It is an unwritten law of the newspaper world that the rich and the politically powerful must always be represented in a favourable light. Their vices must be veiled if at all possible, and if they are so glaring that they simply force themselves on the notice of the general public, then they must be given a certain twist. They must be made to appear as the pardonable eccentricities of genius, or lightly turned aside with the sycophantic snigger which our Press and literary gentlemen reserve exclusively for their capitalist masters. Thus it happens that Mr. X—, where friends know him to be a drunken gambler, appears to the readers of the newspaper as a jovial soul, with heart of gold—all because he is a powerful instrument for deluding working class electorates in the interest of capitalism. This courtesy is also extended to foreign potentates, and only temporarily abandoned for purposes of war. Newspaper readers soon forget, and are not at all shaken in their trustfulness when they see Lord Rothermere, for example, heaping praises on the head of that “great man,” the ex-Crown Prince of Germany, only a few years after Lord Rothermere’s newspapers had represented him as the world’s prize buffoon.
Then there is the Polish Marshal, Jozef Pilsudski
, who died recently. This loud-mouthed renegade from the Labour movement (his speeches were sometimes so filled with violent obscenity that journalists dared not report them), was given thousands of words of extravagant praise in the English Press. The Times
gave him nearly four columns, and discussed with its usual show of impartiality his greatness as soldier and statesman, and the “daring and romantic” qualities of his character. Some sentiment had to be brought in, so we are told that “his chief happiness was found in the company of soldiers and children.” He gave many children’s parties, and in his later years they were almost his only recreation—it is curious how often the world’s principal pests are fond of children—but the Times
does not trouble to estimate how many soldiers were slaughtered and children orphaned to further the limitless lust for power of this megalomaniac. Among his early activities was naked banditry, raiding mail trains and similar activities, calculated to harass the Russian Government at a time when Pilsudski was a Russian citizen. It may be remarked here that if the banditry and the insurrectionary movements had failed instead of succeeding, Pilsudski’s death would not have received four columns. It would then probably have contented the Times
to publish a three-line paragraph, notifying the death of the notorious Polish bandit and assassin.
Great Man—Great Liar.
An interesting pendant to the career of this “great statesman” was provided in a letter which the Times published on May 23rd. It was a report of a statement Pilsudski made to a fellow prisoner on his release from exile in Siberia: —
During these years that we suffered together I learned to love and respect you, and 1 now know that the whole of Russia does not consist of gendarmes, police spies, and other torturers of my people. But when I come home I will not tell the Poles of this my new experience; let them think that all Russia is one undivided hostile and beastly camp, lest their will for fighting for freedom should become blunted!
So the great statesmen was a great liar, prepared to indict a nation in order that his dupes, the Polish workers and peasants, might be kept at the appropriate fever-heat for the slaughter of Russian workers and peasants, who, for their part, were similarly duped. Give heed to this, you workers who may some day again be called upon to “fight for freedom.” Remember that the political tricksters who rule all the nations of the world, all make us of the same vile methods of deceiving you. When they tell you that the “enemy” country is “one undivided hostile and beastly camp,” and appeal to you not to allow your “will for fighting for freedom” to be blunted, remember Jozef Pilsudski’s indiscreet confession, and know them for the liars they are. Know that they will be asking you, the working class, to fight each other in order that they, the capitalist class, may continue to enjoy the privileges of an exploiting class.