Editorial: Futilities & Tragedies
Each year that passes brings out with greater clearness the contrast between the professions of the League of Nations and its accomplishments. Organised for the avowed purpose of solving international tangles by arbitration, and thus doing away with the recourse to force, every dispute it has set out to settle has demonstrated its utter ineptitude.
The latest manifestation of the League must be food for infinite laughter to all who have a sense of humour. The League holds numerous and heated meetings; its delegates sit day and sometimes till late at night; first-class diplomats from all nations represented make hurried trips in aeroplanes to its meetings; frenzied notes are sent out to Japan and China to cease fighting and arbitrate. And the result?—Japan goes marching on to protect the £200 millions her capitalists have invested in Manchuria.
The central fact is the permanent condition of capitalism. Where a group of capitalists are aiming at markets for their goods they are always prepared to use force to accomplish their object if cunning is not sufficient, and if they believe they can safely do so. The only deterrent factor is the fear of superior force. The permanency of force should have been made sufficiently clear by the abortive disarmament conferences and the way in which Germany, when restricted in the size of ships and weight of armour, succeeded in producing in smaller form as destructive ships of war as formerly.
The final and most effective reason for the maintaining of an armed force by each capitalist State is the enemy within its gates — the working class —who, at times when the burden of poverty and oppression becomes too much to be borne in silence and weakness, tends to revolt blindly and fiercely, and threaten the foundations of capitalist wealth. Although blind revolt cannot build a new society, it could damage or even destroy an existing one.
The amount of money willingly spent by various nations on the futile and fatuous work of the League of Nations is in striking contrast to the niggardliness of the expenditure on inside matters that affect the life and welfare of their workers. In factories and mines, and elsewhere, thousands. of workers lose their lives every year in the work of piling up wealth for the capitalist. When an event occurs that is outstanding and cannot be conveniently ignored, the papers are full of tales of the heroism of workers and the cheap sympathy of those who profit by the workers’ toil. One such event has occurred in England this week. At the Doncaster Colliery thirty-four miners have been killed and many injured in a disaster that has been a common feature of the mining industry.
Yet these very miners have been fighting for years against reductions in their already meagre wages, and in the forefront of the sympathisers are those who use the powers of Parliament to force down the miners’ standard of living. Once again it has been shown that coal mining is an exceedingly dangerous occupation, but when the trouble has blown over this fact will be forgotten and all attention centred on the “League of Nations” and similar futilities.