The Way of Peace
Such was the alluring title of an article published in the Daily News, dated July 31st, 1922, in which the writer showed a subtle ability of propounding views which help to keep the workers from grasping the real significance of hero worship.
To contend that they who demonstrated at the Cenotaph in Whitehall by dipping- their banners as they passed, or laid flowers at the base of the monument, were actuated by the desire to pay homage to the fallen in war; and to describe it as a ” silent and impressive pledge to the dead,” is but sentimental humbug ; for those to whom the pledge is stated to have been made, care nothing for such promises, and certainly will in nowise be offended if they are not carried into effect. The eyes of the dead are closed for ever, and weary not for the hypocritical promises made in their name. However easy it is to escape the responsibility of a promise to the dead, you cannot deceive them; but it is possible to deceive the living by lugubrious protestations over the dead and impress them that some benefit may be derived from their mournful pretensions.
Sorrow for departed friends will always persist, and people will continue to demonstrate their regret in various ways long after their friends decease. Those who went to the Cenotaph with honest motives were of this kind, and relieved their emotions publicly because ” knowing not where they have laid him ” they cannot do so privately as they would if death had been the result of disease and been followed by an ordinary-funeral, and the remains deposited in a place easy of access. Others were there who totally lacked that spirit of thoroughness which we call principle, indifferent to all else except spectacular effect, who would sooner see a man dive to death from the top of St. Paul’s, than go to the poll and vote their slavery away.
But a more sinister motive lies behind these officially organised demonstrations of pretended reverence for those who fell in the war; and that is to inculcate and keep alive the thought that they died in a glorious struggle to ensure eternal peace to posterity and willingly made the supreme sacrifice. Once get that idea into the noddles of those who are maturing unto military age, how much easier it will be to recruit the forces required by the capitalists for the next last great war to end war.
Already on to-night’s placards I find they are calling ’em up.
It may be useful to remember that during the great war of 1914-1918, the workers who were drawn into that bloody orgie wanted nothing more than to be allowed to remain in their native land, and to be provided with a constant means of obtaining a living by the sale of their labour power to the masterclass. That is the high watermark of their intelligence, which socialists so much deplore; but to say nations are torn with suspicions of each other, or secretly preparing war-like plans of self-aggrandisement, etc., is a travesty of facts, or the result of lamentable ignorance.
It is not the nations, but the greedy capitalist class whose sectional interests compel them to regard each other suspiciously and who are secretly preparing to commit another terrible crime against humanity.
The great mass of the world’s workers know nothing of these plans, and instead of suspicion there is an ever-growing sympathy springing up between them : a sympathy born of the knowledge that there is only one enemy they have to face the wide world over :—the capitalist class who alone are responsible for the present economic chaos, and the sum of human misery and suffering entailed thereby.
Many workers of all nationalities who have passed through worse than death, now realise that the cult of nationalism is indeed a tragic futility so far as the working-class are concerned ; and the spirit of international co-operation and solidarity, though slowly, is surely growing up amongst them , born of the knowledge that they are poor because the greater part of the wealth they bring into existence is robbed from them by the capitalist-class.
To his everlasting credit, Karl Marx made this clear, and explained the process of the robbery in Capital, in which the true nature of capitalism is revealed as resting upon the exploitation of the working-class through individual or private ownership of the means of producing the necessaries of life.
This divides society into two distinct classes whose interests are as widely opposed as the two poles of – the earth : one a propertyless class having nothing to sell but its power to labour; the other a wealthy class owning the means of wealth production.
Amongst the latter there is continual friction arising out of the competition for markets for the sale of commodifies, each section trying- to oust the other. World-wide territories are examined, trade routes determined, and all the machinery pat into operation to secure a profitable sale; and a very watchful eye is kept by their respective governments upon the interests of those whom they represent.
When these interests are threatened by trade rivalry of another state, bombing machines, gun-boats and troops are hurried to Tom Tiddler’s ground to administer a gentle admonition to the offending- party. All of which goes to prove there can be no peace, in either a military or economic sense, while goods are made for profit instead of use, and exploitation of the working-class forms the basis of society.
I once heard the House of Commons described as the Thieves’ Kitchen, and in my opinion that term is not less applicable to the League of Nations to which the Daily News pins its faith ; for what else is it, but a consultative body of capitalists which meets for the purpose of determining the most economical way ot appropriating- the results of working-class effort and apportioning-shares of the spoil to the various capitalist sections whom they represent.
It follows then, as the day follows night, that if we would do away with war, we must destroy the conditions from which it arisen. Not patch up or reform the old structure, but change the system entirely by doing away with wagedom and capitalism, and substitute a system of society in which the whole of the means of social production is commonly owned and democratically controlled in the interest of all. Then it will be impossible for anyone to deprive another of existence by withholding the means of satisfying his requirements.
In this way alone lies the path to peace. After all it is not in the power of statesmen to end war as they belong- to the class to whom war is necessary and inevitable, and cannot but desire a continuance of a system that gives them such ease and enjoyment.
The workers alone can alter the circumstances that bring such untold misery and ruin to their homes, bv organising for the complete overthrow of the wage system.
Then only can there be Peace throughout the world. How this is to be done will be found in our Declaration of Principles on the back of this paper.
Read, mark and inwardly digest them.
W. W. F.