currency. Tearfully the capitalists’ leader writers complained of the black outlook after all the treasure spent, and all the property destroyed. The allies had gleefully arranged how the war indemnity was to be split up amongst them, and afterwards discovered that they had so successfully busted the enemy that he could not pay. Then there was a wild scramble to raise up the fallen enemy (put their competitor back where he was before they started the busting process !) as he appeared to have fallen on the victors. In the meantime forty or fifty other minor wars were going on in different parts of the world to fill up the interval. A little later still the different members of the victorious time discovered that each was pulling a different way, each trying to carve a bumper share out of the alleged spoils on the sly.
There were many portentous conferences, much trumpet blowing and raising of smoke screens. So avaricious were the “peace makers” that the period of conferences bid fair to be infinite. While this hubbub was going on one that was so lately a fallen enemy rose up again, and while the “faithful” allies, without even the staunchness generally attributed to thieves, were following each his own course in backing this fallen enemy or his opponent a new apparition has appeared to haunt Europe in the person of the “victorious Turk.” So the wheels of the “war to end wars” are kept merrily turning.
With unconscious humour the Daily News (19th September, 1922), exhibits on its front page a picture to stiffen the backs of future war heroes. It is a pleasant picture; the picture of a portion of the Anzac cemetery at Ari Burnu, on the Gallipoli Peninsula, where, they state, 20,000 British and Australian soldiers are lying ! Are they offering a solution of the unemployed problem ? Or are they offering the Anzacs a “home from home?” How anxious our masters must think we are to enter the eternal silence of the tomb ! Funny, isn’t it ?
In the editorial column of the same paper, same date, there are some other funny things. For example, we read : “Which is the better way of preventing a war—to keep Kemal’s army on the Asiatic side and call a conference to consider his claims, or to give it free passage and leave it to stake out its own claims by force?”
Here we have a capitalist definition of “preventing a war”—to prevent war go for the other chap first; it isn’t a war then it’s a defensive action ! Quite obvious, isn’t it?
In the meantime what has become of the wonderful “League of Nations” that was floated with such a flourish of trumpets? It appears to have quietly stepped off the stage (referred the matter to a committee !) its services being no longer required now that arrangements have been made to refloat the war enterprise on the grand scale.
To work up our feelings over “small nationalities” and similar sacred matters we are kept informed of the alleged atrocities of the Turks some hundreds of miles away. In the meantime, however, there has been a mining disaster in the North of England not many days ago, and many workmen lost their lives; further, we read daily of men, women and children being run over and killed by the motor cars that hurry the wealthy from pleasure to pleasure. Atrocities are not confined exclusively to wars; they also flourish abundantly where peace is supposed to reign.
This brings us to the main point. What does it matter to the world’s workers what group of capitalists control the sources of wealth? An exchange of masters is of no practical account to the world’s workers. The point is they are all members of the capitalist class.
Therefore the fresh stir up in Europe should not concern working men at all except as another instance of the cupidity and trickery of their masters.
On the page of the Daily News that contains the invigorating picture of the graveyard we read that Lloyd George sent a telegram to the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand containing the following :
“Your prompt response to our inquiry regarding troops to resist any threat against freedom of Straits and sanctity of Gallipoli Peninsula received here with enthusiasm.”
Who were the enthusiasts? Those who were going to direct the war evidently, as they were the only ones who knew anything about it. Anyhow, it wasn’t the prospective candidates for the vacancies in the cemetery; they are too busy discussing the wage cuts—the reward for their so recently suspended activities in the shambles.
(Editorial, Socialist Standard, October 1922)