August 4th, 1914
At midnight on August 4th, 1914, the British ultimatum to Germany expired and the First Great War began.
In our Party there were no illusions about the nature of the war, in spite of the turmoil of the times and the perfidious attitude of other alleged working class parties.
At our first Executive Committee meeting, following the outbreak of the war, arrangements were made to prepare a Manifesto setting forth our opposition and stating the Socialist attitude. At the next Executive Committee meeting a draft was presented and, after approval, sent to the printer to appear in the next, the September issue of the Socialist Standard. This was our War Manifesto. It was later reprinted and distributed in leaflet form.
This manifesto briefly set forth the capitalist basis of society, pointing out that the war was a capitalist war which was no concern of the workers, and did not justify the shedding of working class blood in a conflict which only involved the interests of their masters. It concluded with the following paragraph: –
“Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and Socialist fraternity, the pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.”
The Party kept its pledge. Its attitude was maintained, from the beginning to the end of the war, without equivocation, in spite of antagonism, persecution and numerous other obstacles.